Monday 30 September 1661

This morning up by moon-shine, at 5 o’clock, to White Hall, to meet Mr. Moore at the Privy Seal, but he not being come as appointed, I went into King Street to the Red Lyon to drink my morning draft, and there I heard of a fray between the two Embassadors of Spain and France; and that, this day, being the day of the entrance of an Embassador from Sweden, they intended to fight for the precedence! Our King, I heard, ordered that no Englishman should meddle in the business,1 but let them do what they would. And to that end all the soldiers in the town were in arms all the day long, and some of the train-bands in the City; and a great bustle through the City all the day. Then I to the Privy Seal, and there Mr. Moore and a gentleman being come with him, we took coach (which was the business I come for) to Chelsy, to my Lord Privy Seal, and there got him to seal the business. Here I saw by day- light two very fine pictures in the gallery, that a little while ago I saw by night; and did also go all over the house, and found it to be the prettiest contrived house that ever I saw in my life. So to coach back again; and at White Hall light, and saw the soldiers and people running up and down the streets. So I went to the Spanish Embassador’s and the French, and there saw great preparations on both sides; but the French made the most noise and vaunted most, the other made no stir almost at all; so that I was afraid the other would have had too great a conquest over them. Then to the Wardrobe, and dined there, end then abroad and in Cheapside hear that the Spanish hath got the best of it, and killed three of the French coach-horses and several men, and is gone through the City next to our King’s coach; at which, it is strange to see how all the City did rejoice. And indeed we do naturally all love the Spanish, and hate the French. But I, as I am in all things curious, presently got to the water-side, and there took oars to Westminster Palace, thinking to have seen them come in thither with all the coaches, but they being come and returned, I ran after them with my boy after me through all the dirt and the streets full of people; till at last, at the Mewes, I saw the Spanish coach go, with fifty drawn swords at least to guard it, and our soldiers shouting for joy. And so I followed the coach, and then met it at York House, where the embassador lies; and there it went in with great state. So then I went to the French house, where I observe still, that there is no men in the world of a more insolent spirit where they do well, nor before they begin a matter, and more abject if they do miscarry, than these people are; for they all look like dead men, and not a word among them, but shake their heads. The truth is, the Spaniards were not only observed to fight most desperately, but also they did outwitt them; first in lining their own harness with chains of iron that they could not be cut, then in setting their coach in the most advantageous place, and to appoint men to guard every one of their horses, and others for to guard the coach, and others the coachmen. And, above all, in setting upon the French horses and killing them, for by that means the French were not able to stir. There were several men slain of the French, and one or two of the Spaniards, and one Englishman by a bullet. Which is very observable, the French were at least four to one in number, and had near 100 case of pistols among them, and the Spaniards had not one gun among them; which is for their honour for ever, and the others’ disgrace. So, having been very much daubed with dirt, I got a coach, and home where I vexed my wife in telling of her this story, and pleading for the Spaniards against the French. So ends this month; myself and family in good condition of health, but my head full of my Lord’s and my own and the office business; where we are now very busy about the business of sending forces to Tangier, and the fleet to my Lord of Sandwich, who is now at Lisbon to bring over the Queen, who do now keep a Court as Queen of England. The business of Argier hath of late troubled me, because my Lord hath not done what he went for, though he did as much as any man in the world could have done. The want of money puts all things, and above all things the Navy, out of order; and yet I do not see that the King takes care to bring in any money, but thinks of new designs to lay out money.

  1. The Comte de Brienne insinuates, in his “Memoirs,” that Charles purposely abstained from interfering, in the belief that it was for his interest to let France and Spain quarrel, in order to further his own designs in the match with Portugal. Louis certainly held that opinion; and he afterwards instructed D’Estrades to solicit from the English court the punishment of those Londoners who had insulted his ambassador, and to demand the dismissal of De Batteville. Either no Londoner had interfered, or Louis’s demand had not in England the same force as in Spain; for no one was punished. The latter part of his request it was clearly not for Charles to entertain, much less enforce.—B.

38 Annotations

Pedro.   Link to this

"And indeed we do naturally all love the Spanish, and hate the French."

Being almost 350 years ago Sam will “remember Agincourt” even better than we do now!

Pedro.   Link to this

Comte d'Estrades (1607-1686) Portrait.

http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/portrait.asp?...

The Baron de Batteville (note 13).
http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Grammont/footnote...

Josh   Link to this

Does all this whoop-te-do mean anything more than fans and teams fighting during a sports match?

dirk   Link to this

Quite a lively day!

The fight between the Spanish and the French: something like a duel organized on a large scale - reminds me even of the mini wars the Romans occasionally staged in the Colosseum. Both parties seem to have been free in their respective choice of arms and number of fighting men (very much like in a war really): the French went for the guns, the Spanish for noble swordplay *and* superior though somewhat dirty tactics (killing the horses).

