Venice: May 1653

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 29, 1653-1654. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.

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, 'Venice: May 1653', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 29, 1653-1654, (London, 1929) pp. 63-80. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "Venice: May 1653", in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 29, 1653-1654, (London, 1929) 63-80. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "Venice: May 1653", Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 29, 1653-1654, (London, 1929). 63-80. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

May 1653

May 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
90. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
I have your lordship's letter of the 25th about the suit in the Admiralty Court here, but I have been unable to do anything because of the dissolution of parliament and the political changes now in progress. The attached sheets show what has happened. I may add that the good news came last week that the fleet of colliers from Scotland numbering some 200 ships had evaded the enemy, helped by a favourable wind, and is safe in harbour, being convoyed by a squadron of war ships under General Penn. 50 of these ships are at this moment in the Thames, to the comfort and relief of the Londoners, so the murmurs, which had been universal are now at an end, the price of fuel having at once fallen to one half of what was paid during the shortage, and on the arrival of the rest of the fleet it will become cheaper. This supply of coal is of such importance here that if the enemy had captured these colliers it would have caused universal consternation and there certainly would have been an insurrection in this city.
The war fleet being relieved of this charge will now be in force and ready to meet the enemy, of whom nothing is known, save that they are gathering their forces for a fresh engagement. Here they have the same object in view, and some of the 30 frigates ordered by parliament have been launched, so that they may join the other men of war and render the fleet as numerous and powerful as possible. To man them and the rest of the fleet with experienced seamen they have taken as many men as possible out of the colliers, a course they will continue with all other ships that may enter the Thames.
M. de Bordeaux has recently had repeated audiences of the committee appointed to hear him, for the purpose of overcoming the difficulties to which the re-establishment of trade between the two countries is subjected. But the English claims for compensation for the ships taken in the Mediterranean and the French ones for the return of the ships taken on their way to Dunkirk are still being urged. It is believed here that eventually some compromise may be reached. At the same time although M. de Bordeaux is always protesting the friendliness of his sovereign, and is definitely appointed ambassador, so I am told, they do not trust him here and consider all his doings as mere demonstrations. Indeed I heard on good authority that the government had some idea of compelling him to depart. But it has not been done and will not be easy unless they have stronger proofs or greater suspicions. At present it is impossible to say what the issue will be.
Nothing has been heard from Holland about the letters written to the States General and to that Province, except that they have arrived and the majority disapprove of Holland having written to the parliament. The next advices from those parts will perhaps show whether this is true or only clever invention, as is suspected here, and also whether the change of government may alter the attitude of the United Provinces, as seems likely.
It seems that at the audience of the Swedish minister he offered the mediation of his sovereign for peace with the Dutch, but the Commonwealth merely thanked him, expressing appreciation of the kindness.
The Swiss minister has presented his credentials, which were quite satisfactory. He confirmed the wish of his masters for an adjustment with the Dutch, offering their mediation, and for the establishment of a good friendship. No further progress appears to have been made, and attention is now fixed upon what is passing here and everything else is put aside.
London, the 2nd May, 1653.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
91. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France.
I have often alluded to the demands of the military. Weary of the promises and irresolution of parliament they have at last resolved on its dissolution. Cromwell in particular was offended at the incident I reported on the 27th ult. and also because his views in favour of peace with Holland had been rejected by the majority. He also resented being locked out on one occasion when he had gone out, remarking at the time that just as the door had been shut upon him that day, it would be closed against the whole parliament on some other.
With affairs in this state the House met as usual last Tuesday, the General being present, perhaps designedly. A demand was made on behalf of the army for some decision at that sitting about the oft promised dissolution. The House replied that the quantity of business and the importance of matters under discussion made it impossible to take any decision that day. They postponed the question to the next sitting, which was Wednesday last, General Cromwell giving the petitioners a verbal promise to this effect. On that day, the whole parliament being assembled as usual, the General placed guards in all the passages, great and small, to prevent both ingress and egress, and when the House was about to rise, Cromwell entered attended by the chief military officers. After complaining boldly of the treatment experienced by himself, he reproached parliament with having turned a deaf ear to the demands and just representations of its poor subjects and with neglecting opportunities for the general good, adding that the moment was now come for some good resolve. Being called to order by the Speaker, Cromwell at once attacked the authority of the whole parliament in his person, having the gilt mace taken away and causing him to be forcibly removed from the chair. The doors being then opened, the troops entered and the Speaker was made to depart, passing through a file of 200 men, without the mace, which always used to go before him as a mark of authority, and of the session of parliament, whose arms it bore. He was then conducted to his coach and proceeded to his house, the whole city perceiving that he had been deprived of the public badge, which remained in the hands of the troops, and so the authority of the parliament was entirely dissolved and abrogated.
