Venice
May 1659

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1931

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10-26

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'Venice: May 1659', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 32: 1659-1661 (1931), pp. 10-26. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90044 Date accessed: 24 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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May 1659

May 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
11. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In spite of the professions in the recent petition of the army to the Protector indicating their devotion and unanimous support for the existing rule, and although parliament promptly decided to give them three months' pay, yet this week the troops have shown that they are not entirely satisfied. The officers, after observing a fast and holding several private meetings among themselves, have since revived the question which has lain dormant for some months and announce that they want another general in place of the Protector, declaring openly everywhere, without the slightest fear, that he is not adequate for such an office and has shed no blood for the cause which they protect, so they must have another and they would like him to be Flitud, who now is lieutenant.
Considering what disorders and trouble these evil humours of the troops may generate the Protector decided on Monday to send for some of the most turbulent and discontented officers and be intimated to them that it was his fixed determination that they should give up their meetings together and that all should proceed at once to their quarters. At the same time parliament also voted that for the future the officers must not assemble together, but must go back to their posts and not return to London without the knowledge and permission of the Protector and of both houses of parliament. The officers, ignoring the vote of parliament, which moreover has no force not having been confirmed by the upper house, and caring nothing for the Protector's prohibition, met again and protested that they would do so when they pleased until they receive the satisfaction they claim, speaking high and without the slightest respect, and announcing further that they desire the dissolution of parliament itself.
Thus from Tuesday onwards London has been in great alarm. In an instant they have caused regiments of foot and horse to draw near to the city. On Tuesday and the following night there were fears at Whitehall of some mutiny among the soldiers and some sudden commotion, so they stood constantly to arms, guards being set and troops of horse and companies of foot sent to scour the streets, all armed and ready to engage if need be. The confusion still continues, without any indication that it will easily be appeased, and one sees troops and arms everywhere.
The army is divided, part being for the Protector and part for the Anabaptists, which means Flitud and Desbero, the leaders of that sect and of the dissensions also. The special troops of the city of London are not of one mind either, one part supporting his Highness and the other the discontented army. Such is the present state of affairs at this Court and it causes agitation and misgiving to all. If the Protector can succeed in forcing the malcontent army to obey and the officers go to their quarters, or if he can succeed in drawing over to his side the other part of the London trained bands, one might have some hope for him, as if he had the city whole heartedly with him he would be safe and could compel the Anabaptists to bow to his wishes. But if he is unable to surmount one or the other of these two points it is much to be feared that between them they will kindle a fresh conflagration in the bowels of this kingdom which will be difficult to extinguish. Accordingly negotiations are proceeding and while we cannot yet know the issue it should appear before long.
Besides the vote forbidding the meetings of officers, some others were passed in parliament, but when these were sent to the upper house for their approval they showed little inclination to agree with the lower, and seemed unwilling to consent to any of its bills, which are all invalid without its confirmation, now that the lower house has decided in its favour. Thus ill feeling is arising in parliament also and such differences please the army, encouraging its pretensions, increasing its insolence and affording further reason for fearing disorder.
At the palace they announce that the fleet has arrived at the Sound, but it does not appear on what grounds. It is also said that Montagu has landed at Copenhagen and is proposing and forwarding an adjustment between the two kings of the North. Those who claim to have knowledge of the secrets of the Court say that they wish they had not sent this fleet to the Baltic. They are at present very uneasy about the Dutch fleet which, although absolutely ready, does not put to sea. Their suspicions are further increased over the peace which is said to be securely settled between the Most Christian and Catholic crowns, because they see the French proceeding with so much circumspection in these treaties, without communicating anything to their allies, Locart repeating from Paris that he can find out nothing more than what is generally known. They apprehend that if the adjustment takes place that nation will not be able to stand idle after being accustomed to the use of arms for so many years past. They misdoubt that these great forces will be directed against some other part and strongly suspect that in this case they may see realised what has been whispered here for some time past, namely that the French will embark troops on Dutch ships and direct their arms against this state. This is not so very unlikely because apart from some slight differences between the two nations everyone knows the inveterate and irreconcileable hatred which the French feel for England. If something of this kind should occur they would be caught very unprepared here, for there are but few ships of war, all of them being far away, scattered here and there, and they could not recall them quickly, while they have not the means to equip any number in haste owing to the scarcity both of sailors and of money, without which nothing whatever can be done.
In addition to the numerous misfortunes which are overtaking this state letters from Barbadoes this week bring news of another sad mischance there, some house there having caught fire and spreading reduced to ashes over 370 houses, and going on to the sugar quarters completely destroyed everything. The loss is said to amount to 500,000l. sterling, which is very serious and causes great distress to the traders of this mart. (fn. 1)
London, the 2nd May, 1659.
