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In my Renaissance and Reformation class, one of my assignments was that I play the role of a Florentine Ambassador assigned to another area/country and make periodic reports to the Professor and fellow students that illuminated significant events occurring in my assigned country, over the course of the Renaissance. I chose to explorer the Low Countries as several of my ancestral lines, the Cossarts (later Cozart), Geltons, and Villemans, became Protestants; the Cossarts doing so in France before fleeing persecution to Holland and eventually traveling to the New Holland, in the New World. Perhaps I might learn more of them--who made me. These are the "diplomatic reports" I composed. -- David Terrell
1 January 1400
My Right Worshipful and Right Especial Signore Cosimo de Medici, I recommend myself to your good lordship, beseeching your pleasure at this, my short, miserable report summarizing some of the doings in Holland during the previous five and twenty years, the knowledge of which, I pray, might prove of value to your lordship and to fair Florence. This land, known as Holland, is a part of the Duchy of Burgundy. It, like the adjacent areas of Zeeland, Friesland, Groningen, Utrecht and parts of Flanders, are low-lying, waterlogged and marshy areas on the coast of the Northern Sea. In the last twenty years, a goodly area of land has been added to the country by being diked, drained and made into fertile fields. Although the dikes seem precarious and require much maintenance, the lands reclaimed from the sea promise to provide a valuable bounty. The country has done this great deed by organizing itself into committees called heermraadschappen, whose manner of operations have been laid down in the wise decrees of the count of Holland and princes of neighboring lands (Israel 1995, 9-10). In recent years, Holland has thus enlarged its lands without waging war or negotiation of treaty. The people of Holland are a sea people involved in fishing and trade, much as are the people of Florence. The Hollanders have developed a substantial coastal trading fleet well suited to the transport of bulk cargos such as grain and timber. Their ships travel westward into the Baltic Sea for timber and grain and eastward as far as Portugal, for goods such as salt. The money they have thus raised, in trade, has elevated their economic strength, until they now compare favorably
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with Flanders and Brabant. Both of these countries are hostile to this new and growing Holland—from whom Holland is kept safe, by land, by the large rivers separating them (Israel 1995, 10-15). The number of people in this land is growing. They are excellent seamen and build excellent ships. Though they are far away from Florence, their good will might be beneficial to obtain and I have applied myself to that end. There are markets here for our good, Florentine woolen cloth. (Hay 1961, 89) The Dukes of Burgundy are, like your lordship, patrons of the arts. In the past, the principle arts were workings in metals, fine tapestries and the production of beautifully illustrated books. The last twenty years, however, have seen the emergence of painters of great skill. One of these, Robert Campin, is a most able artist and justly celebrated (Metropolitan Museum of Art 2002). Right worshipful and my right especial lord, I beseech Almighty God send you as much joy and worship as ever and keep you and all yours safe and well. Written at Haarlem this Wednesday, the first of January, 1400 anno domini, being the eleventh year of the reign of His Holiness Boniface IX. I am ever your servant. Davaldo di Terrelliccio
Hay, Denys. The Italian Renaissance in its Historical Background. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961. Israel, Jonathan I. The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Low Countries, 1400–1600 A.D." Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. October 2002. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=08®ion=euwl (accessed May 7, 2010).
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18 May 1437
My lord Cosimo de‘Medici, greetings and God grant thee health.
It was with great joy that I learned of the recent completion of the Duomo‘s dome. If the meager drawings of Brunelleschi‘s dome are to be believed, it is a marvelous work and a marvel. I wish to acquaint you with the doings in this far-northern land, for I have found something here that may rival the new dome, if not in size, than in splendor. Let me explain. I have seen a painting, more life-like than one could imagine. It depicts the body of Christ Crucified, being lowered from the cross. My God, I crossed myself when I saw it. I know, I hear you laugh to think of me, the great Platonist, caught up in religious piety but, my lord, that this man, this Roger van der Weyden, who can paint with such realism—that he exists—may be evidence of God‘s existence. He is now the city painter for Brussels and I intend to visit him. And, my lord, I submit that he may be worthy of your attention, that Florentine painters might learn from his use of oil paints on wood to produce unimaginable brilliance, to the benefit of our fair city before any other. I shall send you something of his work as a gift, so that you may see and judge his skill and his gift. I shall be interested to hear of the opinion of Leon Battista, whose Della Pitturia, setting forth the aesthetic and scientific theories of art, I have heard but not yet read. And van der Weyden is not the only such man in Holland. Another painter, Jan van Eyck created a majestic piece of 24 panels (and here is the closed view) exemplifying the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. His figures and the representation of depth in his paintings are better than the best of Florentine painters. I am sad to say that our painters have much to learn from these northmen. So that you may be more fully informed of the doings here, let me cast my mind back to what I have read in my studies of this land, at your request. For the last year, there have been supplies of English grains reaching Holland. They were, surprisingly, unlicensed by the English king. When I inquired, I found that the practice was allowed when prices fell below a certain level.
