Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

The Oration or speech of the Ambassadours sent from Conradus de Zolner Master generall of the land of Prussia, vnto Richard the second, King of England, and France, &c.

The messengers which are sent from the Master generall of the land of Prussia, doe propound and declare the affaires and negotiations vnderwritten.

The ancient assistance of the kings of England against infidels. Whereas it is apparant, that diuers and sundrie times heeretofore, your famous progenitours and predecessours the kings of England haue alwaies bene gratious promoters and speciall friends vnto the generall Masters of the land of Prussia, and of the whole order: whereas also they haue vouchsafed, by their Barons, Knights, and other their nobles of the kingdome of England, vnto the Masters and order aforesaide, sundry and manifolde fauourable assistance in the conquest of the Infidels (in whose steppes your excellent Maiestie insisting, haue, in these your dayes shewed your selfe in like sort right graciously affected vnto the Master generall which nowe is, and vnto his famous Predecessour) in due consideration of the premisses, and in regard also of diuers other affaires, which are at this present to be propounded vnto your Highnes, the foresaid Master general which now is hath caused vs his messengers to be sent with letters of credence vnto your Maiestie: humbly praying, and earnestly beseeching your roial clemency, that in times to come, the said Master general, his successors, and our whole Order may of your bounty most graciously obtaine the same fauour, beneuolence, and stedfast amity and friendship, which hath bin continued from the times of your foresaid predecessors: in regard whereof, we do offer the said Master of ours, and our whole company, vnto your highnes, as your perpetual and deuote friends. Notwithstanding (most souereigne Prince) certaine other things we haue to propound vnto your Grace, in the name and behalfe of our saide Master and Order, by way of complaint, namely, that at certaine times past, and especially within the space of x. yeeres last expired, his subiects and marchants haue sustained sundry damages and ablations of their goods, by diuers subiects and inhabitants of your realme of England, and that very often both by sea and land: the which, for the behalf, and by the appointment of the Master general aforesaid, and of his predecessor, are put downe in registers, and recorded in the writings of his cities in the land of Prussia. Edward the 3. Of which parties damnified, some haue obtained letters from the Master general that now is, and also from his predecessor, vnto your renoumed grandfather K. Edward of famous memory, and sundry times vnto your highnes also, to haue restitution made for their goods taken from them: whereby they haue nothing at al preuailed, but heaping losse vpon losse haue misspent their time and their charges: both because they were not permitted to propound and exhibit their complaints and letters before your maiesty, and also for diuers other impediments. Certain of them also considering how others of their countriemen had laboured in vain, and fearing the like successe, haue troubled the Master general very often with grieuous and sundry complaints, crauing and humbly beseeching at his hands, that he would vouchsafe graciously to prouide for them as his faithful and loial subiects, as touching the restitution of their losses: especially seeing that so much wealth of the English marchants was euery yeere to be found in Prussia, as being arrested, they might obtaine some reasonable satisfaction for their losses. Which thing the Master general aforesaid and his predecessor also haue deferred vnto this present (albeit to the great losse of their subiects) therby hauing meere and principal respect vnto those special curtesies and fauours which your excellent Maiesty and your worthy progenitors haue right gratiously vouchsafed vpon our Masters and Order: neither yet for the iniuries aforesaid, was there euer any maner of offence, or molestation offered vnto any of your subiects noble or ignoble whatsoeuer. Moreouer, in the name and behalfe of our foresad Master general we do propound vnto your excellency by way of complaint, that in the yere last past, 6 dayes after the feast of the Ascension, certain persons of your realm of England, with their ships and captains comming vnto the port of Flanders, named Swen, and finding there, amongst sundry other, 6 ships of Prussia resident, which had there arriued with diuers goods and marchandises: and being informed that they were of Prussia, and their friends, they caused them and their ships to remain next vnto their owne ships, protesting vnto them, that they should in no sort be molested of damnified by themselues or by any other of their company, and that they would faithfully defend them, as if they were their own people, from the hands of their aduersaries: and for their farther security and trust, they deliuered some of their own men and their standerds into our mens ships: howbeit a while after being stirred vp, and bent far otherwise, they took out of the foresaid ships al kind of armors, wherwith they were to gard and defend themselues from pirats, and they deteined the masters of those ships, not suffring them to return vnto their own ships and companies, one also of the said ships (hauing taken al the goods out of her) they consumed with fire. And within 3. daies after they came with one accord vnto the abouenamed ships, and tooke away from them all goods and marchandises which they could find, and all the armour and weapons of the said ships, the chestes also of the marchants, of the ship-masters, and of other persons they brake open, taking out money, iewels, garments, and diuers other commodities: and so they inflicted vpon them irrecouerable losses and vnkind grieuances. And departing out of the foresaid hauen, they caried 2. of the Prussian ship-masters with them, as their captiues vnto an hauen of England called Sandwich. Who, being afterward released were compelled to sweare, that they should not declare the iniuries offred vnto them, either before your roiall maiesty, or your hon. Councell, or your chancelor: neither, were they permitted to come on shore. And being offred such hard measure, when they made pitiful mones