Monthly Archives: May 2017

Thomas Dallam 1 – Transcript

This is the transcript of episode 1 of my podcast series on, and leading up to, Thomas Dallam, the Elizabethan organ builder who sailed to Constantinople with a gift for the Sultan. You can listen to the episode here or through the usual podcast services.

“The ship wherein I was to make my voyage to Constantinople, Lying at Graves End, I departed from London in a pair of ores, with my chest and such provision as I had provided for that purpose, the ninth of February 1599, being Friday.”

So begins the travel journal of a man on the cusp of a 15-month adventure. Its writer was no professional sailor, soldier, merchant or ambassador, but he was entrusted with the international delivery of a very special package. He seems never to have left England before, but on that February day, he was leaving for the court of the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed the 3rd.

Continue reading Thomas Dallam 1 – Transcript

The Battle of the Three Kings: The Doomed King Sebastian

The doomed King Sebastian lands in Morocco, and we take a moment from the Dallam timeline for a mini-episode.

Thanks for listening,



Twitter: @circus_human

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Thomas Dallam 2: The Anglo-Moroccan Relationship

The prelude to Dallam’s Ottoman adventure continues with Elizabethan England’s trade and where it took them. Today, that means Morocco, and England’s often forgotten 16th-century friendship with its sultans. We’ll get into antagonism with Spain, Portuguese misadventure in North Africa, and trade for sugar, saltpetre, and shot. There’s a lot of interesting stuff there. Thanks for listening!


Twitter: @circus_human

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Update, Ko-Fi, and Ideas

Hello generous listener,

This being an off-week there’ll be no new episode. Actually, I’m struggling with the next one at the moment, but there is still hope that it will be out on time, this coming Friday.

We’re continuing to follow the trail of Elizabethan trade to newly risen Saadian Morocco and getting ever closer to Thomas Dallam’s departure for the Ottoman court. It is, as always, a very interesting time, as the Saadians had replaced a relatively weak Watassid dynasty and pushed Morocco into the middle of the Habsburg-Ottoman struggles, becoming, as Weston Cook puts it, “… no longer an arena of contest, but a potential contestant… .” In search of gold, sugar, and a market for its cloth, England inched towards a curious friendship with this potential contestant, running deeply afoul of the Portuguese as they did. We’ll get into all of that and more next time.

If you look to the top of the page, you’ll find a new “Support Human Circus” tab. There, you can help the podcast out, if you’re into the whole donation thing, by clicking on the Ko-fi link. Any and all help makes a huge difference in keeping the podcast sustainable and fun (because having coffee money makes everything more fun).

I’m also looking at starting to put out mini-episodes now and then, between the larger, main narrative, ones. The idea will be to tell stories that I think are really interesting but which would entail too much of an aside to wedge them into the regular episodes, so watch for one of those on the rise of the Saadian dynasty some time over the next few weeks.

Think that’s everything for now. Questions, comments, and accusations can be sent to me at @circus_human or at Talk to you in a week.