Venice
September 1666

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1935

Pages

62-80

Annotate

Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Venice: September 1666', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 35: 1666-1668 (1935), pp. 62-80. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90205 Date accessed: 23 September 2014.


Highlight

(Min 3 characters)

September 1666

Sept. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
64. Giovanni Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
These negotiations with England depend on the counsels of Spain, where they are not deliberating. Lord Taf, who sees that time is being wasted and nothing concluded is saying again that he will be leaving soon. The Most Christian king has received from the Ambassador d'Ambrun by the voice of the duke of Medina, the most constant assurances that nothing would be concluded in England, and the king himself confirms the same to the chevalier di Gremouille, that all doubt and indecision in this quarter is laid aside. He says indeed that it is known that by means of the imperial resident Friquet at the Hague dealings with England have been found for the adjustment with Holland separately from France, with the hope, subsequently of the union of the same Dutch with the Austrians, and the baron dell' Isola is to give encouragement and execution to this desire. Such is the talk in France; but it is all suspect. The Dutch are in no state at present to make peace without the participation of the French. The case is quite different now from what it was before, for then the French were at war in a number of places, and distracted by civil confusion whereas now they are prepotent, armed and free from quarrels and the Austrians are destitute of the means for making war or for contributing succour.
Vienna, the 5th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
65. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Mons. Bellefont has returned from Holland, where he presented Ruiter with a gold chain in his Majesty's name. He found the fleet in excellent condition and all ready to go out. He reported that the burning of the 138 ships represented an inestimable loss to those Provinces, and that the people there were in unspeakable consternation. That the intelligences of Buat with the English are of the greatest consequence. (fn. 1) It had been discovered that Buat with other partisans of the House of Orange, who are numerous and powerful in the Provinces were conducting with him the negotiations of peace with England, with the exclusion of France. When this has been achieved the king of England with the party of the adherents of Orange, is to have him declared supreme prince of the same. Because of this and similar grave circumstances the Lords States are in the greatest difficulty. If they proceeded to punish it would be to put themselves in manifest peril of a civil war, the more dangerous in proportion to the power and strength of the party which has been disclosed. On the other hand to practise connivance only affords a solid basis and encourages audacity among the evil intentioned. The king appeared greatly stirred about it all.
After a long discussion with the deputies it has been decided that the Dutch fleet shall sail and go to meet Boffort. It is not supposed that he will be ready soon enough and this might cause them to change the character of the agreement. His Majesty understanding the danger of the allies and that their naval forces are not so strong as is requisite, has picked out another 600 valiant soldiers, all cavaliers of experience in arms and sent them off in the direction of St. Valery, so that they may serve for the needs of the Dutch.
On the other hand the king does not wish to abandon negotiation. He has been more than once to the queen of England, who is now living at Colombe. She has always shown herself desirous of peace. The king knows her to be worthy and necessary to his allies and to this kingdom, and very competent and helpful for negotiation. Accordingly the queen, as if on her own motion, has despatched to England my lord Germen, her major domo, who has been employed on similar affairs on other occasions.
Brandenburg's offer of mediation has been accepted, but not Cleves, which he named as the place for the congress. The English persist that with the Dutch they will not introduce negotiations except in the city of London, where the business was originally begun. God grant that the multitude of mediators may not cause the English to revolt and only provide nourishment for their pride. It is reported that their fleet has returned to the Thames. It may be that this will have afforded the Dutch an opportunity to come out of port and to let themselves be seen at sea. There is some idea that the English have gone to take fresh reinforcements, to enjoy a new and considerable booty which they have carried off from the Dutch of fourteen more ships laden with material for their fleet and with munitions, which have proved most useful to the English, the more so as they were in need of many of these things, and in particular of rope for their ships. (fn. 2) It does not transpire what the English fleet is meaning to do at present, whether it will move once more against the Dutch before they unite with Boffort, or whether it will go to meet a Dutch fleet rich with great capital from the Indies, which has sailed and is believed to be at hand. It is for fate to decide.
Paris, the 7th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
66. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The success of the English has reawakened in this kingdom the ill-humour of the malcontents which was almost quenched. In Provence, Languedoc and Dauphiné many of the Huguenot party are found to have given an invitation to the English asking them to come to the shores of the Mediterranean provinces with offer of their co-operation in moving the provinces mentioned to revolt. Several persons guilty of this crime have been arrested, and at Montelimar they have put to the question a lawyer who has published as accomplices the leading men of the Protestant religion. For elucidation and information upon their guiltiness commissioners have been deputed by the king. A certain number of troops are being marched to those parts to garrison the principal places, not out of fear of the English, but to keep the population there within the bounds of their duty. However, to French ships which happen to be in the ports along those coasts and indeed in all the ports of the kingdom, strict orders have been issued forbidding them to go out, so that they may not fall into the hands of the enemy.
