Venice
February 1675

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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347-364

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'Venice: February 1675', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 347-364. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90382 Date accessed: 29 November 2014.


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February 1675

Feb. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Archives.
440. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Court perceiving that the Spaniards are jealous of the Most Christian's eagerness to begin confidential intercourse with Holland and that they carp at his determination to allow the peace negotiations to be carried on in any town of the United Provinces, it has been suggested to them that France could not decorously return to the German city where the franchise had been violated, and taking into consideration the nature of the Dutch government, so slow in making decisions, it was necessary to treat near at hand. Van Beuninghen simultaneously exaggerates the losses of the allies on the Rhine and then' disorder, expatiating on the necessity for the emperor and all the rest speedily to oppose the victorious forces and the vast ambition of the Most Christian. His anger is increased by perceiving the conferences between Arlington and Ruvigni to continue. He also finds a portion of the ministry too attached to the duke and always advocating the interest of France and her policy. He says that, fortunately for her and through her friends England profited by peace and monopolised trade during the disunion of the other powers. It is replied that England does not copy Sweden who instead of a mediator has become a belligerent and the king here, having renounced war in order to mediate peace for the rest of Europe, was not to be persuaded to resume hostilities.
The equipment of the fleet nevertheless proceeds, though slowly from lack of funds, and the ministry does not object to the general report of its being considerable, supposing that the repute of naval power may secure the crown. The treasurer also encourages the belief, to stifle the murmurs of his enemies who accuse him of having drained the exchequer, without a thought for the building and outfit of ships, which are the only wall of England.
Hereupon the Spaniards say among their partisans that England might count on being left alone and allow the Dutch fleet to cruise off their ports next summer without hindrance, except that the Court, for its private ends, chooses to arm and then shamefully sell itself to the highest bidder. This design was manifest, so it might be inferred that they meant to persist in the alliance with France because they could not expect money from Spain. It was the interest of the nation to guard against so close an understanding with the Most Christian, as it might lure on the king here in his plan to oppress his subjects, following the example of France.
Such is the extent of the confidence placed by the Spaniards in England; and with regard to the mediation for peace they pretend that they must wait to hear from the emperor and Spain before replying to the French overtures.
The king sees clearly that the Spaniards, led on by the tendency of the people to attack the Court and following the course marked by Fresno, are trying to impress upon the nation the necessity of compelling the king in the next session of parliament, to defend Flanders and oppose the ascendency of the Most Christian which is so perilous to all neighbouring powers. The Court remarks that the people for some while has adopted the policy of opposing absolute monarchy, and the crown is the more exposed to attack. The lords also have now joined the Lower House in its schemes to thwart the proceedings of the Court. Therefore to dash the hopes of foreigners, who anticipate profit from these divisions, and to raise a barrier against those intestine humours they now want to let the world know that England is concerned for her liberty and when that is secured by the king it will be for the interest of the country not to become involved in disputes about religion but to wait for God to fight in His own cause, which has never been advanced by the sword or bloodshed.
London, the 1st February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
441. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The policy of this government is based on the hope that by abandoning their friends who are unable to serve them they may through a reconcilation with their enemies remove the many difficulties that beset the monarchy. The king therefore decided no longer to rely entirely on the bishops and to welcome the nonconformists. In the general opinion his Majesty relies too much on the offers of the Presbyterians and their followers who seek to separate him from the bishops and to beguile him into assembling parliament in order that the Presbyterian party may take the helm and compel him to ruin the duke of York, which would herald his own downfall.
The Court ridicules these suspicions, knowing that the Presbyterian and other parties, fearing civil war, know that it is not in their interest to risk everything by too persistent obstinacy, especially as the Court had condescended to make a bargain with them and dispel the suspicion of arbitrary government. All this could not be explained in a day to the people as they like to be cajoled by their leaders and to adopt their opinions gradually. These are, for the moment, to leave the king in peaceful possession of his prerogatives, the duke in undisturbed expectation of the crown and restored to his offices, and the people relieved of the apprehension of the French alliance, their property respected and the law, with freedom from taxation and permanent tranquillity.
The Presbyterian and Independent factions countenanced this project jointly and the former came to an understanding with Lord Holles, late ambassador in France, and with the earl of Bedford, the chiefs of the parliament party. These two were to gain Lord Shaftesbury. But Viscount Fauconberg and the earl of Carlisle late ambassador in Sweden, having been acquainted with these proceedings by one Dr. Burnet, a person in the confidence of the duke of York, they allowed themselves to be convinced and were so delighted with the scheme that they employed Lord Mordent, another peer of their party, to offer their services to the king and duke for the purpose of bringing Shaftesbury over to the royal side. Thus encouraged Mordent went to Shaftesbury, but without the consent of Holles and Bedford, who possibly wished to have the merit for themselves. But they say that the others acted more from ambition than zeal and with more haste than judgment; that they withdrew from opposition solely to their example and that by publishing this negotiation they not only incapacitate Shaftesbury from serving the king but also render it very probable that the public will take umbrage at these negotiations, distrust their leaders and refuse to follow them any more. Holles and Bedford wrote simultaneously to Shaftesbury to take care not to lose credit with his followers by a sudden agreement with the Court; but his decision is not known as Mordent on his return from the country merely informed the king that Shaftesbury would share the opinion of the others in any matter, to his Majesty's satisfaction. Others think that Shaftesbury suspects the Court of showing him so fair a countenance for the sole purpose of ruining him in public opinion. But the truth is that it seems fated for the Almighty to permit the firmest possible union among these peers whenever they are bent on mischief and that the devil has power to render them jealous of each other whenever they are unanimous for peace and contend for the honour of bearing the olive branch.
