An exact relation of all the late revolutions in Messina with their original, causes and progress to this present : as it was communicated by a letter / from an English gentleman at Naples to a person of quality here.

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An exact relation of all the late revolutions in Messina with their original, causes and progress to this present : as it was communicated by a letter / from an English gentleman at Naples to a person of quality here.
Author
E. W., English gentleman at Naples.
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[London? :: s.n.,
1675]
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Messina (Italy) -- History.
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http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A65676.0001.001
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"An exact relation of all the late revolutions in Messina with their original, causes and progress to this present : as it was communicated by a letter / from an English gentleman at Naples to a person of quality here." In the digital collection Early English Books Online. https://name.umdl.umich.edu/A65676.0001.001. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 16, 2024.

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An exact Relation of all the late Revolutions in Messina, with their Original, Causes, and Pro∣gress to this present; as it was communicated by a Letter, from an English Gentleman at Naples to a Person of Quality here.

Printed by the Original.

Naples Adj. February the 16th. 1675. S. N.

SIR,

YOU know very well at my taking my leave of you at Paris, and that you were returning for England, I designed to have in Person visited Messina; but being come thus near, I am diverted from so perilous a Voyage, by the advice of my Friends, and the consideration of the dan∣gers which attend that Man, who without any concern adventures himself into places embroyl'd in War, and involved in Rebellion; Nor indeed could I (though I long sought after it) find any means of throwing my self from hence into that City, without running the hazard of being ap∣prehended for a Spy; which (you know well) would prove a knotty affair among so jealous a Nation as the Spaniards, who in those, and Religious cases, are never sparing of their Tor∣tures: these thoughts and difficulties made me therefore resolve to proceed no farther than this City, whence yet I doubt not, but I may in some competent measure, comply with, and satisfie the the injunction you laid upon me, of giving you a particular account of the troubles of Messina.

I need not tell you how it has for some Ages past, been the hard Fate of the Sicilians, as well as Neapolitans, to have groan'd under the Yoke of Forreign Servitude, and that * 1.1they have for some Centuries of Years, been sometimes exposed to the French Rule, some times to the Spanish Tyranny, and have often by the Aid of the one struggled to rid them∣selves from the other, though yet they were impatient of either: Of which let the Sicilian Vespers, and the great Revalution of Naples in Massaniello's time, stand as ample Testimonies' to omit all other petty Rebellions and Revolts, in which this City, and that of Messina have always had the share; and though the Spaniards may seem to have enjoyed for several Years past, a tranquil and quiet Dominion over those people of Sicily; yet the embers were only raked over, and the ill humours were not buried, but lull'd asleep, and from that rest there was gathered strength and vigour in the hearts of the people in General, and of the Nobility in Special, who were continually bemoaning to one another the bitterness of their slavery, and now wanted nothing but a happy conjuncture, to endeavour to crush that Pride wherewith the Spaniard (as they alledged) trampled over Them.

There had now for some Years been held the Office of Stratico, or chief Magistrate of the City of Messina, one Pedro de Lewis de Freg•…•…, a Man of no very ill or oppressive temper, but who suffered himself wholly to be ruled and governed by the Heads of the Family of Merli, to whom he was nearly allyed by Affinity; several Matches having been made counterchangably between the two Families; and those of the Merli by many other great Matches they had made with the Spaniards, were so wholly Spanioliz'd, that they look'd with a kind of scorn and contempt upon their own Country-men, and having now got the reins of the Covernment, by reason of Don Pedro's easiness, into their own hands, rid furiously and stretched the proud and haughty temper of the Spaniards▪ upon the very Tenter-hooks, whilst that which made their rigour appear so much more Notorious, was that the rest of the people plainly perceived it proceeded from those, who should rather have joyned with them in common Defence against it; so that to see▪ them∣selves Trampled over by Men of their own Strain, made them conceive a rage and ha∣tred implacable, both against them, and the Spaniards that supported them.

This general murmur at length begot several private Meetings, and the Famlies of the Marchesi, Giri, Grilli, Bentini, Caraffi, Cartoni, Gramani, and several other of the Prin∣cipal of the City, had sundry close Assemblies in all which they bemoaned, and exa∣sperated one another; and by degrees begun to encourage each other to contrive some way for their Redemption; thus they proceeded to make strong associasions and firm resoluti∣ons

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and in the end, about July 1672, sent away Andrea Marchesi to the Court of France, to try what assistance they might hope from thence, to back them in any thing they should attempt, and in the mean time continued to hearten up one another, and to blow the Coals of Sedition among the people, who were sufficiently before animated against the Spanish Government, both by reason of the almost intollerable burthen of Taxes they perpetually groaned under, and the haughty and the imperious manner wherewith the Spaniards Tyraniz'd over them.

