How the Venetian System Was Transplanted Into England
Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
New Federalist, June 3, 1996
The oligarchical system of Great Britain is not an autochthonous product of English or British history. It represents rather the tradition of the Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians which has been transplanted into the British Isles through a series of upheavals. The status of Britain as the nation foutué of modern history is due in particular to the sixteenth and seventeenth century metastasis into England and Scotland of the Venetian oligarchy along with its philosophy, political forms, family fortunes, and imperial geopolitics. The victory of the Venetian party in England between 1509 and 1715 built in turn upon a pre-existing foundation of Byzantine and Venetian influence.
NOBLE VENETIAN: …pray tell us what other prerogatives the King [of England] enjoys in the government; for otherwise, I who am a Venetian, may be apt to think that our Doge, who is called our prince, may have as much power as yours.Henry Neville, Plato Redivivus, 1681
One of the best governments in English history was that of King Alfred the Great, who ruled from 871 to 899. Alfred pursued a policy of literacy, education, and nation-building, and stands as a founder of Old English literature. The Byzantine Empire saw in Alfred a flare-up of the Platonic Christian humanism of the Irish monks and Alcuin of York, the principal adviser to Charlemagne a century earlier. Byzantium accordingly incited Vikings and Varangians, who had been defeated by Alfred the Great, to renew their attacks on England.
Then, in 1066, two armies converged on England. The first was the Norwegian army of King Harold Hardrada (“the pitiless”), a Byzantine general who had served as the commander of the Imperial Guard in Constantinople. Harold Hardrada was killed by the English at Stamford Bridge in 1066. But in that same year the weakened English forces were defeated at Hastings by William of Normandy (“the Conqueror”). Thus began the Norman Yoke, imposed by Norman oligarchs and a century of Norman kings.
The next dynasty, the Plantagenets, featured such figures as Richard I Lionheart, a flamboyant homosexual who avidly participated in the Venetian- sponsored Crusades in the eastern Mediterranean. The Magna Carta extorted from Richard’s successor King John in 1215 had nothing to do with political liberties in the modern sense, but protected the license of marauding feudal barons against the central monarchy. The enforcement machinery of the Magna Carta permitted the barons lawfully to wage war upon the King in case their grievances were not settled. Since civil war and private warfare were by far the greatest curses of society at that time, England was held hostage to parasitical feudal overlords that a more centralized (or “absolute”) monarchy might have mitigated. The barons, whose sociopathic prerogatives were anchored in the Magna Carta by a license for civil war, were easily the most reactionary element in English society, and were susceptible to easy manipulation by Venice, which had now conquered Byzantium and was approaching the apogee of its power.
Venetian influence in England was mediated by banking. Venetian oligarchs were a guiding force among the Lombard bankers who carried out the “great shearing” of England which led to the bankruptcy of the English King Henry III, who, during the 1250’s, repudiated his debts and went bankrupt. The bankruptcy was followed by a large- scale civil war.
It was under Venetian auspices that England started the catastrophic conflict against France known today as the Hundred Years’ War. In 1340, King Edward III of England sent an embassy to Doge Gradenigo announcing his intention to wage war on France, and proposing an Anglo-Venetian alliance. Gradenigo accepted Edward III’s offer that all Venetians on English soil would receive all the same privileges and immunities enjoyed by Englishmen. The Venetians accepted the privileges, and declined to join in the fighting. Henceforth, English armies laying waste to the French towns and countryside would do so as Venetian surrogates. France was in no position to interfere in the final phase of the rivalry between Venice and Genoa, which was decided in favor of Venice. The degeneracy of English society during these years of Venetian ascendancy is chronicled in the writings of Chaucer – the greatest English writer of the age – who was an ally of the anti-Venetian Dante- Petrarca- Boccaccio grouping.
The Venetians concocted myths to enhance their influence on English society. For the nobility and the court, there was the anti-Christian myth of King Arthur and his Round Table of oligarchs seeking the Holy Grail. For the mute and downtrodden masses, there was the myth of Robin Hood, who by robbing from the rich to give to the poor combined plunder with class struggle.
During the wartime 1370’s, the population of England collapsed by 1.5 million souls, from a total of 4 to 2.5 million, because of the Black Death, which itself resulted from Venetian debt service policies. The year 1381 saw an uprising in London and southeast England on a program of abolishing feudal dues, free use of forests, and an end to the tithes or taxes collected by the church. This was called Wat Tyler’s rebellion, which ended when Wat was killed by the Mayor of London. Contemporary with this was the rise of Lollardry, the prototype of English Protestantism promoted by John Wycliffe, the Oxford scholastic. Wycliffe’s anti-clerical campaign had many easy targets, but his theology was inferior and his stress on every person’s right to read and interpret the Bible was designed to spawn a myriad of fundamentalist fanatics.