Naturally Elisabeth would be vexed to hear "her" side lost. And Sam, willingly or not, rubs it in.

All this shows how volatile public opinion is though: Pedro mentions Agincourt, but let's not forget the Spanish Armada business (much closer to Pepys' time than Agincourt).

dirk   Link to this

"This morning up by moon-shine"

Bright moon, for two days ago was full moon, with a partial eclipse (I wonder why Sam made no mention of that - or is his scientific interest waning?)

Source:
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/phase/pha...

vicente   Link to this

Dirk: all's fair in Love and war "somewhat dirty tactics (killing the horses)."
? la guerre comme a la guerre. — “All’s fair in love and war.”
http://www.fact-index.com/l/li/list_of_french_p...
wot a day for the paper of the day

vicente   Link to this

so normal. "... and home where I vexed my wife in telling of her this story, and pleading for the Spaniards against the French..."

Stolzi   Link to this

"I vexed my wife"

With his pro-Spanish partisanship, or with running off like a small boy, aplashing through the mud, to see the fun, and coming home all "daubed"?

"Oh Samuel - !" (sigh of exasperation)

Australian Susan   Link to this

"Daubed"
Well, gues who was going to have to get all that mud off! And with no modern stain removers either.
Wonderful entry this, with Sam rushing about all fascinated and eagar for news - never mind the dirt - and the old idea of the French being the "real" enemy, which is so much a part of English popular culture: two instances of this - in Tony Richardson's Charge of the Light Brigade, he has the superannuated English commander of the troops keep referring to the enenmy as The French: his aide-de-camp has to keep whispering that it's the Russians, and the immortal Sir Humphery Appleby referring to the French as the Real Enemy in various episodes of yes Minister.

Snow   Link to this

Tintin, our intrepid reporter running through the streets following the action! Apart from Sam's personal interest in what's going on I get the feeling that he knows he's reporting it for future readers of the diary. I can imagine him relating this story to Elizabeth with all the actions. A thrilling entry.

Pedro.   Link to this

John Evelyn's account of the fray.

In his diary for the 1st October:
"then (the King) commanded to me draw-up the Matter of fact happning at the bloudy Encounter which then had newly happn'd betweene the French & Spanish Ambassador neere the Tower, at the reception of the Sweds Ambassador contending for precedency."

http://www.geocities.com/Paris/LeftBank/1914/ed...
It is said that an account can be seen "in that gentleman’s article in the Biographia Britannica."
May be interesting if it could be found?

andy   Link to this

as I am in all things curious

It's this diligence in getting and recording the full story that's Pepys' hallmark; and on the other side of the text, the wry notes that reveal Sam's character.

Chrisreiki   Link to this

Oh, what a delight!

"And indeed we do naturally all love the Spanish, and hate the French"

It was ever thus.

Pedro.   Link to this

A CONTEST FOR PRECEDENCE

"the Spaniards had not one gun among them; which is for their honour for ever, and the others' disgrace"

Dirty tricks by the French.

"and fifty on horseback, most of the latter, in defiance of the arrangement made with the king, being armed with pistols and carabines."
http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/sept/30.htm

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"Our King, I heard ordered that no Englishman should meddle in the business"
Very clever;let them kill each other;after all isnt he suposed to impose law and order in his realm.

Stolzi   Link to this

A far more serious note
is the King's extravagance and fiscal irresponsibility -

"The want of money puts all things, and above all things the Navy, out of order; and yet I do not see that the King takes care to bring in any money, but thinks of new designs to lay out money."

Wim van der Meij   Link to this

Was this skirmish between the Spanish & the French a private war or some sort of tournement? Were the two countries at war at this time? It would be unthinkable these days to have this kind of thing; fancy the Spanish and the French ambassadors with their soldiers having a small battle in Hyde Park in October 2004!

Peter   Link to this

You see newspaper articles from time to time decrying the abuse of diplomatic immunity from crimes and misdemeanours ranging from traffic offences to murder. Imagine the the outraged headlines if this happened today!

helena murphy   Link to this

It is not just the prestige of Spain which is at stake but the might of the Hapsburg Empire,which controlled Spain,practically all of central and latin America ,as well as central and eastern Europe.The dispute is meant to indicate who has hegemony in Europe, the French or the House of Hapsburg,the latter losing ground to a strong,militaristic and united France under Lousi X1V.

Maurie Beck   Link to this

Oh, what a delight!

"And indeed we do naturally all love the Spanish, and hate the French"

It was ever thus.

And the French the English. “Eeengleesh, I fart een your general direcion!” Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Maurie Beck   Link to this

It is not just the prestige of Spain which is at stake but the might of the Hapsburg Empire,which controlled Spain,practically all of central and latin America ,as well as central and eastern Europe.

Thanks for illuminating the geopolitics of the time.

