Venice
March 1667

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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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137-145

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'Venice: March 1667', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 35: 1666-1668 (1935), pp. 137-145. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90211 Date accessed: 18 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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March 1667

March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
153. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Since the king of England sent his formal letter to the States, he has proceeded to nominate the place for the peace conference, which is the Hague. His Majesty informed the Swedish ministers of the decision and asked them to make it known to the parties. In Holland the Swedish minister informed the Assembly, which heard it with the utmost satisfaction. Their favourable reply is deferred until they have received the assent of the other allies. At this Court the Swedish secretary made the proposal formally to the ministers. It is not known if they have done the same with Denmark. It would seem that the ministers here are not altogether pleased about it, either because they wanted to have the conference here at Paris, as was suggested from the first, at the palace of the queen of England, with advantage to the dignity and prestige of this crown, or else because they suspect that at the Hague the English ministers may win over some of the most influential persons to their side, affording powerful support to the arm of the Orange faction by their industry and assistance.
Suspecting some lukewarmness on this side van Boningen betook himself to Suresnes, where he saw M. di Liona. He urged him to agree to the proposal, protesting that the French need have no fear as the Dutch have always shown themselves resolute and constant for a close union with this crown. Any hesitation might convey the impression that this crown did not really wish for peace. If the Hague was not accepted the English would once more return to their proposal of London, which the States would then find it difficult to refuse. It had been very hard work to induce the English to decide about the place. A refusal would make them close their ears for ever to negotiations for an adjustment. Liona referred the matter to the Council and his Majesty has consented to the place suggested.
When the secretary of Sweden heard of the king's consent he, with Lord Germen, asked for the appointment of deputies to the congress. Colbert, brother of the minister (fn. 1) is spoken of, since it suits them that no sort of success should attend this crown unless it be by the hands of these gentlemen.
The king of England has since embraced the mediation offered by the emperor through Baron Lisola. The Austrians will do their utmost to put in an appearance at the congress, so that they may be able to employ all their industry to preserve their dominions from threatened attacks. The Dutch, who would not wish to see any change on the side of Flanders, might also decide to agree to the presence of an Austrian minister at the congress. They understand here how much the Austrian would devote himself to this, if he should come, and perhaps they may not be able to find any convincing pretext for excluding him.
Paris, the 1st March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
154. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Four vessels have set sail these last days from La Rochelle. They carry a large number of troops. According to what they publish these are for North America, but there are some who believe that once they are clear of these shores they are meant to be carried by some favouring wind to Portugal. Every effort is being made to prevent the adjustment of Braganza with the Catholic. The greater the signs of an approaching adjustment between England and Holland the more strenuous are their efforts to keep open the breach in that quarter. All the same some vigorous measures are necessary for the Indies also, since the English are arranging that three frigates of war shall accompany some merchantmen which are all ready, with the intention of sending them thither with all speed to strengthen the garrisons and to reinforce the body of troops there, (fn. 2) which is slender for the defence of what remains to them in North America.
Some laxity is observable in England about the equipment of the fleet. It is not known whether this is due to the lack of money or because it is believed that peace is certain. They are devoting themselves with no little severity to the collection of what was voted at the last session of parliament, which amounts to eighteen millions.
Paris, the 1st March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
155. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The talk about peace is not causing any delay in the preparations and deliberations for war. The Dutch are busy over their fleet, which will be increased to 130 ships. They propose to anticipate the campaigning season and to put to sea as early as possible, to present a barrier to the English at the mouth of the Thames, to engage them there and prevent them from coming out. The fleets of France and Denmark are to cruise about the sea, making it safe for friendly ships which are on their trade routes.
M. Mas, his Majesty's resident at Amsterdam, (fn. 3) writes that the six ships building there at the order of this crown, are now in good trim and that within a week they will be sent down to the Texel. At that port also they are expecting M. della Roche St. Andrea, who proceeded to Denmark some weeks ago, to take command of the other squadron which is preparing there by order of the king here. If the procedure and proposals of the English are not believed to be altogether sincere, their actions are always suspect to the allies and keep every one on the alert. The Lords States have received information that Captain Hemskerk, a fellow countryman but an exile who has gone over to the English side, the person to whom the conflagration of Flie is chiefly attributed, is at sea with twelve frigates, with the purpose of landing in some part of the Provinces, entrenching himself there and stirring up trouble in the neighbouring parts. (fn. 4) Accordingly they have given orders for numbers of troops to be marched towards the sea coast.