Postscript: Since the above was written the discords at Whitehall have intensified. The Protector, abandoned even by that part of the army which took his side and deserted by his own relations and by his brother-in-law Facombrige, who left London for the country a few hours ago with his wife and family, has been compelled to consent to the dissolution of parliament, which was demanded this morning with threats and much determination by Flitud and Desbero in the name of the other officers of the army. Accordingly be sent to parliament his commission under the great seal of England and he is now at Whitehall like a prisoner, desolate and unable to leave, respected by no one and with little hope of recovering the authority he enjoyed. From these commotions it is impossible to expect other than further confusion and disorder.
[Italian.]
May 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
12. To the Resident in England.
We note the election of the new consul for Smyrna. If he has not gone you will try to obtain precise orders to prevent ships of the nation from serving the Turks. If he has gone you will try to obtain such commissions as are necessary in the matter, broaching the question in the way that seems best to you, so that you may also get enlightenment upon the Protector's intentions.
Ayes, 149. Noes, 1. Neutral, 4.
[Italian.]
May 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
13. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
When sealing my despatch last for your Serenity I was informed in confidence that orders had been issued to prevent any courier or ship from leaving that evening, to prevent reports getting abroad of the disorders in this city. I thought it better therefore not to risk the public despatch but to prevent your Excellencies remaining in the dark I decided to venture a few lines to my uncle Girolamo, and to-day I send both despatches together with a full account of the state of affairs here.
The Protector having dissolved parliament against his own wish, solely to satisfy the troops, i.e. Flitud, Desbero and other superior officers, who forced him to it by threats, everyone expected some declaration with the motives which have induced the officers to desire a dissolution at the very moment when parliament had given them every sort of satisfaction, confirming them as barons and peers of the realm by the bill upon the upper house, of which most of them were members, in issuing orders for three months' pay, the day before being entirely devoted to securing the pay of the troops in the future by some fund; however nothing has come out and now nothing is expected.
So far as I have been able to gather the true reason was that the secretary of state, Flitud and Desbero and many other leading officers, being accused before parliament of many errors and of not having discharged their functions in a straightforward manner, and anticipating that parliament intended them to render account of their actions, they put their heads together and brought about its dissolution to prevent the mischief that might suddenly overtake them. To justify their action they publish a number of unfounded things, such as were never proposed in the assembly, to wit, that it intended to disband a part of the army, dismiss some officers and much else of the same sort.
Although parliament is dissolved by virtue of the commission sent them a week ago by the Protector under the great seal of England, and issued as a proclamation on the following day, yet the members pretend that it has not been dissolved, because last Friday, having got wind of the order they were to receive, before it arrived they voted to prorogue their sitting until the following Monday, and although the order came as they were separating, yet by virtue of their vote a number of them came to Westminster on Monday for the sitting. But they found the doors closed and numbers of soldiers on guard with orders to prevent any one from entering the houses of parliament. So they had to go away, though still of the same mind, and they are considering how they may achieve their aim without being interrupted by the troops, who keep them under observation and will dispute their intent at any time and place.
For the rest the differences between the army and the Protector persist. The latter remains at Whitehall abandoned by all, with guards at all the gates and approaches to the palace. The superior officers hold constant meetings at Flitud's house and the lower officers at other places, but it is not possible to find out what either party is doing. Flitud has not yet been acclaimed generalissimo and it is not clear whether he will be. Apparently the troops are beginning to criticise his actions and abandon him, and to ask that the long parliament may be called. This body was set up on the 17th March, 1648, (fn. 2) it condemned to death the late King Charles; it was unlawfully interrupted, not dissolved, so they assert, on the 20th April, 1653.
A petition on this and other matters, signed by some thousands of soldiers has been presented to Flitud and other officers of the army. But he does not know what to decide, as he does not want that parliament back for many reasons. Accordingly he is in constant consultation and in the mean time everything remains in confusion and disorder. No one can venture to foretell what will happen, their humours and affairs being so unstable in this county. One sees variations and changes every day, and they are constantly cropping up unexpectedly. But some form of government is bound to appear before long for it is impossible for things to continue as they are. Many are of opinion that worse is to come, and this is supported by those who know that the special troops of the city of London have declared that they will stand by Flitud and Desbero's army. To this end they have expelled all the officers found to be against them, putting others in their place. The city moreover is now considering and devising how to place itself in a posture of defence to preserve it from the ills that might arise out of these differences. But many others, knowing that since Tuesday the Protector, Flitud and Desbero have met frequently feel persuaded that the differences will be adjusted without further disturbance. But these are most important questions on which one can predict nothing since nothing can be found out upon them and so it is necessary to await the issue.