and complaints vnto your foresaide subiects, amongst other matters they spake on this wise vnto them: Do you complain of iniuries and losses offered vnto you? Loe, in your own countrey of Prussia there are English marchants, and goods sufficient, go your waies home therfore, and recouer your losses, taking two for one: and in this maner they were left, and so departed. Afterward returning vnto the land of Prussia, they and their friends repaired vnto the Master general, iointly and with one consent making their complaint vnto him of the losses which had bin inflicted vpon them by your subiects. And prostrating themselues at his feet, they all and euery of them made their humble sutes, yet he would haue compassion on them, as vpon his poore subiects, regarding themselues, their wiues, and children, and pitying their distres, and penury, and that he would graciously procure some redresse for them. And when he offred his letters vnto them, wishing them to prosecute their cause before your highnes, they answered that they were no way able to defray the expenses, and that others, who were in like sort damnified, had laboured that way altogether in vain and to no purpose: beseeching him again and again, that he would by another kind of means, namely by arresting of your marchants and their goods procure them restitution of their losses. The arresting of the English goods and marchants. At length the Master general being moued by so many and so great complaints, and by the molestation of his subiects, caused (albeeit full sore against his will) a certaine portion of English marchants goods to be laid hold on, and to be arrested, in his cities of Elburg and Dantzik, and to be bestowed in sure places, vntil such time as he might conueniently by his messengers propound and exhibit all and singular the premisses vnto your highnes. And forasmuch as the foresaid Master general and our Order do know no iust occasion, wherby they haue deserued your maiesties indignation, but are firmely and most vndoubtedly perswaded, to finde all curtesie, fauour, and friendship at your Highnesse, according to your wonted clemencie: the said Master generall therefore maketh no doubt, that al the aboue written damages and molestations, being in such sort, against God and iustice, offred vnto his subiects by yours, be altogether vnknown vnto your magnificence, and committed against your mind: wherfore presently vpon the foresaid arrest of your marchants goods, he dispatched his messengers vnto your roial maiesty. Wherof one deceased by the way, namely, in the territory of Holland: and the other remained sick in those parts, for a long season: and so that ambassage took none effect. Wherefore the said master general was desirous to send vs now the second time also vnto your Highnes. We do make our humble sute therfore, in the name and behalf of our master and Order aforesaid, vnto your kingly supremacy, that, hauing God and iustice before your eies, and also the dutifull and obsequious demeanor of the said master, and order towards you, you would vouchsafe to extend your gracious clemency, for the redresse of the premisses: wherby the foresaid losses may be restored and repaied vnto our subiects. All which notwithstanding, that it would please you of your wisedome and prouidence to procure so absolute a remedy, by meanes whereof, in time to come, such dealings and inconueniences may be auoided on both parts, and finally that your marchants may quietly be possessed of their goods arrested in Prussia, and our marchants may be admitted vnto the possession of their commodities attached in England, to conuert and apply them vnto such vses, as to themselues shal seem most conuenient. Howbeit (most gracious prince and lord) we are to sollicite your Highnesse, not onely about the articles to be propounded concerning the losses aforesaide, but more principally, for certain sinister reports and superstituous slanders, wherwith certaine of your subiects, not seeking for peace, haue falsly informed your maiesty, and your most honorable and discreete Councel: affirming that at the time of the aforesaid arrest your marchants were barbarously intreated, that they were cast into lothsom prisons, drenched in myre and water vp to the neck, restrained from al conference and company of men, and also that their meat was thrown vnto them, as a bone to a dog, with many other enormities, which they haue most slanderously deuised concerning the master general aforesaid, and his people, and haue published them in these dominions: vpon the occasion of which falshoods certain marchants of our parts, and of other regions of Alemain (who, of your special beneuolence, were indued with certaine priuileges and fauours in your citie of London, and in other places) were, as malefactors, apprehended and caried to prison, vntil such time as the trueth was more apparant. Whereupon, the foresaide master generall propoundeth his humble sute vnto your maiestie, that such enemies of trueth and concord, your Maiesty woulde vouchsafe in such sort to chastise, that they may be an example vnto others presuming to doe the like.

Moreouer, (high and mighty Prince and lord) it was reported vnto our Master general, that his former Legats required of your maiesty safe conduct freely to come into your highnesse Realme. Which when hee heard, he was exceedingly offended therat, sithence vndoubtedly they did not this at his commaundement or direction. We therefore humbly beseech your Grace, as touching this ouersight, to holde the Master generall excused, because there is no need of safeconduct, between so speciall friends.

Furthermore, sundry damages and complaints of the foresaid general Master, and his subiects are briefly exhibited, and put downe in the billes following. Also all and singular damnified persons, besides other proofes, were compelled to verifie their losses by their formall othes, taken vpon the holy Bible.

Lastly, we doe make our humble suite and petition vnto the prouidence and discretion of your Highnes, and of your honorable Councell, that concerning the premisses, and all other matters propounded, or to be propounded vnto your Maiesty, we may obtaine a speedy answere, and an effectuall end. For it would redound vnto our great charges and losse to make any long delayes.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55