But whether the Crown of France had not as yet fully determined to make a Rupture with Spain, or for what other unknown occasion, Andrea Marchesi found not his Pro∣positions entertained with that Zeal, he and his confederats had expected in the Court of France, so that upon his return the Factions seemed somwhat cooler, and grew irresolute in their Determinations, and in this posture continued affairs till about the begin∣ning of 1674, when the humors were not only revived, but put into a Flame, by several occurring accidents but principally by the ensuing occasion.

The Excise which is laid very high throughout all Sicily, especially upon all eatables and wearing apparel is usually there; as it is likewise in the Kingdom of Naples let out to Farm for Years: Now the Farm of the City and Territory of Messina which was before in the hands of Girolomo Mattes, Georgio Carassa, and Jacomo Spizzone, with some others being expired at Michaelmas 1643, was by the assisting Favour of the Stratico, and his, and their interest with the Vice-Roy, got wholly into the Family of Merli, who had be∣fore in their hands all the principal Offices appertaining to the Magistracy and now height∣ned by this addition, which brought into their power the Treasure of the place; they thought their Authority boundless, and making all their Officers of their own Kindred, Party and Allyes, trampled at their pleasure over the rest of the people, oppressing them with unusual Exactions, and without distinction, abusing both Nobility, Gentry, and Commons, who in their Souls breathed forth nothing but Revenge and destruction to these their violent Oppressors.

And now their Assemblies began to be more frequent & real Conspiracies to be formed; and resolutions taken to run all hazards rather than any longer endure this Tyranny, and withall the Conjuncture seeming more favourable (France either having already; or being upon the point to declare War against Spain,) Andrea Marchesi is once again dis∣patch't away to the Court of France, where he now finds a more favourable reception than formerly, and gaines not only promises but assurances of a certain succom, as soon as ever they appeared in action; with which joyful news he returns home, and heartens the Con∣spirators, that they begin to make all necessary preparations to fall on, and redeem them∣selves and their City from so intollerable slavery, and had at last put things in such a Po∣sture, that they waited only a favourable opportunity to begin the Execution.

Yet were not things so closely carried, but that the Stratico, and the Merli (who knew themselves justtly envyed, and were therefore the more watchful.) had got some private intelligence, and were grown more than suspicious of the whole contrivance: Wherefore, that they might be in a better posture to defend themselves, [for they perceived the whole Body of the People incensed against them] they had sent an account of their Jealou∣sies to the Marquess of Bayon then Viceroy, and had procured from him four Companies of Spanish Foot, which they disposed of in the Castle of Matagrisson, the Pallace Royal and the Castellazzo.

This additional force, though it a little Alarum'd, yet not at all disheartned the Conspi∣rators; for they perceived the people rather incensed than frightned at it, and therefore resolved not to omit any opportunity to fall on, which the matter it self soon gave thems for the Stratico and the Merli being Fortified with this additional Force, (which they knew was all they could expect, though things grow never so desperate) thought it the best way to put a stop to this Gangren before it ran any further; and to that end, gave private Orders for the Arresting of Paolo Gere, Giorgio Carassa, and Alberigo Marchesi, who in∣deed had been the principal Promoters of the Conspiracy, and most assiduous Fomenters of the people's discontents. Paolo Geri and Giorgio Carassa fell into the hands of those were sent to apprehend them but Alberigo Marchesi, having (as it is thought) some pri∣vate intelligence, had secured himself in the Pallace of the Mattei, (which stands in the direct way to the Castellazzo, whither usually all Prisoners of Quallity are carried,) and had there in an instant gathered together, near two Thousand Armed Men of the Chief Families of the Conspirators, and some of the Commons their dependants, who as the Guards were passing by with their Prisoners, Sallyed out in such Numbers on both sides the way, that they presently encompassed and seiz'd them, doubting no such matter, and being in all not above Fifty, rescued their Prisoners, and as it were by inspiration, strip∣ping the Souldiers of their Coats, clad so many of their own number with them, and tak∣ing

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likewise their Arms, immediatly Marched in good Order towards the Castellazzo, where, though those within had freshly received the Rumour that their Companions were assaulted; yet seeing their Liveries coming, laid aside all doubt, and became extraordina∣rily officious to open the Gates and receive them, who having gained the Bridge, gladly let in after them the whole Croud of their Followers; so that beyond all hopes or ima∣gination, the Castellazzo was in an instant Surpriz'd.