The whole country is alarmed about this and the chief ministers even more so, fearing that Shaftesbury will thrust himself into their places. But it is reported that the king will make him vicegerent, a post instituted by Henry VIII when he suppressed the monasteries, which takes precedence of the archbishops and ranks immediately after the king in ecclesiastical matters. (fn. 1) It is possible that Shaftesbury's friends may wish to get him this place, but the bishops are extremely jealous about it as he is a layman and, what is worse, attached to their opponents, the nonconformists.
Wise men conclude that the king does not mean to ruin the bishops' party and that he keeps the others divided among themselves, so as to set them against each other in case of need and thus become their ruler. This opinion is based on the following fact: Lauderdale and the treasurer, now the confidential ministers of the Court, are seen constantly with the bishops and will postpone the meeting of parliament so much desired by the country, for the sake of pleasing them and for their own personal interests; Lauderdale lest his impeachment of last session be revived and the treasurer from fear that his enemies may draw up a new one against him.
London, the 1st February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian: deciphered.]
Feb. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
442. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish envoy circulated a report that Monterey had written to him that Don John had at last agreed to come to Flanders. He thought Monterey resented this as by sending so great a personage it implied that the Court of Spain considered the post and the situation there of vast importance. No confirmation has come about this which disturbed the partisans of the prince of Orange who expect a governor of the second class with orders to give way to Orange and leave him the command of the army in Flanders.
From Holland great news has arrived causing satisfaction at Court, which has at least espoused the interests of Orange. When the prince went into Guelderland the people seemed extraordinarily eager to proclaim him duke of that province. I will speak of the consequences of this which may not be known to the state through any other channel. Orange being intent on making himself sovereign prince hinted to the States the advantage to them if he were duke of Guelders, as it would render him a member of the empire, giving him a vote. This project, with the support of Van Beuninghen, had already been mooted in the States some while ago by Baron dell Isola who represented the possibility of getting the States of Holland declared at Ratisbon to be the eleventh circle of the empire provided they would contribute a double share for its expenses. So this design of the prince cannot now be disapproved as it accomplishes the object with less hindrance.
To bring this about the count de Valdek, (fn. 2) who was sent to Vienna to complain of Susa, has orders to set the matter going with the emperor with whom, just now, they expect to find every facility. In order to stimulate him Valdek will protest that it is impossible for the States to furnish the subsidies, in the hope that his Majesty will grant the request in the hope of obtaining them. I have even been told of a project to marry the emperor's sister especially since the death of the elector of Brandenburg's son, who had his eye on that alliance.
I may mention that France offered this same county of Guelders to the duke of Lorraine, if he could conquer it, in lieu of Lorraine. If Orange succeeds now in making himself duke and independent prince without causing jealousy to the Dutch republic or the electors of the empire and without opposition at Ratisbon, the rank will be one of the most probable foundations of his rise.
In the mean time the prince does not forget to urge the Court here to pay him his old debt of 1,800,000 florins, to wit, 400,000 lent by his father during the civil wars, 500,000 for the portion promised to his mother and 900,000 granted him by the king for arrears of interest and out of gratitude, when Orange was in London a few years ago. On the other hand the government here resents the claim of the Dutch to aid any native Indian prince allied with them, against any one soever, and so the treaty of commerce touching India remains in suspense and no way can be devised to make them yield on a point so injurious to the English East India Company.
At the end of last week a present arrived from Modena, consisting of Venetian point lace and gold cloth, valued at 3000l. The duchess of York is the more pleased as the whole Court extols the munificence of the gift. She is now in excellent health, but not the queen, who had to be bled to cure a catarrh.
My friend has spoken again to Coventry about the consulage, recommending him to send for some of the merchants who have been already primed by the friend and myself. One of them said that even if your Serenity accedes to the king's request, he will oppose the consulage at law and refuse to pay. I cannot settle the matter more speedily as Coventry, who has lately assumed the management of Italian affairs, is a dilatory man and may not be hurried. I also spoke to Lord Bath, whose sister is Higgons' wife, to encourage the spirit of moderation which I find pervades his despatches from Venice. Every one tells me that he is greatly pleased with his position there.
The release of the chaplain is only delayed for certain formalities in the new grace which the king has to grant him, as he must now be pardoned to satisfy the law.
London, the 1st February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
443. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador in Holland has sent an express with news of the declaration of the States against Sweden, (fn. 3) but he anticipates various difficulties before Ruiter will be able to move with the squadron destined to make the diversion at the Sound. At nearly the same time the Dutch ambassador went to ask the king to propose to the Most Christian to choose some place in Switzerland for the peace negotiation. He intimated that the States preferred not to have the congress in their territory, to avoid giving suspicion to the Spaniards. So the ministers here suspect that the chief object of the Dutch is to gain time and delay the treaty by difficulties about the preliminaries.
