Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Ottoman Empire - Suleiman the Lawgiver

Campaigning in Europe

Hearing of Suleiman’s support for his rival; Ferdinand sent his envoy to Istanbul, where he demanded the return of all territories captured by the Ottomans. The envoy was imprisoned for nine months before being returned to his master with a message from Suleiman.
‘Your master has yet to experience what I am like as a friend and a neighbour – but he soon will. Tell him that I will come to find him in full force and I think I will be able to return to him with my own hands what he lays claim to. He should get everything ready to receive us.’[i]
On the 10th May 1529 Suleiman set out on his third foray into eastern Europe. He met with John Zapolya at Mohacs and then travelled on to Buda, which was filled with Ferdinand’s supporters. After a six day siege Buda was again in the hands of the Ottoman Turks. The Janissaries were not allowed to sack the town; instead they carried off huge numbers of slaves. The following week John Zapolya was installed as king of Hungary, a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.

Suleiman now set his sights on Vienna and on 27th September 1529 the Ottoman army arrived before the gates of the city. The delay in arrival meant that the siege was abandoned with the onset of winter.
The Sultan’s Personal Life

Suleiman had two intimates, his Grand Vizier Ibrahim and his wife Hurrem Sultana[ii] a slave of Ruthenian origin. Roxelana bore Suleiman four sons. On her arrival in the seraglio Roxelana had a cat fight with Gulbahar, the Chief Sultana and the mother of Suleiman’s son Mustafa. After the fight Suleiman was no longer intimate with Gulbahar.

Following a fire in the Old Seraglio Roxelana moved bag and baggage into rooms in the Topkapi, ending the separation of the Harem and the state, with disastrous long-term consequences for the future of the empire[iii].
‘A most extraordinary event took place this week in the town, absolutely unprecedented in the reign of the sultans. The Great Lord Suleiman has taken for his empress a woman called Roxelane, of Russian origin, amid much rejoicing………………everybody is talking about the marriage, but nobody is sure what it means’[iv]

Roxelana’s influence started long before her wedding and continued to her death. She was a jealous woman and resented Ibrahim’s influence on her husband and she also resented her sons’ half brother Mustafa. Roxelana received gifts from foreign ambassadors and leading dignitaries of the empire, many of whom owed their appointments to her intercession.
In 1530 the Doge of Venice was invited to attend the festivities for the circumcision of Suleiman’s sons Mustafa, Selim and Mehmed. The Doge refused on account of his age, but sent an envoy extraordinary as well as the Venetian Ambassador. The celebrations went on for fourteen days and were possibly the greatest example of conspicuous consumption in the Empire’s history.

Reforms in Law, Religion and Education

Suleymaniye Mosque
As a religious man Suleiman upheld the belief that a ruler’s first duty was to protect his subjects against the abuses of his representatives. He was also the defender of Holy Law. Even Christians agreed that Suleiman had an elevated sense of justice.
Suleiman and his staff, including the Chief Ulema, worked to provide the empire with a new codification of the Islamic laws; that would be workable in three continents. The empire had expanded well beyond its original borders and the likelihood of most of Suleiman’s subjects being able to bring their complaints direct to their Sultan was now remote. Each province was considered individually and the laws tailored to suit each one. This was done in conjunction with the Ulema to ensure that the new legislation did not transgress the original Sacred Law.

One European visitor was astounded by the functioning of justice and the access that all citizens had to the law.
‘The Christian and the Jew are as free as the Turk to put forward the least complaint, without needing the eloquence of a lawyer to defend the truth……Being far less partisan, the administration of justice is also carried out more honestly.’[v]
Laws were passed relating specifically to Christian and Jewish subjects and a criminal codex was created. Many of the punishments were lighter than those handed out prior to the new legislation. Taxation was also diversified and widened; bachelors were taxed and there was a tax upon marriage.

‘No-one can exact taxes greater than those officially decided upon, nor forced labour and fines that have not been fixed by law.’[vi]
Suleiman’s reforms were hampered by the narrow field of advisers he relied upon. The decentralisation granted in his legislation in time led to official corruption in the provinces, allowing extortion and venality; another cause of the eventual implosion of the Ottoman Empire.