This happy success, and that so unexpected emboldened them beyond measure, and it was presently spread abroad, so that in a moment the whole people had the Alarum, & with great alacrity took Arms; and though the Stratico and the Merli did all they could in this confusion, and sent out several Companies of Spanish Foot to suppress them, yet they flockd together in such Vast Numbers that though the Spaniards made many brisk assaults, they were at last forced to retire with the loss, in several Skirmishes of near three hundred of their Men, though with the slaughter of more than double that Number of Messinesses.

And now the Inhabitants having got this Head (which happened on the 14th of June, 1674,) nothing was heard throughout the whole City but clamours, and Exclamations against the Tyranny and Oppression of the Spanish Government: every one animat∣ing his Neighbour to perfect the work they had begun, and crying out, Let▪ the Oppressors of the People the Stratico and the Merli Die, and let the Excise be banished for Ever: So that before Night they had got in Arms near 30000 Men, who went under se∣veral Heads of the Conspiracy into all the Quarters of the City, breaking open the Pri∣sons, and seizing the Publick Stores and Mony wherever they found them, and with im∣placable hatred, pulling down & Plundering all the Houses of the Merli, and committing a Thousand insolencies; Yet so well in this confusion managed they their business, that by break of Day they were become Masters of the Castle of Matagriffon, the Garrison with∣in not being able to defend it against such Numbers as assailed them on every side, hav∣ing deserted it, and made their Retreat to the Royal Palace. In this Castle they settled a Senate for the Government of Affairs, that they might maintain by Order what they had got by Confusion.

The first work these set the people about after having disposed them into some better Order, was the gaining of the Royal Palace (whither the Stratico, the Merli, and all the Spaniards were retired) which they formally Besieged, bringing several pieces of Artillery to batter it: Many, Messages were sent to them by the Stratico, and all reasonable offers that could be thought of made them, but they would listen to nothing; so that the Sratico see∣ing no fair means would do, resolved to hold out as long as he could, and in the mean time dispatched away several Courtiers to Marquess of Bayon Vice-Roy of the Sicily to acquaint him with the ill Posture the affairs were in, and to require his speedy Assistance, but Alas, they found him not in a condition to send any suddain succour, however, he immediatly sent away to the Court at Madrid to acquaint them with this on expected Revols, and of what ill consequence it might proveif a timely remedy were not applyed; whereupon Or∣ders were given to the Vice-Roy's of Naples and Millan to evy Forces for his Assistance, and the Pope Duke of Florence, Venecians, and Genovesses, were sollcited to lend their Gal∣lyes to joyn, with those of Naples and Sicily for the Besieging of the City by Sea; but the Pope, Duke, & Venecian Excused themselves, though the Genoveses read•••••• Assembled, and immediatly dispatched away two Gallies. The Marquess of Bayon sent likewise to the Duke of Astorgas, Vice Roy of this Kingdom of Naples for his present Assistance, but received but a cold answer; for indeed he was not then in a Posture, and could only promise to use his endeavours as afterwards he effectually did.

Mean while the Siege Palace Royal went on, and several Assaults and Sallyes were made, the Stratico and Merli defending themselves very Resolutely, till on the third of August, the Besiegers caused a Mine to he sprung, by which a great part of the Palace was thrown quite to the ground; so that the Stratico seeing himself reduced to the last Extremity, and finding no longer possibility of defending himself in that place, and no manner of hopes of Relief, he was forced to come to a Capitulation▪ to surrender the Palace into the hands of the People upon Terms, that he should March out of the City with such of the Fa∣mily of Merli, and all the Spaniards that were with him with thin Arms Baggage and one Piece of Cannon, and that all the rest should be left to the disposition of the People These Conditions were very punctually performed, and the Stratico with all his Compa∣ny, Marched out to the Castle of St. Salvadore a little way distant from Messina upon the Marine, but not thinking himself secure there, he embarked for Mellazo, where he found the Marquis of Bayon, who was already come thither in order to put things in a Posture for the reducing Messina by Force, since he could effect nothing by Treaty: For he had made several overtures to them in Order to an Accomodation, and had shewed himself

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very ready and willing to gratifie them in all reasonable matters; offering to remove the Stratico or chief Magistrate, who at first was their greatest pretended grievance; but now they had found out Numbers of others, and to all the Propositions made by the Vice-Roy seemed utterly Refractory, making in return such high and extravagant demands as he could not in Honour assent to, nor the Crown of Spain by any means grant, without (in a manner) giving away its whole Power and Authority over them; so that by their stubborness, it became apparent that they had hopes and encouragement from Abroad.