A ship which recently arrived at La Rochelle, having sailed from North America, brings word that the English dwelling in the islands near that of San Cristofolo gathered to the number of 6000 to make another attempt to recover it. This being done and having made a landing, they advanced to the attack. The French opposed them with great courage and having inflicted numerous losses obliged the remainder to retreat. On hearing of this the king of England ordered Lord Villoubghi to proceed with all speed to those parts to make another attempt to reduce the island to its former obedience.
In a letter full of gracious expressions that king has replied to the Lords States who sent a trumpet to offer to give up to his relations the body of the late Sir Barchelai, who was much beloved by his Majesty, and who fell in the first battle. The letter was written in Latin, as his Majesty would not employ French because of the present open war with France. In concluding he expresses his desire to live at peace with the Provinces and to return to the ancient and mutual friendship. The partisans have succeeded in obtaining a copy of it and have caused it to circulate among the people, increasing the animosity between the parties. (fn. 3)
Whenever Tromp shows himself in the town he is always received with great acclamations, exalting his name and the House of Orange. This is heard with displeasure by those citizens who favour union between the Provinces and who would keep internal troubles at a distance.
The Dutch fleet which was expected from the Indies has arrived at the port of Bergh in Norway. It numbers eleven vessels, of a wealth beyond all belief. They live in apprehension of the English fleet whether it will either take the risk and put itself under weigh for Holland in the current months of September and October, or will wait until the spring because of the ice which would block its way.
The prohibition issued these last weeks by the ministers here of the sale in France of the cloth of Holland has been heard with great displeasure by the Lords States, and in particular by those of Leyden. Commissioners have been nominated to advise some way of inducing his Majesty to revoke it or else to retaliate by some vigorous action against the traders of this country.
Paris, the 7th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
67. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain to the Doge and Senate.
After the greatest agitation of mind and many consultations, the queen has at length come to a decision concerning the reply to the English ambassador. With a seasoning of affectionate and courteous phrases both towards the king's Majesty and towards him personally, they try to render the substance less distasteful and unpleasing. They express appreciation of the perfect disposition not less for settling with Portugal than for establishing the alliance with this crown. It is superfluous to multiply negotiations and treaties. An agreement had already been made with the deceased Ambassador Fansau to arrive at the true end of the interests of Braganza. He promised a very long truce; that his king would be the mediator to bring it about, without it being necessary to make any engagement by word or writing with Braganza from this quarter. This undertaking and promise had been received by the queen with all confidence and good faith. She desired to see the results and that the obligation undertaken should be fulfilled, and that the transaction already set on foot should be brought to perfection and sealed before going on with any other.
Such was the substance of the answer, which the ambassador heard with wonder and amazement. He replied that as he had already expressed himself sufficiently upon this point he did not know what more he could add. He begged the ministers in a business of such great consequence not to rely upon subtleties which were sufficient not only to prolong it but to divert it altogether. The deceased ambassador had operated with superabundant zeal for his own official position.
The government here is in no wise moved by the new requests, maintaining that the authority of the British king is pledged in the treaty. He had sent his ambassador and provided him with powers, which were ample. With exact and complete confidence in these, as is becoming, mere decorum obliges this crown not to turn away from the first offers and promises. In that case he also will concur in the first treaty, or, having some regard, write to London, awaiting their decisions, and in the mean time the negotiation will be suspended.
This is so far as the interest of Portugal is concerned. So far as the alliance was concerned, it was added that many treaties between this crown and England had been drafted at divers times. It was a question of the methods for continuing good correspondence and the peace, in consideration of the navigation of the Indies and various emergencies. If these were not accepted and admitted good order would be upset, and proposals for a closer confederation would be preferable. As the first and excellent foundation for this both parties ought therefore to sign the negotiations which have so far been promoted several times and never brought to an end.
To this the ambassador replied that his king cherished the greatest desire that the final lines should be written and difficulties removed, in order to arrive at a sincere union. He imagined that it would be an affair of a few hours, to be terminated by a stroke of the pen, not to be dragged out for a long while. Perfect and reciprocal good will was presupposed. So they went no further and nothing more was said. I fancy that the ambassador has written immediately to England to know the royal will, and how he is to conduct himself amid so many twists and turns. In the mean time the juntas are ended, with little hope of any good and possibly with less satisfaction.
The ambassador, employing the greatest art, dissimulates and represses his feelings in silence, but his servants, breaking out into exaggeration, declare roundly that the reply will cause him to depart and will lead to an adjustment with France.
The ministers here are very pleased at having emerged from a great labyrinth with credit. They tell themselves that the king of England will not be led to bitterness by their decision or take offence. Time is gained by this valued remedy, which is so salubrious. They do not offend France and they continue to live happily in quiet. Certainly this is the true policy and the best adapted to the needs and service of a feeble minority with languishing powers, and of a government so vacillating and confused in the persons of its ministers.
