Venice
May 1675

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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397-411

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'Venice: May 1675', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 397-411. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90385 Date accessed: 31 July 2014.


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May 1675

May 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
493. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The plenipotentiaries have been ordered to hold themselves in readiness but the money is held back in the treasury and their equipment proceeds slowly. Upon the news sent by express by Rouvigni, who is in England, of some commotion among the parliamentarians there, they want to have orders issued from there for money in order to make use of this means for dismissing them in case of need and so divert the mischief that is threatened by that assembly. (fn. 1) The Sig. di Locard told me the day before yesterday that if they chose to play any pranks the king would have them all sent home. But it is doubtful if he will have sufficient courage to exasperate them, for that king is not always in a state to be provided with cash, as has been seen in these last years.
Paris, the 1st May, 1675.
[Italian.]
May 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
494. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary and Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Lord Lindsey, lord Great Chamberlain of England, not satisfied with the attempt reported last week, returned to the Upper House on Tuesday. On the supposition that there were many disaffected to the crown and the Protestant religion, he moved that the peers and members of the Lower House should take an oath not to raise soldiers in the king's name against the king and not to promote any alteration in the government and religion established in England. All the bishops and some of the peers their allies together with the great part of the noblemen dependent on the Court supported the motion, the former pretending that it was dictated by zeal and necessity, the latter that it indicated loyalty and the respect due to his Majesty. On the other hand the Catholic peers, the Presbyterians, the Independents and the rest of the party opposed to the bishops, while protesting the utmost respect for the crown, added that they could not consent to an innovation so prejudicial to their liberty and privileges. Without any visible sign of evil the remedy proposed was unseasonable. It was also ill balanced as, assuming evil intentions to be scattered throughout the country, the antidote was applied solely to the two Houses, a small number by comparison with the population and consisting of persons who could not be suspected without offence. Moreover in his last speech the king had declared himself not only safe but armed while he is attended with such a nobility and gentry. They added that in times of the greatest suspicion and difficulty the peers were exempt from oaths and merely promised fidelity on the word of a gentleman and there was never less need to prejudice their privileges. They debated this point until 4 p.m. on Tuesday and again all Wednesday, without dinner until nearly midnight, when it was at last settled that the peers might take oath without prejudice to their privileges.
After a respite all yesterday they resumed the debate to-day to discuss the form of the oath; but the time was again spent in controversy about privileges so that the bishops have not advanced their business in the least. The nonconformists and their friends are determined to oppose everything. They suspect the bishops of a design to inveigle them into taking a facile oath because subsequently, at the suggestion of the Bench, the Commons will propose a stringent one and the peers must adapt their consciences to it or vacate parliament.
The king, showing zeal for the establishment of the Protestant religion, commends the ardour of the bishops and the duke concurs, so as not to separate from his Majesty and on the principle of strengthening the crown. But it would not be surprising if the bishops, by attracting general attention and trying to do everything at once, should find themselves in difficulties later on.
The Lower House makes no demonstration against the Catholics. It is perhaps waiting for the result of the debate in the Lords. In the mean time it seems that the oath for the Catholics will be more stringent than that for the other nonconformists.
The day before yesterday the Commons went in a body to the great hall of Whitehall to petition the king to recall all of his subjects now serving in France. The king answered that the matter was one of extreme importance; he would consider it and announce his decision. It is an acknowledged fact that the Court, without infringing neutrality, cannot recall its subjects from France and allow them to remain in Holland; and the members of parliament themselves admit that it would be too much to lose those appointments and that paid school in which British subjects learn the art of war. But as this is only a distant view of the popular bias in favour of Spain, the Court hopes not to be attacked at closer quarters and that neither Van Beuninghen nor Ronquillo will interfere in the business.
The committee appointed by the Lower House to investigate fresh charges against Lauderdale reported to-day. The Commons mean to insist on the king dismissing so dangerous a minister. Lauderdale, who is all intrepidity, seems to rely on his innocence and hopes to extricate himself by a variety of arguments devised by the most experienced lawyers and by his confidential friends who expect by their ability to confound the strange proceedings of the Lower House.
