26 November 2012

The Flanders Galleys, 1485: Part One

An earlier entry told about Bartolomeo Minio's disastrous voyage to Flanders with the trade muda, fleet, for 1485.  This entry and the next print Minio's commissione from Doge Giovanni Mocenigo of 12 April 1485, with the details of his appointment as captain.

* * * * * *

Salary for the voyage 600 golden ducats, with which, besides servants, he is to keep a clerk, priest, notary, an admiral -- for which board, and not his pay, he is alone responsible -- and two physicians. The salaries of the captain, musicians,1 physicians and others to be paid as usual by the masters. For the present year, each galley to have (at the cost of the galleys) 30 good arbalast men2 from 20 to 50 years of age, with a monthly salary of 19 livres -- each livre containing for light "solidi" -- and galley rations as usual, like the oarsmen; with the understanding moreover, that amongst the said arbalast men there be included four noble youths for each galley, and no more; the which noblemen to he boarded by the masters of the galleys, who are also to pay them their full salaries going and returning, according to the act passed in this matter. Amongst the aforesaid stipendiaries, the masters to take with them one competent adviser for each galley, with a monthly salary of 10 ducats in money, to be paid by the masters who are to board them; the said adviser to be in lieu of one of the arbalast men appointed to each galley,

On the day of his arrival at Sluys the captain to engage a courier for Venice, and inform all the merchants that they may write if they please, dispatching him on the morrow at the farthest, with news of the date of his entry into port; to send a second courier in like manner after a fortnight's interval. 

On the homeward voyage each galley to bring 120,000 weight of light goods, under penalty, &c.; and the masters in Flanders or England to obtain from the merchants 80,000 weight of copper and tin for each galley and no more. The merchant shippers of the said tin and copper to be paid four ducats for each 1,000 weight avoirdupois. 

With the first freight, money received by the captain, he is to pur­chase "in the west" four pieces of ordnance for each galley; to be given to the arsenal on the return.
The masters to be at liberty to remain one month and half more than usual between Bruges and London, and to touch on the out­ward voyage at Palermo and Messina.

On his departure from Flanders and return to England, the cap­tain to remain either at Sandwich or Southampton for 90 days. To be at liberty to touch at Alicant or not; and on the homeward voyage he has also the option of touching at Pisa and Talamone, and of sending thither one or more galleys.

The masters, before being confirmed by the Senate, to deposit at the Accountant's Office one half of the money required for the usual presents made in the Signory's name to the King of England3 and the Duke of Burgundy4; the other half to be disbursed on their return, under penalty.
Should the galleys be detained at Sluys by the ice beyond the term assigned them, the extra days to be deducted from those appointed for the stay in Hampton, provided always that the mer­chandise be disposed of. within the said term. 
On the voyage toward Venice, the galleys to touch at the usual ports; and on the way, both out and home, should the masters deem it advantageous, they are allowed to go to Malaga and Almeria; though should the country be at all in a disturbed state, the captain alone to decide thereon: if they go, they may remain three days in each of those places. When in the waters of Almeria, the captain to dismiss the galley which is to return by the Barbary ports, touching at One, Oran, Tunis, and the other places for which it may have goods, remaining but three days at each; shipping all goods along the coast, either from port to port, or for Venice, exacting the same freight money as the Barbary galleys, and receiv­mg it at the same date. 
The master of the aforesaid galley forbidden to take from any Venetian subject more than 25 ducats freight money for each thou­sand weight of cloth. The goods of Venetians to be shipped before those of foreigners ; and first of all the galley to load for Barbary. If unable to obtain a full cargo for that district, she may then take the entire surplus freight of the other galleys bound for Venice; and after touching at the Barbary ports she is then to go to Syracuse. 
Term of payment for the freights of cloths and wools, 16 months from the day of the arrival of the galleys at Venice; for tin and wrought pewter, 8 months; for all goods loaded in Malaga, Majorca, and Sicily, 6 months.