Lollardry as a social phenomenon had a specific Venetian pedigree, best seen through the prevalence among the Lollard rank and file of the belief that the soul is not immortal and dies with the body. This is the mortalist heresy, and can more accurately be called the Venetian heresy, because of its deep roots within the Venetian oligarchy. Later, beginning in the early sixteenth century, the University of Padua and Pietro Pomponazzi were notorious for their advocacy of mortalism.
In 1377 Wycliffe was saved from prosecution by an uprising of the London mob. Lollardry kept going for centuries as an underground religion for the disinherited kept going by itinerant preachers. During Queen Elizabeth’s time, Lollardry lived in the form of sects called the Familists and the Grindletonians. These finally flowed into the Puritan Revolution of the 1640’s. Lollardy contained a strong dose of primitive socialism; Lollard leaders like John Ball and “Jack Straw” preached social revolution with slogans such as, “When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?” This is the ultimate source of that communism which David Urquhardt taught Karl Marx five centuries later. Finally, Lollardry spread into central Europe through the medium of the Hussites of Bohemia and caused a series of wars of religion there. In seventeenth- century England there was a slogan to the effect that Wycliffe begat Hus, Hus begat Luther, and Luther begat truth. There is every reason to view the Lollards as a Venetian pilot project for Luther’s 1517 launching of the Reformation during the war of the League of Cambrai.
The English defeat in the Hundred Years’ War (1453) left English society in a shambles. This was the setting for the oligarchical chaos and civil war known as the Wars of the Roses, which pitted the House of York with its symbol the white rose against the House of Lancaster with its red rose. Both groupings derived from quarrels among the seven sons of the pro-Venetian Edward III, who had started the wars with France. The Wars of the Roses, fought between 1455 and 1485, brought English society to the point of breakdown.
From this crisis England was saved by the coming of Henry Tudor, the Earl of Richmond, who became king as Henry VII. It was under Henry VII that England began to become a modern state and to participate in the Renaissance progress associated with Medici Florence and the France of Louis XI. The precondition for the revival of England was the suppression of the pro-Venetian oligarchy, the barons. Conveniently, these had been decimated by their own handiwork of civil war. Henry VII set himself up as the Big Policeman against the oligarchs. Henry VII established for the central government an effective monopoly of police and military powers. One of the reasons for the great ineptitude demonstrated by both sides in the English Civil War of the 1640’s is that under the Tudors the nobility and gentry had largely forgotten how to wage civil war.
Like that of Louis XI, Henry VII’s policy was based on an alliance of the crown with the urban trading and productive classes against the latifundist barons. Barons were excluded from the state administration, which relied rather on city merchants who were much more likely to be loyal to the king. Since the oligarchs routinely intimidated local courts, Henry VII gave new prominence to the court of the Star Chamber, a special royal court designed to impose central authority on the barons. The private armies of oligarchs along with other bandits and pirates were liquidated.
Henry VII was an active dirigist, promoting trading companies to expand overseas commerce. Under the Tudor state, England existed as a nation, with relative internal stability and a clear dynastic succession.
Henry VII’s suppression of the oligarchs displeased Venice. Venice also did not like Henry’s policy of alliance with Spain, secured by the marriage of his heir to Catherine of Aragon. Henry VII in fact sought good relations with both France and Spain. The Venetians wanted England to become embroiled with both France and Spain. Venice was also fundamentally hostile to the modern nation-state, which Henry was promoting in England. When Henry VII’s son Henry VIII turned out to be a murderous pro-Venetian psychotic and satyr, the Venetians were able to re-assert their oligarchical system.
Henry VIII was King of England between 1509 and 1547. His accession to the throne coincided with the outbreak of the War of the League of Cambrai, in which most European states, including France, the Holy Roman Empire (Germany), Spain, and the papacy of Pope Julius II della Rovere joined together in a combination that bid fair to annihilate Venice and its oligarchy. The League of Cambrai was the world war that ushered in the modern era. Henry VIII attracted the attention of the Venetian oligarchy when he – alone among the major rulers of Europe – maintained a pro-Venetian position during the crisis years of 1509-1510, just as Venice was on the brink of destruction. Henry VIII was for a time the formal ally of Venice and Pope Julius. The Venetian oligarchy became intrigued with England.
In 1527, when Henry VIII sought to divorce Catherine of Aragon, the Venetian-controlled University of Padua endorsed Henry’s legal arguments. Gasparo Contarini, the dominant political figure of the Venetian oligarchy, sent to the English court a delegation which included his own uncle, Francesco Zorzi. The oligarch and intelligence operative Zorzi, consummately skilled in playing on Henry’s lust and paranoia, became the founder of the powerful Rosicrucian, Hermetic, cabalistic, and Freemasonic tradition in the Tudor court. Later, Henry VIII took the momentous step of breaking with the Roman Papacy to become the new Constantine and founder of the Anglican Church. He did this under the explicit advice of Thomas Cromwell, a Venetian agent who had become his chief adviser. Thomas Cromwell was Henry VIII’s business agent in the confiscation of the former Catholic monasteries and other church property, which were sold off to rising families. Thomas Cromwell thus served as the midwife to many a line of oligarchs.
