Venice
March 1675

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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364-382

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'Venice: March 1675', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 364-382. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90383 Date accessed: 18 September 2014.


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March 1675

March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
457. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday last there arrived here Don Marco de Velasco, with four gentlemen of quality, as envoy from the duke of Villa Hermosa, the new governor of Flanders. (fn. 1) He was immediately seized with a slight attack of fever and is still confined, to his rooms. In the mean time the envoy Bergheik has circulated the news all over the Court, protesting that the new governor means to cultivate the best understanding with his Majesty, who some days ago acknowledged this mission by sending Mr. Porter as his envoy to Velasco. (fn. 2) Through these gentlemen it is found that Ronquillo, who has a slight catarrh, makes this a pretext for keeping his room, in order to await from Spain the desired title of ambassador and remittances to smoothe the difficidties caused by the huge cost of diplomatic service in England.
Here the ability of Villa Hermosa is very slightly esteemed and they greatly dread the turbulent bias of Ronquillo who comes with the idea of ruling the former in his own fashion and pursuing a violent policy, being naturally inclined to disregard promises made by him to any one but his queen.
They strongly suspect that he will thwart any overture made by Orange to this Court. To anticipate him the king thinks to strengthen friendly relations with the prince by granting him, as a mark of affection, the money which the States were to pay the king for the last peace, in liquidation of the debts due to his family by this crown. Although the greater part of this money had been already assigned as doweries and the rest for his mistresses and daughters, his Majesty agreed to make it over to the prince, partly as a mark of confidence in his nephew and to destroy the hopes of the malcontents which are fixed on him, as well as in the belief that Orange may have recourse to England of his own accord. He has already asked advice about accepting the sovereignty of Guelders and received the dry answer that he had already scorned the assistance of the two crowns for making himself master of the Province and decided by himself to refuse the offer of Guelders, to prevent Holland from being jealous. It was intimated then that he might easily see how ill disposed that province was towards him, although during the war and its trials he enjoyed a truce. He deceived himself in trusting to the attachment of the Dutch who were too licentious, but if he decided to accept the support of any one single crown he would find affection and sincerity in England if he himself reciprocated those feelings.
It is not known what success these insinuations may have as the prince still fancies that he possesses supreme power over that people and is not apprehensive of the jealousies that are reviving, although their root is only too deeply seated.
Orange told Temple he was sorry that the Most Christian refused Murs for the congress and if his Majesty approved of Grool, Sluys or Liége he would exert himself to obtain the approval of the allies and the Provinces. This last proposal was communicated by the king to Rovigni who replied that the two first could not afford adequate accommodation while Liége was imperialist and full of factions and so he did not know if the Most Christian would consent to that place after what had happened at Cologne.
Rovigni also told the king of the decision of the Most Christian to accept the mediation of the mod serene republic. He told me later that his king was very well pleased to do so, having great confidence in the Signory. I understand that speculative politicians say that the Spaniards will consent to your Serenity's mediation as it will prevent the Senate from taking advantage of existing circumstances to make conquests in Italy. Others better acquainted with the republic's moderation, merely say that, disturbed as Italy now is, the advice of your Excellencies will have greater weight with Spain than the armed mediation of any other power as, after all, the Italian principalities are of greater importance than Flanders to the Catholic crown. Be this as it may, your Serenity's mediation is approved here as being most likely to induce the Spaniards to make peace, always supposing that the Senate has made sure of the Catholic's assent, before venturing to demand it publicly.

In an interview with Coventry he told me that the king, after considering the papers about the consulage, had decided to order Higgons not to urge your Serenity to adopt the new plan and had also ordered Hayles to rest satisfied with the system hitherto in use; so I trust the affair is settled. To make more sure I will get it from the king's own lips and ask permission to write it to the republic so that the subject may never be raised again.
London, the 1st March, 1675.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
458. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the king and duke are accustomed to hear their subjects talk in a turbulent fashion yet they deeply resent being satirized openly and that the populace should take such a liberty with impunity, to the reproach of the government and at the risk of its safety. A mock discourse is circulating in the squares which purports to be the king's speech at the next session of parliament giving the mob ideas most prejudicial to the Court. The lads who hawk about the streets the order in Council and the proclamation have the audacity to shout “Declaration of his Majesty for sweetmeats for the parliament.” This is to imply that his Majesty is trying to pacify the members of parliament as they do here with children, by quieting them with comfits. This term of abuse means much more in English than in Italian and it means that the people are losing respect for the king. The more he protests against the nonconformists and maltreats them, the less is the country pleased, declaring that the acts of severity are all feigned and a piece of statecraft devised by the ministers now in favour.
Lauderdale and the treasurer, alarmed by this popular outcry, are seeking to gain the confederate peers over to their side, promising them to deceive the bishops and persuade them to consent to the fusion with the Presbyterians. Once this is accomplished they will form one party, capable of ruling England, out of three.