Meanwhile it seems likely that Flitud is now beginning to repent having begun the confusion, perceiving that although the soldiers are not for the Protector they are not for him either, as he imagined; while it is undoubted that his Highness regrets that he did not cut short the threatened discords last winter, as if at that time he had sent to prison some of the leaders who were agitating for another general, he would not be in his present predicament, but much better off and undisturbed.
By public proclamation in the Protector's name but actually by order of those who now hold power in their hands, all Catholics and others who have borne arms for the king were exiled last Monday from London, Westminster and a radius of 20 miles around. (fn. 3) Those who have country houses are to proceed to them within 3 days, those who have none are to stay in the places where they usually dwell and not go more than 5 miles away under severe penalties, and shall not be free to return to London or other places until the 10th June next, old style. This is to prevent such ill affected persons from taking advantage of the present discords. Since these began nothing has been heard either of the Protector's brother, who rules in Ireland, or of Monch in Scotland, and it is not known whether they will declare for one of the parties or try to win for themselves the countries which they rule.
Definite news has arrived this week of the safe arrival at the Sound of Montagu's fleet with the confirmation of what I wrote a week ago about his acting with the English minister in Denmark to bring about an adjustment between those two kings. In Holland the French ambassador, the resident of England and the deputies of the States are also labouring to the same end, and we have not yet heard how far the negotiations have gone or what signs of success there may be.
Meanwhile the suspicions I reported persist and increase. Although definite news of peace between the two crowns has not arrived, and the Paris letters so far only hold out hopes, they give sufficient details to show that there is no longer any doubt of a happy issue. This may easily oblige them to compose their internal differences in order to attend to affairs abroad, and preserve themselves from what may overtake them. Time will reveal the result of all this.
London, the 9th May, 1659.
[Italian.]
May 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
14. Alvise Molin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from Copenhagen of the 18th ult. from the imperial resident, (fn. 4) report the arrival in those waters on the 17th of 36 great English ships including four fireships. The general of this fleet had notified the king of Denmark that he held letters of credence for his Majesty from the Protector, and was more anxious to perform first the functions of an ambassador rather than those of a general. Accordingly preparations were being made for a state reception in Copenhagen, whither he is to proceed in a few days. It is supposed that the object of the English is to constrain that king, by an armed negotiation, to a peace advantageous to Sweden, and they are afraid here that he may feel compelled to consent to this, to escape utter destruction. From the issue of these negotiations great consequences may follow, and here they feel very anxious about it.
Mettelino, the 10th May, 1659.
[Italian.]
May 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
15. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the Ambassador Locart had audience of their Majesties. I gather that it passed in complimentary offices in the Protector's name. He expressed the satisfaction of his master at the progress of the peace with Spain, with an assurance that the Protector, for his part, would forward it, and that he hoped, whatever happened, that he would not lose his Majesty's favour. The king, as usual, confined himself to generalities. Locart also made some reference to the disturbances in London, endeavouring thus both with the king and with the ministers, whom he saw both before and after, to discredit the reports of great disturbances and risings, so that here they are awaiting with curiosity the first advices, which should make everything clear.
In the affair of the union, concerted in Holland, between France, England and the States for the peace of the North, we hear that difficulties have arisen and that no progress is being made in the matter, exactly as was expected. But when the news comes of the assurance of the peace between the two crowns the affair will receive more stimulus and will undoubtedly proceed to the end that is desired, which will not be difficult to attain.
Paris, the 13th May, 1659.
[Italian.]
May 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
16. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The affairs of this Court continue in the same position; no other general has been chosen for the army and no progress has been made either for the better or for the worse, though it is evident that something quite out of the common must happen since it is quite impossible for things to go on as they are, without any form of government, so that one cannot tell to whom to address onesself, whether it be to a public minister or anyone else. The Protector no longer represents anything, and is no more than a figurehead. He does not so much as show himself to anyone, and, sad and sorrowful, remains guarded and does not move from the palace. Those who brought about the confusion, hoping to fish in troubled waters and derive great profit and advantage therefrom, have neither title nor authority of any kind and everything persists in confusion and disorder. Although efforts are made to restore order, this does not appear to be easy, indeed there is more reason to foretell further complications rather than any movement in the direction of tranquillity for this afflicted people which has suffered misfortune for so many years.