What Lauderdale most dreaded was the opposition of the duke of York who, on principle, refuses to help parliament to correct ministers. By maintaining that it does not become the dignity of the crown to permit the persecution of its ministers, he guarantees Lauderdale who, so far, is the only one attacked by the Commons. All are waiting to see what favour he enjoys with the king to judge whether, for the sake of saving him, his Majesty will dissolve parliament. Some think that the present members, being too well acquainted with the state of the government, will never adapt themselves to the wishes of the Court, which by gratifying the nation through the election of fresh representatives, would find them well disposed. Others think that the king would not mend matters by a dissolution as the sitting members who voted him so many extraordinary money grants will have greater courage to advance further supply than their successors, who would not dare to brave the country.
The king seems to be of the latter opinion but it is hard to discover which he will be compelled to adopt, the fluctuation of circumstances and events being so common in England. Your Excellencies will recall how much the Court suffered in former sessions by advocating moderation and liberty of conscience against those penal statutes which the very same Court seems to propound at present in opposition to the identical peers who then proclaimed them necessary and inviolable.
London, the 3rd May, 1675.
[Italian.]
May 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
495. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary and Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Lord Castlehaven, who is in the Spanish service, has come from Flanders. (fn. 2) He inveighs publicly about the danger of France occupying the whole of the Spanish Netherlands, unless England prevents it by vigorous opposition. The report affects the Court the more as it has impressed parliament and some members insist on the great necessity for the king to declare himself in favour of Spain. Although the Lower House has not yet done more than desire the recall of British subjects from the French service it is much feared that the Commons may proceed still further.
Yesterday they were speaking against the trade with France, showing clearly how detrimental it is to this country, and it is very evident that they are looking for points of attack; but unless the foreign ministers encourage these designs, they will fall of themselves.
The Ambassador Van Beuninghen does not fail to assure the Court that he has taken no part in urging the vote for the recall of the troops from France, and the king is certain that Bergheik did not promote it, having received repeated protestations of his desire to cultivate the best understanding with his Majesty. Earlier advices from Spain state that the queen has charged Ronquillo to place the relations between the two countries on the best footing, renouncing the projects for obtaining anything from the royal family here by force. But there will be no lack here of those ready to pervert the best dispositions, smitten with the idea that the obstinacy of parliament may have great influence upon the spirit of the Court.
Ronquillo is expected any day and he will bring justifications of the yacht incident, maintaining that the English captain did not challenge the salute until he was under the guns of Ostend. If the ministers do not insist on Spain declaring that she would have dipped the flag if they met in the open sea, it seems that both parties may be satisfied. By a half measure devised or begged by the Spaniards and by their suffering the shot fired by the yacht, England has in a sense vindicated her supremacy at sea.
The gentlemen sent by the king and queen and the duke of York to congratulate the prince of Orange on his recovery, (fn. 3) have returned and report the readiness of his Highness to increase his confidential intercourse with this Court. They bring some hints of what the Spanish partisans here say openly, to wit that the Dutch army is neither so well trained to war nor so choice as they would like it thought, its numbers being far below report. The jealousies of the Provinces have so hampered the prince of Orange that, by attending solely to his own interests he cannot devote himself entirely to the defence of Flanders as is requisite. England deceived herself in expecting Holland to support that bulwark against France and by the next campaign it would be too late to think about it.
Since the meeting of parliament some of the Hispanophiles speak in this tone, returning to the old maxim of demanding help for the public cause on the plea of their own weakness. But Bergheik continues to magnify the forces of Spain and the allies and fancies that he is serving his king better than the others.
We have received this week the ducali of the 6th April and will seek an opportunity to show the republic's desire to gratify the whole of this royal family, as the Ambassador Mocenigo did by his share in the despatch of his Majesty's letter for the approval of the marriage of the duke of Modena's daughter to the duke of York.
London, the 3rd May, 1675.
[Italian.]
May 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
496. To the Secretary Alberti and the Resident Sarotti.
This is for information only. The republic's offer of mediation has been accepted by the emperor and it only remains to await the assent of his allies.
Ayes, 141. Noes, 0. Neutral, 4.
[Italian.]
May 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
497. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Sieur di Sphar took leave of his Majesty yesterday. He thinks of proceeding to London. He says it is in order to continue his journey for Hamburg; but they contend here that there is some second intention to procure by means of England their continuance in the mediation, pretending that the steps taken up to the present are not such as to exclude Sweden from the negotiations. It is a matter of concern to them to divert the blow that threatens them of the declaration of Denmark about the resolutions of the Dutch.
Paris, the 8th May, 1675.