The prince of Orange perseveres in the designs reported. He wants to have it believed that he is inseparable from the allies and his interests utterly Spanish, so that he may turn the present opportunity to account. The Spaniards, on their side, lest the opportunity slip, are hastening their project to marry him to the emperor's sister, (fn. 4) to cement the union between the two houses. I cannot find how far these projects have advanced, but the Spanish envoy assured me that his queen would show Orange every civility to confirm his friendly bias towards that crown and that Villa Hermosa, who succeeds to the government of Flanders, is to give entire satisfaction to the prince to whom she wishes to award the glory of defending what remains of the Low Countries and is content to be his debtor.
But here the proceedings of Orange have evoked another opinion, which has been told me by one who heard it discussed in the king's presence. The prince's policy is classed under two heads, fundamental and accidental; both inseparable from the welfare of the Provinces though not bound to the constitution of the republic. The fundamental part is that England should be considered a perpetual rival who will seek to deprive Holland of her trade and to undermine her greatness and liberty. The Provinces should therefore anticipate the king here and gain the confidence and support of France whose forces are so considerable, and because of the facilities afforded by her harbours. On this foundation the security of Holland and the prince alike depended, and the latter should not render himself subject to the English crown through marriage, but merely seek its support according to circumstances, without further attachment.
The motives for opposing France were accidental and present, not of the utmost urgency, as almost all the powers of Europe were interested in the republic's defence against France; the empire especially to preserve its freedom, and Spain to avoid the loss of Flanders, which was so substantial an ornament of the Spanish crown. It was enough for the prince to feed opponents without making himself the chief and drawing down the whole wrath of France on his head.
Upon these principles the Court here believes that Orange will avoid giving many blows to the Most Christian, who is trying every way to win him, promising advice and assistance to establish him in the absolute government of the Provinces. Up to this time Orange's proceedings are not at variance with any of these maxims, indeed he proclaims his intention to come to London on the conclusion of the war, a move which will be made in order to sow discord and gain factions in this government.

London, the 8th February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
444. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday evening in the house of a Catholic peer several other lords in the confidence of the Court and some members of parliament met together to discuss present events. The first observed that no body politic is free from peccant humours and no monarchy exempt from contradictory spirits who always rebel against blind obedience. They pitied the king because his subjects, having abandoned themselves to licence, were rushing to their ruin. They cursed the despotic government of France and commended that of Holland. Yet the subjects of both were taxed to the utmost, with this difference, that the French were commanded to bear the burden while the Dutch were cheated into doing so. There was no country in the world with less taxes, more liberty and a milder government than England. In spite of this they were trying to enter upon a republic although the late misfortunes and the scant success of the attempt afforded an example of their incapacity and disunion, and the manifest danger of succumbing to tyranny as the means employed and their aim were alike violent.
The parliamentarians rejoined that the Court had roused the people by the noise of abolishing the laws of their liberty and forcibly enacting new ones about religion. The duke of York, having imbibed French principles in his youth, had got into his head the chimera of reducing the English parliament to the same footing as the parliament of Paris. Knowing how little trust could be placed in English troops, as they would never fight against the liberty of the country, he deliberately sacrificed the interests of the nation to the wishes of the Most Christian, for the sake of having French forces to assist his designs.
The Court party answered these arguments by saying that even if this statement were true it would be prudent for the parliamentarians to seek an adjustment, as the king and duke offered to remove all suspicion at the very moment when France was establishing her greatness. If his Majesty had trusted the Most Christian and relied on his support, it was from violent necessity, because the people of England had become suspicious and dangerous. They said that in future ages the English would bless that parliament which had the moderation to allay so many perilous disturbances and by fresh subsidies confirm approval of the glorious restoration. At this the parliamentarians declared unanimously that if God should lead the king and duke out of the French temptation they will find English loyalty in their subjects.
Such is the present attack of the people on the monarchy and their watchword whereby to draw rebels from their allegiance.
While close negotiations were being carried on with the nonconformists as reported, a conference was held at Lambeth palace by the archbishop of Canterbury. The bishops of Winchester, Salisbury, Rochester and Chester were present who were joined by the lord treasurer, the lord keeper, Lauderdale, Coventry and Williamson. The business was very secret but it is now known that this committee decided to represent to the king the desirability of enforcing the laws against the nonconformists and especially against the Catholics. They went so far as to suggest a fresh proclamation against the priests and that notice be given to the foreign ministers to dismiss all British subjects from their chapels, with other particulars which I must reserve for my next (fn. 5)
This resolution to which his Majesty's lay ministers assented, seems contradictory to the arrangement with the nonconformists. But I have been told in confidence that the plan is to divide the bishops and weaken their party, while they, by attacking all dissenters, who constitute three-fourths of the kingdom, produce the effect of uniting and binding them together. I do not know what to believe and can only say that it is all true, or else the duke of York is infamously betrayed and delivered to his enemies.

