Venice
May 1674

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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251-261

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'Venice: May 1674', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 251-261. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90373 Date accessed: 02 September 2014.


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May 1674

May 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
330. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The tarrying of the Dutch ambassadors who were to have gone to England has not been very well taken in that country and it would seem that this has given courage to those who desire a fresh rupture. But Holland has deferred sending them until she is assured that England does not intend to supply assistance to this crown. They have also wished to see the withdrawal of some regiments granted by the British king at the time of the breach with them. Here also the plenipotentiaries Bariglon and Curtin are awaiting the commissions of his Majesty and it is believed that one of them will very soon be proceeding to London to prosecute the negotiations at that Court, if it be possible.
Paris, the 2nd May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
331. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Over the mediation offered by the ambassador here in the name of the British king there have always been numerous consultations. To embrace it is not acceptable, to refuse it openly would not do. They are studying middle ways and compromises. Against acceptance there is the knowledge of the French bias of the king there and an interested and affectionate connection with the prince of Orange. On this account, if they should incline to accept it they would wish to circumscribe it by the union of that monarch with parliament. Against refusing it is the fact that it would be to announce distrust of a great king not only on account of his might but because of a present debt of gratitude and a desire to make return for the great confidence he chose to show in the last peace by his wish to leave the decision of uncertain articles to the arbitrament of the government here. It is therefore considered that the reply shall set forth that the king's offer was forestalled by some time by one of pontifical interposition and as steps were taken which committed them to some extent they foresee difficulties in finding a way to draw back. This will be accompanied with complimentary demonstrations and the expression of their high appreciation of the friendly disposition of his Britannic Majesty towards their interests. This much is certain that the minister will employ all his industry to achieve his intent and he is on the point of causing some expression of the royal wishes to reach him. But some assert that this may be postponed until the return of the Court from Aranjuez.
Madrid, the 2nd May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
332. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassadors are expected any day. They will bring the first instalment of the money, but they are preceded by reports of stringent instructions received from the States for the regulation of the India trade. England despairs of obtaining those advantages which she had promised herself, the Dutch being averse from partners in the trade of those regions. In spite of this Sir William Temple is preparing for his embassy and the intention of this Court to maintain if not to increase correspondence with the United Provinces is clearly manifest.
They and the prince of Orange make constant protestations of their anxiety for a good understanding with England, who, urged by Spain, has at last condescended to shut her eyes to a few levies of English troops to be made quietly in Holland and here as well. Rovigni has complained of this but they retorted that it was impossible to prevent it without the positive necessity of recalling all the English soldiers from France or without incapacitating themselves from mediating, as both Spaniards and Dutch complain of the pretended partiality of this crown for the Most Christian.
The prospect of peace vanishes more and more. The difficulties of mediation increase, to such an extent that Spaar said to me that he was sorry to see so great a blessing so far removed. The Spaniards made no scruple of declaring that they had hitherto kindled war successfully in the territory of their neighbours and they also hoped for profit by waging it at home. In the course of this campaign they relied on utterly exhausting France and by force of arms and treaties to carry into effect the peace of the Pyrenees.
In spite of all my incitements Spaar has never disclosed to me any of the projects of his crown, save that of mediating the peace. He seems to me impatient for news of the war in Franche Comté, possibly in the hope that reverses may soften Spain.
With regard to domestic affairs, there is a secret, namely that for some days past the king has not been in perfect health. He may perhaps recover by resuming the rules of good governance (le regole di buon governo), but it causes some disquiet. A serious matter is what is occuring daily from the soldiers and sailors going in bands to the houses of the paymasters to squeeze out all the cash that has been collected with great difficulty.
The most important question is that of parliament on which they are now at work. The party of those who are offering the king a large sum of money for its dissolution is increasing. His Majesty lacks courage to undertake great things, indeed a few evenings ago he gave audience to Lord Shaftesbury, the late disgraced chancellor, and this fact perturbs not only the agitators, but the entire kingdom.
