The policy of England towards Constantinople during the Fifteen Years War. English Ambassador to the Porte Edward Barton's reports from Constantinople, 1593-1597
Edward Barton, factor of the Levant Company and English ambassador to Constantinople is well known for Hungarian and foreign historians. His reports, kept in the Public Record Office and in the archives of the British Library in London were discovered by English and Hungarian historians at the end of the nineteenth century. What made Barton's person interesting for Hungarian researchers was that he accompanied Mehmed III on his Hungarian campaign in 1596 at the invitation of the Sultan, and he was present at the siege of Eger as well as at the battle of Mezőkeresztes. The present paper, relying on Barton's reports between 1593 and 1596, attempts to show how the English ambassador to Constantinople organized his office, who were those he could rely on, and what difficulties he had had to overcome before acquiring considerable reputation among both Turkish politicians and the foreign ambassadors then in Constantinople. Barton left England in 1578, when he was probably 16. As the secretary of William Harborne, he worked for years on the establishment of the Levant Company and he became familiar with the customs of the Ottoman Empire and learnt the language as well. He officially became the factor of the Company and the ambassador of England in Constantinople in 1588 (according to some historians, in 1593). He maintained excellent relations with the pashas of the Serai. He enjoyed the friendship and support of Sad al-Din Khoya Efendi, instructor of Sultan Murad III, and a Pasha Nizargi. As a diplomat, he made clever use of the advantages offered by the trading company. His prestige and influence at the Porte was mostly due to the fact that the English merchants also carried munitions that the Ottoman Empire needed in the war it was waging in the Hungarian theatre of war. The European states with official connections to the Porte watched jealously the stregthening positions of Barton and England in Constantinople. As an episode in this rivalry, the French ambassador accused one of Barton's agents, Paolo Mariani of spying for Spain in the Turkish Empire. The Ottoman authorities immediately executed the accused agents, and Barton had a long and hard time explaining to his superiors that his man had not been a Spanish spy, that is, a double agent. England tried to avoid the appearance of being too friendly with Turkey by mediating peace in the war between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Emperor. Using his connections, Barton more than once let Turkish politicians know that he was ready to mediate for peace. This was, of course, presented to Christian states as the English ambassador wishing merely to advance the interests of Christiandom during his negotiations with the politicians of the Serai. As part of this policy of emphasizing Christian solidarity Barton successfully persuaded the Porte not to send an ambassador to London since that would only have aroused the European powers against England. Of the foreign envoys in Constantinople, Barton maintained particularly good relations with the ambassadors of Poland and the Principality of Transylvania. He often helped the Polish envoys in their talks with the Porte. He was similarly helpful toward the envoys of Transylvanian ruling Prince Sigismund Báthory. He was glad to receive instructions from London to support with all possible means the policies of Transylvania at the Porte.