I continue to urge the effective pardon of the chaplain, knowing how desirable it is to work silently. I will report the result.
The ducali of the 12th January reached me as I was on my way to Secretary Coventry, to whom my friend had given all the papers together with a memorandum from the merchants, to show him how prejudicial the innovation must be for England. He told me that Sir [Thomas] Higgons writes to him that your Serenity had again said you were expecting replies from London and that he believed the measure to be impracticable. I said the merchants were impatient to hear from me that the scheme had been abandoned and asked him to rid himself of further trouble and to settle the business forthwith. I believe it will be easily decided in the committee for foreign affairs without coming before the Council of Trade, in which there would be no lack of Hayles' supporters to promote the innovation.
London, the 8th February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 12.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Esposizioni,
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
445. The envoy extraordinary of England came into the Collegio and spoke in conformity with the memorial, which he left in writing and which is attached. The doge (fn. 6) thanked him for his congratulations on the assumption of his dignity which was due to no merit of his own. He thanked him also for writing to his king, having no doubt of his Majesty's friendly sentiments, as there has always been friendship and good correspondence between the British crown and the republic, a thing of which there are few examples. With this the envoy rose and after making the usual reverences he departed.
[Italian.]
446. Memorial.
Congratulating the new doge on his election of which he informed his king at the earliest opportunity. Compliments.
[Latin.]
Feb. 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
447. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident for England, to the Doge and Senate.
I set out at once on receiving my instructions. One of the chief of the imperial ministers has gone to Munich to settle some differences and to observe the proceedings of the elector of Bavaria who is increasing his forces. News of Turenne. I have been told of recruiting for the emperor in this province, which has not been very successful. The army is much reduced by late encounters with the French, by its sufferings and by desertion. The archdukes and nobility are away from this place, some at Vienna, some with the army and the rest at their country houses. So this town seems like a village and all the artisans are in great poverty.
Innsbruck, the 13th February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
448. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Nothing has yet been said to the papal minister with respect to the mediation. The ministers content themselves with making replies to his inquiries so indefinite that it is impossible to find out whether there has even been a start as yet in his operations. The Ambassador Locard is doing something. The States have made the suggestion of some place of the Swiss for the negotiations, but they will not enter into this until the replies arrive from Vienna.
Paris, the 13th February, 1675.
[Italian.]
Feb. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
449. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Court's suspicions of the prince of Orange increase daily. They are exasperated and the following accusations are made. They say he is unmindful of the zeal shown by the king in so many ways to promote his restoration or acknowledge that his Majesty did more than any one else towards this; that he makes a bad return by the policy mentioned last week and subjecting the king not only to the suspicion but even the hatred of the Dutch. Two proceedings that cause much bad blood have come to light. The first is that Orange refuses to give the slightest satisfaction to France through England. This confirms what I wrote of his design to make an alliance with the French crown through himself alone. The second reproaches him with fomenting factions in England in order to weaken the crown. This is considered too open an act of treachery and worse than could be perpetrated by a declared enemy. In spite of this Vice-Admiral Tromp is treated in London with great courtesy (fn. 7) and they suggest to him a thousand reasons for the prince not blindly espousing the interests and passions of the United Provinces, against which after all he could not secure himself without the support of some foreign power, and none would be more attached to him and sincere than his Majesty.
The Spanish envoy here observes all this. A few evenings ago he said to me that the attempts of the English ministers to alter the resolve of Orange were futile as he was too interested in the defence of Flanders and the maintenance of the alliance. Spain favoured his personal designs in the Provinces and had convinced him that he should never detach himself from the interests of the Catholic king. All the hints I dropped failed to extract from him whether he knew of Orange's intention to aim at a reconciliation with France, allowing the vengeance of the Most Christian and the discredit of the war to fall upon the rest of the allies.
He told me in confidence that he had insinuated to the king the desirability of negotiating the peace in London where his Majesty's presence as mediator might smooth many difficulties. The place was handy and suitable for the negotiations but he had been unable to get any answer. It seemed to him that before committing themselves the ministers meant to await the arrival from Spain of the queen's definite acceptance of English mediation. Upon this I sounded Ruvigni, who unbosomed himself to me and said he had detected the craftiness of the Spaniards who wanted to draw the negotiations to London during the sitting of parliament, whose members of their own accord and with encouragement would compel the king to bind the Most Christian to accept any peace, informing him of his own union with the Spaniards. He told me besides that he explained to the king how Spain sought to tie his hands, but that Arlington, who was ambitious of keeping the negotiations in his own would not allow the proposal of the Spaniards to be rejected. He said he was sorry that at this juncture England should be insisting on a commercial and maritime treaty. As France could not accept this all through, there would be no lack of pretexts for a misunderstanding and he is much afraid that he will not succeed in having the negotiations transacted elsewhere.
The truth is that the Court is exerting itself to impress upon the people the necessity for arming because their neighbours have fleets all ready to put to sea. If parliament offers the king money, there is every appearance that the temptation would make him forget the alliance with France especially if in addition to this they realise the project I reported for removing the suspicions of the people and thus giving some quiet to the country. If the Spaniards persevere with their plan to negotiate the peace in London and to flatter this Court with a show of esteem, coming half way to meet the civilities they may expect from it, there is no doubt his Majesty will readily forget the late harshness; but unless they take the ball on the rebound the point may be lost, for this country always plays a desperate game.
