Cromwell’s Foreign Policy and the Western Design

by Timothy Venning

Synopsis by Serrie Meakins

This article is very useful for arguing against the view that Cromwell’s foreign policy was motivated by religious reasons. Dr Venning dissects the political and economic reasons for Cromwell’s foreign policy and is very thorough on preparations for the Western design.

The “Western Design”, Cromwell’s expedition to the Caribbean to attack Spanish colonies in 1655, is central to any assessment of his policies towards France and Spain. These two great Catholic monarchies, the “Two Crowns”, were the most powerful states in Western Europe at the time, its nearest threatening neighbours, and the states most likely to aid Charles II in attempts to regain his throne after 1651. Luckily they had been embroiled in a costly and exhausting war since 1635, an extension of the European Thirty Years’ War which had not been included in the general peace of 1648 and was further exacerbated by Spain’s involvement with French rebels against the regency government of Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin. Thus it was a great advantage to English governments after 1651 to keep the Franco-Spanish war alive if possible, and Cromwell’s Secretary of State John Thurloe to claim that this was the cornerstone of his foreign policy in the summary of foreign affairs which he wrote for his new masters in 1661-2 (albeit with the benefit of hindsight). He wrote that France was the more dangerous to the Commonwealth as it was stronger than Spain, had close family links with the Stuarts, and was not as unpopular with Charles II’s potential allies England as Spain. Thus Cromwell had an active policy to encourage Charles II to rely on Spain by tying France to England with a close alliance with the result that in 1656-8 Spain proved singularly unable to finance or equip an invasion of England on Charles’s behalf.1

The situation in which Cromwell found himself when he assumed full power in 1653 required the maintenance of large armed forces, both soldiers and shipping. Besides the security problem posed by Royalists and disaffected Scots an Irish, the Government did not rely upon the usual sanction of tradition. The expulsion of the Rump on 20 April 1653 removed the last part of the traditional regime of King, Lords, an Commons, an act of open force for which many committed Parliamentarians never forgave Cromwell. An experiment of a Nominated Parliament of “godly” MPs was followed in December 1653 by Great Britain’s first written constitution, the Instrument of Government, and the civilization of the regime under the Lord Protector was further enhanced by semi-monarchical reforms in 1657.2 However, the military establishment remained a large drain on finances throughout the Protectorate besides alienating local opinion and political opponents through such action as the experimental rule by Major-Generals in 1655-6.3 The cost of some 15 cavalry regiments, 18 regiments of foot, 35 ships and 5000 seamen was estimated in December 1654 at some £2,626,537 per annum out of a total Government expenditure of £2,877,079; the annual revenue was approximately £1,586,175, leaving a deficit equivalent to one year’s taxes.4 The armed forces could not be substantially reduced after peace was signed with the Dutch and more men had to be raised to deal with Penruddock’s Rebellion. 5 Parliament proposed an overall annual grant of £1,210,000 in autumn 1654 for the military establishment and £200,000 for the civil one6, and Cromwell’s poor relations with his MPs prevented much improvement. In summer 1658 his regime, at the height of its reputation abroad, was in serious financial trouble.7