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But allow me to explain, in brief, the last quarter-century in Holland. In the years just after 1400, the effects of the Great Schism were felt deeply here. The people remained faithful to the Pope at Rome but there were critics, including one Jan Hus, who was burned in 1415 for his support of the man, John Wycliffe, whose writings I previously brought to your attention. I fear the memory of Hus, and the manner of his betrayal and death, are still alive and the Papacy would do well to improve itself. I must remember to encrypt this message. The wars between France and England were of common discussion here. The tales of the maid Joan d‘Arc were much talked about and the news that the Burgundians had been the ones to capture her and sell her to the English have not endeared the people to their largely absent Duke. While I speak of the Duke of Burgundy, he has done much to expand his domain by force. He has annexed Namur (1421), Hainault (1428), Holland and Zeeland (1425-1428). He shows no sign of slowing his efforts. In 1417, the printing press was first used in Antwerp and the amount of writing continues to grow. In 1425, the people here established a university in Leuven and an educational center is forming around it. As the 1430s began, the Duke Philippe le Bon of Burgundy created a new noble order, The Order of the Golden Fleece. This was the outward sign of his creating an admirable administrative infrastructure. He is striving to establish a kingdom. In evidence, he has created an assembly, a ―States General,‖ much as did the French king. French is the language of his court, with alienates the peoples of this land, which the Duke refers to as his Netherlands. Holland is a productive part of his demesne. As I evaluate the trade, I see there has been a increase in the industrial output of tapestries, jewelry and painted glass—centered on Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Leuven, and Antwerp. The works of Holland portend it becoming a center of arts whose financial center will likely be in Brussels, unless the political situation changes. In 1435, Charles VII of France and Duke of Burgundy made a treaty. Philippe, previously the English king‘s regent for his European holdings, thus broke with England and it may prove the cause of future trouble. Holland is in an ongoing conflict with the Hanseatic League, that alliance of trading cities to the west of Holland that dominates the Baltic Sea. One of the reasons Holland is less than happy
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with its Duke is his lack of attention to the hanseatic piracy. The Hollanders are taking coordinated action among themselves. They are raising money and building warships. The six major towns have banded in loose alliance, with the inland towns supporting the seaports. The Burgundian Duke ignores this at his peril. I will write you again after I have met with the painter van Eyck. Your servant in far places, Davaldolo
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January 1477 Bruges, County of Flanders
My lord, Lorenzo,
It is with deepest concern that I inform you of the death of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, called ―the Bold‖—although ―the Reckless‖ might be a better translation. Your earlier apprehensions have borne a bitter fruit, as the Duke still owes the Medici Bank in this town over three times the capital we have invested in it. The branch is bankrupt unless the monies may be collected from his heirs, but as nearly one-half of the 200-thousand livre dowry he was to receive from England has never arrived, it is doubtful we will see any of the money. It is with equal sadness, mixed with chagrin that I inform you of additional irregularities in the behavior of Tommaso Portinari, who has managed the Medici bank branch here these last twelve years. As you are aware, Portinari has exercised great responsibility representing Florence in the absence of an official ambassador. In the process, he insinuated himself deeply into the Duke‘s confidence, becoming a recognized counselor. Though he often neglected the bank‘s business by spending too much time at court, the sales of silks to the court has been most profitable for the bank—and for Portinari. I must admit that his actions as the Duke‘s negotiator with the Earl of Warwick for the hand of Margaret of York in marriage were masterful and influenced the Duke to employ several Italians as diplomats and counselors—men who have provided us with much valuable information. Nevertheless, I never quite trusted the manner in which Portinari participated in, and profited from Burgundian tax revenues. I also disliked the manner he seemed to place the Bank‘s resources at the Duke‘s disposal. He took dangerous risks with the bank‘s money and, in my eyes, made personal profit while impoverishing the Medici. I have assumed control of the remaining capital per your instructions, but I fear I arrived too late, given the Duke‘s death. Per your personal instructions, I have set about learning something of the local arts and industry. The painter Van der Weyden died in 1464 but in the last twenty-five years he created several
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great works, including a triptych (1452) and an altar piece of the seven sacraments (1460). In the same year Van der Weyden died a university was started in Bruges and continues to grow. We are beginning to see more of the marvelous documents created by the press created by Gutenberg, in Mainz (1454). In Paris, we began seeing locally-printed documents in that city‘s branch of the Medici Bank in 1470. In England, a press was established last year (1476) and several documents arrived by the latest courier from London. Politically, once the hundred years‘ war ended in 1453, these Low Countries breathed a sigh of relief. However, the death of the previous Duke, Philip the Good, in 1467 left Burgundy the richest state in the north—governed by one of the financially least able men. The new duke‘s marriage to an Englishwoman insured disaster and France declared a war in 1471 that continues. I would not be surprised to see the French invade in the coming year. I shall write again soon, with further details of the disaster in Bruges. I send this short note by a ready ship, with two copies going overland by separate couriers—one by the shortest route, through France, and the second will travel east through the Holy Roman Empire. The tide is on the ebb and I must encode and seal this immediately. May God bless you and the city forever. I remain your devoted servant, Davodolo
