Venice: April 1651

Pages 176-179

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 28, 1647-1652. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

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April 1651

April 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
472. The Sieur de la Haye, French Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Turks are preparing their fleet. Nothing is said about English ships or those from Barbary. The common opinion is that the English will not furnish the ships promised and the Algerians refuse to send any.
Per a of Constantinople, the 4th April, 1651.
[Italian, from the French ; deciphered.]
April 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
473. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Their Majesties recently sent a gentleman to England to learn how they regard the delay of this crown in recognising their republic, and also to try and obtain the withdrawal of the patents issued to numerous ships not only to destroy the French privateers but to stop the merchants, but being found without letters of credence, the gentleman was obliged to leave London with some amount of ignominy. (fn. 1)
Paris, the 5th April, 1651.
April 8.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
474. To the Ambassador in France.
It is a good thing that English ships should not arrive at Constantinople, in order that they may not be seized and used by the Turks against us. As similar attempts might easily be made when they arrive at the ports of Smyrna and Scanderoon, it only remains that they should be most steadfast in refusing and resisting. You will urge Salvetti to try and secure this.
The republic will pay the ambassador amount due to the ship Margherita of London when the banco is open, which is now closed.
Ayes, 81. Noes, 3. Neutral, 26.
April 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
475. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The king of England had built up a great and universal conspiracy with many leading men of the country, from which he hoped to raise his fallen fortunes, but when two leading cavaliers were crossing the sea with the orders and arrangements, they fell in with some parliament ships which captured them with ease. (fn. 2) With the business disclosed in this way all those who had a hand in the plot are exposed to severe punishment.
Paris, the 11th April, 1651.
April 21. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Roma. Venetian Archives. 476. The nuncio came into the Collegio and spoke to the following effect :
The zeal which your Serenity has always shown in upholding the faith induces me to inform you of a very serious disorder which has come to light in the island of Zante. It appears that an English preacher has arrived there, skilled not only in his own tongue, but in Greek, Hebrew and French as well. He goes about preaching to the people there on Calvinistic lines and tries to inculcate poisonous notions contrary to the Catholic faith. It appears that in addition to the linguistic accomplishments of this individual, he possesses abilities of no ordinary kind, and he is busily circulating certain leaflets in support of his pulpit extravagances, in a way that may easily lead to the most pernicious consequences. I call to mind two occasions, namely in 1636 and again in 1648, when the most serene republic took severe measures against certain Greeks who were disseminating heretical doctrines in that island. No report of this English preacher has yet reached his Holiness, but I have thought proper to anticipate instructions and to ask that measures may be taken to stay the progress of such pernicious doctrines.
The doge replied that the republic had always shown its zeal for preserving the faith and punishing those who disturbed it. This was the first intimation they had received of the matter and they were astonished that they had heard nothing on the subject so far from the General of the Islands, who is a man of the highest orthodoxy, character and ability. They would write for information and then take such steps as were becoming. It was possible, however, that the preaching and meetings took place privately and not in public resorts, and that this was the reason why the General had not taken notice of the matter.
The nuncio replied : These Calvinistic heretics proceed step by step, and day by day they spread the fire of their miserable doctrines, to-day in one house and to-morrow in another. This English preacher holds forth on every feast day, circulates his abominable leaflets and does his utmost to upset the faith of the people there. Accordingly the zeal professed by your Serenity requires you to issue orders calculated to prevent this seed from spreading lest it multiply in time to the detriment of religion, and that is a matter of grave importance.
The doge remarked that the necessary orders should be issued. It might well be that since numbers of Englishmen are generally at Zante these doctrines were circulating among them. Whenever such ideas had appeared in those parts steps had always been taken to stamp them out, and suitable measures would be taken on the present occasion.
The nuncio rejoined : Under the pretence of preaching to Calvinists only they introduce and spread these doctrines universally. It is not right that this should go any further and I leave this to the piety of your Serenity.
April 22.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
477. To the Ambassador in Spain.
Commendation of his offices with the king to have strong orders sent to the Ambassador Cardenas in England to prevent the junction of parliament ships with the Turks against the republic in the coming campaign. To thank the king in the name of the state, expressing its appreciation of this service.
Ayes, 130. Noes, 0. Neutral, 5.
April 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
478. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Reports have been circulating in Paris so persistently about the approaching conclusion of an alliance between the States of Holland and the parliament of England that they have impelled the Dutch ambassador here to make speeches calculated to persuade the contrary and indeed rather to create a belief in the utter aversion of the States. I am informed, however, that the business is progressing every day. The English promise to form a single religion, to keep the alliance firmly for ever against all and sundry, for the liberty of these two republics, and to permit trading freely in all their ports, provided that Holland responds with the same privileges. France, for her part, is labouring to prevent the realisation of this by the employment of some individual in London and by orders which have recently been sent to Bellievre to delay his start and not to leave without fresh instructions.
Paris, the 25th April, 1651.
April 29.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
479. To the Ambassador in France.
To perform fresh offices with the secretary, agent or other minister of parliament now at Paris to prevent English ships from serving the Turks. To represent to him that the union of the forces of England with those of the Turks would be a monstrous thing and absolutely unprecedented, it would be contrary to the piety always displayed by that kingdom and due to the well being of Christendom, to favour the universal enemy. As it is easy to see that the silence of parliament is due to the reserve of the republic in recognising it, the Senate desires that he shall, at the same time and as if from himself insinuate to the individual that we should have less objection to making those open demonstrations of esteem and affection which we cherish in our hearts for the greatness of parliament when the same thing has been started and practised by other princes, always provided that adequate motives arise. Thus it happens that what in the past proved to be difficult is changed into an equally powerful inducement and invitation to second our requests and to cut off from the Turks the considerable forces of powerful vessels which united with the formidable forces of their own empire might subsequently at will take what course and attempt such enterprises as they pleased, causing irreparable ruin. These considerations cause great preoccupation to the Senate and they are sure they may rely on the ambassador bestowing equal diligence and care to ward off the danger.
Ayes, 32. Noes, 23.
April 29. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives. 480. Thadio Vico, Venetian Secretary at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Annoyance of the English admiral (fn. 3) that two of his warships, sent to escort merchantmen, were saluted at Leghorn by mortars only. He wrote a note to the English consul telling him to intimate to the governor that ships of war should not be saluted with mortars. On the following morning the English chased a French barque, which escaped into the port. Blank shot was fired from the Leghorn fort against the English, to remind them of the respect due to the fortress ; but the English took no notice. Some remonstrance was made the next day with the English captain, but the matter will probably be adjusted because the Grand Duke does not want to injure the important interests of the mart, to which the English bring substantial profits.
Florence, the 29th April, 1651.


  • 1. M. Gentillot. He came over incognito to sound the disposition of the English government towards France and to open negotiations. But this secrecy and the absence of credentials led to his arrest as a spy. The government would not listen to any advances before plenary satisfaction was given for the depredations of the French in the Mediterranean. He was ordered to leave within three days, and departed on Monday, the 27th March, N.S. Browne to Hyde on the 1st April : Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 12186. Salvetti on the 31st March, Id. 27962n. Gardiner places this visit in February : Hist, of the Commonwealth, Vol II, page 161.
  • 2. Probably Isaac Birkenhead and Thomas Cooke. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1651. pages 128, 137, 222.
  • 3. Captain Edward Hall, Cal, S.P. Dom., 1651, page 388.