This is the transcript of episode 3 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.
Hello everyone. Welcome back to my ongoing exploration of Elizabethan English trade with Islamic powers, and my ongoing attempt to get to the story of Thomas Dallam, the man I’m going to be talking about pretty soon now.
If you have a question, comment, or complaint, you can reach me at circus_human on twitter or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, no spaces, en dashes or em dashes. The website is human_circus.blubrry.com. Finally, if you feel compelled to help keep the podcast afloat, please keep listening at the end of the episode, and I’ll tell you how you can.
Last full-length episode, we talked about England’s developing friendship with Saadian Morocco under Al-Malik and Al-Monsur, and I mentioned at the end that there was at the same time an association building between England and the Ottoman Empire. When we last looked in on the state of Anglo-Ottoman diplomacy in the episode about Jenkinson’s visit to Safavid Persia, we saw Ottoman Sultan Suleyman interceding against English traders. Things had to change quite significantly for that relationship to reach the exchanging of gifts stage, and it’s the later developments of that change that we’ll be talking about here, largely through a look at the efforts of a single English representative in Constantinople, a man named William Harborne.
We could start in 1579. Just to contextualize that a little, that puts us one year after the Battle of the Three Kings and into the reign of al-Mansur in the Moroccan storyline. In the Anglo-Ottoman context, it’s the year when a letter arrives for Elizabeth from Sultan Murad III.
Historian Lisa Jardine describes the letter as a physical object of great beauty, from its ornate calligraphy, to the gold dusting, to the satin bag sealed in silver in which it was sent. It was a response to the requests of an English merchant, then in Constantinople, that his country receive full commercial privileges. There was no sense in the writing of an exchange between equals – it apparently addressed itself as a “Command to Elzabet, who is the queen of the domain of Anletar,” and that satin bag was also how communications, or orders, to the Caucasian princes would be sent – but as to questions of commerce it was promising. Elizabeth was assured that when, “her agents and merchants shall come from the domain of Anletar by sea with their barks and with their ships, let no one interfere.” We read:
We [the Sultan here appearing as the royal we] therfore haue sent out our Imperiall commandement to all our kings, iudges, and trauellers by sea, to all our Captaines and voluntarie seafaring men, all condemned persons, and officers of Ports and customes, straightly charging and commanding them, that such foresaid persons as shall resort hither by sea from the Realme of England, either with great or small vessels to trade by way of marchandize, may lawfully come to our imperiall Dominions, and freely returne home againe, and that no man shall dare to molest or trouble them.
Interestingly, there was an addition to this letter when it was translated into Latin from its original Turkish, an addition which Harborne may have arranged for. It called upon Elizabeth to in turn reciprocate this good will in opening her ports to the Ottoman merchants, but of course, as indicated by the lack of such a request in the original, the Sultan would not have cared for such reciprocity, would not have asked for it, because England was not a partner; it was a petitioner, well beneath his realms in terms of power, prestige, and significance.
In her response, Elizabeth gives no hint of this in identifying herself, rather optimistically, as Queen of England, France, and Ireland, but she thanks this “most imperial and most invincible prince,” acknowledging “how graciously, and how favourably the humble petitions” of her subject had been received. Things with the sultan were off to a good start.
In 1574, Sultan Murad III had come to power following the death of his father Selim II, and he had his 5 younger brothers strangled to avoid any questions over succession, a process that will become familiar. He tends to be viewed as a kind of wealthy shut-in. Unlike Sultans as recently as his grandfather, Suleyman the Magnificent, Murad did not go out on campaign; he preferred to remain in the imperial city. Indeed, if the stories are to be believed, he did not even leave his palace in later years.
From that palace, Murad oversaw an Ottoman Empire that was back at war with the Safavids of Persia to the east, incidentally spoiling the trade of the Muscovy Company which Jenkinson had sought to establish there. And to west, it was fixed in an on-again-off-again war with Central Europe’s Habsburgs. His time is noted for the rise to prominence of the ladies of the court: the Sultan mother, and his wife, Safiye, who we’re going to hear quite a bit about soon. Unfortunately, it is also noted for the financial difficulties the Ottomans found themselves in, problems which, as we’ll see, could lead to the Sultan being somewhat at the mercy of angry janissaries in a way that will be comfortingly familiar to anyone who’s read a little about, for example, the Roman Praetorian Guard. But more of that later. For now, the letter, and Elizabeth’s subject.