On making the island of England, the captain to dismiss the two galleys bound to London; and should there be more spices for Sluys than contained in the two galleys destined for that port, in that case one of the two London galleys, namely, the one which does not carry the [vice ]captain, to go to Sluys, and after lauding the spices return to. London as customary of late years. The galleys, on going to any place in England, not to load or unload any thing soever under penalty of 500 ducats,&c.; and under the like penalty the captain.is bound to go to Sluys, for the avoidance of such peril as incurred by the galleys of late years. 
The London galleys being dismissed, the captain is then to go with the others to Sluys, there to remain. for 60 days, those of arrival and departure not included; and on their expiration, he is to proceed either to Sandwich or Hampton, as shall seem best to him; and in the port thus selected he is to remain and load for 60 (sic) days, and then return to Venice. Ten days before departure from England, the masters to unship the windlasses; and no longer load anything," under penalty of 500 ducats; and in like manner the sailing masters and "comiti," and all the other stipendiaries [of the Sluys·~ galleys] are prohibited from going to London; with the exception of: the admiral when directed by the captain for matters concerning] the galleys, under penalty; &c. 
Of the two London galleys, one to be chosen either by agreement or lot, to return by the coast of Barbary; shipping first of. all in England fine cloths and merchandise, save that neither copper nor tin, nor vessels of those metals, are to be imported into Barbary; under penalty of 500 ducats, &c. 
The masters both in Flanders and England, and also at all intermediate ports, on their return, to load all such goods as shall be brought them for Venice, until the very last hour of their depar­ture (sic) ; which goods, if left behind for the sake of taking others for the intermediate ports, or on any other account, they to make good the loss incurred by such rejection, and pay the arsenal the freight which will be deducted from their "bounty.' The consuls both in, London and Bruges to keep account of all merchandise presented for Venice; and on the homeward voyage, the captain, in Flanders, England, and all ether places; is to keep account, with the "writer's assistant" and his chaplain, of all goods preeented for Venice, whether, shipped or not; and this note he is to consign to the Signory on his arrival. 
(to be continued)

1Musicians: probably the trumpeters by whom movements and orders were signalled.
2Arbalast men: crossbowmen.
3Richard III.
4Philip the Handsome.

Text taken from Rawdon Brown, Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts (London, 1864) , Vol. 1: #492. The translation and editing within the text is his. Rawdon Brown owned the original commission, but it is not now listed in the Rawdon Brown papers in the British Library.

19 November 2012

The Greek Charts of Piri Re'is

All images are taken from
Piri Reis and His Charts
by Mine Esiner Özen (1998).

The most down-loaded images in several years on Surprised by Time are two I used here from Piri Re'is -- Crete and the Argolid , so I am offering today a collection of his images of Greek ports, from a Kitab-ı Bahriye edition of 1521. Note that whatever the orientation of the map, a heavy arrow usually points North. Perhaps a reader will be able to explain the variations.

 Agia Mavra

 Agion Oros







 Nauplion, green coastline, Argos lower left, extant river of Lerna
at bottom. Chesepritri just above red circle.

12 November 2012

When your father is the Emperor

  The Palaiologos family, 1408.  

[Note: I have obtained new information which has changed my mind somewhat about Manuel as a father. I no longer agree with what I have written here.]

I have lately been writing a chapter on the brothers Palaiologos, one that has made me quite sad.  It is clear that John, Theodoros, Andronikos, Constantine, Demetrios, and Thomas have to be examined both in parallel -- they are always written about in isolation -- and they have to be considered within the atmosphere created by their father, Manuel II. Manuel was fundamentally a good man.  He had remarkable endurance and courage. He was an outstanding emperor. He loved his sons -- and in the addresses to John (below) he calls him φίλτατε, dearest, but he often demonstrated it in ways that must have often been imperceptible to them. I could write another chapter analyzing aspects of Manuel's life and how it might have affected his attitudes towards his sons, but that does not belong in this book.

Sphrantzes' account of his own relationship with Manuel, one he considered generous and loving, and one of which he was intensely proud, is instructive.  If, perhaps, not taken completely as gospel, it still reflects a teenager's perspective. He wrote, "When I became a personal minister to [the Emperor], [Constantine] was able to obtain through me many favors he needed from his father." Manuel could be indulgent to his young attendant where he could not be indulgent directly to his son. 

An example of Manuel's attitude as a father comes from his commentary he wrote to his compilation of dream interpretation. In a completely gratuitous comment he says, "The affection [for a small child] will be short because (as I have observed) Greek children are especially prone to lose their charm after two or three years of age."

This is the age, as parents will recognize, when children discover the use of the word, "No"; the age when they sometimes strive fiercely for the independence they are not yet capable of using. They tend to fall a lot, have tantrums, be more difficult to manage than a month or so ago when they were perfectly loveable.  This is the age when they leave babyhood and begin to become human beings.This is clearly not the first time Manuel has expressed this view, as he says, and although there is no hint as to the date of the composition of this book, or of the manuscript, the totally extraneous nature of the comment in its location supports the idea that this was in fact his view of small children.

 In his recent dissertation, Florin Leonte has made abundantly clear Manuel's style of fatherhood, although Leonte's  primary concern is with the rhetorical devices and genre to be found in Manuel's various orations and philosophical treatises. I am basing these next comments on my understanding of Leonte.

