Venice
October 1671

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1939

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109-116

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'Venice: October 1671', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 37: 1671-1672 (1939), pp. 109-116. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90315 Date accessed: 21 October 2014.


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October 1671

Oct. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
105. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have mentioned how little profit Spain derived from the impression made by Ognate about French designs on Flanders, and referred to the repute England had won with the allies. But as Arlington prudently considered that Ognate had unbecomingly represented the rupture as inevitable he showed some resentment towards him on this account, meaning thus to obviate further inconvenience by preventing foreign diplomatists from taking ministers by surprise and turning their talents to account at the cost of English decorum. Molina, for his part, with his extreme sincerity, has always eschewed such attempts and so was able to make a great impression by his remonstrances against the French surprises in America. So here they really doubt the duration of the peace and listen to his representations. Accordingly he takes courage and the allies everywhere rely on a true union in case of need.
The cancelling of the contract with the new farmers of the customs, which entails great internal commotion, having been announced everywhere, alarms the people since it is not yet known whether the king will need money to undertake the war or facilities for obtaining it.
Six days ago news was received of the encounter with the Dutch fleet of the yacht Merlin, the same which insisted on the salute but under another commander. He states that not only did the first Dutch ship lower its flag, but the second also, making all the demonstrations claimed, and so, all the past being forgotten, they have carried their point here and both yachts and men of war in these seas will be saluted first by the Dutch.
Your Excellencies will have heard of the encounter off Civita Vecchia between the Venetian ship and two English cruisers and of what took place about the salute. (fn. 1) As the account received here is confused and the report of the English captains has not yet arrived, the friends who act here for the Court of Rome have so contrived that the dispute will not proceed further. Meanwhile it is announced that England only requires her salute to be returned, gun for gun. The demand is much more moderate than that of the captain, but it is suspected that the governor of Civita Vecchia, being personally hostile to the English, or dependent on the antipathies of those who procured his appointment, failed to do his duty by the English ships. I have no more to add, as nothing whatever has been said to me about the Venetian ship, so being without instructions, I keep quiet.
On Monday next, the 25th September, old style, the king will leave London, the queen following him on Tuesday. All the ministers will also be in the country, and I also shall be of the party, in order not to lose the thread of affairs.
London, the 2nd October, 1671.
[Italian.]
Oct. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
106. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
In the existing shortage of wheat he is to approach the merchants to the end that ships lading for the Levant Islands may Take wheat as a part of their cargo.
Enclose copy of the decision about the alleged debt of Capt. Tudiman.
Be it resolved that, instance having been made by the English Resident for the payment of a debt due to Capt. Tudiman, answer be made to him by a secretary of this Council to the effect that from information taken it appears that the debt is not entered as clear under the said name and that it ought therefore to be expunged by the party interested, as is customary in such cases.
Ayes, 88. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Oct. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
107. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The weather being unsettled and the country under water from the constant rains, the Court had no amusement on the journey last week, when the king, queen and duke of York went as far as Norwich, where they had never been before. They were received in the palace of the dukes of Norfolk by the earl of Arundel. The people gave them an enthusiastic welcome and several other gentlemen gave their Majesties hospitality, the queen having returned to London only two days ago. The king remains at Newmarket, amusing himself with field sports and horse racing, accompanied by some of the foreign ministers. But he is not quite at leisure, his amusements being interrupted by councils and by other important government business.
60,000l. are now assigned monthly for the building of new ships of the three first classes, carrying from 60 to 100 guns, and for the fitting out of others in order to form a powerful fleet. They are also quietly mustering troops, even by drafts from the regiments of the old guards, so as to man the vessels with picked veterans.
I mentioned last week that the government was thinking of the need for fresh supply and when this began to cause a stir, the king suddenly postponed the meeting of parliament until October next year. (fn. 2) This causes the more surprise as one cannot yet discover by what means his Majesty expects to obtain funds for his present urgent needs, especially as he has mortgaged for some time the customs revenue, in repayment of the money already advanced by the rejected contractors. In their stead royal commissioners have been appointed with a salary of 2000l. per annum, and they are to manage all the custom houses in the kingdom on behalf of his Majesty.
