Venice
July 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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169-176

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'Venice: July 1667', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 35: 1666-1668 (1935), pp. 169-176. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90215 Date accessed: 26 July 2014.


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July 1667

July 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
205. Caterin Belegno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They are causing it to be suggested to his Britannic Majesty that he shall try to dispose Braganza to the truce. This question has been ventilated and discussed several times; but by pure fatality it encounters the most obstinate opposition since the majority are agreed upon the austere principle of not advancing a step outside this project. Sandovich has pointed out several times that the declarations of France and the alliance concluded with the Portuguese alter the character of the business and that it is necessary to be more generous, to improve the proposals, and to accommodate one's self to circumstances. A person of the English resident at Lisbon, who came to Madrid to find out if there was any disposition towards better overtures, will leave with these reserved and limited replies. The ambassador of Germany meanwhile enlarges upon the feebleness of these counsels and points out that the canker of civil war will accelerate the crisis of affairs in Flanders, and that on every account they ought to rid themselves from embarrassments and hasten with all their resources to the place where the most dangerous conflagration is threatened; so perilous for the two empires of the House of Austria.
Madrid, the 2nd July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
206. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The negotiations for peace between England and Holland which last week seemed very near a conclusion in a good adjustment, with a disposition on both sides for a mutual reconciliation, are now, by a certain incident that has occurred, if not completely interrupted, at least very near it and in danger of dissolution. It would seem that fate was determined upon divisions in Christendom and that the imprudence which it suggests upsets all good counsel.
After the Lords States had sent forth their fleet to sea, some of them proposed to send it off on some enterprise against the enemy. The question was debated at length in the Assembly. In the end the opinion and authority of de Wit prevailed, the first minister of Holland who has always shown himself in favour of the war. He called to mind that an entry into the River Thames would touch the enemy more sensibly than any other enterprise. They should commit every hostility there. If the English desired peace they would grant a more advantageous one to the Provinces if they had suffered from the arms of Holland. It would be very glorious for the name of Holland to perform some generous action in the present conjuncture as they were believed by the world to be depressed and they knew how they were surrounded by many jealousies.
Accordingly instructions were sent to Ruiter to enter the Thames and to do all the damage to the enemy that he could, entrusting the chief part of the enterprise to the son of de Wit, one of the most daring and determined of men, and burgomaster of Dordrecht. (fn. 1)
When the fleet was on its way to carry out this design Ruiter was informed by the captain of a Norwegian ship that came from London that ten or twelve frigates of 30 or 40 guns were about to escort twenty-five merchantmen, destined for Barbadoes and that they were in the bay or gulf of Tilbur. He resolved, therefore, to attack them. Selecting thirty well-equipped ships he put them under the command of lieutenant Admiral Ghent. The wind proved unfavourable to the Dutch so they were obliged to give up that enterprise and decide upon something else. Accordingly they sheered off and steered towards the place where the river flows into the sea, where it runs near to Rochester. Attacking the fort of Charnassi, situated at the entry, they found within fifteen pieces of ordnance which they transferred to their ships, a quantity of sails, yards and other tackle for the fleet. On the following day Wit, having had the river reconnoitred, entered it with a number of ships for the purpose of burning a good part of the enemy's ships. Having penetrated well inside he caused a certain Captain Braxel to attack a great English ship. This held out for a long time, firing many broadsides, but was eventually captured. To another ship Braxel similarly attached a fireship and it speedily took fire. This spread terror among the English so that they abandoned their ships, giving the Dutch the opportunity to take some and burn others. Two armed frigates were taken; the Royal Charles was taken; another large ship named Neringhen fell into the hands of the Dutch; they set fire to the Royal London, the Royal Rames and the Royal James, which are the flagships of the White, Red and Blue squadrons. Seven ships in all were given to the flames and two taken, all of the largest size of those built in that country, with the loss on the Dutch side of only fifty men, to the scorn and ignominy of the English, a loss of over three millions and no slight detriment to their fleet. (fn. 2)
Encouraged by this success the Dutch are causing a great number of fireships to be prepared and they think of tightening their grip on the English and practically holding them besieged in London. Orders have been sent to Ruiter to establish himself at the mouths of the Thames, preventing enemy ships from entering or from coming out, depriving them of all their trade and chiefly of the fleet of colliers, without which the people there cannot subsist.
This affair has caused disorders and commotions in London. The people clamour and cry out against the chancellor of the kingdom. Some difference has also arisen between the king and the duke of Jorch, and, as usually happens under similar circumstances, the government is hated and the people desire a change.
The English ambassadors who are at Breda complain of the action of the Dutch and that while peace was under negotiation and the English trustful they have endeavoured to upset it and to seize the opportunity. They are expecting, so they say, the order to withdraw at any moment. Great upheavals are foreseen in affairs and perhaps the English, who were ready for peace, will be more than ever determined upon war. The very heart of their government is upset and it is not easy to foresee what results are likely to ensue.
The establishment of their neutrality which is sought from this quarter so far as Flanders is concerned, will be obtained more easily from the conjuncture than from negotiations, while the alliance agreed upon or desired by the Spaniards for the same reason, may perhaps prove useless if not held up altogether.
