Venice
December 1675

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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491-498

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'Venice: December 1675', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 491-498. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90393 Date accessed: 02 October 2014.


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December 1675

Dec. 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
590. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The House of Commons has not rested content with the declaration against those who summoned one of its members in appeal before the Lords, as reported last week. They would not listen to any of the compromises proposed by those zealous for the public quiet. On the following day they decided to have the advocate arrested and the party which agitated the cause. The Lords heard this with very great resentment (fn. 1) . Considering that every day the Commons are renewing their pretensions and are taking decisions with such authority that they prejudice not only the Upper House but the king himself, they proposed to petition his Majesty to dissolve the present parliament which means an election of fresh members for the Lower House. When put to the vote the motion was only lost by two. The next day the Houses did nothing, because it was Sunday. But the king held secret counsel with a few persons and next morning he sent back to parliament, signed, that is to say with his approval, some bills passed by the Houses in matters of slight consequence. Proceeding to the Upper House in the royal robes he spoke to the Lords and sent the Lord Keeper to notify the Commons that it was his intention to prorogue them for 15 months. Accordingly they learned that they were prorogued until the middle of February in the year after next. No other words were spoken by his Majesty or the minister.
This form of prorogation, for so long a period, without giving the motive has made everyone understand the royal sentiment as well as his spirit and resolution to provide for the occurrencies of the nation and his own without any assistance from parliament. At the same time it provides stronger arguments for those who wish ill to his inclination for France, for which cause in particular he met with so much resistance to his wishes.
Many different opinions and judgments are pronounced, in accordance with men's prejudices, but it will not be possible to discover his Majesty's aims until we see what measures he proceeds to take. This alone is certain that the prorogation cannot fail to redound to the great advantage of the interests of France, as your Excellencies will have gathered from my despatches.
Replies have come from the kings of Sweden and Denmark accepting and welcoming the mediation of his Britannic Majesty. The Dane makes a reservation of the concurrence of his allies. Satisfactory replies have also come from Paris upon the question of Furstembergh. In addition they report the orders given by the Most Christian to his plenipotentiaries to get ready to proceed as soon as possible to the congress. The king here has given the same orders to his own. Only one of them is in London; the second, Barclay, has gone to Paris. The third, Temple, who resides in Holland, is expected to be the first to move. But a leading minister of the king told me that his Majesty will be satisfied if they are all at Nimega by the first of next month.
Ronquillo says he hopes that the replies he expects from Spain will reach him in time, but even if they do not he thinks of setting out for the Hague to make his dispositions there about going on to the place of the congress. He is apprehensive of receiving ambiguous orders and of finding himself alone and of being compelled to decide, since both his colleagues are in Spain. He and some other ministers of the king here and of foreign princes have told me that they know of a proposal made by France to the princes of Italy and principally to your Serenity for the destination of a young Italian prince to the crown of Sicily, and that divers advantages are offered to the most serene republic in the state of Milan as well as in the kingdom of Naples upon the Adriatic if she wall join with France in the proposed undertaking.
I have denied all knowledge of this and have endeavoured to persuade every one that such a project is utterly at variance with the constitution and mentality of the most serene republic whose energies at present are devoted to procuring universal peace and not to fomenting a greater war. It is stated that the proposal was made to your Serenity by the secretary of the French embassy at Venice. Some add that it happened on the first of last month. I have some indication that the marquis de la Fuentes is the author of this report (fn. 2) .
I have not received the usual ducali this week.
London, the 6th December, 1675.
[Italian.]
Dec. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
591. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
England is doing everything in her power to have the glory of gathering in the appointed place the ministers of the princes in dispute. Lord Barclai, who arrived two days ago, immediately showed his anxiety to have a private audience of his Majesty. It is believed that this is to urge him more strongly to set his ministers in motion. They say that this will be followed at a short interval by that of the Englishman who does not want to get together an equipage here, so as not to hinder the meeting.