The several meetings of the army officers, superior and inferior, show no slackening, indeed all their time is spent in them both day and night. Although it is not possible to find out authentic particulars of what they are doing, the revelation of their proceedings being forbidden under most severe penalties, it is known that they are trying to straighten things as best they can. The authors of the trouble repent the commotion they have caused and wish they were well out of it as they see in the distance the precipice which threatens them. If, as is generally believed, the long parliament resumes its sessions, which were broken off by the Protector Oliver in 1653, it is much to be feared that Flitud, Desbero and the other promoters of the present turmoil will be the first to be cast down, as they had a large share in dismissing that assembly, and as most of the members of that body are Presbyterians or Calvinists, while the others are Anabaptists, that is to say bitter enemies, it will be impossible for them ever to agree together.
It seems as if in the end it will be necessary for all to agree to recall and reassemble the long parliament. Every day appear sheets and remonstrances from soldiers and others expressing their desire for it and the reasonableness of its return, set forth in very outspoken fashion, with protests and declarations to carry their point which will ultimately be conceded. Many of its members are already in London, but they seem unwilling to resume their sessions unless the army will submit itself entirely to the authority of the assembly, by the officers surrendering all the commissions which they now hold to receive them back from the parliament, and submitting in everything to its will and judgment. The question is delicate and of great importance, and while it excites the suspicion and jealousy of many of the turbulent officers, yet the majority of those outside are of opinion that these will be obliged to consent to everything and allow that body to reassemble, so that there may be some representative and some form of government. Something decisive (alcuna cosa di positivo) must inevitably be devised before long and I will keep my eyes open and report fully to the Senate.
Amid all these discords and distresses the Protector cannot say who will take his part. He is deserted by all and reduced to a wretched plight, as the four or five colonels who remain faithful to him are incapable of rendering him any service seeing that they are abandoned by their own regiments, who have gone over to the other side, and they are left alone, solitary individuals who can only remain spectators of what is happening. Meanwhile his Highness is getting rid of many of his household, and reducing them to a small number. It is the almost universal belief that he will have some yearly revenue assigned to him and one of the former royal residences to live in, either in or out of London, and that he will end his days so, without any title or further authority. Time alone can show.
Amid all his misfortunes the Protector has reason to complain of no one more than of the secretary of state. This man, unmindful of the benefits received from the father, who raised him up from a mere lawyer's notary to be secretary and councillor of state, in which offices he has amassed a heap of gold, has betrayed and sold the Protector without any profit, and with manifest signs of lack of respect and an utter absence of gratitude. When last winter the army officers were meeting and consulting about having another general, one of their number, a confidant of the Protector, (fn. 5) revealed to his Highness all that they were planning, offering to destroy and dissipate all their machinations if he was allowed to secure the persons of those whom he knew to be the most turbulent and ill affected. The Protector allowed time to slip by, and when informed by his confidant of the later meetings held by the officers with the same object, his Highness said that he could resolve nothing without having the opinion of the Council. Accordingly he took the secretary of state into his confidence, who at once secretly warned Flitud and Desbero. These being subsequently accused in parliament, as reported, set going the present disturbance in order to place themselves in safety; but it seems extremely probable that they will be disappointed and that their ruin also will follow.
Besides all these things which give cause for regret to those who have them in hand there are others which occasion great perturbation and cause them such confusion that they do not see which way to turn or what to decide. The news which comes from every quarter of the safe arrival in Spain of the gold fleet, which is said to be very rich, distresses them exceedingly; the delay of the Dutch fleet in putting to sea and the order issued by the States to all their ports not to allow any ship or craft to leave for any destination without fresh commissions from the States themselves, without any motive being disclosed, troubles them greatly and makes them very suspicious, the more so as the Dutch are not a little offended by the capture of some of their merchantmen by the English who are cruising about with patents from Sweden and Portugal.
The conviction that peace has been arranged between the two crowns only adds to their sorrows and suspicions. They are very apprehensive that the announcement has been delayed with some design, since it is probable, if the French cherish the intention of throwing themselves on this country and supporting the cause of King Charles jointly with the Spaniards, with such a favourable opportunity, they will keep the peace as secret as possible in order to get ready and then strike suddenly, with the announcement, in the hope that internal dissensions may diminish the resistance. It is possible that they fear the announcement of the peace may force them here to compose their differences and unite to resist attack from outside. The truth must soon appear, but it is certain they are extremely perplexed here as they cannot find out whether a peace which touches their interests so closely is actually concluded.