And now the Mesinesses having driven out their Stratico, and got the whole City into their hands began to take a care how they might maintain that new Power they had Rebelliously Usurped; wherefore they took heart, and Marched out, forcing all the Neighbouring places to furnish them with great quantities of Provisions, which they carefully laid up in stores for their future supply; they likewise took out of the several Religious Convents all the Plate which was dedicated to Holy uses, which they Coyn'd into Monies to serve their occasions; nor spared they any of the goods of their adversaries no more than their lives: for in the beginnings of these Insurrections, they put to death above 160 of the Family of the Merli, (to whom they bore an unplacable hatred) a∣mong which were three Ladies of Quallity, whom they had caused to be Beheaded under the Character of Spies, together with a Gentleman of the Family of Pavordo.

Hitherto they went on succesfully, the Vice-Roy not being yet got into any condition to check much less oppress them; so that by the middle of August they had brought all the Country within 16 Leagues of the City under their Jurisdiction, and sent several Depu∣ties into Forreign parts to Solicite Succours, and to buy Powder and other Amunition necessary for their Defence; but still their chief Relyance, and what they kept the people united with, was the hopes of a powerful assistance from France; which they had constant assurances of, which made them the more obstinate against hearkning to an Accomodation, though the Vice-Roy began to draw Forces to gather together at Mellazo, and that Five Gallies of Genova under the Command of the Marquess Gio: Dilrazzo, who had taken in 400 Neapolitan Soldiers at Nisita, was likewise arrived there with Command from that Commonwealth, to observe what Orders he should receive from the Marquis of Ba∣yon, and moreover the Vice-Roys of Naples and Millan were making great Preparations, so that the cloud began to grow thick over their Heads. Yet whilst all this Force was gathering together, no endeavours of an amieable composure were accepted, but all Pro∣positions the ViceR-oy could make were slighted by the Messineses, who now alleadged that they could not with safety hearken to any Accomodation till the Marquess of Bayon had disbanded those Forces he had at present with him, and was removed in Person to Paler∣mo. And yet all the while they continued thus obstinate in the very act of Rebellion: It is to be observed, they (as is usual in such cases) still profess'd all duty, Loyalty, and Al∣legeance to the King of Spain, declaring that they were forced to take up Arms against those who had the Chief Government of the City, who had oppressed them with many intollerable Exactions, and done several things to the prejudice and detriment of their City; upon whose removal from the Government, and the redressing of their grievances, they pretended to be willing to lay down Arms, and return to their Obedience.

But to give them the greater encouragement, there happened difference among those small Forces which the Vice-Roy had already drawn together to oppress them; a dispute arising between the General, of the Maltha and Genova, Gallies (which were come to assist the Crown of Spain against this City) about Precedency; in which the General of the Maltha Gallyes, having in some manner, at the instance of the Vice-Roy of Sicily, yielded to the Genoveses, incurred the displeasure of the great Master, who in anger sent for him home, so that that assistance was lost; and yet to give them more heart, about the latter end of September arrived at Messina; the Chevalier de Valbelle with Nine Ships, whereof Six were French Men of War, and the other stores of Amunition and Provision; which gave them such assurance of larger Succours from France, that with a great deal of Joy they put up the White Standard, declaring that they cast themselves under the Protection of that Crown; nor was this only an encouragement in it self, but in the Con∣sequences of it: For though upon the first breaking out of these disorders, when the Crown of Spain desired the State of Genova, to send some of their Gallies to the assistance of the Vice-Roy of Sicily, they readily did it. Yet now the Senate being informed that several French Men of War were arrived at Messina, and that the Inhabitants had put themselves under the Protection of that Crown; they for fear of a Rupture with so Potent an Enemy, gave immediat Orders for recalling their Gallyes, so that that part of the Assistance was like∣wise lost.

