Venice
February 1673

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1947

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9-18

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'Venice: February 1673', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 9-18. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90355 Date accessed: 22 September 2014.


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February 1673

Feb. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
13. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
When from Spaar's first intimations they expected to hear from him that the Dutch agreed to an armistice, he now writes that they will not listen to it and that before giving ear to projects of peace they claim to be informed for what reasons the crowns made war on them. They also elect to treat jointly with the allies, at whose request the United Provinces are here supposed, to have changed their inclination for an adjustment, which they showed too openly. Yet the government here continues to hope for it, although the duke of Buckingham said to me that the Most Christian ought not to be so very apprehensive of the allies or enamoured of a peace when he could make an advantageous war. Spain deserved a war and he would not dissuade the king from joining France. These ideas proceed from, his violent character (spirito assai forte) and from his having espoused the French interests after supporting those of Spain for a long while.
The count de Sciombor, envoy from Mainz, has arrived and had his audiences, but makes no progress in his negotiation, having been referred to Lord Arlington, who keeps him waiting, and Sciombor does not know whether the mediation will be accepted.
After the arrival of Col. Guasconi's courier Arlington told me that the Austrians came to no decision about the marriage, sending from one Court to the other for the replies, and. that now the affair was going back to Spain. A cabinet council was to be held about the matter this evening. I have been unable as yet to learn the resu't but will send it next week.
Meanwhile the king has formed an important decision, namely to raise eight regiments of infantry under the command of persons of quality in his confidence
(fn. 1) and they will serve to encourage, if not to compel, the members of parliament to form the most speedy decisions. This is of great consequence, as it indicates the king's determination to have money. Meanwhile Spraghe has left for Paris, to arrange what is necessary for the fleet, as here they wish to form a fund for the cost before they decide to send it to sea.
London, the 3rd February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian, deciphered.]
Feb. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
14. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Dodington having arrived in London from Venice was presented to the king by Arlington and afterwards kissed the hands of the duke of York, being received with the usual graciousness. I went in search of him, but he was not to be found, having withdrawn into the country, I believe for his affairs. After visiting him I will report about the tone in which he speaks of his ministry at Venice. Lord Arlington only said that he should examine him to know what proposals he could suggest for trade. He thought it necessary to appoint certain persons to make inquiry, collecting all the demands of the English merchants, in order to countenance such as were most just, and that I must see what the Venetians wanted, in order to arrange differences conjointly. I said he would always find the republic fully disposed to facilitate trade. Meanwhile I await instructions.
Sir [Thomas] Huggons is also in the country, and does not speak of leaving for Venice till the spring, nor has he yet obtained anything either with regard to title or salary.
If Lord Falconbridge speaks to me again about the favours he asked, I asked, I will reply as directed, and I will insinuate the impropriety of burdening merchandise for the sake of relieving the consul. I have no more to say in reply to the ducali of the 10th, 17th, 23rd and 31st December last.
London, the 3rd February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
15. Giovanni Giacomo Corniani, Venetian Secretary at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Monsignor Falconieri (fn. 2) is expected any day here on his way to Flanders. Sig. Lorenzo Magalotti will go with him. He is a favourite of his Highness who was with him on more distant journeys and he is taking the opportunity to proceed to the Court of England to resume the negotiations on the subject of the privileges claimed by that nation in the port of Leghorn and other points of reciprocal trade which have never been settled.
Florence, the 4th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
16. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The appearances of peace do not improve in the least, the Dutch being determined to share the fortunes of their allies, who bind them to the war; especially the Spaniards, who seek to wage it in the name and with the money of others. A member of the Council said this much to me, though he is a violent Presbyterian and disapproves of the war. He added that the king would find it difficult to obtain money from parliament, the people being weary of paying such heavy taxes, not one fifth part of which was ever levied by former kings; but nowadays his Majesty's ministers had an extraordinary digestion. This gentleman used other expressions indicating the exasperation of his colleagues; but the forces raised by his Majesty and the persons in parliament who are under obligations to him will counterpoise all malignity.
Two Dutchmen have been discovered with an undirected letter of credence and of change for a considerable amount. They are suspected of an understanding with the parliamentarians. They have been imprisoned and every one supposes that they will be condemned to death; but the government will first try to discover other secrets.