London, the 4th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
333. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The ducali of the 7th April reached me after the departure of Sir [Thomas] Higgons for Venice, but I had already intimated the impossibility of carrying out the suggestions of Hayles. Lord Arlington seems to have forgotten the importance he at first attached to the matter and his only remaining scruple is caused by the suppression of an order in Council and of a letter signed by the king. Higgons told me that the intention was to give the consul a salary of 300l. and it would be immaterial whether it came from ships or merchandise. I told him of the nature of consulage, as instituted for the benefit of ships and not of goods and said it would be improper to tax the latter against the opinion of the merchants of London and Venice for the convenience of a private person. I urged him frankly not to commit himself to advocating the innovation on which Hayles has so long insisted. I told him that as the Senate was informed by me of the state of the case he would gain great applause if by his prudence he could get this matter suppressed.
The truth is that they mean to withdraw here after receiving information from Higgons on the spot, and if the Senate persists in withholding its assent there is no doubt that Higgons will retreat at the first encounter, Hayles will be tired out and here they will forget the matter completely. I also had a long talk with Higgons about currants. I had it suggested to him by merchants in my confidence that Dodington and the consul at Zante, not the merchants, were the persons who complained of the duty of a real per thousand weight. They well knew that the Venetian government agents connived at many facilities in the interest of trade. It was a vain plan to get currants from the Morea, where the crop was small and the quality inferior. I assured him that the orders for the good treatment of the English merchants had been renewed. He admitted that several of them had confessed that the trade with Venice was advantageous and considerable.
Before the last debates in parliament about trade I had encouraged a private individual to undertake that of Venetian glass and arrangements were far advanced towards obtaining some reduction of duty from the contractors here. But at present he cannot make up his mind as he is afraid of fresh troubles which might interrupt the negotiation and ruin him.
Another offers to compose for me a metal white as silver. He supposes that the way to retain specie in your Serenity's dominions is to use much alloy and his secret would serve wonderfully to preserve the lustre which is destroyed by copper alloy. He offers to send the composition to the amount of a million 500,000 ducats of the alloy prescribed to him, ready for the dies, or he will send the alloy alone, or the secret, if your Excellencies will consider it, and he would send specimens beforehand.
London, the 4th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
334. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Swedish ambassador has been amusing himself in the country the whole of this week. Nothing more is said about the mediation which awaits not only the public consent of the parties to authenticate the negotiations but also their co-operation and instructions, in order to sift the matter thoroughly. Everything is being done to preserve impartiality and to restrict the liberty which many private persons had taken, of entering the service of foreign powers. His Majesty, by special proclamation, has forbidden this to all his subjects, reserving to himself in Council the right to grant the licence.
Meanwhile Waan, a distinguished officer at this Court, (fn. 1) has obtained leave to serve Holland. He takes his passage on the yacht which is being sent to bring back the English ambassadors, now returning from Cologne.
Attention is now entirely riveted on the war in Franche Comté. Fresno confessed to the secretary Coventry that it was ill defended and might have been preserved by neutrality, whereas Monterey trembled for Flanders without cause, as it was well armed, so that neutrality would not have facilitated the conquests of France. But in public Fresno declares that it was in the interest of Spain to sacrifice Franche Comté in order to relieve Flanders and occupy the French forces in every direction.
Such is the caution adopted by this minister though on other topics he is extremely free of speech. Thus he said with a laugh to several persons, in allusion to his influence with parliament in its last session, that when next the members meet the king may hope to find them more tranquil provided they are not alarmed by his showing distrust of Spain and that the devotion of his subjects will increase in proportion to the partiality he displays towards that crown.
The truth is that if the mediation is negotiated in London, it will be at the very time when parliament is sitting. There will be much dispute and agitation rendering it very difficult for me to keep the state well informed of passing events.
With regard to trade, during the war the king, to obtain their support, had placed aliens with regard to duties in the same position as his own subjects; but now everything is brought back to its former state, and they pay such considerable sums that they would suffice for the merchants' profit.
London, the 11th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
335. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Enclose a paper presented yesterday by the Consul Hailes. This requires mature consideration and in order to take fitting decisions in the shortest time the appropriate magistracies have been directed to take information upon the contents of the same.
