Venice
October 1666

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1935

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80-97

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'Venice: October 1666', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 35: 1666-1668 (1935), pp. 80-97. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90206 Date accessed: 01 October 2014.


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October 1666

Oct. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
81. Giorgio Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The negotiations of England are the same as have been reported, dependent on Spain, where no resolution is taken. Lord Taf, the English envoy, has been recalled by his king, in order not to see him remaining idle at this Court, merely observing, without affairs. He will leave here very well informed about the sentiments of this Court which is devoted to festivities and amusements and which lets business go.
Vienna, the 3rd October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
82. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The king here recognises the fire of London as a stroke of good fortune for him. Certainly to it he owes the preservation of his fleet which in its passage through the Channel was only too seriously exposed to destruction. He has announced as much publicly but declares that he ought not and will not have any rejoicings about it, being such a deplorable accident involving injury to so many unhappy people. On the day following he proceeded to the queen of England, his aunt, to express his compassion and sorrow, offering to send provisions of food and whatever else might be needed to relieve the suffering of those unfortunates. They have talked of sending a gentleman envoy to England, to express to the king the sorrow of his Majesty here and to offer any assistance, with the assurance of a passport for his passage. Mons. Cachiu has been nominated for this employment, but I do not know whether he has yet started.
This accident which will be memorable through all the centuries, never ceases to form the subject of much discussion, indeed people speak of little else at the present time, than of this fire, and one may say that it leaves no room for other news.
On the 8th of this month parliament was to meet there to decide upon the manner of rebuilding the city and of preserving those unfortunates from the injuries and severity of the season. In the mean time the king there shows himself entirely devoted to the welfare of the people. He has caused all the canvas (tende) destined for the fleet, to be brought from the naval arsenals and had them set up in several places to serve as a shelter and a roof. They have issued to every one a ration of biscuit and at the same time orders have been sent all through the kingdom to bring in a stream of food and nourishment for the sustenance of the people.
The most serious disturbance and confusion among the people there, which may eventually result in very serious dissensions and quarrels between individuals is this. An enormous quantity of plate, money and valuable articles was taken to the king's palace to be preserved from the fire. At present the owners are not identified; every one claims and demands them and there is no judge or gentleman who can pronounce upon them because all show themselves to be interested. The king and his brother will not have anything to do with this matter, which is too perilous and likely to draw on them the discontent and anger of the people.
Amid these dissensions and quarrels, for the sake of peace and to prevent scandals it was suggested that it would be better to release this capital for the service of the country, for the fleet and for building the new city. If the people give their assent to this it will be no small gain for the crown, for whom this great blow has wrought yet another advantage, for whereas before the fire took place every one showed great abhorrence about going to the fleet, at present many are trying hard to be admitted. A proud and barbarous nation reduced to despair leaves some reason for apprehension that some of them may resolve to come forth out of the country in great numbers and provide additional travail and peril for their enemies.
It does not yet appear what line the English will take after the event, whether they will be harder or more ready for peace. Lord Germen has informed the queen of his arrival. He represents the ill fortune of London but says nothing about negotiations. Possibly they wish first to regulate and ensure good order within the kingdom, make a show of determination and vigour in the face of all accidents and afterwards lend an ear to negotiations, so that they may not be subject to greater disadvantages in their dealings.
Paris, the 5th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
83. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The assembly of the States allured by the opportunity for doing something offered them by the misfortunes of England, sent to Ruiter, who had betaken himself to a port near Blankenberge and given up all idea of further movement, fresh orders to put out to sea and to unite with Boffort, whom they supposed to be still at Dieppe. Ruiter, although indisposed and seriously ill, with sailors mostly sick, put out from the port with his fleet, but he despairs of joining with Boffort, who has left Dieppe and steered his course for Brest, to winter there, having been previously urged to do so by Ruiter.
The scant satisfaction which the Dutch felt at the proceedings of France and the orders which they gave to Ruiter to withdraw, for that reason, have brought it about that they are unable to derive any advantage from the unexpected accident at London. Having lost such a fine opportunity of making an impression on the enemy, either in engagements at sea or by landings on their coasts, the allies will lay the blame on each other and will thus increase the bitter feeling between them.