The duke, aware of this project, told the king a few evenings ago that at the restoration his Majesty with great effort and considerable expenditure succeeded in keeping the Protestant, Presbyterian and Independent parties divided. During the late civil wars there had never been a union between any two of these parties without causing notable prejudice to the government. Accordingly, in changing his policy, it would at least be prudent for his Majesty himself to manage the union on conditions to guarantee his own safety; as if it was done by the party of the confederates they would pledge him to the malcontents, a measure which must prove fatal to the crown. The pretext of the coalition, to mask their nefarious designs to the people, would be that they had united for the purpose of opposing popery. To that end they would vote tyrannical laws contrary to the conscience of the Catholics, violent decrees against the popish peers and the exclusion of himself from the crown, so as to give his enemies hope of usurping it and of deposing his Majesty. For these reasons the king should desire his confidential private adherents to deter the Presbyterians from negotiations with the bishops and comfort them with the hope of a respite and with the assurance that the king seeks their tranquillity through other channels. To this end they are beginning to impart a secret to the party leaders viz: that at the restoration in addition to the observation of the toleration promised to persons of every vocation, they endeavoured to grant liberty of conscience according to the declaration of March 1672. This measure was opposed by Protestants and nonconformists alike out of fear that his Majesty would seize the opportunity to assume arbitrary government and repeal the laws of the realm. Subsequently in pursuit of his plan to grant liberty of conscience, the king assembled the bishops and asked their opinion. His first intention, if they disagreed about persecution or opposed it, was to justify his own toleration to parliament, especially as by an act of Queen Elizabeth, the king is at liberty to call a council of few bishops and laymen to decide about ecclesiastical matters.
The king's second plan, if the bishops recommended severity, as they did, was to issue proclamations in order that his subjects, wounded to the quick by active persecution, might take thought for their own safety by abandoning the seditious factions, and, as practically three-fourths of the population are nonconformists, that they might obtain a majority in parliament. The lower House would then demand toleration which the peers offer the king and his Majesty would be left free to grant liberty and peace to all his subjects.
The party leaders avail themselves of this information to convince their followers of the king's sound heart, so that if he has lost the respect of his subjects he may retain their love. They say that he granted a free pardon and that he made no reserves for taking revenge on the factions which sent his father to the scaffold. They are labouring to lay the blame of violent counsels on the ministers, because if once the people suspect the king or duke of being vindictive or sanguinary, they will give them neither peace nor quarter.
Your Serenity will see from this that the malcontents have a design upon the duke with the intention of ruining the king later and entering into the ministry; and that the king, the duke and their friends are inclined to satisfy the people by sacrificing the ministers, foreseeing that without bloodshed or ruin it would be difficult to avert civil war. But I know that the duke refused his consent to a plan whereby Lauderdale would have been ruined, indeed he prevented its execution by a party leader. He says constantly that he wishes the king himself and not parliament to disgrace bad ministers. As his Majesty had not the heart to dismiss the late chancellor Clarendon, parliament was encouraged to impeach him and the king now sees the inconvenience of having his ministers attacked by parliament to the prejudice of his repute and authority. Unless the treasurer and Lauderdale correct themselves he would like the king and not parliament to dismiss them. The dignity of the crown should be upheld and the king should devote himself to the welfare of his subjects for whose repose monarchs must occasionally sacrifice their ease and devote their whole attention, but not resign their authority.
London, the 1st March, 1675.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosure.459. Proclamation commanding all priests and Jesuits, except John Huddleston, to leave this kingdom before 25 March.
Dated at Whitehall, 5 February, 1674. (fn. 3)
[English.]
Enclosure.460. Declaration for enforcing the Order in Council for the suppression of popery and conventicles. Dated at Whitehall, 12 February, 1674. (fn. 4)
[English.]
March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
461. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident for England, to the Doge and Senate.
I had considerable difficulty in getting vetturini to take me to Frankfort on account of the Lorraine troops and those of Brandenburg and I was unable to get companions to help in making the journey safe. The snow also was very deep. I therefore decided to take a convoy, though it was very costly. The imperial troops do not number 6,000 men and the leaders are quarrelling among themselves. The other allied princes are dissatisfied. It is expected that the troops of Brandenburg will return to defend their own country against the Swedes. In that case there would be no resistance to the French. It is strange that the dukes of Bavaria and Hanover will not contribute a man. Describes the manner of feeding the armies. The officers hope that General Montecuccoli will return to command the armies, but this will be no good unless he brings men and money. The Dutch are divided by factions. French forces are moving on the Rhine.
Augsburg, the 1st March, 1675.
[Italian.]
March 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
462. To the Secretary Alberti and the Resident Sarotti.
Acknowledge receipt of Alberti's letters of the 8th ult. and commend his action about the consulage. Various ships from those parts have arrived these last days with salt fish. They are well received and entertained. As the concessions which have been granted facilitate their flocking here so it is certainly not expedient to renew troublesome burdens for the support of the consul and to prejudice the abundance of the traffic. This hint will serve for him to use when opportunity serves. Acknowledge receipt of Sarotti's letters from Augsburg.
Ayes, 139. Noes, 2. Neutral, 4.
[Italian.]
