This is the transcript of episode 4 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 series on English organ-builder Thomas Dallam which has developed into a series on Elizabethan England’s diplomatic engagements with the Islamic world, to be concluded with Dallam’s story. Last episode, we talked about England’s first ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, William Harborne. We saw the evolution of his position from “so called merchant” to official appointee and his struggles with rival diplomatic representatives, particularly the French and Venetians who he described as “subtle, malicious, and dissembling people.” We saw some of the difficulties he faced such as palace infighting and piracy, and how the latter a problem whether it was committed by or against the English. We saw him try to push Walsingham’s program, a united Anglo-Ottoman fleet against the Spanish naval threat. We saw him headed home at the end of his term, in August of 1588, successful enough in his work but worn out and underpaid, a pretty relatable figure really. And I told you he was replaced by his young secretary Edward Barton, a well-liked man who will show himself to be resourceful, bold, and not above a little underhandedness where necessary. Today, we’ll be tracing Edward Barton’s time in the sublime port of Constantinople, a time which saw him struggle due to his unofficial position, navigate the death of a sultan, and eventually go to war alongside the Ottomans in campaign against a Christian foe.
Once again, if you enjoy the episode, please keep listening after it’s done for ways to help me out with it.
Let’s talk first about the circumstances as Barton stepped up and into his new job. Specifically, let’s talk about at his employers.