What has been most remarked is the slight emotion or rather the indifference with which this action was viewed by the populace, who for the most part seem pleased and especially satisfied by a step which gives hopes of relief and better management in everything. To judge from present appearances it is probable that parliament will be utterly abolished rather than renewed and that all affairs, both domestic and foreign, will be subject to a council consisting of a few persons appointed by the military. Four leading persons have already been nominated for the despatch of immediate business and to arrange matters for the interests of the commonwealth and the satisfaction of the people, but all with the previous consent or approval of General Cromwell, the principal director of the decisions of all the military, who now enjoy more influence and authority than ever. Being united and determined to act unanimously for the quiet of the state and for the public service, they will easily carry their measures, as there is no armed force in London, or indeed anywhere in England capable of opposing them. Meanwhile the largest possible number of horse and foot is being marched towards this city, to remain here until the formation of the new government. In short, as I have often said, the army will always be paramount and will finally dispose of everything.
It is impossible yet to ascertain the effect of this change, which may revive much that was antiquated. The abolition of parliament has necessarily entailed that of the Council of State, though a proclamation has been issued that all the other courts of judicature are to continue sitting as usual. The event is too recent to be sure what steps will be taken in the course of time. But several have already been announced, notably one of calling the Speaker and some other leading members of the late parliament to account for considerable sums of money and many valuable estates, disposed of it is not known how. It is understood that search was made last night for some of the most influential members, and that they could not be found in their own houses.
Still more important changes are expected, and I shall keep on the watch to communicate them to your Excellency. I can only add that owing to these changes and internal commotions the recovery of your property seems hopeless.
I enclose accounts of my expenditure for the months of February, March and April last.
London, the 2nd May, 1653.
May 3.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
92. To the Resident at Zurich.
To watch closely the resolution of the government there to send a mission to London to offer their interposition for peace between the English and Dutch, in order to find out what measures they take, and to report thereon.
Ayes, 128. Noes, 8. Neutral, 10.
93. To the Resident at Florence.
He is to continue his offices to arrange through the Grand Duke some agreement between the English and Dutch captains to the end that they shall not molest the ships which are in the republic's pay for the service of Candia, or those which come and go at Venice for the purpose of trade. The matter is of importance and for this reason the Senate is waiting to hear what has been treated of and decided.
Ayes, 128. Noes, 8. Neutral, 10.
May 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
94. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
In the matter of keeping the peace between the English and Dutch in your Serenity's service, the Grand Duke has promised his good offices, although he does not know what he may promise himself owing to the rough and intractable character of both nations and of Longland in particular. His Highness is afraid that that minister will not pledge himself to anything without instructions from parliament.
Florence, the 3rd May, 1653.
May 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
95. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Colonel Cusache, an Irishman, landed at Ostend a few days ago with some 1000 soldiers of his countrymen. They came from the island of Enistoffin which has since been reduced to subjection by the parliament. (fn. 2) As he was proceeding to Brussels to treat with the ministers there about entering the service of Spain with his men, the duke of Lorraine, who calls himself the protector of Ireland, had him arrested on the charge of having shown cowardice in the defence of that place and the district, which had been entrusted to his honour, and further claiming that the men belonged to him. They are waiting for the judgment of the Archduke upon this.
Enclose Paulucci's letter as usual.
Fontainebleau, the 6th May, 1653.
May 9.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
96. On the 9th of May in the Pregadi.
Letters patent in favour of the ship Merchant Adventurer, hired by Horatio Coreggio to lade goods at Cephalonia and Zante and then proceed to London, to allow it to have free passage and receive every assistance and favour.
Ayes, 123. Noes, 0. Neutral, 6.
May 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
97. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 3)
Since my last, which may have miscarried as there has been a general seizure of letters here, Gen. Cromwell and the leaders of the army have been engaged in forming a government, issuing peremptory orders, which are universally obeyed and approved. After the troops were brought up and quartered here, to ascertain who enters or leaves the city and particularly to prevent any members of parliament from leaving, detachments were sent to secure all funds belonging to the Commonwealth wherever they might be deposited in the city. It is confirmed that two millions sterling have been seized, which are at Cromwell's disposal. During the last few days he has also changed the governor of the Tower, appointed by the late parliament, substituting a creature of his own, (fn. 4) considering it an act of prudence and policy to secure that important post which commands the heart of the metropolis. He also sent for the Lord Mayor to tender obedience to the army on behalf of the Common Council and to deliver the sword which always accompanies him as the symbol of his office. The Mayor and the Sheriffs obeyed immediately and presented the insignia, which Cromwell received and then handed back to the Mayor, saying they were delivered to him by authority and on behalf of the whole army, to whose orders he was henceforth to tender obedience and loyalty. The Mayor promised and then departed, so he continues in the exercise of his office.