[Italian.]
May 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
498. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary and Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king, charmed at the success of the bishops and their party against the ablest and most eloquent of the lords who oppose the oath suggested by Lord Lindsey, pressed the matter hard. It was debated for three days on end, always on the question of privileges and yesterday twelve peers made a definite protest against the oath, condemning it in round terms and stigmatising the attempt as oppressive to the conscience and prejudicial to liberty. A majority in the Upper House condemned the protest by vote and the 12 peers apologised, saying they bad no intention of failing in respect for the House. In spite of this the House condemned the protest by a definite act which will be registered in its journals. Some of the lords suggested that the 12 should be sent to the Tower. These, far from being abashed have this morning signed and entered in the journals a counter protest, which will be read to-morrow. (fn. 4)
While awaiting the result of this fresh complication the whole of to-day was passed in discussing the following point: that if the House thought fit to impose an oath on the peers, the penalty of expulsion from parliament must be cancelled in case of refusal, as it is unjust to deprive them of what they enjoy by law and right of birth. If the nonconformists and their allies gain this point and the other conditions of the suggested oath are modified, and people now suspect that it may affect their liberty, it will remain without substance and the venom, said to lie hidden under the show of defending church and state will have been extracted.
The duke of York who has always declared that he will not alter the established Protestant religion, approves of the oath which seeks to secure it; but as he also professes to desire liberty of conscience, all the nonconformists blame him for being either blind or for voluntarily helping the bishops to increase their authority, by means of which they will destroy all the dissenters, one after the other.
Your Excellencies will perceive that the Presbyterians and their allies made a great mistake when they fancied themselves the strongest. It may not have occurred to them that if they were in command during the late sessions of parliament, it was because they were trying to do evil, which is always easy, though they seek it in vain at present when they want to do good. Yet as the aspect of affairs is constantly changing in England, the game need not yet be considered desperate.
The Lower House has suspended its vote against the Catholics. But having found witnesses who depose that Lauderdale has spoken against the laws and tried to bring 20,000 men from Scotland into this kingdom the House petitioned the king to deprive him of all his charges. The king promised to consider the matter and give a speedy reply.
That same day seven articles of impeachment were brought against the treasurer, mostly concerning maladministration of money, and it was thought this would inflame the matter. Yet because the members are afraid that the king may show resentment by dissolving parliament, or from feelings of obligation and gratitude to the treasurer, they decided on the first day to discuss forms and examine the charges and, if substantiated, lay them before the Upper House in the usual way. As they have begun to sift the articles of impeachment it is evident that they mean to save him and in due season the consequences will deserve very serious consideration.
The Commons also sent for the secretary of the Admiralty to have some account of the state of the fleet. (fn. 5) He said that not only the Dutch, but France also had larger ships than England and in greater number and he endeavoured by a clear narrative to impress upon them the necessity for building an equal number in England for the safety of the commercial ports opposite such dangerous neighbours. The House received the information without proceeding further, as it was expected that they were preparing to investigate the administration of the money assigned by parliament, amounting to at least 600,000l. a year, which the king has applied to other uses, to the serious detriment of the nation.
From this moderation and many other circumstances it is evident that the members of the Lower House would fain be reconciled with the Court from fear of a dissolution and the majority are expecting some act of toleration or connivance. But if the nonconformists, despairing of safety, again undertake to do mischief and again take up the interests of the Spaniards and Dutch, for the sake of making confusion, a sudden change may be seen, because the members instinctively try to make themselves popular in the country by opposing the ministers and thus become necessary to the Court which cannot attack them in the teeth of the nation, as it would consider the offence personal. If what I hear is true, that the king has made sure of them by considerable pensions and promised to many some part of the subsidy voted by them, it is probable that the nation will be sold by the majority in the Lower House and bought by the king with its own money.
Such are the difficulties experienced by the duke of York, for on the one hand the king entreats him not to desert him and perhaps gives him to understand that once authority is vested in the crown and the bishops, to the exclusion of the sectaries, the enemies of monarchy, there will be connivance, if not liberty of conscience. On the other hand the dissenters, once subdued, despairing of pity from the bishops, urge the duke to declare against the oath, thus frustrating all these measures if the king will allow himself to be persuaded and the bishops and all the cavaliers will concur in granting liberty of conscience.