Suleiman confirmed the powers and privileges of the head of the Ulema, making him almost the equal of the Grand Vizier. The Ulema and judges were given freedom from confiscation of property and taxation, allowing the passing on of an inheritance from father to son, creating a hereditary class drawn from the legal and educational professions; a hereditary class that was to cause problems in the future.
Suleiman founded a number of schools and colleges and developed the educational system of the Ulema. Muslim boys were provided with a mostly free education. Those with ability could progress from primary school to attend colleges, built in the precincts of the eight principal mosques of Istanbul.

War in Europe
On 25th April 1532 Suleiman and his army set forth once again for Hungary en route for Vienna. Charles V, emboldened by the peace of Augsberg[vii], sent troops of the Holy Roman Empire to defend Vienna. The siege of Guns[viii] was fought bitterly; 800 defenders against the might of the Ottoman army; they did delay Suleiman. Charles V was in Vienna, awaiting the arrival of Suleiman, who instead turned towards Styria. Suleiman’s army ravaged Styria throughout September and met up with Ibrahim’s army in Belgrade.

Suleiman returned to Istanbul to receive bad news; the fortress of Koron in Morea[ix] had been taken by Admiral Andrea Doria, Charles V’s admiral. Doria then took Patras and the two fortresses guarding the Gulf of Corinth. Charles was determined to ensure Spain’s safety by domination of the Mediterranean; he was also interested in another crusade against the infidel Muslims.

Suleiman the Magnificent – André Clot, Saqui Books 2012
Lord of the Horizons – Jason Goodwin, Henry Holt & Co 1998

The Ottoman Empire – Halil Inalcik, Phoenix 1997
The Ottoman Empire – Patrick Kinross, Folio Society 2003

The Ottoman Empire – Andrina Stiles, Hodder & Stoughton 1991

[i] Suleiman the Magnificent - Clot
[ii] Known in Europe as Roxelana (the red-head).
[iii] Enabling the rule by favourites, rather than officials
[iv] Suleiman the Magnificent - Clot
[v] Ibid
[vi] Ibid
[vii] Which temporarily withdrew the demands that German Protestants rejoin the Catholic Church.
[viii] Koszeg circa 100km from Vienna
[ix] The Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Ottoman Empire - Suleiman the Magnificent

Looking Westwards

The Knights of St John fortress, Rhodes
Within a year of his accession Suleiman turned his attention to the Knights of Rhodes. In 1480 Mehmed the Conqueror had failed to take the island from the Knights of St John, who had built up a powerful military base. When he first succeeded to his father’s throne the European rulers had considered Suleiman an incompetent voluptuary. After the destruction of the Knights hegemony over the island it was quite clear that Suleiman was a force in his own right.
The Knights of St John attacked shipping in the eastern Mediterranean and raided the coast of Asia Minor and Syria, posing a permanent threat to the communications between Istanbul and Alexandria. The Knights had given assistance to Ghazali during his revolt. The only ruler who proffered help to the Knights was François I in a meeting with the new Grand Master of the order, de l’Isle-Adam, in June 1521; but the fleet ordered to Rhodes was diverted to Spain when war erupted in the Pyrenees.  

The only other source of possible assistance for the Knights was Venice; but the Signoria agreed a treaty with the Ottomans that gave Venice enormous trading advantages. The treaty allowed them to retain Cyprus and Zante.

De l'Isle-Adam
Following Islamic law Suleiman wrote to de l’Isle-Adam demanding the Knights surrender. On the 28th July 1522 Suleiman, landing on Rhodes, ordered the start of hostilities. Nearly two months later after continual attacks by the Turks on the fortress, on 23rd September Suleiman gave the order for a general assault for the following day. Like the many previous assaults this one was not conclusive. To date 45,000 Turkish lives had been lost.
On the 1st January 1523 de l’Isle-Adam kissed Suleiman’s hand and at midnight departed Rhodes with less than 200 Knights and 1,600 soldiers. It was not until 1530 that Charles V offered the Order of the Knights of St John the island of Malta as a base[i].

Pargali Ibrahim Pasha

Pargali Ibrahim Pasha
On the 27th June 1523 Suleiman made Pargali Ibrahim Grand Vizier to the Sublime Porte. Ibrahim had been captured in a raid on his home of Parga on the Adriatic coast. He was educated at the palace school in Istanbul and became a page in Suleiman’s service, while he was Governor of Manisa.
Becoming friends with the intelligent and attractive Ibrahim, Suleiman advanced him quickly through the ranks. Their friendship was very intimate, they wrote to each other when apart, taking walks and boat trips unescorted. This level of intimacy was unheard of between a slave and a sultan.