Under the impact of the War of the League of Cambrai, the Venetian oligarchy realized the futility of attempting a policy of world domination from the tiny base of a city-state among the lagoons of the northern Adriatic. As was first suggested by the present writer in 1981, the Venetian oligarchy (especially its “giovani” faction around Paolo Sarpi) responded by transferring its family fortunes (fondi), philosophical outlook, and political methods into such states as England, France, and the Netherlands. Soon the Venetians decided that England (and Scotland) was the most suitable site for the New Venice, the future center of a new, world-wide Roman Empire based on maritime supremacy. Success of this policy required oligarchical domination and the degradation of the political system by wiping out any Platonic humanist opposition.
The overall Venetian policy was to foment wars of religion between the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans on the one hand, and the Jesuit-dominated Catholic Counter- reformation of the Council of Trent on the other. The Venetians had spawned both sides of this conflict, and exercised profound influence over them. The Venetians insisted on the maintenance of a Protestant dynasty and a Protestant state church in England, since this made conflict with the Catholic powers more likely. The Venetians demanded an anti- Spanish policy on the part of London, generally to energize the imperial rivalry with Madrid, and most immediately to prevent the Spanish army stationed in Milan from getting an opportunity to conquer Venice.
The destruction of the English mind was fostered by the Venetians under the banner of murderous religious fanaticism. Under Henry VIII, the English population continued in their traditional Roman Catholicism, which had been established in 644 at the synod of Whitby. Then, in 1534, Henry’s and Thomas Cromwell’s Act of Supremacy made the Roman Pope anathema. Those who refused to follow Henry VIII down this path, like St. Thomas More and many others, were executed. This first phase of Anglicanism lasted until 1553, when the Catholic Queen Mary I (“Bloody Mary,” the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon) took power. Mary re-established Papal authority and married King Philip of Spain. Bloody Mary’s main adviser in her proscriptions was Cardinal Reginald Pole, who had lived in Venice for some years and was part of the immediate circle around Gasparo Contarini. Henry VIII had feared Pole, an heir to the Plantagenets, as a possible pretender, and Pole had done everything to excite Henry’s paranoia. Pole incited Bloody Mary to carry out a bloodbath with 300 to 500 prominent victims. These executions of the “Marian martyrs” were immortalized in John Foxe’s celebrated Book of Martyrs (1554 ff.), a copy of which was later kept in every church in England and which attained the status of a second Bible among Protestants of all types. The events orchestrated by Pole seemed to many Englishmen to prove the thesis that a Catholic restoration would threaten their lives and property.
Bloody Mary died in 1558 and was succeeded by Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. From the Catholic point of view Elizabeth was a bastard, so it was sure that she would rule as a Protestant. Elizabeth forcibly restored her father’s Anglican or Episcopal Church.
Three times within the span of 25 years the English population was thus coerced into changing their religion under the threat of capital punishment. Three times, the supposedly eternal verities taught by the village parson were turned upside down, clearly because of dynastic ambition and raison d’état. The moral, psychological, and intellectual destruction involved in this process was permanent and immense.
Elizabeth’s anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish policies fulfilled the basic Venetian imperatives. The struggle against the Spanish Armada in 1588 also gave these policies an undeniable popularity. Elizabeth was for 40 years under the influence of William Cecil, whom she created First Baron of Burleigh and Lord Treasurer. The Cecils were notorious assets of Venice; their ancestral home at Hatfield house was festooned with Lions of St. Mark. When William Cecil was too old to act as Elizabeth’s controller, he was succeeded by his son Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury. The Venetian- Genoese Sir Horatio Pallavicini was an important controller of English state finance.
Elizabeth’s economic policies had strong elements of dirigism and mercantilism. The numerous industrial monopolies she promoted had the result of establishing new areas of production in the country. Cecil developed the merchant marine and the navy. There were taxes to support those unable to work, and a detailed regulation of jobs and working conditions. Many of these successful measures were coherent with the Venetian desire to build up England as the new world empire and as a counterweight to the immense power of Spain.
At the death of Elizabeth, Robert Cecil masterminded the installation of the Stuart King of Scotland as King James I of England. Cecil was for a time James’ key adviser. James I was a pederast and pedant, an individual of flamboyant depravity, an open homosexual who made his male lovers into the court favorites. In addition to pederasty, James aspired to tyranny.
