Henry Bennet 1st earl of Arlington

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Arlington, Henry Bennet, 1st earl of (1618–85). Having fought for the crown in the Civil War, the future foreign minister of Charles II represented him at Madrid during Cromwell's alliance with France against Spain. Bennet believed in Anglo-Spanish friendship even if this conflicted with the Portuguese alliance strengthened through Charles II's marriage in 1662: like all future members of the ‘cabal’ Arlington was the inveterate foe of that marriage's promoter, Clarendon. Financially dependent on office, he was weak in ameliorating Anglo-Dutch relations, though in 1666 he married a Dutch wife. Distrustful of France, as secretary of state Bennet was similarly flaccid in falling in with Charles II's French policies. Neither conscience (he professed himself a catholic on his death-bed) nor better judgement prevented his contriving Charles's first secret treaty of Dover with Louis XIV in May 1670. He was granted a barony in 1665 and promoted to an earldom in 1672. Disgraced as secretary in 1673, Arlington became an Admiralty commissioner, and assisted in withdrawing the garrison at Tangier. Latterly he played the ‘Maecenas’ at his seat at Euston (Norfolk).

David Denis Aldridge

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