The couriers who were sent by the Lords States to this Court for renewing the terms of the alliance, were not in time to renew the orders given to Boffort. So Ruiter was obliged to return again to port and to close the campaign, with the glory of having beaten the enemy once, and with sorrow at not having availed himself of so fine an opportunity of forcing the enemy to listen to reason by new and vigorous blows.
From this want of harmony between the allies or from agreements badly arranged some injury has resulted to both. Eight ships which belonged to the Dutch but which had always followed the French fleet and were incorporated in it, finding themselves near their Provinces, asked leave of Boffort to proceed to their ports to pass the winter. Boffort gave the permission and they proceeded to a distance of some leagues from the French fleet. There they fell in with a strong squadron of English, which attacked them. They took two, one was sent to the bottom and the others were forced to fly. Three other ships, this time French, somewhat late in sailing, being unable to keep up with Boffort, were following at some distance. Being discovered by the enemy they were attacked. They resisted for a while, fighting valiantly, but one, commanded by a certain gentleman named La Roche, having advanced too far, possibly in order to board a ship which was believed to be the Admiral of England, has, it is feared, been taken by the enemy. The other two, much knocked about, have taken refuge in the port of Havre. (fn. 1)
Of Boffort, since the report of his departure for Brest, there is no news. It is hoped that he has arrived safely, but they are not altogether free from anxiety. The weather is very dangerous in this season for navigating the Channel as the currents always run in the direction of the English coast.
Paris, the 5th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
84. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Last night I went to see Liona. I spoke to him of the intention of the Turks to requisition foreign ships to take troops to Candia. Liona smiled and said: They certainly will not have any from us because we have need of them for our own affairs. I can assure your Excellency that the English ambassador has promised the Grand Turk, if peace ensues with Holland and the allies, that they will provide the Porte with thirty of their best ships, and Vantelet has advised the king of this.
Later on Liona said: I can assure your Excellency that the king genuinely desires peace; that the Dutch are longing for it, but for the English I do not know what to say. I expressed the belief that the scourge of the fire in London might possibly have mitigated their sentiments, but I did not know if the damage done was as great as had been reported. The damage, replied Liona, is much greater than reported. 250,000 persons are wandering about, without a roof, without food and without clothes. The merchants have lost everything and the nobles are for the most part impoverished. London held the best of that kingdom; so one may believe that the loss was considerable. But what effect it may have upon peace I cannot pretend to say. They are a changeable people and proud. They speak sometimes in one way and afterwards change. It will be interesting to see the effect of this accident.
I renewed my representations to him about the need for peace in Christendom. It behoves the king to assist the Dutch, said Liona, and to consider his own kingdom. Peace certainly is a great boon for all. The king will not fail to procure it for the common service.
Paris, the 5th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
85. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English envoy who left this Court some months ago to go and reside at Lisbon, arrived here post six days ago. (fn. 2) He proceeded at once to the house of the ambassador, giving out that he was to go back at once, and that he had only come for some special conferences. These being soon terminated, he resumed his journey. The truth is that yesterday at midday he left, travelling light, taking with him only a page and a lackey. This sudden appearance and stay of practically a moment has aroused curiosity and attention. It has provoked discussion and infinite speculation, but as every one depends solely upon guesses, no safe deduction can be made. What I have discovered as certain is that the envoy handed to the ambassador some packets directed from London. They did not confer long together upon these and no communication was made or notice given to any of the ministers. These last are extraordinarily eager to know something and their desire increases the more because the ambassador tantalises them by delay. Impatient of waiting any longer they tried to find out about the commissions which had reached him. On some other business they sent the Secretary Fernandez to his house, who had instructions to lead the conversation to the subject of Portugal, touching upon the coming of this envoy. Fernandez carried out his task and learned that orders had reached him upon current transactions. That these last days, owing to a slight indisposition he had been unable to devote himself entirely to the despatches. This was the reason for the delay in representing to her Majesty what the affair merits, that within a very brief space he will carry out his duty with the punctuality of a zealous minister, inspired by a work that is as great as it is excellent.
As the ambassador did not enlarge any more, Fernandez departed without having gathered the fruit which he hoped to pick by his address. Accordingly they are now watching daily for the exposition of such important notices, which search out the more arduous matters of this crown.