Their misgivings are further increased by the uncertainty as to what measures may be taken by Henry of Ireland, Monch of Scotland, Locart of Dunkirk and Montagu, general of the fleet now in the Sound and general irresolution rules. They are greatly distressed by a report that Henry of Ireland, hearing of the confusion here, and discovering a plot formed against him there by the Anabaptists, had some imprisoned and hanged the ringleaders, who had been stirred up from here. The confirmation of this will show if he means to defend and support his brother's party. There is a great deal of talk about the others as well, but as it is without the slightest foundation I will not trouble your Excellencies by reporting it.
London, the 16th May, 1659.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
17. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The understanding between France, England and the States for the adjustment between Sweden and Denmark and their allies continues to encounter more and more serious obstacles on the part of the English, who, since the news came of the arrival of their fleet in the Sound, announce that they will not recognise the treaty stipulated at the Hague unless they remove the article about compelling the king of Sweden to the accommodation, if he should reject it. This procedure of the English makes the States very suspicious and they have decided to send with all speed the fleet to the succour of the king of Denmark, fearing lest the English, with their prepotency, may compel Denmark to yield to their will and to the Swede.
Paris, the 20th May, 1659.
[Italian.]
May 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Costantinopoli.
venetian
Archives.
18. Giovanni Battista Ballarino, Venetian Secretary at the Porte, to the Doge and Senate.
His Excellency Contarini, Captain of the Galleons advises me, under date 29 April, of his arrival at the mouth [of the Dardanelles] with eight ships, and of the public order to allow English ships from Venice with goods to enter this channel, including the one recently arrived and which is supported by the ambassador of England with all due circumspection, to escape any harmful incident, which I fervently hope may not occur. The Emino also, for his own private profit, is exerting himself so that it may be well treated and speedily despatched.
Constantinople, the 20th May, 1659.
[Italian; deciphered.]
May 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
19. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The disputes among the army officers at their meeting held a week ago became so violent that seeing they could not become of one mind for the recall of the long parliament, someone suggested that since it was absolutely necessary to come to some decision about the form of government they would do well to recall the king, who is now in Flanders. On this being put to the vote it was negatived by a majority of six only. Continuing the discussion about the reassembling of the old parliament, against the vigorous opposition of those who are afraid of receiving some knock at its return, they finally reached an agreement for the resumption of the sittings by all those members who had kept up their attendance from 1648 until the 20th April, 1653. Accordingly they carried a declaration published on the following day and taken that same evening, in the name of Flitud and the council of officers, to William Lental, Speaker of the long parliament, and presented to him at his house by Lambert, who has come to the fore again with the fall of Cromwell, immediately obtaining the command of a regiment of cavalry of those taken from the few colonels who seemed inclined to take the Protector's side, and by some other officers. In this all the members are invited to resume their sittings and the Speaker is asked to notify all of them at once of the decision of the army, which promises them every possible assistance to enable them to sit in security and without any impediment or molestation.
By virtue of this invitation from the army the Speaker proceeded on Saturday morning to the house of Parliament with the usual state, and thither went all the members who happened to be in London of those who used to compose that body. Some entered, but others were obliged to turn back because at the doors they found Lambert stationed, supported by musketeers, who would only allow those to enter who appeared to him to be most friendly to the army. The others he shut out and sent back, much to their disgust. They go about complaining of injustice and violence, but they have to put up with it all the same.
The numbers meanwhile being sufficient and more than sufficient to constitute the assembly they began forthwith their debates and consultations. They at once passed a declaration upon the reasons for these fresh meetings of the parliament, which was printed and issued on Monday for the general information. They set up a committee of ten or eleven members for the safety of the republic and spent their time on other matters of a like character. They then passed a bill, published yesterday, for the continuation of the judges and other judicial persons and the ministers to hold their offices until further order from parliament. These had all given them up since Saturday last, as with the fall of the Protector they also fell and their commissions became void which they held from him. The same act prescribes the style and title to be used henceforth in all legal procedure, to wit, guardians of the liberty of England by authority of parliament and no other, so the title and office of Protector is utterly abolished.
