EMBASSY TO MEHMED IV

A Relation of a Journey of the Right Honourable my Lord Henry Howard, from London to Vienna, and thence to Constantinople; in the Company of his excellency Count Lesley, Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece …

London, Printed for T. Collins and I. Ford … and S. Hickman … 1671.

12mo., pp. [8], 225, [25, advertisements], wanting the blanks A1, A6 and M6; edge of title-page browned, else a very good, crisp copy, in contemporary calf, some restoration to spine, modern label, new pastedowns; contemporary ownership inscription and shelfmarks of the antiquary Daniel Fleming; booklabels of G. J. Arvanitidis and Henry Blackmer II.

£5750

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A Relation of a Journey of the Right Honourable my Lord Henry Howard, from London to Vienna, and thence to Constantinople; in the Company of his excellency Count Lesley, Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece …

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First and only edition of this account of a special embassy to the court of Sultan Mehmed IV, undertaken in 1664-5 by Walter Leslie, the Scottish-born Ambassador Extraordinary of the Holy Roman Empire. In his party was Henry Howard, later sixth Duke of Norfolk, along with the author John Burbury, who was Howard’s secretary, and Henry’s brother Edward.

Burbury is a lively narrator, with an eye for social commentary and incidental detail. There is much on the Ottoman possessions in Europe, from Buda (in ruins, the great library ‘being almost consum’d by Moths, Dust and Rats’) down the Danube to Novi Sad and Belgrade, and then overland to Sofia, Adrianople (where they met with the Grand Vizier and exchanged feasts and gifts) and Constantinople. In general Burbury is rather dismissive of his Turkish hosts, and while ‘The Janizaries lookt like stout fellows’ and had excellent muskets, the horses are loose-necked, the houses mean, their discipline lax and punishments harsh, and their music ‘the worst in the World … like Tom a Bedlam, only a little sweetened with a Portugal like Mimikry’. ‘But I cannot omit the cleanliness of the Turks, who as they had occasion to urine … afterwards wash’d their Hands, as they do still before and after their eating’.

Howard had been schooled on the Continent during the Commonwealth, becoming de facto head of a royalist, Catholic family at the age of 14. He returned to England after the Restoration, inheriting his grandfather’s great library and collection of art, including the Arundel marbles, which John Evelyn persuaded him to give to Oxford University. ‘Evelyn thought Howard had great abilities and a smooth tongue, but little judgement … Like his grandfather, he travelled widely, visiting Vienna and Constantinople in 1665, and going at some point to India’ (Oxford DNB). He played only a minor role in the present embassy, though he was later dispatched to Morocco in a similar capacity.

Atabey 165; Blackmer 236 (this copy); Wing B 5611.

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