The result of these problems was a constraint on foreign policy, to which was added the memory of the political trouble when soldiers or sailors had been idle in garrisons or port in 1647-9. Most “Leveller” malcontents had been weeded out, but there was to be more trouble in the Navy (ironically, centred on criticism of Cromwell’s war against supposedly unpopular Spain) in 1656. There was also a substantial feeling of bitterness against France within the armed forces, that country being regarded as primarily responsible for Charles’s invasion in 1651. The extent of Protestant fervour against the European Catholic monarchies as the enemies of the “new Israel” is more debatable. 8 The rebellions within France in the early 1650s provided an opportunity to act, particularly as Protestants (Huguenots), who had been deserted by Charles I and Buckingham during their previous revolt, and republicans (the “Ormee” faction at Bordeaux) were among Cardinal Mazarin’s enemies. Their appeals for help were carefully studied by Cromwell and his predecessors in the Rump in 1651-3. 9 Thus in April 1653 Cromwell continued to consider aid to the rebels in south-west France to weaken the French government, receiving envoys, studying maps, and sending out his own agents – Joachim Hane and Jean-Baptiste Stouppe – to assess his chances of success if he listened to the appeals of the rebel Prince of Conde and his Spanish backers.10 The view was long held by historians that Cromwell, obsessed with the “Black Legend” of Spain’s Popish cruelties and the glories of 1588, was determined on war with Spain. In fact, he maintained the good relations with that country which his predecessors had established with them throughout 1654, listening with every appearance of sincerity to the attempts to win his friendship by their resident ambassador Don Alonso de Cardenas. Cardenas, resident in London since 1640, had long kept up good relations with the Parliamentary enemies of Charles I , that ruler’s marriage to a French Bourbon princess being of more importance to him than the anti-monarchical ideology of a few Parliamentarians 11Thus Cromwell, as commander-in-chief, had taken part in the Commonwealth’s double negotiations with the French and Spanish rivals since 1651 and continued to do so in 1654. Spain offered England the return of Calais if it would assist a Spanish offensive in Flanders; France, at a disadvantage from its Royalist links and slowness to recognise the new regime, offered Dunkirk (taken by Spain in 1652).12

A further reason for an even-handed English approach to the rival offers of France and Spain in 1654 was that the Council of State was divided its attitudes. Under the Instrument of Government Cromwell was required to seek their “advice and consent” on foreign policy, though there were no sanctions to force this. They were mostly friends and relations or close military/political allies, but they were far from being the band of “yes-men” which they were accused of being by disenchanted contemporaries. 13 Until recently their importance in decision-making has been underestimated.14 A report by Ellis Leighton unearthed by S. G. Gardiner suggests a specific division of opinion on the subject of alliance with France or Spain in the spring of 1654. One faction, led by Cromwell’s talented young protégé General John Lambert (who was currently regarded as the second most important man in England), urged alliance with Spain against Charles II’s French allies; one, led by Sir Gilbert Pickering, urged the reverse; and a third, led by Secretary Thurloe, held that peace with all potential enemies was essential for the new, fragile Government but that the Franco-Spanish war had to be kept alive. They also believed that Cromwell should be “caput et ducem foederis Protestantis”, a militant role entailing hostility towards any Catholic state believed to be oppressing Protestants. This role seemingly fitted France in 1654- 5, given first the Huguenot revolt and in April 1655 French involvement in the much condemned Vaudois Massacre in Savoy. Contemporary observers believed that Cromwell desired “peace with all the world” until he had consolidated his position.15

The result was a continuation of negotiations with both powers in 1654, more or less on the basis of an auction of military assistance to the highest bidder. Cardenas acted for Spain, assisted by Conde’s emissary Barriere, while the new French ambassador Antoine de Bordeaux was assisted by the hot-headed young Philippe de Castelmore, Baron de Baas. Baas, the brother of the original of Dumas’s D’Artagnan, was Mazarin’s nephew’s fencing-tutor, a hot­headed young officer who started asking awkward questions about the strength of opposition in England in retaliation for Cromwell’s open meetings with French rebels. Cromwell confronted him after his meetings coincided with the Royalist Gerard Plot in June 1654 and expelled him, being highly indignant that Mazarin promoted him instead of punishing him. Spain, assisted by the bitterness of some high-ranking officers against France and by Baas’s mistakes, was hampered – perhaps fatally – by her inability to raise the money which Cromwell demanded she provide for any English expedition to Flanders, her hard-pressed finances being severely damaged by the war in Flanders. 17 Complaints from English mercenaries already in Spanish service to the Protector reinforced his caution. 18 In any case, no money could be raised in England until Parliament met.

