Venice
September 1671

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1939

Pages

102-109

Annotate

Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Venice: September 1671', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 37: 1671-1672 (1939), pp. 102-109. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90314 Date accessed: 03 September 2014.


Highlight

(Min 3 characters)

September 1671

Sept. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
98. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king continues to amuse himself with field sports in the neighbourhood until able, later in the season, to make the Norfolk journey, as arranged, and then go back to Newmarket in October. It seems that he will be accompanied by the queen.
The encounter of the yacht with the Dutch squadron does not produce further embarrassments. Borel does his best to divert them, although of yore Holland acrimoniously insisted on the liberty of the sea. Here they are disposed to accept any excuse provided the precedent does not degenerate into an abuse.
The French ambassador has been watching all these incidents, lest they produce some sudden change in the alliance. But now that calm seems to be restored, he told me that he should merely see how far England would pledge herself owing to the fresh importunity of Holland and the insinuations of Spain, after the protestations made by these powers all over Europe that they would sacrifice themselves for the general peace.
Meanwhile the Ambassador Montagu departed for France last Sunday, and he has stricter injunctions than ever to cultivate the best possible understanding, the English being aware of the necessity of preventing Holland from anticipating them. At this very moment it is noticed that the United Provinces are delaying their threatened prohibition of French wines, the apparent reasons being that many of the Provinces are unwilling to lose so advantageous a trade, and that it will be necessary to recall the French and their wines, because the supply of the latter throughout the States will only last a year, and the exorbitant duties levied by the princes on the Rhine and Meuse would prevent the importation of Rhenish wines. These considerations which to some extent justify Holland's caution towards France in the eyes of England, will render the negotiations of Grotius at Paris difficult, and here they are looking for events which may render the United Provinces even more averse from arrangements with that crown.
After many contradictory advices from Guinea the last seem to be corroborated, though not for certain, and it is hoped they may prove false. The letters from Fredericksburg state that the Englishman Reavis, being offended with Thomas Parson, commander of Cape Cors, allied himself with the Moors and besieged the fortress, which he took and sacked. (fn. 1) Here in London they not only regret the loss but fear even greater mischief, as the rebel is in arms and in repute, at the head of several thousand Moors.
From Tangier there is news which inspires alarm, Tafiletto having made his appearance with 60,000 men and skirmished with some troops which approached him, the enemy displaying thorough military discipline.
Confirmation is awaited from Vice Admiral Spragh of the reported victory over the Algerines. As the merchants here circulate the news, his Majesty, to show his satisfaction, has presented the commander with a large service of plate. (fn. 2) I do not know whether any fresh instructions have been sent to him about negotiations for peace.
The post of resident at Florence is about to be given to Sir [Thomas] Cluterbach, consul at Leghorn, where he will be replaced by Mr. Skinner, Sir [John] Finch having returned to London, expecting generous remuneration from the king for his long service.
Acknowledges ducali of the 8th and 14th August.
London, the 4th September, 1671.
[Italian.]
Sept. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
99. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Approval of his action about the Resident Dorinton. But as that individual will probably try to justify himself he is to keep on the look out to find out what representations Dorinton makes and what instructions he receives, forwarding the information to Venice.
Ayes, 127. Noes, 3. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Sept. 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
100. Francesco Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