Ambrun shows himself cruelly hilarious and triumphant. In speaking with his confidants he takes credit to himself for having by his diligence at least postponed and confused the negotiations to the prejudice of his king, if he has not completely upset them. The proposal for an alliance with the Most Christian, which was brought into prominence at the same time, had distracted the inclinations and reflections of the ministers, and not knowing which proposal to select or refuse they will try to stand aside from all indifferently.
Madrid, the 8th September, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
68. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
If the affairs of the Dutch allies do not mend, a more propitious course of affairs does not seem to be possible. The factions in the Provinces of the States continue to increase every day. The Orange party is increasing and many adherents are disclosing themselves. The Assembly of Holland is causing frequent arrests to be made of persons of rank and title. At Amsterdam and Rotterdam some disturbance arose over the detention of two leading men of the government. Others have been called upon to clear themselves, who without thinking of appearing forthwith withdrew to Brabant and thence to Ostend, where they took ship for England. (fn. 4) Guards have been placed in the houses of some and a large force of cavalry has been brought to the Hague for the safety and defence of those who take part in the government.
The trouble threatens alterations in that state and the foreign war brings them. However, the Swedish ambassadors who are in England have written to their correspondent at the Hague that his Britannic Majesty has a strong disposition for peace and that he is very ready to settle it on conditions which will be considered just and reasonable, provided that the States send ministers to London with any sort of character. Similarly his Majesty will consent to France and Denmark being included. To this no reply has been given and it is thought that they wish first to hear the opinion of the allies. No step will be taken before they have found out what the English understand by just and reasonable conditions. The issue of a battle might change the views of either side.
The Dutch are circulating as authentic news come from Hamburg that two of their frigates which were towards Glukstat, a port of Denmark on the Elbe, have burned some English ships laden with hemp and pitch and other merchandise of like character. (fn. 5) Possibly by such reports the Dutch are trying to give some consolation in their afflictions and misfortunes.
Paris, the 14th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
69. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier from Madrid, sent by Ambrun, reports peace between the Catholic king and the Portuguese. The Court has forbidden the courier to speak about it. If true it is a great stride made by Sandovich towards bringing about the union of England with Spain, since it seemed that this could not take place unless the affair of Portugal was accommodated first. With those ties relaxed the Spaniards would be able to move and to make themselves felt.
Another courier from Cales has brought to Van Bouninghen the report of a fierce engagement between the English and Dutch fleets. It is said that the English have placed themselves on the side of the coasts of Holland and that the Dutch have got behind the English, which means that the one who is defeated will have no retreat nor means of escape.
Paris, the 14th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
70. To the Ambassador at the Most Christian Court.
The events of England and of Holland are making themselves ever more remarkable and worthy of observation. The Senate notes that he is devoting the attention which the importance of these events requires. He is also to keep a close watch on any projects of peace that may be introduced with the queen mother of England and on what Lord Germen may bring back, as for its own sake and for the benefit of all Christendom the republic desires peace in every quarter, and he will lose no opportunity of giving expression to such ideas whenever one occurs.
Ayes, 150. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Sept. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
71. Antonio Maria Vincenti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
The English resident celebrated the victory of his fleet over the Dutch for one evening only and without much pomp. This has caused a good deal of comment as even when England had the worst of it he behaved very differently. It is said that he acted thus to avoid expense, and also that he was waiting for confirmation of the total destruction of the Dutch merchant fleet at Flay, news of which arrived the same day, in order to celebrate both together. Here they do not wish to give any offence to the Dutch, the more because France is interested with them in this war. If it continues for a long while it is firmly believed that the States are intending to despatch some individual to this Court with the title of resident, although there is no particular business to transact.
Florence, the 18th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
72. Antonio Maria Vincenti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
After the English resident had been to inform the Grand Duke of the victory he had another audience, the length of which attracted attention, as it lasted several hours. As the resident often goes to Leghorn upon divers affairs about the ships of the nation and individuals, he is accustomed to stay at the house of an English merchant, his friend, who has been living there for some time, engaged in trade. (fn. 6) From the fact of the resident staying there for this, it seems that the house has not only taken the name of the resident's own house, but further that both when he is staying there and when he is away his Protestant fellow countrymen are constantly meeting there, and every Sunday they have preachings and the rest of their detestable functions take place, with so much freedom that the scandal is becoming general. (fn. 7) Monsignor Brancaccio had some inkling of it shortly before his departure for the Curia, but foreseeing that it would prove a ticklish business, he left the handling of the affair to the Inquisitor and was not willing himself to interfere in the least. The report of the matter having in this way reached Rome, grave remonstrances have now come from thence to this Court because they permit so injurious an abuse and shut their eyes to the most serious inconvenances to which this ill begotten beginning may give rise. If the Grand Duke does not take prompt measures to put it right they protest that they will have recourse to such expedients as may seem appropriate.