A fortnight ago I reported the proclamation against the Catholics and royalists. To make sure that this ordinance was duly observed armed soldiers came suddenly on Sunday night to search all the houses of London and its suburbs at a time when all men are sleeping profoundly. They did not even respect the houses of the foreign ministers, as they knocked at the door of the recently arrived deputy from Denmark, and there being some difficulty and hesitation about opening the door, the soldiers knocked it down with their muskets. Behaving outrageously in the house they carried off the Danish minster himself. They met him on the stairs clad only in his shirt with a cloak thrown over, having hurried clown on hearing the noise at the door. They gave him no time to dress himself, paying no attention to the character he bears or his remonstrances, but covering him with abuse and vile expressions. After a short space he was recognised for what he was and taken back to his house. (fn. 6) On the following morning he complained to Flitud about the outrage and they promised him to punish those who had ventured to do so much, but he is still waiting for this to be done. Other houses of foreign ministers were also visited but no one was taken away and nothing was misused, as in Denmark's case. Your Serenity's house was exempt from search or even opening the door. I had my face at the window to see what the noise in the street was about and heard the constable of the parish tell the soldiers that there were no others living in it, and they continued their search in the houses near by.
On Wednesday after dinner Sir Henry Scobell came to see me by order of the parliamentary committee for the safety of the republic in whose name he briefly informed me of his commission and presented the declaration passed in parliament last Saturday, leaving me the order itself in writing. I promised to inform the Senate and so he took leave, proceeding to the other ministers whom he had not visited. I enclose both the papers he gave me, awaiting the state's instructions as to how I am to conduct myself in this new change of government, as I cannot take a step without precise orders from the Senate. Meanwhile I will observe what the other ministers do about recognising parliament and other things, as I do not doubt that Holland, Sweden and Denmark as being the nearest and most concerned will soon do what they intend to do.
Meanwhile it is believed that a council of state will be formed by parliament, such as existed before when it was sitting and which was subsequently dissolved by the Protector Oliver, and that this, in conjunction with parliament will have the control and direction of the three kingdoms in the form of a republic, and no longer under the will of a single person under any sort of title. But whether this will go on it is impossible to say as your Excellencies must realise how volatile and unstable they are from the constant changes that take place here and it is impossible to build upon anything that they decree and resolve.
They announce that Monch has written from Scotland to the council of officers of the army promising his adherence to all they decide and associating the troops of that country with those of England. No confirmation has come from Ireland of the report I wrote of, and nothing has come from Montagu either. Locart is said to be at Paris and to have made an arrangement with the Most Christian, receiving money for Dunkirk, in a desire to get personal profit out of the present troubles of England, but they say that the garrison there will not accept the governor's decision. But further evidence is needed before this can be accepted, as the reports are not properly authenticated. Meanwhile the Protector is absolutely expelled from the dignity, authority and title of Protector. So also are all his creatures, such as the keeper of the seals, the secretary of state and many others who held offices of great importance. The most injurious and insulting broadsheets imaginable have appeared against them. What will happen to Cromwell is not yet known, nor is it yet certain if they will assign him a yearly revenue. Meanwhile all the furniture of the palace has been seized. The greater part belonged to the kings and the rest was made by Oliver. It is believed that everything will be sold and they also talk of selling all the houses and other places which were the king's and then Cromwell's to wipe out completely a memory equally odious in the second as in the first case, since the punishment to which they subjected the late King Charles.
Flitud has not yet been chosen general of the army and begins to fear that he will not be now that Lambert has come to the fore again. It is stated that all the present imbroglios are the work of the latter and it is commonly believed that he will unseat Flitud and anyone else, especially as he is the most popular as well as the most valued and respected of all the military. Time will show.
London, the 23rd May, 1659.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.20. By the Committee of Parliament for Safety.
Order that Henry Scobell do wait upon the foreign ministers and present them with a copy of the declaration of parliament of the 7/17th May.
John LambertH. VaneCharles Fleetwood
Jas. BerryW. SydenhamJo. Jones
Ar. HesilrigeEdm. LudloweTho. Scott
Richard Salwey.
Wednesday, the 11th May, 1659.
[English, with Italian translation.]
Enclosure.21. Declaration of the Parliament assembled at Westminster. (fn. 7)
Recital of the invitation received from the officers of the army to return and discharge their trust, and their decision to do so and endeavour the settlement of the commonwealth upon such a foundation as may establish and secure the properties and liberties of the people, without a single person, kingship or house of Peers.
Saturday, the 7/17th May, 1659.
Jo. Phelpes, clerk of the parliament, pro tempore.
[English (printed sheet), with Italian translation.]
May 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
22. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The disturbances in England, considered inevitable after the Protector's death, being at length assuaged, the Ambassador Locart posted at once to Dunkirk. It has not yet transpired what his resolutions will be, nor yet, once the peace is established, what will be done by the Court here touching the urgent pressure of the queen of England to secure the favour of France for the restoration of King Charles to his dominions. Meanwhile they rejoice here over the troubles because they are good for the peace between the two crowns as well as for that between Sweden and Denmark, making the Swede easier when he finds his hopes of support from England disappear.
