Venice
March 1671

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1939

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23-31

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'Venice: March 1671', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 37: 1671-1672 (1939), pp. 23-31. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90306 Date accessed: 26 October 2014.


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March 1671

March 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
26. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 6th and 13th February. Approval of what he has done about trade. The Senate will be glad to learn what advantages and profits may be obtained from that side for the benefit of their subjects and as a return for the advantages that are accorded at Venice to the English nation. He is to advise the Senate of all that he considers worthy of their notice for the promotion of the trade of the mart of Venice.
Ayes, 112. Noes, 0. Neutral, 4.
[Italian.]
March 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
27. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week I wrote of the suspicions and resolves of England. I have since urged a person of great credit at Court to get more definite information through confidential intercourse with the ministers. As he and all his family have always professed great regard for the republic he was glad to be able to reveal the secret to me. It confirms what I have often intimated, that this Court is less allied with France than is supposed from appearances, and no secret treaty exists, as England is aware of the advantage of enjoying quiet by maintaining the alliance. To retain control over the powers of which it is composed she did not rush into pledges with them, suspecting that, being considered colleagues in danger, they would not be deemed the champions of the common weal and of liberty. If Sweden stands fast and Holland resists the temptations and forces of the Most Christian king, then measures will be taken, if necessary; but if any of the parties concerned change their colours and disturb the conditions of the peace, England can always be in time to enlist herself on one side or the other and by not placing too much trust in either, risk nothing. This is the foundation on which all the negotiations turn.
I may add that there is a strong suspicion that all the preparations of the Most Christian, which from so many indications seem directed against Holland, relate to other undertakings, it being his custom to make countermarches, and on principle he disapproves of showing himself in arms against a power so long before attacking it.
Here, whether from fear or as a precaution, they are hastening their preparations. It is said, indeed, that they are apprehensive of landings in Ireland. But I do not have this on good authority, only from the Count of Molina, who when enlarging on the reserve of the king here, confided to me the existence of such a well founded dread.
In the mean time the suspicion of France, thus generated by him, touches and alarms this sea girt country and even more the powers bordering on France, and if the king had money, the levies would be set forward. But the matter is too delicate and two days ago the benevolence nearly fell to the ground. The Lower House having sent up to the Lords the bill for the
800,000l. it was bitterly opposed by two peers. One of them said that the country was impoverished by the too great facility of the House of Commons. They were induced to grant money on worse terms than if England were a conquered country. The king squandered sums which were all indiscreetly gathered by the ministers, and one third at least of the amount proposed should be deducted. (fn. 1) The other peer said that according to the statutes of the realm the king should withdraw from the assembly when his own affairs were discussed; and it behoved his Majesty discreetly to permit a sharp debate to be held in his presence on questions of order and desert. For the nonce it was decided to vote the entire sum offered by the Commons.
On the morrow, when the reading of the bill began, the same peer raised an objection to the grant itself being in order, as made to the king in the name of the Commons, claiming that the ancient style of joining with them the lords spiritual and temporal should be revived. This being supported, he wished the question to be put to the vote. This risk was encouraged by the king's friends, who saw that a great number of artless peers and some malicious ones were pledged to the matter, and foreseeing that the Commons would ultimately insist on maintaining a privilege enjoyed from the time of King James until now, and would again refuse the grant. They therefore had recourse to a half measure, namely that the first paragraph should be decided after the other
108 clauses of which the bill is composed. In the mean time there will be no lack of means for removing this extreme difficulty, which would have been fatal to the affair if the privileges of the two Houses had been mixed up in it.
These are the fruits of the seed sown or engrafted during the civil wars. It is amazing with what freedom they talk here of a change of government, mens minds being still restless, owing to the late changes. The truth is that the royal authority has strengthened itself and indeed, once the money is obtained, his Majesty is advised not to recall the Houses for a long time, in order to repress them and to make use of all other means to obtain supply. Before the adjournment I may be able to report more exactly on these principles.
Out of his own revenues the king has assigned
20,000l.l. a year for nine years to the prince of Orange in payment of the 190,000l.due from Charles I to his Highness's father. (fn. 2) It is not known whether the matter will be brought before parliament again or whether his Majesty will risk other refusals.
In the matter of religion the House of Commons is violent against the Catholics and drew up a petition to the king for the enforcement of the sanguinary penal laws; but the bill was miraculously thrown out by the Lords, though there is no certainty that it will not again be brought forward after the settlement of the money grant. (fn. 3) In that case, however, the king will have no desire to persecute his loyal subjects, for such the Catholics are, in order to gratify the two Houses, from whom he will have already obtained what he wants.