James I was a leading theoretician of the divine right of kings. He delivered long speeches to the parliament, telling the wealthy latifundists and the Puritan merchant oligarchs of London that they could as little tell him what to do as they could tell God what to do. Policy, said James, was “king’s craft” and thus “far above their reach and capacity.” James I was an enthusiastic supporter of Paolo Sarpi in Sarpi’s 1606 struggle against the Papal Interdict. James I did this in part because he thought he had received his crown directly from God, without any mediation by the Pope. Venetian influence at the Stuart court was accordingly very great. Sarpi even talked of retiring to England.
James was also an occultist. Shakespeare left London not long after the coming of James, and died after unwisely sitting down to drinks with the Aristotelian hack Ben Jonson.
James’s feeble pro-Spanish appeasement policy bitterly disappointed Paolo Sarpi, Cecil’s boss and the leading Venetian intelligence chief of the era. James made peace with Spain in 1604, ending 19 years of war. Cecil then tried to induce James into an anti-Spanish policy with a planned provocation – Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot of 1605. Sarpi schemed to unleash the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) as an apocalyptic confrontation between Protestant and Catholic Europe, and he wanted England in the fray. James’s adviser, Sir Francis Bacon of the Cecil family, urged James to enter the war against Spain and Austria, but James first attempted to mediate the conflict and then did nothing. Charles I was equally disappointing: He married the Catholic Princess Henrietta Maria of France, and helped France to defeat the French Calvinists or Huguenots – a Venetian asset – in their stronghold of LaRochelle.
The early Stuarts were unable to assert England as a great power because war required taxes, and taxes required the vote of Parliament, which they did not wish to convoke, since it would undercut their claims of divine right. Between 1628 and 1639, Charles I attempted to rule as an autocrat, without calling a Parliament. English naval power grew so weak that even ships bringing coal coastwise from Newcastle upon Tyne to London were not protected from pirates. This outraged the City of London and its Puritan merchants, followers of doctrines derived from Calvin of Geneva.
With their tirades about their own divine right, the early Stuarts were violating a cardinal point of the Venetian political code. Venice was an oligarchy ruled by, at most, a few thousand male nobles. In practice, power belonged to several dozen patrician leaders. But no single patrician was strong enough to dominate all the rest as dictator. The Grand Council (Maggior Consilgio) was the general assembly of the nobility, and elected the Senate or Pregadi. The Grand Council, using a complicated procedure, also elected the Doge or Duke, who occupied the highest post in the state. The Doge was accordingly an elected and limited executive who served for life. This office was never hereditary; when one Doge died, a new one was elected by the Maggior Consiglio. The Doge was surrounded by his cabinet or Collegio, including the ministers (savi) of various departments. Under this system, the Doge was not the leader of a nation and the protector of all the people, as an absolute monarch might be; he was the chief functionary of a consortium of noble families who owned and ran the state for the private profit of their own fondi. For the Venetians, an oligarchy required the weak executive power of a Doge, and this was the system they wanted transplanted into their clone, England.
These issues were prominent in seventeenth-century Europe. Louis XIV of France in his better moments exemplified the benefits of centralistic absolutism, as directed against the pro-Venetian French nobles responsible for the civil wars of the Fronde and the wars of religion. Colbert pursued economic unification by wiping out local interests intent on collecting parasitical taxes. Louis compelled the great nobility to be towel-boys and fixtures at Versailles, while the French departments were ruled by Intendants sent by the king. A little later, in Russia, some of the same issues were fought out between the centralizing absolutist Peter the Great and the great latifundist nobles, known in Russia as the boyars. Real economic and social development was best served by breaking the power of the aristocracy. England, by contrast, was the country where the triumph of the oligarchs was eventually most complete. (This is even clearer if we bear in mind that the English gentry and squires correspond to the level of count in the continental titled aristocracy.) The English gentry were determined that they, and not intendants from the government in Whitehall, would rule in the shires.
When Charles I was forced to call a Parliament in 1640 because he needed money, a conflict between oligarchy and monarchy developed. The House of Commons theoretically represented men with property capable of bringing in 40 shillings per year; this was the threshold of free subjects who had a stake in the state. The Commons were elected by about one-tenth of the people of England. The House of Lords was full of latifundists, but it was estimated that the landowners and merchants of the House of Commons were rich enough to buy the House of Lords three times over. Parliamentary leaders like Pym and Hampden wanted to establish an oligarchy by the surrender of the King to Parliament so they could build up a navy and hasten the looting of the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean. They wanted a more vigorous pursuit of the slave trade. Pym and Hampden asserted Parliamentary authority by passing bills of impeachment and attainder against royal favorites like Strafford and Archbishop Laud, the head of the Church of England, who were both executed. In 1641, Charles I tried to arrest Pym and Hampden. The pro-Venetian City of London, the ports, and the south and east of England rebelled against this botched coup by the stupid King, who fled north. The English Civil War, or Puritan Revolution, was on. Many English were appalled by the miserable level of leadership and wretched programs of both the sides. A contemporary wrote that many people tried to remain neutral because they thought that “both sides raised an unlawful war, or …could not tell which (if either) was in the right….” The civil war was artificially imposed by two rival London cliques, both under Venetian influence.