As a further demonstration of the supremacy of the army and to exercise sovereign authority Cromwell lately issued an order, as always in conjunction with the full council of officers, remitting the death sentence on ten men, intending that in the future only murderers shall suffer capital punishment.
The late Speaker is closely watched, and if the present council really intends to make the members of the late parliament render account for considerable sums it is probable that they will begin with him, as it is notorious that he has enriched himself enormously through the perquisites of his post and by ceaselessly furthering his own interests.
As an expression of his sentiments and those of the whole army and to prove how much they differ from the majority in the late parliament, which decided on the war with Holland from caprice rather than necessity, it is understood that on the very evening after the expulsion of the House Cromwell in the name of all the officers sent an express to the States informing them of what he had done and assuring them that he personally and the whole army were more anxious than ever to stay the bloodshed and stop hostilities, and suggesting peace and friendship. I have not been able to verify this, but the next advices from Holland will show. At any rate it is announced here, for the sake of popularity, that the whole army is bent on peace with its neighbours and anxious for more friends than could be obtained by the late disjointed government. Others think this a blind and that war is needed for Cromwell's maintenance especially after his treatment of a parliament which proved itself more than a match for the whole power of the late king, who perished in the struggle with it. But the dissolution is viewed with admiration rather than surprise and gives general satisfaction. The popular voice and the press show how much the nation disapproved the administration of the parliament, which is principally reproached with having constantly promised law reform but never having done anything, and with having broken faith with those who advanced considerable loans during the civil wars ; while instead of seeking to relieve the people, as they promised, they always deceived and taxed them more and more and finally they saddled the country with a troublesome and expensive war with Holland.
In reply to advices and instructions sent by the council of officers the generals and captains of the fleet have notified their adhesion and their intention to do their utmost for the defence of the state against its enemies afloat and any others who may present themselves, a reply confirming an understanding between the two services which it is generally believed in London, existed before the blow was struck and is supposed to have been effected by the prudence and sagacity of General Cromwell and the leaders of the army.
Reports state that General Penn has come into the Downs with 50 men of war, awaiting the arrival of the rest, to decide upon some expedition. (fn. 5) This may imply a fresh engagement though the important changes here may render the commanders much more cautious about committing themselves and slower to risk a battle.
Hopes are entertained that in the course of next week some announcement will be made of the way in which the government is to be conducted. The General and the leaders of the army consult daily about the formation of a Council of State and an excutive, such as may meet with general approbation and secure the despatch of business with more method than hitherto. It is expected that a committee will be formed of 21 of the ablest and best inclined to the commonwealth, well affected to the General and interested in keeping him and the whole army well satisfied. The people here are impatient for the announcement of this nomination, which is expected to include some of the most efficient members of the late parliament, and it cannot be long delayed because it is needed. Meanwhile all the actions of the parliament men are watched as it is suspected that they will brood over their position and disgraceful fall, in fine they are suspected of plotting. But without strength or popularity they have no foundation for any great enterprise and a combined rising would be quelled by the army instantly.
It is understood that in the midst of this grave crisis a special envoy arrived from Holland with a reply from the States to the letter sent by parliament, expressing its inclination towards a mutual agreement. (fn. 6)
While this proves the good intention of the enemy they cannot take advantage of it here so speedily as they wish because the original letter was written in the name of parliament to which the reply is addressed, and as that body has ceased to exist the envoy will probably decline to present the letter. His decision is awaited with curiosity.
Such is the course of events here, and it is impossible as yet to give any decided opinion about the outcome ; but if things go on as they are without calling a new parliament the army will control everything, as the government depends on it entirely.
London, the 9th May, 1753.
May 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Archives. Venetian
98. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
A great fire in the magazine at Leghorn has delayed the despatch of the Grand Duke's orders to the governor about the keeping of the peace between the English and Dutch in your Serenity's service. I have urged this as well as the inclusion of the merchant ships in the agreement. Two days ago they sent me the enclosed copy. Merchant ships are not mentioned because the Bali thought it would be better to proceed gradually with men of such harsh and suspicious disposition. These last months, in spite of all that the Grand Duke could do they roundly refused to give his Highness their word not to attack only two vessels of their nation which he wished to despatch to the Levant under their own flags. Both Longland and Vangalen urged in justification of their attitude that admitting they were both stationed in the Mediterranean in order that each might upset the trade of his rival, it would be acting too manifestly against the service and wishes of their superiors if they admitted that merchants, who are always exceedingly acute, should be allowed to make use of the flag and name of a foreign prince for the purpose of keeping their trade going.
Florence, the 10th May, 1653.
Enclosure. 99. Orders sent by the Bali to the Governor of Leghorn on the 8th of May, 1653, by command of the Grand Duke.
