Letter introducing Ottoman agent – Modern Translation
[Translated by S. A. Skilliter in William Harborne and the Trade with Turkey, 1578–1582, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977 p.123]
Turghrā: Murād Shāh, son of Selīm Shāh Khān, he who is granted victory always.
The pride of the women who follow Jesus, the most excellent of the ladies honoured among the Messiah’s people, the arbitress of the affairs of the Christian community, who trails the skirts of majesty and gravity, the queen of the realm of Inglitere, Queen Elīzā’ide, may her last moment be concluded with good!
When the exalted Imperial cipher arrives let it be known that, at this present time, in the interests of my Imperial Household the merchant named Gharābil Defren has been despatched in that direction for certain necessities among the wares and other things which are to be found in that land.
It is fitting that when he has arrived and reached you with our Imperial letter, according to the abundance of your sincerity and devotion existing towards our Threshold, the nest of felicity, you shall give to the aforesaid merchant whatsoever of the wares and souvenirs he may desire and allow to return to my Threshold of Felicity.
Written in the last ten days of the honoured Rajab of the year eight and eighty and nine hundred.
In the residence of Qustantiniyye the well protected.
Letter introducing Ottoman agent – Translation from the Latin version sent to Elizabeth I
(in the National Archives SP. 70/139 f. 122)
[Reproduced in Skilliter pp.124–5]
Most famous and renowned of the high-souled ones who follow Jesus, Queen Elizabeta, matchless one of the Christian community and prince of the people of the celebrated realm of Anglia, to whom all suppliants gather together, wishing that the increase and most happy conclusion of all your negotiations shall be most fortunate.
We wish your Majesty to know that this Christian merchant Gabriel Defrens has been despatched to buy certain things and wares which concern our Imperial Highness and are found in the domains of your Majesty.
Wherefore, when the letters of our Imperial Highness shall have been brought to your Majesty, it is fitting, according to your goodwill and sincerity towards us that, whatsoever things and wares he may wish to buy at their prices for our Imperial use and advantage, your Majesty also shall bring to bear her assistance to the aforesaid merchant in buying them, and when he shall wish to return here, having completed his affairs and purchased his wares, your Majesty shall allow no one to inflict harm on his person and our things which have been brought, so that he may be able to return unharmed, having purchased his things and ours.
We wish your Majesty most auspiciously farewell.
Given at our City of Constantinople in the year of our most holy Prophet 988, and on the first of the month of September.
Hans Eworth, A Turk on Horseback 1549
Oil on panel
569 x 483 mm
Lent from a private collection
Hans Eworth‘s extraordinary image of the Ottoman ruler, Suleyman I ‘the Magnificent’, is one of numerous paintings, medals and engravings of him that circulated widely across Christian Europe during the sixteenth century. The popularity of such images reflects the power and prestige of the Ottomans, whose empire by 1529 stretched from North Africa to Persia and from Rhodes to the gates of Vienna. Suleyman‘s ceremonial turban and rich robes were imitated by rulers like Henry VIII, who on several occasions wore ‘Turkey robes’ as he processed through London.