Venice: June 1651

Pages 182-189

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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June 1651

June 2.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
488. Pass for the ship Merchant Adventurer hired from Emmanuel Penso and Salamon Israel for Constantinople, to take a cargo of various merchandise for the benefit of the state and of private individuals.
Ayes, 126. Noes, 1. Neutral, 7.
June 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
489. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In Scotland the king of England has obtained some advantage over Cromwell, having cut to pieces 1,500 men at some pass.
Paris, the 13th June, 1651.
June 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
490. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to Paulo Garzoni, Secretary to the Senate, or others charged with Spanish affairs.
In reply to the enquiry about the intercourse between this crown and the parliament of England, I must tell you that the business has been all along conducted with the greatest secrecy. The ministers here have endeavoured to conceal the progress of the treaty, as they themselves thought it premature and unbecoming to a king so closely allied to the injured party. So I take no shame for never having known on good authority what the English demanded or what was conceded to them, beyond the acknowledgment of the parliament's supremacy, which has been openly announced to me more than once by Don Luis himself and other members of the Council of State. Had I then known the wishes of the Signory I think it would have been easy to make further discoveries, as I often suspected the ministers here of discussing the matter with me that I might induce the republic to follow their example, indeed the Duke of Medina las Torres urged this in a set speech. But I have information on good though less exalted authority. The Abate Carleni, a man of sound judgment, told my secretary Bianchi that he was in London at the beginning of the negotiations. He states that the first letter written by the king to parliament was addressed to "the most serene republic of England." The Council of State refused to receive it and told Cardenas that they rejected all epithets, possibly to avoid embarrassing punctilio at the outset of their career. So he sent another addressed simply "To the Republic of the Parliament of England" exactly as prescribed by themselves. Carleni said he was present when Cardenas entered the House of Commons for the first time for the purpose of presenting this letter. He said he was received with great honour, being escorted from the embassy by 20 coaches and six and by a knighted earl, who introduced him to the House, where he was given a seat in the midst, with a table before him on which were two velvet cushions, with two others at his feet. Carleni also said that he heard the most serene republic spoken of with much esteem in London. A person was there trying to raise levies for her service. They asked if he had letters for the parliament, and on being answered in the negative, they sent him word to obtain credentials and then they would not merely allow him to raise troops, but would even give the republic some of their own. So much for the Abate.
After receiving their Excellencies' commands I sent a confidant to catechise the secretary of the minister, (fn. 1) but it was impossible to elicit anything. My friend feels sure that he has nothing to tell, as no negotiations took place prior to the murder of his master, and since then he has always resided in the house of an official of the palace, scarcely going out of doors. He merely said he was returning to London in a very few days, and when asked whether parliament was sending out another minister replied, "No, for the king makes a bad return for the goodwill of our commonwealth." I do not think that much reliance can be put on these words, which may have been due to resentment for the unavenged death of Ascham, as all five Englishmen are still in prison, without any sentence having been passed.
The answer of Cardenas to the instructions given at my request is sure to come soon and perhaps when Don Luis tells me about it I may learn something more, as I rely greatly upon the familiarity with which he generally treats me. I shall also try other channels, to serve the Collegio.
Madrid, the 14th June, 1651.
491. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to Paulo Garzoni, Secretary to the Senate.
I have further information to add to my letter of this morning. Two hours ago I had occasion to confer with Don Luis. After the business we had some friendly conversation. In this I touched on English affairs and thus had ample opportunity to learn everything, as he asked me why the republic did not open negotiations with the parliament. To draw him out, I replied that really any power might follow the example of the Spanish crown. I quote the very words of his rejoinder. He said : In truth no one need scruple to acknowledge that government, leaving judgment to Him to whom it pertains. We have exempted all from the obloquy of that act, taking no shame to ourselves for merely following the course of events. As if on an impulse of curiosity I asked, How did his Majesty treat the parliament when he had occasion to write to it ? He answered at once, We wrote in Latin, addressing "Reipublicae Anglicae Parlamento" the pronoun "vos" being used. This tallies with what the Abate told my secretary. As still further confirmation Don Luis added, "The English are now attending to their own affairs and do not discuss titles."
