Venice
August 1666

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1935

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44-62

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'Venice: August 1666', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 35: 1666-1668 (1935), pp. 44-62. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90204 Date accessed: 25 October 2014.


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August 1666

Aug. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
48. Giovanni Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
In Paris they have refused the mediation of Sweden in the present troubles with England because in the instructions of Chinismarch they have understood that he has commissions not to concern himself with the negotiations and interests of Holland. His powers are confined solely to the differences between England and France. The same Chinismarch, however, asserts that if the Swedish fleet had put out to sea, it was not to unite with the English, but only to make a demonstration for pure show and in accordance with good government.
The ministers of Sweden and England here speak of an alliance with the Austrians and want to make people believe that it is concluded, when it has not even been negotiated. Their wishes on this side are in accord, the advantages are recognised, but the obstacles of danger, feebleness and irresolution stand in the way. That which would be helpful is not embraced. The remote interests of the parties do not ensure steadfastness in that of which they treat. They would like to enjoy the benefit of time and to see others committed.
Vienna, the 1st August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
49. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The tardiness shown by Boffort in joining himself with the Dutch fleet has given occasion to the Lords States to make some remonstrance with the ministers of this crown. Van Boninghen stated that he was unable to see from what all this dilatoriness arose or what might be the reasons for the delay. They had lost a fine opportunity of operating against the enemy, while he was intimidated, not only by the appearance of the fleet at the Thames, but by the rout of his fleet in the Ocean. At present the English had put themselves in a good state of defence; they had reinforced and provided all the coastal fortresses, made levies of horse and good provision for resistance, rendering it difficult to attack them, and similarly their fleet was getting ready to come out and for a new battle.
They excuse the delay of Boffort on the ground of the succour of food and troops supplied to Portugal, with which they weaken the forces of the Spaniards and hold them off from committing themselves against the allies. They also explain it by the contrariety of the winds, which made it difficult for Boffort to advance. They thus find various pretexts for the delay which either arose from the accidents indicated or was procured by the government by art, which is not well received by the Dutch, who draw the most varied and sinister conclusions therefrom.
The universal belief is that while France will always be ready to succour the Dutch fleet with infantry and cavalry, when it has need of them for landings, it wishes to avoid any risks to its naval forces, as much as possible.
The letters which reach Madame every week from London represent great armaments and a supreme naval effort by that kingdom. This gives the French something to think about, and causes a frequent renewal of the instructions to Boffort. They fear a new and desperate engagement between the two fleets, and they prefer to temporise while awaiting the issue. This is perceived by the Dutch and there is no lack of complaint, and in particular because they see the interruption of the design for a landing which they planned to effect within the Thames. (fn. 1) They could have done this with little resistance, because Boffort should have made a strong diversion from another quarter. Nevertheless, they did make some attempt last week but were immediately opposed by a numerous cavalry which obliged them to retreat. (fn. 2) If the rout of the English fleet had been such that the English could not have recovered themselves for this year, Boffort would have promptly put in an appearance in these waters; but the apprehension of the English coming out has kept the move of Boffort in suspense. Yet it is believed that the English will find it very difficult to come out for lack of much military apparatus, but most of all of men and of pilots in particular.
Van Boninghen is unable to allow himself to rest over this procedure of the French, and in addition to his first complaints he has made a request of the ministers, which has afforded them scant satisfaction. The Dutch have a claim upon France, by virtue of the last treaty of alliance, by which the French are obliged to concede 12,000 infantry on the first intimation that the United Provinces are attacked, or in lieu of this 400,000 francs for the first four months. Only 6000 soldiers have been supplied, so they remain creditors for 200,000 crowns for the first period of four months. Further, by the same treaty 400,000 crowns are due to them for the period of four months last past, so the present debt due to the Lords States by this crown amounts to 600,000 crowns. Van Boninghen has spoken about it to the ministers, to which Colbert replied that France has some claims against Holland, and it will be convenient to set these against the claims of the States and make a mutual adjustment.
From these intimations of the Dutch they argue that there is some coldness in their feelings towards this quarter and that they may be thinking of some fresh departure. Some weeks ago, before the battle took place, the Province of Utrecht reported to the Lords States a conversation held with them by an English merchant, who offered to exert himself for an adjustment. Some attention was paid to this, but as he showed that on the English side they wished to exclude France from the treaty, and also as the engagement occurred about the same time, the matter stood still without making further progress. At the present time there is some inkling that this project has been revived. Nevertheless, the Dutch fleet is still off the coast of England, receiving fresh reinforcements daily with increase of both ships and provisions.