To perform offices in favour of keeping the peace between the English and Dutch ships in the service of Venice.
May 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
100. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
The courier of Flanders who has reached the English merchants at Leghorn brings word that parliament considers itself ill pleased with the Grand Duke over the battle which took place in sight of the port, and with the commanders Apilton and Bobler ; with his Highness because he hunted them out of the port and made them lose their ships ; with Apilton because he came out of the harbour too quickly, and with Bobler because he ran away. I have also heard that orders have reached one of the principal merchants here to get their goods away from the place and to arrange, if they can, to store them at Porto Ferraio and at Longone, or else to try and have them transported to Genoa, for greater security upon the galleys of those princes. There can be no doubt but that these last will encourage the idea, granting privileges to the merchandise as well as facilities for its transport, for the purpose of injuring the port of Leghorn, an object which that republic keeps steadily in view.
Florence, the 10th May, 1653.
May 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
101. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English mail has not appeared this week, parliament having stopped intercourse to conceal dissensions in the government. But in spite of the strict prohibition some ships have crossed to Calais and report that Cromwell had insisted on a change of government and the dissolution of parliament, and meeting with resistance he had marched troops to the neighbourhood of London, to secure obedience by violence. Meanwhile some of the greatest zealots are trying to restore the original harmony in the government. The next letters will enable one to verify this report, which excites the dormant hopes of the king, who having no means to reinstate himself by force, places all his hopes in dissension, which, coupled with the burdens imposed on the people because of the war, may make them wish for the monarchy again, through disgust with the present government.
Fontainebleau, the 13th May, 1653.
May 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
102. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Cardenas in England has again received leave to return home. Various names are mentioned for the post ; among them Count Maserati is announced as being under consideration, following the precedent of the Abbot Soaglia and the Marquis Malvezzi.
Madrid, the 14th May, 1653.
May 17.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
103. To the Resident at Florence.
We feel confident that an arrangement will be reached between the English and Dutch for the safety of the ships hired by the republic for Candia. When this has been concluded you will devote your prudent efforts to secure the inclusion of trading ships in the agreement which go and come at this city. You will express to the Grand Duke the republic's appreciation of his efforts in the matter.
Ayes, 138. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
104. To the Ambassador in France. (fn. 7)
Pauluzzi will thank the government for the orders which Fleming assures him will be given to the minister destined for the Porte, to prevent the Turks being allowed the use of English ships against the republic, which is championing the cause of all Christendom singlehanded.
It is too late in the season for the levy of Irish offered in the name of the Viceroy for the present campaign, but Pauluzzi should obtain particulars of the numbers and quality of the troops as well as of the terms of the levy.
Ayes, 112. Noes, 2. Neutral, 4.
The Savii del consiglio e di terraferma proposed the above. The Savii agl'ordini wished the following added :
You will tell Pauluzzi to observe to the members appointed to hear him that the republic professes the most friendly feelings towards that great parliament and is ready to show the same by its acts. Thus as soon as we are assured by the reply to the present, of the intention of parliament, so frequently asserted by Fleming and others of the government to respond to our action, the Senate will select an ambassador to proceed to London without delay.
Ayes, 49.
May 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
105. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 8)
The recent efforts to form an executive have not failed to meet with obstacles and differences of opinion in the council of officers, both with regard to the number and quality of the members. It is also understood that some who were nominated for the presidency civilly declined the honour under some pretext. So it was only yesterday, through a diffuse printed proclamation signed by Cromwell alone as Captain General of all the Forces of England, that the formation of a new council of state was announced, the numbers not specified, but consisting, according to report of only ten persons, not all soldiers, but all creatures of Cromwell. This council will have the management of all state affairs. Its duration is not specified in the proclamation, but its sittings are only announced to last six months, in which time the counties will be required to elect the members of the new parliament. This crafty device has been adopted to delude the country with the hope of enjoying its electoral privileges. Murmurs have already been heard that without such election the government would be neither authentic nor legitimate, but entirely dependent on the army. So this report is disseminated, although it convinces no one, to mask the intention to vest all power in the sword. Many think that the absolute direction of everything will always depend on the General and the assembling of the new parliament will be delayed to the utmost, lest it interfere with his present authority. Even now he is rendered very anxious by perceiving that the leaders of the army are not agreed, especially about religion and that the good understanding necessary between them does not exist. In course of time, if not at once this circumstance may cause mischief, unless remedied by Cromwell's skill. He indeed gains in popularity daily, his person and his rule increasing in favour simultaneously. By his order and that of the council of officers all the Spanish plate, already seized but not yet condemned, has recently been landed and taken to the Tower. The Spanish ambassador has made a mild complaint to Cromwell, expressing a wish to set forth his sentiments on this and some other subjects to the government in person. He was told that as soon as things were settled he would receive an intimation, and the removal of the plate did not imply a decision but was merely for safety, as caution was required in the present state of affairs. One of the keys securing the plate would be handed to him to ease his mind. Accordingly the ambassador received the key and was obliged to acquiesce in the arrangement. He is expected to be the first to appear before the new council, which they pretend here has been reformed, not altered.