In the mean time I may tell your Excellencies what was confided to me three days ago by a leading minister, that the government had heard that the English did not entirely disapprove of the persistence of the queen in refusing the royal title to Braganza. The obligations of a simple guardian were confined within strict limits and had only moderate powers. This did not extend to the cession of states any more than it did to rights and claims. The British king desired, no matter how, that a composition and adjustment should be reached. It would afford an inducement to him to go on if this crown would correspond by recognition and rewarding him with an alliance, with dealings in the Indies and other benefits, giving him profitable inducements which might induce him to keep the duke of Portugal to reasonable terms and lead him to give the duke effectual advice about his extreme pretension to the title of king. With regard to the promise to treat … (fn. 3) the government of Portugal, this carried with it an equivocal interpretation, but favourable for him if the government understood his royal relationship. Such an interpretation which in no wise prejudiced his reputation and still less his authority was worth being accepted and approved.
This was told me in confidence as having come on excellent authority. That the envoy may possibly have brought despatches upon such a point, as well as the inclination of Braganza at the same time. He had departed at once, leaving it to the ambassador's skill and prudence to make use of it. I hope that this whole series of most curious information, on good authority, will meet with the approval of the Senate.
I have found out this much more, that the earl of Sandovich did not seem very pleased at the arrival of the envoy. He was afraid that he had come with orders and with the intention of staying; he affected to put a hand to the work, interesting himself in the toil in order to share in the glory. Medina, foreseeing the apprehensions of the ambassador, declared that he received the envoy out of pure compliment. Matters of substance were excluded and rejected. Other ministers had already concurred in equal intention. The ambassador of Germany allowed it to be understood that he desired to confer with this envoy in the presence of the ambassador. He was told in reply that to see him out of compliment was superfluous, and for business there was no occasion, since he alone had the absolute direction. The envoy being thus made aware of the jealousy of the ambassador may possibly have decided to depart. Even if he did not hold orders from his own master events will have provided them.
Madrid, the 6th October, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
86. To the Ambassador at the Most Christian Court.
To ask the Dutch ambassador for a repetition of the orders to the minister of the States at the Porte not to grant the ships of his nation to the Turks. If he has any correspondence with the English minister who is there, he might try through his means to obtain similar orders for the ambassador of England.
Ayes, 92. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Oct. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
87. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Lords States being advised that fifty merchantmen with cargoes to discharge at the marts of the Provinces, were sailing through the German Ocean, most of them having come out of the Sound, and that five others which had come from the East Indies were also in the same neighbourhood caused their fleet to advance in that direction with all speed in order to free them from all danger and to offer them convoy. For Ruiter, who was still sick and could not well perform his duties, they substituted the Pensionary Wit to take command, a very leading man of the government and practically the absolute director of the Provinces both by counsel and by eloquence. He is of the party opposed to Orange, with a strong leaning to France and apparently in favour of the war. Since he has no knowledge of naval affairs they have given him persons of skill and experience to assist him. To this person they have given full authority to command the fleet, to take it to whatever port and to carry out whatever decision he considers needful for the service. It is believed therefore that after he has secured the safety of the trading ships he may make a fresh course into the Channel and show himself at the mouth of the Thames.
The Dutch are much piqued by the fresh confirmation by the parliament of England of what had been previously decided, not to give ear to the negotiations for peace brought to them by ministers sent to London. This is rendered the more conspicuous because it was the first decree at the first meeting after the fire. If the English are as vigorous in execution as they are high-spirited in their resolves, they will afford an example of the greatest firmness and constancy. But great and high-spirited resolutions, if not accompanied by force and the power, display temerity rather than virtue.
The letters recently arrived from those parts report that the misery of the people there was incredible, but that the king had decided that the poor creatures should be divided out among the neighbouring towns and lodged in this manner, that the nobles should receive nobles, the merchants merchants, and the artisans those of their order. His Majesty feared some rising, either as the result of desperation or contrived by those ill affected to the royal House, and he therefore increased the number of his guard of horse and foot.
In parliament they discussed the rebuilding of the city, and they decided to make a careful model; that the houses shall all be of stone and the streets thirty-six paces wide. That the building of the churches shall be left to the piety of the people; but it is not clear, with a loss that is estimated at a hundred millions of pounds sterling, how they can make good at an expense that at the lowest would be little less.