Here at first they knew nothing about it, either because they had not found out or because they affected ignorance; but now they will have to consider what to do. To eradicate this noxious seed is recognised to be necessary. To appease the resentment of Rome by the punishment of some seems only reasonable and just; but they are unwilling to offend the resident and the nation, the former because of the respect due to his Britannic Majesty, the latter because of the advantage derived from them in the customs duties, because it is that nation more than any other that sustains the trade at Leghorn. It was therefore this affair that led to such a long audience of the resident. At bottom he recognises that the abuse cannot be tolerated. It is believed that for the time being he will be quite ready to listen to expedients, and that provided no one is punished to make an example he will consent to stay the course of the licence of his Protestant sectaries.
I am assured that nothing else was spoken of at this long audience; but as here they maintain the most absolute silence I cannot make sure of this.
Florence, the 18th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
73. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week the esquire of the Archbishop of Ambrun arrived in diligence from Madrid. He handed despatches to his Majesty and has not been seen again. This has afforded material for inquiry and discussion. They disclose the peace of Portugal with Spain and they speak further of the alliance of England with that crown. As these are circumstances which are of great importance in giving a fresh aspect to the affairs of Europe, they have given cause for deep reflection and consideration to persons of weight.
The Marquis della Fuentes, judging these disseminations to be of the greatest consequence was unwilling to allow them to get such a start that they would take root, whether they were true or false. Accordingly he presented himself in public audience to his Majesty, to whom he admitted the proposals made by Sandovich to the Catholic Council upon both of the points indicated, and that there had been many discussions among the counsellors, but that decidedly no resolution had been taken upon such matters. Sandovich was employing all his powers for the union of England with the Catholic and for the peace of the Catholic with Portugal. Spain would think well before giving the title of king to a rebel or peace to one who deserves punishment. So far as England is concerned Spain is at war with no one, which might oblige her to receive assistance and support, and she was not so ill advised as to wish to enter and to share in the troubles of others. The Catholic Council wishes to enjoy the fruits of the peace which has been attained after the fatigues and expenses of so many years and the queen regnant and guardian was devoting herself to the education of the little king in a minority entirely quiet and tranquil. If Ambrun had forwarded this news to the Court he assured them that the minister had been wrongly informed and that his pen was too fluent.
By his vigour and free speaking Fuentes has made an attempt to discredit Ambrun and to make himself the only one who is believed at Court. It is believed that Ambrun has represented these transactions as being far advanced and that for Portugal a long truce or a stable peace is about to be concluded. In the mean time Fuentes has had no other aim than to soothe them here and to delay those resolutions which otherwise might very easily be taken. The Spaniards are only thinking of gaining time and of dragging things out. Meanwhile they are renewing the instructions to Ambrun to thwart the negotiations of Sandovich, charging him to leave nothing undone so that they may not conclude an alliance with England, and if possible, that Portugal may continue in hostilities. They are devoting the more attention here to these occurrences because it is learned that the emperor also is looking for openings and studying the means to draw the Swedes over to that side.
Paris, the 21st September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
74. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week several couriers who came from the places on the northern coasts of this kingdom brought word that the fleets of the English and Dutch had begun an engagement. The issue was awaited at any moment with great anxiety and tension, whether it had been propitious or unfortunate for their allies. It was a beginning that had no continuation; an attack that did not unfold itself. The English fleet numbering ninety ships, great and small, was sailing in the middle of the stretch of water flanked by Dover on the one side and Cales on the other. The advance guard of twenty ships was sailing at too great a distance from the main body. Such disorder invited Ruiter, who discovered it and who was at a short distance from Cales with eighty-four ships, to attack and strike a blow. He bore down upon them and caused many salvoes to be discharged, which were answered with defiance. The exchanges continued on both sides, but the Dutch being superior in numbers made the capture, at the very beginning of a ship of fifty-four guns, with over 300 persons on board, including soldiers and sailors, who were all taken prisoners. Another was dismasted and abandoned by its own side, while the rest remained in doubt whether they should continue the battle or direct their course towards the main body of their fleet. A strong wind which sprang up caused them to take the latter course which in their perplexity they had been undecided about, and they joined their fellow countrymen. (fn. 8) Then, as if the wind acted consciously and did not wish any further fighting after bringing the English to the fleet, it changed direction and blowing somewhat harder it scattered the Dutch and drove them some to Cales, some to Boulogne and some as far as Havre.
An accident which happened to Ruiter (fn. 9) prevented the Dutch from profiting from the first benefit of the wind and pursuing the English squadron which was retiring. While he was giving orders, standing near a gun which was being discharged against the enemy, a portion of the lighted powder came up from the touch hole, entered his mouth and descended to his stomach, causing fainting fits with convulsions and tremors. He revived, but is left with a tertian fever and double paroxisms. His fleet has gathered again under the flag of the commander-in-chief, and is at present near Boulogne.