The news of the junction of General Monk's squadron with that of General Pen has given extreme satisfaction here, as it proves the good understanding between the commanders. (fn. 9) The united fleet is generally supposed to exceed 100 sail, a good proportion being men of war and the rest merchantmen, all well found, in good repair and ready to go into action. Since the muster in the Downs we hear to-day that the fleet has divided into two large squadrons, one steering south and the other north, with the intention of giving battle to the enemy, who is also in force at sea and with his fleet divided into several squadrons. So a naval action is expected at any moment. While the English fleet was in the Downs it received fresh reinforcements of soldiers, who were raised practically by force the last few days, and shipped almost at once.
The envoy from Holland, considering the importance of the business and influenced by prudential and confidential motives, has presented the letter from the States to Cromwell and the Council. It was opened and read with much satisfaction as it reciprocates the good intentions on this side in favour of an amicable adjustment. The envoy confirmed orally the pacific disposition of his masters. From what I gather, if these feelings prevail the Dutch would like ambassadors or delegates to be appointed by both sides to negotiate and discuss the peace in some neutral city to be named. They thus intimate that in spite of the proffered mediation of Sweden and the Swiss Protestants one side and possibly the other would prefer to act for itself. The progress of these mutual good intentions will be watched with interest, though even supposing them sincere it is not clear that they can be easily or promptly realised.
I had a visit lately from the Swiss agent who told me that he had come here post with letters from his masters to the Commonwealth about the proposed mediation and expressing a wish for a speedy reply. But owing to the present crisis he anticipates having to remain longer than he desires and with scant hope of doing any good. He said, however, that in spite of the changes he had been promised a reply at once, when the new council was formed, and he must needs wait as was the case with many other envoys besides himself. I thanked him and replied to his compliments. I have since returned his visit.
Four delegates from the four orders of the city of Bordeaux are expected here daily on a solemn mission. Under the pretence of trade it is said they will aim at establishing a good friendship and correspondence between that city and this commonwealth, being chiefly anxious to get help against the royal forces which now threaten that province. (fn. 10) The embassy will certainly have a friendly reception though it is considered unlikely that they will get any help because of the state of affairs here and with the presence of M. de Bordeaux here, if anything is done for the insurgents it will be under cover of the wine trade, so necessary to England.
The Agent of the Count of Dognon left London lately in consequence of an adjustment made by his master with the Court and the envoy from the Prince of Condé who went to Brussels is expected back.
Encloses account of expenses for April.
London, the 17th May, 1653.
May 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
106. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate,
They are busy at Leghorn getting ready an assemblage of merchantmen for Amsterdam, to start in the coming week. It is believed that all the Dutch ships of war will go. This would please the Grand Duke greatly since, in effect, they keep the port besieged, as they always have vessels cruising about to search and visit any craft that want to enter, showing scant respect and insupportable insolence.
Florence, the 17th May, 1653.
107. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Since I wrote the preceding the Grand Duke has sent to tell me that the English minister Langland excused himself from doing anything about the proposed arrangement with the Dutch on the ground that he had no authority. His Highness expressed his regret that he had not been able to treat with some one who was manageable, less haughty and more constant in keeping his promises.
Florence, the 17th May, 1653.
May 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
108. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 11)
Affairs here continue as reported. Cromwell labours incessantly to consolidate his authority. To this end it is supposed he has recalled from Ireland the Viceroy Fleetwood, his son-in-law, as well as Coke, the Solicitor General (Luogotenenle Civile), his especial confident who contributed greatly to the late king's death. (fn. 12) With the support and advice of these two he will try to make everything even more subservient to him. Meantime he circulates daily reports that it is the intention of himself and the council to summon what may be called a conditional parliament, as it will not be confirmed unless the members returned by the electors happen to be the persons approved by himself, who will unquestionably prove more to the taste of those now in command than to that of their constituents. Under this mask a government is being formed of a despotic rather than a popular character, the meeting of parliament being considered remote rather than near at hand. Although in the general belief one must be convened ere long, to secure internal quiet, yet England, Scotland and Ireland in particular are so satisfied with the dissolution of the old one, the people being disgusted with the dilatory and violent proceedings of the late government and hoping for better things from the new one, that this step may not be taken so soon, while there is no doubt that Cromwell will employ the interval to augment the supreme power he exercises over the domestic and foreign policy of all England. Others consider the late dissolution too violent and audacious, as it involves constant and extreme vigilance for the attainment of a successful result. So opinion is divided though the majority favour the present military supremacy which practically directs the government. Ostensibly and for the sake of popularity they are trying to ease the country of the burden of this Dutch war, though with honour to England and with additional concessions from the enemy. To this end efforts have been made to strengthen the fleet, so that, to the satisfaction of Cromwell and the council it now numbers 120 sail. These will receive a reinforcement of 30 more now in the Thames, ready to join. They feel sure that if the fleet succeeds in inflicting a great defeat on the enemy the Dutch may be more inclined to peace and be practically compelled to accept it on any terms and it will deter them from espousing the cause of the King of England. On the other hand, in the event of defeat, they will show themselves equally inclined towards the desired adjustment.