When he became sultan Suleiman made Ibrahim Chief of the Sultan’s Bedchamber, one of the most important posts in the Ottoman bureaucracy. With the post of Grand Vizier Ibrahim was now second only to his master. Ibrahim was concerned at the speed of his ascent to the top of the empire.
‘Baudier, a 17th century chronicler, tells us that Ibrahim asked the sultan not to promote him to such an important position; since he was able to live in ease and tranquillity, his services had already been adequately recompensed.’[ii]

Yet, as Grand Vizier Ibrahim accrued more power than previous post holders; Suleiman was unable to rule the vast empire alone. Ibrahim held the post of Grand Vizier for thirteen years. Only the chief of Ulema[iii] did not have to give way to Ibrahim at Friday prayers. Suleiman added to Ibrahim’s honours by making him Beylerbey[iv] of Rumelia[v]. Ibrahim built himself a sumptuous palace in Istanbul and allegedly married the Sultan’s sister[vi].
Rebellion in Egypt

Ibrahim replaced Piri Pasha as Grand Vizier. The fall of Piri Pasha had been engineered by the second most senior vizier Ahmed Pasha; hoping to receive the Grand Vizier post. Ahmed realised that he would never replace Ibrahim and asked to be made Governor of Egypt, where he plotted with the Mamluks, the Pope and the Grand Master of the Knights of St John in Jerusalem. He also requested help from other quarters. While waiting for responses he had the Janissaries stationed in Cairo massacred and called himself sultan. His rebellion failed when the Mamluks and Arab chieftains turned against Ahmed and he was assassinated.
A number of other rebellions in the region failed; Suleiman decided that the only way to solve the problem and pacify the inhabitants was to send his most trusted subordinate, Ibrahim, to Egypt and Syria to sort matters out. Ibrahim was absent for a year; his first stop was Syria where he reorganised the provinces.

Ibrahim arrived in Cairo surrounded by magnificence, overwhelming the tribes, who were subdued and their chiefs hanged or decapitated. Those with injustices were invited to apply for Ottoman justice and debtors were released from prison. New regulations and tax rates were imposed, with heavy penalties for those breaking the rules or abusing their authority. Checks and balances were imposed on the Beylerbey, whose authority was counterbalanced by the Beys.
Trouble in Istanbul

By the time Ibrahim returned from Cairo Suleiman had put down a revolt by the Janissaries. Suleiman had left for Edirne and a rumour had swept the capital that he would be away for a long period; which would mean no military campaigns in the near future[vii]. The Janissaries had sacked the Jewish quarter and a number of palaces, including Ibrahim’s, in Istanbul.
Suleiman returned to the capital and killed three of the ringleaders with his own hands. The Janissaries returned to duty and Suleiman then distributed monies among the troops and the Aga[viii] of the Janissaries and the Aga of the Sipahi[ix] were executed. Suleiman now needed to wage war to pacify his own troops.

The Ottoman Empire at War
During the winter of 1525-6 the army prepared to go to war; despite being unaware of the objective. Suleiman had turned his attention back to Hungary, inspired by his duty to spread the rule of Islam and his desire to create a universal monarchy. He may also have been influenced by a letter begging for assistance, from François 1[x] who had been taken prisoner by Charles V at the battle of Pavia the previous year.

Suleiman left Istanbul on 21st April 1526 at the head of his army. Ibrahim had been sent ahead to prepare the way for the Sultan and his army. Arriving at Buda a bridge had already been thrown across the Sava river and the enemy had positioned itself on the far bank of the Danube, leaving a garrison on the south bank. The garrison was quickly taken; 500 were beheaded and the remaining 300 taken into slavery.
The Hungarian defenders were riddled with mutual jealousy and failed to agree on strategy. The Hungarians on the south bank of the Danube submitted to Suleiman’s army. A pontoon bridge was thrown across the river and the army crossed to the northern bank. The Hungarians were now massing at Mohacs, thirty miles south. King Louis arrived with a mere 4,000 men; then reinforcements including Poles, Germans and Bohemians brought the total up to 25,000. Many of the Hungarian nobles stayed at home, unwilling to shore up a king many of them wished to replace.