Many persons are at work among the heaps of ashes to recover some profit from the fire. Among them they find metals mixed together and out of shape. The king wishes it all to be set apart in a place reserved, for the benefit of the new city, and for the support and restoration of the sufferers he has ordered a petition for alms throughout all his realms. But it might so happen that a part of this money, which is expected to be prompt and abundant out of the pity and compassion of the people, may also be employed for the service of the war and of the fleet.
On learning of the continued sickness of Ruiter and of the substitution of di Wit, who has little skill at sea, orders were issued to the fleet to weigh immediately from the point of St. Helens and to steer towards Cales to encounter him. The days have improved greatly since the rough weather that set in some weeks ago, so if the hostile forces take advantage of this amelioration some fresh engagement may easily take place.
I have at this moment been assured as a fact that in addition to the royal offers made to the Lords States the king has pledged himself further to Van Boninghen and has charged Estrades to assure the Assembly that for the new campaign he will have sixty ships of war at sea; that he wishes them all to be at the service of the States and that they shall be absolutely subject to their admiral, following his flag and carrying out the orders of Ruiter. Such lavish promises do not please the most prudent of that government; they form their own opinion about them. Here undoubtedly they aim at upholding the Provinces, so that they may not fall into some precipitate resolution to come to terms, the Dutch being already tired under the burden, and the English always on the watch to detach them from France, and win them to their side under the specious title of uniformity in religion, of the ancient and interchangeable maritime possession (del possesso antico et scambievole maritimo) and of the deceitful and insincere procedure of this side. It is further recognised that the internal affairs of state there are not going well. Last week the prince of Orange proceeded to Cleves under colour of assisting at the celebration of the marriage of his sister (fn. 4) ; but he went on afterwards to Liège and it is thought that he may spend this winter at Brussels.
Paris, the 12th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
88. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The safe arrival of the royal fleet at Brest has caused great relief and brought the campaign to a happy termination for this country. Two battles have served to reduce the forces of England and Holland and left France to gather the fruit of glory. Two terrible fires, at Flie and at London have diminished the hopes of the two countries and left the third in greater authority. That which rarely happens in the course of many centuries we now see to have taken place in the space of a few weeks. The business of the sea will have a freer field for advancing on this side and the arbitrament of the affairs of Europe, of which they are greatly ambitious, will have made a great step forward.
Those entered as belonging to the trading company of the Indies have received a notification that it is the will of the government that they must pay the cash down according to their obligation, for the prosecution and continuation of the trade, which, it is presumed, should prove much more successful owing to the worsening and decline of the business of the two nations. This has not been any too well received by those concerned, who have cooled considerably from their first ardour, which promised them great advantages, and they are short of cash owing to the difficulty of exporting their own revenues in respect of the emergencies with England and the royal impositions, which absorb everything.
Internal affairs being thus disposed for a more striking advantage to his Majesty, they have also been casting fresh seed to gather a harvest of profit by means of the alliance. They are fearful about the Dutch and certainly these consider themselves ill pleased with the proceedings of this crown. Here they are anxious about what steps they may take, and are devoting themselves to reconciling them and to binding the alliance closer, knowing full well the great benefit which has been obtained from their alliance and the loss which their alienation might involve. The king recently assured Van Boninghen of his unalterable good will for their welfare, that nothing could ever divert him from their advantage; that he is resolved to continue in the ancient alliance at every engagement and to obtain for them, to the extent of his powers, an honourable peace. His fleet had been required to secure the passage of a princess, the destined bride of a friendly prince, and bad weather and bad fortune had delayed its appearance. So, if negotiations for peace do not take place this winter, he promised them that for the spring he would have things better managed. As in the contest which the Dutch had with the bishop of Munster, his Majesty had brought about a happy and glorious issue, so he promised himself and hoped he would be able to do also in the struggle with England, for their good. These same sentiments are to be set forth to the Assembly of Holland by the Ambassador Estrades. By such means they study to keep Holland allied, to blind her by flattery and to enjoy the course of their present felicity.