London, the 15th February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
450. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I wrote last week of the conference at Lambeth and the bill proposed against the Catholics, who were to be forbidden to frequent the public chapels, pursuivants were to be appointed to rout them out, the Portuguese ambassador was to be deprived of St. James' chapel, which had belonged to the queen, and restricted to a private chamber etc. The nonconformists were also to be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law, offenders being expelled from the towns, the preachers imprisoned and the conventicles suppressed. The bishops of Salisbury and Winchester, the lord keeper, the treasurer, Lauderdale and Coventry supported this project. The archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of Chester and Rochester and Secretary Williamson gave their silent consent and the measure was presented to the Privy Council for approval. Lords Holles, Halifax, Carlisle and Dorchester asked for time to examine it that the laws might not be disadvantageously enforced. The matter having been debated on Sunday evening the duke of York declared at the Council board that he did not believe the measure beneficial for his Majesty. After being laid before the Council on Wednesday it was modified by an order, to be forthwith printed, for the execution of the penal laws. (fn. 8)
The surprise of all London at this attempt of the bishops against the nonconformists in general is matched by the feeling over so mild a Proclamation. But I must add that after the vote was passed at Lambeth the treasurer and Lauderdale went and told York that they had been unable to prevent it and made no effort to do so, foreseeing that such a declaration would remove the suspicions of the people and enable the king to raise money by means of which he would have it in his power to restore the former state of affairs and assure the duke's quiet. York replied that no good could be expected from a measure which began by persecuting so many persons of tender conscience, and that the parliamentarians were too crafty themselves not to suspect the Court of merely giving fair promises for ready money. This was not the aim of the projects they had announced for sowing dissension among the bishops to prevent persecution of the nonconformists. The king was thus exempted from assenting to a measure about which the clergy themselves were not agreed. On the contrary they had excluded such bishops as were mildly inclined, taking only three good and quiet ones, the turbulent Salisbury and his follower Winchester. The duke then complained that Lauderdale and the treasurer, to curry favour with parliament, had so violently favoured a plan which placed the king among rocks and himself in the midst of precipices. Then after reproaches for their ingratitude, he dismissed them. (fn. 9)
Not satisfied with this the duke spoke at the Council against the severity of such a motion. But he learned that the Presbyterians and his new friends of the parliament party, knowing that the treasurer and Lauderdale were his creatures, could not fail to suspect him of having encouraged them and of dealing with two factions. So to clear himself the duke did his utmost with the king and so arranged matters with his friends that the Council expunged the greater part of the harsh clauses in the very particulars which he had been requested to modify. It is possible that this alteration was much facilitated by the absence from the Council of the most influential members of the Presbyterian and parliamentary parties. They did not mean to be present having declared on the first day of the discussion that they would not advise the king to do too much and they would not answer for the consequences. But the truth is that the merit of preventing so scandalous an act of persecution rests with the duke of York.
The parties in England are four
(1) the bishops; (2) the Presbyterians; (3) the Independents and (4) the very recent one of the parliament. The king's object has always been to keep them divided for the purpose of ruling them. In public he supported the party of the bishops; out of gratitude he has always in private granted favours to the Presbyterian party, who were the authors of his restoration and he protected the Independents by virtue of his promise at Breda, which they and the Presbyterians extracted under oath, to let them live in liberty. These two parties together with that of the parliament had decided to grant a fresh truce to the crown on the conditions reported. But the bishops feared that the industry and perseverance of the two first might through their sermons render episcopacy odious to the people and foresaw that the parliament party would not give any warm support to the nonconformists. So while some were moderate a few of them thought they would attempt their destruction and division. Having missed the first stroke and perceiving that they had caused a coalition with the other factions they tried to thwart them by another device. They offered the Presbyterians an act of comprehension, much more ample than any granted hitherto. But so far they have not listened to the proposal and pretend that they owe everything to the duke, but they protest that they are compelled to make some harbour as from frivolous considerations the king daily exposes them to storms.
The duke has warned the king to prevent the coalition of the bishops and Presbyterians, who are too strong to be commanded and too ambitious to consent to obey. But this is a knot which may not come to be unravelled before the next session of parliament.
The Catholics, although touched to the quick, take comfort because they feared worse treatment, and they say laughingly that this is one of the king of England's jubilees.
So far these internal differences have not been influenced by the intrigues of any foreign power; but the peers of England with the Presbyterians and others swear they will be revenged on Lauderdale and wage war upon him in parliament without quarter. Lauderdale calls these the confederates against the Court party, which is supposed to be that of France.

London, the 15th February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosure.451. Order in Council for the enforcement of the penal laws against the Catholics, the banishment of priests and the suppression of conventicles. Dated at Whitehall, 3 February, 1674. (fn. 10)
[Italian, from the English.]