The body of the fleet which parted company in the Downs, has reunited, when they heard that the enemy was to leave Holland in full force, to give battle and convoy a fleet of their merchantmen. The English sailed for Holland meaning to engage, but missed the enemy by a few hours. The voyage was not fruitless, as at the mouth of the Texel they fell in with a number of fishing boats just putting to sea for the usual fishery. After taking the crews prisoners and seizing all their tackle the fleet returned here in quest of the enemy, who also number 140 sail. If they meet a great naval action is inevitable, and they are very impatient here to know what has happened. The English rely greatly on superiority of numbers, but much more on the quality of their ships. Taking this with the resolution of the commanders and their delight at the dismissal of the late parliament which gives them hope of more efficient aid, the belief here in a signal victory almost amounts to certainty. With this expectation neither side shows any special desire for peace, though a letter addressed to the States has been handed to their envoy, who has gone back to Holland.
It is understood that Captain Badily has come into the Atlantic from the Mediterranean with the squadron he commanded off Leghorn. In a gallant action in the Strait he captured several French and Dutch merchantmen, giving safe convoy to others of his own nation, bound hither with full cargoes. Agreeable intelligence showing clearly that with the forces here and the victories which they anticipate in these parts the English will easily arrange all other matters and then show themselves in great strength in the Mediterranean. This seems to be their intention, but as yet it is only surmise.
Four delegates recently arrived here from Bordeaux, one each from the nobles and parliament and two representing the people. Their credentials were addressed to the parliament, so they are somewhat embarrassed by the change of government. But it is believed they will not hesitate to open negotiations. It is said that under the mask of trade or of the purchase of ships to act against the Duke of Vendome's fleet, they will aim at something more secret and important. They had scarcely landed ere they went to confer with the Agent of the Prince of Conde, M. de la Barriere, who returned the other day from Flanders, and they are expected to present themselves soon before the new Council of State of which Cromwell is chief. Their negotiations will be watched with a curiosity equal to their importance.
The new Council meets daily and has more domestic than foreign business to transact, for all the diplomatic agents here are very reserved in dealing with it possibly under the impression that it lacks authority for disposing of important affairs, being liable to change and modification and not offering the appearance of a well regulated and stable government.
There has been some commotion in the Admiralty Court about the Spanish plate and other goods of Spanish and Flemish merchants seized. The judges decided that the owners of the silver and goods must prove separately the portion belonging to each. After some had complied readily the Spanish ambassador interfered, considering that a discussion of the claims would be injurious to the interests of his king, and he therefore attached the whole of the property, by attorney, under the pretence that it left his king's dominions without payment of the proper duties. This course surprised both the bystanders and the parties. The latter in their rage have vowed to prove that the greater part of these goods belong to the Dutch. And so private disagreements turn to the advantage of this government whose interests will benefit not a little by these proceedings.
I must mention that a person came lately from the Admiralty expressing impatience for a decision about the affair of the English merchants, communicated by the Council of State to the Senate. He told me that in spite of the change here it was expected that the Senate would pay attention to the reasonable demands of the Commonwealth in a matter of great importance, and consequently they looked for a favourable decision. I assured the messenger of the desire entertained at Venice to give every possible satisfaction to this government. Any delay was due merely to the suit of the Dutch parties concerned who wished to be heard first. In this way I contrived to satisfy him and Sir Oliver Fleming too, but I am certain.that the question will be brought forward again.
Acknowledges letters of the 16th inst., and thanks for the order given to merchants for the payment of 1000 livres Tournois to meet the expenses of the months of April and May.
London, the 23rd May, 1653.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
109. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In consequence of suggestions made by the Tuscan Resident Sarotti about preventing Dutch and English ships from attacking one another when in the service of your Serenity, I have suggested to the Dutch ambassador the propriety of a decree from the States forbidding their subjects to molest ships employed by your Serenity, even when they are the property of an enemy. I told him that every Christian power should favour the defence made single handed by the republic against the enemy of Christendom. That English ships receiving your Serenity's pay have every right to be considered Venetian. I said that a similar suit would be preferred in England.