Trager, James. The People's Chronology: A Year-by-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1992. Walsh, Richard J. Charles the Bold and Italy (1467-1477): Politics and Personnel. Google Books (http://books.google.com/books?id=F4Wvl-xRpAoC). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005.
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June 4, 1527
I humbly with to acquaint you the political, religious and artistic events of the last five and twenty years. Margaret of Austria has ruled here for the last ten years in the Hapsburg‘s name. She is not a pleasant person. Her demeanor is authoritarian and dynastic and she has alienated almost all of the local nobility. Six years ago, the local nobles made a direct appeal to the Emperor Charles I. His letter to her helped somewhat, but I expect the Emperor himself to attend to the Netherlands personally, before the hostility becomes dangerous. The man known as Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus continues to dominate the scholarly work of the north. Only yesterday, I received my copy of his latest edition of the Holy Bible and it is truly a marvel. The Scriptures are presented in parallel columns of Greek, the Latin Vulgate and his own Latin translation, which I find very satisfactory to my own studies. His earlier editions, all coming after the Holy See‘s 1515 on printing such books without a Sacerdotal imprimatur, appeared in 1516, 1519 and 1522. They are also known to have suffered at the hands of careless printers. I hope that he was more particular in inspecting his work—especially as he takes in life in his hands to make them. Erasmus‘ scriptures have contributed to the heretical unrest in the north. For the last ten years, since that German monk, Luther, called the bishops to task with his theses in Wittenburg, the dissatisfaction with the church grows and is visible here in the Netherlands. Two of Luther‘s followers were put to the flame in Brussels late last year. Erasmus‘ works have also spread to England. Only last year, the man Tyndale published the Holy Bible in English, for the love of God. A storm started amongst the learned theologians between 1516 and 1521. Luther is abrasive and combative. Erasmus is a worldly humanist wrapped up in a Christian cloak. Both are dangerous and I am, as yet, unsure how the church will respond. The arts are changing as well. The painter and engraver Lucas van Leyden, who became a prodigy in 1508 while only 14 years of age, continues to produce masterpiece after masterpiece. I have been examining his work, along with those created by other artists of note. I am seeing, in
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their work, fewer depictions of the Life of Christ and more… how shall I say … more scriptural anecdotes that are presented in a manner similar to paintings of classical subjects you are used to. Humanism has made great advances in the Low Countries. Nevertheless, there is much scholasticism in the few universities and the monasteries are still powerful. Religious art is prominent and many people are making pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land. I wish my news was clearer and that I were able to present your lordships with a more prescient view of the north countries. Perhaps, was I to communicate with your lordships‘ representatives in the Holy See, we could—between us—better advise you. You obedient servant, Davidolo
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May 10, 1566 Antwerp
It is wish the utmost concern that I make your lordships aware of the political situation in the Habsberg Netherlands. About one month ago, in the city of Brussels, a group of over 200 nobles forced their way into the presence of Margaret of Parma, the illegitimate half-sister of His Most Catholic Majesty, Philip of Spain, who, as Head of the Habsberg house, rules the Netherlands. Margaret was placed in power after Philip returned to Spain in 1562, in the wake of his successful prosecution of his three-year war against France – and of his leaving the Netherlands groaning and near rebellion under a truly enormous war debt. She is useless as a ruler and still knows nothing of leadership or politics in spite of having ruled here for four years. But I digress. The nobles presented Margaret with a ―Petition of Compromise‖ which I have now seen, as it has been spread abroad in pamphlet form, printed in Dutch, French and German. The petition presents grievances in terms that can only just be called peaceful. As the ―Protestantism‖ of the man Luther and his ilk have spread, they have of course come into conflict with Holy Mother Church and the royal authorities. The two advisors Philip left to guide Margaret, Granville and Vigilius, were both charged to destroy heresy and the Inquisition they established has not been idle. But this did not prevent William, Duke of Orange, from marrying Anna of Saxony; the niece of the most important Lutheran prince of the German states. Nor has it prevented many other nobles from openly proclaiming joining the heresy. The strenuous efforts by the Holy Office caused a popular backlash and complaints from the nobility forced King Philip to remove Granville from office. However, this was a token effort, if one measures its effects by the activity of the Inquisition and the King‘s refusal, last October, to rescind the anti-heresy measures he had enacted. The King is foolish. He and his father, seeing these lands become wealthy through the efforts of their merchants – the traffic in jewels, the fine fabrics, fleets of cargo ships and fishing vessels – overtaxed them to fund their stupid wars with France. The larger cities‘ use of interest bearing bonds to raise the funds demanded by the kings has placed them in desperate economic straits.