All these discussions have turned the Court aside from any further attention to foreign affairs. No one has attempted to unravel a negotiation of Ruvigni who has conferred several times with the ministers and been for many hours in the king's closet in a manner and at a time alike extraordinary. (fn. 6) Some think his object is to encourage the king to resist the temptations of parliament if it proceeds to make some fresh declaration against France. The fact is that two days ago English officers and soldiers left here to join the other troops in the French service, which shows how little his Britannic Majesty thinks of recalling them.
London, the 10th May, 1675.
[Italian; deciphered.]
May 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
499. To the Secretary Alberti and the Resident Sarotti.
Acknowledge receipt of their letters of the 19th ult. with the news of the arrival there of Sarotti.
Ayes, 141. Noes, 0. Neutral, 4.
[Italian.]
May 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
500. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary and Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Upper House had decided practically unanimously that the oath was not be administered to peers under penalty, so as not to exclude them from parliament, but the bishops and their party, perceiving that they had given up a point which had been so long contested, resumed the discussion two days ago.
Retracting the first resolve that following the example of the former oath of allegiance, a fresh oath should be taken by all persons without exception, to-day they proceeded to examine the points of this oath, which apparently will occupy them for the rest of the session if the bishops insist on carrying it and the non-conformists persevere in their opposition.
Fresh protests have been registered against the new oath to which the House has not made any reply, allowing the punctilio I mentioned to fall to the ground. In the Lower House certain members showed how desirable it would be to forbid all persons holding offices or charges in the gift of the Court from sitting there. But the bill was thrown out, either because the placemen and those who hope for places were too numerous, or because it is not deemed in the public interest to create such extreme distrust between the Court and the people. But Coventry (fn. 7) took the liberty to say that he had no doubt this wholesome counsel would be followed at some other time as he foresaw that if the courtiers succeeded in forming the majority the king might, without more ado, send the bills to be passed by the two Houses, as the king of France does in the parliament of Paris.
After this they voted against a certain form of arrest which alarms the people for their liberty. (fn. 8) If the matter goes further it would merit the attention of your Excellencies, as it is a question of limiting the authority of the government.
Regardless of what has so far been done and of debts contracted, the Lower House has decided to provide for the future by applying exclusively for the use of the fleet the revenue derived from the customs which was given to the king for that purpose at the restoration. The government resents this, as it would diminish the royal revenue, which barely suffices to meet other obligations, still less for the payment of old debts and the building of ships. While endeavouring to avert the blow others suggest that the king should seize this opening for annexing the fund perpetually to the crown, whereas at present the king has only a life interest, so the security is not sufficient for any one to make loans or advances.
Although the Lower House was discussing supply and its management the charges against the treasurer were also examined with the usual formalities. Far from committing themselves to declaring him guilty, they rejected the charges as devoid of substance.
On the other hand the attack on Lauderdale is being pressed. A vote was passed urging the king to answer the address already presented. Fresh depositions against the minister were made yesterday, but the king anticipated the demand by informing the House to-day that Lauderdale had no share in the levy of troops in Scotland and had not said anything to the disparagement of the laws and that as a general pardon had been granted since those events he would not trouble to punish faults already pardoned.
At the same time that the House reminded the king about Lauderdale they charged the Speaker to petition him to recall the British soldiers in France, although they foresee the impossibility of granting such a demand. This fresh stir alarms the French minister Rovigni who, in his recent negotiations, so far as can be discovered, offered the king the full support of France to prevent him from surrendering his personal convenience on any point to the parliament. (fn. 9) A certain sum of money was also offered, with the promise of even more and the expectation, at the conclusion of the war, of an open undertaking by France to help the king to put down parliament. Some assert that to escape all turmoil Rovigni is urging the king to prorogue parliament at once but for the moment his Majesty certainly will not listen to any such proposal as he hopes
to obtain much in the course of this session. With regard to the other points it appears that the king perseveres in promising his friendship to France, though it is not known whether he has pledged himself further.
Baron de Bergheik is impatiently expecting the envoy Ronquillo. He complains that he has not been able to get on with any negotiations in England and if she does not declare herself during the war Spain will be indifferent about her alliance after the peace.