(fn. 3)
The envoy from Mainz continues his sojourn in London, but does not hold frequent conferences with the ministers. He complained to me of not being despatched and that although England professed to be seeking peace she was not really inclined towards it.
On Monday Col. Guasconi's courier was sent back to him; but the result of two consultations held about the duke of York's marriage has not yet been discovered, though a friend of mine tells me that they are not inclined to send to Madrid again on the same errand and that Guasconi has been charged to make the last attempt and return, if unable to effect the conclusion.
The truth is that Lord Peterborough, who was destined to go as ambassador to Vienna, has been made colonel of the regiments now being raised, which makes that journey seem unlikely, though these are only guesses, beyond which no one has yet discovered any other secret.

London, the 10th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
17. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have at last seen Dodington. After the usual compliments I congratulated him on his reception by the princes here and wished him success in getting the posts he told me he was canvassing. Referring to his ministry at Venice he said generally that he had found your Serenity perfectly disposed, but he was careful not to descend to particulars, which makes me suspect that he is not inclined to give the best account. Yet when I urged him to acquaint Lord Arlington with what your Serenity had done for trade and for the English, and to impress the ministers here with the truth, he said that he wished to give full satisfaction to Venice and to benefit her. I assured him he had always been well regarded.
He has not yet made any report to the Court. On it they will base their proposals about trade, about which I shall not say anything definite, but shall keep the matter alive.
I spoke subsequently to the friend who has a seat in the Council of Trade. He said he did not know if any move had been made about the consulage. He was convinced it could not be levied on trade, as the burden was contrary to those facilities which alone foster commerce. He is sure those facilities should be sought, as your Excellencies are so well disposed towards them. I cannot find that Hayles' agents are employing any other means to attain their end, so I hope that I have averted the mischief without ever compromising the name of the Signory.
London, the 10th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
18. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Enclose copy of a representation made by the Consul Hayles in the Collegio. The question has been immediately referred to the Five Savii alla Mercanzia so that after careful examination they may give their opinion to serve as a basis for an appropriate decision, until which time the reply is reserved.
That a copy of the paper presented by the Consul Hayles be sent with other papers to the magistracy of the Five Savii alla Mercanzia, with instructions to make a report thereon that may serve as a guide to an appropriate decision.
Ayes, 98. Noes, 1. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Feb. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
19. Gio. Giacomo Corniani, Venetian Secretary at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses news from Leghorn.
Florence, the 11th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Enclosure.20. The English ship Concordia comes from England with a convoy of 150 ships and six of war. They were scattered by a storm three days after they started. She was fired on by 15 Dutch ships in the Bay of Biscay but escaped by crowding on sail. They have lost two small ships of their nation in those waters, destined for Portugal.
[Italian.]
Feb. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
21. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Tuesday, the day appointed for the meeting of parliament, both Houses assembled. The king made his appearance in the Upper House, sent for the Commons and desired them to choose a Speaker. They did so in the afternoon and on Wednesday, the king having gone again to parliament, expatiated on his urgent need of money for the present war and for old debts, He intimated, with regard to the indulgence for dissenters, that he was determined to seek a way of giving quiet to his subjects, and to avail himself of the authority pertaining to the crown. He ended by saying that by means of letters from the chancellor he had ordered the election of members of the House of Commons in place of those deceased since the last session. This last point was discussed by the Commons that same afternoon, until the second hour of the night, and again yesterday morning when they decided that for the last hundred years, the house had exercised the right of ordering the election of its members and it should not be lost and therefore the nomination of members according to his Majesty's orders must be done again. (fn. 4) To this opposition the king made no reply, perhaps to allow turbulent spirits to vent their ill will on matters of form. But one of the chief confidants in the Commons, a person of great quality, a member of the Privy Council, told me that the king is determined to reform the abuses in the Lower House and would declare his intention to avail himself of the rigour of the law against such as speak disrespectfully, as he did not mean fresh matters to be brought forward to impede his royal service.
This is still a secret to all the rest of the members, who expect to speak freely, as heretofore. Lord Arlington told me subsequently that he had not the slightest suspicion that the parliamentarians would be punctilious about the present war, as they lacked both method and experience to discuss it, but they would rather cling to the old quarrel about religion, a matter with which they were better acquainted. But the king shows decision in this, both to avoid deserting a number of loyal subjects and not to let himself be domineered over by those who are unquiet.