At the close of the conversation his Excellency asked me if I had heard about the vessel which the parliament admiral captured in the Mediterranean. (fn. 2) I said I had received official notice, and he added that the English took a large ship bound from Lisbon to Italy. They took it into Ivica where they landed some Franciscan friars, who were on their way to the chapter general at Rome. They consigned them to the governor of the island, saying they made him a present of them, but he must take care not to let them go to the chapter, because, being Portuguese, they would vote for a general hostile to the king.
This ended the conversation from which I think the Council will obtain the information they desired. I must add, however, that the government here is very jealous of the negotiations on foot between the parliament and Portugal, for it is understood that the envoy of the Duke of Braganza has been detained in London and that the English have sent to Lisbon to know whether they may rely on his promises being kept.
Madrid, the 14th June, 1651.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
June 17.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
492. Agreement made on the 17th June, 1651, with Captain Edward Vaterman for the hire of his ship the Merchant Adventurer, carrying 60 sailors and 30 guns, for war service with the fleet.
Approved in the Senate on the 23rd June.
Ayes, 114. Noes, 0. Neutral, 5.
493. Agreement made on the 17th June, 1651, with Captain Thomas Galilee for the hire of his ship Soccorso, carrying 60 sailors and 32 guns, for war service with the fleet.
Approved in the Senate on the 24th June.
Ayes, 135. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
June 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
494. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose the copy of a letter sent me by Salvetti from the merchants interested in the ship Pearl, I shall ask him to get the merchants to wait until I can get precise instructions.
Paris, the 20th June, 1651.
Enclosure. 495. Salvetti to the Ambassador Morosini.
I have your letter of the 27th ult. I went at once to see the four merchants of the Levant Company, who claim the money and told them what you directed me, persuading them to have a little patience as I had no doubt they would ultimately receive what was legitimately due to them. I must confess that I found them very ill pleased, and they have expressed their sentiments in the enclosed letter. However, I do not think that they will take any precipitate action and I shall try to keep them within bounds.
London, the 8th June, 1651.
496. Copy of letter to the Resident of Tuscany in London.
We have never heard that our ship Margherita received more than two months' pay and if it received four months', as asserted, we should like to know when and to whom it was paid. We have never heard of any money paid to the ship, either at Venice or in the fleet, indeed our latest letters from our correspondents at Venice and from the ship advise us that in spite of all their efforts they can get nothing. If the Senate means to pay what is due, from time to time, we shall be much obliged. We were glad to hear that the Senate intends to pay for the considerable quantity of wheat consigned to Candia when the bank is open, but we are very doubtful when that will be and we are very anxious that the Senate shall consider the interest as well as the principal for this wheat and some recognition for having relieved the great necessity in which Candia then was. We also hope that the Senate will consider the claim for losses incurred.
London, the 29th May, 1651.
William Williams.
William Baker.
Thomas Pearle.
George Smith, jun.
June 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
497. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from Cadiz report that the Palatine Prince Rupert has appeared in those waters with six ships (some say eight) so powerful that the galleons destined for the Indies have been and still are afraid to start on their voyage, the Prince being determined, whatever the risk, to avenge the insult which he claims he received from this crown in favour of his parliamentary enemies.
Madrid, the 21st June, 1651.
498. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
In the ducal missives I found the enclosures for his Majesty and will present them at the first opportunity. I will follow the instructions with regard to the forms to be observed with the new government of England. I appreciate the honour of being left free to treat any envoys they send according to my own judgment, but I should be glad of more precise directions as to the intention of the state. It seems beyond doubt that parliament desires to have its supremacy acknowledged by your Excellencies. That is only natural and I shall confine myself to intelligence received on good authority that the republic is spoken of with extreme respect in London and parliament had often contemplated sending some one to Venice to begin intercourse, but was deterred by what befell their ministers in Holland, Denmark and at this Court. I may add that one who was in England at the time to levy troops for your Excellencies, asked if he had credentials to parliament and answering No, was ordered to desist, but with an intimation that if your Serenity asked this favour of the government, it would be readily granted and they would further send some of their own troops to serve against the Turk, whose acts of aggression are universally disapproved, whereas every success is desired for your Serenity.
Touching the parliament's claims, the king of Spain addressed them by agreement as "Reipublicae Angliae Parlamento." Salvetti, minister of the Grand Duke, has presented letters from his master without any title soever, and parliament refused that of "Serenity" which he offered. I do not know in what language the Grand Duke addressed them.