In these circumstances, the end of rebellion in France coincided with increasing evidence of Spain’s inability to fund an alliance. Agreement with France was no more likely, given the prolonged nature of discussions with Bordeaux over commercial disputes, compensation for seized shipping, and other matters – talks which frequently drove him to despair and Mazerin to put pressure on Cromwell (and satisfy domestic critics) by nearly recalling him. Accordingly an expedition to Flanders or to assist the Huguenots became unlikely, and a target outside Europe came under consideration. Financial difficulties required that a lucrative target be chosen as no ally could fund the expedition, which seemed to point to the Spanish empire in America. (Other reasons for this will be considered later.) Sometime in mid-April 1654 the Council held a debate on the matter, considering whether it was wise to “render itself agreeable to all the world”. The choice of policy lay between attacking France, attacking Spain, and peace with both, supposing we might have good sums of money from both so to do. Attacking France was reckoned “difficult and unprofitable” after the failure of the rebellions, and “latterly France was not so bitter against. the Protestants”. On the contrary, Spanish attacks on English positions in the West Indies seemed to invite retaliation, though in reality the control exercised by Madrid over the sprawling Viceroyalties in Central and South America made the incidents of the past decades hardly a direct outcome of planned aggression. Past seizures of treasure-loaded galleons of the Spanish Plate Fleet, bringing gold and silver from Spain’s American mines to Europe to finance the Spanish government and army, made an attack on them seem “the most profitable in all the world”.19 Cromwell himself, according to Thurloe’s later recollections, was “for war, at least in the West Indies, unless assurances were given and things well settled for the future”.20 The ability of the Spanish government to control the actions of its local authorities, customs-officials, and captains was ignored; to that extent latent prejudice against the “Black Legend” of Spanish cruelty and sinister Popish aggression played its part. It is significant that the Inquisition, centrepiece of anti –Spanish propaganda, was mentioned during the discussions. The strategy of the attack concerned whether to “make a partial work of it this year”, which would be cheaper and less risky in committing resources needed at home, and experts on the state of Spanish defences in the Caribbean (such as Captains Hatsell and Limbery) were called in. It was decided that a large-scale expedition would be too expensive, and that a colony should be set up on a Spanish-held island in the Caribbean to which 8-10,000 troublesome Royalists a year could be transplanted from Scotland.

The use of the Caribbean as a dumping-ground for potential rebels from within the British Isles had previously been seen at Barbados, to which Scots prisoners were removed after 1651, and a new, larger colony would prove very useful. It would also cut the costs of maintaining a military presence in Scotland. According to the somewhat stylised account we have of the debate, which probably summarises points made during a rather less neat discussion, Pickering’s faction pressed Cromwell for an open war with Spain and alliance with France, arguing that this would keep the Franco-Spanish war in being, “discountenance our rebels and fugitives”, and assist an alliance with France’s North German Protestant allies. In reply, Lambert’s faction argued that Spain would cut off her trade with England (Lambert’s home county of Yorkshire was the centre of the wool trade which would be affected), close the Straits of Gibraltar, and ruin English shipping. Cromwell would not accept the arguments of either for an open declaration of war, showing a mixture of pragmatism and genuine indecision (the latter to be ended only when the events of 1655 seemingly pointed to a Spanish war as God’s will). He desired to restrict military action to “beyond the Line” in the Americas where Spanish breaches of terms of the treaties of 1604 and 1630 could excuse some local retaliation. His reply to Lambert shows that he was not convinced by the threat to trade – Spain would not dare to close the Flemish ports, which relied on such trade (they did defy orders to close in 1655), and other countries would make up the loss of Spanish ports. He singled out France’s Marseilles and the ports of Portugal, currently in revolt against Spain.21 A peace-treaty was currently being agreed with Portugal, despite the fact that its ambassador’s brother had been arrested for killing an Englishman and would shortly be executed in a public affront to all claims of diplomatic immunity.

Preparations for the Caribbean expedition accordingly began, and the orders for new dispositions for the fleet in June designated fourteen ships for it.22 It is a comment on the state of English security that within weeks the Royalists knew about the destination2324 The Spanish Council of State duly discussed it, decided that “the English have some hankering after the island of Santo Domingo”, and resolved to send orders there to prepare defence.25 The Spanish thus knew what was afoot, but due to their war with France they could not afford to withdraw Cardenas before a rumoured attack became a fact as Cromwell would then ally openly with France. This was the crucial factor which enabled Cromwell to proceed with his colonial expedition and continue talks with France and Spain without fear that his plans would cause Cardenas to leave London.