The Dutch have asked Denmark for ten ships, and these being joined with the twenty which they have ready, they propose to have the sea scoured by another fleet. Their forces are certainly excessive, but their very greatness renders them burdensome and all but intolerable. All the letters from Holland express a most ardent desire of the States for peace and to put an end to the present expenditure. They are apprehensive accordingly of hearing suddenly of an adjustment between the two nations, to which it behoves France to adhere.
Paris, the 3rd August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
50. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The ministers here have set going many attempts to find out the true commissions of the English ambassador about the adjustment with Portugal. Having discovered for a certainty that he has nothing more on the point of recognising Braganza as king they find themselves no less confused than perplexed. Finally, as a necessary expedient, they resolved to display complete content with such interposition, but very scant approval of the proposals. Even if they embraced these, they nevertheless learn with astonishment of motions which are as advantageous for their enemies as they are dishonourable for this crown. Instead of improving the conditions, they make them worse. By the late deceased ambassador it was promised that the British king would induce his brother-in-law to moderate his demands, or would deprive him of succour. Now nothing is said upon so relevant a point, and they are only urged to a composition and to peace. Very noticeable is the alteration in powers; instead of being more ample they are curtailed and restricted. If he desires the glory of so grave a treaty it behoves him to smoothe away difficulties, not to increase them. They are ready here for concessions which shall at once be convenable, without astounding the world and without prejudice to the crown during the minority.
When the earl of Sandvich heard such a reply he thought fit to speak clearly and with a high tone. His king had always followed the same steady line of conduct. It had never at any time entered his mind to exert himself in mediation in order to deprive his brother-in-law of such conspicuous titles, since he has done so much to preserve the crown for him. No instructions of such an advanced character had been given to the late ambassador. Whatever pledge he had entered into was made on his own caprice and not by express order. The desire to win a great boon for the glory of his ministry had prevailed with him. He begged them to reflect deeply upon the impossibility that a king of England should serve as an instrument so prejudicial to the interests of Portugal. The treaties which had taken place, the wife received, the strong places handed over would prove illegitimate agreements if the royal authority and character were not supported and defended. Therefore they must not deceive themselves at the very outset, but recognise that it is improper for him to proffer his advice to Braganza about this, while to use threats would be out of all reason. He repeated that if Braganza spontaneously agrees to the concession they will not oppose; but persuasion or force is inadmissible.
So frank and open a declaration closes every approach, which would enable them to hope for better terms or to obtain more. The opinions of the ministers will disclose themselves on a sounder basis. Upon the single point of honouring Braganza with the title of “Majesty” they have to break off, or to continue the thread of this arduous business. Medina has always inclined to a settlement. He weighs every proposal and judges it good. Others, possibly more interested in the continuation of the war, act with great circumspection in dealing with sentiments of peace.
The French ambassador does not relinquish the negotiations begun. He says that the matter is most serious and it is such that it should not be communicated to a single minister, but they should appoint a junta for him also. Due reflection calls for the conference of many acting together, proceeding thus with greater facility and clarity also.
The government perceiving more and more the vanity of the minister and the utter emptiness of the proposal, replies that for the present they do not propose to alter the style anciently observed with him and with the other representatives as well. If they acted otherwise it would only suggest to others a reason for claiming the same, and instead of good order it would give rise to very great confusion.
Ambrun replied that as these considerations did not militate with the earl of Sandvich, they deserved even less consideration with a representative of the Most Christian. I fancy that to appease him they have adduced an example instead of giving a reason, namely, that many years ago the grandfather of the present king had practised the same thing with an ambassador of this crown in London. They now ask for equal measure, but they have not been able to refuse the correspondence. Ambrun has not added anything further, knowing that to strike with perfect art it does not do to display too much artifice.
Madrid, the 4th August, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Aug. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
51. To the Ambassador at the Most Christian Court.
The Senate rejoices to hear that the ship Salvator del Mondo has been released by the English with all its cargo. Since this happy issue must be recognised as due to the kindly offices of Lord Holles, he is to convey to his Excellency a sense of the state's satisfaction, by means of the merchants Bonelli in London or by any other whom he considers suitable.
Ayes, 121. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
Aug. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
52. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It would seem that Heaven will not decide to which of the two maritime and warlike nations the empire of these seas shall belong, for it imparts now to one and now to the other favourable events of glorious victories, keeping the balance between the parties, leaving the sentence doubtful and the cause undecided. The shortness of the time elapsed since the occurence of a new engagement between the fleets of England and Holland, and since the news flew to the Court here, or rather a confused account and indistinct sketch, by which it seems the Dutch had the worst of it, does not allow of a clear and succinct account of the event for the Senate, but such as it is it must not be delayed.