March 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
463. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
On the question of the mediation. The ambassador of England who, more than anyone else devotes his ceaseless attention to spy out the minute particulars about this subject, has succeeded in finding out that the nuncio (fn. 5) has not been able to obtain in writing the office performed with him by Don Pietro. With his natural subtlety of mind he argues that a reply was necessary and that if it was conclusive and in the affirmative it would be so only in appearance.
They are thinking here of captivating the affections of the English by interesting that mercantile nation in increased trade in the Indies by permitting to them alone the transport of the cloth stuffs which at present redounds to the very considerable advantage of France.
Madrid, the 7th March, 1675.
[Italian.]
March 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
464. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The duchess of York having left her apartments and St. James' palace for the first time, to see the queen, appointed an evening to receive the compliments of the foreign ministers. I performed the office in your Serenity's name and expressed the hope that next year she would receive congratulations on the birth of an infant prince. She made a gracious reply and seemed pleased with the forecast.
Don Marco Velasco, having partly recovered, obtained audiences of the king, queen and duchess. He presented letters from the duke of Villa Hermosa, governor of Flanders, expressing his great desire to maintain good relations with England. Here they wish that the Spaniards thought less of conquests and advantages and more of preserving what they hold through peace, seeing that they are unable to wage war or to achieve a treaty on their own terms. But the queen of Spain does not move a step and she has not yet accepted the mediation of England, though the general belief is that events in Italy (fn. 6) will counsel the Spaniards to accept the mediation of the most serene republic and to listen to peace proposals.
The emperor's reply is not at all approved. They say that he means to compel France to yield the point about Lorraine, merely offering fair words about the truce and delusive satisfaction about the place for the congress. As the mediators were not accepted, the need for agreeing about a place was very remote. With regard to Furstembergh there is no question about when but whether they will or will not proceed against him. They seem in short to be scandalised here at the emperor trying to convince the world of his anxiety for the peace of Europe while making so slight a return to the overtures of France. Even the Dutch ambassador here speaks rather freely on the subject and does not hesitate to explain how precipitately the prince of Orange formed his plan about the duchy of Guelders. He says that the prince, after asking the opinion of the provinces and the towns of Amsterdam, Delft, Enqueuse and Leyden, decided to oppose the measure and the other fourteen of the province of Holland referred themselves to the prince's own prudence and inclination. Three towns of the province of Zeeland opposed him and three were in his favour. The prince, as the head of the nobility, did not give the seventh vote, as he was personally concerned. The rest of the provinces followed the lead of Holland. The prince, aware of the pledge given by the four chief towns of Holland, thought fit to anticipate their wishes by sending them word that he declined the proffered sovereignty of Guelders, and thus quelled the disturbance. But the public mind remains rather troubled and apprehensive about his attempting a change in the union of the provinces through anti-republican maxims. Van Beuninghen, by declaring himself the pupil and creature of the de Wits, shows clearly that the principles of the Lowenstein party are reviving. This collision will produce many other consequences, which I will note and report.
The United Provinces have at last ratified the maritime treaty, which is being translated into several tongues for the information of all countries. But the English commissioners are unable to adjust the Indian trade. The chief difficulty is that the Dutch East India Company will not agree to cancel a number of private treaties contracted with the native princes, binding them not to trade with other nations. The English want trade to be free and remonstrate against the monopoly effected by the Dutch. They are no longer satisfied with the abrogation of the right of search and the confiscation of goods found in their ships as having been obtained from native princes in alliance with the Dutch. They wish to be at liberty to buy from the princes, who are not to be forbidden to trade with them.
In accordance with the last treaty the Dutch have sent orders to Surinam for the release of the subjects of the king of England, who is now sending commissioners and ships to take them and their goods to other colonies of the crown.
To celebrate the carnival it was intended to perform a comedy and ballet, in which the actors were the duke of York's daughters, the duke of Monmouth and gentlemen of the Court. But as they could not get ready in time, the performance took place in Lent. The foreign ministers were invited, but Rovigni, who is called envoy but has credentials as ambassador, would not appear in the place assigned to him. The Danish envoy also would not come, to avoid giving precedence to the one from Sweden. Those present were the Dutch ambassador, the Swedish envoy and myself, the Flanders envoys absenting themselves.
On the 10th March the king will go to Newmarket for recreation, returning before the end of the month, unless he changes his mind. In the course of conversation with his Majesty I alluded to the consulage. He said he had charged Higgons not to importune your Serenity any more on the subject. There had been misunderstanding and he wished to keep up good correspondence with the republic and a good trade between the two countries. I mentioned this to Coventry who said he was repeating instructions to this effect to Higgons, so your Excellencies will hear no further remonstrances from Hayles on the matter.
London, the 8th March, 1675.
[Italian.]