About the time the family portrait above was painted -- John would have been 16 or so and had been made co-ruler, as you can tell by his dress which is just like his father's, Manuel addressed to him a long essay, Ὑποθῆκαι βασιλικῆς ἀγωγῆς, or Foundations of Imperial Conduct. In this he referred to John as a μειράκιον, a boy, who spent more time hunting and playing than he did studying. It is striking to learn that John, whom we can see as nearly obsessive about hunting in 1438 and 1439, had already become so attached to this physical and emotional outlet. 
(I should add that by 16, John had already mastered the byways of extremely complex and formal Byzantine Greek, however much playing he had been doing.) Or that his father thought him so attached.  But then, Manuel mentions that he has given John a horse and an eagle -- wonderful presents for any boy -- and that now he is giving him more formal training. 
Then by 1410 when John was 18 and thus of age, Manuel followed the Foundations with seven Orations. Leonte thinks these orations were delivered in public, before an audience focused on John. In the sixth Manuel criticized John for mistakes, in the seventh for rudeness and being critical, never complimenting John or pointing out any strengths. (This from a man commonly known to have a violent temper.) However much John needed correction, it is painful to think of what must have been the effect of hearing himself publicly lectured and criticized by his father. There is evidence from later in his life that criticism, and conflict, would intensify an already chronic illness, while the pattern of humiliation set so early accompanied John even after death. Consider the incidents of his forced marriage to a woman extremely unattractive to him, his having to take jewels to pawn in Venice, his having to be carried in to the first session of the Council of Union, his rejection by the clergy and people of Constantinople after his return from the Council, his long illness, and the church’s refusal of Christian burial to his body -- all of them public demonstrations of inadequacy. 
Speaking both as father and as emperor, Manuel addressed the Orations to ethical concerns -- pleasure in the fifth, courtesy to courtiers in the seventh, and there is much internal evidence that these are statements about previous conversations between father and son. Manuel used Plato, Aristotle, and the Bible as his authorities, arguing that true happiness could only be found by right action and education, and humility was the highest virtue a person could attain. Despair (ἀπόγνοσις) and judgment of others’ conduct led the list of sins. There is much that is interesting in these Orations, but my concern here is the unconscious cruelty in the humiliation of a bright and sensitive boy, young man, any boy or young man, in public.

It is difficult to think that these texts, or similar letters, would not have been urged on the younger sons for study in their roles as rulers -- the second says, "it is necessary for us to say what we think about this issue for your pleasure and equally for the benefit of those who would come across this work" -- and that Manuel, when visiting Theodoros and Andronikos in their despotates, would not have spent considerable time repeating many of the points he had directed to John.

Constantine well-internalized his father's remarks on duty, not from these
Orations but from the Dialogue on Marriage: "But a ruler’s and an emperor's duty is to accept any risk in order to save his people, and to regard dying a light burden, whenever freedom is at stake and whenever the risk concerns . . . Faith." Typically, John Barker in his biography of Manuel gives great attention to the manuscript provenances of these Orations but says nothing about their contents, and certainly nothing about Manuel as a father, even while criticizing John as "mediocre."

We know nothing of the attitude of Helena towards the children at any age -- she bore ten, and saw seven of them die, five of them as children. The only clue of her feelings towards any of them comes when John returned to Constantinople, emotionally ravaged and physically ill from the Council of Union, the dangerous winter voyage, and the death of his wife -- his mother refused to pray for him as emperor because of his support of Union. Constantine has always been considered particularly close to their mother -- he was named for her father, the second child to be so named, and he seemed to have used the Dragaś name -- but she also refused to pray for him in turn as emperor because of his support of Union. 

This family isolated its children, even from each other. The boys appear to have had their own households, tutors, and staffs, at about the age of seven.  Andronikos was sent off to Thessaloniki as Despot at the age of 8, Theodoros to Mistra at the age of 8 or 10.

It is not enough to say that such treatment was typical of the upper-class late Byzantine family, or normal within the Palaiologos family.  It still created lonely children.

05 November 2012

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure

 Odysseus on Kalypso's shore

Book Five of the Odyssey begins with the bare mention of Tithonos, beloved of rosy-fingered Dawn. That is all, but it is enough to create horror, because Tithonos, given immortality by the goddess, could not die.  He lay in a corner of an unused room  like the dried husk of a grashopper, begging to be allowed to die. When we finally see Odysseus, it is from the back -- a grieving man on the shore, seven years now with the death goddess.  That image of Tithonos-Odysseus was with me in recent years whenever I read yet another article by some male visitor about Patrick Leigh Fermor -- still alive, still drinking down in Mani, and it was my understanding of the remark Maggie Rainey-Smith reported hearing him make, "We may just forget to die!"

I have been reading Artemis Cooper's new, "official" biography of Fermor, Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure, and it has left me deeply saddened.  At the outset, I should say that there is no introduction, no statement by Cooper as to what she intends, and what she will  or will not be covering.  The reader is free to make interpretations based on the evidence she presents, and that I have done here.  I could make others.  Cooper gives little analysis and has little depth, although there are on occasion a few sentences of explanation for a situation.  She and her family have been life-time friends of PLF* and Joan Eyres Monsell, and if she has deeper understandings of situations and problems than she reveals, she has chosen reticence. 