It was resolved some days ago to pay off twelve regiments raised for the war of Munster. The province of Groningen opposed this, protesting that if they persisted in the design they would not in the future contribute for the war with England. Being suspicious about the machinations of the English, they are suspending the disarming for the present.
Paris, the 8th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
156. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch have grown cooler about the selection of the Hague for the peace congress. This is either because they found the French unwilling to accept it, or else from a suspicion that the prince of Orange would try to secure some advantage there. They have sent instructions to van Boningen this week to express their desire to fall in with the wishes of France. This news has pleased them here and they have sent to suggest Dover instead of the Hague. It is thought that the States will agree to this. They expect that the English king will respond by suggesting Calais. Denmark has already declared that he will do as France wishes, or else to suggest the palace of the queen mother at Paris.
Under cover of a show of sweetness and goodwill there are concealed fine arts of rigorous self interest. The Dutch by their change of opinion are hoping to gain time, and so postpone the threatened attack of the French on Flanders, on which they would look askance if it should happen. The war at sea is disagreeable to them, but no less abhorrent in their eyes is what they fear is overhanging Flanders. The English, by showing themselves ready for an adjustment are, on the one hand, promoting to no small extent the affair of Portugal with the Spaniards, who desire the accommodation more than anything else in the present state of their affairs with Braganza, while on the other hand by dragging matters out they enjoy the benefit of advantageous offers from the aforenamed, while at the same time they may possibly benefit by winning a higher grade of estimation with the French. It would appear as if only on this side is there a sincere intention to rid themselves at the earliest opportunity from their present commitments in order to devote themselves more thoroughly to internal economic regulations or to conquests of some real advantage to the crown. However, no one is able to discover the real fundamentals of these events. Each of the parties conducts its operations with the utmost secrecy and circumspection, while they watch each other with attention and suspicion. All the same it is the general opinion that the good is at hand and that everything is disposed already for it to come to pass very soon.
Paris, the 8th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.157. Letter of the King of England to the States General of the United Provinces, accepting the Hague for a conference.
Whitehall, the 31st January, 1667, old style. (fn. 5)
[French.]
March 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
158. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The king's naval force is feeling the lack of men with experience at sea. M. la Roche St. André, who is to command the ships built in Denmark, has received orders to enrol as many sailors as possible at Hamburg, Lubeck and the neighbouring towns. They will ask the king of Denmark for 300 sail in conformity with the treaty. A large number of troops destined for the ships built in Holland have arrived at Dunkirk to be embarked.
Hostilities which are still proceeding are more hurtful to merchants than to princes. Last week a French ship captured an English one, called Prophet, coming from Lisbon, off La Rochelle. It held out for six hours. (fn. 6) The booty was considerable. Various ships taken by the English frigates Hopesal and Providence have been taken into Weymouth. Two Dutch privateers have carried off a large English ship accompanied by a fireship. (fn. 7)
The Dutch report greater successes from the Indies. The island of Bonboyago, part of the dowry of the queen of England, has submitted to the Dutch forces. Vigorous attacks are expected upon other places. Being warned of this the English are getting ready 3000 infantry to make good these losses.
The Lords States have caused the Admiralty of North Holland to pay out 500,000 lire for the equipment of the fleet. They are asking for a like sum from the Admiralty of Amsterdam, and the Assembly has issued its orders to the Provinces to supply these sums to them. Ruiter is pressing on with his preparations and the Dutch believe that they will reap advantage as well in the peace negotiations as in the operations of war by having their armaments promptly in readiness.
Paris, the 8th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
159. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
No word has yet come that the courier who was recently sent to London by the Lords States about changing the place for the conference, has returned to those parts. This delay arouses suspicion that there may be some duplicity intended by the English. In spite of this the ministers concerned are frequently seeing one another at St. Germain. Van Boninghen who lives here at Paris, is always on the move, and it is believed that the material for the adjustment is by this time well digested, unless there is something left to be discussed between France and England. The objection made by the British king to Denmark seems to have ceased, and the intention to exclude him from the common negotiations with the allies has been abandoned.