March 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
465. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I wrote last week that the most probable solution of affairs here would be either the sacrifice of the duke of York through the confederate peers or else the exposure of some minister to the popular fury, as it was impossible to satisfy the people without bloodshed. Lauderdale and the treasurer are the two most hated and so fearful that they are already beginning to play their last card desperately by persuading the king to prorogue parliament. This is called a desperate game in England as the country resents nothing more deeply and the ministers who advise it will never be given any quarter by parliament when it meets. The duke of York is distrusted by the people chiefly because he induced the king to order the last prorogation. But he is now regaining the general good opinion as he is supposed to be the one who backs the king against the efforts of those two who are trying to delay their ruin by prorogation. With all my intimacy with the duke I cannot persuade myself that he is eager for the meeting of parliament for I know that he does not consider himself safe and he has no wish to expose himself voluntarily to the extravagancies of the Lower House and to the artifices of the ministers, with the risk of the king's inconstancy with which he is only too familiar. I know definitely that the duke's firm maxims are to remain true to his friends and to be constant under trials. He merely aims to rid the country of suspicion, to give quiet to tender consciences and to establish the government disdaining to listen to projects of revenge against the two unpopular ministers or to shifts for withdrawing or to false and feigned resolves. He refuses to declare himself against any one, saying that he is intent on gaining friends and that there will always be time to make enemies. If he saved Lauderdale from ruin in the last session of parliament and raised the treasurer from insignificance to the height of power, their ingratitude only renders them more heinously disloyal, and he would not receive an envoy sent from Scotland by certain noblemen and lawyers who opposed some orders issued by Lauderdale, to the indignation of the Scotch parliament.
By his influence with the supreme court of justice in Scotland, Lauderdale, from private pique, caused a Scotch gentleman to lose a lawsuit. The gentleman appealed to parliament. Thereupon Lauderdale suggested to the king that if he could prevent such appeals he might rule Scotland arbitrarily. The appointment of the fifteen judges of that Court being in his gift, in ten years at most they would award all the estates of the kingdom according to the direction of the crown. To this end Lauderdale despatched numerous orders to Scotland, which were opposed by certain persons, whom the king recently banished to a distance of 20 miles from Edinburgh. (fn. 7) They have now sent petitions to his Majesty and private instructions to the parliamentarians to inveigh against Lauderdale's violent breach of the laws. The people also shower public maledictions on him; though these will not help the poor Catholics, who suffer more than the rest and anticipate still worse treatment.
From the Catholics rather than from current reports the queen became aware that parliament meant to resume the project for a divorce. A few days ago she was seized with such paroxysms that for one whole night the confessor never left her and the English ecclesiastics most in her confidence were preparing to cross the sea to save themselves from the severity of the laws. I may mention here that the chaplain is at last out of prison and will leave for Dover on Monday, conducted by an official of the Court. (fn. 8)
Some of the Catholics have been holding conferences together about presenting a petition to parliament that they may be considered as subjects and Christians and not harassed. Others declared that they would impeach in parliament those who have given them hopes of liberty; but they came to the conclusion that it was useless to expect pity or justice from parliament and that it was for the interest of Catholics to live for the king, to depend on him and to perish with him rather than to render his Majesty suspicious by having recourse to parliament or to factions.
London, the 8th March, 1675.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
466. In the Pregadi on the 9th March, 1675.
With reference to the representations of the English consul Hayles, that order be given to the Avogadori di Comun to pay what is due to him so that he may have this payment with the utmost despatch.
Ayes, 158. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
March 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
467. To the Secretary Alberti and the Resident Sarotti.
No letters of Alberti have arrived by the ordinary of the present week. Acknowledge the second letter of Sarotti from Augsburg. Inform them of the payment of Hayles. It will serve them, when opportunity offers, to demonstrate the disposition of the republic which is always forward in anything affecting the said consul personally and indeed the whole of that nation, in everything possible. (fn. 9)
Ayes, 158. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
March 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
468. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident for England, to the Doge and Senate.
On leaving Augsburg I took the long route by Nuremberg, Wirtzburg and Aschaffenburg, keeping as far as possible from the dangerous quarters of the Lorraine and Brandenburg troops. I was convoyed by officers of the dukes of Holstein and Luneburg. The places of the duke of Bavaria are all well guarded. There is no sign of the Brandenburg troops returning home. On the way I met the General Marquis of Este Borgomainero. He was going to the imperial Court with information about the present state of the forces in the Netherlands. He says that the Catholic king will have over 50,000 soldiers. 35,000 are promised by the Dutch. He admits that there is great disorder in all the forces but he has a high opinion of the prince of Orange, who aims at ruling the United Provinces. The journey has been very expensive because of the convoy. Asks that the Signory will take this into consideration.
Frankfort, the 12th March, 1675.
[Italian.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
469. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
At length this Court congratulates itself on having gained the first, point about the peace negotiations. News has come from Holland of the consent of the powers to hold the congress at Nimuegen They would like them to agree about the mediators and England is urging the Spanish and Dutch ministers to overcome the obstinacy of the emperor about satisfying France about the Furstemberg affair. But Lauderdale told me that he did not believe that the king with all his efforts would be able to bring about a peace within so short a time, as the Spaniards were not yet aware of their bad condition and the allies encouraged themselves with hopes of benefit to be derived from the war. The next campaign must be allowed to take its course, after which they might hope to fix some basis for a treaty.