Yet both the Vice-Roy of Sicily, the Vice-Roys of Naples and Millan, and the Court of Spain, proceeded more vigorously in giving Orders, and Levying Forces for the reducing of

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this Citty ere things grew worse: For now they saw what they feared was happen'd, and began to be apprehensive of greater inconveniencies, (especially since they hoped for Assistance of Vantrump with his Fleet had failed them,) and the Messineses on the other part encouraged by Successes they had already been flattered with, began to think of attempting greater matters; and on the 10th. of October took the Castle of St. Salvadore, which was the only place of Strength the Spaniards had remaining near the City, which they immediatly delivered up into the possession of the French. In this Castle the Spaniards themselves well at first; the Governour and most of the Garrison having been Slain, was taken, yet then lost it at last as carelesly; for the Messineses had made many attempts upon it before the coming of the Sicurde Valbelle, but upon his Arri∣val, he resolved formally to Besiege this Castle; and accordingly, on the second of Octo∣ber at Night, opened the Trenches which were continued till the Fourth at Night; the Spaniards being during that time forced from their utmost Palisadoes, and the Be∣siegers having Seized on a Well about Fifty paces from the Castle, from whence they within had all their Water: Whereupon on the Fifth of October, the Spaniards Capitulated, and it was agreed, that the Castle should be delivered, if not Relieved in Eight Days; during which time, several Batteries were caused by the French to the end, the Siege might be continued, if any Assistance should come to the Besieged; to hinder which, the Sieur de Valbelle Anchor'd his Ships under San Salvador. The Tenth of October, the Spanish Armada, under the Command of Don Melchior de la Cueva, consisting of Twenty Sail of Men of War appeared, and came to Anchor in some disorder between Paradis and Nostredam de la Grote; whereupon the Besieged either apprehending them to be French Men of War, and consequently looking upon themselves as lost, grew careless in keeping the Guards; or else for some other unknown Reasons, gave the Messinesses opportunity of Entring the Castle, which they did without the least difficulty, making themselves Ma∣sters of it, and of the Officers and Soldiers in it, whom they carried Prisoners to Messina.

The 12th. of October, the Spanish Fleet continuing still at Anchor, and in the same disorder; several of their Ships having lost their Rudders, or sustained other damage; the Sieur de Valbelle finding the Wind favourable, set Sail with his Squadron, consisting of Five great Men of War, and Three Fire-Ships, with design to Attack the Enemy, and try if he could burn some of their Ships; in which the favourableness of the Wind, and their disorder promised him some Success; but the Enemy perceiving his design, set Sail, and retired to Rheggio: so Valbelle went a shore again, and having given Order for the repairing the Fortifications of St. Salvador, and assured the Senate of his Masters Pro∣tection, took leave, and with his Squadron set Sail for Thoulon. But the Court of Spain was so much startl'd at this success, that they gave Orders for the Fortifying of Rheggio on the opposite there, and for the hastning of the Levyes from all parts of the Dominions of that Crown, least the proceedings of this City should endanger, not only the Peace of all the rest of Sicily, but of the K•…•… of Naples also.

To prevent therefore the Mischiefs ••••at might ensue by any delay in reducing this Re∣bellious City; the Marquess of Villa Franca is Commissionated Vice-Roy of Sicily, in the stead of the Marquess of Bayon; who about the beginning of November arrived at Mellazzo with 22 Gallyes, and good Supplies of Men, Mony, and Ammunition from Spain, to whom the Vice-Roy of Naples sent daily Recruits, as well of Old as New raised Sol∣diers; besides the two Regiments sent by the Vice-Roy of Millan from that State: So that now both by Sea, and Land, there appeared a Formidable Power before Messina, and all Passes being block'd up, Provisions began to grow extreamly scarce, and the Com∣mon people to be Diffident and Mutinous; and some there were that began to cry out for Peace, and though still the opposing Party were more Prevalent, yet there wanted not those that did bitterly exclaim against those that had brought them into this Po∣sture; and indeed the better sort of them, had some apprehensions: for they not ex∣pecting to have been Attack'd before Spring, could not fore-see, how they could possibly for want of Provision, hold out all Winter.

