Venice
November 1666

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1935

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97-107

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'Venice: November 1666', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 35: 1666-1668 (1935), pp. 97-107. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90207 Date accessed: 28 November 2014.


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November 1666

Nov. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
100. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
All these days the English ambassador has been visiting ministers and Medina more than the others, being admitted by him with facility and confidence. As the reason for this is not purely ceremonial it is undoubtedly intended for the building of a new negotiation. I gather that the ambassador is exerting himself not so much for the adjustment of Portugal as to establish the alliance. He would desire, if one point presents so much difficulty, at least to facilitate the other. He represents that these two transactions do not necessarily proceed in conjunction, but by considering matters separately they may run on independently. That will be the true way to commit his king, constraining Portugal subsequently by declarations and protests. Now its own interests concur that this crown, by the execution of agreed arrangements, shall be free. So they will give proof of good will to be repaid by the fullest correspondence. It will afford him ground for speaking to Portugal with corresponding liberty in proportion as he can represent the cause to be to the advantage of the allies. If they do not hearken to him he is much afraid that his king, tired of these prolonged negotiations with scant hope of rendering them fruitful, may turn away and adopt a course for ever prejudicial to this crown, instead of being advantageous.
The earl of Sandovich causes his zeal to be considered the author of this discourse. He is extremely desirous that his stay at this Court shall be admired; the profitable instrument for conspicuous successes. His friendly and prudent interposition is universally acceptable to the ministers, but they do not fail to insinuate to him that his efforts should be employed in overcoming the difficulties which are put in the way by Lisbon, contrary to all reason.
The question of the island of Santa Caterina (fn. 1) was touched upon and the need of reparation for so many offences. Without this pledge of a sincere intention the crown might well conceive a suspicion of every proposal rather than confidence. The ambassador justified himself, laying the blame upon the unbridled licence of the corsairs. It may be that Medina, when he begins to take part in the Council, may favour his cause, clear away the suspicions of some and by his eloquence give the affair the advantage of his credit and authority.
It is also said that the ambassador, in speaking of the propensity of his king to peace with the Dutch, excludes France. He reminds them that it might be possible to induce the Dutch Provinces to join the alliance. Being far from satisfied with the Most Christian they will not be averse from conspiring to be avenged on him. Here truly the peace between the two crowns does not suit them; still less would they feel pleased about a peace with the States if one should serve as an introduction to the other. With respect to the Dutch, peace will always be welcomed, but it is considered impossible, in view of the ascendancy of the French party in the government there, that they will separate their interests from those of France. It is stated by some that Medina is secretly inclined to contribute to an accord between England and the States, but realising that France is thinking of admission to it, instead of facilitating, he opposes.
Madrid, the 3rd November, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
101. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The merchants of the trading Company of the Indies have received a fresh instigation to pay up. They represent the danger of committing their capital to the sea without a convoy of at least twenty ships of war. It may be that by this new obstacle they think they will enjoy the advantage of some delay in the handing over of the money. No answer has been given them, but as every solicitude is being employed over the collection, so every opportunity is seized for delaying payment.
Paris, the 5th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
102. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The king is turning his attention to affairs of the sea. Already efforts are being made for building ships and for crews who within a few years are to man them. It has been established by decree that the boys brought up in the hospitals, when they have arrived at a certain age, shall be sent on board the ships. By such means they aim not only at establishing themselves firmly in the dominion of the sea, but they also are contemplating the enlargement of their possessions in the Indies. Many have been sent from La Rochelle to plant colonies.