London, the 6th March, 1671.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
28. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
While awaiting the emperor's replies the Ambassador Molina is seeking favour with the Court more than ever, endeavouring to smoothe away the difficulties raised against the inclusion of his imperial Majesty in the alliance. He maintains that it is desirable to succour him, as otherwise France would attack the allies one by one, seeing that they do not defend each other. The Count might not be so anxious about the matter were it not that all parties attribute the rebuff to his mismanagement and blame him for having so readily presented the emperor's letter before he was sure of the affair. Yet he does not gain ground, although he rails about a report of surprises projected by the French in Flanders by means of secret understandings, on the authority of statements made by several prisoners.
M. Colbert makes no reply, being intent on maintaining the confidential relations with this Court, although he says he hopes soon to be relieved of this embassy. He does not interfere either in the proceedings of parliament, his aim being to give the king satisfaction; but he attends to the debates, that France may be acquainted with the state of the resources of this crown.
The House of Lords, after a conference with the Commons, has passed many of the clauses in the first bill for 800,000l. and removed several difficulties, so there will be no lack of expedients for disposing of the remainder, for time, especially in England, conquers the strongest opposition.
In the mean time the House of Commons, apportioning the money for the king's debts, has assigned two funds for that purpose, the one to be derived from new duties, the other from a tax on law suits, the money to be paid into the exchequer by instalments, within a certain limited period. For this purpose two bills will be passed, because the sum is raised in various ways, so the sittings must be numerous and protracted.
Nothing has yet been said about increasing the currant duty, but as the sum required has not yet been completed I cannot feel sure about it. In the mean time ten members of the Levant Company have been to see me, representing that they hoped to obtain favour by appealing at once to the Senate rather than by presenting memorials to the king. They say that the Company has been cast by the magistracy of the Cinque Savii and subsequently by the Proveditore General Bernardo in a law suit against one Carob, a Jew. On the first occasion judgment was passed by default, at Venice, and on the second it was given at Zante against William Pendarvis, who has no share in the Company and is not a dependent. As Pendarvis has obtained suspension of the sentence for eight months, the Company asks for time to prove the invalidity of Carob's claim. I forward their statement (fn. 4) and urged them not to lose time in presenting their claims at Venice. I do not know what they will do, but at most they will ask Lord Arlington for a letter to the resident, who will then appear in the Collegio. If they should receive any favour I will get them to impart it to the Privy Council.
As the duchess of York on Sunday last received congratulations on her safe delivery, I offered mine in the name of your Excellencies, and they were very graciously received; but subsequently her Highness had a dangerous fit of the falling sickness and her son, the duke of Cambridge, is in a very bad state.
Acknowledges the ducali of the 4th February.
London, the 13th March, 1671.
[Italian.]
Bibl. di
S. Marco,
cl. vii,
Cod, mdclxx.
28a. Extract form the book of sentences of Antonio Bernardo, Proveditor General da Mar on the case of Carob and Pendarvis. The case is annulled and the Jew is referred to Genoa, which is the proper place for him to seek satisfaction.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
29. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After a sharp debate in the Upper House and a long conference with the Commons the difficulties of the bill for 800,000l. were smoothed, both Houses approving it, and the king gave his assent to it and six others, on public matters. The king, having assembled all the peers of the realm, such was his authority that the majority of the good ones sufficed to destroy the proposed obstacle. The Commons, having refused to include the Lords in the offer of the money grant, the latter gave way at once, the agitators perceiving that it was impossible to thwart the matter any more. The bane persists in the minority and the majority allows itself to be led, but, as an antidote, the king checks the opposition of the few who disapprove of his government by means of the many who are attached to him and satisfied with the present rule, for whatever may be devised or agreed to by 25 or 30 would never enter into the heads of 50 or 100.
So far the king's wishes have been realised without including an act for a new duty on beer, and as the two bills for the annual payment of 400,000l. or more until the extinction of the king's debts will be waited for, his Majesty is asking the two Houses to pass the beer bill in the course of the present month, according to the old style. But the Commons, resenting the failure of their projects against the Catholics, are marking time and to day they held a long conference. I do not yet know the result or if the House of Lords, to avoid the delay of the fresh supply, will accede to the demand for the enforcement of the penal laws.
The funds being assigned and the exaction of the money beginning, the whole country is on the watch to see how quickly the king will fit out the fleet, which they begin to think necessary for the general safety. Lord Arlington told me that before the passing of the bill every one said that the fleet was superfluous, and they are now suspicious about the employment of the money and insist on its being expended on the navy. The king, in his prudence, would certainly anticipate this and observe the proceedings of the Most Christian in Flanders.