It was not the first letter this sultan, or at least his administration had written to Protestant Europe. In 1574, a letter addressed to the Lutherans of Spain and the Low Countries extensively complemented their religion. It read, in part:
You, for your part, do not worship idols, you have banished the idols and portraits, and bells from churches, and declared your faith by stating that God Almighty is One and Holy Jesus is His Prophet and Servant, and now, with heart and soul, are seeking and desirous of the true faith; but the faithless one they call the Pope does not recognize his creator as One, ascribing divinity to Holy Jesus, and worshipping idols and pictures which he has made with his own hands…
And it continues along these lines, revealing, whatever its motivations or authenticity, the kind of search for similarity between Islam and Protestantism that we’ve seen before, an establishing of common ground through religion. Perhaps it would prove helpful to the merchant, that subject of Elizabeth’s, who would be petitioning for commercial privileges a few years later.
That subject was, in fact, a man named William Harborne, and of course, he did not find himself in Constantinople accidentally. He was the representative of an Edward Osborne of the Clothworkers’ Company. Osborne and one of his colleagues had in 1575 dispatched two men with the intent of opening up the Ottoman territories to trade. Over 18 months in Constantinople, those two, named Clements and Wright if you’re wondering, had eventually achieved their goal: safe conduct and access for William Harborne
Harborne traveled overland to avoid the notice of hostile naval forces, and he took the step of disguising himself as a Turk from Poland on, joining with a trading caravan to escape the notice of spies.
He arrived in a Constantinople that through forced settlement had grown back up to some 3 to 500 thousand under the Ottomans, a much larger population than London with its roughly 200 thousand. And the city had changed in other ways in that time. Under Mehmed alone, there were said to have been 190 mosques, 24 madrasas, 32 bath houses, and 12 markets built. Harborne would be staying in Galata, across the Golden Horn inlet from Constantinople, and largely populated with Christian and Jewish merchants.
But Osborne and his man Harborne were not the only ones pursuing Turkish trading opportunities.The Mercers’ Company, a rival to the Clothworkers’ Company, also had a representative in Constantinople, and in 1577 he acquired promises of safe conduct for the trade in cloth, tin, lead, and steel. We can actually read early estimates for the voyage that resulted from his agreement. We read of the two ships making the journey, the 300 ton Swallow and the 120-ton Pelican. We read of a cargo of 40 tons of hardwood, 20 hundredweight of tin, 90 fodder of lead, 2000 ordinary blue Hampshire kerseys and 100 clothes of all sorts, and it’s worth noting that this tin and lead would be used in the manufacture of weapons. The Pelican wouldn’t actually be making the journey; it would be renamed the Golden Hind and carry Francis Drake on his circumnavigation, but the trip would still happen. Anglo-Ottoman trade was underway, but this voyage seems to have been made under special license arranged through the French. Harborne was still going to need to advance the English cause.
However, he would need to do this in an only semi-official capacity. When he returned to the Sublime Porte following the successful exchange of royal letters, there was some negotiation as to how he would declare himself. The merchants sought the most power and prestige possible for their representative; they wanted him named as Elizabeth’s ambassador to the Ottomans. But Harborne’s mission was not going to be cheap. There were travel costs to consider, he was also going to need a salary, and then there were the great quantity of gifts to all levels of the Ottoman government which he would encounter, if the mission was to be a success at least. No, the whole thing was going to be quite, quite, expensive, and Elizabeth was not looking to pay for it. What all this meant, aside from a substantial delay as things worked themselves out, was that Harborne presented himself again to the Ottoman court as a man funded by the merchants and carrying the royal commission of “our true and undoubted orator, messenger, deputy and agent,” but not, for now, ambassador. And this would have some consequences.
Harborne played the familiar dual role of promoting the interests of the Queen and her merchants, but he faced opposition in doing so. There was an attempt to arrest him in Majorca, but there, in not his only turn as an actor, he dressed and presented himself as the ship’s captain and evaded captor. In Constantinople, French, Venetian, and Imperial Habsburg representatives actively opposed his arrival and lobbied against his receiving any kind of friendly or official reception, and they seized upon his status. Harborne was belittled as a mere merchant, but the Ottomans seem not to have minded, and Harborne had a streak of belligerent patriotism that rose to this kind of adversity. He complained vigorously to the Grand Vizier that the other ambassadors “had no right to consider his private position, but only the magnificence of the Queen his mistress,” and he apparently ”came to blows” with an official who characterized the English sailors as mere pirates.
