Letter of the Emperor Leopold I to King James II, April 9, 1689

A printed version of the text appears on pages 324 to 326 of volume 2 of The Life of James the Second, edited by James Stanier Clarke (London, 1816).

Leopold, etc.

The letter of the 6th of February which Your Serenity wrote to us from the Castle of St. Germains we received from the Earl of Carlinford your Ambassador in our Court, in which you gave us an account into what circumstances Your Serenity was reduced by the desertion not only of your army on the Prince of Orange's coming, but even of your servants and those you put most confidence in, which forced you to seek refuge in France, and therefore request our assistance for the regaining your kingdoms. We do assure Your Serenity that we no sooner heard that deplorable instance of the instability of human affairs, but we were sensibly touched and truly afflicted, not only out of the common motives of humanity, but for our sincere affection to you, to see that happen which (though we hoped the contrary) we had too much reason to apprehend. For had Your Serenity given more attention to the kind representations we made you by our Ambassador the Count of Kaunitz, instead of hearkening to the fraudulent suggestions of France, who by fomenting division between Your Serenity and your people thought to have had a better opportunity of insulting the rest of Europe, and had you thought fit to use your power and authority as arbiter of the Peace of Nimeghen to put an end to their continual breaches of faith and agreements, and for that end had entered into the same measure with us and those who had a right notion how things stood - we doubt not but Your Serenity would by that means have extremely mollified and repressed the odium which your people have of our religion and have settled peace and tranquility not only in your own kingdom but in the whole Roman Empire.

We leave it therefore now to your own judgement, whether we are in circumstances of affording Your Serenity any succour, we being not only engaged in a war with the Turks, but under a necessity of repressing a cruel and unjust one which the French, thinking themselves secure of England, have (against their solemn faith and engagement) lately brought upon us. Nor can we forbear puting you in mind that our religion suffers no more from any people than the French themselves, who, to our unspeakable damage and that of the whole Christian world, think it lawful not only to unite their force with the sworn enemies of the holy cross to thwart our endeavours for the glory of God and put a stop to the success it had pleased his omnipotent hand to afford us, but by heaping one perfidy on the back of another have exacted unreasonable contributions from towns surrendered upon conditions, even against the engagement signed by the Dauphin's own hand, and, not content with that, have plundered them and reduced them at last to ashes or heaps of rubbish. They have burnt the palaces of princes which the most cruel wars had spared until now, spoiled churches, and (like the most barbarous nations) carried away the people into slavery. They have made a jest of executing such horrible things to Catholics, as the very Turks would have been ashamed of, which has put a necessity upon us to exert our power in our own defence and that of the Roman Empire, no less against them than the Turks themselves.

Not doubting but Your Serenity is too reasonable to think us worthy of blame, if we endeavour by the force of arms to gain that security to which hitherto so many treaties have proven so ineffectual, and that we enter into such measures with those who have the same interest with us, as seems necessary for our common security and defence; beseeching Almighty God to direct all for his glory, and that he will grant Your Serenity true comfort in your afflictions; whom we embrace with a lasting, tender and brotherly affection.

Vienna, April 9, 1689.

This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (noel.mcferran@rogers.com) and was last updated October 26, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2003.