Yet was not the Sieur de Valbelle unmindfull of them, nor the assurances he had given them of his Masters assistance and Protection? Wherefore as soon as he Arrived at Mar∣seilles, he went up Post to Paris, and representing to His most Christian Majesty, the true State of the Affairs of this City, procured Orders for a speedy Succour, both of Men, and Provisions, with a considerable Squadron of Men of War to convey it to Messina, for fear of Opposition; Mean while, several Barks with Corn, and other Provisions ventured in to them, though several of them fell short, being taken by the Spainard. And now, on the 16th. of December, the Duke of Ferrandina now, newly made Vice-Roy of Sicily, in the stead of the Marquess of Franca, arrived at Messina, with 21 Gallyes, and 8 Men of War; taking in his way some Barks, bound hither with Provision, and be∣sides

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these losses, the Messineses began now to fail of their wonted success; for in an En∣counter they had with the Spaniards near the Sealleta, they received a great defeat, three or four hundred of them being Slain upon the place, and the rest beaten to their very Walls.

Nor was this Defeat at the Scaletta left unprosecuted, for, in Pursuance of it, and up∣on the arrival of the Neapolitan Galyes, with a considerable quantity of Men; the Duke Florendina with great diligence, caused them to advance towards the point of Pedoro, (whence the Messineses had some very considerable Posts) and to endeavour to put their Men on shore, and drive the Enemy thence; but the Messineses perceiving their intention, stayed not for them, but immediatly quitted those Posts, and retired into the City; leaving behind them several Pieces of Cannon, and good quantity of Ammunition: Whereupon the Spaniards Advanced, and took from them the Tower of Faro, without any great Opposition on the Part of the Messineses, and in pursuit of all this, they took likewise the Tower of the Lanterna, which lyes between the Castle of St. Salvador, and the City; having had secret intelligence with the Signor Grimaldi, who had the Govern∣ment of it.

And to add more to their grief was the taking of their trusty Messenger Signor Andrea Marchesi, who had been twice in France to Solicit Aid for them; and now going a Third time, to hasten those Supplies they so earnestly expected; was taken at Sea, by a small Corsair of this City of Naples, and brought in Prisoner hither: several Letters he had taken with him which discovered the Straits they were reduced to, which put the Spaniards here in mighty heart: the Town could not long hold out, yet the better to Expedite its re∣ducement, the Marquess of Astorgas gave Commissions to the Duke of Martina, and the Duke of Cansano, to raise two Regiments of Foot, to be sent into Sicily; and Andrea Marchesi was by the Vice-Roy of Naples sent Prisoner to the Court of Spain.

But somewhat to allay all these sorrows, came the seasonable arrival of the Sieur de Valbelle, the second time with Eight Men of War, and Eight other Vessels laden with a considerable quantity of Provisions, and other necessaries; besides a relief of Men: The Spanish Fleet consisting of 21 Men of War, and 21 Gallyes had lain a long time in the Nar∣row, watching to prevent any Succours comeing in to Town; but now when they saw the Chevalier de Valbelle appeared with his Squadron, they lay still with all this great Fleet on the Calabrian side, giving him free passage, without offering to make the least opposition, or shewing any design of preventing him; whether it proceeded from some difference about Precedency, which happend between the General of the Ships, and General of the Gallyes, so that they could not agree who should fall on first; Or whe∣ther they were stupified, as most think: For certainly, never came Supply so seasonable as this did to the Messineses, who were reduced to such Extremities for want of Provision, and other Necessaries, that they seemed not to think of any thing, but how to reconcile themselves to the Spaniards; whereas by this •…•…une Supply, they were so well Re∣cruited, that they became not at all doubtful of •…•…ng able to defend themselves for a good while: The Chevalies de Valbelle not only bringing them this Relief, but assuring them that the Marquess of Vivonne would soon follow after him, with a far Greater. Where∣upon for Joy, as they had at his first Arrival, delivered up to him the Castle of St. Sal∣vador, that Commanded the Port; so now they delivered up to him the Castle of Mat∣tagriffon that Commands the Town, whereby the French became absolute Masters of the City.

