Venice
April 1673

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1947

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33-41

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'Venice: April 1673', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 33-41. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90357 Date accessed: 26 July 2014.


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April 1673

April 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
51. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Upper House having amended the bill drawn up against the Catholics by the Commons which contained unseemly provisions against the queen and the duke of York, the latter insisted strongly on their draft (minuta); but after two days and extreme difficulties they withdrew the clause about administering the oath to the queen's household, but retained the part touching the duke of York and excluding all Catholics from civil and military employments, which many are beginning to sell as they despair of retaining them.
This knotty affair being disposed of, they also settled the important money grant by assigning a fund of 1,260,000l. for the war. But I have discovered a great secret, namely that the king has bribed the leaders of the Commons. There is also a series of other notices which I do not yet understand sufficiently to communicate to your Serenity.
The truth is that in the Lower House Lord Candish (fn. 1) sharply accused the treasurer Clifford of his partiality for the Catholics, because he said in the House of Lords that they ought to tear up the bill against the Catholics and that he would suggest to the king the way to get money without parliament. When it was thought that this would kindle a great conflagration in the midst of so much combustible matter, the accusation dropped without further comment, although supported by many, albeit they are not persons of great consequence.
Every one is now at home for next Easter Sunday, parliament having been postponed until October. The members hope to be reassembled. They think that their claims were modest when they were disputing the royal authority and that they gave generously, although thrice the amount would not suffice to pay the royal debts.
In the mean time peace is being negotiated briskly. The following have been appointed as commissioners at Cologne: the earl of Sonderland, ambassador in Paris, Lionel Ginghins and the secretary Joseph Williamson. As none of these is of the highest intellect or credit it is foreseen that the business will be treated in London and indeed there are some who maintain that it is already very well digested. (fn. 2)
London, the 6th April, 1673.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
52. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Has already spent over two years in the service. Asks that a successor may be appointed to relieve him of the discomforts (incommodi), far from mediocre, which he has experienced in maintaining himself in the English Court.
London, the 7th April, 1673.
[Italian.]
April 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
53. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
The Senate acknowledges receipt of his despatches of the 10th and 17th ult. They are sure that matters of such great importance will receive his constant attention and particularly what impulse will be given to their resolutions and armaments by the arrival of Spragh from France, which is expected. He will have received what was sent to him touching the request of the consul Hayles about the consulage as well as the paper presented to the magistracy of the Five Savii alla Mercanzia, with instructions as to what he is to do. They will await his acknowledgment of receipt and what he has done and while confirming what was written to him at the time, they have nothing to add in the matter.
Ayes, 98. Noes, 4. Neutral, 58.
[Italian.]
April 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
54. Francesco Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Question of the peace conference. England has settled on the nomination of her ministers and it is said here, possibly without foundation, that the king of Great Britain has selected individuals for this function who will be apt to follow the wishes of the French plenipotentiaries.
Paris, the 12th April, 1673.
[Italian.]
April 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
55. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
A quantity of loyal subjects murmur in concert with the Catholics against the king's present policy, so clearly displayed, of living from day to day and thinking only of his own ease, as if, after having been so many years on the throne, he had not yet been able to take breath after his past troubles, forgetting that he is no longer an exile, but an absolute king in command of his realms. They say it was a base speech of his Majesty that anything may be done for money and they maintain that if parliament forces him to break his word and ties his hands it only remains to wait for the disgrace of a rebellion in which honest men and their lives and property will be the first sacrifices made to the rage of the agitators. In short all with one accord advocate economy so that by diminishing expenditure his Majesty may no longer be compelled to assemble parliament to control and restrict him within the bounds of a beggarly authority.
These gentlemen are not altogether in the wrong since it is true that the king provides barely for his needs from day to day, after the fashion of a private individual rather than grandly like a sovereign, nor is he ashamed of disputing with his subjects as if they were his equals. Although the revenue is greater than of yore, yet as the expenditure increases proportionately it cannot be expected that the king should be able to pay the cost of the war. The memory of the father of the present duke of Buckingham is recalled. When he was lord high admiral of Charles I and in command of a fleet capable of commanding the sea and worsting the enemy, he doubled the number of ships, burdening the country eternally for their outfit and embarrassing the king by leaving him to persuade the people; whereas until then, the kings of England had been able of themselves to give battle abroad and to command at home.
The fact is that with the king's weakness so evident, many persons have placed themselves in array to embroil matters in parliament, with a view to being purchased by his Majesty for ready money. As a matter of fact over 40,000l. were distributed by his Majesty to stop the proceedings against the Catholics in the House of Commons. The treasurer being left in peace, the disturbances ceased and the money grant was voted. All this was told me last week. I now add that the followers of this doctrine in the Lower House are increasing and guide the others. God grant that they may not multiply to the ruin of the monarchy.