After they had suffered that serious blow from the Dutch fleet the English devoted themselves to repairing with all solicitude the damage suffered, making good the wrecked ships, arming the good ones and furnishing them well with men and other necessary equipment, building fireships and applying themselves to every other circumstance with great energy in order to regain their prestige among the nations and to recover the dominion of the sea as soon as possible.
The Dutch, rendered boastful and venturesome by their success, betook themselves soon after to the mouth of the Thames with seventy-two ships and more. There they remained for days on end with the exception of a few, when they were obliged by the wind to go farther off. This served as an additional spur to the English to put forth their utmost efforts and to kindle even the most sluggish to war. Thus in a period of fifty days from the first battle they had ready a hundred and eight ships, great and small, and a very large number of fireships. It is not yet known to me by whom this great fleet is commanded or how it is divided.
On the fourth inst. favoured by a good wind, seconded by the current of the river, they proceeded to the mouth of the same. Before they arrived there they were sighted by Ruiter, grand Admiral of Holland, who was stationed there with ninety-seven great ships of war, many well-armed galeots and thirty fireships. He himself had the main body, the advance guard being entrusted to Lieutenant Admiral John Everzen and the rear guard to Tromp. He decided, according to his statement, to withdraw to the sea, to make room for the English, so that they might not complain of being compelled to fight among the sandbanks and dunes, as he wished them to have an open field. It is, however, more likely that Ruiter, seeing the fury with which the English were coming on, with the wind behind them, their sails bellied out and borne by the current, recognised that he was unequal to sustain so strenuous an attack of the elements and man, and prudently put out to sea. Accordingly the English entered the sea with their fleet advancing towards the Dutch, made resplendent by great determination and courage. Discharging their guns against them they were able, at such a distance, to do them mischief with their bronze ordnance, while it was difficult for the Dutch to hurt them, as for the most part they have only iron guns.
The Dutch employed all their industry and skill to avoid all possibility of boarding, knowing themselves to be inferior to the enemy in soldiers and in strength. By tacking with great skill they were able to avail themselves of the wind and of their numerous fireships, employing dexterity rather than force. It is known that Admiral Tromp separated himself from the main body of the Dutch fleet with thirty-one ships of the purple squadron, but we are completely in the dark as to how this happened and through whom. The Dutch Admiral John Eversen has been killed. Five ships much damaged have retreated to the coasts of Flushing, on which the wounded and dead number four hundred. Twenty-five or thirty Dutch ships are in sight a short distance from Flushing. Of Ruiter there is no news. The ship of Bamche Camper caught fire and he has perished. (fn. 3) Five other Dutch ships have for certain come to harm. They do not speak of more than three or four English that have suffered. The coast is considered safe; but after this first news further particulars are being gathered, and anxious curiosity prevails.
The action between the two fleets lasted from nine hours before midday on the fourth inst. until ten o'clock on the following Thursday. It is possible that the engagements have been renewed, and that by this time the fortune of war may have changed. At Court the king is no better informed. As I was one of the first to have the news, by a letter which reached me from Middelburg, so I wished to be one of the last to speak.
So far as I can discover this set back of the Dutch does not displease them here and that victory should alternate between the two parties is considered a piece of good fortune for this crown. That the English should be the first to be beaten was due to them as the first and most insolent enemy. That the Dutch do not always conquer will serve to keep them humble, and will prevent them from being the arbiters of the Ocean, and that is what is wanted. In the victories and in the losses of its allies this crown is equally fortunate, and it would seem that everything combines to add to its renown and esteem with every one. But if ever the Dutch complained of the tardiness of Boffort, they now make themselves heard more than ever, laying upon him the blame for the disaster that has overtaken them. They speak freely of peace, and that as they have been left to wage war alone, so they claim to have the power to treat for peace by themselves.
Letters from the Hague assert that the resolutions of the Lords States will soon be learned, as they have decided to get out of this unpleasant situation at any price. They have arranged with the king the honours and the pre-eminence which they wished to practise with Boffort. They had made arrangements by a general salute from their fleet to offer first their homage to him as the representative of his Majesty, hoping for an equal correspondence from the royal generosity. What has happened upsets the establishment of these honours, since it is not known when the fleets will be in a condition to make a junction.
The Lords States have resumed the business of affording a subsidy to the princes allied for the defensive, (fn. 4) and it is thought that they will keep that side well disposed by some outlay of money.
The Swedes made a show of intending to march once more against Bremen. This has stimulated the deputies in favour of the adjustment between Brandenburg, Brunswick and Luneburg, to press on with the negotiations, as it is not to the interest of those princes that the said town should fall into the hands of the Swedes.