Paris, the 5th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
103. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Lord Germen has not yet arrived. It is said that he is in England to induce the government there to yield upon the point of requiring the negotiations to be conducted in that country; on the ground that it is proper to leave the selection to the mediators. In the mean time, however, the parties still remain on the alert to seize opportunities for injuring each other. The Dutch have caused twenty-six ships of war to sail from their ports in order to proceed against fifty large English cargo ships, which propose to sail from Gotemburgh to England with provision of masts and other apparatus for the service of the fleet and the country, escorted by four large frigates of that monarch. (fn. 2)
Paris, the 5th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
104. Giovanni Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The English envoy has gone at last. His negotiations are transferred to Spain and will make a change in those of L'Isola in London. He was sent by the British king to receive declarations favourable to the bishop of Munster, who had then gained some advantages over the Dutch with the assistance of England. The negotiation enjoyed scant success, since the assistance and succour were converted by Cæsar into a desire that the bishop should return to quiet, disarm and confine himself entirely to Germany. After this initial difference the envoy subsequently proposed an alliance of his king with the Austrians, the continuation of the war with France and incitements to the emperor to facilitate by his counsel and the exercise of his authority the adjustment with Portugal. But all their answers were always referred to the decision of Spain. Nevertheless they sent divers expeditions and expresses to Madrid with the proposals of this Englishman, and urging the Council there to make an opportune decision; but nothing was carried into effect, preliminaries being created for every negotiation for peace with Portugal, which always involved difficulties.
In this state, with nothing concluded, with answers in generalities, presents and expressions of courtesy, the Englishman has left the Court of Cæsar. L'Isola, sent publicly to England, still keeps the state's motive to correspond to the sojourn of the envoy of that crown at this Court; to express the gratitude of Cæsar for the proposals of alliance made to him, and his desire always to join his own interests with those of his Britannic Majesty. Without concluding anything he is to cultivate correspondence, enjoy the benefit of time, take account of the state and disposition of those interests, to interpose, if circumstances supply an opening, in the differences with Holland, to exclude France from the peace, and to bear away advantages by the use of words alone.
Vienna, the 7th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
105. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of Germany urges the ministers here to take two important resolutions: to abandon the vanity of punctilio in the treaties with Portugal and to embrace the proposals of England and draw tight the bonds of alliance. By a union of the crowns with the emperor, instead of fearing, they make themselves considered and win the advantage of being feared. France which does not indulge in war for chimerical ends and whose policy is most sagacious, will in the future, out of regard for such a combination, suspend her designs, from a just apprehension and well-grounded fear. He adds to the weight of his advice by showing that the project of an alliance made by Ambrun is delusory and insincere. This may clearly be realised because the requisite powers are not in evidence after the lapse of months. By keeping silence he admits the lack of substance in his transactions. This ambassador frequently sees the earl of Sandovich and they exchange full and mutual confidence.
Madrid, the 10th November, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
106. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It may be the effect of the season, which by its severity acts as safeguard against attack and the use of arms, which renders the tongue more prone and daring with threats and outbursts, or it may come from the discovery of the detestable crime. The English show themselves more furious and indignant than ever against this crown and its allies. It has come out by several examinations and proved by the confession of a certain Frenchman named Ruberto da Roan himself, that he was the person guilty of the fire that happened; it was he who meditated this villainy and carried it into effect. He was hanged on the gallows in London (fn. 3) and the body abandoned to the fury of the people, who tore it to pieces and could not assuage its wrath against the criminal except by extending it against the entire nation. The people shouted that they wanted war against the French to the last limit of their strength. They offered their persons as soldiers and forty ships in addition as a reinforcement for the fleet in the coming campaign. They further desired that all commerce with France should be prohibited (fn. 4) ; that no one should dress after the fashion of this nation, but that parliament should select some to devise a new form of clothes which should be peculiar to that country.
Lord Germen writes of the inflexibility of that government to the prudent counsels of the queen mother and their determination upon war. Seeing that he could not succeed in his first charge he had turned to that of obtaining the assignments made for the support of the queen; but he received a very severe reply. They said that if she would return to England she should freely enjoy all her revenues, but if she stays on in France it will be difficult to supply her with bare sustenance. It is accordingly believed that her Majesty, deprived of her own appanage and with scant assistance from this side, may decide to retire to the monastery of the nuns of Salio, her foundation not far from this city. (fn. 5)
The trumpet who was sent by the Lords States these last months, to accompany the body of Sir Barclai, on returning to the Hague has presented to the government there a letter of his Britannic Majesty of considerable length, in which he refers again to several things written previously to Holland about current emergencies. He reproves the Dutch for their lack of a good and sincere disposition towards peace, which compels England to make war. He has little good to say of Denmark, refuses to have any dealings with him and enters upon other particulars of consequence. (fn. 6)
They are at work in Holland to draw up a reply to him. It will be printed and copies circulated. Nevertheless in spite of so much noisy talk, the government there has deputed six of its leading men to hear the Swedes about the proposals of peace which they have to make. This affords some sign of good, but it may also be covered by bad.