The object of these preparations has not yet been positively declared. The Spaniards flatter themselves that they are in favour of peace, so the Dutch are still embarrassed, having perhaps some advanced project of adjustment with the Most Christian which might render England jealous. The truth is that Holland has now determined to prohibit French wines for one year, considered here as a cautionary measure which will show the French how ill the Provinces can abstain from wine, its importation being forbidden solely for the period for which the present supply will suffice.
The Governor Monterey has also inclined to follow this example and prohibit French wines, thus wounding the Most Christian's subjects in their tenderest part. It seems that France has made complaints at Madrid calling this step a clear infringement of the peace of the Pyrenees. Monterey also announces that he has recently received full powers from Spain to form any sort of alliance with foreign potentates for the service of the Catholic crown. Although it is thought that his powers are not so ample, yet it is certain that he is negotiating a very important treaty with Holland, of which I have only been able to discover that Spain binds herself too much, in conformity with the wishes of the United Provinces.
To thoroughly appease the Spaniards the king has appointed Lord Sonderlan his ambassador at Madrid. His departure is not hastened, for it seems that they mean to wait for the arrival of the new Spanish ambassador, del Fresno. In the mean time reports come from Molina's house that he is not to take up the embassy in Paris.
Sir [Thomas] Linke, having arrived out safe the new governor of Jamaica announces his formal proclamation of peace with the Spaniards in America, and gives hopes of its being observed. In the mean time the execution of the rest of his orders is expected, in sending home the late governor, Sir [Thomas] Modiford, whose son is already a prisoner in the Tower of London.
While public affairs are taking this turn an important domestic matter is being dealt with. To follow its thread I will ascertain particulars next week. In the mean time I have to report that the king has graciously agreed to allow his brother, the duke of York, to marry again at his pleasure. I gathered this much while I was following the Court.
In reply to the ducali of the 5th, 12th and 19th September, I will do as instructed about Dodington. I have already answered the paragraphs concerning the letters of Sig. Michiel. The complaint about the fortress near Ypres (fn. 3) will have been a supplement of Ognate's though here they take no effect. The Spaniards make fresh ones daily and the Court and ministers are so accustomed to perpetual remonstrances that they no longer pay any heed to them.
London, the 16th October, 1671.
[Italian.]
Oct. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
108. Francesco Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
With respect to England, if the forces of that country were dependent upon the arbitrament of the king there it might be expected that that crown would stand united with the objects of this one. But in discussing the question here, they say that their resolutions on that side depend upon the decrees of the parliaments. Many indeed assert that they depend upon the will of the people which, of a certainty, is not sympathetically disposed towards this nation and does not seem likely to accept its conquests readily.
Paris, the 21st October, 1671.
[Italian.]
Oct. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
109. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since the king undertook to fit out a fleet by means of a monthly assignment of 60,000l. suspicion of great changes has increased so much in London that I am afraid of leaving the Senate without all the necessary information at so important a crisis. Relying on the advices already sent by me and on what I have been told by the ministers here and by diplomatists I analyse the matter thus:
England had not the slightest thought of disturbing the general quiet until provoked by the United Provinces who, at the suggestion of de Wit, entered upon negotiations with France. This gave umbrage to this government, and it would never have taken its present decided course save from fear of being anticipated in a confidential alliance with France. Last May Borel declared that the States must either attend to their own interests or be succoured by immediate war. After this the Provinces were detected negotiating closely in Spain, from distrust of England, on whom later they tried hard to render themselves dependent. On the
29th May I hinted that by degrees these suspicions might effect what all the efforts of France had failed to accomplish, and break the alliance, and from time to time I reported all the gradations which have led to the present decision.
The government finding it impossible to check the warlike bias of Holland or to restrain the Spaniards, and apprehensive either of falling into the vortex with them, owing to the pledge of the alliance, or of being compelled to abandon them too openly and dishonourably, has not waited for the stumbling block. As there is never any lack of grievances on account of trade and other matters, complaints have been made to Borel about these and they will serve as a pretext for breaking the peace at the moment when the French also declare war. This will not in the least affect the triple alliance, in right of which Spain cannot demand help if accidentally and spontaneously she sets fire to her own house.