For Holland the chief difficulties consist in the giving up of certain islands in America, which England wishes to except from the agreement for the mutual return of what has been occupied by either party by reason of the present war. If this is the case the appointment of the place and the meeting of the ministers who will be sent there will be merely a matter of formality necessary to give body to the treaty but not required for its conclusion.
According to the general belief it will behove the Dutch to signify their complete abandonment of pretensions, for the good correspondence introduced between these two crowns. But there are two things which cause some misgiving about these alluring hopes of approaching peace, which is considered practically certain by the ministers, both foreign and those of the Court, who desire it. One is the humour of the English, always changing and inconstant, and the other the strong interest of the Spaniards who will do their utmost and leave nothing undone to prevent it. It is highly probable that if they do not win over the English in some way, to drag things out or if they have not achieved it at the present moment their fortresses are likely to be exposed to great hazards.
It is known that the French have made large offers to his Britannic Majesty, by means of the queen, his mother, to persuade him, not so much to the peace as to a strong alliance against the Spaniards. By this means, to oblige England, they would compel them by force to recognise Braganza as king, a point they have not so far been able to gain by negotiation. The Spanish reluctance to agree to this point is not understood. With a peace with Portugal there would go a good friendship with England and the preservation of Flanders. Their obstinacy causes Braganza to join more closely with France, estranges the British king from them and puts their monarchy in peril. It would appear that the Spaniards force themselves to believe that they can make peace with Portugal at their will the moment the French begin to attack their dominions; but if Portugal is committed to France and the Spaniards are called away, the former will want to profit by the occasion.
The conversation of the most level headed dwells upon these ideas, and on the top of the general belief that peace with England is bound to be concluded, the desire of the people is now bent on seeing war break out in Flanders. It is discussed everywhere. The king by allowing himself to be seen, now with the Marshal Turenne, now with Plessis and other leading men with knowledge of war, always conferring with them in devising particulars of those operations, does not fail to encourage the notion, to such an extent that many are now preparing their equipment and consider the decision as certain. But what the real sentiment of the king may be is not known to any one.
Paris, the 15th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
160. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
[Reports of the movement of French troops against Flanders.]
The Dutch are in a state of great apprehension about this. Being persuaded that peace with England is at hand they do not wish to see a war of this crown against the Spaniards on their frontier. One of these last days van Boninghen went to call upon a person with whom I have somewhat close relations. In speaking of the current affairs of Europe and of what may possibly befall to the detriment of Christendom, he went so far as to say that the offices of the pope and of the most serene republic would be very apropos for keeping the dominions of the crowns and of the princes united with them from conflagrations and their ruinous consequences.
Paris, the 15th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
161. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The courier from England who was expected has arrived. Particulars of the letters which he brought have not transpired. The king went with them at once to the queen of England. It is concluded from this that the news from those parts is unsatisfactory and that England is dragging things out, being possibly won over by the Spaniards, or else is trying to obtain greater advantages from this crown.
The Dutch announce that if matters are not settled before their fleet puts to sea, they will not listen any more to negotiations, but it will be more advantageous to them than to any one else to pass the campaign betwixt peace and war.
Paris, the 22nd March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
162. Antonio Maria Vincenti, Venetian Secretary at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Reports the arrival at that port of three ships; one with currants, for Hamburg; an English one with salt fish, going to Apulia for oil, and a small tartana with twelve pieces of ordnance, but not suited for the service of the most serene republic.
Leghorn, the 25th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
163. Caterin Belegno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The transactions of the English ambassador having proceeded up to the point represented by his Excellency Zorzi, the disagreement about the British king promising to abandon his brother-in-law if he does not give way and accept a truce seems to have upset their great interests here and recalled their spirits back from the hopes they had conceived of recovery and peace. By the last courier from Castel Rodrigo it is divulged that fresh and more wide commissions have reached Sciandovich. Nevertheless, we float in uncertainty and concerning an affair which in the course of many months has so frequently chopped and changed it is impossible to derive any but fallacious arguments.