A truce has been proclaimed in Flanders by Caracena, to the unspeakable joy of the population. Peace is expected to follow. It is said that the Prince, if he is unable to make terms with France by a private treaty, is inclined to join his forces with those of the king of England to restore him to his dominions, in recompense for which King Charles would promise to invest Condé with the kingdom of Ireland.
Paris, the 27th May, 1659.
[Italian.]
May 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
23. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In a country like this, so subject to change from the instability of the climate, which renders men themselves volatile and inconstant, it is impossible to say what form the government will take since the fall of the Protector, whether as a free state or republic and if it is likely to endure for long. Parliament is labouring to establish affairs with quiet and repose for the nations, but the army, which recalled it rather to give colour and authenticity to their own actions and make it appear that they are entirely devoted to the liberty and tranquillity of the people rather than from any intention of depending on parliament, seems inclined to claim all authority for itself and to force the assembly to do all that it pleases. So there is little hope of any good and one can only look for further trouble and confusion unless it please God to end the internal commotions and bring back these realms to their just and legitimate ruler. No moment could be more opportune for the deed which it is felt sure the king is preparing, and much is built upon the adjustment between the Most Christian and Catholic crowns, which is a fact though not yet published.
The officers of the army presented to parliament a long petition containing many articles (fn. 8) to serve as a prescription for the form of government which they mean to have, to wit, a republic, and not a single person, under any title whatsoever. They ask however for the payment of the debts of the late Protector and his father and that, in testimony of their esteem for Oliver and gratitude for his services to the state, as general, not as Protector, a title they condemn, even taxing him as a usurper, his son Richard and his heirs shall have an honourable yearly revenue with suitable quarters, as well as a yearly income for his widow so long as she lives. Parliament is at present considering these matters and has deputed some of its members to go to Cromwell and make him some offer. It is thought that they may settle on 20,000l. sterling a year, one half ceasing at his death and the remainder continuing to his heirs, and 8000l. to the mother for her life. It is easy to promise such sums but there will be great difficulty in paying them, but that is the way they treat all those who enjoy such incomes from the state.
A council of state of 31 persons has been formed these last days. 21 are members of parliament, including Ferfax, Lambert, Flitud and Desbero, and the ten others are person of intelligence outside parliament. They have not yet decided what the limits of their authority shall be, but it is thought that while parliament lasts it will proceed in harmony with that body in maturing business of all kinds and in the intervals it may act alone on its own authority except in making laws. That remains to be seen as to-morrow or Monday the assembly is to discuss and decide this question. It appears that when the government has been to some extent settled and the most important affairs have been put straight the assembly will separate to resume its sittings after some interval, and it will proceed in this way at intervals.
It is understood that the military are not satisfied with the nomination of the persons who compose this council, and it seems that they want to expel some and put others in their places. Parliament being incensed about this it cannot be said that it and the army are proceeding harmoniously and further trouble is greatly to be feared if the ill feeling and differences increase. These are fomented by all the members of that body left outside, of whom there are over 200, who are not allowed to enter because although of the parliament which condemned the late king they are of those who would not sign his death warrant, and now, restless and dissatisfied they are making cliques into which they draw many others who are not well affected, and so they cabal and plot further disturbances and issue, without the slightest fear, biting broadsheets which cannot fail to do considerable damage to the state.
The army gives Flitud the title of its chief commander, as in fact he is, being Lieutenant-General, but he has not yet obtained the post of generalissimo, nor is there any sign of his getting it because they have formed a council of war of seven persons. This consists of Flitud, Desbero, Lambert and four others who all together are to have the direction of the army and without their consent no officer can be cashiered or restored under any pretext whatsoever, nor can anything else which concerns the military be done. It is believed that this device is the work of Lambert in order to prevent Flitud from mounting to the rank to which he aspires and so biding his time during the present turmoil to get himself acclaimed by the troops when a favourable opportunity presents itself.
The title of Protector having disappeared all the gentlemen and lords created by Oliver and Richard lose their rank and now only enjoy the title they had before their elevation, which is stated openly to have been by usurpation and by indirect ways. Thus to obliterate the memory and destroy the very nest of monarchy parliament has recently decided on the immediate sale of the royal palaces of Whitehall and Somerset House, with all the furniture they contain, putting it up to auction and selling it to the highest bidder, applying the money so raised to paying what is due to the troops. To the same end it is believed that they will also sell Hampton Court and some places in the country of minor consideration.