Feb. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
452. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As another quarter sessions is at hand, when some sentences are commuted to transportation to America, I thought I could mention the case of the chaplain to the king, as if pardon is delayed it may take effect when parliament is sitting, when it will be more difficult to release him. I told the king that a difficulty was raised about the form of the order and meanwhile the prisoner was in danger of losing his life in gaol from sickness. I had written to all the foreign courts of his clemency, but if delayed it might be too late or become involved in difficulty with parliament. I hope these remarks may lead to the speedy execution of the king's orders.
I also spoke to Coventry about the consulage, telling him that Hayles had made fresh demands three days after your Serenity had answered Sir Thomas Higgons. You were expecting information from London and he would realise the need for despatching the matter quickly. He replied that important affairs had occupied all the time of the ministers but he had told my friend that the innovation was prejudicial to England. He was so convinced of this that he would not even call the merchants and in any case it would be indiscreet to press such a thing on the republic. So I have good reason to hope for a good end to the business.
I am surprised that Hayles should persist in petitioning the Senate with the same arguments which failed before. It is true that aliens enjoyed some exemptions here during the war, but for some time now the former harsh measures have been enforced. There is not a single Venetian firm in London, whereas at Venice there are several English houses which enjoy advantages of a secure and permanent nature. The king ought not to acknowledge this by pressing the republic to burden her subjects and trade for the benefit of the consul. If he has not received the usual consulage while waiting for the new one, he has only himself to blame. He knows very well that the 2 per cent, paid in the Levant is levied by the consul for the Company. With regard to the advantage of the carrying trade I can assure him that here they consider it a great gain that Venetian bottoms do not come to carry off the great profits made by this country from freights and through the protection of her warships. It is to be hoped that all will not behave like a certain captain. This man took a Venetian ship under his protection at Genoa, receiving the premium and deterring it from insuring. He then allowed it to be captured under his eyes, on the coast of Spain. The captain escaped with difficulty and the ship and cargo remained in the hands of the Turks to the detriment of the mart of Venice.
London, the 15th February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 20.
Senato.
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
453. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
News comes from Cadiz that one of the English frigates mentioned has returned from Algiers with 130 ransomed slaves. (fn. 11) It reported that they have established the peace with those barbarians and that two ships of Moors with the English flag had approached so near to the point of Baya that they had almost taken a Spanish and an English ship.
Madrid, the 20th February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
454. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish envoy continues to insinuate that the peace congress should be held in London. He has communicated the idea to the confidential advisers of the crown that they may support it, hinting that the first one to smoothe away difficulties would be considered by Spain as the head of her party; all would benefit, gaining confidence with parliament and establishing their authority over the crown. For this very reason Rovigni opposes the scheme. With his long experience he gives familiar advice to the king, who, in his own interest, utterly rejects the proposal. Rovigni is waiting to hear from France to repeat his protest on the authority of the Most Christian. The pretext will be apparently that he does not mean to exclude the pope from the place where mediation is negotiated.
The misunderstandings with Orange continue. Although some time ago he was persuaded to send Count Home and Tromp to London in acknowledgement of the mission of Arlington and Ossory, he neglects this act of courtesy and will only perform it under a compulsion that will deprive it of all value. These views are kept very secret, indeed only a few days ago the king made Van Tromp a baronet with permission to quarter the lions and lilies of the English crown with his arms. (fn. 12) He will leave with a present of 1000l. sterling, the Court having lavished every mark of regard and esteem on him.
It has become known that when Orange asked the province of Holland whether he should accept the sovereignty of the duchy of Guelders they told him he might do as he pleased, without committing themselves further, and this as a mark of disapproval. The king regrets that his nephew should have gone so far, to be met with mistrust on the part of that province. He laments that it should betray suspicion that will completely damp the good disposition of the other provinces; in short he labours to show the utmost tenderness for the prince. All this is not without design and the secret has been communicated to me with all its details.
From previous letters your Serenity will have understood how parliament compelled the king to make peace with Holland, it being the policy of the malcontents to win the confidence of that republic and get its support against the monarchy, establishing in its stead a republic and the religion in which they had a common interest. To destroy this foundation the Court circulates reports that Arlington has gained Orange over to the royal side and that it has been suggested he shall assist the king if necessary with his forces to curb the disobedient populace of England. To impress these suspicions on the public it is remarked that the policy favoured by the prince is far from republican. Aiming at the absolute command of the United Provinces he had allowed himself to be dissuaded from encouraging trouble here. On the contrary he has agreed to assist the king that he himself may be supported in return. Two facts are quoted in proof of this understanding, first that the Provinces have taken umbrage at it, especially Holland and they oppose the aggrandisement of Orange, beginning with the affair of Guelders. The second that when the Spanish consul Fonseca asked Van Beuninghen to remonstrate with the king against Hamilton, (fn. 13) who has been raising some cavalry for France, the ambassador refused to do so, an incontrovertible argument that Orange has ordered him not to insist on anything distasteful to England.
All these indications have served wonderfully so far to confound the hopes of the malcontents who know that they cannot succeed in their designs without the help of some foreign power and deeply resent finding themselves deceived in their reliance on Holland.
