The dispatches of Thomas Plott (1681-1682) and Thomas Chudleigh (1682-1685). English envoys at The Hague

Edited by Frederick Arnold Middlebush

A secret agreement (1681) between the English king, Charles II and Louis XIV of France heralded a change in direction for English foreign policy at the time. In exchange for funds, Charles II broke off hostilities towards Louis XIV. England agreed to remain as detached as it dared in the face of mounting French aggression within Europe at the risk of arousing suspicion among the other countries. This political strategy required Henry Sidney, the English envoy in The Hague at the time, to be recalled and replaced by Thomas Plott (1681-1682) and Thomas Chudleigh (1682-1685), respectively.

The publication of these letters provides an insight into the relations between England and the Republic of the United Provinces, particularly concerning Charles’s attempts to have France’s territorial claims to the Southern Netherlands ratified.

To achieve this, the following documents have been published in chronological order and with brief summaries of their contents: letters written by Plott and Chudleigh to Secretary of State Conway and his secretary Blathwayt; letters written to Conway’s successor Sunderland and Secretary Jenkins as well as Conway’s orders to Chudleigh. Memoranda and resolutions that were passed between the English, French and Dutch governments have also been included in an appendix.

The publication contributes greatly to our understanding of the bilateral relations with England and the relationships between the key players within the Republic. It can also be viewed as complementing the Dutch work on the correspondence of William III and Hans Willem Bentinck entitled Correspondentie van Willem III en van Hans Willem Bentinck (‘s-Gravenhage 1927-1937).