Yet notwithstanding the Duke of Florendina endeavoured by all means, and ways possi∣ble, to endeavour to suppress them by Land, and was very much afflicted at his miscarriage by Sea, as were likewise the whole Court of Spain when they heard it; Yet they gave all the careful Orders they could to bring the matter to a good issue, and put things in such a po∣sture, that the Vice-Roy might be able to lay a close Siege; and that with a Powerful Army, by first of the Spring; to which end, Count Anthonio Trottie had sent his Lt. Colonel from the State of Millan into Germany, to compleat his Regment to 2000 Men, and the Sieur Don Emanuel de Portustal, was likewise gone thither, to raise a new Regiment for the service of Sicily, besides the great Levies that were making in the Kingdom of Naples; but in the mean while, several Vessels loden with Corn from Rochel, under the Conduct of Monsieur de Gance, seconded the Recruits just before brought in by the Chevalier de Valbelle; along with whom, there was likewise come the Marquess of Valavoir, with a compleat Regiment of 600 Men, and Title of Commander, in Chief of His most Christian Majesties Forces in Sicily; by wose courage and active assistance, the Inhebitants of Messina had so mended their Affairs, that they had repaired all those Da∣mages, so lately susteined by the Spaniards; and had regained all those considerable Posts taken from them, (particularly the Towers of Faro, and la Lanterna) which had put the

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People into fresh heart, and made them Treat the Marquess with such extraordinary Respect, and kindness; that they lodg'd him in the Pallace Royal, and Stil'd him their Protector and Defender; whilst on the other side, the Spaniards were Alarum'd and so sencibl of the fault they had committed, of permitting the Chevalier de Valbelle and Grance to enter with that welcome Relief, that strict Orders were given to the Fleet, to cruise with more diligence before the Port; and by all means possible, endeavour to prevent the the comeing in of the Marquess of Vivonne, who was expected with a third Supply, not doubting, but if they could hinder his Entrance, the Provisions already in the Town, would soon be spent among so Numerous a people; and if they could once more bring them into want, they doubted not but soon to bring them to a complyance; and to give more colour to their Affairs, they used all diligence to bring as many Forces as they could before the City, and form a close Siege; and it was every where reported that the Forces, lately in Catalonia, under the Command of the Duke of St. Germain, were already im∣barked to come to their Assistances; and the Marquess of Astorgas Vice-Roy of Naples did really labour, with all earnestness to supply the Vice-Roy of Sicily with a considera∣ble assistance from hence; in Order to which, he demanded of all the Nobillity of this Kingdom, that according to their respective Quallities, they should raise certain Horse∣men, to be formed into Troops, and Regiments, for the Service of His Catholick Majesty against the Messiness: but all these preparations seemed, both to themselves and to their enemies, but as so many Bug-Bears; for their whole dependance was really in their Fleet, and they knew very well, that unless they could hinder Provisions from comeing in by Sea, they should be able to do very little, or no good by Land.

And herein they took their Measures right, had they prosecuted them as well, had For∣tune favoured their diligence, as it did at the beginning of these Resolves; For then it hap∣pened, that a Ship with 5000 Measures of Corn, and 50000 Crowns in Mony fell into their hands, which was a joyful Prize to the Spaniards, and their joys was doubled, when they had at first certain intelligence that Corn began to grow scarce in the City; and at last that the common people were reduced to such great and pinching necessities, that they were forced to feed a good while on Horses, Mules, Cats, and Dogs; and were in the end brought so low, that they were constrained to take the hides, after they had lain a consi∣derable time in the Tansat, and accomodating them in the best manner they could distri∣bute them, among the poorer sort gratis, at two Ounces a Man for a day s Allowance.

And because afflictions, and distresses of this kind, have always their concomitant mis∣chiefs; and among a people oppressed with want, some are less able or willing to endure the Pangs of it than others; and necessity puts it their heads to relieve themselves, though with the general calamity: It happened that a Gunner belonging to Castellazzo, had kept private intelligence with the Spaniards, to deliver that Foretress into their hands; and to that end, on the 9th. of February last had given Thirty Spaniards secret Entrance into the place, and a Thousand more were Advanced hard by to socure the design; but the Plot coming to be discovered by the French, the Execution was prevented, and the Gunner taken, and Hang'd; And to prevent such Corruptions for the Future, all the Messinesses were removed out of all the Forts, and holds about the City, and French put in Garrison into them; so that this miserable City, was now become absolutly subject to new Masters.