An incident of considerable importance reached this Court these last days from English waters, which gives rise to much comment. A ship was crossing the strait of the British sea to fetch the Ambassador Temple in Holland and bring him back to England. (fn. 3) The captain of this vessel had received strict orders from the duke of York that if he fell in with any of the naval forces of the States he was to make them dip their flags. In the present instance the vessel was sighted by Dutch craft in the Channel and was saluted with seven guns. To this the English vessel only replied with five. The captain also insisted, by sending a skiff, that they should show other signs of respect and that they must dip their flags. The commander of the Dutch squadron begged to be excused giving his reasons and adding that he could not act in such a way without receiving definite orders from his masters. Moreover he was in command of a squadron which did not acknowledge any obligation to render this honour to a solitary vessel. When all this was reported at the Court of London it gave occasion for the duke to renew his orders to the captain for the return journey and to oblige the admiral of Holland to perform this act of respect. So when he came back he attempted this by firing a gun against some ship. The Dutch resisted this without being intimidated by the protests of the English captain, who assured them that he would inform his government of their obstinacy. The incident affords material for much discussion, in which sides are taken in accordance with sympathies and inclination. Those who love peace are in dread of seeing a renewal of troubles in the event of a fresh encounter.
Paris, the 9th September, 1671.
[Italian.]
Sept. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives
101. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As the period for the progress is approaching the king, for the convenience of the persons of quality who are preparing to receive their Majesties in their houses, has named the 25th inst. as the day of departure from London, the foreign ministers being on the move that they also may have some share in these amusements.
During the last few days the affair of the flag has been discussed. Borel says that the last treaty of Breda is inconclusive and quotes precedents; but as times change and as the United Provinces have gained strength and repute, England ought not to stand upon ancient examples from the time when the States had scarcely emerged from their troubles. Yet he asserts that Van Ghent protested to the captain of the yacht that he had saluted the flag. Yesterday, however, the Spanish ambassador declared to me that another yacht had been sent to exact from the Dutch the mark of respect to which England lays claim, and thus decide the whole dispute.
As I was with the Count of Molina at the moment when he received letters from Flanders, he communicated many advices to me. The most important are that, encouraged by the governor, priests and friars are working at the fortifications of Brussels; that Brabant has advanced the 700,000 florins for the pay of the troops, and that Mons would have fallen into the hands of the French by assault and by a plot, only now discovered, had not the Spanish garrison entered the place. He added that in Flanders they had no moral certainty of peace. I have received confirmation of these suspicions and further that not only do the French cavalry pursue deserters to the very walls of towns belonging to the Catholic, but after the Spaniards had made many civil protestations, before suppressing a custom house office on the territory of Ypres, the French reestablished it, adding a sort of fortress, 1500 soldiers going to the spot for the purpose. (fn. 4) Such proceedings utterly alienate Spanish subjects, who are comforted not less by the vigilance than by the sage policy of the Governor Monterey. Avoiding the scandal now caused by the desertion of the French soldiery, on account of prolonged labour, he has contrived, with very little extra pay to employ monks and friars on the bastions at Brussels, gently leading them from the choir to the public service, their zeal for which is all the remuneration they receive.
I have also received a private advice of great importance. This afternoon Ognate, the late resident of Spain, went to Lord Arlington and told him of the discovery of a project formed by the Most Christian to return to attack the Low Countries, breaking the peace and the promise made to the king here, on the sole basis of which the government here invariably assured Spain and Holland that protests and pledges on the part of the alliance and preventive armaments were unnecessary because the Most Christian would neither violate the boundaries nor the agreement. Now to the general surprise this would happen and a speedy remedy was necessary.
Astonished at the news Arlington said briefly that he could not credit this volte face. If the French broke faith, they would have to decide to treat with them no longer. Ognate should encourage the governor to defend himself and if such a rupture of the peace should follow he was to write positively to Monterey to rest assured that England would wage war on the Most Christian, and he, Arlington, guaranteed this.
With this Ognate departed quite satisfied, indeed anxious for the rupture in order to commit England to the war from which she has hitherto been so averse. But as Lord Arlington is too prudent to take so great a responsibility which in three days will create an immense sensation in the whole of the north of Europe, I venture to say that he will certainly have the means of retreat. Short of positive necessity and unless the reputation of the country is at stake England will not proceed to hostilities, as the Spaniards imagine; but next week the whole will be better known.