The ambassador replied that that was the point and they would have to await the decision of England, as without it the assent of the States, if not reciprocated, would injure them too much. I assured him that consent might reasonably be anticipated, and I supposed that the States would anticipate rather than await the decision of England, since this was a cause in which Christian powers ought to vie with each other. He said he only drew attention to the obstacles in order to remove them. But he saw another difficulty, namely that of ascertaining whether the ships were really in the service of the republic, lest the English should use them for their own ends. I said the agreement would be mutual. No subterfuge need be feared. Ships in the republic's service might easily be recognised without the risk of fraud. He promised to communicate all this to the States, remarldng that the determined resistance offered by the republic deserved peculiar assistance, though circumstances were against it.
By order of your Serenity I have desired Paulucci to obtain a similar decree. It is true that the government there has been changed, but this has not caused any alteration or tumult, everything proceeding with the utmost tranquillity, as if so radical a change were usual and natural. Cromwell maintains his credit with the people by displaying piety and devotion, visiting the churches with a big bible under his arm (portando seco alle chiese un gran breviario), and declaring publicly that the Almighty, who has hitherto specially favoured all nis undertakings, giving him victory in battle and bringing the three kindoms to subjection, inspired him to effect this change, owing to the misconduct of those who had held power so far.
I have hinted to Paulucci to make use of Cromwell's piety, whether true or false, and turn it to account, for though not a Catholic, he is a Christian and consequently hostile to the Turk.
Paris, the 27th May, 1653
110. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The governor of Havre de Grace has sent here to know what he is to do about the demands made by the commanders of an English squadron for admission into French ports, on the same footing as the Dutch have it. No answer has been sent to him because to deny to England what is granted to Holland would be offensive, while it is dangerous to grant the privilege for fear of some surpiise because of the distrust between the two nations.
The Duke of Gloucester, a, boy of twelve, has arrived here and been most tenderly greeted by the Queen, his mother, who left him in England a mere baby. He has been kept prisoner all the time by the parliament.
Encloses Paulucci's letter as usual.
Paris, the 27th May, 1653.
May 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
111. Giacomo Quntmi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Paules has gone back to England with new decrees from the king to cause the release of the goods pertaining to the traders of this crown.
Madrid, the 28th May, 1653.
May 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
112. Lorenzo Pahltjcci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 13)
I have little to report, as quiet reigns and General Cromwell and the Council are more concerned about establishing good order than over hurried changes. Seeing that his designs require time and space he has quite recently married one of his sons to the daughter of a colonel, of scanty fortune but great influence among all the military. (fn. 14) For the rest the general is moving at present with careful circumspection. Although he does not show it outwardly, he is really pleased to find himself practically the arbiter of the affairs of this country, receiving constant encouragement to support the burden of the fallen parliament, by uninterrupted acclamations and by hearing his name blessed in letters from the most remote parts of the kingdom, as the deliverer from the oppression of the late parliament, which was tyrannising over the poor people by a permanent rule. Thus that body has gone unregretted and it would seem as if the affairs of the country require that talk of the summoning of a new one should rather lie dormant than come up. Meanwhile they propose to flatter the people by measures for their relief. To this end they have already begun the reform of the laws, beginning with one that is most desired, namely, to provide (?) in some sense, a safe conduct for the old and new debtors in this state (che e quella di levarsi in certo modo salvo condotto alii vecchi e nuovi debitori in questo stato) and to introduce better order into the state's affairs, changing the judges of the Admiralty and reforming the administrators of the public money.
The new Council of State, set up as reported, meets every day. No one has appeared before it so far except the Portuguese ambassador, with his usual display, after he had had several private conferences with General Cromwell. At the moment of the dissolution of parliament this minister was about to put the finishing touches to his negotiations for a definite correspondence with this country. This is necessary to Portugal owing to the threats of Spain, and it probably acted as a stimulus to make him come forward to treat and if necessary to revise and alter the terms. The Catholic ambassador was similarly ready, on behalf of his king, to ratify the alliance with the republic of England for four years. The English tried to take advantage of this by asking permission for their ships to trade freely in the Schelde, with the object of diverting the great trade of Amsterdam and bringing it all to this city. They believe that the Spaniards will not be altogether averse from conceding this, as a underhand means of enfeebling the strength and wealth of the United Provinces. Owing to the recent changes these negotiations are at a stand still, but when the Catholic ambassador comes forward again to transact business they may easily be renewed and pushed on with increased vigour. Yet the friendly feeling between Spain and England is constantly receiving shocks because the English fleet lays hands on all the ships it can, on the way to or from Spain, laden with goods for Flanders, although they belong to the free cities, because of the doubt that the Dutch may be trading in security under cover of his Catholic Majesty's subjects. For the same reason they have recently seized two rich ships which had gone from Dunkirk to Cadiz and were returning to Flanders with cargoes. They will be inspected but are unlikely to be released soon. The parties concerned remonstrate at such procedure, but here they turn a deaf ear, considering their own interests solely and making the most of their opportunities and present circumstances which practically compel the Spaniards to dissimulate and hold their peace instead of remonstrating and insisting on a hearing.