There was a further debate on policy on 20/30 July, of which we possess a stylised but still useful summary drawn up by one of the Council, Colonel Edward Montague (later the admiral who played a crucial role in the Restoration and created Earl of Sandwich). The Protector quoted Spain’s obstinacy over refusing toleration for English merchants’ Protestant services – something which the more hard-pressed Portugal had conceded. The other important demand was for official acceptance that English ships could trade with Spanish America, an illegal practice which had led to sporadic seizures of offenders by Spanish officials. In fact the decline of the Spanish mercantile marine meant that the illegal visits of English and (mainly) Dutch ships had to be tacitly accepted by the local authorities in order to obtain enough imports.26 The official acceptance of this would only occur when Spain was desperate, in 1713, and would be seen as humiliating; it was not strictly necessary to obtain this to benefit merchants. Cardenas referred to the demands for trade and toleration as “his master’s two eyes”, showing their importance and prestige. However, some face-saving clause allowing services in private had been granted in the treaties of 1604 and 1630. The former was more contentious, and showed Cromwell’s lack of appreciations of practical realities in the area; it reflected his desire to prevent any further harassment.

The Protector gave the following reasons for war:

  1. “Providence seemed to lead us hither, having 160 ships swimming,…we think it our best consideration to keep up this reputation” to impress enemies.
  2. “While considering the two Crowns, and the particular arguments’ weight, we found opportunities point this way”.
  3. “It was told us that the Design would cost little more than laying by the ships, and that with great profit…Six nimble frigates shall range up and down the Bay of Mexico to get prey”. This fleet proved too small.
  4. “To stay from attempting it of superfluity is to put it off for ever, our expenses being such as will in all probability admit that”.
  5. “The good of the Design both to the Protestants’ cause and to the undertakers”.

In reply, the arguments against it (attributed to Lambert) centred on the practical difficulties. It was “too far off, having greater concernments at home”; it was not likely to gain riches or “vent for troublesome people in England, Scotland, and Ireland” (by transplantation, as recently to Barbados). It would be subject to the hazards of tropical diseases, and local colonists would not join in “unless you be well settled” (as in fact happened, to Cromwell’s surprise). “The case at first wrong stated. The charge not well considered. The regulation of law…not well taken care of…What account shall we give to Parliament for it?” if it failed.27

Other evidence shows Cromwell’s attitude to this. The local Spanish authorities had breached past treaties, as a merchants’ petition shows.28 Legal justification was explained to the co­ commander, Robert Venables, in a “heads I win, tails you lose” manner:

Either there was peace with the Spaniard in the West Indies or there was not. If peace they had violated it, and to seek reparation was just. If we had not peace, there was nothing acted against articles.29

Cromwell’s own accounts to Parliament in 1656 and 1658 show that he preferred to indulge in a long account of his spiritual odyssey and the inevitability of a Divinely-inspired war with the Papists to a careful summary of policy.30

It should be emphasised that the Design, preparations for which went ahead through the autumn of 1654, did not imply war in Europe. Negotiations with French ambassador Bordeaux for peace did not conclude until November 1655, and there was no offensive alliance until Spain was feared to be likely to sign peace with France. Thurloe’s later summary states that:

Cromwell intended not to meddle with anything in Europe until the Spaniards should begin, unless the Plate Fleet should be met with, which was looked on as a lawful prize.31

Cromwell sent Admiral Blake orders to intercept Spanish shipping in European waters in May-June 165532, but even at this point observers in Madrid did not believe that weakened Spain would declare war unless the “Design” attacked ports and fortresses in America.33 Don Luis de Haro, Philip IV’s chief minister, found it convenient to send a second envoy (the Marquis de Leda) to London in May 1655, albeit with no new offers. Concurrently, French troops’ involvement in the massacres of Protestant villagers in the Vaudois valleys of Savoy, their close ally, in April led to a new outburst of Francophobia in England. This was particularly marked among radical preachers and the armed forces, while Cromwell held up the French negotiations until a settlement was reached in Savoy and sent indignant letters and envoys (one of them the infamous George Downing) to France and Savoy. Ironically, Cardenas even formed an alliance with preachers – the supposed enemies of Spain and its Inquisition – to press for war with France.34