Paris, the 5th July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
207. Caterin Belegno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The negotiations of Sandovich remain in the condition reported. There is, in addition, the lack of full powers both with respect to the alliance and also with regard to the affair of Portugal.
Madrid, the 9th July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
208. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch have sent over ten more ships to unite with their fleets which are still stationed at the mouths of the Thames, so that their Admiral Ruiter may have the more power for other and more considerable enterprises. The injury done to the English in the affair reported is constantly being found to be greater and greater, both in the number of ships which amounts to seventeen and in the devastation of the countryside and of some places burned. There is now open talk of the peace established between these crowns, and it is believed that the rage of the English against the Dutch may carry them on even further.
The squadron of ships which was proceeding to the Channel has gone into La Rochelle, and the other one which sailed towards Ireland is at present at Brest.
Compiegne, the 11th July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
209. Caterin Belegno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The French fleet is reported to be divided into two parts. One of these under the Chevalier Pol is for the Mediterranean; the remainder under Boffort is said to have entered the Channel. This decision gives rise to the belief that there is some understanding with England, without which the French would not have ventured to come into the Channel.
The Ambassador Sandovich has recently received a despatch from his king, brought by a sloop (balandra) which has put in at Cadiz. The affair of Portugal has been entrusted to Caracena. A father of the Court is to act as go between from one side to the other. The first efforts will be devoted to the truce, and I have even been told that he has powers to raise the question of peace if the truce is absolutely repudiated.
Madrid, the 16th July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
210. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The government of England is in a state of indecision and since the attack of the Dutch inside the Thames it vacillates over the steps to take. The people cry out against the Lord Chancellor Hyde. The king does not venture by himself to decide upon peace or to continue the war. He has, accordingly, announced the convocation of parliament for the 20th inst. in order that decisions may be taken by its advice and that they may be supported by the voice of the leading men of the kingdom, with less peril to himself.
Baron Isola writes to Brussels that from the meeting of parliament he hopes to reap considerable advantages for the affairs of Flanders. There is no doubt that while the king, for several respects, is bound to be on good terms with them here, parliament is by nature very unsympathetic to this nation. If necessity and the tight grip in which they are held by the Dutch, who are still on the top of them, can abate their pride and reduce them to peace, they may easily come to open declarations, as they increasingly dislike the progress of the Most Christian in Flanders.
Here they do not cease from their business with Lord Germen, to win him over to their side. Before the incident recorded a proposal was made to him from this side to grant them the coast fortresses if they would join in with them for the enterprise of Flanders, and two millions in cash, with the object of redeeming them afterwards, as was done a few years ago with Dunkirk; but now the French see that England is more deeply committed against the Dutch, they are moderating their proposals to some extent.
The Swedes still continue impassive. Every one is watching them and it is impossible to form any well founded idea of their objects. There are some who believe that they are waiting for the peace between England and Holland so that they may then turn against Denmark with the support of the former. They have pretensions upon the country of Delmenhorst, which after the death of the duke of Oldeburgh devolved partly upon the king of Denmark, partly on the duke of Holstein and partly on the prince of Anhalt.
The Dutch continue to garrison their fortresses on the frontiers of Flanders and Brabant and to provide them against every eventuality. In a short time they will have a good corps d'armée to take the field, as they know full well how exposed the fortresses are without the assistance of such a force.
Compiegne, the 18th July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
211. Caterin Belegno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Caracena in a few days has sent three couriers, who suggest the outlines of his negotiations with the Portuguese. The money received from the envoy of Braganza at Paris (fn. 3) in virtue of the alliance is a chain to bind more strongly the interests of both parties. The Ambassador Sandovich no longer has any hand in this affair. Here they believe that they are making things easier by negotiating directly; but the undertaking will be a very arduous one until the parties concur in desiring the same end.
Madrid, the 23rd July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
212. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Swedish mediators have done their very utmost to bring the deputies together again for the peace and to prevent the the congress from dissolving. The English had withdrawn under colour of avoiding the plague, but rather out of anger at what the Dutch had done against their country in the River Thames. However, the strong representations of the said mediators for the meeting together with the urgent necessity and difficulties of England have constrained the ambassadors to agree and to renew the conferences for peace. The business was resumed with solicitude, the most difficult points discussed, and at length, praised be Heaven, agreements were reached between the deputies. On the 10th of this month the articles were drawn out and the parties convened. However, the English ambassadors declare that they have exceeded their powers on two points. One is about 100,000 crowns which the king of Denmark owes to some English merchants dwelling at Hamburg; the other with regard to the time when the mutual hostilities shall cease. Accordingly the congress came to the decision to despatch the Ambassador Coventri to England to receive the assent of the king there to everything. Fifteen days' grace was given to him for bringing back the final decision or whether they intend to continue the war with the utmost rigour. He is expected back to-day or to-morrow, and every one is hoping for the full concurrence of that monarch.