Bergheik told me, Alberti, that he knew the king had bound himself to France to let her make any sort of peace she pleased. So though Bergheik questioned him he never disclosed any of the proposals, perhaps because he was ashamed to offer such meagre terms as would be dictated to him by France. The king had already begun to say that if the fortresses of Flanders were not surrendered a sufficient frontier would be formed by an offensive and defensive alliance between England and Holland and as many powers as Spain might choose to include for the defence of the Low Countries. But these plasters would not heal the wound as either Flanders must be utterly lost, or the war be continued. Spain did not mean to send her treasure to be wasted in Flanders during an insecure peace.
He went on to blame the duke of York for being too French and for having formed a close intimacy with the Most Christian in order to secure his succession to the crown. Bergheik is not mistaken in supposing that the duke, so badly treated by the English, is seeking support from a friendly foreign country, but if the project of next week succeeds, the Admiralty will be restored to him.

The ducali of the 20th April reached us this week and find me, Sarotti busy preparing to assume my office. I am much troubled by the dilatoriness of the tradesmen here and by the time required for the conveyance of my furniture which was sent off several months ago, but did not reach the custom house here until yesterday.
London, the 17th May, 1675.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
501. To the Resident in England.
Commendation of the news sent by Alberti. With regard to the continuation of the reports of events there, which are always curious and important the Senate has no doubt of getting these from your ability. With regard to your credits it is right that it should be recognised that you are to be supported and that you shall have the means to undertake and sustain with decorum in your important employment there. Accordingly we are giving directions to the magistracies concerned to see to it that the amount of the spazzo be paid with all possible speed to your agents, and we shall always have in mind to keep you consoled.
We commend your zeal about the chapel and are sure that you will act with due caution and see that divine service is performed without disorder and that the spirits of the poor Catholics remain consoled. We refer you to the instructions given upon this subject.
Resolved that the cashier of the Collegio be directed to find a means with all possible speed to console the Resident Sarotti in England by the payment to his agents of the amount of the syazze for the said residence, so that he may be able to provide for the things required, as is just and proper.
Ayes, 110. Noes, 5. Neutral, 47.
[Italian.]
May 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
502. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
They live in confidence here that England may be persuaded, as much as suffices, to take no steps prejudicial to the interests of the king here and that, even if the parliament there should insist in its demand to have more certain proofs of seeing the king there detached from the partiality which he has towards the interests of this crown, he would resolve to prorogue it rather than consent to anything which might upset the genial relations existing between the British king and his Majesty here.
This minister Spaar still delays his departure for London. They say it is for the purpose of awaiting the commands of the Court and the resolutions of the parliament there so that he may afterwards proceed with the help of the British king to facilitate the intent which is most earnestly desired by the government of Sweden. It is not known, however, how this can be achieved unless he has the support of this side.
Paris, the 22nd May, 1675.
[Italian.]
May 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
503. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary and Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the party of the bishops insists on carrying the oath, and counting the votes of several lords dependent on the Court, they form the majority; the opposition, consisting of peers of another calibre and acuter intelligence, resists them vigorously so that what the bishops gain by the letter of the law is destroyed in its essence by the ability of the others.
Some beginning of division between the two Houses has arisen on the matter of privilege, but the Commons who are the aggrieved party are completely absorbed in other business. As the king answered their remonstrance by saying he would issue proclamations prohibiting his subjects from entering French service in the future, they began to debate on Monday whether they should insist on his Majesty recalling those actually in France. After a long dispute they voted at 4 p.m. when there were 135 ayes and 134 noes. The latter claimed that the former had been incorrectly counted and from words they proceeded to spit in each others' faces and to draw their swords. Thereupon the more moderate members checked this scandalous behaviour by adjourning the matter till the morrow. (fn. 10) The king, to facilitate an adjustment, modified his first reply to some extent by adding that he would recall from France such troops as went there after the last peace. After most tedious debates they divided again on Tuesday when it was carried by a majority of only two not to make any rejoinder to the king's reply. 350 members were present.
Thus they have absorbed this important question which greatly agitated Rovigni who apprehended a worse result, having always imagined that this advanced movement of the Commons, if opposed by the king, might by degrees cause the nation to declare itself against France.
The Lower House has not yet reconsidered the king's reply about Lauderdale, being deterred by other business, but his malignant enemies are constantly employing fresh means for his destruction. Seeing how inconsistent it would be to urge the king, by punishing Lauderdale, to retract the general pardon to which many of them owe their life and property they add that the will of the House is, not that the king should cancel the pardon granted to Lauderdale for past offences, as his Majesty has full power to remit the penalty, though the grace should not extend to reinstatement in offices and the royal favour of which, owing to the abuse, the nation asked that he might be excluded, lest he do worse.