Paris, the 12th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
89. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of Germany represents to the ministers that the English envoy resident at Vienna complains of the tardiness of this government in deciding that which concerns the common service. They proceed with a thousand subterfuges and inventions, calculated to tire out their friends and to give great advantage to their rivals. The king of England on his side had played his part by conspicuous representations as well as by incitements on opportune occasions. He did not know what more he could contribute, as by a distinguished embassy and by other expeditions he has invited them to a profitable and honourable course. That for the harmful consequences they will lay the blame on the dilatoriness and irresolution of this Court, slow in executing as in making up its mind. The ambassador of Germany said that the envoy indulged in these complaints. It was not clear whether the object was to wash their hands of the negotiations begun or to strike a harder blow in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Sometimes the making of complaints was used as a justification for a withdrawal and to break off negotiation. However, he had orders to set forth with due punctuality and confidence what is passing; to adjust resolutions and agreements in the best form, to take into consideration the time of the crown (bilanciare il tempo della Corona) not to lose opportunities for alliances and support in such a grave crisis when menaced by so many perils.
In reply they told the ambassador that in arduous negotiations, full of prickly difficulties, deliberation is a virtue, while to give a ready assent would be a vice. He knew the essential points of this affair and the stage now reached. It was for the earl of Sandvich to answer upon the execution of the first treaty transacted and concluded by the late Fansau. Such difficulties not having been smoothed away in the preliminaries, it was impossible to make further progress. If in an affair arranged with the utmost solemnity by them there was failure, they would simultaneously lose all hope of the fulfilment of fresh agreements. Her Majesty was therefore constant in a prudent desire to hear the decision of the British king upon so just a request. They asked for the fulfilment and effectuation of a promise made by a legitimate representative with royal powers, which had been brought with esteem and admitted with respect and honour.
The ambassador added that it behoved them to solicit the earl of Sandvich for the declarations they asked. After he has known the wish of the government for so long a time it is too much to maintain silence with excessive severity. They could not believe that he had left London without holding the necessary commissions upon this point. There is therefore good ground for suspecting that he is delaying to answer not from lack of instructions but with more artful and secret aims. It would be a good thing to bring pressure to bear if for nothing else at least to make it known that here instead of receiving stimulus it is necessary to give it. The suggestion being reported to the government seemed good to them and was fully embraced.
The Secretary Fernandez was sent again to the house of the ambassador to express the desire of her Majesty that the negotiation should proceed and her surprise that it has been suspended for so many weeks. The ambassador considerably resented an office of this character. He spoke with a high tone that a brief delay should be considered so nicely in him, when he had dissimulated and put up with the dilatoriness of months. He knew his duty and it was not necessary to remind him of it. In due time he will set forth what the affair requires and what may result from his tenure of office (incombenza). Thus Fernandez returned with scant satisfaction and the ambassador was left greatly ruffled.
I have further learned that the ambassador of Germany, having gone to pay a call on him, chose to touch on the same point with him. He raised the matter by saying that as he was sending a courier to the emperor it would give him great pleasure if, on the same journey, he could acquaint his Majesty with the intentions of his Excellency. From the reply given here about the treaty already established, it would seem that the root of all business lies in this. Accordingly he begged him to give it with the utmost brevity. The reply given by the earl of Sandovich was on the same lines as those which he followed with the Secretary Fernandez. The substance was the same, but the manner different, as he spoke with complete suavity, though with some piquant opinions.
Such is the state to which the affair is reduced. Instead of advancing it languishes. The beginning of bitter feeling brings no advantage to either of the parties, who express dissatisfaction and show little sign of agreement. With regard to the conferences of the English envoy, which I wrote of a week ago, not even the ambassador speaks about it. Such reserve is complex; it is not simple, but profoundly mysterious. The members of the government themselves are perplexed, speculating about the reasons, and do not feel sure what is the legitimate and true cause.
Madrid, the 13th October, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
90. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
As no extraordinary has reached the English ambassador it is supposed that he has received his particular despatches with that of the Count of Molina. They are on the watch to see whether he will perform any office with the queen or with the ministers and to what his commissions may extend. I know that he is greatly distressed by the public calamity, but he derives some consolation from the knowledge that his own house was left uninjured by the voracity of the flames. (fn. 5)
Madrid, the 13th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
91. To the Ambassador at the Most Christian Court.
We are sure that you will be on the alert for any negotiations for peace which may be introduced at any time between England and Holland, to advise us of the same, neglecting no opportunity that may occur for insinuating adroitly the desirability of putting an end to the bloodshed, and the urgent need for Christendom to set itself in opposition to the vast ambitions of the barbarians, who build their greatest hopes upon the quarrels between the Christians.