The parliamentarians repent of having sacrificed the interests of the country and their own for a precipitate peace. Holland makes them no return for the service rendered while the turbulent gentry declare that the king is persevering in his design for introducing arbitrary government by preparing the forces of Orange because those of France have failed him. Whereas Arlington's enemies threaten to accuse him to the people for having by wicked counsel perverted the king's naturally merciful disposition, others protest that they will declare themselves in parliament against Orange and the States, in order to put England back in the true path of her real interest and to avenge the affronts offered to the nation.
The Court rejoices at this irritation because it not only disconcerts the malcontents, crushing their hopes of Dutch protection, but draws them over to the royal side, and they serve to humble Holland and to lower the pride of Orange. But this stroke of statecraft is not over safe. It does not promise peace at home and victory over the neighbouring powers, for the Spanish minister Ronquillo will come to London from Flanders and reveal the secret to parliament, and the scant trust placed by Orange in this Court, though if the prince finds the ground giving way under his feet he may look more kindly on England later on.
London, the 22nd February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
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Archives.
455. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king's order forwarded last week, has been submitted to the lawyers for criticism. They accuse the bishops of having advised his Majesty to enforce all the laws against the Catholics, including the sanguinary ones. They ought therefore to be immediately suspended a divinis, and as they suggested the banishment of all persons in Holy Orders by any authority proceeding from Rome, they themselves should be banished, as episcopal ordination of to-day is derived from that of the Roman Catholic bishops. These superficial remarks were followed by one of importance, viz that the duchess of York is not only debarred from protecting her own chaplains, whether British or alien, and her household, she is not even safe personally, as parliament has not ratified the articles of the marriage contract to the disparagement of the confidence placed at Modena in the promises of the king's ambassador, who offered the same terms as had been prepared for the archduchess of Innsbruck, which were taken from those granted to the queen.
The difficulties of the duchess will be much pondered at Rome where they may well argue that they had good reason for delaying the dispensation, in order to seek advantages and security. Some insinuate to the papal Court that this would be a good time to provide for the needs of the Catholics by giving the red hat to some one agreeable to the king and his brother. Cardinal Barberino promised much to Prince Rinaldo of Este if the duke of York declared in his favour. The queen would like to renew her claims, which she thinks should be preferred to those of the duchess, especially as she proposes the appointment of a bishop for England, that his authority may prevail against the endless differences prevailing among the Catholics there. The duke apparently does not venture to declare himself for fear of the comments of the whole country, which would argue an understanding between him and the Court of Rome and thus ruin the Catholics here for ever, and the queen does not want to risk a request, lest it be refused, with the usual excuses.
wrote that the malcontents were beginning to despair of the support of Holland to turn this monarchy into a republic, but when they cannot accomplish great things their minds are ready to attempt smaller ones, so they have found a way to keep up opposition to the government as the basis of fresh projects for future occasions. The Senate must not marvel to hear constantly of fresh parties and opinions for that is the way in London.
A good number of the malcontent gentry, who joined the Commons to oppose the French party at Court, calling themselves confederates in imitation of the princes who leagued against the Most Christian, perceiving that the party of the bishops with the lord treasurer and Lauderdale was adopting the opinions of the nation, after making a great outcry against the declaration caused by the Lambeth conference, saying that parliament would have been satisfied with a fourth part of such severity, tried to convince the people that those two ministers intended to cheat the bishops by pretending zeal, thus saving themselves from impeachment, getting money and then putting things back where they were before. As no condition is more perilous in England than to be popularly accused of an ambition to rule one's neighbours, the bishops were roused and the two ministers alarmed. They held a parley with the confederates who propose that, in order to stem the tide caused by the whole body of nonconformists provoked by the late order in Council, the treasurer, Lauderdale and the bishops should support the bill of fusion which has been so often contested, its object being to make an exception in favour of the Presbyterians alone. The negotiations have ended by their offering to abandon the entire ceremonial of the church, the chief point of difference with the Presbyterians, a concession greater than was ever expected.
The object of the confederates is to unite the two parties, Protestants and Presbyterians and then dominate the Court, which they will attack by demanding the effective persecution of the Catholics, the ejection of the popish peers from parliament, fresh oaths and the exclusion of York from the crown. They seek thus to ruin the government if their scheme based on Dutch support is frustrated.
The Court is aware of all these proceedings and dares not publicly declare itself against the coalition from fear of giving additional encouragement to the people, who always seek whatever the Court shuns. Meanwhile they seek to divert the measure and as the union of the Protestant and Presbyterian parties has always been dreaded and if effected by the third party of the confederates would prove fatal to the crown, the Court party urges the Presbyterians to reject such tempting offers beneath which time will disclose thorns, and recommends them to keep aloof from any junction with the Protestants. This chimes with many of the Presbyterian preachers who are afraid of losing the party and their credit when once incorporated with the others.
There is also a proposal for an act of toleration by which the Presbyterians would be sure of their own and might seek to gain ground against the bishops. But it is not yet known what turn affairs may take, as the bishops are not all agreed about the inclusion and it would scandalise the whole body of Protestants. The confederate peers also are not unanimous about continuing the war against the Court and the English have never yet been known to persevere long in any one single opinion.