Paris, the 10th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Ceffalonia
Venetian
Archives.
53. Andrea Lippomanno, Venetian Proveditore of Cephalonia, to the Doge and Swnate.
The decline of last year was undoubtedly a misfortune for the state no less than for me privately, in this most difficult government, the harvest of two million 353 miara of currants being two-thirds less than in the year preceding. As the war between the two nations rendered the merchants cautious, a considerable quantity was sent to Venice, and with the deterioration of the stock which remains in the island, hopes have been disappointed, the duties being reduced beyond all calculation. Being without the money I did not know which way to turn, had not the ship Spirito Santo which is here, decided to make some deposit at this time; because the agents of La Medema are puzzled, being divided as to whether they ought to lade it with old currants or to wait for the new crop, which will now be ready in a few weeks, especially as they have taken on the greater part of their cargo at Zante.
Cephalonia, the 1st August, 1666, old style.
[Italian.]
Aug. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
54. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week I was given to understand that the shock of the two fleets had been the beginning of a sanguinary conflict, and that it had ended in a great overthrow of one of the parties. The news that reached me, being some of the first, was exceedingly imperfect and faulty in many particulars, but the reports which have succeeded it show that the event was rather a feeble resistance on the part of the Dutch, in fact a manifest retirement and a flight. They were pursued by the English with great courage everywhere, until they saw them take refuge in their own ports, with such loss as may be inflicted not on one who resists but who flees, which is always slight. It is stated that on the death of Admiral Eversen, which occurred at the very beginning of the fight, the rear guard, which was under his command, refused to obey the Admiral Ruiter, and for this cause, before all the rest, it withdrew, setting a bad example. Others assert that a great number of fire ships, with which the English were provided, being launched severally against each one of the Dutch squadrons, terrified and confounded them with the threat of fire to every one of them, so much as to throw them into disorder and make them take to flight. There are others who are persuaded that Ruiter had instructions from the Lords States to engage the English for some time, but without committing himself completely, so as not to hazard a fleet which is the ultimate strength of Holland and their main support. Whatever the truth may be the Dutch have come out of the conflict with slight loss. They are in their ports and give out that they mean to be at sea again by the 17th or 18th inst.
The complaints about the tardiness of Boffort are not spared, and the generality of that nation does not hesitate to express opinions utterly unbecoming the great debt which is due to this crown by the Provinces. They seem to have entirely forgotten the advantages which they obtained from the peace with the bishop of Munster by means of this crown. The alliance of Denmark was also gained by the same for the States and the neutrality of the Swedes purchased by cash down, besides all the troops actually sent and offered for their service. These favours and graces have left but little impression or memory on the inconstant multitude. The king is incapable of relaxing a jot of his innate generosity, or from the magnanimous intention he holds of sustaining his allies. Accordingly, in order that the Dutch may not rush into some strange decision which might have prejudicial results for them and the allies, he has sent a courier to the Ambassador Estrades, who is in Holland, charging him to assure the Dutch that inside the present week Boffort will be in Brittany. A report is current that he has been sighted off the coasts of this kingdom; the place is not named nor the time, but they promise a speedy junction with the Dutch fleet.
From this condition of things and combination of accidents it has seemed to the ministers of Sweden that they are afforded a favourable opening to resume the negotiations for peace between these princes. The agent of Sweden (fn. 5) spoke about it last week to the Lords States, who heard him willingly. Chinismarch also had audience of his Majesty on the like subject and it is believed that Flamin in London has been harping upon the same string. The Dutch are already tired. The English, by this last engagement, have done much to restore the reputation of their arms. It seems that they are feeling the burden of the war not a little, and this joined with the scourge of the plague, which still persists in many parts of the kingdom and is even increasing, and with the cessation of trade, makes it intolerable for them.
The obstacle encountered by the mediators between these princes seems to be the selection of a place. The English will not consent to treat outside the kingdom, and in particular they reject places in France and Holland. They talk of selecting one of the free towns of Germany, and Liège is mentioned. But the affair is still in its infancy. It is concluded that the English intend still to show themselves hard and inflexible until they are quite sure of the intentions of the Spaniards, and what progress is being made with the negotiations of Sandovich, who has proposed an alliance between the Catholic crown and England. Ambrun writes that he is keeping a watch on the negotiation and doing his utmost to thwart them, declaring that mere discussion with the enemies of this crown might legitimately arouse the resentment of the king. That the Spaniards have no motive for seeking support for the preservation of their dominions from French attack, because the procedure of France makes quite plain the disinclination of the royal will to offend the Austrians. After the death of Philip IV every one felt certain that Flanders would be invaded, but it has remained untouched right up to the present time. Accordingly the Spaniards ought not to listen to the enemies of this crown, but rather add the bonds of a new alliance to those already existing of close relationship between the two crowns.