So what we have in this book is a great deal more in the way of incidents of evidence for the mythology of charm, brilliance, heroism, physical daring, and incomparable companionship to be found in the T. E. Lawrence-Lord Byron of my lifetime -- and another problem with Cooper's evidence is that it only concerns the beautiful and famous: she says nothing about PLF's many-year relationship with my friend, Jon van Leuven, who cataloged his library (although she misspells his name), nothing as to whether
PLF memorized, or even knew, for example, the great Greek poet Nikos Gatsos.   And the multiplication of incidents contribute less to the charm than they chip away.

Perhaps that is Cooper's subtlety, her way of avoiding direct confrontation with the great darkness so well-concealed
from the world by the flashes of brilliance perpetually recycled.  Perhaps it is simply unavoidable.  Rather than charm, we see the frantic burden of being PL, a man desperate for love and acceptance, a man who desired women less because of lust than because of a craving for sweetness and the comfort of being held. But this makes for a great problem with the mythology and Cooper is reasonably candid in showing how Joan gave him money for his amours, and their early cessation of sexual relations while remaining the closest of companions for fifty more years.  Cooper offers no real insight into this matter which seems to me of profound importance, but when I read of Joan's violent miscarriages -- one of them with PLF's child at a point when she was painfully eager for him to marry her -- and then the sexual withdrawal on her side, I begin to wonder about matters such as chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.  Especially after reading about his personal hygiene.

True, this is extremely intimate and Joan's sense of privacy would not have allowed her to mention such a thing.  But as a city person, deeply committed to clean sheets and frequent hot baths, the issue of PLF's concern for cleanliness was always a problem for me in reading his books.  Cooper's casual remarks about his casualness at sharing sexually-transmitted infections builds an impression of almost criminal negligence.  Both here and with the frequent reports of massive amounts of alcohol, Cooper neglects responsibility as a biographer.  Surely she could have given us some sense as to whether his sexual and drinking behavior was fairly typical of his milieu -- there is an astounding amount of alcohol in books by his contemporaries and books about the period, or whether they were more particularly exclusive to his character.

The many reports by visitors of his astounding ability to recall poetry takes on another cast, when you read Cooper's accounts of people walking out on interminable recitations, and insults given by hyper-competition. The drinking -- which I discussed briefly in my entry when he died -- has taken a new light in my mind.

I have never been fond of PLF's obsessivelyadjectival, intensely emotional style of writing, while loving the incidents and the characters. But the mounding of language, the obsessive quoting, and the drinking, the hyper-activity, the pushing of physical borders, have come together in my mind in another construct. Suppose PLF was -- not hyperlexic: that word has been taken -- suppose he was the far extreme of dyslexic? Suppose the rush of words and images was so intense, so noisy, that the recitations were a way of releasing the pressure, and the drinking atemporary means of muting the noise and slowing down the rush?

Cooper shows him constantly going off for two weeks or a month to a cottage in England or a windowless tower in Italy, or a shack on a beach to try to get some writing done -- usually with some bright and lovely woman, and what lovely women they were!  Most of us have been aware of the non-appearance of the third volume of the walk to Constantinople.  But suppose that, unlike most of us who have to coax words out one step at a time in thin threads, PLF was trying to prevent himself from being trampled by the hordes that would not stop rushing at him? Andersen's "Red Shoes" about the girl who could not stop dancing haunted my childhood, and I am wondering if this is much of the PLF story.

I wanted to know a good bit more about Joan Eyres Monsell than Cooper has chosen to tell.& Cooper gives biographical information, but precious little insight.  Essentially she
says about Joan what one of his male drinking visitors wrote me: "Joan was extremely reticent and really didn't want to be written about--that was part of it. She was shy of being photographed--at least when I knew her."  Really, there is no point in biography if the subject dictates the content. The visitor also wrote: "As I say in my own book, Joan was an old soul, wiser than Paddy."

PLF knew this, treasured it, and was grateful.  Joan died in June 2003.  Cooper writes: "Paddy . . . would spend hours lying on her bed, gazing at the white arch that framed the window and the olive tree beyond, and it took a long time to get used to the loneliness. 'I constantly find myself say, "I must write -- or tell -- that to Joan"; then suddenly remember that one can't and nothing seems to have any point.  Then I remember all those happy years and what undeserved luck one had had, and the tears shift a bit . . ' " 
(That juxtaposition of olive tree and marriage and bed . . .)

There is much more in the biography than I have addressed here. I grieve for the erosion of the myth: I grieve more for the private persons.

* I use PLF because in the milieu from which I came, "Paddy" -- which apparently everyone called him -- was an extremely derogatory term for an Irishman, and I have never felt right with it.  

The Patrick Leigh Fermor Archives.