This half measure has been devised in order to punish Lauderdale for future offences, as they have no hold on the past and opinion is divided about his Majesty's decision.
Although the two Houses act in this manner and the king meets with opposition and harshness all through, it does not appear that he is thinking of closing the session yet. The duke encourages him to take patience until all possible means have been tried to obtain some decision for the public service.
The duke's friends intimated to the leaders of the House of Commons that when proceeding to regulate the last act against the Catholics, which contains several clauses prejudicial to Protestants, a declaration should be made exempting the duke of York, as next heir to the crown, from taking the oaths, by which means he might subsequently reassume the post of Lord High Admiral. This project was backed by the parties I have mentioned before and would have succeeded had not the fear of opposition suspended it until another time. Meanwhile all possible steps are being taken to give authority to the government and quiet to the people and thus attain the object that has long been determined on.

The baron de Bergheik being impatient to quit London asked for audience of leave as soon as he heard of Ronquillo's move from Brussels. But fresh letters have arrived since announcing some delay, so he sent shortly before the hour appointed for audience, asking to be excused as it behoved him to await the arrival of his successor. Bergheik is in favour with the Court as he craftily declares that it is in the interest of Spain to get nothing from England but what the king can conveniently give her. But if Ronquillo comes with other instructions or if they are spoiled here by certain spirits who aim at getting declarations from the king by force, no one can say what welcome he will receive. In the mean time they are making no more overtures for peace here but await it from some great battle.
Two days ago the son of the duke of Neuburg arrived here to see the Court and gratify his curiosity. (fn. 11)
As England has now declared war on the Tripolitans the Admiralty is thinking how it can arrange conveniently for some Italian port in which ships of war may refit. In conversation with me, Alberti, the duke of York said that the Grand Master of Malta offered harbour and every convenience but as that island was not well supplied with provisions some captains conversant with those seas suggested touching at the port of Ceffalonia picciola where there would be supplies of everything from Venice. Ships used to go there to refit, but in war time they could not risk abandoning them and landing the guns, as the corsairs might come and surprise the ships and burn them. The government wondered if there was any rising ground where a battery might be planted and the ships secured. In that case the king would instruct Sir [Thomas] Higgons to prefer a request and get your Serenity's consent. He promised to tell me of any decision. As it was a question of making war on the Turks, of securing trade and of attracting money to Venice for the purchase of provisions he expected to meet with every possible facility on the part of your Excellencies. I allowed the topic to drop, not knowing what consequences might ensue, and I, Sarotti will await instructions.
We have received the ducali of the 27th April. I, Alberti, am still in London and after Sarotti's first audience and my own leavetaking I shall count the days that I shall be obliged to remain here until I can return to your Serenity.
London, the 24th May, 1675.
[Italian; part in italics deciphered.]
May 25.
Senato
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
504. To the Resident in England.
On the departure of the Secretary Alberti we shall expect the continuation from your ability, observing as worthy of attention the matters which are carried on in the parliament and the particulars which concern the preparations for war not less than the mediation for the peace. In order that you may perform all your duties satisfactorily we are sure that you will make haste to present yourself to the king and to make yourself known at the Court. It will also be appropriate, a matter to which we see you are devoting your attention, when opportunity offers, to make manifest our upright intentions, always cultivating and preserving the perfect correspondence which passes with that crown.
Ayes, 105. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
May 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
505. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It is reported that negotiations for a suspension of arms are proceeding with the English ministers at the Hague, but they seem to be devised to soothe the people, who are beginning to feel the burden of the war. The minister Spaar left for England yesterday. He let it be understood that he was going to find water to quench the conflagrations which were preparing in the North and that he would have been well pleased to employ himself in preventing them from spreading further in other parts, in order to see a limit set to so great a tumult of arms. But the truth is that he would like to see the British king pressed a little more to interest himself to uphold the mediation of his king and to find expedients which might facilitate these preliminaries for the meeting of the congress. He sees clearly that the greater the progress made with the campaign the more it will behove Sweden to commit herself ever more deeply for this side and to find herself involved in a declaration which cannot prove anything but injurious to her.
Paris, the 29th May, 1675.
[Italian.]
