The Historical Journal

Articles

The Making of the Secret Treaty of Dover, 1668–1670

R. Huttona1

a1 University of Bristol

Few international agreements have provoked more controversy among historians than that concluded at Dover, on 22 May 1670, by representatives of the English and French Crowns. Its main provisions were for an offensive war against the Dutch republic of the United Provinces, leading to its destruction as a European power, and for the public profession by the English king, Charles II, of the Roman Catholic faith, which had been regarded by most English people for a hundred years as the bitterest enemy of their own church. The existence of this treaty was concealed not only from the other European states and the subjects of the respective monarchs, but from the greater number of their own ministers. The motives of Charles in making this amazing pact have remained a mystery. In the present century, they have been represented by Sir Keith Feiling as an attempt to unite Catholics and Protestant dissenters as a foundation for a stronger monarchy; by Cyril Hartmann, K. H. D. Haley, David Ogg and Lady Antonia Fraser as a decision to hitch England to the fortunes of Europe's strongest state, France; by Sir Arthur Bryant as a wish to ensure his country a share of the Spanish empire and his throne a dependable group of supporters in the form of the Catholics; by Maurice Lee and J. R. Jones as a grand design to make himself independent of his subjects in general and of parliament in particular; and by John Miller as a desire for vengeance upon the Dutch.