Sir Thomas Osborne, created Viscount Latimer in 1673 and Earl of Danby in 1674, was a Yorkshireman of modest fortune. Before his appointment as lord treasurer, following Clifford’s resignation in 1673, he had held no office more senior than treasurer of the navy; he had been a privy councillor only since 1672. He owed his rise to prominence to the patronage of Buckingham and survived his patron’s fall from favour. Despite frequent ill-health he established a growing mastery over the treasury and the royal finances, which gave him greater control over patronage than any of Charles’s previous ministers. It also provided him with a battery of financial arguments to use when trying to persuade the king to follow his preferred policy options. In seeking to establish a degree of control over policy-making that none of his predecessors had enjoyed, he was helped by the fact that when he came to power the government was in disarray. ‘The king calls a cabinet council for the purpose of not listening to it’, wrote the Venetian envoy in December 1673 ‘and the ministers hold forth in it so as not to be understood.’ 1 Ministers rushed to accuse one another and to exculpate themselves before Parliament. Of the Cabal, by early 1674 Clifford was dead, Ashley (now Earl of Shaftesbury) had been dismissed from the lord chancellorship, Buckingham was in disgrace and Arlington had moved from the secretaryship to the comparatively apolitical post of lord chamberlain: although he hoped to recover his influence, he never did. Lauderdale had to defend himself against attacks from both the English Parliament and the Scottish nobility, but remained sufficiently influential for Danby to take him into a somewhat uneasy partnership. 2 The Duke of York was also on the defensive because of the revelation of his conversion and the suggestion, early in 1674, that he should be excluded from the succession. Danby’s determination to pursue policies of hostility to France and to Catholicism inevitably brought him into conflict with York, who was drawn into an unlikely collaboration with oppositionist peers like Shaftesbury and Holles. 3