In the mean time the duke of York stands firm in his resolve. Though present at the church service on Easter Sunday, when everybody was expecting him to take the communion, he refused it, saying that he was not prepared, a fact which points to his being a Roman Catholic, though it does not convict him as such.
The foreign ministers, who are obliged to dismiss from their chapels all the English priests, are conferring with Arlington for permission to retain them. I shall follow their example in all things, sacrificing for the glory and service of God and for the honour of your Serenity upwards of 1000 ducats per annum for the expenses of the chapel, which is thronged by Catholics who, whilst praying for the glory and preservation of the republic, are vastly comforted.
London, the 14th April, 1673.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
56. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the king had greatly advanced the equipment of the fleet with his own funds, those of the parliament were needed to give the finishing stroke, though the money does not flow into the exchequer all at once. The medium of the goldsmiths, who used to advance the money, is also at an end as they are uncovered through the stoppage of the public payments. Nevertheless his Majesty provides speedily for all that is requisite in order to send the fleet to sea in a fortnight and surprise the Dutch, who pictured to themselves that the parliamentary embarrassments would nullify the fleet for this year by keeping it in port.
Prince Rupert, who is to command, is tireless in hastening matters on. I fancy that his instructions are more free than those given to the duke of York. The prince contends that it is pure loss of time and repute to await daily commissions from London. On the other hand many persons maintain that the plenipotentiaries will not move a step without previous orders from London; but in a conversation with Lord Arlington I discovered that he has great hopes of peace and he told me that the fortunes of war were too uncertain to rest the whole mass of affairs upon them.
In the mean time Aix la Chapelle is appointed for the congress, the Most Christian king being suspicious of Cologne. The two commissioners here are preparing their suites in order to be there with the others immediately.
I have spoken to Arlington about the consulage as he had been informed by Hayles that the matter was delayed by your Serenity at the suit of certain Dutch and Flemish merchants. I gave him to understand that the Senate thought fit to grant the delay until the parties concerned could give notice to their correspondents. I also ventured to hint to him how undesirable it was to increase the burdens on merchandise especially when your Excellencies had diminished them at the request of this Court. But the secretary and the council of trade are impressed with the idea that the burden is borne by the English alone as the king has the power to impose it on his own vessels, even when in foreign harbours; so he replied that he hoped that your Serenity would approve of the measure adopted by this Court which had met with no opposition from the council of trade. When opportunities offer I will repeat my representations in order to remove the suspicion generated by malice that at the request of the Dutch your Serenity refuses to comply with the king's letters and the consul's petitions for the favour which, it is claimed, is not subject to the control of your Excellencies, since it is within English ships.
London, the 14th April, 1673.
[Italian.]
April 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
57. FrancescO Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Paderboro, the ambassador of England, who had torn himself from London to conduct the negotiations for the marriage of the duke of Hiorch at the Court of Vienna, arrived at this Court some days ago where he is staying incognito until such time as more precise instructions reach him. As in all probability it seems likely that the marriage of the Archduchess Claudia of Inspruch to that prince will be diverted, the field is open for rumours which foretell some negotiation for a marriage between the duchess of Guise here, cousin of the king, (fn. 3) and the duke in question. Upon this however there is nothing more than common report to give it credence.
Paris, the 19th April, 1673.
[Italian.]
April 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
58. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The wound inflicted by parliament on the royal authority is still bleeding and, what is worse, no one comes forward to staunch it. The enemy is encouraged by his success and the friends disheartened by the inconstancy of the king, who deserts them all and stands by the principle that during his reign the agitators will be unable to make sufficient progress to overthrow the monarchy. Late in the day the king has become aware of the unfaithfulness of the chancellor, lately appointed to the office, having discovered him to be too much attached to the party of the agitators to which he belonged at the beginning of the late rebellion. It is also known that his Majesty has complained of Arlington. But the one complains that the king abandoned him at the beginning of the session while the other is not ashamed to confess that he has not the courage to undertake much. So they are reproached with having compelled the king to retract, and whereas it was hoped to re-establish the royal authority, that is now seen to be destroyed for ever.
Coventry, uncle to the one who had his nose slit two years ago, (fn. 4) revealed the secret to the House of Commons, declaring that he knew the king's weakness. Now they have found a new oracle they consult him and he is the one who would fain revive the obsolete custom of spies to detect the priests and Catholics in the kingdom. Thus the foreign ministers, not venturing to give protection, are compelled, at their inconvenience and cost, to keep the priests in their respective embassies, to guarantee them from insult and provide for the service of the chapels.