Ayes, 130. Noes, 3. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
May 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
336. Zuane Moresini, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
I consider it a part of my duty for public enlightenment to report an intimation made by a minister of the duke of Cel to another of his Majesty. This was a plan of the three northern powers, England, Sweden and Denmark to form themselves into a close union to procure first of all universal peace among the powers by their mediation and offices and in the last resort by resolute declarations and by arms. Here, nevertheless they take into consideration the dependence of some of them on the king of France, the diversity of worship and their particular interests and it seems that they become ever more desirous of a mediation more disinterested and less violent.
Medelin the 12th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
337. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The plenipotentiaries Bariglon and Curtin have been sent for to the camp to confer with the Swedish minister Tot; but Locard, who is still at Paris, told me two days ago that he had nothing as yet that would oblige him to undertake the move in so much hurry, but if anything should come he would take the posts in order to get there with the greatest speed. It was quite true that such a journey required great assistance from their sovereigns and that they ought all to practise what the duke of Savoy has recently done with his minister in supplying him with 2000 doubles for his equipment.
On the following day Locard brought to my house the Cavalier Higons, who is going to Venice as ambassador. He told me that the cavalier did not wish to omit an act of respect to your representative, on his passage before presenting himself before your Serenity. The ambassador considered him a gentleman of merit who would prove more successful than his predecessor. He seemed to be a man of wit and ability and to be anxious to meet with the approval of your Excellencies. I did not fail to render him those courtesies which I considered appropriate, assuring him that he would find no difficulty about establishing himself in your regard or in causing the qualities he possesses to shine.
Paris, the 16th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
338. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain to the Doge and Senate.
The more urgent the ambassador of England shows himself in his efforts to obtain a positive and conclusive answer to the proposal of the mediation offered, the more cautious they show themselves about the form and the time for letting him have it. The count of Pignoranda, with whom he is dealing, waited some time after the last despatch of the courier, and having in his hands a letter sealed by the queen, directed to his Britannic Majesty, he sent it by his gentleman to Godolfin, together with a note of his own in which he offered his excuses because of the indispensible occupations of those hours over the despatch. He offered to come on the following days to tell him by word of mouth what the regent had wished to send with the sheet enclosed. The minister, much astonished at the adoption of such a curt and disingenuous manner in replying to him, resolved to open the paper and to extract the contents of the letter. It contained abundant and cordial expressions of the high appreciation with which the king's goodwill towards their interests here had been received, a confidence in his most upright intentions and the most lively desire to see established a firm, sincere and universal concord. At the same time it expresses regret at being unable to take a step by themselves alone without communicating with their allies. When this has been done the Ambassador Fresno in London will inform the king there of the tenor of the royal sentiments. Although the memory is fresh of the advantages obtained by the friendly offices of this minister in the negotiation of the last peace between England and Holland nevertheless the Spaniards have not buried the memory of the disadvantages to which they had to submit, owing to his astuteness, in the articles recently agreed upon about trade, especially in the Indies. So they court him when it suits them but they always respect and fear him.
Madrid, the 16th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
339. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge And Senate.
A report circulated at the beginning of the week that the Spanish ambassador had received orders from his queen to accept the mediation of England. This was untrue and Fresno says he has not yet received any reply about the project though he had no doubt of the queen's readiness to accept the offers of the king here. On the other hand the Swedish ambassador Spaar complains of weariness and fatigue from idleness. He says he is expecting the order to depart, but actually lie does his utmost for the mediation.
It is not yet known whether the Dutch ambassadors have left Holland. They were to embark for London on the 14th. The plenipotentiaries from Cologne are also expected at any moment. A French patrol fired three musket shots at their boat when descending the canal at Thiel. Nothing positive has yet been said about this to Ruvigni and it is not known whether the Court will take the matter up.
After four weeks of recreation Arlington returned two evenings ago and will resume business, though he is trying to get rid of his office. He wants to fix himself in another eminent post but one of less hazard and embarrassment.