The Spaniards, so Ambrun writes, listen to both sides. They temporise and come to no decision, judging that to gain time is to preserve themselves from troubles and from enemies. They would like to see the English continue at war, without themselves being obliged to any declaration, or compelled to render them assistance covertly. They are persuaded that every prince committed to arms may have the power and will to persist in them for ages, induced perhaps by the example of that prince, who is unique in this respect (si persuadono che ogni prencipe impegnato nell'armi habbi forze e volere di permanervi per secoli, indotti forse dall' esempio di quel prencipe che in caso simile non ha esempio.) I gathered this much from a conversation I had with the Ambassador Fuentes, and I perceived that he had made this intimation in the Council of State. But the English have other interests and they proceed upon other principles, so if they do not conclude the treaty with Spain within a few weeks it is believed that they may conclude peace with France and Holland after no long interval.
Paris, the 17th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
55. Marc Antonio Guistinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English have discovered an intelligence of some of the inhabitants of the islands of Gersey and Genersey near Normandy, to sell them into the power of the French. They have secured the persons, changed the garrisons, reinforced the guards, and inflicted the extreme penalty upon the guilty parties. (fn. 6)
Paris, the 17th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
56. Giovanni Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Swedish ambassador (fn. 7) enjoys peculiarly intimate relations with the English envoy; but he is a reserved minister. Owing to his pretensions he does not come to Court or do business. He wished to have specially distinguished treatment and did not obtain it.
Vienna, the 18th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
57. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The French ambassador has repeated his instances about an alliance. He represents that they are ready to continue the juntas with the English ambassador and have frequent negotiations, which he takes as evidence that they approve of the business, and that he is deceived. Accordingly France will take as a definite refusal their ambiguous replies and the persistence in silence.
The ministers here do not wish to accept his proposals or yet to reject them altogether. They have asked whether he has the necessary powers and if the Most Christian wishes an alliance with all the House of Austria.
The ambassador of Germany (fn. 8) spoke to Medina very strongly about this negotiation. He said the government should weigh well the advantage, the time and the consequences. If the support of the British king is lost they will be left alone, exposed to the ambition of the Most Christian. If they are willing to listen to the proposals seriously they should remember that the House is all one and that their interests are alike.
Medina replied with the utmost confidence that it is not possible to establish the service of this crown without reference to that of Cæsar equally. Further than this, he showed that he attached no importance to the proposals of Ambrun. As a matter of fact Medina's feeling leans strongly in favour of upholding the negotiations of England. In the junta and in the Council I know that he has several times expressed himself in a favourable sense, but it may be that he is proceeding with profound and secret aims, that he is playing upon one note in his public utterances and sounding quite another in more secret conferences. What one notices these last days is that the juntas with the earl of Sandvich are somewhat slackened, not being held with the customary punctuality and with frequent interruptions. One day Pignoranda was prevented, on another the confessor; (fn. 9) subsequently they found fresh inventions. In short they are studying to put things off and to gain time; the policy which they began with in the first instance, and which they are constantly putting into practice, to listen to every one and to conclude with none.
Madrid, the 18th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Costantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
58. Giovanni Battista Ballarino, Venetian Grand Chancellor, at the Porte, to the Doge and Senate.
From letters written to his Excellency of England by Count Lesle I have succeeded in gathering that two main objects have combined to make them decide on the despatch of Mamucca to Adrianople: one to take directions and commissions, to the imperial resident, (fn. 10) which in essence are directed to devote all his application to prevent the peace between your Excellencies and the Porte. The English ambassador is very strongly urged to contribute his offices to the same effect through his dragomans. One of them has communicated these particulars to me under the seal of secrecy.
Pera of Constantinople, the 19th August, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Aug. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
59. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English are paying back to the Dutch the injurious ignominy which their fleet inflicted on them last month, by establishing themselves at the mouth of the Thames and preventing any sort of ship from going in or coming out. They in their turn are now in front of the Dutch ports with their vessels, which are preventing merchant ships from approaching or from sailing away, not without serious inconvenience to the Provinces. It is perfectly true that the latter have such a number of ports that the English have not been able to spread themselves so much as to prevent the port of Flie remaining open. Into this thirty ships have entered, come from the Sound, with rich and precious capital, and among them three or four Swedish ones laden with fifty pieces of ordnance, firing shot of 12 and 18 pounds, purchased in Sweden. The English similarly replied to the attempt at a landing which the Dutch made on the banks of the Thames by a threat to make a landing at Vichopzee, (fn. 11) which caused great terror in the country and obliged the States to send many of their best troops to resist any such attempt that might be made.