Nevertheless the suspicions of the Spaniards are only increased by these confidential relations, which are growing more intimate, between this side and the British king. Although the Dutch are doing their utmost to dispel these and to induce the emperor and the Spaniards to recognise sincerely the mediation of England, the others will not allow themselves to be persuaded so easily. They see clearly what interests there are, both with the prince of Orange and with this side to incline England to favour France more than any other power whatsoever. But the Dutch point out that the British king will have no other power in the negotiations than that of persuasion and if that does not suffice to bring the parties together, he will not be able to extend it in order to take further measures.
Paris, the 11th December, 1675.
[Italian.]
Dec. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
592. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The decision of the British king to prorogue the Houses there to another time has come unexpectedly to this Court, from the arrangements which existed with France and from the correspondence held with their ministers during the session. This does not render it less significant. It is recognised as being of the highest service to this crown from seeing that king relieved of a great embarrassment. They can now consider him as entirely occupied with the manipulation of the peace without interruption by unquiet spirits which might cause misgivings about measures being introduced to the detriment of this side.
For Ronquillo this prorogation has proved exceedingly unpleasant, the more so because he was expecting a vote for the recall of the troops serving this crown. There is some suspicion that the Spaniard has an understanding with some of the ministers and that he feels confident that matters will not be carried so far to the advantage of this side that the principles of the kingdom and the interests of Spain will be left out of account. It may he that this will give rise to some surprises, especially as, from what one hears, the ministers there are not very harmonious among themselves.
Lord Barclai has orders to act in conformity with the wishes of this Court. He seems to be the one who should have the secret since he is an individual in whom his Britannic Majesty reposes complete confidence. The only fear is that his advanced age and precarious health may cause delay. In that case it is probable that any shortcomings due to the ill health of the ambassador would be made good by a secretary he has with him. He is a man of great ability who is beginning to mix with the ministers (fn. 3) .
Paris, the 11th December, 1675.
[Italian.]
Dec. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
593. Girolamo Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The notion is very generally entertained that the ministers resident at the Court of England will set to work to draw up the articles of the peace with all despatch. On the other hand it is suspected that when the delegates have assembled at the congress, the establishment of peace may be long delayed. Accordingly it behoves the envoy Ronchiglio to leave London in order to play the part of plenipotentiary and it is considered certain that the marquis La Fuente will be substituted with the character of ambassador extraordinary. Although the appointment is not yet announced it is quite possible that he will receive instructions to set out with all speed.
Madrid, the 12th December, 1675.
[Italian.]
Dec. 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
594. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The declarations of the king of France which have not only come here in his letters, but in print, and of the tenor which your Serenity will have heard from the spot, have obliged the king here to commit himself more deeply to obtaining satisfaction for the Most Christian in the matter of Prince Furstembergh. Thus in addition to the office performed with Ronquillo and the letter to the emperor, which I reported, his Majesty has decided to send a gentleman of the bedchamber on a special mission to the imperial Court. He commands a company of the guards and is named Schelton and will be leaving soon with the title of envoy extraordinary.
His Majesty has further decided to send Sir Gabriel Silvius to the States General of Holland in order to urge them to make the most strenuous efforts at Vienna, in accordance with what was arranged. He will remain at the Hague in order to attend to what is necessary in the absence of Temple, who has to go to the congress at Nimega.
The king has directed Barclay in Paris to leave there immediately the plenipotentiaries of the Most Christian are in motion. Temple has been told to stand ready but to await his colleague Jachino, who is here. He has received the money and has been ordered to embark within the coming week.
Ronquillo also is hastening his preparations. In addition to the motives mentioned he has an additional one, news having reached him from Spain that the marquis di Mansera has been ordered to hold himself in readiness. He has not yet received the commissions or the replies which he is expecting. He is very uncertain as to what course he ought to pursue if they are too late in coming.
The ambassador of Sweden, who wanted to start before anyone else, is detained by a severe cold. When he is better he believes that he will have to go straight to the conference instead of proceeding to Paris first, as he had intended. He has told the king here that he wished his ambassadors would press on the negotiations with all their might.
