Volume 5  Number 6
November 1987

For years it was the custom of departing ambassadors to submit a final report to the King of France; these contained a section discussing trade. The last ambassador so to report, Francois Guignard, Count Saint-Priest, in his retirement reviewed the government archives and produced an economic study based on these documents. There is therein a specific trade reference c. 1570:

". . . in the dispatches of the bishop of Ax, ambassador of France to the Porte in 1572, that this monarch [king of France] had obtained from the Sultans the freedom to establish a consul at Alexandria and one other at Tripoli in Syria for the commerce of the French which brought out of the Levant, says this prelate, drugs, cotton, leather, rugs, and porcelain, and [to] bring there cloth, canvas, verdigris [copper acetate] and paper." (1)

The inclusion of rugs is interesting, for the preponderance of trade between Europe and the Near East consisted of raw and finished bulk materials -- loosely speaking, silk out and broadcloth in. Rugs were, in essence, expensive piggybacked baubles; listed here, they do not necessarily assume a major trade significance, but both their presence and a European awareness is attested.


  1. Saint-Priest, L'Ambassade de France en Turquie, 1525--177O, ed. C. M. Schefer, Paris, 1877, p. 272. Research Report translation.