In the mean time the Dutch are hastening on the repair of their ships which are pierced by cannon shot in several places and open on many sides. They are also busy preparing in other ways in order to go out to battle again. The most difficult point about putting to sea again and the most important is the dispute and bitterness between the Admirals Ruiter and Tromp. Each of them, as is the usual way, lays blame on the other for the disorder which ensued. From this it may be gathered that what occurred was not by secret orders from the States, but confused leadership directed by ill fortune.
But while they do not neglect anything that may serve to put the fleet in good order speedily, they are devoting themselves with the utmost care and solicitude to opening all ways that may introduce and facilitate the attainment of peace. Couriers are frequently being sent in this direction by whom they urge the Court to cause Boffort to advance, or rather to represent that his tardiness will make it necessary for Holland to think seriously of a composition. From here, similarly they very frequently send persons of the Court to the Hague to soothe the passion of the Lords States, to make them recognise the very great advantage it will be in negotiating to temporise until the coming of Boffort and to stick closely to the points of the alliance.
It is said that Flamin, the ambassador of Sweden in England, and the agent of that crown resident in Holland, have made some proposals to the parties, and that without the selection of any place or the intervention of other ministers, they wish to negotiate, and in this way to obviate any other delays over the peace. But this seems the more unlikely seeing that Chinismarch has not given any hint of it to France, and further Brandenburg has offered both the fortress of Cleves for the meeting and his internuncio, that he also may have a hand in the affair and co-operate for this great boon. With respect to this we do not hear that any one has given him any answer.
The English, as one may imagine, will not willingly proceed to negotiations before they find out the ultimate intentions of Spain, which are being sounded by Sandovich, as I have reported, and which keep France seriously preoccupied. Ambrun writes to them that Sandovich is striving hard to make an impression on the Council there, going so far as to promise, if the Spaniards enter the alliance, that England will guarantee the preservation of Flanders in any circumstances whatsoever, for the House of Austria. These important opinions from Ambrun have led to the suspension of the mission of the President Novion, (fn. 12) who was to have gone to Madrid with commissions upon such interests, as they are afraid that the departure for Spain of this individual might provide a fresh stimulus to the Council there to fall in with the wishes of Sandovich; indeed they cause it to be put about that Novion has never been charged with any instructions for that quarter and he himself steadily denies it.
The hope that England cherishes of the alliance with Spain and the irresolution of the Spaniards keep matters in a balance which is most desirable and profitable for this crown, which rejoices to see England and Holland at grips, Spain tranquil or only embarrassed with Portugal, and itself supreme and arbiter over all. The only thing they fear is precipitate action by the Dutch, but without the concurrence of England they will have to continue in the state in which they find themselves, against their will.
Paris, the 24th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
60. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has grown very heated over the cold manner of the ministers here in treating. In one of the last juntas he spoke with vigour, showing how just and necessary it was to put the finishing touches to so great a business. With their numerous consultations they were losing time, opportunities, advantages. His proposals were perfectly clear. Instead of taking months they might be matured and accepted in a day or so. Accordingly he asked to hear the intention of her Majesty within a short period, declaring that if they will not agree to the union with his king he will establish friendship and peace with the Most Christian.
The answers given him by the three ministers (fn. 13) were full of pleasantness and suavity. They dealt with the importance of the affair, the numerous essential circumstances, and on the establishment of some adjustment with Portugal, which, as he saw, was not so easy.
No further reply was made, the tone being rather resentful than humble, the junta dissolving on that day. When the strong speaking, almost amounting to complaint, of the ambassador was reported to the Council of State they considered expedients so as not to conclude and not to give him offence. It is believed therefore that they will answer him without committing themselves to more than general ideas. They will assure him of their application and diligence and that they will devote their efforts for the fulfilment of his desires even to the sealing of the negotiations themselves. I have further learned that the ambassador has found out by way of confidence, that the views of the ministers upon the question having been transmitted to the queen, she found them so varied and with so many discrepancies among themselves, that instead of being enlightened she was confounded.
It is believed that as they will set themselves to examine the matter anew, they will form their opinions with greater clarity and bring their opinions into line by a decision on a secure basis. As this proceeds with great secrecy, information is gathered with extreme difficulty, and one is always suspicious as to its authenticity and truth.