It should be remembered that the sending of a State expedition to the Americas was a new departure in English foreign policy, Cromwell’s predecessors having been conspicuous for their lack of involvement in colonial matters. The haphazard nature of English colonies, set up and largely controlled by wealthy individuals or trading-companies, reflected the lack of a conscious colonial policy until 1654, and indeed State interference in the Caribbean was not welcomed by the local settlers who it was designed to help. The Design seized Dutch ships which had been trading there in defiance of the Navigation Acts, unaware that such trade was essential due to the lack of English shipping, as well as ships trading with Spanish America. (It is noticeable that Cromwell had ordered his expedition to destroy all ships trading with the “enemy” although England and Spain were technically at peace and the action would infuriate both Dutch and French, two allies who he would need in a year or two). Government ships had only been sent to the Americas during the Elizabethan war with Spain, and then largely through privately-funded expeditions; the State did not have resources or interest. The civil war had caused greater State interest for security reasons, and in 1651 an expedition had been sent to drive Prince Rupert’s Royalist fleet from the Caribbean and regain Barbados. Now, however, a force was being sent to escalate minor incidents with a “friendly” Power.

The change in English policy partly reflects Cromwell’s sense of duty to his citizens, whose appeals he was morally bound to answer. As he wrote in regard to the Hays case in Hamburg in 1656, he “conceived it a chief part of our duty not to suffer any countryman of ours in vain to desire our patronage and succour in distress”.35 This has been linked by some historians to the way in which enthusiastic Parliamentarian preachers and pamphleteers had compared the victories of the New Model Army, God’s chosen instrument, with those of ancient Israel and looked on war with any Catholic power as being a crusade. (One, the Fenland drainer Sir Cornelius Vermuyden, wanted England and the Dutch to divide the Spanish empire between them.) “Godly” concern for one’s fellow citizens apart, a Catholic target for the armed forces was popular as well as hopefully remunerative. In 1653-4 this could have been directed against France or Spain, and Cromwell seems to have preferred to keep his options open (not least to avoid faction in the Council) while being inclined to acts of reprisal in the Americas. An important factor in his assumptions about the situation was undoubtedly the basic prejudice against Spain and its aggressive, cruel, imperialistic Counter-Reformationary Catholicism which existed in contemporary England. This phenomenon has been best dealt with in Wiiham Maltby’s work The Black Legend in England: the development of anti-Spanish sentiment. 1558-1660.36 There was plenty of contemporary “evidence”, such as Las Casas’s Tears of the Indians, which was to be reprinted in 1656. It should be remembered that there had been a notable outbreak of anti-Spanish fear as a result of the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War and the expulsion of Frederick and Elizabeth of Bohemia in 1620 as reflected in the many calls in Parliament (the voice of the educated classes) for intervention. This had been in the formative years of Cromwell and many of his advisers, and some of the Council had travelled in Europe during the wars; Colonel Skippon had fought against Spain. Interestingly, may MPs had preferred a cheap colonial war to an expensive expedition to the Continent.37

Cromwell’s plans may have harked back to the debates of the 1620s, but they also acted as a extension of more recent private initiatives. Some form of State action to assert English power in the Caribbean (e.g. a West Indies Company) had been considered by prominent figures in the 1620s and 1630s, without Royal support; the career of Sir Thomas Roe is instructive. Cromwell had links with a number of important figures who set up the Providence Island Company in the 1630s to found a private colony in the Caribbean as a base for attacks on Spanish shipping. They included his cousin Oliver St. John, his friend Lord Saye and Sele (to whose colony, Sayebrook, he is supposed to have considered moving) and the father of Councillor Nathaniel Fiennes, Pym, and the future Parliamentary admiral Warwick. The Company Secretary was William Jessop, later Thurloe’s deputy. Their ideas provided a blueprint for him to follow on a larger scale with Hispaniola (as it turned out, Jamaica), though the “Instructions” for the Design make it clear t.hat Cromwell kept his choice of target vague enough to enable his commanders to set up a colony on the South American mainland if they so desired.38 The Company’s captains, most notably William Jackson, provided evidence of the lack of Spanish defences in the region by the ease with which they raided it in the early 1640s – evidence which persuaded Cromwell that a small expedition could be successful.39 He appears to have taken particular notice of a renegade Dominican priest, Thomas Gage, who had long travelled in the poorest-defended areas of central America and who lobbied the Council early in 1654. The author of the vitriolic polemic The English-American His Travails by Land and Sea which expatiated on Spanish cruelty and military weakness, Gage presented Some Brief and True Observations concerning the West Indies to the Council, proposing a pre-emptive strike before Spain attacked other English colonies and arguing for use of disaffected Negroes, Indians, and Creoles. Interestingly for future anti-colonialist writing, Gage argued that the Spaniard had no more right to lands because he had discovered them than would an Indian who landed in Spain. The just title belonged to the natives, who could legally confer it on their liberators.