London, the 11th September, 1671.
[Italian.]
Sept. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
102. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king holds to his decision to leave London on the 25th. In order not to add to the mass of business for transaction on his return, frequent councils are held as well as public conferences, for the satisfaction of the people and government business.
After careful scrutiny of Ognate's communication of last Friday, I am told that, being compared with information received direct, they concluded that it was mere jealousy, though Monterey has reason to be apprehensive of some move; that the Most Christian does not mean to leave his neighbours in quiet and possibly has other enterprises in view; but this is not sufficiently alarming to compel England to draw the sword. They would gain time and observe the course of events more nearly, before taking further steps.
If the government continues this policy I shall not have been wrong in stating that Arlington would not have gone so far without preparing a retreat for himself. The Spaniards, on the other hand, will not reap the great profit which they had anticipated; as it matters little for England to threaten France unless she arms and acts in earnest, as the Spaniards and Dutch desire. The latter are impatient of their present stress and eager for the great successes they anticipate in the war, through the union of the allies.
The French ambassador has been acquainted with all this, and so far has not shown any resentment, quite the contrary. By intelligence from America, from the island of Nieve, it is believed that Sir [Charles] Wheeler has at length obtained possession of the island of St. Christopher, restored by the Most Christian in accordance with the last peace. That he has garrisoned the fortress and planted cannon, hoisting the flag. All this has been announced by the French ambassador to prove the true intention of his king to have a good understanding with this crown. But as all the powers have sent ambassadors to Sweden and as England wishes to keep her firm in her present determination, Coventry departed last Monday on his embassy to that Court with ample instructions to encourage it, not only by assurances of the good faith of England but also of the advantages which Sweden may promise herself by continuing in the alliance.
The Spaniards, with great punctuality have paid the last instalment of the subsidy, the Swedish agents having received the money on the exchange at Amsterdam, and in London they await the arrival of the Ambassador Spaar to propound the arbitration.
Since the robbery of the gentleman coming from Madrid to Count Molina, he no longer talks of going to Paris. Having partly refurnished his house he told me he hoped he would no longer be troubled with that embassy, as it was extremely desirable that he should not find himself there at so perilous a crisis. Some maintain that he declines to go without an anticipation of his salary, for the heavy cost of his outfit, but perhaps, foreseeing the approach of hostilities, he is glad of the chance not to leave here before the arrival of his successor. He would gladly have intervened in the dispute between the English and Dutch about the flag, but does not wish to give importance to the matter by the mediation of a great power. It is generally supposed that the question will soon be settled to the satisfaction of both parties.
Subsequent advices from Guinea confirm what I wrote about the rebel Reeves. He has since been killed at the head of the Moors and the alarm has subsided. Persons are being sent from hence to superintend affairs there which are of importance, particularly for the Royal African Company of England.
London, the 18th September, 1671.
[Italian.]
Sept. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
103. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spaniards having hastened to publish Arlington's declaration in the event of a sudden French attack in Flanders, England has gained great repute with the allies, and the suspicion of her having cooled or at least of being wedded to her own quiet, if not gained by France, is now at an end. With this accession of credit the government advances its negotiations prosperously, but attends always to the real designs of the Most Christian, the Ambassador Montagu not yet having written positively for what purpose that king is arming, and the levies being expedited by means of ready money. The Governor Monterey does not lose the opportunity and urging the Flemings, now so well disposed, he demands two millions of florins from Flanders and 1,200,000 from Brussels and its territory. He still continues the fortifications, patiently tolerating the fortress erected by the French between Ypres and Varnethon. But 46 of the 50 men left there to garrison it by Marshal d'Humières, made their escape to Ypres.