When Don Alonso de Cardenas had his first audience in January last, for the purpose of acknowledging the new government, he was escorted to the House of Commons by an earl and the Master of the Ceremonies, where about 60 members were assembled, including the Speaker. (fn. 3) He was given a seat in the middle, with a table before him and damask cushions at his feet. In this position he stated his commission, always using the third person. The Speaker answered briefly promising a reply. Subsequently they issued a decree that all ambassadors of crowned heads should be received in like manner, while those of inferior powers were not to enter the House but only to treat with commissioners. They deal in the same way with ministers of kings below the rank of ambassadors.
I know nothing about the ceremonial of parliament or what they will require for their ministers abroad. The only precedent is the recent one of Holland, particulars of which have not reached me. It is the more necessary that the powers should give proper instructions to their own ministers, and I need them particularly because the commonwealth is more likely to send an ambassador to Spain than anywhere else. I learn indeed that the mission is determined although it is delayed for the reasons stated. Moreover I shall have no lead from my colleagues. However, if a minister arrives I will avail myself of the liberty given me.
I regret that I cannot execute the other commissions given me. The secretary of the murdered resident is still at the Court, but he is of such slight talent and repute that if I speak to him it will probably only make him chatter and proclaim the intention of your Excellencies without advantage. At the same time I am determined to see him before he returns to England, as he is the friend of a confidant of mine, and if I find material to work upon I will give him some hints so that he may take my meaning and tell parliament.
To assist the decision of the state I must add that I have found the ministry here obviously anxious for your Excellencies to acknowledge the parliament. Some of the members of the Council of State said as much to me openly, and Don Luis remarked that the republic might well correspond with the parliament as his Catholic Majesty has taken all the obloquy of the act on himself. After the secretary dalla Torre drew up the instructions to Cardenas at my request he told me that the best plan of all would be to commission Cardenas to establish friendly relations between parliament and the republic. Having no instructions I let the matter drop, but I may remark that after such advances Spain might resent my underhand negotiations and even counter any attempted without her privity. It may not be amiss to add some facts which have reached this Court about the constitution, durability and strength of the English government.
All authority is said to have been usurped by the Lower House, composed for the most part of mechanics, unadorned by distinguished birth, and the majority equally devoid of intelligence. The nobles, who formed the Upper House, have absented themselves, some for fear of being considered royalists, and others from dislike of mixing with the populace, which alone constitutes the present government. Their ordinary sittings are not attended by more than 100 or 150 members. The desire for its continuation is far from being universal, being confined to those who are able to rule things in their own way and clearly tyrannise over the rest, in unison with the generals and with Cromuell, the head of all their machinations.
Besides parliament they have instituted the Council of State, composed of some 55 members of the same quality as above. This body digests all questions and draws up replies, communicating them to parliament. This generally rejects them tumultuously and governs rather by impulse than by knowledge and true political science, their acts being strongly influenced by avarice and hatred and all such evil passions as are apt to sway the minds of men unused to command. Great stress is laid on the ease with which they may be bribed to adopt any measure, while the inconstancy of their decisions leads to their being disregarded, since they change from day to day.
Such a government could not promise much durability were it not based on the strength of the army and navy, which depend absolutely on parliament, or rather parliament depends on them. In consequence of this state of affairs it is considered certain that if the king could enter England with a respectable force everyone would flock to his standard. As this is not possible, owing to the irreconcileable dissensions in Scotland, it is thought that parliament, will hold its ground and in time establish a better mode of government, especially as the English are expected to become masters of the whole island. They are achieving this rapidly, their military and pecuniary resources being very great indeed. The army on the borders amounts to 20,000 men, independent of the garrisons and troops in Ireland. It was reduced because more were not needed and they were resolved to avoid superfluities and to amass treasure.
Owing to the care of parliament they have 80 men of war, which are certainly the finest now afloat, whether for construction, armament or crews. They can increase these numbers with incredible facility to 150, 200 or more sail. The revenue, which is the basis of all the rest, is now augmented by saving the cost of the royal family, by the spoliation of church property and by the confiscation of the estates of royalists. It is reasonable to infer that with good management, upon which there is some doubt, the English might at this moment maintain double the force they now have and at the same time accumulate immense treasure. In addition there is the facility with which the English increase their fortunes by trade, which has made great strides for some time past, and is now improved by the protection it receives from parliament, the government of the commonwealth and that of its trade being exercised by the same individuals. The advantage of this was formerly recognised by other nations, who are now impoverishing themselves because in our time the source of our greatness is considered dishonourable. This is all the information I am able to furnish on the subject.