On the other hand the Swedish resident tells me in confidence that the negotiations between his crown and Holland are tending towards an adjustment and that the United Provinces had not yet contributed to Denmark one half of their subsidy and much less had the Spaniards paid theirs. This was confirmed to me by the Dutch ambassador. Van Beuninghen unbosomed himself to me about the need for the Italian powers to concern themselves about Messina. But that is the way he always talks, to inspire jealousy of France and stimulate her enemies. He showed a great desire to know whether your Serenity had made sure of Spain's assent to your mediation. He ended with some reference to the desirability of having ministers at Venice and the Hague, not merely to cultivate correspondence but because of the many interests of the two nations and their trade. I answered without committing myself and went on to discuss the treaties of commerce touching India. He told me he had offered every possible satisfaction. Some of the English commissioners, who were never satisfied, suggested that as they were unable to get everything they would rather leave matters as they were. He had been called before the Privy Council where he put the matter in its true light, and was awaiting some decision.
A few evenings ago the envoy (fn. 10) from the duchess of Modena arrived, having been sent from Rome. He saw the duke of York immediately and congratulated the duchess. He was then presented to the king and queen, who received him most graciously.
The queen is still confined to her apartments and in the hands of the physicians. Distinguishing between physical ailments and mental distress, which is much more difficult to cure, they administer medicines without avail and her Majesty still remains in affliction. Every one believes this to be due to the bad state of the Papists. An Irish Catholic, a merchant, applied to the Council for freedom from molestation, setting forth the vast trade carried on by him, his own house alone paying 15,000l. yearly to the customs and giving employment to an infinite number of people. But his remonstrances were in vain. The Council would not exempt him from the rigour of the laws, preferring to drive him out of the country and to lose the profit of his business and the duties paid by him. But the Protestants themselves clamour at this foreseeing that foreign nations when they see English merchants, who are mostly nonconformists, subjected to such harsh treatment, will withdraw their effects and no longer trust them here, to the detriment of trade, it is calculated that since the last declaration a considerable sum has already been paid to foreigners, obviously the result of distrust on the part of creditors as in the case of a merchant who is beginning to lose credit without which he cannot drive a great trade, however wealthy he may be; as it is credit and not capital that enables him to have an extensive business.
The chaplain left for Dover yesterday, to embark for Calais. There he may be considered safe from the officers here who desired to see him martyred although the king had given repeated orders for his release. The consulage also will remain on the footing on which Hayles found it. Higgons writes that the consul had uncivilly pressed the republic and wanted him to commit himself. The Senate had shown liberality and favour to the English nation and rejected this demand on reasonable grounds. He ended by praising the treatment he had received and he always writes well of the government.
From the ducali of the 16th February I am expecting the arrival of the Resident Sarotti whose experience and ability will be available for the state during the next session of parliament and I shall be relieved of the burden of a ministry to which I am quite unequal, except in good will.
London, the 15th March, 1675.
Postscript: I have just heard that the commissioners of the English and Dutch East India Companies have agreed to say no more about past affairs. As it was difficult to provide against all future accidents, they have arranged that if any dispute arises commissioners shall be appointed to sit alternately in London and in Holland to adjust whatever may crop up later.
[Italian.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
470. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
It is the king's usual custom to announce to the counties the prorogation of parliament by circular letters dated forty days before the appointed meeting. As the term expires this week it is considered morally certain that the king means to assemble parliament, contrary to the opinion of those ministers who oppose it. They exert themselves to bring over to their side the confederate peers. But many of these do not listen to the project of fusion, tantamount to a union of the Protestants with the Presbyterians, which would be perilous as those two parties are the strongest in England. The king and the duke are secretly opposing this union which has always proved fatal to the government. They have succeeded so far without much opposition, as many of the bishops do not agree to the renunciation of ceremonial nor do all the Presbyterian ministers care to be reconciled to the Anglican church, from fear of losing adherents and authority by which they rule so many good folk in England.
In spite of this the two ministers seem inclined to attack popery in order to obtain a majority. They declare that the danger and intrigues of the Church of Rome being imminent, all civil strife must be appeased for the sake of opposing the common enemy. As this suits their prospects they will try to sow dissension and thus avert the flood which would otherwise overwhelm them.
The friends of the duke of York, on the other hand, are preparing some great design to destroy all these cabals. Unless I am mistaken, the greater part of the confederate peers and the most powerful, with all the Presbyterians and Independents and a number of gentry will unite to support a project whose object is to give quiet to the kingdom and stability to the government.
Last Sunday an official with soldiers entered a Presbyterian conventicle taking note of the gentlemen, ladies and others present. He also required security from the preacher, who claims that having taken a certain oath at Oxford he is rehabilitated for preaching which is only forbidden to those who hold to the covenant, an oath disallowed by the Protestants. This example alarms the rest of the Presbyterians, who will be more cautious next Sunday. Meanwhile they are plotting against Lauderdale and the treasurer, who are supposed to be the authors of the persecution, and they threaten the bishops and bishoprics, declaring that they will root this dignity out of the Anglican church for ever.
The Spaniards do not interfere in these occurrences, not even having a minister here to create disturbances. But they whisper that the king will be obliged to side with them. Van Beuninghen on the other hand is dangerous, because the English malcontents still have hopes of support from the United Provinces, and he does not fail to encourage the idea.
