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Charles II.

The Treaty of Dover, also known as the Secret Treaty of Dover, was an offensive and defensive treaty between England and France signed at Dover on June 1[1] in 1670. It required France to assist England in her aim to rejoin the Roman Catholic Church and England to assist France in her war of conquest against the Dutch Republic. The Third Anglo-Dutch war is a direct consequence of this treaty.


Negotiation and provisions

Henrietta Anne, Charles II's youngest sister assisted in the negotiations that led to the Secret Treaty of Dover.[2]

Exactly who first proposed the alliance between these two traditional enemies is unknown, as is the date when the possibility was first discussed. However, it is known that the two nations had discussed forming a closer relationship since 1663. The only participants in the talks to begin with were King Louis XIV of France, King Charles II, and Charles's sister Henrietta Anne, duchesse d'Orléans. Louis was of course the first cousin to Charles (through their grandfather Henry IV of France). Henrietta Anne was also Louis's sister-in-law through her marriage to his only brother Phillippe, duc d'Orléans.

No real progress was made in the negotiations until 1669 after Charles allegedly held a meeting with some of his advisors. During this meeting Charles announced that he wished to officially convert to Catholicism and at the same time reunite his lands with the Roman Catholic Church. Whether this meeting actually took place is a source of intense speculation. Although much of the groundwork had been laid by Henrietta Anne, the finer points and actual provisions of the treaty were hammered out by Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington and Sir Thomas Clifford.

Charles was to abandon England's Triple Alliance with Sweden and the Dutch Republic in favour of assisting Louis in conquering the Dutch Republic. Provided that the conquest was successfully completed, England was promised several very profitable ports along one of the major rivers that run through the Dutch Republic. In particular, the main components of the treaty were the following:

"The King of England will make a public profession of the Catholic faith, and will receive the sum of two millions of crowns, to aid him in this project, from the Most Christian King, in the course of the next six months. The date of this declaration is left absolutely to his own pleasure. The King of France will faithfully observe the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, as regards Spain, and the King of England will maintain the Treaty of the Triple Alliance in a similar manner. If new rights to the Spanish monarchy revert to the King of France, the King of England will aid him in maintaining these rights. The two Kings will declare war against the United Provinces. The King of France will attack them by land, and will receive the help of 6000 men from England. The King of England will send 50 men-of-war to sea, and the King of France 30; the combined fleets will be under the Duke of York's command. His Britannic Majesty will be content to receive Walcheren, the mouth of the Scheldt, and the isle of Cadzand, as his share of the conquered provinces. Separate articles will provide for the interests of the Prince of Orange. The Treaty of Commerce, which has already begun, shall be concluded as promptly as possible."[3]

The secret treaty did not in fact become public until 1830.[4]

The "Cover" Treaty

The secret treaty was signed and sealed in June 1670. The Duke of Buckingham was then appointed to negotiate a treaty with the King of France. He was amazed by how smoothly it went. This treaty closely followed the secret treaty just concluded, but the clause by which King Charles was to declare himself a Roman Catholic as soon as the affairs of his kingdom permitted did not appear; neither, therefore, did the stipulation that the attack on the Netherlands would follow his declaration. This treaty was signed by all five members of the Cabal Ministry on 21 December 1670.[5]

Consequences of the Treaty of Dover

Military preparations took some time. Louis declared war on the Dutch on 6 April 1672, and Charles followed suit the next day, 27 March (Old Style). The Third Anglo-Dutch War failed to go off as originally planned. The costs of deploying the English fleet were much greater than expected, and the money sent by Louis to offset the costs wasn't even close to enough. Furthermore the Dutch, led by Captain-General William III of Orange put up a much better fight than expected. Desperate for funds, Charles was forced to call Parliament into session for the first time in over two years. He had hoped to keep it prorogued in order to wage the war without its oversight. In 1674, largely because of pressure put upon Charles by Parliament, England signed the Treaty of Westminster ending their involvement in the third Anglo-Dutch War. The French would continue to fight for four more years before they signed the Treaty of Nijmegen.

In 1672, Charles issued a Declaration of Indulgence which suspended the penal laws against nonconforming Protestants. This same declaration also relaxed (but did not suspend) the penal laws applying to Roman Catholics. When Parliament reconvened that year they denounced the Declaration and announced that the English Monarch did not possess the power to issue proclamations that suspended penal laws passed by the Parliament. Furthermore they refused to fund the ongoing Third Anglo-Dutch War until the declaration was withdrawn. Charles was forced to comply with Parliament's demands, thereby ending the chance offered by the treaty of reconciling England with the Roman Catholic Church.

See also


  1. ^ Madame, a Life of Henrietta, Daughter of Charles I and Duchess of Orleans by J. Cartwright, Seeley and Co. Ltd., London, 1894, p. 332[1]
  2. ^ Stephen Coote Royal Survivor: The Life of Charles II 2000, ISBN 031222687X
  3. ^ Quoted from Mignet in Madame, a Life of Henrietta, Daughter of Charles I and Duchess of Orleans by J. Cartwright, Seeley and Co. Ltd., London, 1894, pp. 332-333[2]
  4. ^ Fraser, Antonia, Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979, p. 276
  5. ^ Fraser, Antonia, Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979, pp. 275–276


  • Charles and Madame by Cyril Hughes Hartman
  • Royal Survivor by Stephen Coote
  • The Life of King James II of England & etc as Collected from works writ by his own Hand


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