Ayes, 90. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
Oct. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
92. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The sudden decision of the Swedish ambassador Chinismarch has caused much remark. He says that it is useless to stay as the obstinate hardness of England affords no opening for negotiation. He was required for service in the army. The real objects of Sweden have not been revealed. The Swedes are ill satisfied in the present conjuncture of affairs and the disturbed relations between these countries. From the famous opulence of France they have only extracted 300,000 francs as the purchase money for their neutrality. In addition to this the ambassador has had some inkling of the present offices of the queen of England with the king of that country and the leading men of the government, carried by Lord Germen and that they may, in the present difficult circumstances, lead to his obtaining new and extensive commissions for her to renew the negotiations and for the establishment of peace. That the conferences are to be held at the queen's house, and these, as being dependent on her Majesty, may be considered as an appurtenance of London, and the employment of the place, into which the English have plunged too deeply, gives this appearance. Accordingly Chinismarch, by withdrawing from the Court, means to take himself away from these negotiations, as if they were transacted under the eyes of a mediator without his participation, it would reflect scant credit on his character as a representative.
The removal or permanence of the Swedish ambassador in London will throw some light on the matter. In the mean time, however, the implacable hatred of the English and their malevolence towards these parts, are much in evidence. Some of their ships called ‘cruisers’ make frequent incursions close in to the shores of Normandy, and encourage among the people there discontent, seditious ideas and detestable hopes. The Intendant of Criminal Justice in that province has chanced to discover correspondence with the English on the part of six or eight persons of account, among whom they mention a certain Mons. di San Roman Colbany. In their houses there have been found rope ladders, arms, and a quantity of apparatus well adapted to assist a landing of the enemy. They will be examined upon this, tortured and punished.
Paris, the 19th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
93. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The secretary of the Dutch ambassador informed me that their fleet had returned to the ports of the Provinces after having escorted many trading ships and weathered a dangerous storm. One of the five ships come from the East Indies had been swallowed up by the sea at a short distance from Zeeland. They heard that the enemy fleet had also withdrawn. Ruiter had recovered from his indisposition. They had cut off the head of Buat by sentence of the fiscal of the state, as he was convicted of felony, (fn. 6) and by the infliction of similar just punishments they would tone down the lack of good will in others.
Paris, the 19th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
94. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has not received particulars of the disaster to London. On a visit to Medina he minimised the affair. He maintained that the most ignoble and useless was all buried together beneath the ashes, but what was precious and important had been preserved and was safe. The flames had never approached much less entered the powder magazines, armouries, the military storehouses and repositories. The gold, silver and jewels, which constituted the wealth, had been snatched away from the voracity of the fire. Thus the loss was reduced to a quantity of houses belonging to the quarters of the populace, and to positions of minor importance and beauty. The king had immediately ordered the restoration in a more beautiful and stately form. He hoped that from this destruction there would soon arise buildings at once conspicuous and luxurious, changing the compassion of their friends into admiration and leaving their enemies confounded.
The ambassador went on to speak of the necessary consequences of the accident. He asserted that if their spirits were somewhat afflicted they were in no wise perturbed or distraught. His king continued intrepid as ever, determined to conquer not only his enemies but to triumph over even greater unlucky accidents. The fleet was all ready to put to sea, to engage with the Dutch and to thrash Boffort as well. This was a matter that concerned the prestige of the nation which would rather go to destruction than sacrifice a point of honour. To the duke he did not show the slightest imaginable suspicion of a change either in policy or counsel. He did not think the forces of so powerful a crown were enfeebled, still less was the generosity of a great prince diminished by a blow of this kind or even a greater one.
I went to condole with the ambassador as many of the leading men at Court had done. He said that the damage done had been exaggerated by the malignant. He spoke very highly of the goodness and application of the king as well as of the loyalty and obedience of the people, as in that time, so perilous for revolution, nothing had been attempted, still less carried into effect.
I understand that Count Molina has formed a well-founded forecast that peace will certainly be arranged. All desire it, not only at heart but with clamour. It is the sole consolation for the afflicted, a sound remedy for the evil. It will not be possible to exact contributions for the war from the people of London, two thirds of whom have lost their substance and are worn out by the disasters.
The government here values the information, recognising what is of substance, and having very good reason, makes great capital of it. Owing to their appreciation of their own misfortunes and out of jealousy it does not please them to hear that others are relieved and getting breath.
