Sonnet XV, On the Late Massacre in Piedmont (1655) communicates the sense of Protestant 'brotherhood' that Cromwell spoke of. The attitude of France towards Savoy in this matter - the government applied sufficient pressure to bring an end to the persecution of Protestants there - greatly impressed the Protectorate government and eased Anglo-French relations. A defensive alliance was agreed in 1655 between France and the Protectorate. Cromwell made an inroad against the exiled Court with the French agreement not to shelter the Stuarts. More important factors in the Protectorate's relationship with Bourbon France than religion were national prestige and economic rivalry. The treaty was modified in 1657 into a military agreement - and there followed an Anglo-French assault on Spanish Flanders, with decisive victories in capturing Mardyke (1657) and victory at the Battle of the Dunes (1658). The latter led to the acquisition of the port of Dunkirk. The war extended beyond Cromwell's life, ending in 1659 with the Franco-Spanish Treaty of the Pyrenees.

The Protectorate's relations with Baltic powers during the 1650s further demonstrates the problems of basing foreign policy on religious concerns. Cromwell is known to have respected the Swedish king Charles X, and entertained hopes of forming a Protestant alliance between the two states. Cromwell seems to have been misguided - the Scandinavian states do not appear to have been prepared to risk economic losses to engage a major Catholic power such as Spain. However Charles X frequently expressed his commitment to the Protestant cause; though it is more than likely that this was done to appease the Protectorate and retain its support in Baltic politics. This proved successful for the Swedish king - in 1655 and 1657 against the advice of the pro-Dutch voice, Cromwell was prepared to provide military and naval support for Sweden against a Baltic coalition. It was not until 1658 that Cromwell began to have doubts about the Anglo-Swedish alliance, and became concerned for the balance of power of the Baltic. Richard Cromwell absorbed his father's late approach to the Baltic problem, and in 1658-9 supported Denmark and the United Provinces against Sweden for control of the Sound.

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