England would be the only major European country in which a war of religion would be fought between two pro-Venetian Protestant factions – the Anglican royalist cavaliers and the Parliamentary Puritan Roundheads. One result would be the liquidation of the remaining positive and dirigist features of the Tudor state.
During the first phase of the civil war, (1642-1646), there emerged two factions among the Parliamentarian Roundheads. A more conservative group favored a limited, defensive war against Charles I, followed by a negotiated peace. They hoped to defeat Charles by using a foreign army, preferably the Scottish one, in order to avoid arming the English lower orders. The Scots demanded for England a Presbyterian state church on the model of their own kirk – run by synods of Calvinist elders – but that was what the majority of the Long Parliament wanted anyway. So this faction came to be called the Presbyterians. Among them were the Calvinist town oligarchy of London.
The other group wanted total war and eventually the execution of the King and the end of the monarchy and the House of Lords. This group was willing to accept a standing army of sectarian religious fanatics in order to prevail. This group was called the Independents or Congregationalists. They were favored by Venice. Oliver Cromwell emerged as the leader of this second group.
Oliver Cromwell was a Venetian agent. Prominent in Oliver Cromwell’s family tree was the widely hated Venetian agent Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540), Earl of Essex and the author of Henry VIII’s decision to break with Rome and found the Church of England. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was descended from Thomas Cromwell’s sister. Oliver Cromwell’s uncle had married the widow of the Genoese- Venetian financier Sir Horatio Pallavicini. This widow brought two children by her marriage to Pallavicini and married them to her own later Cromwell children. So the Cromwell family was intimately connected to the world of Venetian finance. One of the leading figures of Parliament, John Hampden, was Oliver Cromwell’s cousin. Cromwell’s home was in the Fens, the large swamp in eastern England. The swamp- dwelling Venetians, true to form, came to choose another swamp- dweller as their prime asset of the moment.
Cromwell ridiculed the weakness of the Parliamentary army, which he said was made up of “decayed tapsters” (elderly waiters). Cromwell’s own Ironsides regiment was made up of relatively well-off cavalrymen of heterodox religious views. This regiment was highly effective against the Royalist or Cavalier forces. The Ironsides contained numerous Independents. It also contained many of the more extreme sects. Some of the most important roots of modern communism can be found in the sects represented in Cromwell’s Ironsides.
After 1640, the censorship of printed books practically collapsed. The church courts, which prosecuted crimes like heresy and blasphemy broke down. Especially in the City of London, but also in the countryside, a lunatic fringe of radical religious sects began to gather followers. What boiled up reflected the pervasive influence of Venetian kookery in England going back to Wycliffe. Ideas came to the surface which went back to Francesco Zorzi and Edmund Spenser, to Francis Bacon, Robert Fludd, and Bernardino Ochino, one of Contarini’s Italian Protestants or spirituali who had been active in London around 1550 under Edward VI.
There were the Levellers, radical democrats of the Jeffersonian or sans culotte type, who wanted to expand the franchise for Parliamentary elections – although they would have left half or more without the vote. Apprentices, laborers, and servants would remain disenfranchised. Levellers wanted no monarchy, no House of Lords, no monopolies, no tithes, and no state church. Their petitions sound well today, but so do parts of the Jacobin Club’s Declaration of the Rights of Man. Among the Leveller leaders were John Lilburne, Richard Overton, and Sir John Wildman. The latter two were double agents, taking money from Royalists as well as from Thurloe, the director of Cromwell’s secret police.
Sir John Wildman was a land speculator and an agent of the Duke of Buckingham (as Pepys’s diary tells us). He plotted against every regime from Cromwell to William III. He was a member of Harrington’s Rota Club, a nest of Venetian agents in 1659-1660. He appears as a classic type of Venetian provocateur. Richard Overton was the author of the tract Mans Mortalitie, which argues that the soul dies with the body – the Venetian heresy once again. As for Lilburne, he died in jail after becoming a Quaker.
In 1647, with the Royalist forces wiped out, the Presbyterian faction tried to disband the army, and the Levellers responded by electing Agitators – in effect, political commissars – for each regiment. But the Leveller movement was soon crushed by Cromwell.
Other groups owed their continued existence to the pro-toleration policies of the Ironsides, which Cromwell often respected. There were the True Levellers or Diggers, with Gerard Winstanley as main spokesman. Winstanley supported mortalism, the Venetian heresy. The Diggers in 1649 began to form communes to squat on land and cultivate it – three centuries before Chairman Mao. Their idea was primitive communism and the abolition of wage labor. Private property they condemned as one of the results of Adam’s Fall. Their program was “Glory Here!,” the creation of heaven on earth. With the communist, materialist (and some would say, atheist) Gerard Winstanley, we see the Anglo-Venetian roots of the later Marxism financed and directed by Lord Palmerston’s stooge David Urquhardt.