The duke of York also supports the same party, though I dare not affirm what should remain a secret, that he is already won for the Catholics. Following his example other leading persons are seeking pretexts for not appearing at communion in their churches; but the queen's unexpected relapse, by offering the king the prospect of a new marriage, disconcerts the duke's interests.

The queen having had a sudden return of the catarrhal affection which had allowed her a respite for several months, is now so harassed by fever and all the symptoms of consumption that she herself says that she must soon die; and the physicians scarcely hope that she will rally in the spring. (fn. 5) One of her chief ladies in waiting confided to me that the queen, distressed over the king's neglect, added to the unceasing jealousy she feels about his pleasures, said weeping that he had killed her, suspecting that her disorder had been caused deliberately (una dama principale assistente mi confido che alteratarsi dalla disatentione del re in agiunta della gelosia continua che ha de' suoi divertimenti, piangendo dicesse ch l'haveva amazzata, sospettando che il mal suo fosse opera fatta a mano). Such are the queen's opinions but as a matter of fact they have their eye upon the archduchess of Innsbruck for his Majesty, so that the duke of York begins to despair of getting her.
The king has already decided, for reasons hitherto a secret to every one, that Prince Rupert shall command the fleet instead of the duke of York.
London, the 17th February, 1672. [M.V.]
Postscript: The House of Commons has just adjourned. It has been proposed to give the king 70,000l. for eighteen months, making a total of 1,260,000l.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosure.22. His Majesty's speech together with the Lord Chancellor's, to which is added his lordship's several speeches as also those of Sir Job Charlton at his admission of Speaker to the House of Commons, delivered at the opening of parliament on Tuesday, February 4 and Wednesday, February 5, 1672/3. (fn. 6)
Printed by the assigns of John Bill and Christopher Barker.
[English.]
Feb. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
23. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Owing to the delay by contrary winds the ducali of the 11th, 14th and 21st January reached me at the same time. I am grateful for the state's approval and hope for its continuance at so critical a time for English affairs, both at home and abroad. I have repeated my hints against levying of consulage on goods and hope that the proposal will disappear amid its difficulties. I will try to introduce suggestions for reducing the duties on glass, without compromising the state, to find out how the idea would be received. I shall await instructions because I have contracted an intimacy with the one who farms the duties and I shall be able, the more easily, to persuade him not to oppose such changes as the king might be disposed to introduce for the relief of trade.
In the midst of his manifold occupations Lord Arlington came to see me a few days ago, as a mark of friendship and confidence. He spoke about trade saying he wished to render this service to the two nations. He had given orders to collect information and believed that after my long sojourn in London I must know what would suit the republic's subjects. The matter would be greatly assisted by the sincerity with which I always dealt with him, thus gaining the king's good opinion I could always discuss things freely with him and change any project in accordance with my instructions, as he thought that he ought to treat with me without any sort of reserve. I promised to acquaint your Serenity with anything he told me and he could count on meeting with every facility. I dare not yet make any proposal as I have not received permission from your Excellencies.
I have not seen him since the commands concerning salt fish reached me, but I will communicate them forthwith. I suspect that the contrary winds may delay the arrival of the ships at Venice. Some proposals have been made to me about salt fish which I do not fully understand, but when they are matured I will report them.
London, the 17th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
24. Tomaso Rudio, Venetian Secretary in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The greatest anxiety has been caused by the news received from Andalusia of the appearance of sixty war vessels, French and English which have cast anchor in sight of Cadiz. (fn. 7) It is taken for granted that they are lying in wait for the rich fleet which is expected from the Indies. Accordingly, to obviate any possible mischief the Lieutenant General Montesarchio is to put out to sea with 26 well equipped vessels.
In the midst of these troubles Godolphin, the English ambassador in ordinary, has made his public entry. There was a cavalcade in the usual style of the royal house, but no coaches of ministers attended, to avoid disorders.