London, the 15th March, 1675.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
471. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The prince of Orange has made a sudden volte face about the peace. He has agreed to Nimegen as the place for the congress. In his reply to Locard, the English ambassador, who had proposed it to him in the name of his king, he said that he agreed to it solely from his desire to oblige his Britannic Majesty and to make known the importance which he attached to his mediation.
Paris, the 20th March, 1675.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
472. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have mentioned the settlement about the India companies. The terms are so slightly stringent that every one knows them to be provisional. The Dutch have not given way in the least the advantage they enjoy through actual possession of the greatest and best part of the Indian trade and the English think that any imperfect regulation of the abuses there would injure the national credit without benefiting the business they have. So they have been content to leave matters as they were. The king knows that this is not the moment to be obstinate and insist on just concessions.
The treaty contains a solemn promise to maintain a permanent correspondence between the two companies. If any dispute arises hereafter the king and the Provinces will investigate it and if they cannot arrive at an agreement they will appoint commissioners to sit alternately in London and Holland as often as necessary. The articles will soon be published as well as those of the maritime treaty.
Their business being ended the commissioners of the Provinces with their colleagues of the India Company took leave of his Majesty and will depart next week. Count Crivelli is also leaving to-morrow, who came with congratulations from the duchess of Modena, and Don Marco Velasco has likewise taken leave, to be free to accompany the envoy Porter who is going to reciprocate the compliment, in the king's name.
The king left London for Newmarket the day before yesterday and will stay away hunting until Palm Sunday. He was accompanied by the duke of York and a great part of the Court. The queen remains in London on account of her ailments, and the duchess for her convenience, as they are preparing to pass the whole of next summer at Windsor castle.
Before his departure the king appointed as ambassadors at Nimuegen Lord Berkeley, late viceroy in Ireland, and Sir Jenkins, who was plenipotentiary at Cologne. They will be joined by Temple, now ambassador at the Hague, though it is not known when they will be there.
The Spaniards have made some comment on a grand banquet given by Berkeley to Ruvigni and all the Frenchmen, but at this Court they are not punctilious about matters of this sort and everything is said to remove the suspicion of the Spaniards that the king, the duke and ministers are all in favour of France.
A report has been circulating at Court that the emperor has at last consigned the prince of Furstemberg to the nuncio. Confirmation is awaited as well as of another rumour, encouraged by the Dutch, that your Serenity is allowing the Spaniards to raise troops in Venetian territory to supply their need at Messina and that the Signory is on the point of committing itself by giving succour for the suppression of the rebels there.
Leyonberg, the Swedish resident here, while awaiting news of an agreement at the Hague, is surprised to hear that the Dutch have captured some Swedish ships. I am told that he spoke to the king to get him to intervene and adjust the matter. I will keep on the watch to see what happens and what facilities English mediation may meet with in Holland.
The Lowestein faction is again unmasking. Grotius, with less ceremony than others, speaks clearly for the liberty of the republic, whose suspicion of the prince of Orange steadily increases. The more he shows himself in favour of England the more the usual antipathy of the Dutch for this nation gains force. Private intelligence has been received that Orange is apprehensive of poison, others say, of popular fury. But corroboration comes from several quarters that the States will hasten to facilitate peace for the sake of laying down their arms and thus putting an end to the very great authority of Orange. He made an initial mistake in trusting too much to the Dutch and his position is now worsened by having attempted so much against them without, greater force. He may now experience the ingratitude of the people, who do not know either how to oblige or how to obey, unless coerced.
All this confusion serves to dash the hopes of the turbulent spirits in England who expected assistance from Holland so that they might oppose the government. But Van Beuninghen does not fail to cultivate them and although it behoves him to eliminate the person of the prince of Orange which served as a basis for their projects, to give him the crown, he foments trouble and promises assistance to establish the religion and introduce a republican government, to the destruction of the burdensome monarchy. This hint will not produce much effect unless backed by ready money, as most of the well-to-do wish to increase the liberty of the subject and. to retain their own possessions but are far from seeking to better themselves through a new republican government, an attempt liable to so many accidents and chances.
Lord Shaftesbury, the chancellor dismissed at York's request, is invited to come from the country. As he seems to have repented and means to atone for past misconduct by a corresponding amount of good service, the duke listens to his offers to the effect that he will secure quiet for the king, restore the duke to his offices, calm the people and give toleration to persons of tender conscience, which means leaving everybody at liberty to preach, believe and act as the spirit moves them, which they call here holy inspiration.

London, the 22nd March, 1675.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
473. To the Secretary Alberti and the Resident Sarotti.
Acknowledge receipt of Alberti's despatch of the 1st. Note with great satisfaction that before his departure he has brought the matter of the consulage to a successful issue. Although the Secretary Coventri had given him assurance of the decision of the king it was a happy thought of his to get it also from his Majesty's own lips. The abandonment of this innovation will serve as a consolation for the merchants and the Signory will accord the merit that is due to the secretary's application and ability.
Acknowledge receipt of Sarotti's letter from Frankfort of the 12th. Note the steps taken by him for protection owing to the numbers of troops who in lest the roads. He has permission to enter in his accounts the cost of 30 Hungarians as an escort.
Ayes, 147. Noes, 3. Neutral, 3.