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They will be paying the interest for generations. This only adds to the tension and resentment embodied in the people, both common and noble. But I digress again. Please forgive. As the Inquisition‘s activities have become the embodiment of perceived foreign influence that impoverishes the land, the nobles have used that cause to force themselves upon Margaret. The petition demanded her to denounce the activities of the Inquisition and to immediately disband it throughout the Netherlands. Lacking courage, experience and Spanish troops – they having be withdrawn a few years before – she acquiesced. Now, a delegation rides to Spain to lay the case before the King – hoping to achieve a permanent withdrawal of the inquisition. This is a bad business and almost certainly, the King will replace Margaret with someone better able to face down armed nobles. By the Grace of God, I am your devoted – if not always articulate and concise – servant, Davidolo
Israel, Jonathan I. The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
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March 2, 1588 In Utrecht,
I beg to report the withdrawal of English forces under Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, from Holland. As you know, the united states of these Netherlands placed themselves under the protection of Queen Elizabeth two years ago, after Spanish Imperial forces of the Habsbergs reconquered most of the southern areas of the Netherlands in battles occurring between 1579 and 1585. Nevertheless, allow me to provide some background for your Lordships‘ understanding. Twenty-five years ago, in 1563, local nobles presented their Petition of Compromise to Margaret. The protestant heresy continued to spread and in the horrible winter of ‘66 and ‘67, the Habsberg‘s sent forces to suppress the heresy with the sword. But the heresy grew and resulted in the beeldenstorm, an iconoclastic smashing of religious images and burning of religious art worth of the Eastern Empire of old. This ravaging of their artistic heritage crested in August of ‘66 in Antwerp, when all forty-two churches in the city were stripped and their artistic contents destroyed. It was the shame of the world. Similar desecrations occurred in other cities‘ churches and entire libraries of several religious orders were put to the torch; by mobs often lead by local nobles, while the local militia stood by and watched. The lack of Catholic uprising to protect the churches was particularly telling of the strength of the heretical mobs – or, perhaps the weak faith of the faithful. Margaret recruited a force and reestablished order by the spring of ‘67, driving the heretics into hiding, but the damage to this fair country was appalling. Soon after, Don Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Third Duke of Alva, arrived to suppress the heresy with ten thousand Spanish and Neapolitan troops, backed with German auxiliaries. Alva was an unwavering Catholic and a man of iron. His harsh demeanor was made more harsh by his being over sixty years old and suffering from gout and other painful illnesses. He could show great cruelty, but never without purpose. He was truly a man after the ideal of Niccolo, who wrote the treatise for Lorenzo the Magnificent. Alva effectively neutralized Margaret and she resigned. He established a Council de Troubles to investigate the uprising – and before long, it had executed over one thousand souls for heresy or treason, or both. The Council targeted the upper middle class who had taken the lead in establishing Protestant worship. Between the late 1560s and the
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mid ‗70s, many of them fled for England, Germany and some, for the New World. They are taking their skills, talents and money with them – unfortunate for Imperial tax collectors. The heresy congealed around William of Orange, whose army formed the core of the rebellion. Orange‘s army was defeated by Alva in late ‘68 near Emden and from then, until 1572, Orange led a war of attrition against the Spanish Imperials. The war included raids from German safehavens and a sea campaign carried out from English ports that preyed upon commercial shipping and coastal ports. Alva‘s ejection of the heretics had the unintended consequence of strengthening the heresy in England and Germany. Alva set the taxes very high in mid ‗69, which impoverished and offended the peoples. In 1572, the people revolted again. Alva was on the edge of victory in December of that year when, in a fury at a delay in a town‘s surrender, he ordered the death of every living soul in the town of Naarden. This energized the rebellion and dried up tax revenues. Philip of Spain replaced Alva in November 1573 with Don Luis de Requesens, who had orders to negotiate. Philip‘s refusal to formally permit the heretics to worship proved to be a sticking point. By 1576, the lack of tax revenues led to the unpaid Spanish army disintegrating into bands of armed marauders that sacked major cities. Reportedly, over eighteen thousand citizens of Antwerp were killed when the city was sacked. This has created bad blood between the Spanish and the Netherlanders that may never die. Afterwards, the