King Louis II
Louis was forced to engage the Ottomans before the arrival of supporters from Croatia and a contingent under a John Zapolya, some 40,000 men in all. On the 29th August this motley crew were crushed by the Ottoman army. Suleiman clearly apportioned much of the credit for the victory to Ibrahim.
‘The achievement of that astounding victory, tragic to the Infidels yet one of the most glorious for Islam, was due to the war-like emir, the ever prudent vizier Ibrahim Pasha, whose lance was like the beak of the falcon of vigour and whose sword, thirsty for blood, was like the claws of the lion of bravery.’[xi]
On the 10th September Suleiman ordered the army’s departure and that the town and its inhabitants were not to be attacked; the order was ignored as the Janissaries required their loot. Suleiman returned to Istanbul at the end of November, leaving a single garrison at Petrovaradin; this had been a punitive expedition not a war of conquest. But the support for the Christian country of Hungary against the Infidel was telling only in its absence.

Following Suleiman’s departure the Hungarian nobility voted to enthrone John Zapolya as their king. Charles V’s brother Ferdinand also had a number of supporters amongst the nobility and he too was voted as king. With the support of his brother Ferdinand was able to throw John Zapolya out of Hungary and in December 1527 an envoy from Zapolya arrived in Istanbul. Suleiman decided to back Zapolya as king of Hungary keeping it weak, in preference to Ferdinand, who would be able to call on the resources of the Holy Roman Empire, in the form of his brother Charles.

Suleiman the Magnificent – André Clot, Saqui Books 2012
Lord of the Horizons – Jason Goodwin, Henry Holt & Co 1998

The Ottoman Empire – Halil Inalcik, Phoenix 1997
The Ottoman Empire – Patrick Kinross, Folio Society 2003

The Ottoman Empire – Andrina Stiles, Hodder & Stoughton 1991

[i] The Knight’s fortress in Malta was captured by Napoleon in 1798 during his expedition to Egypt
[ii] Suleiman the Magnificent - Clot
[iii] An organized political body that exercises power in the name of religion in specific countries such as the Ottoman Empire – Middle East Encyclopaedia
[iv] Commander of Commanders
[v] The Balkan peninsula
[vi] There appears to be some doubt among recent Turkish historians that this marriage took place.
[vii] The low pay for a Janissary was supplemented during periods of war by a share of the booty, in peace time they were frequently bored with their harsh life and it was often difficult to stop them looting cities.
[viii] General
[ix] Cavalry
[x] Smuggled out in an envoy’s shoes, from his prison in Madrid.
[xi] Suleiman the Magnificent - Clot

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Ottoman Empire - Suleiman, the Tenth Ottoman Sultan

The young Suleiman
In the early autumn of 1520 a Venetian envoy wrote:

‘He is twenty-five years of age, tall, but wiry, and of a delicate complexion. His neck is a little too long, his face thin, and his nose aquiline. He has a shadow of a moustache and a small beard; nevertheless he has a pleasant mien, though his skin tends to pallor. He is said to be a wise Lord, fond of study, and all men hope for good from his rule.’[i]
He was speaking of the new Sultan of the Ottoman Turks, Suleiman 1, son of Selim 1, who had died on 2nd September. Suleiman was to rule the Ottoman Empire until his death in September 1566.

Suleiman was born 6th November 1494 in the city of Trebizond on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia; one of the sons of Prince Selim. His mother was the 17 year old Hafsa Hatun; possibly one of the daughters of the khan of the Crimean Tartars. At the time of Suleiman’s birth Prince Selim, son of Bayezid II[ii], was governor of the province.

Suleiman was educated in the Topkapi palace school of Istanbul, where he was taught science, history, literature, religion and military tactics. Suleiman had a gift for languages and was taught goldsmithing, following the Ottoman practise of teaching princes to work with their hands. At 15 his grandfather Bayezid II made Suleiman governor of Karahisir, but his uncle Ahmed objected[iii] and eventually in August 1509 Suleiman left for Kaffa, where he was to stay three years.