[Italian.]
March 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
474. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident for England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have been detained by bad weather and only readied this city yesterday. The country from Franconia to Mayence has been totally ruined by the troops of Brandenburg who quartered there. The Archbishop of Mayence goes in fear of violence from the French. He may retire to Aschaffenburg. Officers of the imperial army and of the allied princes say that their forces are greatly reduced. The troops here are in a bad state and without discipline. The duke of Hanover has decided to remain neutral, but the Austrians say that he is a partisan of the French and that he has an understanding with the Swedes for the defence of Bremen against the Dutch. Differences between the States General and the prince of Orange. Some officers with good troops have reached his Highness from England. The count of Waldeck has left the imperial Court in disgust.
Cologne, the 24th March. 1675.
[Italian.]
March 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
475. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Court is still amusing itself at Newmarket, so the secretaries of state are there also in order not to lose sight of business. But communication is so interrupted that it is hard to learn what is of importance, still more so to collect details for your Serenity.
Don Francicso de Velasco left for Flanders without giving any satisfaction about the ships captured by Ostend corsairs, pretending that they were French. So a person has been sent express to urge Villa Hermosa to make restitution. (fn. 11) While making these demands of Spain the Court takes care to let the merchants know so that the nation may be impressed with the behaviour of the Spaniards, who are steadily losing ground in the opinion of the English, who are implacable where their interests are injured. Although Bergheik maintains that the governor cannot release the ships except by the advice of the Admiralty at Ostend and by order from Spain yet he writes privately to the governor of the importance of not aggravating the matter because the Court craftily represents it as prejudicial to the nation whose good will is of so much consequence to the Catholic king.
The Spaniards will not listen to peace. The insist that the emperor cannot give way about Furstemberg, unless he settles the matter by beheading him. They say they will have 30,000 men in Flanders besides the Dutch auxiliaries and that Orange knows too well what is for his own advantage to retire and allow France to make a peace to suit herself while the States are too fearful for their safety.
The Dutch talk in another strain about the peace, showing themselves too greatly enamoured of it. They also show their jealousy of Orange; but Van Beuninghen pretends that his authority is too well secured to fear its loss.
Meanwhile Lord Berkeley and Sir Jenkins are preparing for their embassy to Nimuegen, the commission for the French plenipotentiaries having arrived here. The Swedish resident, whilst anxiously awaiting advices from Holland, has asked the king to allow him to print and sell the memorial presented to the emperor by the Swedish ambassador Oxenstierna, for the relief of the Protestants in some parts of Germany and Hungary. The resident expects this to imply that the war is due to religious motives. But the people here do not believe that in the imperial dominions they will open their doors to the Swedes on this account still less will the English take part with Sweden, believing her to be the pensioner of France, for whom this Court has some respect on account of promises given and of gratitude due while the nation retains its habitual and deeply rooted antipathy.
An extraordinarily violent dispute has arisen between the Lord Mayor of London and the Common Council because the latter claimed to cancel the nomination of a judge by the mayor who can only approve, as the appointment has always been in the gift of the Council. (fn. 12) The mayor tried to prevent discussion but the Council took it up heatedly compelling the mayor to withdraw. If he persists he runs the risk of worse consequences as he is one of the goldsmiths who lent the king money. As they have many creditors they will proceed against him to the extent of arrest and imprisonment from which his office does not exempt him, and in this way the post for the first time and for ever will be dishonoured. This quarrel does not extend beyond the city of London, which governs itself. The Court has no jurisdiction there, but if the people get exasperated there will be disturbances.
The city of London has never had so much trade as now. While others are at war everything flows into this channel. To prove this I may say that ten of the chief merchants offer 80,000l. a year more for the customs than his Majesty obtained during the last five years, although the annual product amounted to 700,000l. equal to 3,500,000 ducats, free of all costs. (fn. 13) These same merchants offer the king a year's revenue in advance, which displeases many who infer that when the king has found the way to get money in advance he will never be at a loss for it, to effect any great undertaking, without having recourse to parliament.
Sarotti has not yet arrived to carry out the orders in the ducali of the 2nd March. In obedience to instructions I will say a word to the Secretary Coventry about the good treatment received by English ships.
London, the 20th March, 1675.
[Italian.]
March 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
476. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
All the nonconformists exclaim against the severity of the penal statutes. The Presbyterians and Independents with their conventicles and effects are at the mercy of the pursuivants and the poor Catholics are subjected to the execution of the laws. A great number have been unable to escape conviction. But while the Independents are becoming more attentive and the Presbyterians are mingling with a party whereby they hope to obtain toleration for all Protestants at the next parliament session, the Catholics alone remain excluded. Without them the Court does not mean to give quarter to the others, foreseeing how propitious the moment is for improving the condition of the papists and ridding itself of the constant embarrassment of protecting them, through the grant, though masked and indirect, of some security now, under the pretence of the liberty which will be given simultaneously to the other dissenters. The king learning that a number of poor Catholic shopkeepers were shortly to be turned into the streets to beg, with their wives and children, and their effects to be sold, he determined to levy the two-thirds of the landed property of convicted Catholics in lieu of exacting 20l. from them for every month that they have failed to attend the Protestant church, as he has the option to order in which of the two ways the Catholics shall be punished. By making it appear that he is bent on radically destroying the Catholics, by attacking the well-to-do he is saving the poor from present ruin. As he has appointed gentlemen to take account of the landed property of the convicted Catholics, the latter will find a thousand ways to cover their estates under other names and gain time during their own lives, which is all they want.