May 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
506. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary and Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The dispute between the two Houses is intensified. The Lords insist on passing judgment in appeal even on the suits of the Commons, while parliament is sitting. Members are the less able to avail themselves of the privilege of the session to postpone the final awards, as they can only be made during the session. The peers and indeed the king himself suffer from having their lawsuits decided by the House of Lords, but do not choose to be shorn of their privileges, of which they are as jealous as the members of the Lower House.
The latter insist on the first point of the dispute and even more on certain other aggravating circumstances which have occurred. The members are obstinate and every day brings fresh fuel to the fire. In consequence of their alleged grievance they voted the other day that during the present session they will not listen to any proposal about fresh business and thus suppress what signs there were of granting the king supply. They also prevent any opening for some liberty of conscience. They have also desired all the members to remain in London indicating a suspicion that when the majority are called away to the country by private interests or love of field sports there would remain in London none but partisans of the Court, to rule as the Court might direct.
These proceedings and many others show that the bias of the Lower House is none of the best, nay that many of the members are anxious for the king to be compelled to dissolve parliament for other ends, connected with their private advantage, which, if effected, would deserve serious consideration. In spite of all this, his Majesty, with prudent connivance, puts up with the proceedings and passes over everything, still thinking that he will be able to attain his object.
The Upper House, being diverted by its disputes with the Commons and by a number of private suits brought before it during the present week, did not discuss the oath until to-day. After a debate of ten hours on end they removed what little substance was left in it, so that even if the name remain the essence of the oath will not be there.
The French minister Rovigni attends to all that is passing and foresees the return of the remains of the last storm which parliament threatened to raise against France, particularly as news has come of the enterprises of the Most Christian at a time when he was expected to remain solely on the defensive. (fn. 12) Spanish partisans expatiate on the danger to Flanders and the consequences of fresh acquisitions. The proceedings of the Commons being eccentric it is expected that the recall of the English troops will again be demanded, although others think that some stronger declaration will be made. It is being said openly that the Most Christian can obtain enough money to fill the exchequer from his patient subjects at will, but as his kingdom has not seasoned troops for large armies or in sufficient quantity for a protracted war, it would be most desirable to deprive him of military assistance and thus avoid the danger of his universal monarchy, which they choose to believe is on the ascendent.
This language does not please Rovigni who tightens up his negotiations with the Court. But it is encouraged by Van Beuninghen and Ronquillo, who is expected any day, will not be silent. His very numerous establishment has already arrived at a house for which he pays a rental of 3000 ducats, although only bearing the title of Spanish envoy. (fn. 13)
The Ambassador Spaar has also arrived at the Court with the intention of remaining some time; but among all these ministers not one utters the slightest proposal for peace, nor do they make any to the Court, which displays nothing but the utmost indifference, in order to keep master of the situation.
The prince of Neuburg having arrived here with a suite of fifty persons, he was received with all possible honour by their Majesties and by the duke and duchess of York. He desires to remain incognito, but as he sent his gentleman to the foreign ministers I, Alberti, following the example of the others, went to visit him and yesterday he came to see me at this house. He intimated that he was impatient to be at Venice next winter to admire the city and express the esteem which his father had always had for the republic.
A serious accident has befallen the duchess of York who had a miscarriage on Monday morning, when in the second month of pregnancy, from a violent shock. Though she is now convalescent the loss is generally felt, not only from the anxiety for an heir but because of the very warm affection which she has universally won for herself in this country.
The Admiralty is providing in haste for the despatch of six ships into the Mediterranean (fn. 14) which, added to the six already there will serve to give convoy, some of them being taken in rotation and the others will attack the Tripolitans wherever they can be found.
London, the 31st May, 1675.
Postscript: Rovigni was not mistaken when he foresaw a fresh storm brewing against France. The Lower House, without further regard to the vote passed last week, has presented another address to the king for the recall of his subjects from French service. The members hint that they are encouraged to persist by the goodness with which his Majesty acceded to their first request. They go on to say that it is not in the interest of England for her troops to remain in France, especially as the danger to Flanders is increasing. This address was carried by a single vote after a long debate. The greater the irregularity of the measure the more clearly is the antipathy to France demonstrated. If the party of the most difficult spirits in parliament perseveres, fresh contests are expected. In order that the House may have proof that he is ready to oblige it punctually the king has this day issued a proclamation recalling from France all his subjects who entered the service of that crown after the peace with Holland, and forbidding them to resume it hereafter.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.507. Proclamation for recalling the king's subjects in French service.