After the squadron had joined the rest of the fleet the English withdrew to a port on their coast called the Cingle, two leagues west from Dover. (fn. 10) They showed little inclination for a fresh combat, possibly being warned of the arrival of Boffort at La Rochelle and of the orders which he has to advance. It is reported that they have gone down to Portmut, on the English Channel, for the purpose of encountering and attacking Boffort, who was proceeding with great deliberation to the island of Belle Isle. It is not known if he means to await there the reinforcement of some other ships, which were given to safeguard Madame d'Omala, and which might arrive at any moment, or whether he will push on into the Channel.
Couriers are being despatched from Court at every moment to give him fresh instructions, while others are sent to Boulogne, to the Dutch fleet to persuade them to advance into the Channel, to keep the English in check and apprehensive, and prevent them from going to attack the fleet of France. That will only be exposed for brief stages, since there are ports every twenty-five leagues all along the coast of this kingdom as far as Cales; an admirable provision of Nature which rules that the fleets of this country shall proceed in safety. Nevertheless this does not prevent them from feeling apprehensive, at once from the high spirit of the English and from their suspicions of the intentions of the Dutch who from a feeling of revenge may desire to see the French fleet engaged with the English, without their assistance, just as their own has fought twice without assistance from the French. Accordingly orders have been given to Mons. della Fogliada (fn. 11) to go on board Ruiter's ship, ostensibly in order to command his Majesty's adventurers, but with secret instructions to observe the proceedings of the Dutch and to make a fuss and threaten them with the king's indignation if he discovers any duplicity in their behaviour.
Paris, the 21st September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
75. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Only a few moments ago there arrived at Vincennes the commander of the ten ships which conveyed the duchess of Omala to Lisbon, (fn. 12) with the news that they are in the port of Belle Isle and are awaiting the commands of his Majesty. The Court could not receive better news, seeing Boffort reinforced with this fresh assistance. Couriers have been sent to Ruiter, who is still in the neighbourhood of Boulogne to impart this news to him and renew their instances to him to go out and meet the royal fleet, which every day is drawing near. Ruiter only recently sent them word that his instructions do not permit him to go beyond Boulogne, so as not to leave Holland exposed. This is what was arranged by the Lords States with Bellefont, though he promised that if he heard of an attack on Boffort he would proceed to succour him with the whole armada of Holland.
His Majesty has ordered the troops which were quartered at Abbeville to proceed to the coast and to stand in readiness at the call of Boffort and Ruiter, when they are wanted. Similarly those of Brittany and Normandy are being sent down towards the sea and to take their places in the maritime fortresses, with like orders to wait for the commands of the admiral.
To the letter written to them by the king of England, as reported, the Lords States have made a fresh reply. In this they intimate that some time ago they did what his Majesty desires, when they offered him just and honourable conditions of peace up to the 11th December last, by their letters written to him on that date. They did the same at the conferences held at the house of the queen of England, where it was proposed that each of the parties should hold or mutually restore what had been taken from the other. They urge him once more to choose one of the two proposals, or to be so good as to give the reason why he cannot agree to the one or the other, as then it might be possible to find a way out, either by the parties or by mediators; or else that his Majesty make fresh proposals for discussion, which might easily meet with their assent. They also ask him to put in writing his acceptance of the Swedish mediation, to whom they might subsequently freely refer the appointment of a place for the negotiations, convenient for a speedy calling together of the allies. If his Majesty will condescend to accept what they have suggested with sincerity for the good of the two nations, they would be persuaded that the royal desire for peace was sincere, but otherwise they would not be able to avoid the suspicion that while dealing in general terms his only object was to create jealousy between the allies and to try to separate them. (fn. 13) This letter will be printed and will serve as a new manifesto of the Dutch.
The Dutch are continuing their inquiries and examinations of those concerned in the guilt of Buat. They have communicated to his Majesty that the internal mischief of the Provinces, planted there by England, is of great importance, and that, to effect a cure it will be necessary for them to have recourse to strong and violent measures, which will fill every one with amazement. It is believed that the House of Orange is exposed to some great peril, but this can only befall them with great disturbance and strife in the Provinces.
Paris, the 21st September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
76. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has called upon me, with all punctuality and gallantry. After the exchange of compliments he went on to speak of his important and arduous negotiations. He says that he already believes that he should be able to complete them in a few months, despatching them with facility and to the satisfaction of both crowns and so winning the glory and the credit. But he observes in the ministers here a predilection for vain punctilios combined with harmful tardiness. The Spaniards were only aiming at delay. He went on to say: I direct my course in conformity with their genius. I keep patient, grow heated, but do not lose my temper, and although I am fully aware of the inconveniences which are the consequence of these methods, yet I propose to overcome them by affecting not to notice them. He continued, I foresee that the point about Portugal is almost beyond hope. If the first stone is not laid upon a secure foundation, it will be useless to labour at the rest of the edifice. For my own part I am amazed when I consider the great persistence of this government in keeping up a vain imagination and appearance. They admit that they are in no condition and have not the power to deprive the duke of Braganza of his kingdom, but they will on no account recognise him as king. They allow him the substance, which is possession, and it is only the word which they refuse so futilely to pronounce. It is impossible to persuade them; they will not do it.