Madrid, the 22nd February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
25. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
While we were waiting for information from the magistracy of the Five Savii alla Mercanzia they have appeared in the Collegio and presented a paper from the merchants trading at this piazza who have correspondence in London. They petition that any decision upon this matter may be suspended because of the intolerable burden that would result to the trade and to give them time to inform their correspondents beforehand. You will keep an eye on this matter and should suggest tactfully to Lord Arlington the undesirability of increasing burdens upon merchandise, especially after they have been so greatly reduced here at the instance of the Court there, as is well known. An excessive burden is more likely to prove a means of destroying rather than of increasing trade and you will get him, in case of need, to recognise the rightness of the steps which we have had to take to console the merchants, after being petitioned in this fashion.
That the magistracy of the Five Savii be charged to convey to our Collegio the news of the arrival of ships from England with merchandise, for that which may be considered to be appropriate and convenient.
Ayes, 167. Noes, 5. Neutral, 8.
[Italian.]
Feb. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
26. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The event confirms what Arlington told me, that the Commons, feeling themselves unequal to criticising the present war, would revive the old quarrel about religion. From the discomfiture of the agitators your Excellencies will perceive how truly I foretold that the king's authority would prevail. As I reported, the Commons proposed to vote the king 70,000l. for eighteen months; but before this was carried the agitators thought fit to bring forward the question of liberty of conscience, to compel the king to retract it and annul the declaration before he received the money. Taking their stand upon the laws and privileges of the realm, they showed that the king had infringed them by suspending acts of parliament and that once subjects submitted to the king's will they would renounce for ever that liberty and advantage which God and former sovereigns had granted them.
The majority of the Commons reproached the rest with blindly conforming to the king's will and incurring the popular censure and the suspicion of sacrificing the quiet and privileges of the people to their own private ambition. But the minority, being supported by strong remonstrances and having protested to the king that they would support the declaration, a remedy has been devised. The Lower House is to send a very humble petition to his Majesty requesting him to embody his declaration for liberty of conscience in an act of parliament. (fn. 8) By this means the laws of the kingdom will remain inviolate, and what the king had undertaken of his own authority will be approved by consent of his subjects.
This very intricate affair, which was the most dreaded of any, could not have proceeded more favourably and to-day a number of commissioners appointed by the Commons have had a long discussion about raising sums of ready money for the payment of the royal debts. As the subsidy of 1,260,000l. for the war will be raised upon landed property, they are seeking some other source from which to obtain this fresh sum.
The duke of York has a great share in all these transactions, having interested himself about liberty of conscience, though this is not his only preoccupation. He is agitated by two important affairs, the upsetting of his marriage negotiations and the appointment of Prince Rupert to command the fleet.
Although the queen is a little better, the physicians do not count on the improvement and the ministers are anticipating the king's marriage to the archduchess of Innsbruck. So his Highness does not know what to expect, although, at the moment, all appearances are in his favour. Indeed, in order not to lose a moment, Lord Piterbero is to proceed on his journey next week. But they want to hear first from Guasconi at Strasburg and not to proceed to Vienna until everything is decided. As this negotiation masks the duke's stay in London during next summer, he does not fail to put the best face on the matter. But I know for certain that the king, more satisfied with the courage than pleased with the tactics of his Royal Highness, although the blame is laid upon others, means to try the resolution of Prince Rupert. I know from another quarter that the lord treasurer here has received from France 200,000 livres which will serve to speed the equipment of the fleet.
London, the 24th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
27. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Having sought an opportunity to confer at leisure with Lord Arlington I told him, as instructed, that the decree about salt fish was is in force without the slightest alteration and the merchants would meet with every facility. I urged him to encourage them to send large supplies, so that a prosperous trade might be carried on between the two countries. He said he would give the merchants the assurance and inform the king, feeling sure that the Senate would meet with full reciprocity from his Majesty.
I thought it opportune to add that in Venice trade had been relieved of many burdens, on purpose to favour the English. As Venetian drinking glasses and mirrors were subject to exceptionally heavy duties, a slight reduction would not only be in accordance with his Majesty's generosity but would contribute to abundance in the city and benefit trade. He did not seem startled at the suggestion but said the question would be subject to a variety of considerations and would meet with difficulties because of the interests of the duke of Buckingham and of the one who farms the duty. He advised me to set out my proposals and not to take fright at the first opposition, as he would be glad to render me every assistance.