Dated at Whitehall the 19th May, 1675. (fn. 15)

Footnotes

1 Ruvigny constantly pressed Charles to dismiss parliament. In January he told him “que toutes ces nations avaient envisagé trois choses certaines pour la ruine de la France: le nombre incroyable de leurs troupes, l'inutilité des Suedois et la tenue de son parlement. Que V.M. avait battu ces troupes, que les Suedois etaient en action et qu'il ne se tenait qu'à lui de remedier a la troisième. Que si par un prompt cassation de son parlement il otait cette denière esperance aux confederés on ne pouvait pas douter qu'ils ne se portassent d'un coup a faire la paix.” Ruvigny to the king, 10 January, 1675. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts. Soon after Ruvigny reported that the duke of York had told him that his brother would dismiss parliament altogether if Louis would lend him four or five millions, Ruvigny to the king, 27 January, 1675. Ibid.
2 James Touchet, earl of Castlehaven entered the Spanish service on the conclusion of the peace with the Dutch in 1674. He was present at the battle of Senef and in 1676 commanded the Spanish infantry at the siege of Maastricht.
3 Bevil Skelton and Ashton.
4 The twelve peers were: Buckingham, Winchester, Salisbury, Denbigh, Clarendon, Bristol, Stamford, Berkshire, Shaftesbury, Mohun, Delamere and Wharton. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. XII, page 669.
5 Samuel Pepys, secretary to the Admiralty, made his report on 4th May, N.S. Salvetti on 10 May. Brit. Mus, Add. MSS, 27562 V, fol. 357d.
6 According to Ruvigny's own account he went to inform the king in advance of his master's plans for the coming campaign, in order to remove any anxiety Charles might feel about Flanders. Ruvigny to the king, 2nd and 23rd May, 1675. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
7 Probably Sir William Coventry.
8 A bill to prevent the illegal imprisonment of the subject which passed the Lower House on 6 May, o.s. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IX, page 331.
9 Ruvigny voices his alarm in his despatch of 23 May. “Il est certain que je connais ici personne qui ne craigne beaucoup plus le parlement, que son maître, ni qui soit assez hardi pour lui donner un bon conseil de sorte que si les ennemis de la France eussent été encore recus a faire de nouvelles instances a Sa Maj. Brit. de rapeller ses sujets, on aurait eu un grand sujet de craindre que les conseils timides n'eussent emporté les bons sentiments de ce prince et que le rappel des troupes étant accordé, on en fut venu aux dernières extremitiés. On disait deja publiquement qu'on donnerait au roi deux millions de livres sterlings s'il voulait declarer la guerre à la France, P.R.O Paris Transcripts,
10 The Journals merely record that on Monday the 10th May. o.s., after resuming consideration of the king's reply about recalling his subjects from French service, it was resolved to form a committee of the whole House to consider the answer. All Committees were adjourned until Wednesday following. Journals of the House of Common, Vol. IX, page 334.
11 John William eldest sun of the duke of Neuburg. He arrived at Greenwich on Thursday in one of the king's yachts, with a train of about 50 persons. London Gazette, May 17–20.
12 Reported gathering of the French forces on the frontiers, with apparent threat to Cambrai, the towns of Hainaut or Namur. London Guzette, May 6–10, May 10–13.
13 “Don Pedro Ronquillo is here still, but talks of going at the beginning of the week. 'Tis want of money that stops him. I was this day told that if his Maj. had, with the yacht, sent him 2 or 3,000 pounds, it would have much hastened his journey …. I am sure they had need give him much money, for he is strangely expensive, has a great train and will spare nothing he can get, either for money or credit.” Bulstrode to Williamson from Brussels, 17 May, 1675. S.P. Flanders, Vol. XLV. Ronquillo hired a part of Weld House, on the present site of Little Wild St., Lincolns Inn Fields. Wheatley and Cunningham: London Past and Present, Vol. III, page 514.
14 Apparently they were the Harwich, Yarmouth, Darmouth and Swallow with the fireships Ann and Christopher and Holmes. Navy Records Society, Catalogue of Pepysian MSS., Vol. III. pp. 42, 65. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1675–6, pp. 115, 120.
15 Steele: Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, Vol. I. p. 437, No. 3612. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1675–6, p. 126. Printed in the London Gazette, May 20–24.


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