In the mean time the king has sent eighty companies to the fleet to exempt them from the examination to which the Catholics are to be subjected next week, and a number of priests will similarly take shelter there, all hoping that, after these first ebullitions, the king, out of the natural goodness of his character, will again venture to give liberty and a refuge to the poor Catholics.
Although rumours threaten him, the duke of York is not alarmed. He knows that no law, old or new, can deprive him of his right to the crown if the king dies. I have discovered one of his secrets and venture to reveal to your Excellencies that if he sees things coming to extremities, he thinks of retiring to France. This step may possibly be preceded by his sending his daughters thither. As they are the sole heirs to the throne of England, they would prove suitable consorts for the dauphin and so confound the agitators. If the duke continues firm he will form a very considerable party in England.
London, the 21st April, 1673.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
59. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The plenipotentiaries destined for Aix la Chapelle are preparing but have not yet departed. A suspension of hostilities is constantly under negotiation though nothing has been settled as yet, although it is the only basis on which to found the preliminaries for peace. Locard, a man of ability, although he gave vent to his passions during the rebellion, now enjoys the king's confidence and is going as envoy extraordinary to France, to accompany the king through the campaign, his experience in war equalling his capacity for negotiation.
In the mean time, with negotiations for peace in progress, they do not sleep in London as the greater part of the vessels have dropped down to Sirnes and the rest are ready at Portsmouth, including the Royal Charles, a noble ship which will carry the flag of the admiral, Prince Rupert. The cost for this year is considered to be equivalent to that of 100,000 men on shore. Yet the success and glory of so great a preparation depend for the most part on accidents and it never yields profit to the winner, the burden being one of immense cost to which the maritime powers have adapted themselves by degrees, out of rivalry, regardless of anything else.
All possible haste is being made to get the fleet to sea, at least a part of it, to meet the French. It is rumoured that Prince Rupert means to keep them in the midst of the fleet, that they may sail together in case of an engagement.
I have received the ducali of the 18th and 24th of March. With regard to the consulage I repeat that as they have committed themselves to it here they are unlikely to draw back, as I have several times stated. Through the whole course of the business I laid before your Excellencies all the considerations that my zeal could suggest. If I find any opportunity of alluding to the impropriety of increasing burdens when the republic is diminishing them I will seize it though I know it is the nature of those in authority here not to give way when they are convinced that what they claim is just.
Having thoroughly investigated the matter of the Venetian glass I find that before speaking to the ministers about reducing the duties it is necessary to gain the individual who farms them (fn. 5) , lest he oppose the measure. He being a gentleman with whom I am intimate I have had two long conferences with him in the hope of convincing him that the additional amount of glass imported will suffice for the full amount of the sum which he derives at present from his monopoly. I do not despair of negotiating advantageously afterwards with the Court, provided that the duke of Buckingham, for his own interests does not oppose me strenuously, particularly as he has in his glass factory a workman who claims that he can join in one four mirrors a yard square. If he succeeds in doing this on a large scale, as he has in miniature, before I can get the duty on glass and crystal reduced, then this trade with England will be ruined for ever.
London, the 21st April, 1673.
[Italian.]
April 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
60. Zuane Moresini, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
In order to obtain the final resolutions of this Court upon the proposed marriage of the Archduchess Claudia to the duke of Jorch, the British envoy here has decided these last days to make his personal and pressing representations to the emperor. I have been assured on good authority that the government here in its reply will refer the decision upon this important point to the sole arbitrament of the archduchess, herself but after a previous secret arrangement with one of the ministers assuring her of her elevation to espousal with his Majesty. The Court here adopts this expedient in order to extricate itself from any uncomfortable committal with the British king, though there is no room for any doubt about the union of the archduchess and the emperor next November.
Vienna, the 22nd April, 1673.
[Italian.]
April 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
61. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
The Senate received no letters from him this week and only No. 168 last week. The two letters preceding are missing. With regard to his request that a successor may be chosen they recognise that this is due after his long and fruitful employment, of which they have always expressed their appreciation and now repeat it.
That choice be made by the Collegio of a secretary of the Senate to serve as Resident at the Court of England, with an obligation on the person selected to set out within the space of four months. That 430 ducats of good value at lire 6 soldi 4 be granted to him to put himself in trim, as is usual on such occasions. For salary he shall have an advance of 680 ducats at 2 lire for four months at 170 ducats the month in accordance with the decree of 18 August, 1619. He shall receive 40 crowns of 7 lire a month for all expenses, except couriers and the carriage of letters, for which he need not render an account. He shall receive 250 ducats, at lire 6 soldi 4 the ducat, for couriers and the carriage of letters, in accordance with the regulation. For the chaplain and interpreter allowance will be made to him in his accounts for all the time of his sojourn at that Court, for the expenses of the table and salary; to wit, for the chaplain at the rate of 186 ducats a year, and for the interpreter at the rate of 100 ducats besides what is due to the interpreter in carrying out the decree of this Council of 26 November, 1610.