Glyn   Link to this

Yesterday, he went to bed completely drunk, a few hours later he is on his way to work at 5 am. 20-year-olds have great recuperative powers.

I don't think the French particularly dislike the English, even jokingly. The Brits only have them (and the Irish) as neighbours, but the French have lots of other countries on their borders, so attitudes change.

Ranking-wise, at the time of the Diary the 2 major European countries are France (population almost as big as everyone else combined) and Spain (the most powerful). England is in the second or third rank.

Glyn   Link to this

And why is Elizabeth cheering on the French, when they drove her family out of the country, probably killing some of her family?

Pedro.   Link to this

A CONTEST FOR PRECEDENCE (2)

The link I gave for the description of the fray does not seem to work, an alternative (and expand to regular size) is...

http://www.library.wisc.edu/etext/BookofDays/La...

Ruben   Link to this

welcome back, Vicente

Pedro.   Link to this

Errata.

Oops ! You can only see one page on the link above, go to link below and click on the 30th September to move pages

http://www.library.wisc.edu/etext/BookofDays/

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"And why is Elizabeth cheering on the French, when they drove her family out of the country, probably killing some of her family?"

Interesting...And suggesting Beth may be of different opinions than her Protestant dad, Alexander. Pity he doesn't get on with Sam, it would be nice to hear what he and Balty think of this.

Not to mention I'd love to hear more about his perpetual motion machine and other toys. I have to suspect Sam was either once throughly humiliated (during the great pre-Diary row with Beth?) by the St. Michels or throughly convinced that Dad-in-law the inventor is a humbug for our boy not to show some interest.

Unless perhaps an embarrassed Bethie keeps Dad's tinkerings strictly secret.

Shame though, I'd love an entry...

"Up betimes and with Hooke and Mr. Evelyn to my father-in-law's where he did show me his machine of motion perpetual... Which indeed I was much with child to see."

JWB   Link to this

"prettiest contrived house"
This was the Danvers House, built by Sir John Danvers, the Regicide. It adjoined Thomas More's and was torn down to make way for Danvers Street in 1696.

Glyn   Link to this

It's definitely worth clicking on Pedro's link above and scrolling through the pages to 396 and 397. It's a great explanation and vivid description of what happened and why.

Here is page 396:

http://www.library.wisc.edu/etext/BookofDays/12...

and page 397:

http://www.library.wisc.edu/etext/BookofDays/12...

Nix   Link to this

The struggle for precedence --

From the items Pedro and Glyn linked to, it appears that the French lost this battle but won the war: a year later the Spanish conceded diplomatic precedence to the French. I guess it was a point of pride -- does anyone know if there was any practical significance attached to "precedence"?

PHE   Link to this

Superb entry
which so well presents Sam's character. While he is the social climber who wishes to be dignified and sophisticated, he simply can't resist being the voyeur, wanting to rush back and forth and know everything that happens - but then taking the effort to record everything in vivid and journalistic detail.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"So, having been very much daubed with dirt, I got a coach, and home where I vexed my wife in telling of her this story, and pleading for the Spaniards against the French. So ends this month; myself and family in good condition of health..."

Delightful close to a great tale...Just a touch of rueful guiltiness over hurting Bethie's feelings while a boy's impish glee at "vex[ing] my wife"...

Fun to see him conceding Beth the role of adult here...Though I'd bet she enjoyed his eagerness in telling the tale.

I'll commit a possible act of heresy here and further bet he did read the Diary to her at times...In carefully censored bits.

john lauer   Link to this

but the 1st 'precedence' link above works just fine...

Pedro.   Link to this

Embassador of Spain.

The background points to Vatteville, but he may have left the Kingdom? See not in background.

http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/3118/

Bill   Link to this

"they intended to fight for the precedence"

This had been a frequent source of contention, and many absurd incidents had occurred. In 1618, Gaspar Dauvet, Comte des Marets, Ambassador to James I., left our Court in dissatisfaction upon a point of precedence claimed by him over Gondomar, which was not allowed by James. The question now came to a crisis, and was settled.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill   Link to this

"There were several men slain of the French"

This fray was the occasion of a good joke at the French Court, thus related in the Menagiana, vol. ii., p. 336:—" Lorsqu'on demandoit, 'Que fait Batteville en Angleterre?' on repondoit, 'Il bat L'Estrade.'" This expression, as is well known, means "battre la campagne avec de la cavalerie pour avoir des nouvelles des ennemis."
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

I'm sure someone can explain this joke. The closest I can get for "battre l'estrade" is "to do military reconnaissance."

Bill   Link to this

"the French were at least four to one in number"

The French accounts swell the number of the Spanish Ambassador's attendants to 2000: 200 would, perhaps, be the truth.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill   Link to this

The joke: Though I see that BATtville is the Spanish ambassador and d'ESTRADES is the French ambassador and "battre" means "hit." haha

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