The envoy of Brandenburg here had intimated to the Secretary Williamson that it might offend the Elector, his master, to receive no letter from the king here when he has, in that way, offered his mediation to the other princes concerned in this war. Accordingly his Majesty has complied by giving him a letter of the same tenor as the others.
All the foreign ministers express astonishment at not hearing of any appointment by the most serene republic of one or more ambassadors for the mediation. The majority of them make known their desire for this, as well; but neither the king nor his ministers have ever said a word to me about it.
The prorogation of parliament is still talked about and various opinions are expressed. The wisest believe that the king, being under the necessity of preventing fresh sessions, decided on such a long prorogation because he counted on its being practically impossible that in such a period incidents should not occur of such importance as to call for the summoning of parliament. As, in accordance with the constitution of the realm, no act which it performed could have authority or force if it met before the time appointed, his Majesty would have good reason for directing the election of new members. This would appear to the people rather accident than design, and in the course of time it is hoped that much ill feeling will be mitigated.
Others consider that in the fifteen months of the prorogation, either peace will be made or the aspect of affairs will be totally changed by the war, and the king will be able to take such measures as he may think fitting in accordance with them.
In the mean time various expedients have been suggested in his Majesty's secret Council to remedy the need of money, there being none even to meet the most important requirements, either for arming new ships or for maintaining those which are in service. One of these is to suspend pensions granted purely out of the royal bounty, which amount practically to 100,000l. sterling a year. Another is to effect some sort of reform of the very numerous royal household, in numbers or in the amount of the pay, but nothing has yet been decided.
Many members of the Lower House are still staying on here. They speak as is usual, with excessive liberty. Scandalous papers have been found posted up and scattered about the Court and one note even in the king's chamber, against his Majesty's conduct (direttioni). Since then it is observed that whenever he goes for a walk in the Parks he has himself followed by some of his guards.
I have not received the usual ducali this week.
London, the 13th December, 1675.
[Italian.]
Dec. 16.
Cinque Savii
alla
Mercanzia
Risposte
Venetian
Archives.
595. With regard to the paper presented by English merchants for providing facilities for trade in hempen rope of Bologna, it is always desirable to attract trade to the mart and to encourage in every possible way the traffic in such merchandise, which has been seen to be dispersed to other parts. It would also encourage the ships of the nation to come here with rich capital, which have been accustomed to go to foreign ports, to the great prejudice of this capital city. We also have a precedent in similar cases of public decisions, notably in the matter of sulphur and pitch, with the object of deriving profit therefrom, which have so far not proved advantageous. For the rest we would refer this question, which is of no small consequence and worthy of the public consideration, to the consideration of the most excellent governors of the Arsenal.
Dated in the office of the Five Savii, the 16th December, 1675.
Giovanni Donado
Zorzi Giustinian
Marco Bragadin
Alvise Contarini Savii
[Italian.]
Dec. 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
596. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Three days ago the letters arrived from Italy which should have come last week. Those due this week are still delayed. I have the ducali of the 16th ult. and will punctually carry out the instructions, as opportunity offers, as I have already done in part. As copies have been sent to Ronquillo of the offices performed by the Catholic ambassador and the imperial minister about the incident in the Gulf and of the replies given to them, Ronquillo spoke to me about it, repeating some of his usual notions about partiality for France. I boldly undertook the defence of the most serene republic, assuring him of the correctitude of her views and of unshakeable impartiality.
Immediately the letters arrived Ronquillo, Rovigni and the ambassadors of Sweden asked me if they contained the choice of a Venetian mediator for the congress and they all expressed an increasing astonishment at the delay. This was not so much marked before the pope had appointed his nuncios, but since then there have been various interpretations, chiefly because of the incident in the Gulf. I have always said that your Serenity, by means of your ministers at the Courts, has constantly contributed the proper offices for the good of the peace and I believed that you were waiting to hear that things were in better train before taking any definite steps. There had not been enough time either, at such a distance, for you to have learned what was arranged here and at Paris for the congress. I said all this as on my own responsibility, never admitting that in the delay there were any of those tricks, mysteries or motives that the idle and malignant have put about.