Madrid, the 20th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
95. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
From the fire of London the English ambassador went on to speak to me about the negotiations at this Court. He began to complain, with pungent expressions, about the methods practised, in order to deceive, instead of embracing the proposal. The government had tired him out with their arguments for several months. Now they are growing impatient over the few weeks that he has kept silence. But to their instances he is replying that they claim the approval of a treaty that became invalid at the very moment of being established. The powers of his predecessor had expired with the death of Philip IV. They had thus practised with the ambassador, determining with Charles II the negotiation begun with Philip IV, to whom he was directed.
I did my best to defend the ministers. He said at once that they are taking their stand upon a distinction which is rather metaphysical than actual. I expressed the hope that the difficulties would be removed. The arrival of the envoy gave rise to the expectation of excellent news. He replied that the envoy came for some conferences for his own satisfaction and service; but the people were too ready to believe in a propitious issue to a difficult affair … (fn. 7) My king, embarrassed in so many wars, is only persisting with his suggestions. So far then there is nothing more. Your Excellency may take this as certain. However they will not desist or withdraw their hand from bringing a soil full of thorns into good cultivation.
In addition he gave me some particulars about the departure of L'Isola. He called it artful and deceitful, since instead of proceeding to London by short stages by the quick route, he is taking the longest way about, in order to waste months under various pretexts. (fn. 8)
Madrid, the 20th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 26.
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96. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In an interview which I had with the Swedish ambassador Chinismarch, he told me that at first he had good hopes of success in his mediation, as he had recognised in the king here a sincere resolution towards peace. He had found the same sentiment in the Dutch and a certain amount of hardness in the English might be attributed to an ostentation of strength and to high spirit. But subsequently seeing that they always adhered firmly to their proposals he would no longer call it steadfastness but obstinacy. The losses they had suffered from the plague, in battle and by the fire had not availed to make them abate anything from their first opinions. At this last meeting of the parliament, the first decisions had been to furnish the king with money for the war, and not to permit negotiations for peace except on London soil. Nevertheless at the end of the resolution there was a very remarkable provision, and it was this. That in the recent accident of the fire as his Majesty had given proof of an incomparable affection towards his subjects, they felt bound, as a suitable response, to follow for the service of the country, every royal decision touching current emergencies with the other princes. (fn. 9) This leaves some ground for hoping that even over there they may in the end proceed towards peace with willing steps. He had to return for the siege of Bremen but two ambassadors remained in London, and these would not cease to make their contribution to the transaction.
With how much sincerity they may proceed in this affair is not apparent, as the Swedes find it extremely to their interest that the quarrels between the powers of the North shall continue. It is certain that Denmark and the Dutch, among others, regard the attempt with an unfavourable eye. If they should be brought to make peace with England, they would certainly bring assistance with the force of their arms, indeed it is firmly believed that in spite of existing circumstances they will supply the utmost that their strength allows.
Paris, the 26th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 26.
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Secreta.
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Francia.
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Archives.
97. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
To make good the promises given to Holland to assist them vigorously in the coming campaign, orders have been issued for the building of eight large and powerful ships of war at Toulon. A report is also circulating that the king means to turn his attention to rendering himself strong at sea in the future. Intendants have been sent through the provinces to take note where there is the best supply of wood for building ships. Fresh troops have been sent lately to the strong places of Picardy, for their winter quarters.
Paris, the 26th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
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Spagna.
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Archives.
98. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The expected reply from Lisbon has reached the English ambassador. The English envoy there sent a gentleman post. On the day following the ambassador was with the duke of Medina and asked for a meeting with the Junta. Medina was not present as he is indisposed. Pignoranda and the confessor were there and the Court is full of curiosity to know the secret. The ambassador said that his king had tried every means to moderate the exalted ideas of Braganza.…
The ambassador was heard with scant satisfaction, since he was imparting a resolution which pleases them even less on the part of his king than of the Portuguese. They told him that they would report to her Majesty what they had heard, and undertook that they would let him have the reply shortly. The ambassador, judging from outward signs that their spirits were somewhat perturbed, begged them to make the queen fully acquainted with the diligence which had been shown in the past and which would be continued in the future. The Junta then separated and has not met since.