Harborne wasn’t only an antagonistic cheerleader though. He had a good understanding of the importance of gift-giving and spread the baubles about appropriately, and the English would come to make good use of this necessitated gift giving; they tended to take the opportunity to promote their merchandise, garments of English cloth, English clocks and watches, and so on.
Harborne’s job was not limited to swanning about the Sultan’s palace dropping presents. He was kept busy seeing to it that the promises which he had received from the central government were honoured by its administrators of all levels and across its lands. These were people who might see English traders as resources to be mined, without recognition for rulings from above. Often, Harborne would need to take up the cause of English merchants or captains to see their ships, goods, money, or freedom restored, if still possible, according to the terms of the agreement. Sometimes, it was his own cause he needed to take up; in one such case, he petitioned the Grand Vizier because one of his, Harborne’s that is, servants had been “assassinated by thieves within one day’s journey of this famous city, and they robbed him of his goods and money to the sum of 4,000 Ducats.” His success in this petition is uncertain.
In his dealings, Harborne faced not only the opposition of his European opposite numbers in the city and the predations of pirates and port officials, but also the inherent difficulties of his business with the Ottomans. He was writing in Latin or Italian for translation in Turkish, and great leaps in understanding could, as you might imagine, be made in one direction or another in that translation process. He also had to operate within a minefield of palace intrigues, the Grand Vizier striving against the Sultan’s consort, and the Janissaries against the Sepahi palace cavalry. This rivalry between the two military bodies could be seen as a viable divide and rule tactic on the part of the Sultanate, but it just as often seems to have resulted in the Sultan being ruled by one or the other’s violent expression of their will, the specific expression often enough being the slaying of an official on whom they blamed the economic woes of the moment. When tensions between the two spilled over, you ended up with scenes like Mehmed III’s circumcision celebration, which had to be called off when a battle erupted between the two sides.
Another moment of violence in the Ottoman court would have had immediate consequences for the English cause. Much of Harborne’s dealings seem to been through the friendly Grand Vizier, Sokollu Mehmed. He was a man of sufficient skill and subtlety to have served in that position under 3 different Sultans, not just survived, but actually thrived in this position of esteem and power. But on October 12th, 1579, he was stabbed to death in the council chamber, apparently by a Bosnian dervish, though it was widely believed that that the Sultan’s mother was behind the act. The killing marked a turning point not just for Sokollu Mehmed himself, but also for the position of Grand Vizier which, following his 15-year run, saw 11 different men take it up in the next 2 decades.
These obstacles would not prevent Harborne’s business from flourishing. He operated a trading network that brought in currants, oil, wine, flax, cotton, and carpets from across the expanse of the Ottoman possessions, and he went about with an escort of Janissaries. However, with all his success in trade and in bringing about the Anglo-Ottoman capitulations, the agreement between the two, the situation was still fragile, and terribly, terribly vulnerable to actions outside his control.
In March of 1581, Harborne had reason to meet briefly with the captain of a ship called the Bark Roe. Harborne was on the island of Chios and headed for the Holy Land, when he was able to facilitate the ship’s departure, making sure the rules of the new agreement were understood by a local port official, showing that port official the document in fact, as he’d heard nothing about it. The Bark Roe had sailed from London in September 1580, carrying cloth, wood, and metals, and this included broken bell metal; I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned this in another episode, but the English were by this point stripping the metal from Catholic churches in a kind of reverse swords-to-plowshares policy that saw the materials traded away and used in war materials such as the casting of guns. This was the business of the ship’s captain, a Peter Baker of bad reputation, who apparently hired crew on without telling them that their business would be more than trade alone. After parting with Harborne, and selling his cargo, Baker took the 160 ton, 24 cannon, Bark Roe south in search of plunder. At first, he met with little success, but then he and his men took two ships in the Peloponnese, Turks they thought; but as it happened, these were Greeks carrying fabrics and silks owned by a group of Greek and Venetian merchants, and the passengers included Greek Orthodox priests from Ottoman territory.
