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which procures me the honour of serving so great a monarch, whom I regard and revere as a demigod.
I will transmit to your Majesty all that I shall learn respecting Casale, which has been fortified by one of the most skilful engineers of the Milan
This engineer has promised us a plan of all the fortresses of that State, and even, if your Majesty commands him, he will separate himself from the service of Spain, who does not know how to recompense properly the services and the talents of those who serve her with fidelity. I am convinced it would be useless in me to enlarge upon the importance of the fortress of Casale. Your Majesty must remember, that at different times it has arrested the progress of many armies, and that it is the only bulwark, upon which depends the loss or the preservation to the Spaniards of the territories of Milan ; territories, which for more reasons than one, ought to belong to your Majesty's
It is known that the Austrians are at this moment arming, in order to obtain possession by surprize of Casale, to the prejudice of the Duke Ferdinand, my master, the lawful possessor of it.
This Prince, nephew of Charles* the first, (which latter Prince was rather French than Italian, and by whose intervention the fortress of Pignerol has remained in the possession of your royal house); this Prince, I say, Ferdinand, will make known, in fit time and place, that he has not degenerated from his ancestors ; he has promised to serve you with the greatest fidelity, and to fight for you in a manner worthy of his birth ; and as he is extremely anxious to acquire glory, I trust your Majesty will have reason to applaud his conduct in your armies. By the confession of even the most skilful political observers, he is free from the suspicions, which other Italian Sovereigns. The Abbé d'Estrades knows that his Highness has communications with other great personages, who complain with reason of the insupportable yoke of the Spaniards, and who will take arms with him to combat, and to drive as quickly as possible from Italy, a power which is only established there to oppress it. If destiny willed it so, I have no doubt that the other Princes of this country would be happy to enjoy a stable peace under the auspices of your Majesty. I offer up vows for the progress
* Charles the first, Duke de Nevers in France, succeeded to the sovereignty of Mantua' on the death of his cousin Duke Vincent II. His two sons, Charles Duke de Rhetelois, and Ferdinand Duke de Mayenne, died during his life-time, and he was consequently succeeded, at his death in 1637, by his grandson Charles III.
of your victorious arms, and I pray God to prolong your days for the consolation of the world, &c.
HERCULES A. MATTHIOLI.*
ESTRADES TO POMPONNE.
Continuation of the Negociation.-Intrigues of the
Venice, Dec. 24, 1677. SIR, I have only some few particulars to add to the letter, which I did myself the honour to write to the King last week; but as the Duke of Mantua has made known to me, that they may serve to make you still more aware how important it is to that Prince to take his measures secretly, and to use all possible diligence for the conclusion of the affair, which I have given an account of to his Majesty, I have thought it necessary, Sir, that you should be informed of them. Three days ago, the Duke of Mantua informed me that he had found means to procure a copy of the written orders that the Empress Eleanor and the Emperor, conjointly with the Spaniards, had given to the Count Viltaliano Borromei, a Milanese, and the Imperial Commissary. They are to this effect, that if the French should come into Italy, and that it should appear to him that the Duke of Mantua had any intention to be on their side, he should make use of this pretext to render himself master of Casale without delay, by means of their partizans, who are there in considerable numbers, and among others, the Governor of the town, and the Governor of the citadel ; in order to preserve this fortress and all the Montferrat for the Empress Eleanor. The Marquis Carrossa has received a similar order with regard to Mantua. He is also an Imperial Commissary, and it will be easy for him to execute what is ordered him, because the Governor of the citadel is his brotherin-law, and the Major of the town his intimate friend. On these accounts, the Duke of Mantua has sent me word that in his present situation, in which he is besides watched by his mother, by the monk Bulgarini, who governs her, and by the greater part of his Ministers, who are devoted to the House of Austria, he is obliged to show no ambition, to appear to have no knowledge of his own affairs, and to excite no suspicions by his conduct; and also that he cannot declare himself openly in favour of the King's interests, as he would wish to do, nor deliver up Casale to his Majesty, unless he will send a sufficient army into Italy to secure that fortress, and to defend him (the Duke) from the evils that menace him, and from the designs which the House of Austria has against him; and that this obliges him to supplicate and exhort his Majesty to make an effort to that effect, even if he has not actually resolved to carry the war into the Milanese, since Casale is an acquisition sufficiently important to determine him to it. But Matthioli to whom the
* This letter exists in cypher, and also written in Italian and French, in the Archives of the Office for Foreign Affairs at Paris.