States general of Brabant and Holland met and jointly submitted themselves to the Prince of Orange. A union began to form. By 1578, Amsterdam, the last conservative city, joined the growing alliance. Resquesens‘ army defeated the States‘ army in early 1578 and the next two years saw the Spaniards advancing in the southern Low Countries. This forced many of the religious factions to suspend their infighting and form a political union. Nevertheless, the Habsburg re-conquered the south between 1579 and 1585. The fear brought the religious factions into dispute again. It was almost as if the Spaniards were another Black Death and the peoples were squabbling over which of the righteous, being dominant, would bring the blessing and temporal salvation of God. With the Spanish successes, the Hollanders appealed to England, offering the country to Queen Elizabeth. She demurred, not wanting to create a complete break with Spain and France, who would object to English domains on their western border. But England did agree to advise and consent and Holland became a protectorate in November 1585.
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The English queen‘s representative, Leicester, is the subject of this missive. His influence over these last two years, beginning with the negotiations of his exact powers, forced the Hollanders to make firm, binding decisions as to their own forms of governance. Who was to lead? How would the various states be represented in the States General? How would taxes be levied and the revenues managed? How would the numerous churches relate to each other and to the state? In spite of his disciplining influence, the foreign influence proved unwelcome and England has withdrawn. In his wake, there is a nascent country taking shape here. It is unusual in its government of the people, with mild oversight from the nobility. It will be interesting to see if they succeed and whether those who have fled take their views with them. As ever, I remain your devoted servant, Davidolo 1048044
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July, 1613 Amsterdam
I humbly beg leave to inform your Graces that Holland has signed a treaty of alliance with the Protestant Union of Germany. This follows news that Dutch traders have signed trading agreements with the rulers of far-off Ceylon (1612) and Nihongo (1611)—opening new sources of trade goods to the Dutch East India Company. The company still enjoys the twenty-one year monopoly granted it in 1602, after the Portuguese closed the Lisbon spice markets to the Dutch in 1594. It was in 1610 that the Company began raising funds from common people through the sale of ―shares,‖ representing partial ownership in the Company. Over one-half million English Pounds were raised in this manner. I myself have purchased stock in the Company and have seen its value rise and fall with the fortunes of the company. The Bank of Amsterdam, formed after the Spanish national bankruptcy in 1909, using silver from the New World, is a major investor. The concept is very useful for raising money necessary to funding massive projects without taxation. One is also seeing the use of paper promissory contracts called ―Cash Letters‖ to transfer large amounts of value without the need for vast weights of coinage. The contracts are much like those I learned about in my reading of the old Knights Templar. The money is moved from one ledger to another, without ever leaving the Bank. God send the banks never fail. It has been especially interesting to see the broad and lucrative markets for items brought from the orient. For example, there is the oriental herb called chai, chee or tee; first brought back by the Company‘s ships in 1609. When infused with boiling water, it produces a tasteful and mildly stimulating tonic that seems suited to rectifying one‘s humors. I will send several bags of the herb for your enjoyment. I will also be sending two fine examples of instruments created here that are becoming objects of intense curiosity and study. One is called a telescope. In 1608, a Hollander named Lippershey learned to assemble ground pieces of glass within a metal tube and when applied to the eye, one is able to see vast distances as if they were very close. They are very useful where one observes
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over vast distances, such as in the mountains, at sea, and examining the heavens. The second device is of a similar nature but is a microscope; first constructed in 1590 by a man named Jannsen and greatly improved in the years since. With it, one can examine the minute structures of leaves and other things. I have observed small, strange animalcule within a single drop of water. I trust they will be of interest. I will also include the past several months of a daily journal printed by a local printer for the last five years. It is as if one took the sheets posted on the gates of Florence or upon the cathedral, printed them in great numbers and sold them abroad in the city. They, too, may be interesting. I remain, you devoted servant, Davidolo
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15 June 1637, Amsterdam