Ayes, 156. Noes, 3. Neutral, 1. [Italian.]
April 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
62. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Fresh factions keep on gathering day by day. It is almost unprecedented that parliamentary agitation should last so long after the adjournment. The king is at a loss to defend himself against the importunity of those who allowed themselves to be won over during the last session and who now demand titles and places. Thus all the rest, encouraged by this example, side with the turbulent faction to deserve, or rather to gain appointments and make profits, so it is foreseen that all the honours and emoluments in the gift of the crown would not suffice for distribution among them.
This is the same road that King Charles I took, allowing himself to be ruled and at length beheaded. On the other hand the present king, who has great intelligence, flatters himself that he will be able to gain time and outwit them all by his skill. This would be a fine stroke were it not for the evil aspect and imminent peril disclosed at the outset. The king could scarcely be brought not to revive the use of spies appointed to detect priests and Catholics. The duke of York and his party maintain that to satisfy the indiscretion of the Commons it sufficed to retract the royal promise and the proclamations issued, without sacrificing the lives and property of so many good, quiet and faithful subjects.
In the mean time, last Monday all the lords and others who have places and pensions, appeared before the chancellor to take the oaths, the Catholics absenting themselves in order not to deny the popes' authority.
The duke of York has begun to form for himself a party of confidential friends and dependents. But however much other people may murmur, no signs of distrust are visible on the part of the king, who treats his brother tenderly, as ever; nor does he allow jealousy to take root though the train is laid. I shall, from time to time, acquaint your Excellencies with the result.
The earl of Anglise, who was formerly practically in disgrace because of the duke of Ormonde, is now reviving, having been advanced by favour of the duke of York to the office of lord privy seal which yields great profit and is held in much esteem at the Court.
London, the 28th April, 1673.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
63. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch are urging the suspension of hostilities at the very moment for beginning them. Here they say that it should have been granted last winter to suspend the acts of piracy. The measure was proposed several times in the Privy Council but always fell to the ground by reason of a thousand difficulties. Now that the cost of equipping the fleet has been incurred no valid argument can be advanced for keeping it in port. The French ambassador urges its preparation; but as the Most Christian's squadron is not yet ready, they are waiting for the latest advices to send and meet it. It is said that the squadron in Portsmouth will put to sea at the same time.
Prince Rupert is not sparing in his efforts. Only yesterday he went down to the mouth of the river with the king and the duke of York to make trial of some iron shot filled with explosives, practically in imitation of grenades. It is claimed by the inventor that when these are discharged from cannon they will set fire to the enemy's ships; but they do not answer according to expectation.
The plenipotentiaries for peace do not yet take their departure as there are rumours of a fresh place for the congress. In the mean time they are receiving their instructions, the chief of which are, to listen, to give notice and to settle nothing without commissions from the Court. From the foregoing your Excellencies will perceive that the negotiations are likely to suffer from delays, but now that weapons are unsheathed the fortunes of war may at any moment alter the present aspect of affairs and if the interests of the allies change in their purposes, their inclinations may likewise undergo a change. I do not venture to say more.
Locard has set out for France and so has the duke of Monmouth, who will command all the English troops and strive to be present wherever there is the greatest need, for the honour of the nation. London, the 28th April, 1673. [Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Lord William Cavendish, knight of the shire for Derbyshire, afterwards the first duke of Devonshire.
2 According to Colbert Arlington dissuaded the king from appointing himself, together with Buckingham, Lauderdale and Coventry, as he had intended, because they could serve him more usefully at home than at Cologne. He told the ambassador that Sunderland would have the chief direction and that the others would follow punctually the instructions given them by the king. Colbert to the king on 3 April. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
3 Isabel, third daughter of Gaston, the younger son of Henri IV, widow of Louis Joseph de Lorraine, duke of Guise. Two other French princesses were suggested besides the duchess, namely Mesdemoiselles de Retz and d'Elboeuf. Peterborough was instructed to take an exact information about all of them. Colbert to the king on 17 April. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
4 Sir William Coventry, fourth and youngest son of Thomas first lord Coventry, lord keeper in the time of Charles I.
5 Sir Robert Paston. Cal. of Treasury Books, Vol. III, page 288. Alberti married his daughter Margaret.


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