Madrid, the 28th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
164. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The preliminaries for peace between this crown and its allies and the English do not proceed with the facility presupposed when I wrote last week to your Excellencies; but difficulties are being raised by the latter and obstacles stand in the way. The British king having learned that the Lords States are not agreeable to the congress meeting at the Hague, has said that he will not appoint another place or think of doing so. The Swedish mediators are holding the letter of the Provinces in which they assured his Majesty of their desire to give him every satisfaction and giving the reasons which moved them not to agree to the place, suggesting to him some other town, such as Mastrich, Bolduc, and especially Dover. They would not present it to his Majesty, to prevent him from entering into further commitments, which might present further obstacles to setting the treaty on foot. If, in his choice of the Hague, the British king had the intention, supposing the Dutch agreed to it, of introducing suspicion and disputes among them, in which he might be able to profit through the adherents of Orange, he might win no less advantage in the present circumstance, since the Provinces, if they are not altogether at odds over the question, at least differ in opinion among themselves. Holland, Utrecht, and Groninghen declare that they ought not to hear a word about the Hague. Gelderland, Zeeland, Friesland, and Uruisel, which are more anxious for peace than the others, have no preference for one place more than another provided that they begin negotiations of some sort. The generality of the Lords States is certainly well disposed towards peace. The difficulties which they experience over the equipment of their fleet serves to make the candour of their proceedings generally known. This is particularly the case with the sailors of whom over a hundred have escaped away here to France in order that they may not have to go to sea again.
The English likewise are not at bottom averse from peace, but being won over by the Austrians and cleverly managed by Baron Lisola, whose arrangements are daily being disclosed, they continue to interpose delays, gaining time and aspiring to a peace, certainly, but to one that shall be universal and which shall secure Flanders to the Spaniards. In this their wishes coincide with those of the Dutch, and perhaps they have an understanding.
From Madrid the Spaniards have remitted to Flanders 2,500,000 lire, not so much for securing that province with such a vigorous succour, as to cause 400,000 crowns to pass to England, as is known on good authority, so that the English may be better able to furnish their naval equipment and that they may support their wishes with more determination. It is further stated that the English have granted the Spaniards a levy of 6000 Irish, who are to proceed to Flanders. If this is the case there is good reason for conjecturing that either a secret alliance has been arranged between them, or that they have so far arranged matters between them that the Austrian dominions shall not remain exposed to manifest loss. However, Nanthia (fn. 8) is expected with the replies from Madrid, wherein the usual Spanish tardiness may possibly be more in evidence than on other occasions.
In this country his Majesty continues his armaments and here in Paris they are daily beating up for recruits, inducing many of the populace to enlist under the flag. These, as new troops, are destined to garrison the less important places, as they intend to use the more tried veterans for field service. While matters with England were gradually ripening towards an accommodation, they began to hasten their armaments, and they caused the despatch of Nanthia to Spain. At the present moment they are not slackening in the least and the king here, being well supplied with money and troops, may possibly be thinking of proving them in several directions.
Paris, the 29th March, 1667.
[Italian.]
March 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
165. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from Holland which have just arrived report active work upon the fleet, while about the English fleet there is nothing certain. It was believed, however, that it is unlikely to be ready to put in an appearance very soon. Some seditious disturbance in those realms is hinted at. This will help to put an end to these differences at an early date.
Paris, the 29th March, 1667.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Charles Colbert, marquis de Croissy.
2 The expedition to Barbadoes of William, sixth lord Willoughby of Parham, who succeeded his brother as governor. He sailed on the 11th March, in the John and Margaret, with the Jersey in company. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1666–7, pp. 546, 568.
3 The Sieur du Mas, in charge of the work on the French king's ships. Negotiations d'Estrades, Vol. vi, p. 143.
4 Captain Laurence van Heemskerk. He sailed early in January with three ships, taking with him Capt. Dorell and 120 soldiers. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1666–7, pp. 457, 461, 484.
5 The text is printed in Aitzema: Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. vi, p. 9.
6 The Prophet Elias of Bristol. Probably the same as the affair recorded a month earlier. See note at p. 127, above.
7 The Hopeful Providence, was one ship, not two; a privateer commanded by Capt. Abbott of Weymouth. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1666–7, pp. 368, 491, 581. The English ship taken was the St. Patrick, Capt. Robt. Saunders, captured off the N. Foreland on the 5th Febuary, o.s. London Gazette, Feb. 7–11. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1666–7, p. 549.
8 Jean Joubert, seigneur de Nantia, an esquire of the queen. He had been sent to Spain on a mission of condolence in 1661. Recueil des Instructions aux Ambassadeurs. Espagne, ed., Morel-Fatio, Vol. i, pp. 208–9.