The secret motive for this decision is not generally known though quite evident to the Presbyterians and Independents. Although these have always hitherto been hostile to the government they now, in the hope of more speedy relief through union, seem perfectly ready to co-operate for the king's satisfaction, to acknowledge the duke as heir and pay him respect as such, forgetting their antipathy to the Catholics, as they are to share with them the advantage which they claim from the crown.
On the other hand some of the confederate peers keep urging the Presbyterians to join the Protestants and thus free themselves from persecution, proposing to form a close alliance with the prince of Orange, as if ever he should attain the crown here they would be sure of religious liberty, whereas the duke of York, a Roman Catholic and daring in his resolves, would never rest until he had established popery throughout the realm.
Such are the calumnies uttered by the malignant against the duke of York. But he has more cause to dread the illness of the queen, who is wasting away daily. The people believe that this is due to poison and the queen herself tells her confidential friends that this is so, as she suffers from excessive heat which corrodes her stomach and entrails. But the physicians account for it by natural causes. If she should die there is no doubt that the king would marry again within three months with the moral certainty of having heirs who would shut out the duke of York from the throne. In spite of this, if the affairs of the Catholics improve during the next session of parliament and nothing is said against the queen, it is possible that, the alarm being past, she may recover health and spirits as the physicians note that her mind is more indisposed than her body. Her irreconcileable enemy Shaftesbury has not yet arrived in London. If he decides to serve the duke he will not broach this topic and from all appearance it would seem that apprehension will have worked and roused the Court to apply adequate remedy and that too great self confidence has rendered the parliamentarians incapable of harm.
London, the 29th March, 1675.
[Italian; deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 Francesco Marco de Velasco. It was supposed he would be acceptable, as he had been in England before. His chief companions were the Marquis Merebeck and Count Bossu. Bulstrode to Williamson, 8 and 15 February, 1675. S.P. Flanders, Vol. XLV.
2 Major Thomas Porter, Calendar of Treasury Books, Vol. IV, page 702.
3 Printed in the London Gazette, No. 963. Steele: Tudor & Stuart Proclamations, Vol. I, page, 437, No. 3609.
4 Cal. S,P. Dom, 1673–5, page 581.
5 Galeazzo Marescotti.
6 Referring to the revolt of Messina, which had appealed to France for protection. On 11 February the duke of Vivonne arrived there with eight ships of war. Relations Veritables, Brussels, No. 11. Writing from Brussels on 15 March, the Agent R. Bulstrode reports “the news concerning Messina hath much discomposed our Court here. It seems, upon the duke of Vivonne's appearance, the Spanish fleet retired to Naples … We seem not only to despair of reducing the place, but the loss of that kingdom is much doubted,” S.P. Flanders, Vol. XLV.
7 The earl of Callendar appealed to parliament against a decision of the Court of Session. The judges were affronted by this action, and on the matter being referred to the king, he supported them, at the same time issuing an order to disbar all advocates who did not condemn such appeals. Those advocates who proved recalcitrant were disbarred and banished by an act of the Privy Council of Scotland of 29 September, 1674. They did not submit until May 1675. According to Burnet the king's action put a stop for a whole year to all legal proceedings. Burnet: History of His Own Times, Vol. I, pp. 519, 520; Mackenzie: John Maitland, duke, of Lauderdale, page 383; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, 3rd Series, Vol. IV, p. xiv.
8 He was shipped by John Wickham, messenger, on the Postilion of Dover, Cal. S.P, Dom., 1675–6, page 13.
9 “Being troubled to give out money the Avogadori would have baffled me in the last partie about my 998 ducats; but the Senate hath renewed the same more effectual they acknowledge it with a more than usual expression.” Hailes to Williamson, 22 March, 1675. S.P. Venice, Vol. LIII, fol. 32. As the matter had been brought to the notice of the Senate as long ago as 1670 by both Falcombridge and Dodington (Venetian Calendar, Vol. XXXVI, pp. 256, 274) it is strange that they should take credit to themselves for action at this date.
10 Named as Count Crivelli in Alberti's despatch of 22 March.
11 Stephen Lynch was engaged in negotiations for the return of the captured ships. There are several of his letters in S.P. Flanders, Vol. XLV.
12 The dispute arose upon a question of the right of the court of Aldermen to veto matters ordained by the Common Council. On 12 March, o.s., the lord mayor (Sir Robert Vyner) and the aldermen, dissatisfied with the proceedings of the court of Common Council, got up and left the court. The Common Sergeant, George Jeffreys, remained behind and put the question. For this irregularity he was called to account and suspended. Sharpe: London and the Kingdom, Vol. I, pp. 448–50.
13 See Calendar of Treasury Books, Vol. IV, pp. xix, xx.