Such is the position at present assumed by England, who thus shields herself from the intrigues of Holland and from the accidents of a war waged by the weak for the defence of a desperate cause. If this crown has received a considerable sum of money in advance from France for fitting out ships, England has none the less stolen a march on the Most Christian by remaining at liberty to receive the submission of the Provinces, although she has a secure pledge from his Majesty with regard to the money. The only doubtful point is the amount. Some reckon it at a million sterling. This is the secret which caused the prorogation of parliament until next October, as it would otherwise have been impossible to arm without fresh supply from the kingdom.
In the mean time the king has appointed Sir
[George] Deuninghen to be his minister in Holland, as he is the one who kindled the last war. (fn. 4) The omen is a bad one, though it is not yet known when he will depart. For the last two days Borel has been with the king at Newmarket, having received fresh instructions, the nature of which I will ascertain and report next week. In the mean time I think I can give the true cause which has induced the king to detach himself from Holland, the decision being justified in the face of the world, as it does not violate the promise so often sworn to. I may also add, by the accommodation the government has had the skill to provide for its need before taking so important a step, though as yet all the details have not been disclosed.
London, the 23rd October, 1671.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
110. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The body of the duchess of York was still above ground when I reported how many considerations had to be taken into account with regard to the duke's remarriage, and the first difficulties over the suggestion of the duchess of Innsbruck, the king's sentiments being then unknown. He was formerly jealous of his brother, but now he has been induced to give his consent, which is fraught with important consequences. It is evident that he has renounced all projects of divorce from his barren wife. Being reconciled with his brother he wishes to benefit him by this new marriage with the expectation of his giving an heir to the throne. It is morally certain that his Majesty, averse from all violent change, thinks of confiding his subjects' hopes of the succession to his brother, he himself enjoying repose after so agitated an existence and the hardships he has undergone. These sincere sentiments of affection for the duke have induced the king to disapprove of a match, first with the countess of Falmouth and then with the countess of Sonderland, considering them far below the necessary rank, (fn. 5) although his Highness came near to doing himself this mischief and again losing popularity, as he did when he married the chancellor's daughter. At the moment his attention is riveted on the princess of Innsbruck, whose portrait has just arrived; but no formal engagement exists, and it seems that a year is to elapse before the new marriage.
At this crisis a circumstance of importance on another account has occurred. When the Portuguese ambassador, Don Francisco de Melo, was about to make his entry, it was suspended at the last moment owing to violent opposition. It was said in Council that the king ought not to compromise himself by receiving as a royal minister the agent of an usurper. He should be convinced by the example of Rome, which had inconsiderately granted briefs etc. to the scandal of the world. If the legitimate king of Portugal had no children, that was not a crime deserving imprisonment at the Terceiras. England having barely emerged from the civil wars, it was dangerous to countenance such an example, when England was in precisely the same case, the king not yet having legitimate heirs and the duke being inclined to supply the deficiency. By receiving the minister they approved the proceedings of Don Pedro and recognised his government. If the legitimate king should die at the Terceiras, he would succeed without dispute to the throne, to the detriment of the rights of the queen and of England, to which she is joined by marriage.
These remonstrances have suspended the ceremony. It has also been remarked that a Portuguese minister ought not to be maintained in London by English money, as the queen, longing for the appointment of a Portuguese ambassador and bent upon it, pays out of her own privy purse the cost of the embassy and makes amends both for Don Francesco's poverty and for the scanty salary he receives from the king, Don Pedro.

London, the 23rd October, 1671.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
111. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The advanced season has brought the king and the whole court to London. The foreign ministers went at once to congratulate their Majesties and the duke of York, who are in excellent health after a whole month's tour and amusement in the country.
The multiplicity of opinions confuses the truth about the motives which induced the government to adopt its present policy. Holland and the Spaniards believe and assert that the understanding with France was begun a long while ago, at the time when England swore to the alliance and repeated the promise in the face of the world. From my own investigations those two powers are wrong and this crown did not begin to draw near to France until after the last cause given by Holland, who disseminated between the three that jealousy which will always destroy the quiet of these powers. But whether the union with France is formed or not, England is not bound to give account of it to the world provided she does not infringe the triple alliance or fail to observe the peace of Aix la Chapelle. On the other hand if she demands account from Holland of the peace of Breda, and the king of France seizes his opportunity to attack the United Provinces, possibly drawing Spanish Flanders into the conflagration, Holland must be considered the first cause of the breach of the peace.