During the last three years of Bayezid’s reign his throne was contested by his five sons. Ahmed, the eldest, and Korkud had a troubled relationship with the Janissaries[iv]. Following the deaths of two of the brothers Ahmed, Selim and Korkud were left to fight it out. It took three years, during which Korkud in Asia and Selim in Europe[v] revolted against their father and then Ahmed rose in rebellion too.
The Janissaries ‘persuaded’ Bayezid to abdicate and he left for retirement in Demotika, but failed to arrive there having died en route[vi]. Once Sultan Selim had Korkud and his deceased brother’s families strangled. He then defeated Ahmed in battle and again Ahmed and his family garotted.

Selim I
In 1511 Suleiman given the governorship of Istanbul and in 1512 was then sent to govern Sarukhan, where his main task was to be a scourge of the bandits in the region. He was also safely out of the way of his father’s notorious temper. Selim died suddenly during a journey from Istanbul to Edirne.
Suleiman was by this point Selim’s sole surviving son[vii] and his accession to the Ottoman throne was therefore unchallenged. As custom demanded Suleiman’s first act as Sultan was to make an accession gift to the Janissaries. The courtiers who supported him were recompensed and other military received gifts and pay rises.

As the tenth Ottoman Sultan Suleiman was viewed in Muslim eyes as the living incarnation of the ‘blessed number ten.’ Suleiman, whose religious convictions were sincere and unfanatical, was inclined to prove his worth as a warrior, attempting in the west what his father had achieved in the east[viii]. Suleiman also determined that his reign was to be one of peace; a message that was welcomed by his subjects, weary of the internal violence of Selim’s eight year reign.

The Mamluk Sultan of Egypt had been betrayed by one of his emirs, Ghazali who had been made Governor of Syria by Selim. With Suleiman’s accession to the throne Ghazali decided that the time was ripe for rebellion. He occupied Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli and the coast and then proposed to Hayra Bey, Governor of Egypt that he join the rebellion. Hayra Bey suggested to Ghazali that he lay siege to Aleppo and that he would send troops to assist the siege. Ghazali did as suggested, but Hayra Bey informed Suleiman of Ghazali’s plans.
Ghazali besieged Aleppo for six weeks, until an army arrived from Istanbul under the command of Ferhad Pasha. Ghazali lifted the siege and retired to Damascus with his troops. Having proclaimed himself sultan, the heavily outnumbered Ghazali was defeated by Ferhad, who was rewarded with the Governorship of Syria.


Charles V Holy Roman Emperor
In the west the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, was at loggerheads with his rival Francois I of France, whom he had defeated in the contest for the imperial crown[ix]. The two countries were engaged in border disputes in northern Italy and France threatened the empire’s contacts with the Mediterranean, dividing the German possessions from the Hapsburg Spanish dominions. Disputes among the Christian Europeans meant that the Ottoman Sultans were viewed as potential allies as often as they were viewed as enemies.
Suleiman held the balance of power in Europe for much of his reign. The Ottoman Empire developed an intelligence service, using the Venetians amongst others as informants. Suleiman had studied European politics during his period as governor and was well aware that Charles V was pressuring for a crusade, believing that it was his duty as a Christian to unite the rulers of Europe against the infidel. He dreamed of retaking Constantinople for the west.

Francois I of France
Francois I had initially also preached for a crusade against the Turks, but the advantages of support from the Ottomans against a mutual enemy became more obvious. Francois attempted to hide his sacrilegious pact from his fellow European rulers. Suleiman subsidised the high spending Francois’s treasury.
‘In 1533 a sum of one hundred thousand gold pieces helped him [Francois] form a coalition against Charles V, with England and the German princes. Two years later Francois requested a subsidy of a million ducats.’[x]

In 1520 an Ottoman envoy, sent to demand the annual tribute[xi], was murdered by the Hungarians. The horse-tailed banners, signifying supreme power were displayed in the Imperial Palace, and six weeks later on 6th February 1521 Suleiman and his army departed for Belgrade.  
Piri Pasha had been encamped before Belgrade for several weeks before Suleiman arrived with the bulk of the army. The assaults on the city continued for three weeks before Suleiman ordered the destruction of the largest tower of the city’s defences. Religious hatred between Catholics and Orthodox led to the surrender of the Serbian defenders, while most of the remaining Hungarians were massacred. The main church was turned into a mosque and the fears of European rulers looked more plausible.

