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RYCAUT Sir Paul - Autograph Letter Signed 1690 spying on the French in Hamburg

  • £450.00

Sir Paul RYCAUT (1629-1700)

Autograph Letter Signed (“Paul Rycaut”) to Lord Paget, sending him intelligence of two men “serving the French interest” and supplying them with ammunition and contraband goods.
2 pages folio with integral blank leaf, Hamburg, 16 August 1690. 
An intriguing letter, written during the Nine Years’ War, during Sir Paul Rycaut’s tenure as British Resident at Hamburg. The recipient of the letter, Lord Paget, was, at the time, British Ambassador at Vienna.
I wrote y[ou]r Lords[hi]p on the 19th, 23rd & 30th of the Last month, & therein amongst other matters I acquainted yr Lordsp how that Monsr. Bidal was carried away from Altena to Flensburg a place not subiected to the Lawes of the Empire. And now I am given further to understand by Monsr. Pleis Agent for P. George of Denmarke in these parts, that some few dayes past he saw this Monsr. Bidal at Fleswic, w[hi]ch is a towne (as your Lordsp knows) belonging to the duke of Holstein Gottorp.
But tho Monsr. Bidal be departed hence, yet he hath left 2 Agents behind him, one Jeremia Le Blanc a French Protestant, & one Parmentier a Papist borne here of French parents; these 2 have beene great Engines to serve the French interest, & have beene the Laders of diverse ships w[i]th amunition, & contraband goods, pretended for Ostend, but designed for Dunkirke; & at this present, they are lading a flyboat of 300 Tunns at Wittemberg a place upon the Elbe about a league distant from Hamburg, wth plankes, knees, & other timbers for building ships the wch are intended for Dunkirke. Perhaps I may by this, or by the next post, furnish your Lordsp wth many particular Informations authenticated before a publick notary against them; their misdemeanors in this businesse being notoriously knowne to many persons in this place: in the meane time, until such informations can be sent, I desire yr Lordsp to possesse the Chiefe Ministers about the Emperour wth the ill practises of these men, & that orders be given to punish them as enemies to the Empire, & offenders against the Imperiall Avocatoria. I have yesterday received the honour of Yr Lordsps of the the 6th of August N.S. to wch having not further to answer, then what is before premised, I remaine . . .”
Louis XIV’s ambitions to extend France’s borders, threatening the territory that formed part of the Spanish Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire, were resisted by an alliance which included Austria, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and Britain. It would appear that Rycaut was involved in intelligence gathering, as well as his diplomatic duties, which would not have been unusual at such a time. Equally unsurprising is the cooperation with the agent of Prince George of Denmark, who had married Anne, later Queen Anne, in 1683 and was therefore a firm ally of Britain.
Rycaut, who had, early in his career, served as private secretary to the British ambassador at Constantinople, is best known for his work, The Present State of the Ottoman Empire, published in 1665. Interestingly, after leaving Vienna, Lord Paget was to serve as Ambassador at Constantinople, where he played an important role in negotiating an end to the Ottoman Empire’s conflict with Austria.

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