TO THE HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR DURING THE THIRTY YEARS WAR
2 pp folio 11¼ x 7¾ ins with conjugate address and remains of seal, with the signet seal of Ferdinand complete,
This letter is written in response to one from Ferdinand delivered by "Nicolaldi, a most worthy messenger of the most serene and powerful king of Spain... and exhort us among above other men to a joint treaty for the restoration of peace in the Empire". At this time Ferdinand was waging the Thirty Years War (1618-48) Catholic against Protestant, which was devastating his Empire. In 1625, despite the subsidies received from Spain and the Pope, Ferdinand was in a bad financial situation. In order to muster an imperial army to continue the war, he applied to Albrecht von Wallenstein, one of the richest men in Bohemia, on terms which were not advantageous. This final phase was characterised by the unbalancing of Ferdinand's Catholic Fight, with the intervention of the Swedes in the Protestant cause. Prompted by family ties, Charles had promised aid to Frederick V, Elector Palatine, (his brotherinlaw) heavily engaged in the first years of the Thirty Years War. He was married to Charles's sister Elizabeth, and had agreed to fund an English force which would join Frederick's general Ernst von Mansfeld. However, Charles's first Parliament, already hostile to his favourite, the duke of Buckingham, refused to fully fund this overseas venture. Involvement in the Thirty Years War continued, with a disastrous attempt against Cadiz in 1626, and another, equally disastrous attempt to help the Protestants of La Rochelle in 1627, after which Charles made peace with both France (1629) and Spain (1630). At this time in Charles' reign he was consolidating his relationship with his Roman Catholic Queen after the assassination of his favorite Buckingham, and was ruling without Parliament. A period that was to last for 11 years. Involvement in any campaiging was difficult without the finance voted by Parliament.The letter is a model of diplomatic propriety written and composed in the elegant hand of his Secretary Georg Weckherlin (see footnote).
Knowing that the British would not contemplate any alliance with a Catholic Monarch, he puts his case for the restoration of his Sister and Brother in law. "For we are trying to accomplish the restoration of our brother afresh, everything else being postponed...". He continues " and if at length your wisdom and power had abolished utterly removed that proscription, we in turn by no distinction of honour or prejudice of the common good would be prevented from forming an intimate union with the famous house of Austria and keeping it most sincerely." TEXT. Charles by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith etc. to the most powerful and invincible Prince, Lord Ferdinand II, by favour and will of heaven, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Sclavonia, Archduke of Austria, Stiria, Corinthis, Carniola, Wirtemberga, Count of Tyrol, brother kinsman and our dearest friend, greeting and increase of good fortune. A distinguished man de Nicolaldi, a most worthy messenger of the most serene and powerful king of Spain, our dearest brother, has handed to us several months previously your letter in which you express both sincere affection towards and exhort us above other men to a joint treaty for the restoration of peace in the Empire. Indeed on both accounts we are grateful to your dearest Majesty: and an answer would have speedily been given by us in accordance with the wishes of your mind, as that man with extraordinary zeal for you was continually and eagerly urging, had not the prolonged delay of Ansthrutherus our ambassador kept us suspended in doubt, so that we could give no satisfactory answer at all. If in accordance with our wishes after the loss of so much time, there had been an satisfactory answer, it would have made us truly most sure of your good will and most ready for all the duties of closest friendship. For we were trying to accomplish the restoration of our brother afresh, everything else being postponed, by the assistance of you alone: to this not only brotherly love, howevewr great it may be, but a kind of especial good will for you also led and usrged us on. "And if at length your wisdom and power had abolished utterly removed that proscription, we in turn by no distinction of horour or prejudice of the common good would be prevented from forming and intimate union with the famous house of Austria and keeping it most sincerely."
Assuredl;y thro' yearning for this with the greatest and scarcely cedible patience we with holding our assent have postponed the departure of our brother, so that he has devoted himself too late for the favourable and well disposed feelings of the king of Ruecia towards him, although tha very purpose he has declared publicly that he had come to Germany. Now moreover the Spaniards and Boarlii that had hold sway over each Palatinate by armed force and war has sprung up and is blessing on all sides so that no rope or scope seems now to be left for the undertaking begun: Assuredly not only those difficulties, owing to which other Princes have excused themselves, but a far stronger reason holds us, as matters now stand, from being able to involve ourselves in the confederacy now proposed. "When moreover it seems good to your dearest Majesty to restore our brother into the place and possessions of his ancestors, he will scarcely find one Prince, who is other than willing with eager enthusiasm to unite himself to the house of Austria and to join himself to your plans." Meanwhile with regard to our Ambassador, who so long has been treated courteously, we gladly thank you and from our heart, your dearest Majesty, we pray for your safety and happiness. Given from our palace at Bagshot, 29th August in the year of Christ 1632 and in the year of our reign 8. Your dearest Majesty's brother and most loving kinsman Carolus R. Georg Rudolf Weckherlin (15 September 1584 – 13 February 1653) Born in Stuttgart, was a poet, and worked briefly with John Milton. He was chief clerk to a succession of British Secretaries of State and was especially skilled in foreign languages and cryptology.
He acted as a licenser of London foreign news publications for Charles I and in the mid-1630s he assisted with the negotiations for the development of an offensive and defensive treaty with France that would have brought Britain directly into the Thirty Years' War. This elegantly phrased response to Ferdinand II, is a masterpiece of diplomacy and courtly language. Thanks to Felix Pryor for this identification and note.
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