Then came the Ranters, devotees of the antinomian heresy, the free love party. The Ranters, many of whom were ex-Levellers, held that sin and the law had been abolished – at least for the elect – leaving mankind with “perfect freedom and true Libertinism.” Some of them thought that fornication and adultery were positive religious duties, necessary to enjoy a maximum of grace. Ranter leaders included Laurence Clarkson and Abiezer Coppe. Clarkson supported mortalism, the Venetian heresy. The Ranter John Robins proclaimed that he was God and agitated to lead 140,000 men to conquer the Holy Land – thus foreshadowing later British policy in the Middle East. Ranters were heavily repressed.
The Quakers, a new sect in those days, had not yet made their pacifist turn. Often Ranters became Quakers. Many of them were highly militaristic troopers in Cromwell’s New Model Army. Quakers were heavily represented in the English army that carried out Cromwell’s genocide against Ireland. But Quaker James Naylor was cruelly punished for blasphemy after he re-enacted at Bristol Christ’s Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem. In 1657, the Quaker leader George Fox criticized the English army because it had not yet seized Rome. Pacifism was adopted only after the Stuart Restoration, in 1661.
The other group that came out of the Ranter milieu was the Muggletonians, led by John Reeve and Lodowick Muggleton, who claimed that they had been commissioned by God in 1652 to serve as the Two Last Witnesses foretold in Revelations 11. Muggletonians supported mortalism, the Venetian heresy; they were also anti-Trinitarians and materialists. If formal positions on theological issues are counted up, John Milton turns out to have been very close to the Muggletonians. The Muggletonians kept going in Britain until about 1970.
The Fifth Monarchists were radical millenarians, believing that the Second Coming and the Rule of the Saints were close at hand – some thought as close as the Barebones Parliament convened under the Commonwealth in 1653. Some Fifth Monarchists in the Barebones Parliament wanted to re-impose the Mosaic law in place of the English common law, and wanted a Sanhedrin of the Saints to assume state power. Diminishing interest in the New Testament was also documented by the official banning around this time of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost (Whitsunday), which were all condemned as popish idolatry. The roots of the British Israelite movement are clearly revealed.
There were also the Seekers, who thought all existing religions were inadequate; they claimed they were still looking for the right one. One Seeker was Milton’s friend and language teacher Roger Williams, later of Rhode Island. Finally, there were the extreme sectaries, parties of one, unable to get along with any of the above. John Milton was an example of these.
These were the Hydra-like components of the army which was Cromwell’s power base. Cromwell attacked all the sects at certain times, but leaned heavily on them at other times. But he always relied for his power upon the army, of which the sectarians were the backbone. In 1648, Colonel Pride, acting for Cromwell, expelled from the Long Parliament some 100 of the most Presbyterian members, some of whom had been negotiating under the table with Charles I, by now a captive of the Army. What was left, was called the Rump Parliament. Cromwell then tried Charles I for treason and executed him on 30 January 1649. The Commonwealth was declared and the monarchy abolished.
Cromwell’s problem was now to govern a country in which no elected Parliament could countenance the army and its gun-toting sectarian iconoclasts. The Rump, which harbored its own desires of becoming a ruling oligarchy, was dispersed by Cromwell’s troops in 1653. The next Parliament, the Barebones, was a hand-picked selection of the godly, many nominated by Independent congregations. The Barebones was modeled as an oligarchy: it chose a Council of State as its own executive, and was supposed to choose its own successors before it disbanded. Instead, Major-General Thomas Harrison of the New Model Army, convinced he was the Son of God, dominated the proceedings. A moderate faction around Major Gen. Lambert caused the dissolution of the Barebones with a coup de main. For many sectaries, Cromwell suddenly went from being the New Moses to being the small horn of the Antichrist.
Cromwell accepted the Instrument of Government, the first written constitution of England. The franchise was restricted, going up from the old 40-shilling freehold to a personal net worth of 200 pounds, which meant much greater wealth. The Parliament was made more oligarchical. Cromwell was named Lord Protector. The Protector was backed up by a Council of State of generals serving for life. The first Protectorate Parliament refused to fund the standing army (now 57,000 troops) and rebelled against toleration (toleration of the sects), so Cromwell dissolved it in January 1655. This was already Cromwell’s third dissolution; he would ultimately make it four.