Basically, Baker had angered everybody and done so not as an individual, but as an English captain, and his crew seems to have had some awareness of what the transgression meant for them. They did not want to be charged with piracy and insisted that he put in at Malta to make their appeal. There, they were promptly imprisoned and charged by the Greeks, who sought the return of their cargo, and the Venetians, who asked 12,000 ducats. Unfortunately, for Baker and his crew, this was not the full extent of their problems. Those captured priests were from the territory of Admiral Qilich Ali Pasha. I haven’t talked about him here, but he’s already not a fan of Harborne’s. He’d been profoundly irritated a few years earlier to have to return the English sailors he’d seized as slaves, something which Harborne had negotiated. Now, the admiral was going to take the opportunity to pay Harborne back for the trouble he’d caused him, and he accused Harborne of being a spy and a pirate who ought to be imprisoned, fined, and have his trade capitulations canceled.
And Harborne was arrested and his assets taken, making it impossible for him to make good on his operating debts, and the capitulations he’d negotiated were, temporarily at least, canceled. Around this time, he wrote home to England, and it reads as a kind of Shakespearean soliloquy:
Quote, “Behold in what pit of perplexity and snares of unluckiness (almost inevitable) I am entangled through the unchristian and detestable dealings of Peter Baker…. The intolerable grief of mind which these pirates have caused me, I cannot utter.” Harborne was in a bad situation and had to plead for the assistance of his rival, the French ambassador, in guaranteeing his debts. He’d win his freedom, and open negotiations with the Grand Vizier, and then he’d flee the city, headed back for London.
Meanwhile, on Malta, Baker and his crew were caught up in events larger than themselves and their thoughtless act of piracy. The Grand Inquisitor Federico Cefalotto had been in the process of attacking Malta’s Knights of St John of Huguenot, and in his report, Baker’s crime was rolled up into a broader anti-Catholic scheme. He wrote to Rome that “The plot of the capture of Malta was conceived by the English Queen, the Duke of Alencon and the Turks through their intermediary, Peter Baker.” It was a conspiracy of Muslim Turks, and English and French Protestants, and Baker and 8 of his men were sent to Rome to be charged with heresy.
Elizabeth, I’m sure, cared very little for the unfortunate Mr. Baker who’d put her in this position, but if he’d be abandoned to his fate, the Anglo-Ottoman connection was an important one which she was going to try to salvage. She wrote to Sultan Murad, essentially begging him to “not withdraw his gracious favour,” and it worked. Under the condition that an official ambassador be appointed, England’s privileges were restored. And you might be wondering why, why would the Sultan care about England? Did he in fact? One Venetian observer certainly thought so. In a few years, he would write that Murad “places especially great worth on the friendship of the Queen of England, because he is convinced that, owing to the religious schism, she will never unite against him with other princes in Christendom; she will, on the contrary, always be an excellent instrument for disturbing and thwarting such alliances.”
This seems like a good point to pause and quickly consider attitudes to the Anglo-Ottoman friendship, in England and elsewhere. I can’t give the topic the attention it deserves here, not without getting horrendously sidetracked, but there are a few things that I would like to point out, voices of the position that was still uncomfortable with all these dealings with the Ottomans. We can hear them in the theatre, in the 1581 play, The Three Ladies of London, by Robert Wilson, where the character of a greedy Italian merchant addresses Lady Lucre saying “Me and my countrymen have sent over Bell-metal to make ordnance, yea and ordnance itself beside, that my country and other countries be so well furnished as this country, and have never been espied.” Obviously, the conversion of Christian church metal, even Catholic church metal, into Turkish guns could be a point of some unease. Actually, the way trade with the Ottomans enters Elizabethan theatre is a whole interesting topic to itself, even when it only comes in snippets, like the line from one of Macbeth’s witches, that “Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o’ the’ Tiger,” the Tiger actually being a ship whose occupants would eventually make it all the way to the court of Akbar in 1585. But to get back to Elizabethan discomfort, we can also read it in the letter of John Aylmer, Bishop of London, in which he writes that “Surely in mine opinion it is very strange, and dangerous, that the desire of worldly and transitory things should carry men so far, with such kind of traffic, which neither our ancestors before us knew of, nor can be attempted without selling of souls for purchasing of pelf to the great blemish of our religion and the shame of our country.” The Bishop continues “if your Lordship and the rest of your brethren could by your authority stay such intercourse with infidels and save the souls of our people from the Gulf of Mahomet, I think you should do a gracious deed and win an everlasting remembrance.”
Interestingly, Harborne himself was not entirely comfortable with the dealings with the Ottomans. He later complained in his memoirs of, quote, “the perverse condition of those Turkish infidels with whom forcedly so long I was conversant,” and wrote of his “continual earnest prayer to god … that her Majesty in her just defense might never need this heathen tyrant his assistance… .”