The Spanish ambassador assured me positively that the king of France was coming to the conquered territories and showed me a letter from the Governor Monterey informing him of the arrival of an envoy at Brussels, asking passage for his Majesty. He did not read to me the rest of the cipher, but added that the trial of the French prisoners was not yet completed, all the evidence being kept very secret by the governor. (fn. 5)
Opinion varies here as to the truth of the suspicions. Some write to me from Flanders that it is considered a forgery. For the rest Molina continues to remonstrate against the great reserve of this crown, but he receives no answer, indeed some tell me that he has been advised not to insist further until the arrival of the emperor's answer.
In the mean time the government here is watching all the projects of the king of France and has desired the ambassador in Paris to give notice of everything, fresh suspicions having arisen, although without cause, of the surprises mentioned in my letter of the 6th.
The duchess of York has recovered and the duke of Cambridge is no worse, which is of great consequence to the Court, as he is the sole direct heir to the throne.
London, the 20th March, 1671.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Zante.
Venetian
Archives.
30. Ottavian Pisani, Venetian Proveditore at Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
Acknowledges receipt of the ducali of the 24th January with orders to allow the English ships Leghorn Merchant and Scipio which have come to lade currants, to do so although they are without the exemption from the 5 per cent. duty given them by the Five Savii alla Mercanzia. Has transmitted the same to the Proveditore General Bernardo, who has replied that he has already despatched them. Will observe punctually the orders to give ships from the West the best treatment.
Zante, the 20th March, 1671, new style.
[Italian.]
March 21.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Esposizioni,
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
31. The resident of England paid a visit to me, Piero Mocenigo, and I received him with the previous consent of the Savii. He expressed his devotion to the interests of the republic. In our conversation he spoke of two matters which seem worthy of the notice of your Excellencies. He pointed out that the residents of crowned heads had no distinction from those of dukes. He was thinking of asking the Senate to consider this. He showed me letters of the Secretary of State on the subject, telling him that if he had different treatment from that given to the residents of France and Spain, he should complain, but if not, it might be well to obtain some differentiation by adroitness. I told him at once that the institutions of the republic avoided innovations. The position had been accepted by all the residents of crowned heads for centuries. His prudence should advise him against changes, as the resident of the emperor accepted the use and all the residents of France and.Spain had never objected to the practice of the republic. He enjoyed great distinction as the resident of the king of Great Britain.
He seemed satisfied and said that in the Collegio he did not claim to sit or have any other pre-eminence, hut only to be allowed to send his secretary to the Collegio to appoint a visit, the day before or that he might be accompanied somewhat further by a secretary on leaving the Collegio. I assured him of the esteem of your Excellencies and that the practice was the same with the residents of France and Spain.
The other matter was about the currants of Zante and Cephalonia. He said he considered this trade important to both nations, and so he was considering ways to facilitate it for England and to render it more profitable to the republic. He proposed to advise the king to have a company formed of the merchants who trade at the islands, who could send a deputy to make the purchase and so avoid the competition of many buyers, so that the price might be fixed in London every year by ministers of the treasury. I made no comments, not knowing what would be really to the advantage of your Excellencies, and turned the conversation to the trade in salt fish, telling him that the trade in currants and that in salt fish being reciprocal between the two states, they might be considered together, with the object of bringing to Venice all the salt fish exported from England for Italy. He said he would like to be the means of establishing some treaty of marine with your Excellencies, and he would do his part to render the correspondence more stable. I report all this for the consideration of your Excellencies.
[Italian.]
March 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
32. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I wrote last week that the two Houses held a conference together about the Catholics and the Lords were ready to comply with the demands of the Commons provided the king was supplied with money and the session closed. This much was arranged at the conference last Friday. On the following Monday in the great hall of Whitehall, both Houses strongly urged the king to enforce the penal laws against the Catholics and sectaries. The king said he was disposed to consent, but he should make exceptions in favour of those who did good service to the king, his father, and himself during the late troubles. The Commons, not satisfied with this, insisted that the Lords should pass an act setting up fresh laws against the Papists; but the peers resist such proposals, as being too clamorous, with no urgent need.
The members continue to discuss the money grant and halt at every stage because, as it is a question of burdening trade, there is no lack of scruples and considerations to preserve so precious an asset which, if once mismanaged, would be recovered with difficulty and might be lost for ever. Your Serenity will understand, however, that the will of the king prevails and regulates everything, removing the causes of disturbance and by his daily gaining over to his own side some member of the opposition, once for all, the agitations of the government will come to an end.
The king issues commissions daily for fitting out the fleet, and its officers lately held a long conference by his order. But I believe they merely discussed the ways and means for fitting it to put to sea. So far the king has disbursed no money for this purpose. In anticipation of the money grant some loans have been contracted, the most advantageous at the rate of 8 and 9 per cent., despite speedy repayment and the soundness of the security.