In March 1655, Cromwell decided in favor of a “thorough” Bonapartist military dictatorship. The country was divided into 11 ad hoc districts, and a major-general of the army was put in charge of each district. The major-generals controlled the local militia, ran the courts, appointed all officials, and suppressed public immorality. All of this was done arbitrarily, with little reference to law. At the same time, secretary Thurloe, the Lavrenti Beria of the regime, extended his secret tentacles into every pore of society and into every country of Europe. The rule of the Major-Generals prefigured European fascism. But they alienated many oligarchs who found this interference far worse than that of Charles I.
The second Protectorate parliament was impelled by desperation to pass the Humble Petition and Advice, which urged Cromwell to take up the crown. But it was a doge’s crown, a limited monarchy of the House of Cromwell subject to Parliament. Under pressure from the army generals, Cromwell declined the title of king but accepted all the rest. In February 1658, Cromwell dissolved his last Parliament, and died the same year. His son Richard attempted to rule, but left after a few months. 1659-1660 was a time of great chaos, with the restored Rump alternating with direct army rule. Finally, the army split into pieces; the commander of the winning piece, General Monck, joined the new Parliament in recalling Charles II, the son of the executed Charles I.
Observing these events, the pro-Venetian writer John Milton – who had been Latin secretary to Cromwell’s Council of State – lamented that the City of London had concluded that “nothing but kingship can restore trade.” Milton’s “Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth,” issued in March, 1660, proposed a regime based on a Grand Council along explicitly Venetian lines, with life tenure and co-optation of new members. This could be obtained, Milton thought, by declaring the Rump perpetual and capable of co-opting new members when the old ones died off. Milton had wanted religious tolerance, but he was willing to sacrifice this to obtain an oligarchy without a single-person executive. Milton effusively praised Venice, which had made its “whole aristocracy immovable” with similar methods.
During this time, Milton was close to the Rota Club, a pro-Venetian salon dominated by James Harrington, author of the book Oceana and one of the most important Venetian ideologues in England. Harrington was the direct precursor of the great Whig aristocrats of the Venetian Party who were frequently in power after 1688. Other Rota members included Milton’s close friend Cyriack Skinner, the economist Sir William Petty, the intelligence operative Sir John Wildman, the Fifth Monarchist Thomas Venner (who had led and would lead abortive uprisings in London), the diarist Samuel Pepys, and Andrew Marvell, poet and member of Parliament. There was also the Rumper Henry Neville, who propagandized Harrington’s views in his political dialogue Plato Redivivus of 1681. There were Sir John Hoskins, later president of the Royal Society, and Richard Sackville, the Fifth Earl of Dorset. Charles II assumed power later in 1660.
Today some members of the British oligarchy are calling for the end of the monarchy and the creation of a republic. We must recall that the last time this was tried, the result was the fascist dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell and his major-generals. A “republic” in Britain in the early 21st century might turn out to be a military dictatorship rather similar to Cromwell’s, with animal rights freaks acting the part of the Ranters and Diggers.
So what had the Puritan Revolution accomplished, beyond killing 500,000 persons? First, Cromwell had founded the British Empire. Between 1651 and 1660 he had added 200 warships to the British Navy, more than the early Stuarts had managed to build during their 40-year tenure. Cromwell’s war with the Dutch (1652-1654), which hardly made sense for a Puritan, made plenty of sense in the light of the 1,700 Dutch ships captured. Cromwell set up a convoy system for English merchant vessels, including those bringing coal from Newcastle. The basis of British naval domination was thus laid. After making peace with Holland, Cromwell made war on Spain, in exact conformity with Venetian requirements. Cromwell conquered: Jamaica, St. Helena, Surinam, Dunkirk, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (in Canada). In addition, he established the status of the Portuguese Empire as a satellite and auxiliary of London. It was under Cromwell that English ships established a permanent presence in the Mediterranean; in his last years, he was considering the conquest of Gibraltar to facilitate this stationing. Jamaica, a center of the slave trade, stood out in what was called the Western Design – making war on Spain in the New World.
Cromwell was also personally responsible for the campaign of genocide and starvation in Ireland that began with the 1649 massacre of the garrison of Drogheda. Cromwell told the Parliament that if he waged war according to international law and the rules of war, the campaign would be too expensive. So Cromwell relied on massacres and famine. Cromwell’s genocide eventually killed about one-third of the Irish population. Cromwell also invaded and reduced Scotland, which had switched to the Stuart cause in 1649. This laid the basis for the myth of a “British” people as a label imposed on Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English victims of an oligarchy not of Englishmen, but of Venetians and their tools. Until 1991 there was talk of a “Soviet” people, but this is now nowhere to be found. Perhaps the fraud of a “British” people will also not survive too long.
Cromwell’s rule marked the triumph of free trade, as it was understood at that time. All attempts by government to supervise the quality of production, to fix prices, to maintain jobs and employment, to influence labor- management relations, or to influence wage rates were wholly abandoned. The City of London demanded free trade. It got the abolition of all industrial monopolies, which had previously covered some 700 staple products. Laissez-faire was established in every sphere. Whatever the Restoration Stuarts tried to change in this regard was immediately rolled back after 1688.