Of course, if some in England were feeling the tensions of their new friendships, you can imagine that those on the continent were equally uncomfortable, but for different reasons. They were largely all playing the same game at this point: Phillip of Spain had reached a peace agreement with Murad, and his ambassador in London wrote anxiously of England’s trading successes in the East; the French ambassador in Constantinople had been actively competing with Harborne, trying to protect France’s privileged position with the Ottomans but worrying that Harborne was highly favoured by their hosts; the Imperial Habsburgs’ representative in the city also expressed concerns about this “so-called merchant Harborne,” and he nurtured darker suspicions, of a plot to grant the Ottomans safe ports and a stepping stone into Western Europe.
One of the consequences of the Baker situation was the regulation of trade with Turkey in the form of “The Letter Patents, or Privileges Granted by her Majesty to Sir Edward Osborne, Master Richard Staper, and certain other Merchants of London for their trade into the dominions of the Great Turk,” in other words, the formation of the the joint-stock Turkey Company. The company was given a 7-year term, required to make a yearly customs payment of 500 pounds, and, in keeping with Murad’s demands, needed to appoint an official ambassador. Despite the cloud under which he’d left Constantinople, and his personal feelings about the “infidels,” William Harborne was actually going to be that official appointee. He had after all been doing quite a good job by all accounts, and Baker’s piracy was hardly his fault. There remained only the small matter of who would cover the costs of his return.
Harborne still owed 600 pounds, no small amount, and travel costs, a reasonable salary, and a substantial fund for gift-giving/bribery would all add up to quite an expensive endeavour. The Turkey Company’s governors argued that his going to Constantinople in response to Murad’s demand was crucial to Elizabeth’s diplomatic goals with the Ottomans, and thus the crown should cover the costs but this, fairly reasonable argument had no effect. William Harborne was commissioned “to be her majesty’s ambassador or agent in the parts of Turkey,” on November 20th, 1582, and he returned to Constantinople on the Susan, a Turkey Company ship. As an official ambassador fully funded by merchants he arrived on March 29th, 1583.
Harborne set up shop in the Findikli district, well away from the other ambassadors. There, he established his embassy, complete with Janissary guards and a staff of interpreters, servants, and negotiators as well as his secretary, Edward Barton, the man who would come to replace him. He spread around the gifts right away, and he attended a formal audience with Sultan Murad. At that audience, we get a sense for what kind of presents this sort of occasion entailed. By way of a Venetian ambassador, we hear that the Sultan was given “a most beautiful watch set with jewels and pearls, ten pairs of shoes, two pretty lap dogs, twelve lengths of royal cloth, two lengths of white linen, and thirteen pieces of silver gilt.” This kind of diplomacy did not come cheaply, but Harborne was recognized as official ambassador and the capitulations were renewed.
Now, he was also able to appoint consuls, and he did so, for Syria, Egypt, Algiers, Chios, and Patros. In his dealings with these men we get some sense of his attention to detail. In a letter to Richard Forster, the newly appointed consul in Syria, he advised him as to his arrival, urging first that he be apparelled in the best fashion possible. He then writes, quote:
After your coming, give it out that you be crazed and not well disposed, by means of your travel at sea, during which time, you and those there are most wisely to determine in what manner you are to present yourself to the Qadi, and other officers: who every of them are to be presented according to the order accustomed of others formerly in like office.
There was, in other words, a very well established right way in which to do things, and one was better to feign sickness while getting a sense for how and in what order these rituals were to be performed than to think that one could lurch through them in ignorance. And people would be watching – Harborne also made this clear – the Qadi and other officers, of course, but also the French and Venetians who, Harborne rather amusingly writes, will, quote, “haue an enuious eye on you: whome if they perceiue wise and well aduised, they will feare to offer you any iniurie. But if they shall perceiue any insufficiencie in you, they will not omitte any occasion to harme you. They are subtile, malicious, and disembling people, wherefore you must alwayes haue their doings for suspected, and warily walke in all your actions… .” He also particularly made clear that Forster should make sure that he was treated with at least the respects accorded to the French.
If Harborne did not enjoy the company of his fellow ambassadors among the Ottomans, he at least thrived in his official position. He succeeded, even while the French continued to press for his removal from the city, in seeing the customs duties payable by English merchants lowered during his time. And he continued to strive on behalf of waylaid merchants, ships, cargo, and crew, though not always before the captives had been forcibly circumcised and, as was then said, “turned Turk.”