Cromwell took too much notice of the over-confident Gage, most of whose information was of limited value and twenty years out of date. He took less notice of an alternative proposal by the Royalist Barbadian planter Colonel Modyford, who believed that a landing on a weakly-held part of Venezuela would be easier as there would be towns and fields ready to be used. He predicted that a small, unsettled island would not attract colonists and would be difficult to plant, causing the English troops to desert, which is what happened on Jamaica.40 In the event, the expedition was made up of a mixture of troops from different regiments – men who could be spared from the more essential tasks at home – under two indifferent commanders, Admiral William Penn (father of the founder of Pennsylvania) and Robert Venables. Thanks to underestimation of the tasks facing them, they were repulsed at their landing on Hispaniola and had to make do with Jamaica. Modyford wrote that he “heartily wished that it might have been their first attempt, that it might have seemed choice rather than necessity”.41 It is arguable that it was this unprecedented reverse for the New Model Army which emboldened Spain to expel the English merchants in that autumn of 1655 and precipitate war with the enraged Cromwell, leading to the Spanish alliance with Charles II in April 1656. However, Thurloe’s estimation of Spanish weakness held true, making the Spanish aid to the Royalists small, reluctant, and insufficient seriously to threaten Cromwell’s rule.

1 Thomas Birch (ed), Thurloe State Papers (7 vols, London, 1742), I, 759-63.
2 H Woolrych, Commonwealth to Protectorate (Oxford U.P., 1982) is the best study of this. For the Protector’s failure to take the kingship in 1657, see Woolrych, ”The Cromwellian Protectorate: a military dictatorship?” in History 75 (1990), pp.207-31, especially pp.225-6.
3 See Ivan Roots, “Swordsmen and Decimators”, in R H Parry (ed), The English Civil War and After (Macmillan, 1970), pp.78-92.
4 B[ritish] L[ibrary] Additional Manuscripts 2884 and 4156.
5 Woolrych, ”The Cromwellian Protectorate“, History 75 (1990), p.216.
6 Bodleian Library, Carte Mss 7 ff.63-5.
7 M E Green (ed), Calendar of State Papers Domestic 1658-9 (HMSO, 1885), p.80.
8 For instances of English popular and military antagonism to France, see Grignon’s letter to Mazarin, 5/15 February 1649, in P[ublic] R[ecord] O[ffice] State Papers 31/3/89, and Croulle to Mazarin, 16/26 September and 28 October/7 November 1650, P.R.O. State Papers 31/3/90. For military feeling in April 1654, see an account of a dinner at Henry Cromwell’s house in De Patt to Mazarin, 17/ 27 April quoted in Guizot, History of Oliver Cromwell (trans. Scobie, 1854) Appendix viii, no.3.
9 See Philip Knatchel, England and the Fronde (Cornell U.P., 1967), pp.298-300. The rebels at Bordeaux offered to transfer their city’s sovereignty to Cromwell, but thought better of it; Calendar of State Papers Domestic 1652-3 p.340.
10 See Bordeaux’s letters to Mazarin of 4/14 November and 1/11 December 1653 in P.R.O. State Papers 31/3/91; and Barriere to Conde, 5/15 December, B.L. Additional Mss. 35252.
11 See A J Loomie, “Alonso de Cardenas and the Long Parliament, 1640-8”, in English Historical Review 97 (1982), pp.289-307.
12 For France’s offer of Dunkirk, see Governor D’Estrades to Mazarin, 15/25 February 1652, quoted in English Historical Review 11 (1896), pp.481. For Cardenas’ offer of Calais, see his despatch to Madrid of 13/23 April , in P.R.O. State Papers 94/43.