It is not clear what proposals those ministers can make. Chinismarch has left Paris; with the departure of the Dutch minister in Sweden the road for negotiations appears to be cut. (fn. 7) The interest of Sweden certainly calls for war, and it seems incredible that her ambassadors should treat for peace sincerely. It is accordingly concluded that the Swedes may have some secret arrangement with England, on the strength of which they came out with such resolute ideas at the time of her greatest calamity.
I have been assured on good authority that there are also secret understandings between that crown and Spain, by which England is under an obligation, during the minority of the Catholic king, in case of attack and the invasion of his dominions, to come forth in his defence and to declare war against any one soever. What the Spaniards are to do in return is not stated, but it may be by such means as are most efficacious and less demonstrative. So much confidence and hardness in England, if it is not folly, may be supposed to rest upon firm foundations.
Paris, the 12th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
107. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The deputies of the Admiralty of the United Provinces have been summoned to the Hague to discuss, in the first place, whether they can give permission to the ships that fish for herrings to put to sea to exercise their craft; and the said deputies have agreed upon this. They also discussed the naval equipment for the coming campaign, how many ships, sailors and troops they ought to get ready, the funds for maintaining them and upon what to establish these. They have also dealt with the question of the employment to be given to the squadron, if the French are to act side by side with the Dutch, the time and the place of junction. They have deferred a decision upon this, as they must wait for the opinion of his Majesty here. Van Boninghen has besought his Majesty to impart his wishes to the Ambassador Estrades, so that the States may be able to arrange everything with him.
Paris, the 12th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
108. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Since the conferences reported of the English ambassador with Medina, the Junta has at length held a meeting, which lasted many hours. The usual ministers took part and the duke as well, as he is now beginning to go out. Fresh business is talked about, engrafted upon what has already been reported and which concerns Portugal. The Council of State having found out that the intention of ministers is averse from the alliance unless this fundamental matter precedes it, it is resuming the negotiation. As the strictest secrecy is observed it is difficult to penetrate to the truth, few being let into the secret.
Madrid, the 17th November, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
109. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassador showed me the letter of the States to the king of England and the reply. It shows that feeling is more embittered than ever. They could not be more deeply committed and unless some catastrophe, which might easily occur in England, does not change their intention with the government, it would seem that calamities are not likely to terminate very easily. It does not appear upon what foundation they are able to maintain such obstinacy and hardihood; although the victims of so many scourges, they stand fast to their propositions.
The parliament does not show itself altogether satisfied with the king; the populace has grown weary of so many miseries. They have decided upon the provision of 18 millions of pounds sterling, a sum believed to be necessary for the requirements as well of the fleet for the coming campaign as for many pressing needs occasioned by the great fire. They do not know from what resources they can get them, in the absence of the chief one in London. Twenty-four of their frigates were all ready to put out from port, with orders to proceed to the Mediterranean, to escort their merchant ships and to profit by any booty which fortune might throw in their way. On hearing of this the States were moved to issue a general order forbidding merchantmen to put to sea, and requiring them to remain in the ports. The deputies of the Admiralties of the Provinces have made the promise of fresh reinforcements. Amsterdam has offered twelve ships; Rotterdam and Zeeland six each. They are labouring with all solicitude to render themselves strong, being the more encouraged to do so, since it seems that this crown means to set itself seriously in their defence.
Paris, the 19th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
110. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The provinces of this country are feeling very ill pleased and no less inconvenience from the fear they entertain that the hostilities with England are going to continue. The maritime ones are unable to carry on trade by sea, which is their chief subsistence. The first president of Brittany, these last days made a strong representation to the king, in which he makes evident the impossibility of paying the offerings and tailles while the hindrances to trade continue.
