A merchant at his bureau. 16th Century.
Previously unpublished on the Internet, a selection of secret ‘Cables’ follow.
“Auto de fé” in Seville
From Seville, 13th May 1569.
The Auto de fé of which I have already written took place here today. Seventy persons were brought forth, of which have been burned two Burgundians, one frenchman & one Dutchman. The others were for the most part Spanish rabble of poor mein, namely blasphemers of the name of God, & such as had been married twice or more. There were also among them such as did not hold fornication as sin. Likewise were there some of Jewish & Mohammedan faith.
Insolvencies at the Exchange at Antwerp
From Antwerp, 9th December 1570
Here the Genoese have arranged a competition at the Exchange & because of it two Genoese houses have gone bankrupt this week: they are Giovanni Grimaldi & then Pedro Francesco et Pedro Christophoro Spinola, who have behind them all the Germans here. It has always been regarded as a well-established business, & has long traded in this town. The creditors kept of good cheer. It is, however, to be feared that it may be with this as with other bankruptcies. At first there is ever enough on hand, but in the end no-one can obtain anything. The Spinola did show their books to the creditors, but would not deliver them, saying that their agent in Spain is still in a good position. They assert that they are not in difficulties on this account, & also that this came upon them unexpectedly. Therewith the creditors have to be content with nonce.
This bankruptcy has put an end to credit among the Genoese. Within the space of a few years many bankruptcies have taken place, but I have never seem such excitement on the Exchange as there is regarding this. They are owing a large amount, but no-one knows how much, for their books have not as yet been balanced.
It will probably not end with these two, but they will drag others down of their nation with them.
War against the Moors
From Madrid, 31st January 1571
After the Moors have all been driven out of the Kingdom of Granada & distributed over the whole of Spain, it is taken for granted that this war has now been brought to an end. Now, however, in many localities where the Moors have been apportioned, there have appeared maladies, like Modora & Petechia fever. Complaints are made that the Moors, who have suffered so much hunger & destitution, have brought the said diseases with them. In this cold winter, which in December & January has been the severest for many years, these illnesses have taken root & it is to be feared that new ones may develop with the coming of the summer heat.
Atrocities in Russia
from Moscow, [undated] 1572.
“The only fresh news I have to report at this time is that the Muscovite himself ravages & despoils his own land & nation. The Folk are pitilessly & cruelly killed in their thousands in all towns & small villages. They freeze to death & perish by violent means. Corn, cattle, and all else which is needed for man’s sustenance is burnt, corn is scattered in the streets & in the fields & altogether much wanton damage is wrought.”
St. Bartholomew’s Eve
From Amsterdam, 30th August 1572
Of the extraordinary happenings which took place in Paris a few days ago, Your Honour, without doubt, will already have heard through other channels. If not, then be it made known to you that the Admiral of France [Coligny] was on his way on horseback to Court on the 22nd. As he was reading a letter in the street, a musket was fired at him from a window. He was but hit in the arm, yet stood in danger of his life. Whereupon it is said that the King evinced great zeal to probe into the matter. With this the Admiral did not rest content, but is reported to have said that he “well knew who was behind this”, and would “take revenge”, were he even to “shed royal blood”. So when the King’s brother, the Duke of Anjou, the Guises & others heard of this, they decided to make the first move & speedily dispose of the whole matter. On the night of the 32rd they broke into the Admiral’s house, murdered him in his bed, & then threw him out of the window. The same day they did likewise unto all his kin, upon whom they could lay their hands.
Truly, potentates do not permit themselves to be trifled with, & whoever is so blind that he cannot see this learns it later to his sorrow. Since the Admiral has now been put out of the way, it is to be supposed that all his scheming plots & secrets will be brought to the light of day. This may in time cause great uproar, as it is more than probable that many currently regarded as harmless was in fact a party to this game.
The Queen of England as Censor
From Antwerp, 26th October 1573
As I am informed, a few days ago a pamphlet is said to have appeared without the name of the author, which fell into the Queen’s hands. In this the rule of her Councillors is especially described & it is said therein that they treat Her Majesty not like a Queen, but only as a figurehead & govern entirely as suits their pleasure. She has expressed her satisfaction therewith to her secretary. However, as this document was couched in rough language it has been forbidden, at the risk of corporal punishment, to buy or retain it.
The Fugger Newsletters: Renaissance Cables Part 1
The Fugger Newsletters: Renaissance Cables Part 2