England in the Mediterranean: A Study of the Rise and Influence of British Power within the Straits 1603-1713 - Vol. 2

By Julian S. Corbett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
LOUIS XIV. AND SICILY

THE significance of the new movement lay in the fact that the European situation had by this time definitely assumed the aspect which we associate with the age of Louis XIV. The Triple Alliance, which Temple had negotiated, had failed to check the career of France, as it was doomed to fail, seeing that contemporaneously with it Charles was arranging his secret understanding with the French King behind his Ambassador's back. By the astounding treaty of Dover, which he had concluded under the influence of his idolised sister, Henriette d'Orléans, he had practically placed his foreign policy in Louis's keeping. In return for aiding him to establish a Catholic despotism in England, Louis was to have a free hand and even assistance in his imperial and counter- Reformation policy. So secret was the incredible project kept that for generations afterwards historians were baffled in seeking a key to Charles's bewildering policy. By the nation it was felt rather than understood--felt like some ghostly terror which could not be defined or grappled, but still was there, haunting its rest and scaring its resistance into insensate panic. The first manifestation of the great design, as we have seen, was Charles's joining Louis in the late war upon Holland, and the first uneasy movement of the nation compelled him to desert his Catholic ally. The instinct of the people began to show them the war was a blow at Protestantism.

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