The Spanish ambassador, whom I met two days ago, is attentive to all this. His usual heat has somewhat cooled. He told me that he had written to Spain and was constantly repeating to Flanders and Holland that after all no one could blame England for her reserve, as it guarded her against the open mistrust of France. Once this was declared she might not only foresee a rupture with the Most Christian but also apprehend the loss of the esteem which she enjoyed with her allies, and leave them all to take their own measures.
Nearly the same arguments were heard by me from Lord Arlington, who made a speech to that effect. He then acquainted me with an accident which took place at Zante. Because of a cannon shot which killed three rowers on board the galley of the Proveditore General Bernardo, an English gunner was taken out of a king's ship and hanged on the spot, without any trial, when reparation would have been made in England on the least demand. He made other remarks on the accident itself, which was unpremeditated, and the innocence of the gunner. I replied that I hoped he was speaking thus merely in the course of conversation, as I felt sure he must bear in mind the circumstances of the case, the vicinity to the general and the danger to others. One guilty man might well suffer death for three innocent victims and as an example, which, unless made instantly would have produced no effect. Arlington was not appeased at once, considering that an offence had been offered to his king through the claim enforced against a ship under his flag; but after showing that England herself had acted in like manner I said no more, to avoid irritating him. He muttered that here in London the captain said he had offered to pay the price of the dead slaves. I retorted that this proved not only that the captain was aware of the wrong done but also that an example was necessary to show that atonement for such an act could not be made by a mere fine. Arlington was convinced chiefly by this argument and told me that he would not allow the news to reach the kings ears, and I was not to write anything more about it because his Majesty as yet knew nothing of the matter. I have nevertheless thought fit to report it and as instructed by the ducali of the 5th inst. I will send the opinion of the queen's secretary about the reply to the credentials, as well as the result of my application to the duke of York's secretary.
London, the 27th March, 1671.
[Italian.]
Attached.
Cl. vii,
Cod. mdclxx,
Bibl. s. Marco.
Venice.
Antonio Bernardo, Venetian Proveditore General, to Girolamo Alberti.
I have to report a fatal accident which happened yesterday morning when I was approaching these shores. The ship of which the bearer is captain was about to cast off for Venice with a cargo of currants. When passing close to me it fired some shots for the salute. One of these, with ball, struck and killed three of the rowers at a time when I was only a few inches off and might have shared the same fate if the strength and thickness of the main cable had not stayed the force of the blow. The death of these unlucky wights, especially upon the quarter deck in such close proximity to the commander in chief himself, made it necessary for me to punish the guilty gunner with death. This was recognised as reasonable by the captain, who possibly might have feared worse.
I have instructions from the Senate to remove some hindrance against merchants of your parts committed by ministers and representatives of these islands as represented by the ambassador of England. I will certainly do my very utmost on behalf of so deserving a nation. In the mean time I have urged the merchants themselves, who are here, to set forth their grievances. They have told me in reply that they will join with those of Zante and will present their requests together. There will be nothing lacking on my part to make them realise the friendly disposition of the most serene republic.
Argostoli, the 6th October, 1670.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 This refers to the speech of John, lord Lucas of Shenfield, made on 22 Feb., o.s. It was made in the king's presence. See Salvetti Antelminelli, on March 6, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 T, f. 145. The speech, from a pamphlet issued later, is printed in Cobbett: Parliamentary History, Vol. iv, 473–6. There are copies at the Public Record Office, S.P. Dom. Car. II, 287, Nos. 238, 239.
2 By warrant dated 6 February the sum of 180,000l. was to be paid to Orange in respect of grants made to him dating from July 1664. It was to be paid out of the customs revenue at the rate of 40,000l. a year. Cal. of Treasury Books Vol. iii pp. 783–4. The details by which the gross total is made up, are given.
3 The Commons voted an address to the king on the subject of the growth of popery, and on 21st asked the Lords to join them in presenting it. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. ix, p. 205. The Lords did not refuse but the address became the subject of conferences between the two houses.
4 The memorial drawn up by the Company is in their Court Book under the entry of the meeting held 23 Feb., o.s. S.P. Foreign, Archives, Vol. cliii, f. 89. It was decided on the 28th to ask for the king's letters to Venice. Ibid., f. 90d.
5 On Friday 27 Feb. the governor Monterey had the gates of Brussels shut and strict search made in the town. Five or six Frenchmen were arrested, including M. de Garcy and M. Montigny. They were said to be accused of holding a correspondence with France. A. Bulstrode on 2 March. S.P. Flanders, Vol. xxxix.