Sugar Coating Ambassadors
By: Abbondio Rezzonico
Posted in: Banco Rezzonico (G&S)
The Banco Rezzonico has various interests in the great city of Constantinople. Old enemies as the Ottoman Turks may be, we Venetians will nevertheless trade with them. Alongside it, more hushed, are also some diplomatic relations we maintain with various European ambassadors at the Sublime Porte in the city. Through these favoured relations we can secure our trade and at the same time provide some clandestine intelligence to the Vatican and the Venetian Republic.
We had already learned about the sudden death of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire , Abdul Hamid I , now over a month ago. They say his death is the result of the astonishing defeat his army suffered by the Russian armies during the siege, and loss of Ochakov in the Ukraine, only four months ago. It is said that over 20,000 people have died. Despite the war between the Ottomans and the Russians , in which the Austrians now have joined in since last year - we have had a peaceful era of trade under his rule of nearly fifteen years. However, every time a ruler dies we instantly lose any and all favours and influence; and are urged to renew these as soon as possible. We have good hopes for the reign of the late sultan's nephew: Sultan Selim III , not yet 27 years old, is seen as a modern educated man, and a hopeful reformer of the Ottoman state affairs which have been shaken to the core because of this ongoing war.
As the news came out we were already trying to set out our strategies; and are glad to have a trustworthy agent in the city. He gave us a interesting report on the current situation. But by mere luck we also received a letter from the British ambassador at the Sublime Porte. Sir Robert Ainslie happened to be a favourite and friend of the late Sultan Abdul Hamid I. We hope his grace and reputation will continue with the new Sultan; it is of the greatest importance that we are sure he remains a friend of ours. In his letter he complained about the lack of decent tea, I have already written to him that I shall send him some for his personal use on the next shipment that is bound for Constantinople. He also expressed a desire to receive some bags of sugar which he can use not only for his personal use - he has a renowned taste for sweet tea - but also to use for gifting to the new officials of the sultanate.
Not yet a day after writing out the order for some additional rice, destined for our Constantinople agent - as well as the luxury crops tea and sugar for the British ambassador - we received more news that makes it possible to achieve our goal through another route. Our revered uncle Cardinal Carlo Rezzonico has his own informants, and according to him the new Sultan is still very much depending on the current Grand-Vizier , Koca Yusuf Pasha ; whom has been in office for three years since he was appointed by the former Sultan. As it happens the Grand-Vizier has befriended the French ambassador to the Sublime Porte: Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier , who considers himself first and foremost a scholar and collector of antiquities. Albeit a man of undoubted vanity, he is said to be clever enough to use it to his benefit - and therefore to that of his friends. The Cardinal has requested to send in his name some sugar for the ambassador's kitchen - as he seems to be very indulgent in sweets from his home country.
Our agent reported he is in need of more high quality rice, as some of the cargo from the the last shipment turned out to be damaged during the sea voyage. This extra cargo of rice will at least cover the costs of the shipping. And so it is that both farms under our tenancy have received orders for rice, tea, and most importantly: sugar. It seems we are not buttering up to these two ambassadors, but sugarcoating them; and through them hopefully the two most powerful men of the Ottoman Empire. Time will tell if it will be of any avail to our future endeavours. And with the French ambassador, who knows - it might even bring us some fine antiquities for the collections.
NB | This is the backstory for the first two orders given out to the tenant-farmers of the Banco Rezzonico within the Queen's Hamlet; we are happy to welcome Satoharu Nakamura and Candace Ducatillon , who were both interested to try out for the position we wrote out to be filled in: WANTED - Tenant Farmer @ Queen's Hamlet
Fascinating! This is a facet of history that I know little about so I'm eager to dig deeper & learn more. Merci beaucoup
Miss Bessie Hull (me) hopes sincerely that the sugar will be of fine enough quality for the ambassadors, since it would usually be grown in much warmer climates than the French countryside. However, if we can successfully grow it in our little hamlet we can sell it at a much lower price than the more expensive imported sugar from Caribbean colonies. This agricultural experiment could prove greatly profitable in the long term!