The English ambassador has been seen several times at the house of Medina, staying there several hours. As the duke shows a friendly disposition towards him the ambassador has responded by showing the utmost confidence. He told him that he was aware that many difficulties had arisen over his negotiations since Ambrun had proposed the alliance; but he was amazed that, instead of rejecting the cleverness of the king and his minister they received it as if it were straightforward and sincere. They concealed themselves behind smooth words and elaborate trickery and turned away from the true good under the pretext of friendly negotiation. He could assure the government here, on absolute authority, that in London the French had made a similar offer of a treaty of alliance against this crown, at the very time they were offering it here, a clear proof that they aim at deceiving by trickery, and not at arranging with sincerity. His king had spurned the offers and did not listen to the proposals, because he has a minister at Madrid to forward the common interests. Here likewise they ought to proceed in a cordial, frank and open a manner as to show up the vanity of the French, destroying their illusions and fallacies and to embrace promptly proposals which are equally profitable and simple.
The ambassador went on further to say that when matters have been arranged with his king, it will be most easy, by interesting themselves with the Dutch, to detach them from their friendship with the Most Christian. Already ill satisfied with his behaviour, they will seize the opportunity to free themselves from a subjection which has always been feared and little less than threatened.
In reply to these important points the duke expressed his appreciation of the confidence and intimated that in view of its grave importance he would advise him to speak about it in the junta. The ambassador did not seem averse from this but neither did he undertake to do so. What followed has not come to my knowledge. They will attach great importance here to the question of Holland. It is certain that they are ill pleased to see those Provinces so interested and united with France; but it is not easy to make them believe that the Dutch are ready to separate themselves from that crown or to make peace with England without the goodwill and assent of the Most Christian either.
Madrid, the 25th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
61. Giovanni Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The negotiations for an alliance with England which are being conducted in Spain and at this Court are the object of curiosity. But being confined to appearances and not in secret transactions it is easy to conclude that it will all vanish away and that nothing will be concluded. England finds her convenience in the negotiations; Holland comes to terms, and France is left alone, with the Austrians impotent and disarmed. Lord Ta.f, the English envoy, presses for declarations from this quarter, but he has no powers to conclude. At Madrid they take the adjustment with Portugal to be the necessary preliminary to the alliance. The English are feeling the burden of expense and the interruption of trade. Holland placed under the direction of France is unable to endure the domination; they resent the absence of Beufort at the last battle, and experience difficulty in the contributions of money. Here they think that there are secret negotiations of the Dutch with England, France being excluded. Gamara, the Spanish, and Fichet, the imperial minister at the Hague, foment the dissatisfaction. However, from what is published on this matter, no decision is being taken.
Vienna, the 29th August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
62. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English fleet has not remained idle off the coasts of the Provinces but has struck a blow at the universal interests of the Lords States where it is most felt, giving rise to inconsolable lamentations and causing the utter ruin of many families. The English detached from the main body of their fleet a squadron of twenty well-equipped men of war and ten fully prepared fireships. (fn. 14) Taking advantage of a wind that blew strongly in their favour and carried them to the port of Flie, otherwise called Vlie, in which some ships of war and 168 merchantmen had taken refuge, the latter laden with an enormous quantity of goods destined for many parts of Europe but the majority of them for Muscovy, the English entered unexpectedly, spreading an indescribable confusion and terror among the crews. These, surprised by their unlooked for appearance, thought more of saving their own skins than of defending their ships. By frequent discharges of their guns the English fought those ships which seemed to them more fitted to offer resistance, and sent their fireships into several parts of the port. These by setting fire to the ship nearest them, made these in their turn serve as fireships. Thus, in a moment, a fire broke out in the port of Flie of such vast dimensions that it seemed as if it would consume the whole of those states in the flames. In this way in a few hours 138 merchantmen were consumed by the fire, with a loss of more than seventeen millions to that people, and to others who in various marts correspond with them. Two ships of war similarly came to grief and some others experienced great difficulty in making their escape.
The tears and lamentations of those poor wretches are indescribable, and from what to-day's letters from those parts report the universal desperation of the people is something to be feared. The disaster has arisen chiefly from the disobedience of the captains and from their presumption. The Lords States ordered that they should withdraw to a place that was better protected and safe; but the sailors, sounding the depth of water at the mouth of the port, persuaded themselves, incorrectly, that there was not enough depth of water to permit a safe entry to ships as large as those of the English. By severe punishment and the most rigorous penalties against many of those captains, they are trying to appease the people, but this is of no avail to recoup them for their losses.
The Dutch fleet is not yet ready to come out. They experience a shortage of sailors, for these, having emerged twice from a dangerous engagement, are by no means inclined to expose themselves again to a third. Others also must recover from the wounds received in the past battles and are useless for some time.