Lord Falconbridge again called on me a few days ago and once more alluded to the release of the outlaws. When I tried to convince him that your Serenity did not usually concede two outlaws to an ambassador on his departure, he maintained that he had seen a record of the custom in several registers and had heard of it orally from ambassadors resident at Venice when he was there. But he would accept my assurances and, since it was a bygone matter in which he had no particular interest, he would let it drop, as it did not in the least prejudice his official character. He remembered all the favours he had received and he looked to me to afford him opportunities for serving the republic, as he would do most readily.
Dodington has also returned my visit but he did not go into any details, his conversation being reserved throughout; so I gathered nothing worth reporting to your Excellencies.
London, the 24th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
28. Giovanni Giacomo Corniani, Venetian Secretary at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses news from Leghorn.
Florence, the 25th February, 1672. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Enclosure.29. The ship New Jerusalem comes from London. Among other places it touched at Corugna, where it reports having left two Dutch ships of war which had careened and were to go to join two other ships of their nation at Cadiz. They assert that they found there three small craft of privateering corsairs, also Dutch and another of 36 guns which had brought into that port some thirty-six vessels as prizes, between English and French with goods for divers parts. They report further that from Cape Finisterre they were chased by six Zeeland ships for some hours, but succeeded in getting away. At the isle of Res they found the marquis of Martel with his squadron of eight ships which convoyed twenty five others, between French and English, for Cadiz.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Salvetti gives the names of those originally chosen to command the regiments as the duke of Albemarle, the marquis of Dorchester, the earl of Northampton, the earl of Peterborough, the earl of Carlisle, earl of Ogle, earl of Mulgrave and Lord Arlington. Brit. Mus. Add, MSS. 27902 V. fol. 39. The commissions were made out on Jan. 20–27 to Lords Bellasis. Ogle, Carlisle, Peterborough, Worcester, Mulgrave, Albemarle and Vaughan. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672–3, page 455.
2 The Abbé Falconieri was going to Brussels to take up his duties as Internuncio. He reached Florence on the 8th and left on the 15th. Relations Veritables, Brussels, 1673, Nos. 9 and 10. Magalotti was a gentleman of the duke's chamber, said to be going on private affiars. Id.
3 William Arton and Gerbrandt Zas. They arrived at Harwich on 14 January, o.s., and were immediately arrested. On the 26th they were committed to the Tower where they were examined by Lauderdale and the Secretary Coventry. According to Salvetti the king had learned that they had come on a secret mission, with the purpose of stirring the members of parliament against the government. Brit Mus. Add MSS. 27962 V, fol. 38. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672–3, pp. 428, 483–4; Id. 1673, page 95.
4 On 6 Feb. o.s. the Commons debated the question of the lord chancellor's issuing and making elections without order or warrant from the House. It was resolved that all writs issued since the last session were void, and the Speaker was directed to issue new writs for 5 knights of the shire and for 31 cities and boroughs. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IX, pages 248, 249, The debate is recorded in Cobbett's Parliamentary History, Vol. IV, 507–12.
5 Writing on 20 Feb. Colbert reported that he had learned from Arlington “que M. Fresel, premier medecin du roi, ayant eu permission de la reine de la toucher et de bien examiner sa maladie, a reconnu que c'était une veritable consomption qui finirait sa vie dans deux ou trois mois ou tout au plus tard dans l'année, et qu'il ne feignait pas de me dire que du moment que Dieu aurait appelé a soi cette princesse tout ce que le roi avait de plus fidèle … lui demanderaient a mains jointes de ne pas perdre de temps a se marier pour affirmer la tranquillité de son royaume.” Colbert to the king. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
6 Printed in Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. XII, pp. 524–7. The pamphlet is among the domestic state papers, Chas. II, 333, No. 36. See Calendar 1672–3, page 518.
7 This concourse of vessels is explained in a letter of Sir William Godolphin to Arlington of 18/28 February. He says he learned from Cadiz that on the 11th and 12th there arrived two English convoys, one of six warships commanded by Capt. Narborough, with a convoy of 56 merchantment from Cadiz and the Mediterranean ports, and the other of four warships commanded by Capt. Robinson. M. Martel also put in there on the 12th with a French squadron of six frigates and a convoy of over forty merchantmen. Godolphin made his state entry on 18 January. S.P. Spain, Vol. LXI.
8 The decision to present an address to the king against the Declaration of Indulgence was taken in the Commons on the 14th Feb., o.s. Cobbett: Parliamentary History, Vol. IV page 526.