Three days ago the king issued a proclamation to restrain the spreading of false news and licentious talking about matters of state and government. (fn. 2) Some expected that by a second proclamation he would pledge himself to assemble parliament according to the last prorogation, to allay the suspicions circulated that he meant to dissolve it. But in the proclamation in question he merely refers to the reports of a dissolution and says that he sees no cause to change the decision about the meeting and therefore looks upon the spreaders of the report as persons seditiously inclined and ill affected to his service.
The Catholics are busily engaged in covering their property under other names to exempt it from the severity of the laws. Apprehending a renewal of persecution at the next session they are all seeking some retreat of their own finding. Long experience has disillusioned them and they are now aware that it is dangerous to form parties and vain to trust in others.
The king still proposes to pass a great part of the summer at Windsor and the queen may perhaps remain some time at Hampton Court. The ministers will follow them as I am stimulated to do by the ducali of the 14th April. It would not be possible to get the information at a distance or to distinguish authentic news from the confused reports which are constantly circulating in this country.
London, the 18th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 18.
Cinque Savii
alla.
Mercanzia
Risposte
157.
Venetian
Archives.
340. We, the Savii alla Mercanzia, have considered what the consul of England has said about facilities at the public ports for the export of oil to the West with the object of attracting ships from those parts to flock here. From an examination of the matter we have found that beyond the concession of one half, which is asked, facility for export has been granted by exemption of three quarters of the duty by a decision taken in the year 1671 which also grants the same facility for the export of rice and in addition relieves merchants of the pledges of sureties, facilities which were communicated to every merchant upon the said occasion. Under these circumstances we thought it necessary to communicate with the consul and upon this point he said that he had not had notice of the decision of 1671 referred to. In consideration of his being away from this city he limited his request to asking that this concession by the state may be allowed to be printed by your Serenity, to make it generally known in England, so that he can send it direct to several merchants, his correspondents, in the hope of deriving thereby considerable profit and advantage for the public service and for the interests of the mart as well. We submit this with the decision attached for such instructions as the good pleasure of the Signory may decide.
Given the 18th May, 1674.
Nicolo Corner
Giacomo Cabriel
Domenico Mocenigo
Almoro Barbaro Savii.
[Italian.]
May 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
341. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letter of the 27th ult. With regard to the memorial presented by the Consul Hailes last week the Senate encloses the decision taken after enquiry by the magistracies. He can make use of this to make them recognise the cooperation of the Senate in anything that can facilitate trade. The Senate is making a like representation to the consul himself.
Ayes, 115. Noes, 2. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
May 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
342. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge And Senate.
On the very day that the Spanish ambassador received a letter from his queen to the king here and had delivered it, I paid him a visit. He is confined to his room by a variety of ailments. He called his secretary and made him read the letter to me. He said the king admitted the force of the reasons given by the queen for not pledging herself to the mediation. He believed the world would acknowledge the respect shown by the Catholic crown for the Holy See and expatiated on the other protestations of a desire for quiet. He then added, as a mark of confidence, that the real object was to seek a permanent peace by means of war. It was not desirable to make it provisional," as the Most Christian wished, in order that he might recoup his strength and resume his attack on Spain within the year, that country being armed at present. The emperor for the safety of the empire and his own advantage must abide by his pledge. The Dutch knew that their sole reliance was in Spain, and that their safety depended on the preservation of Flanders and that if the present opportunity be lost there will no longer be any hope of compelling the Most Christian to comply with the terms of the peace of the Pyrenees.
Ruvigni, who tries to frustrate all Fresno's insinuations, told me he was surprised at the phlegm of the English ministry. The queen had written in a very haughty style, referring the king to further communications to be received from the ambassador. He added that it was strange for the queen to distrust England seeing that a month ago the king left to her the mediation and arbitrament of his disputes with the Dutch. He repeated this several times to Lord Arlington himself, but here they pass everything over and a few evenings ago the duke of York said that although under no great obligation to Spain or being much inclined towards her, his brother had no reason to complain and that in respect of the remedy devised for the avoidance of treaties, the Spaniards had treated England with civility.