Hitherto through all these Extremities they bore up, out of the assurances they had, that Monsieur de Vivonne was at hand, with a considerable Supply; though it was im∣possible they could have farther susteined themselves, but must have starved, or surrendred to the Mercy of the Spaniard, if His comeing were but a little more delay'd: But it pleased God, that on the 11th. of February, he appeared about a League from the Fares mouth, to their unspeakable Joy, yet had their Joy a sufficient allay of fear when they beheld the Spanish Fleet, consisting of Twenty Men of War, and Sixteen Gallyes steering from the Catabrian side in good Order; yet with great Fury to oppose the French passage, and drive them, if they could, fom entring into the Port, but Monsieur de Vivonne perceiving their intentions, soon ranged his little Fleet, consisting of Nine Men of War, into three Squadrons of three Men of War each, and with great Courage and Resolution, received the Spanish Charge; Bravely maintaining the Fight by himself, against all that advantage, from Eight of of the Clock in the Morning, till Noon; about which time, Monsieur de Valbelle with six Men of War, and three Fire-Ships, came out of Messina to their assistance; upon whose arrival, the Fight was renewed more briskly on the French side, than it had bin begun on the Spaniards: so that about Three of the Clock in the Afternoon, the French got the Weather-gage, and the Spaniards (no longer able to endure the Brunt) having their Riging very much shattered, and Torne, began to Retire; and at length, spreading all the Canvas they could, made their way towards the City of Naples: Whither they came in

Page 8

about three dayes since, in a very Torne and Tattered conditon, and with minds as much dejected as their Fortunes, here being most of them: They are but 15 of their Men of War returned hither, and one of those without any Masts; as for the other Five, one called the Madona del Populo, a Ship of Forty Guns, we certainly know to be in Messina, having been taken by the Chevalier de Valbelle: what became of the rest, they themselves can give but a very slender account; but it is generally believed that being much Torne, they Sunk in the Night after the Fight. The French loss amounted not to above 200 slain and wounded. This so great and considerable Defeat, attended with the consequence of the so lucky Relief of Messina, has so Nettled the Spaniards, that they Publickly ex∣claimed against the Cowardise, and evil managemement of their Generals, and other Of∣ficers of the Fleet: The Marquess of Astorgos (who all along expressed his Zeal, and earnestness to reduce this Rebellious City) seemed most of all afflicted, and could not forbear to express his particular Resentments, against Don Melchior del la Ciceva, and Marquess of Piso, the two Admiralls; And it is expected by all Men, that both they, and other Officers, will by the Court of Spain be called to a strict account, for a Miscarri∣age of so High a Nature, and which it may reasonably be expected, will be attended by such Fatal Consequences: If the French (as no doubt but upon such encouragement they will) proceed in this conjuncture, to send greater Succours.

Mounsieur de Vivone pursued the Spaniards, Fighting till it was almost Night; but then being informed that the Messineses had been already several dayes without Bread, he left off the Pursuit, and made all hast he could to relieve them; whose Arrival could not but be extream Welcom to those miserable people, who had endured such Vast Extreamities; and that they might (in the best manner they could) express their Joy, and Gratitude to His most Christian Majesty, for so many and timely Succours; the whole People with U∣niversal consent, took an Oath of Fidelity to the Crown of France, and received from Monsieur de Vivonne, assurances that there were yet more considerable Succours near at hand. The Spaniards were so amaz'd at Monsieur de Vivone's Entrance, that they quitted seve∣ral considerable Posts; However they seem not utterly disheartned, but give out that they shall in a Month or Six weeks, have a great Army in readiness, and be in a Posture to lay a close Siege to the City.

Thus I have given as full an account, according to your desire, and my promise, of the Original Cause, and Progress of the troubles of this Great, and Populous City hitherto, what the issue will be, no body is able to Divine; especially, considering the Obsti∣nacy of the Inhabitants, in defending themselves, and the Powerful Assistance they have; which until it fails them, they will certainly undergo all hazards, rather than fall again udner the Spanish Yoak (especially now, they have so grievously offended and Allarum'd them: For, considering on the other side, the Spanish Zeal, and carnestness to reduce them, and fears, and jealousies they have been put into. It cannot but be imagined, the Messineses must be [indeed] a miserable People, if ever by Force they become again their Masters; and, on the other side, it is to be doubted, the French will hardly let go, the hold they have now there. I cannot tell therefore, where to place a Medium to a recconcilia∣tion of these disorders; unless when it shall please God to dispose Christendom, to a Ge∣neral Peace; some happy Expedient (not yet thought of) be found out. I am afraid, I have been too tedious, and therefore take my leave, and remain,

SIR,

Your most humble Servant, E. W.

FINIS.

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Notes

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