The differences between Admiral Ruiter and Tromp appear to have been brought to an adjustment by means of Mons. Wit, directed by the Lords States to interpose for a composition between those two leaders. Nevertheless some words which issued inadvertently from Tromp's lips and reported by some members of the Assembly, show him to bear no good will to Ruiter. Accordingly the Lords States will not venture to entrust their forces to persons who do not agree among themselves, in order that they may not suffer from fresh disasters. They have, therefore, intimated to Tromp that great republics, such as the Lords States are, were not so bankrupt of persons to take command that they were obliged to make use of him, and therefore he must withdraw and not go on board the fleet again, remaining at the Hague and not go farther away from it than a villa of his half a league from that town. (fn. 15) It is believed that Ruiter, encouraged by this decision, may give more conspicuous proofs of his ability and courage, for the benefit of the Provinces, for which, in addition to the misfortunes already reported there is added a fresh suspicion of disaster, the greatest that can possibly happen to a state.
Paris, the 31st August, 1666.
[Italian.]
Aug. 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
63. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke of Boffort has at last arrived at the port of Rochelle, having lost a great ship, the Giulio Cesare, in a storm. (fn. 16) He has with him seventy men of war and some fireships. The news has consoled the Court on one account, because of the promise to the Dutch. On the other hand, to see themselves united with the Dutch with the presumption of opportunities of a battle does not afford them entire satisfaction. If his coming might serve to forward a decorous peace between the parties, in which France would be comprised, that would be what they most desire. But a successful affair of the English which happened last week may possibly render them more vainglorious and unlikely to bend to honourable terms. It is said that the English have sworn not to lay down their arms until the Dutch are totally destroyed, so thoroughly are they poisoned with wrath against Holland. There are reports at Court that there are many sick in Boffort's fleet and that it is in need of provisions and repairs. It is very likely that with such excuses he may not move.
Mons. di Bellefont has been sent to Holland to inform the Lords States of Boffort's arrival and to settle with them the manner of the junction of the two fleets. Bellefont will also speak of some assistance for the States in money, to keep them steadfast and reassured, so that they may not fall into some disastrous resolution. (fn. 17)
The despatch of the baron dell' Isola to England makes them believe that Sandovich is making some headway in his negotiations, and quickens their desire here for a more lively protection of the Dutch. Isola is the minister of his imperial Majesty at Madrid but of exquisite ability and talent, from what they say, and capable of bringing to a happy issue any great transaction, and this arouses them here to greater application.
Paris, the 31st August, 1666.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 The plan was to land near a reach of the Thames in which ships of the English fleet had taken refuge to burn them and fortify the spot. Lettres etc. de M. le Comte d'Estrades, Vol. iv, pp. 354, 366.
2 Colonel Stersom arrived at Brielle on Monday, 19th July, and reported an attempt to land near Margate; but he had found the coast too well guarded. London Gazette, July 19–23, 1666.
3 Probably means Vice-Admiral Adriaen Bankert. His ship was sunk, but he himself escaped.
4 The dukes of Brunswick and Luneburg.
5 Harald Appelboom.
6 Apparently it was a plot by M. Vaucourt, governor of the Chausey Islands, off Granville. He tried to suborn M. de la Marsh, a silenced minister, who informed the Governor of Guernsey. The Governor of Chausey was captured by a stratagem and executed as a spy together with the pilot of the ship that brought him. London Gazette, August 13–16, 1666. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1665–6, pp. 480, 522. Rugge's Diary. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 10117, f. 168.
7 Balbitski, S.P. Germany. Empire, Vol. xi, despatch of 27th June.
8 Eusebius, Count Pötting.
9 John Eberhard Neidhart, the queen's confessor.
10 Casanova.
11 Wijk van Zee in North Holland. Rugge records on August 8th that the English fleet appeared off the Maes and Scheveningen, causing great alarm among the Dutch who thought that the English meant to land near the Wicke. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 10117, f. 172. See also Current Intelligence, Aug. 9–13, 1666.
12 Nicolas Potier, sieur de Novion, President of the Parlement of Paris.
13 The duke of Medina, Count Penaranda, and the confessor Neidhart.
14 The expedition was commanded by Sir Robert Holmes. The operations took place on the 8th, 9th, and 10th August, old style.
15 Tromp was deprived of his command by decree of the States general on 23rd August. Aitzema: Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. v., p. 730. His villa was at Graveland near Amsterdam.
16 According to Aitzema the Ruby was the only ship lost by the French. Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. v, p. 950.
17 Bernardin Gigault, Marquis de Bellefonds. His instructions dated 22 August are printed in Lettres etc. de M. le Comte d'Estrades, Vol. iv, pp. 423–9.