It is with barely suppressed enthusiasm that I forward to you, under this cover, a book recently published in Leiden. I am made to understand that the book is to be published in Amsterdam, Rome, Paris and London. With a blessing, this copy will reach you soon. The book is entitled Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences. Plus the Dioptric, Meteors, and Geometry, Which Are Essays in This Method. Although the author‘s name was not printed in the book, I have, through my sources, determined it to be the work of one Rene Descartes, a Frenchman living in Holland since 1632. He is the man who combined the Algebra with the Geometry about eighteen years ago. The first of the four essays in the book is magnificent. It may herald a new epoch in human thought— replacing Aristotle, Aquinas, and Plato in the minds of rational men. Descartes gives us a method for conducting reason in the search for all sorts of truth. It will be controversial among those who blindly rely on ancient scholarly authority. I commend it to your quiet and private study. As to the general situation in Holland, the overwhelming news is always about the New World. Only twenty-five years ago, the Dutch established their first trading post on the large island called Manhattan. Ten years later, New Netherlands becomes a province of Holland. The last twenty years have seen an increasing Dutch trade in African slaves, taken to the New World and sold to the English for their plantations. In 1621, the Dutch West India Company is chartered and given a monopoly on trade to the New World. By 1629, the Company had built over 100 large trading ships and was paying dividends on its stock shares exceeding 50 percent. Painting continues to flourish. For over twenty-five years, Rubens has created a continuous stream of masterpieces. For the last twelve years, another painter named Rembrandt has also produced a series of luminous paintings. One last item of interest; several days ago, the Tulip market collapsed after years of speculation. There have been many fortunes lost. Should this news reach you soon enough, I advise your Lordships divest yourselves of any investments to the disadvantage of those you see fit.
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I remain, your devoted servant, Davidolo
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July 1664, Amsterdam
There is news both interesting and terrible, here in the Netherlands. First, the outbreak of Black Death that killed about 10,000 people last year in Amsterdam continues. Another 24,000 people have died, which means the death of about 3 in 200. The plague has spread throughout much of Flanders, including Brussels. The disease has harmed Amsterdam, which has assumed great economic significance over the last sixteen years—beyond that of Antwerp—after the Treaty of Munster saw the creation of this Dutch Republic of the United Provinces and the negotiated closure of the River Scheldt to navigation. Second, there is news from the New World. New Amsterdam is taken by the English, who have renamed the province New York. As I reported earlier, the 1662 Franco-Dutch alliance had irritated the English, in spite of the 1654 Treaty of Westminster that ended the last, two-year long Anglo-Dutch War. The Dutch had erected a wall across Manhattan Island during the war but it did not keep the English out. I am to have word more from my sources in England and the New World soon, but wished to send this short report by the first available ship. A copy will also be sent overland. Your servant, Davidolo
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November 1685 Amsterdam
As you may be aware, less than two months ago, the French revoked the Edict of Nantes which, for 87 years, has procured a measure of toleration between Holy Mother Church and the heretics that populate the north. Since then, an exodus of heretics has started, with consequences that may affect the balance of power in Europe for generations. I doubt that Europe has not witnessed the movement of such a mass of mankind in centuries. If my sources are to be believed, over fifty thousand families are leaving France and many of them are arriving in Holland, who is offering tax exemptions. Groups of wealthy Dutchmen are offering transportation subsidiaries to lure skilled tradesmen to Holland. Dutch maritime companies are paying Seaman handsome wages to relocate to Holland. Several of the universities have offered endowed chairs of learning to escaping intellectuals. I understand the same is true in England, Denmark, the northern German Principalities, and Sweden. My sources in England also report large numbers of emigrants from France are destined for the New World. I assess that France will lose over one-half of its skilled Seamen; placing the country at a maritime disadvantage. France will not be able to back its diplomacy with the threat of naval force without depriving its mercantile fleet of the hands it needs to work its ships. This knowledge can be of great use to Venetian diplomats negotiating with France. Also, the loss of so many skilled craftsmen will soon translate into a shortage of manufactured goods which we, if we are wise, can fill, as new markets open for Venetian goods. I trust to your good opinion and the Blessings of God, Davidolo
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