Of the duke of Boffort, who has never put in an appearance at the battles, he spoke with scant courtesy and referred with contempt to his naval forces. He sailed about the Ocean with pomp but he never presented himself courageously for battle. The French were only seeking their own profit. He admitted that the continuation of this war was injurious to both nations and he would gladly hear not only of overtures but of the establishment of peace. The ambassador proceeded: I say in confidence to your Excellency that it is possible that this consummation is not far off. My king inclines to it strongly, the people long for it, the Dutch are undeceived and we also perceive the burden upon our shoulders, without support and without allies.
Madrid, the 22nd September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
77. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The indignation and complaints of the Dutch against France at seeing themselves on the verge of another battle with the enemy without a junction with the royal fleet, as reported last week, have increased. It was feared that for this cause the Dutch might take some decision injurious to the alliance. Accordingly the king sent orders to Boffort that he was to come away from the port of Brest, put out to sea and proceed without delay to Havre de Grace and thence to Dieppe, whither the Dutch had promised to betake themselves for the junction. When these orders had been passed on to the Admiral with all speed it was subsequently learned that the English had proceeded to the isle of Vit, off the English coast and a convenient station for them to impede and contest the passage of the French. Couriers were sent with this news to Ruiter, who was at Cales, urging him to advance in order to meet Boffort. Ruiter made his excuses, alleging that his serious indisposition prevented him from moving with the fleet. When asked to hand over the command to the Vice Admiral, he refused to do so, offering as a legitimate excuse the orders of the Lords States, who committed the direction of their forces to him alone. The French became somewhat suspicious of the intentions of Holland and they were unwilling to expose Boffort to a peril which was believed to be evident and unavoidable. They despatched couriers to all the ports in those parts to order him to return to the port of Brest, or at least to cast anchor in the nearest and not to advance any farther. No frigate was able to find him, which occasioned grave anxiety at Court and the fear of his almost certain destruction, and the ill affected and those desirous of change were greedily and joyfully anticipating the bad news. But the marvellous good fortune of his Majesty or the special protection of the Almighty for this crown has brought about one of the most terrible and at the same time lamentable accidents to the hurt of his Majesty's enemies that has ever been registered in the records of the centuries. A bridle being placed by this upon the fighting spirit of the English, Boffort passed right in front of their ships without being molested in the slightest degree.
The news of Boffort's arrival at Havre de Grace reached Court on the morning of the 24th inst. by a courier sent by the governor there to his Majesty, and was received with a gladness corresponding to their fears of some disaster. There were some who hardly ventured to believe it and were doubtful of some particularly ingenious stratagem of the enemy, which prevented them from fully savouring the news. On the evening of the same day a new courier arrived with news that Boffort with his Majesty's fleet had reached Dieppe and that the enemy had not been seen to come out of their ports.
Later, on Sunday morning the letters of England arrived which had been lacking by two ordinaries. These reported that on the 12th inst. a fire broke out in London so great that it continued to burn with inextinguishable flames for five days and nights, consuming and destroying the city from every side. Neither the multitude of the inhabitants nor the efforts of the workmen availed to arrest the progress of this vast torrent of flame, which, fanned by a strong and steady wind became swifter and more voracious in devouring the houses, churches, magazines and shops of that unhappy city. Some houses built of stone proved of no avail to stop its career, indeed when it met with such impediments it seemed to gather fresh force and become as it were enraged and even more fierce for the destruction and annihilation of what stood in its way. The confusion, the terror and the death of those who were overwhelmed by the fall of roofs, by the ruin of the houses and by the press of those who were fleeing to save themselves and their goods is indescribable. The letters from London speak of the terrible sights of persons burned to death and calcined limbs, making it easy to believe the terror though it cannot be exactly described. The old, tender children and many sick and helpless persons were all burned in their beds and served as fuel for the flames. Suffice it to say, as the final word on an unspeakable calamity that a city of ninety-nine parishes, save only ten and these also in great part consumed, has been converted into innumerable heaps of ashes, and that a population of citizens has been obliged to take to the fields. The king's palace is not touched, but is possibly reserved to be the theatre of some dire spectacle, as cries are now heard on every hand, that since the House of Stuart came to the throne England has never enjoyed felicity but has suffered from incessant miseries.
