✹ About Tuesday 19 February 1660/61 Stephane Chenard on 22 Feb 2024 • Link "Nor that it is known who he", the king, "will have", for a queen. Once again we count ourselves fortunate to be so well tapped into the best intelligence network of Europe, that of Venice of course. And so we know better, and allow ourselves a smug half-smile as we listen to Sam and Slingsby from the next table (we'll pretend, if they ask, being amused by the cleavage of that gipsy girl over there). For tomorrow Giacomo Quirini, the republic's ambassador in Spain, will write (but he's already drafting today, for sure) that the Portuguese are so sure of their candidate, Catherine de Braganza, being picked, that "in Lisbon they have had illuminations, processions and public games, the people being pleased and the whole country rejoicing", and "they have also begun to give the Princess Caterina the title of Majesty". In two fascinating dispatches at https://www.british-history.ac.uk…, Quirini adds, sourcing it to "a great personage who frequents the king's apartments" in Madrid, that Queen Caterina's dowry is to include "all the East Indies and the fortress of Tangier", among other things, such as half a million ducats in cash. True, the bargaining does go on, with "the English claim[ing] a part of Brazil and the Tercere Islands [one of the Azores] with two million ducats", while Francesco Giavarina, Quirini's colleague in London, will chime in on March 4 (new style, three days from now) that a mysterious envoy from Madrid made a quick dash to the Spanish embassy and, he heard, before rushing back to Spain left "notes of exchange for 5 to 600,000 crowns, for the use of the king here, to constrain him". Not yet a dowry, in this case - a bribe. We phant'sy the Spanish courier had a cloak with a deep cowl and the curtains in his coach were drawn tight. Of course, nothing is decided, as Slingsby says. But, according to Giavarina, "many of the Council, who are Presbyterians, which means irreconcileable enemies of the Spanish monarchy, favour [the Portuguese ambassador, count de Ponte], forwarding and pushing his proposals". And, for now, the feverish haggling is the toast of the diplomatic scene; Giavarina notes that the courier's visit to the Spanish ambassador "is known to all the foreign ministers, though they have tried to keep it secret". Alas, it's not known to Sam; but it does concern him, already the name Tangiers imprints itself as a faint palimpsest in his life. Oh and, there's madeira wine hanging in the balance, and the future independence of Portugal, and those inconsequential little bastions in India, which England so disdains right now - mere confettis, when the future is so clearly in Brazil. What do you call them again? Bombay? Hooghly? Chittagong? What could Englishmen possibly do with that?