Thirty years later Ghiselin de Busbecq wrote
‘The capture of Belgrade was at the origin of the dramatic events which engulfed Hungary. It led to the death of King Louis, the capture of Buda, the occupation of Transylvania, the ruin of a flourishing kingdom and the fear of neighbouring nations that they would suffer the same fate.’[xii]

Suleiman the Magnificent – André Clot, Saqui Books 2012

Lord of the Horizons – Jason Goodwin, Henry Holt & Co 1998
The Ottoman Empire – Halil Inalcik, Phoenix 1997

The Ottoman Empire – Patrick Kinross, Folio Society 2003
The Ottoman Empire – Andrina Stiles, Hodder & Stoughton 1991


[i] The Ottoman Empire - Kinross
[ii] Who he had usurped
[iii] Possibly attempting to keep the route to Istanbul in friendly hands, in the event of Bayezid’s death
[iv] Slave troops, captured in childhood and trained to serve as an elite corps, numbering about 10,000 in the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror.
[v] With the assistance of the Crimean Tartars
[vi] Possibly with the assistance of poison
[vii] One Turkish historian posits that Selim had three other sons, who were killed on 20th November 1514 – Clot p316 note 4.
[viii] Selim conquered the Safavid Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt
[ix] Suleiman was aware that Charles had borrowed staggering amounts of money from the Fugger bank to finance his victory.
[x] The Ottoman Empire - Kinross
[xi] In return for the renewal of the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Hungary
[xii] Suleiman the Magnificent - Clot

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Shogun - An Englishman in Japan III

Anjin Sama

Adams was treated by Ieyasu as an oracle, much to the horror of the Jesuits, who were jealous of Adams’ influence. Adams taught Ieyasu geometry and mathematics, acted as his interpreter and gave advice on the world outside Japan. Prior to Adams’ arrival Ieyasu had used a Jesuit father and now the Jesuits saw their power at court diminishing.
With his influence at court high, Adams hoped to persuade Ieyasu to let him return to England to see his wife and daughter.

‘I made supplication to the king [Ieyasu] to depart his lande, desiring to see my poore wife and children according to conscience and nature……[he] was not well pleased withal and would not let me go away more for my country.’[i]

Monument to Adams at the sight of his former townhouse
Concerned about Adams desire to return home, Ieyasu now gave Adams an estate at Hemi, close to the bay at Uruga, near Edo. Adams already had a town house in Edo. The estate[ii] encompassed several villages and Adams now had 80-90 serfs. Sometime later Ieyasu bestowed a Lordship on Adams, making him a hatamoto, or bannerman. No other non-Japanese had received this honour. Shortly after this Adams discarded his European dress and from now on wore only Japanese garb.
Adams was called by his Japanese name – Anjin (Pilot) Sama. He gave up plans of returning to England; where his status would never reach the dizzy heights he had achieved in Japan. Adams regularly sent letters home, via the Dutch ships that journeyed to Japan; but the chances of getting news of his little family was remote.

Adams married the daughter of an official, Magome Kageyu who was responsible for a packhorse exchange on one of the imperial roads out of Edo. As his daughter Oyuki was not of noble birth it is possible that Adams fell in love with her. Two children were born of the marriage; Joseph and Susannah.
The Black Ship

Every year the Portuguese merchants in Macao sent a ship[iii], laden with goods for trading, to the Jesuit stronghold in Nagasaki. In 1609 the ship the Madre de Dios was the most valuable to set sail for a long time. The Japanese governor of Nagasaki sent guards to inspect the ship, but the captain refused to allow them on board. The governor announced that he would inspect the ship in person, but was also refused. The captain, a former governor of Macao, was one Andre Pessoa had, a few months earlier, had a number of Japanese sailors killed in the colony after they ran riot.
Survivors brought the news of the massacre back to Japan and when Ieyasu heard of the disrespect offered to the governor of Nagasaki he determined to have Pessoa and his men killed and the Madre de Dios and her contents sequestered. Ieyasu ordered the local lord Arima Haronobu[iv] to take the ship. The side arms of the Japanese were ineffectual against the guns of the Madre de Dios

On the 6th January Pessoa got his ship out of the harbour, but was intercepted by another attack from Haronobu’s men; during the fighting a chance shot hit a grenade in the hand of one of the sailors. Gunpowder on the ship’s deck was set alight and the sails and rigging were set ablaze. Pessoa fired the magazine, aware that the ship was now lost. Arima managed to salvage silver, silk, damask, brocade, gold chains and weapons.
Ieyasu was furious at the debacle, threatening to kill every Portuguese trader in Nagasaki and exile every Jesuit in the country. He was persuaded to change his mind, but threw his former interpreter Padre Joao Rodrigues out of the country.