This is the surface and aspect now given to the affair, and as England is anxious for Spain not to link herself more closely with the United Provinces, the government proposes to send an envoy extraordinary to the Governor Monterey to withdraw him from fresh engagements which, during the last few weeks, were progressing rapidly with the States, since in his opinion the interests and fortunes of Spain are inseparable from those of Holland.
I repeat that England now congratulates herself on being in a position to obtain advantages from Holland by force or by negotiation and prestige though I do not venture to assert that she has France in her grip, as I do not believe the current report of the arrival here of a million of pounds sterling. But although the king may join France, his subjects will not follow him, for it is certain there will be dissension between the officers and soldiers at sea and collision with the Presbyterians is inevitable, who are opposed on account of religion and many of them are bought by the United Provinces.
All the negotiations with the Ambassador Borel are kept very secret and what comes out is unimportant. Ill feeling is increased by the unexpected declaration of the Dutch admiral that he never saluted the yacht, and that the English captain deceived himself, fancying that he had fallen in with a war squadron, when it must have been some other. They have gone so far as to write that it might have been a fleet of fishing smacks from Newfoundland.
In addition to this the Dutch have been guilty of another inconsiderate action. It is known here that several sets of tapestry have been manufactured showing the engagement and burning of the English ships at Chatham, the only reverse which befell this crown during the late war. Notwithstanding this Sir [George] Douninghen, the ambassador destined for Holland for the purpose, it is generally supposed, of declaring war, is not yet departing; and here, at the same time, a cavalry regiment, 500 strong, is being raised for the Most Christian, who pays 15l. to the English colonel (fn. 6) for each man landed in France with his arms.
Acknowledges receipt of the ducali of the 25th September and 2nd October.
London, the 30th October, 1671.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 The particulars of this affair are given in a paper attached to Alberti's despatch of 27 Nov., below. The English ships were the Princess and the Falcon.
2 Writing on 10 Aug. Colbert says that King Charles had told him, of his own accord, that to prevent any obstacle to the fulfilment of his promises to France he had decided "de remettre l'assemblé de son parlement jusqu'a ce qu'il n'y ait plus sujet de rien craindre … et que le bon succes de la guerre … ait disposé ses peuples a lui donner toute satisfaction. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
3 “There is a great noise in town concerning a business which lately happened at Ipre, the governor of that place having caused a custom house, built by the king of France for receiving duty from vessels which pass by Varneton upon the Lys, to be pulled down. The Spaniards pretend that Varneton, being yet in dispute, ought not to be seized by the French until the difference be determined by the arbitrators, and in the meantime it should not belong to either party. The governor of Ipre wrote to this effect to Marshal de Humières … whose deputy wrote an answer telling him that the Marshal could resolve upon nothing till be received orders from the king … At the receipt of this answer the garrison fell upon the bureau and have hurt if not killed several persons. Marshal de Humières has orders to re-establish it in spite of the Spaniards.” Hen. Smith to Arlington on 29 Aug. S.P. France, Vol. cxxxi. The governor of Lille caused the custom house to be set up again and established a post there to defend it against any further opposition. London Gazette, Sept. 14–18, 1671.
4 In speaking to Colbert of his intention to send Downing, Charles told him: “qu'il était persuadé que pour rendre agrèable a tous ses sujets l'alliance de France il fallut qu'il commencât la guerre le premier; que pour cela il envoyerait au plûtot à la Haye le Sr. Douning … et qu'il ne doutait pas qu'il ne fit bientôt une matière assez plausible pour le faire souhaiter a tous ses sujets.” Colbert to the King, 28 May, 1671. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
5 The first was daughter of Hervey Bagot, born in 1645 and widow of Charles Berkeley, earl of Falmouth, killed in the battle of Southwold bay. G.E.C. Complete Peerage, N.S., Vol. v, p. 408. The second was daughter of George Digby, earl of Bristol, married to the earl of Sunderland, who was still alive, in 1665. She was one of the beauties of the Court.
6 Apparently Sir Henry Jones. See Cal. S.P. Dom., 1671, p. 532.