In the mean time the Catholics are pitied by every one and the bishops themselves apologise, saying that they were led astray by the two laymen. But no one assists them, although some of their number reproach the king for rewarding with harsh slavery the services received when they sent him money abroad and shed their blood for him in England, and that they were now goaded to try whether the sword could rid them of those chains which their loyalty had not been able to break. Yet no one would dare to raise an arm as once they lose their character of faithful and obedient servants any act of a contrary nature, even of necessary defence, would be supposed to be the consequence of the power claimed by the pope over heretical sovereigns, and no quarter would be given them.

I have not yet been able to see Coventry but I understand that the king has desired Higgons not to insist on the consulage and Hayles to be satisfied with the custom already established. (fn. 14)
London, the 22nd February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian: the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 22.
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Secreta.
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Inghilterra.
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Archives.
456. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident for England, to the Doge and Senate.
Owing to the unruliness of the troops of Lorraine I decided to travel through Bavaria where the elector keeps his forces well disciplined. His frontiers are well guarded and there are strong forces on the Danube and in the Palatinate amounting to 12,000 foot and 6,000 horse in all. He is also raising fresh forces. He exercises great vigilance on all travellers. His chief jealousy is about the motives of the imperial ministers and of the Polish elector. (fn. 15) The leaders of his army and a large proportion of the superior officers are French, but they are not admitted to his counsels.
M. de la Have (fn. 16) arrived at Munich on the same day as myself and was received by the duke. I have been told that it has been proposed to marry the dauphin to the duke's daughter, but this is probably the idle talk of courtiers. The French cross and recross the Rhine at will. The inhabitants of Colmar have been treated with cruelty and they are laying the marquis of Baden Durlach under contribution; Strasburg is threatened.
Augsburg, the 22nd February, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 An allusion to the appointment of Thomas Cromwell on 21 January, 1535, to be vicar general and vicegerent of the king in all his ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the realm. Political History of England, Vol. V, page 369.
2 George Frederick, count of Waldeck, a field marshal in the Dutch service.
3 On 6 February, n.s., the States General resolved that they would no longer confer with Sieur Ehrenstein (the Swedish minister) as mediator until the troops of the king of Sweden had been withdrawn from the territories of the elector of Brandenburg. On the 22nd Temple reported that the Swedish ambassador had been warned that if the troops were not recalled the Dutch would make war on Sweden. But he went on to say: “Yet they have delayed it all this while upon pretence of that resolution running the circle of all the Provinces … but in truth that, before they begin an action of such consequence, they may be first assured of their confederates' intentions.” S.P. Holland, Vol. CXCVIII.
4 Maria Anna, youngest daughter of the Emperor Ferdinand III. She was 20 years of age at this date. William of Orange was 24. She married John William, Palatine of Neuburg in 1678.
5 This would seem to be the paper calendared under the heading “The Bishops' advice about Roman Catholics,” which is signed by all the persons here mentioned, with the bishop of Chichester added. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1673–5, pp. 549, 550. According to Ruvigny the conference took place on 5 February, N.S. Ruvigny to the king, 4 Feb., P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
6 The Doge Domenico Contarini died on 26 January, N.S., aged 90, after a reign of fifteen years. His successor Nicolo Sagredo, was elected on Wednesday, 9 February. Relations Veritables, Brussels, No. 7 of 16 Feb, and No. 8 of 23 Feb., 1675.
7 Tromp had come to London with Arlington and was made much of at Court according to Salvetti “Verso del quale la Maesta sua ha manifestato una stima et affezione particolare et resta giornalmente banchettato di tutti li principali personaggi della Corte,” Brit. Mus. Add. MSS, 27962V, fol. 321.
8 Order in Council of 3 February.
9 Writing on 4 February Ruvigny says: Ces deux ministres (the treasurer and Lauderdale) et les deux secretaires d'état s'assembleront demain avec cinq eveques pour concerter ensemble les asseurancea qu'on pourra dormer au peuple touchant la seureté de la religion. Mais M. le due d'Yorc et les gens bien intentionnés sont d'avis que ces asseurances doivent preceder l'esloignement du parlement afin de faire connaitre a tout le monde que S.M. Brit, a un soin particulier pour le maintien de la religion. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
10 The English text is printed in the London Gazette, Feb. 4–8, 1674.
11 Narborough sent the Bristol home with the ransomed slaves. She landed them at Deal on 25 March, o.s. Narborough to Williamson, 26 Dec., 1674. S.P. Barbary States, Vol. II. Relations Veritables, Brussels, No. 13 of 30 March, 1675.
12 The patent is dated 23 April, 1675. G.E.C., Complete Baronetage, Vol. IV, page 70.
13 Count Antony Hamilton. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1673–5, pp. 479, 484.
14 Writing on 15 March Hailes says he has learned from the inviato (i.e. Higgons), that Alberti had obtained that the affair of the consulage should be retracted. Higgons, on 29 March, writes “I can do nothing in his business (i.e. Hailes and the consulage), having received a command from the king to move the Senate in it no more, without new orders.” S.P. Venice, Vol. LIII, ff. 29, 39.
15 Presumably he means John Sobieski, who had been elected by the diet as king of Poland on 21 May, 1674.
16 Denis de la Haye Vantelet, French minister to the court of Bavaria.