The Dutch fleet which still continues to cruise in the river of London prevents the trade of that city. It let itself be seen at Gravesend and keeps the country in great distress and the people in consternation. In the present state of affairs the Court is fearful of some revolt among them and they see no better means of providing against this than peace.
The Dutch who were universally believed to be greatly reduced in strength by the naval war, joined with one on land, are now forcing every one to recognise and confess their vigorous and energetic strength. They are keeping more than 120 ships at sea, all well provided. On land they have a powerful army, which they are increasing daily, while they have abundance of gold and troops. The peace for them is glorious because they show themselves at the height of their power for continuing the war, and the articles set out in the treaty of peace are entirely satisfactory and honourable for them. The English, battered by so many misfortunes, in the plague, battles and fires, surrounded by so many enemies, have displayed their inflexible quality and unparalleled high spirit and steadfastness, but their naval forces are greatly diminished and their internal difficulties increased. If they do not concur in the peace it will certainly show great blindness in them and will also be a fatal disaster for Christendom.
These two great powers, with their hands free, will be able to control and direct the affairs of Europe and to moderate the excesses of every one else. It would not be difficult for either of them to succour the most serene republic, the Dutch in particular being in possession of a quantity of ships, greatly beyond the requirements of their ordinary services. It is quite true that for three months the Dutch wish their fleet to continue to cruise at sea, notwithstanding any adjustment or composition. A large squadron of their navy fell in with eight ships of Ostend which had taken troops on board in England, destined for the succour of Flanders. They were stopped, but after they had shown the passports of Spain, they were allowed to proceed freely. This cannot be agreeable to this side and possibly complaint will be made about it. (fn. 4)
Seventeen great merchantmen of the East Indies were expected in Holland with the richest cargo that has ever been brought. The Vice-Admiral Gent has gone out to meet them with eighteen ships, two frigates and a like number of fireships, to secure their passage.
The treaty on naval matters, about which the Swedes have cavilled a great deal, has at last been signed by the parties and concluded. Some other difficulties between Holland and Sweden were under examination to get everything settled to the satisfaction of the parties. It is hoped that they will reach the conclusion by next week. The progress of the French in Flanders will make the Dutch easy about everything.
Paris, the 26th July, 1667.
Postscript: A courier has at this moment arrived for the queen of England with the news that the king of England has approved of the articles of the peace and signed the treaty.
[Italian.]
July 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
213. Caterin Belegno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The reduplicated victories obtained by the arms of Holland completely upset the plans which were under consideration on this side. In the light of all that is now happening the alliance with the British king requires fresh consideration. The attacks made by Holland do not meet with approval. They consider them ill timed; alike dangerous for their own safety and favourable to the glories of the Most Christian. The ambassador here in Madrid celebrated the victories and the success of his Provinces with illuminations and other demonstrations. The earl of Sciandovich, on the other hand, endeavours to remove the impression created of a very great injury; but this does not suffice to cover the shame of the first incident.
The person who was sent secretly by sea to London with the articles of the peace signed here by the ambassador has returned this week. He reports that in the English Channel his ship was visited by four French ones. He thought it advisable to throw the royal despatches into the sea. After this he was carried by the wind to Ostend and subsequently he landed at London. There he imparted to the count of Molina what had happened to him and told him of the orders he brought. The ambassador writes that he had communicated everything to the British king, but that the confirmation of the treaty remains in suspense until the arrival of the duplicates which have been sent by Cadiz.
The same Molina has obtained a levy of 4000 English for the service of Flanders. Many of them are ready and they are already beginning to cross to Ostend.
Madrid, the 30th July, 1667.
[Italian.]
July 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
214. Antonio Maria Vincenti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
According to the talk here peace has been concluded between the English and Holland. The English Resident has indeed told me that some dispute having arisen about a certain sum of money which the States were to pay to his Britannic Majesty, Don Stefano di Gamara offered to bear half the cost in the name of the Catholic, provided that the peace should be concluded.
Florence, the 30th July, 1667.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 It was Cornelis de Wit, brother, not son, of John. He was present with the fleet as the representative of the States General and nominally in chief command. Le Clerc: Hist. des Provinces Unies, Vol. iii, pp. 193–4. Aitzema: Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. vi, p. 108.
2 The fort at Sheerness was taken on the 10th. The boom was forced on the 11th by Capt. Jean van Braakel, and the ships Matthias, Charles V, and Fort de Hooningen burned, the last two former Dutch prizes. On the 13th the Loyal London, Royal Oak, and Royal James were burned and the Royal Charles carried off. Le Clerc: Hist. des Provinces Unies, Vol. iii, pp. 195–6.
3 Francesco Ferreira Rebello.
4 “Yesterday arrived here the convoy, etc., from England with soldiers, who passed through the Holland fleet and were commanded on board some of them, whom they sailed with as far as the buoy on the Nore.” Ben Glanvile from Ostend on the 10th July, n.S. P.R.O. S.P. Flanders, Vol. xxxvi. Estrades did remonstrate very strongly to de Witt, and was told that if the French fleet had been there, they might have stopped it: but the States had no right to do so as they were not at war with Spain. Negotiations d'Estrades, Vol. v, p. 449.


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