In the years after Cromwell, it was estimated that cottagers and paupers, laborers and servants, who had no property and no vote, made up half of the population of England. One-third of all English households were exempted from the Hearth Tax because of their poverty. After 1660, wheat prices were kept artifically high because, it was argued, only fear of starvation could coerce the poor into working.
Under the Restoration, the gentry and latifundists had been released from their feudal dues to the King, but there was no protection for small farmers and tenants. By 1700, the family farm was well on its way to being wiped out in England, giving rise to a landless mass of agricultural day laborers. The English countryside was full of de facto serfs without land. Craftsmen and artisans in the towns were increasingly wiped out by merchant oligarchs and bankers. Through this brutal primitive accumulation, England acquired its propertyless proletariat, forced to live by selling its labor. Usury became thoroughly respectable. This is the world described by Karl Marx, but it was created by Anglo-Venetian finance, and not by modern capitalism. What might be called the middle class of small farmers and independent producers was crushed, while Puritan initiatives in popular education were suppressed. English society assumed the bipolar elite-mass structure which is a hallmark of empires. As for oligarchism, it was estimated in the 1690’s that Parliamentary elections were under the effective control of about 2,000 men.
Charles II, who had been deeply impressed by his father’s death and the civil war, was tolerated by the oligarchy because he had learned the virtue of caution. But Charles II had not given up on his royal prerogatives. During the 1670’s, Charles II became the satellite and toady of Louis XIV of France, who paid him a subsidy which he used to circumvent Parliament. This enraged the Venetian Party. By now, the Venetians wanted to use England against the growing power of France, which had supplanted Spain at the top of their hit list. In 1678, Titus Oates alleged a new “popish plot” in which France, and no longer Spain, was the bogey-man. Charles II announced on his death-bed that he was a Roman Catholic, violating another key point of Venetian doctrine. That his brother and successor James II had also become a Catholic had been known and was the center of political battle for some time. The Whig party, the main vehicle of Venetian rule, made its mark at this time as the group most devoted to a Protestant succession to the English throne. James II was also in the pay of the Sun King.
When the Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate but Protestant son of Charles II, attempted to land and stage an uprising, he was quickly defeated. In response, James II’s lackey Judge Jeffries brought his Bloody Assizes court to the southwest of England, and began an orgy of thousands of death sentences. James II was trying to set up a standing army with Catholic officers, and put a Catholic admiral in charge of the Royal navy. Louis XIV’s revocation around this time of the Edict of Nantes, which had provided toleration for Protestants, made it appear plausible to some that James II would now attempt to play the role of Bloody Mary.
The Anglo-Venetians decided that they were fed up with the now-Catholic, pro-French and wholly useless Stuart dynasty. Representatives of some of the leading oligarchical families signed an invitation to the Dutch King, William of Orange, and his Queen Mary, a daughter of James II. John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough, was typical of James’ former supporters who now went over to support William and Mary. William landed and marched on London. This is called by the British the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688; in reality, it consolidated the powers and prerogatives of the oligarchy, which were expressed in the Bill of Rights of 1689. No taxes could be levied, no army raised, and no laws suspended without the consent of the oligarchy in Parliament. Members of Parliament were guaranteed immunity for their political actions and free speech. Soon, ministers could not stay in office for long without the support of a majority of Parliament. Parliament was supreme over the monarch and the state church. At the same time, seats in Parliament were now bought and sold in a de facto market. The greater the graft to be derived from a seat, the more a seat was worth. Within a few years after the Glorious Revolution there was a Bank of England and a national debt. When George I ascended the throne in 1714, he knew he was a Doge, the primus inter pares of an oligarchy.
The regime that took shape in England after 1688 was the most perfect copy of the Venetian oligarchy that was ever produced. There was a flare-up of resistance during the reign of Queen Anne because of the activity of the Tory Robert Harley and his ally Jonathan Swift; there was also the threat that the Hanoverian succession might bring Leibniz into England. Otherwise the Venetian Party was broadly hegemonic, and Britain was soon the dominant world power. The English masses had been so thoroughly crushed that little was heard from them for one and one half centuries, until the Chartist agitation of the 1840’s. The franchise was not substantially expanded until after the American Civil War, with industrial workers getting the vote in 1867 and farm laborers allowed to cast ballots in 1884.
The struggles of seventeenth- century England were thus decisive in parlaying the strong Venetian influence which had existed before 1603 into the long-term domination by the British Venetian Party observable after 1714. These developments are not phenomena of English history per se. They can only be understood as aspects of the infiltration into England of the metastatic Venetian oligarchy, which in its British Imperial guise has remained the menace of mankind.