Paris, the 19th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
111. Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The business of Portugal, which seemed altogether hopeless has made somewhat of a recovery at the meeting of the two Juntas. After the earl of Sanduich had received the last constant refusal to give Braganza the royal title he presented a paper with very strong expressions. He declares in this that his king does not consider himself bound in any way to have the treaty of the Ambassador Fansau established. He is astonished that this government should put forward a pretension so ill founded. The late King Philip IV behaved towards his interposition not only with more appreciation, but with absolute confidence, having placed in his hands the direction of such great interests. He gladly embraced him as mediator and also imparted to him authority as an arbitrator. Accordingly he did not know the reasons why at present they are adopting a policy of greater caution and extraordinary rigour. This mortified good will instead of increasing it by regard, so that they were dissociating themselves from the transaction.
On hearing such acrid expressions, the ministers were greatly confused and stirred. They disliked the substance of the paper and the manner in which it was set forth, as in naming Braganza he always gave him the title of king. The point also that says that the arbitrament was granted by the late king, which is here asserted to be false, seems an aggravation. They were accordingly of a mind to draw up a reply at once serious and biting. But Medina opposed, saying that in difficult affairs it was useless to get heated over punctilios of empty words, but they should consider the importance of the facts. Since it was necessary that the crown should not offend the English, it behoved them to dissimulate and have patience. He asked for time to speak to the ambassador and find out better what was in his mind. This middle way being adopted Medina did not lose a moment in going to pay his respects to the earl of Sanduich. From him he gathered that the paper presented by him had been sent to him from London all complete; he had added nothing of his own to it, but had merely translated it from English into Spanish. He told him in confidence that his king had been moved to make the last trial in favour of his brother-in-law; to put himself more in the right through having left nothing undone and more capable of sustaining in the treaty his dignity and service. He had other commissions to make proposals, but it was necessary that the government in replying to the preceding memorial should proceed with suavity and tact in order to smoothe the way for him to produce the new projects without loss of reputation.
When all this was reported by Medina to the other two ministers, they were greatly delighted by the good news. It was accordingly resolved, without delay, to send the ambassador word that with respect to his memorial her Majesty had noted many particulars worthy of an answer, but she thought it as well to pass them over. There was still less inclination to dispute and quarrel as to whether or not his king was tied to the treaty of his Ambassador Fansau. She only wished to know whether his king, even if he was not bound, had intended to observe it. Upon this circumstance they were waiting for a decision without delay.
The ambassador appreciated the manner of the answer as very moderate and prudent. It seemed to give him a considerable advantage verbally. If his king approves the treaty without being obliged to do so, the question is reduced to an act of generosity, not of duty. Upon such considerations he answered that his Britannic Majesty was always pleased to have opportunities of serving this crown. He was ready to demonstrate it at the present conjuncture by employing all his authority in word and deed both, to oblige them to agree to the truce. To remove the difficulty about the royal title, they might treat as between crown and crown for some reasonable compromise in no wise prejudicial, and if the Portuguese will not accept it he undertakes to proceed to make protests and to severe resolutions.
The statement made by the ambassador in this form affords an opportunity to the ministers to consider whether the offer is adequate. Some of them maintained that there was no essential difference in the words “as between crown and crown” and “between king and king.” They ought, accordingly, to reject the one as well as the other. Others suggested that in the negotiations they might profit by adopting the grand style. In respect of Portugal they could simply name the crown, and for this side speak of “king of Spain.” In this way they claim that under the generic title of “king of Spain ” the crown of Portugal will be understood to be in vassalage. But to the majority this idea appeared far fetched, and it does not seem to me that it will be readily accepted.
In the mean time the earl of Sanduich has decided to despatch a gentleman to Lisbon to propose the suggestion as between crown and crown and at the same time to intimate the feeling that is constantly being disclosed in the government here. We should now learn what the Marquis Castelmilior thinks of the news sent him by the ambassador, when his reply has been forwarded and his opinion has been clearly declared; if it resolves itself into a refusal, or if he will abate his loudly proclaimed and firmly sustained pretensions. The ambassador here seems to have no fears about it, but the experience of what happened with his predecessor makes every one hesitate about trusting to the present.