The loss of the Madre de Dios was a grave setback for the Portuguese merchants who had invested in her cargo and reduced the Jesuit’s prestige. The news that the Dutch from Malaya had sailed two ships into Hirado was a blow to Portuguese hopes of retaining a monopoly on trade with Japan. The Portuguese sent an envoy in 1611 requesting the resumption of trade, which was allowed.
Foreign Trade

In 1609 the first Dutch ship arrived in Japan and Adams was involved in obtaining permission for the Dutch to trade in Japan, much to the chagrin of the Portuguese. In 1613 an English ship, of the English East India Company[v] arrived in Hirado, where the Dutch had set up a factory[vi]. .The leader of the expedition John Saris was taken to meet Ieyasu by Adams and then met Hidetada. Saris brought a letter from King James
‘We have sent Captain General Juan Saris as our representative across the seas to bear our greetings to the Shogun of Japan, and if it may be so that the affairs of both our countries can thus be widely made known our satisfaction will indeed be great.’[vii]

Suit of armour sent by Ieyasu to James I
After these two meetings Adams took Saris to stay at his estate. Ieyasu granted the English the right to trade and wrote a reply to the English King and sent him some gifts. Saris was determined not to be taken in by Adams, who he believed was hand in glove with the Dutch. He failed to realise that in Adams he had the ideal intermediary between the English traders and the Shogunate. As a result the English factory failed to thrive in the same way as the Dutch one and eventually in 1623, after the massacre of Amboyna[viii] withdrew to concentrate on their holdings in India.
In 1615 Adams sailed to Ayutthaya in Siam, purchasing a profitable cargo. He returned to Japan less than a week after the death of Ieyasu.

Hidetada in Charge
With Ieyasu’s death in July 1616, Adams lost his patron. In September Adams and his English fellow-countrymen presented themselves at court. Cocks, who replaced Saris, was more inclined to respect Adams’ advice and followed the intricate Japanese etiquette. He was rewarded with an interview with Hidetada, who was less inclined towards foreigners than his father. While he was willing to allow Adams to remain, Hidetada was less favourably disposed to allow Cocks and his fellow merchants to stay. But they were finally granted renewed trading privileges; on condition that they had no discourse with Catholics.

Following a stay at Adams’ estate the merchants were horrified to discover that Hidetada had issued an edict forbidding trade with foreigners residing in Kyoto, Osaka and Sakai, where the English had established sub-factories; the English were confined to Hirado.
In March 1617 Adams sailed to Cochinchina in a junk he purchased second-hand. He was attempting to find two lost English factors, who had left Hirado two years before. He discovered that the pair were dead; one murdered and the other drowned. In 1618 he undertook another trip to Cochinchina and Tonkin.

Death of a Pilot

Adams gravestone in Hirado
On 16th May 1620 Adams called Cocks and a colleague to witness his last will and testament. He owned the princely sum of £500[ix], half of which was to be given to his family in England and the other half to his two children by Oyuki[x]. Adams died shortly after at the age of 55, possibly from malaria[xi]
A monument to Anjin Sama is to be found in Tokyo, at the site of his Edo town house.

Samurai William – Giles Milton, Hodder & Stoughton 2002

The Maker of Modern Japan – AL Sadler, Charles E Tuttle Company 1983
Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogun – Conrad Totman, Heian 1983


[i] Samurai William - Milton
[ii] Valued at 240 koku per annum - a koku was originally defined as a quantity of rice, historically defined as enough rice to feed one person for one year - wikipedia
[iii] All European vessels, their hulls painted with black pitch, were known in Japan as black ships.
[iv] Whose men had been killed in Macao
[v] Formed in 1600 with a capital of £70,000
[vi] The name used for the warehouse/home of the factors.
[vii] The Maker of Modern Japan - Sadler
[viii] The English, nine Japanese and one Portuguese were captured, tortured and executed on the grounds that they intended to overwhelm the garrison at Amboyna.
[ix] Worth £81,300.00 using the retail price index or £1,220,000.00 using average earnings in 2010. www.measuringworth.com
[x] He also had a child by a maid in Hirado who was not mentioned in the will
[xi] Picked up from a voyage to Cochinchina.