While all these preparations are destroying the semblance of peace, important news has been received from Spain of the attempt made by twelve French ships against the town of Valdivia in Chile. Ten foundered in a storm, one was sunk by the Spanish guns and the last taken, with other particulars. This intelligence causes surprise and the duration of peace is doubted more than ever. The Spaniards have represented the whole to the English government, availing themselves of every opportunity to draw England from her policy and induce her to take the field.
The report and belief of war next year is so strong that the new farmers of the customs, afraid of losing by the stagnation of trade, have petitioned the king for a reduction of the price paid by them. This being granted, they then laid claim to withold as security a part of the cash payment which they had to make before taking up their charge. Provoked by the persistence of their demands, the king cancelled their contract, which was all ready under the great seal. It seems that he is now inclined to confide the customs to his own officials, and to remedy the extortion and inconvenience inseparable from the farming of duties. (fn. 5)
Although everything by degrees is assuming a warlike aspect, it is observed that the States of Holland have not yet determined on the prohibition of French wines, although all the Provinces have agreed to the measure. As affairs at Cologne tend towards an adjustment, it is remarked that in every direction Holland is withdrawing from engagements which might render her more dependent on the British crown.
Although your Excellencies will have fresher news of events at Tanger and the intention of Tafiletto to besiege Tetuan, I may mention that here they are very glad to learn that Tanger is out of danger, as Sir du Tel, who was to go to Italy to convoy the galleys from Pisa and Genoa for the service of that place, has not yet been provided with funds.
I have the ducali of the 22nd and 29th August, with the gracious allowance for my extraordinary expenditure. In the hope of speedy assistance I am encouraged to accompany all the other foreign ministers into the country, whither the king is going in state, as he wishes them to witness the magnificence of his reception.
London, the 25th September, 1671.
[Italian.]
Sept. 26.
Cinque Savii
alla
Mercanzia.
Risposte.
156.
Venetian
Archives.
104. In the year 1626 the Senate decreed that ships coming from the West to Venice or the Levant Islands with complete cargoes of goods and salt fish should be exempt from the newest impost on cargoes of currants laded at Zante and Cephalonia. The English merchants at Zante have now petitioned your Serenity to grant a like exemption to those ships which, in the well known shortage, bring succour of complete cargoes of wheat from the West to the Levant Islands. They represent that such has been the ancient custom and that the concession was subsequently curtailed on account of the abundance of this most fortunate state. We have been unable to find any such decree and the importance of the duty of 5 ducats per miliare on currants is a matter for your Serenity's consideration as well as the need of the said islands for corn.
Dated in the office on the 26th September, 1671.
Marco Sagredo
Antonio Venier
Antonio Nani Savii.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 See Cal. S.P. Dom., 1671, pp. 354, 416, where the name of the merchant is given as Beaver instead of Reavis.
2 This item seems rather belated. The warrant to provide Spragg with 3000 ozs. of plate is dated 10 July. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1671, p. 377.
3 The yacht was the Merlin, Capt. Thomas Crow. He went to fetch, not Temple, but his wife. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1671, pp. 426, 433. See Beresford: The Godfather of Downing Street, p. 238.
4 The affair of Warneton, described in more detail at a later date.
5 The farmers of the customs for the year 1671 were Lord St. John, Sir Robert Howard, Sir John Bennet, Sir William Bucknall, Sir William Doyley, John Bence, William Robarts, Ralph Bucknall, John Mann and George Blake. On 13 Sept., o.s., they were called upon to make a return of the amounts received by them in the first three years of their term. Almost immediately afterwards, on 26 Sept., a warrant was issued appointing Sir George Downing, Sir William Thompson, Sir William Lowther, William Garraway, Francis Millington and John Upton to be commissioners of the customs. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1671, pp. 407, 505. Calendar of Treasury Books, Vol. iii, pp. 933, 935. According to Colbert he was told by Buckingham, “qu'il importait extremement au roi d'Angleterre d'être bien le maître de ses revenues, en sorte qu'il fût asseuré d'en pouvoir disposer sans aucun obstacle ni retardement, pour l'execution de ce qu'il a promis, et que cependant ceux qui s'etaient rendus adjudicataires de ses principales fermes depuis la dernière seance du parlement, et entre autres Milord St. Jean et Sir Robert Howard, etaiènt fort devancés à l'Espagne, et le roi avait resolu de les retirer de leurs mains.” Colbert to the King, on 21 Sept. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.