Madrid, the 21st June, 1651.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
499. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to Paulo Garzoni, Secretary to the Senate.
Sending the above despatch because he understands that the letter of the preceding week was communicated to the Senate. Has repeated some of the points, adding further particulars. Asks to be told if he has given the Senate satisfaction.
Madrid, the 21st June, 1651.
June 23.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
500. The Resident of England came into the Collegio and handed in a paper, which was read.
The doge said they were delighted to hear of the king's successes and they wished him every prosperity, from their sincere affection for him. With regard to the ship Freeman, the Signory would consider his request and let him know the result. At this the Resident bowed, made his reverence and went out.
The extraordinary difficulties encountered by my king render his progress to the recovery of his authority marvellous, though slow. The distance of his states makes my news later in arriving. My king has at last brought the whole of Scotland into unity and obedience. This has enabled him to collect such a considerable army that after defeating 5,000 foot and 2,000 horse on the way to Sterling, he is marching on England to deliver his subjects from tyranny and violence.
In the midst of this generous undertaking he has not forgotten his paternal care for his subjects persecuted by the Turks. Last year I came to ask your Serenity to allow an English ship to go to the Archipelago to pick up English merchants and their goods, and this was graciously conceded. But the favour was rendered useless by the wreck of the ship off Valona, leaving the poor merchants in imminent peril of destruction. (fn. 4) I now come to ask your Serenity to permit the ship Freeman to take the same risk in order to render this service to his Majesty and perform so charitable an office for our nation, especially as the brother in law of his Majesty's Resident at Florence (fn. 5) is to sail in her. He undertakes to return to this state not only with the merchants but with the goods recovered, so I feel sure your Serenity will grant this favour.
Thomas Cillegreus, Resident.
Venice, the 23rd June, 1651.
June 29.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
501. That a notary of the ducal chancery be sent this evening to read what follows to the Residents of England and Modena :
The Senate deeply regrets to observe that the misdemeanours and ill behaviour are on the increase, of certain audacious persons who by adopting your liveries give themselves the right to carry away to their own house and there deal with not only comestibles but other articles in use, in contempt of the laws and causing grave scandal. The institutions of the republic and the behaviour of our ministers at foreign Courts are very well known. Accordingly we have decided to have this read to you and indicate our will that these proceedings must be stopped for the future, since such proceedings certainly cannot be tolerated by us any longer nor can they be countenanced by your princes.
Ayes, 99. Noes, 4. Neutral, 21.
June 30.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
502. Yesterday evening, in obedience to your Serenity's commands, I Angelo Ciera went to the house of the Resident of England to hand him the paper given me by the Secretary Garzoni, upon the determination of the republic to put a stop to the practice of bringing and taking away smuggled goods which is done every day at his house. Owing to his imperfect knowledge of Italian he desired me to read it over twice and to leave a copy to have it explained to him in his native tongue.
I observed from the turn of his head and the movement of his hands that he expressed great astonishment and he indicated by gesture a total ignorance of the affair. He told me he would come to the Collegio to vindicate his innocence. He had been injured by the audacity of persons unknown to him and not protected by his house. He endeavoured to impress upon me that he had no other desire than to maintain the confidence and favour of your Serenity, as instruments necessary for the welfare of his unfortunate king. He said he would be far from consenting to such an abuse, and he had tried to keep his house well ordered and straightforward. This was shown by the power given to the Capitan Grande Bernos to arrest one Iseppe Gaban, and a warder who used his livery, without permission, and committed many excesses. Ultimately he said he certainly did not wish that any one wearing his cloth should infringe the laws or institutions of your Serenity, from whom he only desired the privileges ordinarily conceded to foreign ministers. It was not right that anyone should infringe most just laws by taking advantage of such liberty. As he said no more, I left.


  • 1. George Fisher.
  • 2. The Great Alexandria of Toulon, captured by Penn on the 19th April ; he put in to Ivica with it on the 26th April. G. Penn : Memorials of William Penn, Vol. I, pages 333-4.
  • 3. He had audience on Thursday, the 5th January, N.S., and was attended by the earl of Salisbury. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1650, page 480.
  • 4. The ship Arabella. See No. 437 at page 161 above.
  • 5. Sir Bernard Gascoigne acted as representative of Charles II at Florence. Spalding : Life of Richard Badiley, page 92.