What the cause of this deplorable event may have been is not as yet known. It was believed that the French and Dutch together had set fire to the city in several places, and accordingly many of them have been arrested by the king's guards. (fn. 14) Others attribute it to an accident in the house of a baker, set on fire by the carelessness of the workmen there; others that it is due to many merchants rendered desperate by the burning of the ships at Flit, which rendered them bankrupt, and so they wished to get consolation for their own misfortune by a universal ruin; except that the two Exchanges, namely the two places where the business and capital of the whole country and all the merchandise of those parts are reserved, have also perished in the conflagration.
I must not pass over another cause of this chastisement which from being in contumely of the first cause may also be the most adequate. It is talked about among the most pious and it would be a great impiety to keep silence about it. Two fathers of the religion of St. Bernard, which is most austere here, of an exemplary and holy life, were going to their obedience either to preach the gospel in the Indies or the Christian life in other parts, while they were travelling on a French ship, were taken prisoners by the English. Being brought in triumph through the city as if they had made a great acquisition, having satisfied their barbarity by abuse and insults, they cut them into quarters and distributed their members to the four quarters of the city, amid the lamentation and tears of the Catholics who saw this cruelty. It was on the very day that their quarters were affixed that the fire began, (fn. 15) and it may be considered the just punishment of Heaven for such a crime. But whatever the cause may be, whether the malignity of men, blind chance or the justice of Heaven the result is the most lamentable and the most hurtful for England, worse than any defeat of her fleets, worse than the plague and than any other disaster, capable of making them change their government and principles.
It is believed that being struck by so great a disaster their fleet did not care to encounter Boffort. It is thought that the burning of all the magazines where the equipment for the fleet was stored, the provision of food and all other things required for its maintenance, will put them under the necessity of retiring to their ports. The money, the furnishings, the precious capital lost will constrain the English to abandon their high pretensions and to humble themselves before the good fortune of the king here, to whose felicity the very elements make themselves tributary, and whom Heaven serves by ways unimagined and unexpected.
Paris, the 28th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Sept. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
78. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The happy arrival of the French fleet at Dieppe, obliged Ruiter to send his congratulations to the commander by letter. In this, however, he chose to add that he regretted to see that the season was so far advanced that it would not afford them an opportunity to operate in those confined waters and subject to dangerous storms, and that he was still troubled by his indisposition; that many other officers of rank were lying sick and that more than 2000 sailors were also ill; that by reason of the late storm the ships were greatly in need of repair, and finally that he had orders from the Lords States to withdraw to the ports of the Provinces. It might be taken as certain that the English likewise would not be coming out, being held back by the same reasons, and more than anything else by the accident of the great fire.
There are good grounds for believing that the reasons adduced by Ruiter for not putting to sea again are genuine and definite, but there is also no doubt or uncertainty that the Dutch consider themselves entirely dissatisfied with the behaviour of France, which has been so ardent in urging them to operations of war and encouraging them with so many promises in waging it, while on the other hand they have proceeded here with corresponding coldness and sloth in their deeds. By the terms of the treaties the French fleet was to have been in these waters by the 24th of May to effect the junction, and it has only showed itself on the 24th of September. The money promised to Holland has not been paid.
Van Boninghen has sent a heavy packet to the Hague about the conferences held at Vincennes with the royal ministers, in which he gives a resumé of all his negotiations and past offices upon the present occurrences with this Court. He ends with the scanty advantages obtained and the slight ground there is for expecting any in the future. Already Holland is strongly inclined to peace, but the experiences it has had of its allies (l'esperimenti fatti da suoi collegati) may possibly strengthen the impulse. In addition to this the Dutch are obliged to apply a remedy to their internal factions, which are constantly showing themselves increasingly vigorous. They have brought to light a party of Spaniards, of English and of the prince of Orange, against which they find it hard to oppose that of the States joined with the friends of France living in those parts.
The Dutch are labouring with all their might to persuade the English to refer themselves to the good offices of the mediators for the selection of a neutral place for the negotiations. The fact that the English are committed to holding the meetings in London, the pledge for which I enclose herewith, is a serious obstacle to overcome. Possibly the fire in that city may have rendered them easier and more ready to give way. The Dutch would not have been averse from sending their plenipotentiaries to England, if doubts about this had not arisen in the minds of the French, that they might be shut out and separated in the treaties, being quite ready to believe that the English would spare no effort to detach them from their allies.
It is believed that if negotiations are seriously taken in hand matters may easily be settled quietly this winter. The blows suffered by both nations as well within as without their dominions no longer leave any room for anger or resentment. This crown has always showed itself disposed to peace and it has already gathered from the war all the fruits most desired, that is to say the alternating checks to the two nations, which will require some years for recovery.
It is said that orders have been sent to Boffort to return to Brest to pass the winter there. The ports of Normandy are not sufficiently commodious or secure for a great fleet in the most severe season, as they are exposed to most furious north winds. Dunkirk, which is the most capacious and more sheltered than the others on that line, is barred because of the plague. And so the greatest achievement in the past season of this French armada, so much advertised and dreaded, has been to accompany the bride of Portugal and to let itself be seen in the waters of Brittany, and the finest stroke of French prudence has been to keep the two nearest naval powers locked together wasting each other's strength, while she is content to stand and look on.