The news that the fleet has been sailing for some days with a wind favourable for encountering the enemy arouses expectation and some anxiety about the event. If the two fleets meet there will be a great battle, on which the English are determined. Relying on their strength they leave undefended a considerable number of merchantmen, whom they invite to follow them boldly. So the expectation of an action and the hope of victory have brought all the peace movements to a standstill. The general conviction deepens that everything depends on a victory, which may lead, if they wish, to a prompt and advantageous peace, honourable to their arms. It is desired here, but they believe that the United Provinces also long for it, and it is known that they are divided among themselves both on this question and about the party of the Prince of Orange.
Accordingly they are waiting here for what the fleet will do. With the addition of the ships come from the Mediterranean and 30 others which are now completing in the river here, it will be greatly strengthened. It is said that the supreme command may again be entrusted to General Blach, who has quite recovered from his recent wounds. Thus their naval strength will be remarkable and it is openly asserted here that in a few days the English fleet will be more powerful in the number of ships and their efficiency than any other which England has had in the past.
The deputies of Bordeaux have not yet appeared before the Council of State, but it is well known that they have had several secret conferences with General Cromwell. I am unable as yet to find out what is the actual object of their negotiations, but it is stated that fresh instructions from the French Court have reached M. de Bordeaux to act as if they might receive what they want and to make it his sole object to thwart any transaction that they may set on foot.
The affairs of Scotland and Ireland do not call for extraordinary attention, as it is seen that the authority of the state is upheld there with the requisite energy, and every encounter seems to end rather to the confusion of the insurgents than in their favour. The supplies of money sent to both kingdoms and the satisfaction caused by the news about the parliament have inspirited the officers and men there, and so the course of events favours the designs of the one who now directs and has command.
I have your Excellency's letters of the 23rd inst. with instructions about the ships of the two nations in Venetian service. I will apply to the General for a positive order, and as he seems favourably disposed towards the cause of the most serene republic, I hope he will consent.
Acknowledges receipt from the merchants of the 1000 livres Tournois for the expenses of the last two months.
London, the 30th May, 1653.


  • 1. This and the following letter forwarded in Sagredo's despatch of the 20th May.
  • 2. Inisboffin Island, co Galway, which surrendered on the 14-24 February. By the 5th article of the capitulation Col. George Cusack and 1,000 men were to be conveyed to Biscay. Dunlop : Ireland under the Commonwealth, Vol. ii., page 319.
  • 3. Enclosed in Sagredo's despatch of the 20th May.
  • 4. Col. John Berkstead was lieutenant of the Tower, appointed in August, 1652. He does not seem to have been moved at this time, as he was appointed to a Committee on Scotch and Irish affairs on the 3-13 May. Cal, S.P. Dom. 1652-3, page 304.
  • 5. Pauluzzi is apt to confuse Penn and Deane. The former did not become a general of the fleet until December. The fleet came into the Downs on 25 April, o.s. Granville Penn : Memorials of Sir Wm. Penn, Vol. i., pp. 492, 525.
  • 6. Apparently Peter Bonel, who is mentioned as being back at the Hague on the 13-23 May. Thurloe : State Papers, Vol. i., page 244.
  • 7. The Italian text (except the second paragraph), printed by Berchet : Cromwell e la Republica di Venezia, pp. 45-6, and by Barozzi et Berchet : Reazioni, Inghilterra, p. 352.
  • 8. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 21st May.
  • 9. Penn was not a general of the fleet at this time, but he seems to be the officer intended as Monk and Deane were both on the Resolution.
  • 10. A letter to Conway of 19th May, o.s., also mentions four. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1652-3, page 340. But the credentials drawn up on 4th April only name three, who were Réné de Queux, Sieur des Trancars, Jean Blarru and Francois Dezert. Paris Transcripts P.R.O. sub data. Arch.du Dept. de la Gironde, xxviii., pp. 24, 27 ; xxx., page 174.
  • 11. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 27th May.
  • 12. Presumably John Cook is meant, one of the regicides who was made justice in Munster in 1649. He was solicitor for parliament at the trial of Charles I.
  • 13. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 3rd June.
  • 14. Henry Cromwell married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Francis Russell, of Chippenham, on the 10-20 May, 1653.