However, he was soon called upon to take on a rather more difficult diplomatic goal. This was because he was in regular contact with Francis Walsingham, a man who you’ll hopefully remember from the Moroccan episode, and Walsingham was urging him to bring the Ottomans in on the looming Anglo-Spanish war, a war that was tipping towards open hostilities in 1585 as plans took shape for what would become the armada’s attempted assault on England.
Walsingham, also responsible for the delightfully titled document “A Plot for the Annoying of the King of Spain,” had been calling for Harborne to have the Sultan draw some of his military might away from Persia and bring it to bear on Spain. Now, he wrote that Elizabeth was resolved to oppose Spain in the Low Countries, and, quote, “whereof it is not otherwise likely but hot wars between him and us, wills me again to require you effectually to use all your endeavour and industry in that behalf.” The home run would be getting the Ottomans to actually attack the Spanish fleet, but this was asking a lot. Even the appearance of preparations for such an attack, Walsingham acknowledged, could be effective in not allowing Philip to comfortably extend his full strength West towards England for fear the Ottomans soon might be sailing into view.
Moving the Sultan on this front would not be easy though, and the effort seems to have brought Harborne considerable stress, heightening the stakes of the game he was playing. He referred to, quote, “the subtle secret devices of [his] many enemies both Christian and heathen,” and he claimed that the Venetians were to receive 160,000 ducats from Spain to have him expelled from the city. Against this pressure, Harborne worked a network of contacts around the sultan, including Murad’s tutor and the admiral who’d once had him expelled from the city, no doubt at some cost in the currency of gifts.
Though his personal responsibility is difficult to assess at this point, Harborne claimed success in spoiling the renewal of truce between Phillip and Murad, and Walsingham seems to have been delighted. This alone meant that Philip could not be too sure of his Mediterranean ports. Walsingham wanted more though. He wrote to Harborne of Francis Drake’s fleet off the coast of Spain which had already “entered diverse ports of Spain and Portugal,” and added that he left it up to Harborne to “publish, urge, and enlarge as [he saw] cause.” Perhaps, Walsingham was indicating, a joint naval operation with the Ottomans might be arranged.
And this was what Harborne attempted. He wrote to Murad in 1587 with appeals to his religion, and to his pride. The letter, in part, reads:
Do not let this moment pass unused, in order that God, who has created you a valiant man and the most powerful of all worldly princes for the destruction of idol-worshippers may not turn his utmost wrath against you if you disregard his command, which my mistress, only a weak woman, courageously struggles to fulfill.
After warning of the consequences if Murad were not to act, he continues:
If, however, Your Highness, wisely and courageously, without delay, will undertake jointly with my mistress war upon the sea (which the Almighty God, the pledged faith, the favourable moment, the fame of the glorious house of Othman, and the salvation of your empire unanimously advise), then the proud Spaniard and the mendacious pope, with all their adherents, will not only be cheated of their cherished hope of victory but will also receive the penalty for their audacity.
Of course, we know that this proposed Anglo-Ottoman naval venture never came off. Harborne bitterly identified that the Ottomans had always been too concerned with Safavid Persia to extend themselves to the west in the, extremely expensive, form of a fleet. And Harborne’s time in the city was at last coming to an end. It had been a stressful job, and an expensive one. He complained that the company had not been regular in paying his salary, and some of his living costs were actually covered by an allowance Murad granted him. During his embassy, Harborne spent 15,341 pounds on gifts, wages and the administration of his household. He hadn’t brought Ottoman ships to Spanish shores, but he might have wrecked their truce, and he had established a substantial trading network of English factors and contacts and facilitated 19 ships a year sailing for Ottoman-controlled ports on behalf of the Turkey Company. On August 13th, he left the city for the final time, bound for a much quieter life in Norfolk. Behind him, he left a man named Edward Barton, his 25-year-old secretary, in charge of matters. In Hamburg, on his way home, news reached him that the Spanish armada had failed.
And I think that’s where I’ll leave things for today. Next week, we’ll look at Barton’s time and his own struggles in the city, as we creep closer to Thomas Dallam. And I realize Dallam has been getting steadily further and further away as this series has gone on, and you may well be realizing that I didn’t carve all this out in stone before I started. At this point, Dallam’s really not the main character, rather he’s a culmination of a story of early modern globalization, the story of Elizabethan engagement with the Islamic world, in trade and in diplomacy. Dallam does actually exist though. I promise.
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