Paris, the 28th September, 1666.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.79. Responsum a Dominis Commissariis Regis Magnæ Brittaniæ Dominis Legatis Sveticis. Datum die 17/27 Augusti, 1666.
Placet Serenissimæ suæ Majestati quod Seren. Rex Svetiæ pacificationi conciliandæ se medium interponat, cui Maj. suæ honorem cordi fore ac curæ certo sibi persuadet. Quam autem temperiem ac propensionem ad quieta consilia Batavi habeant. Ser. Rex Svetiæ inde promptissime conjicere poterit si media propria atque eo sponte ducentia amplexari velint cum nemo cogitare debeat ullum quamvis infelicem successum (quod tamen Deus avertat) Majestatis suæ animum adeo demissum efficere posse, ut ejusmodi tractatum tertio quovis loco admittat, quin illud suae dignitatis merito tribuendum censet, ut si Batavi pacem tenere cupiant, legatos ad Majestatem suam de justis ejusdem conditionibus tractaturos mittant.
Sept. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
80. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A rich convoy of ships of France and Holland is all ready to cast off from Cadiz. It is entering the Mediterranean for the benefit of many nations. They have removed from the fleet a quantity of goods in particular of plate and they are hastening their voyage before they incur molestation and peril from an English squadron in these waters.
Madrid, the 29th September, 1666.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Henry de Fleury de Culan, sieur de Buat, a French gentleman of the household of the Prince of Orange, and a captain in the army of the States. He was found to be corresponding secretly with Arlington and was arrested on the 19th August. Aitzema: Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. v. p. 839.
2 Writing on the 27 August Salvetti says that Allen reported the capture in the North of the Dutch fleet from the Sound. Brit. Mus. Add MSS. 27962 S. f. 450. See also Pepys: Diary, Vol. v, p. 402. There is no mention of the capture in the London Gazette.
3 The king's letter, dated 4th August, is printed in Aitzema: Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. iii, p. 732. The letter of the States General to which he replied was of the 10th July. Ibid., p. 723.
4 The two men were Johan Kievet and Ewout van der Horst, both regents of Rotterdam. They were implicated in the affair of Buat. Kievet retired to Brabant and later crossed to England. Wicquefort: Hist. des Provinces Unies, Vol. iii, pp. 259, 264–5. Fruin: Brieven van Johan de Witt, ed. Japiske, Vol. iii, pp. 217, 219, 229.
5 Two Dutch men-of-war that lay at Gluckstat suddenly attacked the English ships in the Elbe, near Hamburg, on the evening of 25th August. After a stout resistance they burned three English ships and a Hamburger bound for Portugal, took three others and a Swede. The other eleven withdrew for safety under the guns of the town. London Gazette, Aug. 30–Sept. 3, 1666. Complaint was made of this violation of a free imperial stream. The success was greatly exaggerated in Holland. See Lettres etc. de M. le Comte d'Estrades, Vol. iv, pp. 451, 459.
6 Presumably Charles Chillingworth, the acting consul.
7 In his despatch of 3rd August, Finch reports that the nuncio had complained to the Grand Duke about the minister at the Factory at Leghorn. The minister officiating was a Mr. Denham who had been chaplain to Lord Winchelsea at Constantinople. As the Grand Duke was anxious to be in good odour at Rome because the pope's health rendered a new election likely in the near future, Finch, to oblige him, sent the chaplain home on the 7th Sept. Finch to Arlington 7th and 15th Sept., 1666. S.P. Tuscany, Vol. vii.
8 The action began on the 10th Sept., n.s. The Dutch claimed to have captured the Royal Charles, but though she ran aground and evidently suffered damage, she got away and was back with the fleet in a week. Le Clerc: Hist. des Provinces Unies, Vol. iii. p, 155. London Gazette, Sept. 3–10, 1666. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 279462 R., fol. 453.
9 On the 11th Sept.
10 The English fleet was blown westward and passed Hastings on Sunday, 2nd Sept., o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1666–7, p. 91. The rendezvous was at St. Helens, Isle of Wight.
11 François d'Aubusson, Vicomte de la Feuillade.
12 This was Abraham Duquesne, said to have left the fleet in disgust, at Belle Isle. London Gazette, Sept. 20–24, 1666.
13 The text of the letter is given in Aitzema. Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. v, p. 733. The French version is dated 6th Sept. and the Dutch the 16th.
14 Salvetti records that some of these were tried on the 22nd Oct., “piu tosto per sodisfare il popolo che per altro.” Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 R. fol. 478.
15 This seems to have been a rumour set about by the Dutch. There is apparently no record of any such execution. See Cal. S.P. Dom. 1666–7, p. 214.