13 See Cromwell’s own contemporary John Hobart’s comment that they were appointed to “Assentari not to Assentiri” (to flatter not to approve), in Bodleian Library, Tanner Ms. 52, f.19v.
14 See Peter Gaunt, “‘The Single Person’s Confidants and Dependants’: Oliver Cromwell and his Protectoral Councillors”, in Historical Journal 32 (1989) pp.537-60.
15 Bordeaux to Count Brienne, 28 February/10 March 1653, P.R.O. State Papers 31/3/90.
16 See Baas’s account of his final meeting with Cromwell in his despatch of 15/ 25 June 1654 in P.R.O. State Papers 31/3/95. We do not have an English account.
17 Barriere to Conde, 7/ 17 April 1654, and Mazerolles (who believed “the Spanish ambassador has not got a sou”) to Conde, 4/14 and 14/24 July 1654; B.L. Additional Mss. 35252.
18 For Cromwell’s protests to Philip IV on behalf of the mercenaries, see Bodleian Library, Rawlinson Mss. A261, ff, 7-8, 12-13. Baas wrote about Cromwell’s concern and surprise at the poor pay in his despatch of 15/ 25 June quoted above.
19 C H Firth (eel), The Clarke Papers (4 vols, Camden Society, 1891-1901), III, 203-6.
20 Venables’s account in T Park (ed), The Harleian Miscellany (12 vols, London, 1807-11), III, 513.
21 As n.19.
22 Calendar of State Papers Domestic 1654, p.201.
23 W Macray et al (eds), Calendar of the Clarendon Papers Preserved in the Bodleian Library (5 vols, Oxford, 1872-1970), III, 379.
24 Thurloe State Papers, II, 414.
25 Venetian ambassador Pauluzzi to Senate, 20/30 May and 26 May/5 June 1655, in Calendar of State Papers Venetian 1655-6 (ed. Allen Hines), pp.60 and 62-4.
26 See Pierre Chaunu, Seville et l’Atlantique, for an account of the decline of the Spanish marine which required the American ports to rely on “illegal” English and (mainly) Dutch shipping for their imports. Incidentally, this factor – which Cromwell’s merchant associates must have mentioned on the Council’s allied committees – also foiled his attempts to blockade Cadiz and other ports during the war by seizing Spanish merchant ships.
27 Clarke Papers, III, 207-8. Cromwell remarked of his mission that “God has not called us hither. ..but to consider the work that we may do in the world”.
28 Ibid. The petition is in Thurloe State Papers, IV, 44-5.
29 As n.20.
30 B.L. Additional Mss. Ayscough, 6125, ff.34-60b.
31 Thurloe State Papers, I, 759-63.
32 Ibid, III, 611.
33 Calendar of State Papers Venetian 1655-6, p.65.
34 Bordeaux’s letters in Thurloe State Papers, III, 680.
35 Ibid, VI, 518-19.
36 Published by Duke University Press in 1978.
37 Robert Ruigh, The Parliament of 1624 Politics and Foreign Policy (Harvard U.P., 1971), pp.177-9, 220.
38 Penn, Memorials of Admiral William Penn (James Duncan, 1833), pp.203-9 . The instructions stated that the objective was “to gain an interest in that part of the West Indies in the possession of the Spaniard. For affecting whereof we shall not tie you up to a method by any particular instructions”.
39 C M Andrewes, British Committees. Commissions. and Councils of Trade and Navigation (Baltimore, 1908), I, 50.
40 Thurloe State Papers, III, 59-61.
41 Ibid, III, 62, 565.

PDF version

2 thoughts on “Cromwell’s Foreign Policy and the Western Design

  1. Pingback: Britain’s monarchy backed slavery from day one | Slavery - Web Today

  2. Pingback: Peace & Truth

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.