Here it is believed that time will avail nothing and that words and money are employed in vain. There are also some who suspect that although the English display zeal at this Court they may be engaged on different transactions elsewhere, and that, instead of obliging Braganza to abate his pride they are secretly encouraging it. When the envoy came here some weeks ago a great minister said to me that personally he mistrusted him, as one more likely to upset and destroy the negotiation than to bring any improvement.
Madrid, the 27th October, 1666.
[Italian.]
Oct. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
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Firenze.
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Archives.
99. Antonio Maria Vincenti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Seeing that the Senate approved of the terms in which I expressed myself to the Grand Duke in my answer to him about the alleged arrest of the convoy of Genoa, I availed myself of the same with the Resident of England, who when he came here to see me yesterday, spoke to me in exactly the same way as the Grand Duke had done, that it would be necessary some day for the most serene republic, England and Holland to prevent this same trade of Genoa with the Porte. He only added what was to me a curious and possibly important piece of information. This was that the English and Dutch ships at Smyrna saluted the Genoese on their arrival by the firing of guns, but that the French had refused to do it; and that the gentleman landed there by the Ambassador Durazzo had not the title of consul, but that he might be sent by Durazzo to the Grand Vizier for compliments and that he might subsequently obtain the title of consul after certain points which remain to be adjusted had been agreed upon.
This was not the reason of the resident's visit, but to inform me of the great preparations of his king to continue the war with France and Holland and to show that his Majesty's spirit had not been quenched by the fire in London. Of this he gave me some particulars. He said that of seven parts of London only two had been burned, and that no kind of merchandise or moveables (mobile) had come to grief. That their fleet had chanced to make a prize of a French ship carrying 56 bronze guns, and that on board there were fifty cavaliers, which is unlikely. (fn. 10) That parliament had assembled and had humbly petitioned the king to prosecute the war vigorously and not to arrange any accord with the French or the Dutch either jointly or separately, and that for this purpose they had contributed to his Majesty three millions of pounds sterling, equivalent to twelve million crowns.
Florence, the 30th October, 1666.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 The action took place on the 18th Sept., o.s., off Dungeness with a squadron of 20 ships under Sir Thomas Allen. The prize was the Ruby of 1,000 tons and 54 guns. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1666–7, p. 143. London Gazette, Sept. 20–24, 1666.
2 Sir Robert Southwell arrived at Madrid on Monday, 27th Sept. Writing to Arlington on Sept. 29th, Sandwich says, “I was very much surprised to receive a packet from him (Southwell) whereby I found … that my letter and one of Mr. Godolphin's … were made public, and that himself was prevailed upon to come in person to this place.” S.P. Spain, Vol. lii. Writing on the same date Southwell says that he had been told by the Portuguese ministers of the offers made to them by the French and of their inclination to accept, and they had asked him to go to Madrid and get a final answer. Ibid. Writing to Southwell on the 17th Sept., the Secretary Antonio de Sousa says: A la conference de l'autre jour il estoit conclus que vous alliez a Madrid a declarer notre intention de nous liguer avec la France. Southwell Papers, Brit. Mus., Add. MSS. 34329, fol. 125.
3 Obliterated.
4 Maria, youngest daughter of Henry Frederick, prince of Orange, who married Louis Henry, prince of Simmern. She was the aunt, not the sister of Prince William.
5 His house was in Lincolns Inn Fields, in the part called “the Porch.” Pepys: Diary, Vol. iv, p. 17. Harris: Life of Edw. Montague, First Earl of Sandwich, Vol. ii, p. 187.
6 He was condemned to death on the 5th Oct. for lèse majesté and beheaded on the 11th. Le Clerc: Hist. des Provinces Unies, Vol. iii, p. 154.
7 Torn.
8 Lisola professed that he dared not go through France where he was too much hated. He took ship to Italy and travelled thence overland to Brussels, from which city he reached England in December. Pribram: Paul Freiherr von Lisola, p. 293.
9 According to the Journals of the House of Commons, a resolution was passed on the 21st Sept., o.s., that the humble and hearty thanks of this House be returned to his Majesty for his great care in management of the present war; and that this House will supply his Majesty apportionably to his present occasions. Vol. viii, p. 625.
10 The Ruby, commanded by M. de la Roche; captured on the 18th Sept., o.s., by Sir Thomas Allen in the Royal James off Dungeness. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1666–7, pp. 139, 143, 147. See at p. 82 above.