With parliament disapproving and condemning every sort of action taken by the Protector Oliver and his successor Richard the government at present seems strongly inclined to make peace with Spain, asserting that the state never contemplated the rupture and had no part in it, but that all proceeded from the caprice and usurped authority of the late Protector. As evidence of their dislike of this war and of their whole heated inclination towards peace it is anticipated that parliament will set at liberty some hundreds of prisoners, subjects of the Catholic, including some persons of a certain rank, who are detained in the prisons here, or on ships or in the Indies. This much is certain that they would be glad here if some prince would offer his mediation to suggest and negotiate such an adjustment.
Possibly the Spaniards may not be so eager for it just now, when they have made an accommodation with the French and have become formidable again with the treasure received from the Indies, unless the question of Portugal induces them to accept this reconciliation easily, as if Portugal were abandoned by England it would be easier to reduce it to subjection by the Castilian forces. For the rest it must be taken into account that so far as private persons are concerned the Spaniards have done better during the rupture than the English, seeing that they have captured between 900 and 1000 merchantmen of this country great and small and very rich, whereas the English have only taken a few barques of no value. As regards the state it is true that Spain has suffered more than England, through the loss of Dunkirk and of places in the Indies, though they cost this state such enormous sums of money and so many thousands of lives that it would be far better off if it had never taken them. This is an additional inducement to make an adjustment which is still further strengthened by the desire to see King Charles abandoned by that power also and his aspirations here reduced to nothing, especially as it is known that he is now devoting all his energies to collecting troops and trying to make the most of the present opportunity for relieving to some extent his wretched and pitiful condition.
These last days a letter from Scotland has been printed and published signed by Monch and the officers of the army there (fn. 9) ; which shows a complete concurrence in the action of the army in England, but it is impossible to be sure whether it is authentic or a forgery.
Nothing can be learned about Ireland, but apparently things are not going well. There is a lot of talk; but it is impossible to get at the truth. It is known that Henry has issued a proclamation in which he summons to their posts all the officers who are absent, on pain of death. As the army here will not allow those who have crossed to England to leave, this is a clear sign that matters are not proceeding so peaceably as they would like.
It is astonishing that nothing has yet come from Montagu in the Sound and it is much to be feared that he will not submit to the present change since it is known that he is a thorough Protector's man with no love for a republic. For this reason it is said that orders have been sent to him to hand over the whole fleet to one Lausson, but they are very apprehensive that he will refuse to obey, especially as all the captains and sailors are entirely devoted to him and his wishes.
The reports about Locart last week seem to be dying out and now they announce his return to this city from Paris and that he has sent an express to London to announce the unanimous adhesion of his forces to the present turn of affairs in England.
Among the numerous priests taken these last days by the pursuivants one belongs to Pinozzi, the Polish minister. (fn. 10) As he never was able to obtain audience of the late Protector and was unable to do anything in the changes of government without fresh letters of credence, he applied to the French ambassador to take some steps for the release of his priest. The ambassador excused himself saying that he had not yet preferred any request to parliament and he could not do so before he had presented new letters from the Most Christian, because it was necessary that all the ministers resident here should receive fresh commissions for the parliament. They will give it the same title as was used before Cromwell was raised to the government, to wit, The Parliament of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, Ireland etc. I will watch to see what the other ministers do and report to the Senate, awaiting the instructions it may be pleased to send me.
London, the 30th May, 1659.
[Italian.]
May 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
24. Alvise Molin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Conversation at Court turns on the question of finding a wife for the emperor. They calculate that there are only six princesses at the present time who are suitable for him. One of these is the queen of England but as she was brought up in the French fashion, she is not adapted to their genius here.
Modling, the 31st May, 1659.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 On 2–12 February. Half the town of St. Michaels was destroyed. Mercurius Politicus April 14–21.
2 17 March, 1649 was the date of the Act abolishing kingship. The Long Parliament first met on 3 Nov., 1640.
3 Proclamation of 23 April o.s. Mercurius Politicus, April 21–8, 1659.
4 Baron Johan von Goess. Appointed in April, 1657. Pribram: Venetianische Depeschen vom Kaiserhofe Abt. I, Band I, p. 16.
5 Possibly Lord Broghil.
6 Salvetti, who gives a different account of this incident, says it happened on Monday night, and was done under the pretext that Charles Stuart was in the house. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962P, f. 466.
7 Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii, page 645.
8 On the 2–12 May. See Cal. S.P. Dom. 1658–9, page 345.
9 Cal. S.P. Dom. 1658–9, page 348.
10 Theodorus Counell one of the ambassador's family, and his interpreter. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1658–9, page 374. Journals of the House of Commons Vol. vii, page 686.


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