The Swedish ambassador, who came to see me the day before yesterday, said he was sorry to see the mistakes made daily by the Spaniards. They had expected England to make a declaration in their favour and they had refused neutrality for Franche Comté, relying on the Swiss. Now, under the impression that the Most Christian will be unable to take the field next year, they expect to gain in this. While acting purely on the defensive they think the king of France will have to surrender his conquests and facilitate a permanent peace. Besancon had already fallen and the citadel was not strong enough to hold out. The rest of the territory could not defend itself. France thus easily joined up her conquests and was indifferent about giving up those made in Holland as they would only be a burden because of the places which had not surrendered.
The English plenipotentiaries arrived from Holland at the beginning of the week and report a dangerous incident. The royal standard was hoisted on their yacht and the Dutch, being in their own ports, did not dip to it. It now remains to explain the article of the peace and to see if the obligation on the Dutch extends to their own harbours. Jenkins, one of the envoys, said they were bound to dip everywhere. Williamson, the other, thought that their own home was not included. This view is taken by Fresno who assumes the role of interpreter of the treaty. The Dutch ambassadors, who arrived in London two days ago, are the bearers of instructions on this point. They are in a hurry to present themselves before the king goes to Windsor next week. Yesterday he went to see an experimental sailing match between two yachts, built on a new principle, to increase their speed. (fn. 3)
London, the 25th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
343. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
The Senate takes note of what you said to the Cavalier Hugons about the consulage. On his arrival here we shall observe what he says about it. Upon every occasion we shall always make him recognise how much we are inclined towards that nation and how much we apply ourselves to attract a greater flow of trade. Whenever we have occasion to oblige him you will draw attention to this same disposition and consequently we shall always keep you informed of all that happens. In the mean time you must endeavour to keep Arlington well disposed in the self same matter of the consulage.
Ayes, 144. Noes, 1. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
May 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
344. Zuane Moresini, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge And Senate.
Amid all these discussions and debates a strong letter has come from the British king to the emperor in which, while urging his Imperial Majesty to peace he offers his valued mediation in set terms to bring it about. It has come about that the emperor in his reply has confined himself to general terms of esteem, confidence and gratitude, taking into consideration the necessity of the consent of his allies in a matter of such consequence as well as their opinions and wishes. The primary disposition and desire of this Court to see the boon of the first concord between Christian princes brought about by the valued offices of the pope and your Excellencies does not allow them to pay attention to the offers of other and more suspect powers.
Medelin, the 26th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Costantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
345. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge And Senate.
At last the ambassador of England through his secretary has returned the compliment to me with every mark of ceremonial. With this I am sufficiently satisfied about equality of treatment. So I later on sent the Secretary Nicolosi again to his Excellency to wish him a happy Easter. He received this with expressions of the utmost civility and courtesy.
The Vigne of Pera, the 27th May, 1674.
[Italian.]
May 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
346. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge And Senate.
With regard to the reply given to the ambassador of England about those interests I learn from one who is deeply in his confidence that they confined themselves here entirely to generalities, carefully avoiding the slightest reference to the previous offer by the pope. I am also informed that Fresno in London is fomenting an agitation in order to hasten the assembling of the Chambers sooner than the king desires it. I have not yet succeeded in finding out any more about their aims but perhaps with the favour of time I may succeed in learning something.
Madrid, the 30th May, 1674.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Sir Walter Vane, Cal. S.P. Dom. 1673–5. p. 236. His name occurs in a list of the Prince of Orange's army of July 1674. S.P.Holland, Vol. CXCVI.
2 Proclamation of 2 May, o.s., to restrain the spread of false news and licentious talking of matters of state. Steele: Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, Vol. I, page 435, No. 3595. 17.—(12).
3 He went with James, Rupert and other leading men at Court to Sheerness to examine defects which had disclosed themselves in the new fortress there, and to try the sailing quality of two pleasure boats the Cleveland and Portsmouth. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 V, fol. 254. While there they discovered a new passage for the large ships. The king was very pleased and it was said that if this had been known the year before, they could have divided the Dutch fleet and defeated it utterly. Ruvigny to Pomponne on 25 May. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.


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