The Ambassador Janchins has taken leave of the embassy here and of the Court to set sail as soon as the weather permits. He will go, as I wrote, to join Temple at the Hague and they will go on together to Nimega. In the visits which we exchanged upon this occasion I endeavoured to impress him with the excellent intentions and most zealous application of your Excellencies for the general peace. I assured him that if, as I hoped, the Venetian representative arrives in time he will enter upon the most sincere understanding and punctual correspondence with him and the other ambassadors of his Majesty. He told me that he would value very highly any one who might come, knowing full well the ability, experience and prudence to be expected of every Venetian Senator.
Lord Barclay has written to the king of his readiness to obey, but at the same time represents his very weak health at the present time. So it is expected that his Majesty will excuse him from any further trouble and leave him in Paris, where no other minister is going. Neither Sir Gabriel Silvius nor Captain Scheleton has yet set out for the Courts for which they are destined.
In the mean time the king has passed a fresh office with Ronquillo to get him to provide facilities for the satisfaction which France deserves. As there are no letters from Spain that minister is very puzzled as to what he is to do.
The ambassador of Sweden is still confined to his bed by the gout. The envoy of the Palatine is about to return to Heidelburg whence he does not think he will be sent back to the conference. He has had no business at this Court and has not performed any office except the first, which I reported at the time.
They write from Flanders that the duke of Villahermosa is ready to give passports to the ambassadors plenipotentiary of France and to accord them every honour. It is not known whether this is by order from Spain or on his own responsibility. Your Excellencies will have more authentic information from other quarters. Rovigni says that in the absence of passports or in any doubt about receiving the best treatment from the Spaniards, they will proceed to Calais and take ship thence for Holland.
London, the 20th December, 1675.
[Italian.]
Dec. 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
597. To the Resident in England.
Informing him of the choice of Battista Nani to act as the minister of the most serene republic at the congress for the promotion of peace.
Ayes, 127. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Dec. 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
598. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Owing to the bad weather, which has continued stormy for the whole of this week, no ships have succeeded in crossing the Channel from Holland. Flanders or France, so that there are no letters from anywhere across the sea. Similarly the usual packets which carry the ordinary despatches are unable to leave the ports here. For the same reason the Ambassador Janchins has not been able to leave the Thames in the royal yacht (fn. 4) , which will put to sea as soon as the weather clears a little. The same craft is put at the disposition of Spantemio, the envoy of the Elector Palatine. Sir Gabriel Silvius and Captain Schelton are ready to board another one any day, to proceed to the Courts to which they are destined. The money for all these expeditions has been found, although with difficulty. The king's disposition for the meeting of the congress and the advancement of the peace negotiations could not be greater. Nine consultations have been held about the administration of domestic affairs, in order to save expense and money; but they have not yet adopted any of the expedients suggested as all of them involved considerable difficulties.
London, the 27th December, 1675.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 On 19 November, o.s., the House resolved that whoever should solicit, plead or prosecute any appeal against any commoner of England from any court of Equity before the House of Lords should be deemed a betrayer of the rights and liberties of the Commons of England. On the following day it was resolved that Thomas Sherley should be taken into custody by the sergeant-at-arms for breach of privilege in prosecuting the appeal against Sir John Fagg, and that Sir Nicholas Staughton should also be taken into custody for breach of privilege in prosecuting an appeal in the House of Lords against Mr. Onslow, a member of the House. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IX, pp. 381–2.
2 Don Gaspar de Teves y Cordoba, marquis of La Fuente, Spanish ambassador at Venice.
3 Sir Ellis Leighton. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1676–7, page 365.
4 The Charles. Cal S.P. Dom., 1675–6, page 454.


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