Madrid, the 24th November, 1666.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
112. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Upon the supposition that the many misfortunes of the English would render them less obstinate, many schemes were being initiated as a preliminary to further efforts, either quite openly or by underhand contrivance. But the behaviour of the English has proved different from what they imagined and this renders all their plans uncertain. The letter written and the acts of the parliament there show their firm determination upon war. A recent report indeed says that they have yielded to the wish of the mediators about a place for the negotiations, but there is no certainty about this.
Paris, the 26th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
113. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A report has come from America of an attack on Minnis Island, which was taken after some resistance. This was followed by an attack on Antigho, which was also taken, the greater part of the garrison being cut to pieces. (fn. 8) Six great merchant ships have also been captured when sailing in these waters, with abundant wealth in their cargoes. This has stimulated the government here to send a fresh body of troops to those parts, escorted by two frigates. They also talk of sending twelve ships to cruise in the Channel, but this is unlikely because of the risk of being driven on to the English coasts.
The Dutch are hastily preparing twenty-four warships as an escort for the winter season, to serve for convoying across the Ocean. They are expecting a numerous fleet of merchantmen, which left Copenhagen on the 4th inst. These will be convoyed by a great squadron of ships of war, which it is presupposed will be joined with the Dutch until the spring when they may act together in expeditions against the enemies of the alliance.
Paris, the 26th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
114. Giovanni Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The affair of England is no longer discussed at this Court since the departure of Lord Taf and since the Baron dell' Isola left Brussels for London. … They are waiting for news. In the mean time this government continues to conform to the sentiments of the Spaniards by keeping the English in the hope of an alliance and enjoying the benefit of time if they are unable to induce the English to enter upon greater hostilities against France. What would please them most would be to separate Holland from France and then to avail themselves of opportune pretexts to make the two nations fight against France.
In the mean time the king of England persists in requiring that the peace negotiations shall be in London and there is no indication of any hopeful signs that promise the withdrawal of the forces and the end of the campaign.
Vienna, the 28th November, 1666.
[Italian.]
Nov. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
115. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Bellefont has been sent to Holland for the purchase of eight powerful ships of war. In the past year they had the use of eight others granted to them by that nation for the whole campaign; but neither the king nor the Dutch derived much satisfaction from this arrangement, as the king did not enjoy the absolute liberty to dispose of them and the Dutch did not derive the advantage therefrom which they had prescribed.
The Sieur de Boffort has asked three times for permission to come to Court, but the king has refused to grant it. Different explanations are offered for this; that it is a sign of displeasure with him personally for his conduct of the last campaign, or to maintain good discipline in the fleet, for though it is in port it might incur some danger from the machinations of the English.
Paris, the 30th November, 1666.
Italian.]

Footnotes

1 In the western Caribbean Sea. Colonised by the English in 1630 and named Providence. Captured by the Spaniards in 1641, in time of peace. In May, 1666, four privateers, Mansfeld, Morgan, Le Maire, and Davis with a fleet of 15 ships possessed themselves of the Island. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1666–7, p. 57; Duro: Armada Española, Vol. iv, p. 338; Vol. v, p. 166; Cambridge Hist. of the British Empire, Vol. i, pp. 166–7, 225, 227.
2 The Nightingale, Sorlings, Oxford and Pearl were commissioned to convoy the fleet. London Gazette, Aug. 9–13, 1666.
3 His name was Hubert. He was sentenced on Monday, Oct. 25th, and hanged on Wednesday. Although he had confessed the crime he afterwards protested his innocence. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 R. fol. 480d. See also Burnet: Hist. of His Own Time (London, 1809), Vol. i, p. 322.
4 A bill for this purpose was proposed on the 8th October and was read for the first time on 17 January. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii, pp. 632, 678.
5 The nunnery of Sainte Marie at Chaliot. This was a suburb of Paris to the west of the Champs Elysées, now incorporated in the city. See Nouvelles Ordinaires of 3 July, 1666.
6 The letter was dated 4 October and is printed in Aitzema: Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. v, pp. 750–2.
7 John Ysbrants. He had his last conference on 26 November. Aitzema op. cit., Vol. v, p. 886.
8 The report seems premature as although the expedition under the Sieur de la Barre left La Rochelle in June it did not reach the West Indies before October. Antigua surrendered on the 10th November. Gazette (French), 1667, Nos. 17 and 18.