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Primary Source - Diplomat Achmet Resmî Efendi

1757 Manuscript - Turkish Envoy to Vienna

Unrecorded MSS of Diplomatic Mission c.1835


England, circa 1835. Unrecorded English manuscript translation of Ahmet Resmî Efendi's lesser known narrative "Viyana Sefaretnamesi" in which he described his diplomatic embassy to Vienna during the Seven Years' War. This is an abridged work, providing a summary of the journey from Istanbul to Vienna in 1757, and most importantly, his official meeting with Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Germany. The English writer includes footnotes on some Ottoman custom and terminology, drawing these from the work of Austrian diplomat and orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856) who, at around this same time, had translated the earlier Sefâretnâme of Evliya Efendi into English. 8vo. 19 pages, plus introduction, penned on 6 string-tied double leafs bearing the watermark 'Cansell 1834.' Item measures approximately 10,5 x 17,5 cm.

Ahmet Resmî Efendi's report "Viyana Sefaretnamesi" was written immediately upon his return to Istanbul from Vienna in 1758. It should not be confused with his more commonly known account of his subsequent embassy to Berlin in 1763-1764, "Sefaretnâme-yi-Prusya". Both of the works, on the Vienna and Berlin embassies, were translated into German in 1809 by celebrated Austrian diplomat and orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856), who is mentioned in the writer's prefatory notes.

[In 1834, Von Hammer also published an English translation of the earlier Seyahatname of Evliya Efendi, covering the first two volumes on Constantinople and Anatolia. Von Hammer titled his translation "Evliya Efendi." To this day, there is no English translation of the entire Seyahatname, only of various parts, Von Hammer's being the longest single English translation.]

Sefâretnâme, literally "the book of embassy", was a genre of Turkish literature which was closely related to seyahatname which means "the book of travels", but was specific to the recounting of journeys and experiences of an Ottoman ambassador in a foreign land and capital, usually in Europe. Sefâretnâme were edited by their authors with a view to their presentation to the Sultan and to his high administration, thus also bearing a semi-official character, their objective being to make them "feel" the foreign country in question, as much as informing on it. For this reason, and for the literary qualities that were sought in order to attain their objective, they remain of lasting interest.

An Ottoman embassy was despatched to the royal court of Vienna in late 1757, to formally announce the accession of Sultan Mustafa III to the throne, Ahmed Resmî being appointed to the task of presenting the Imperial news to Emperor and King Francis I. It was customary at the time to send emissaries to friendly Christian states, to make such announcements. Simultaneous to Ahmet Resmi's embassy to Vienna, embassies were also sent to Poland and Russia.

With an entourage of over sixty men, including court officials, Ahmet Resmi departed on 2 December 1757. The envoy consisted of the Commander of the Palace Guard, the keeper of the Seal, the Guardian of the Treasury, two Sergeant-at-Arms, the Secretary of the Embassy, an imam, an interpreter, a ceremonial sword-bearer, some thirty men of the elite Janissary Palace Guards, and twenty-two servants.

The trip to Vienna took 3 months, after forty days arriving in Belgrade, where, on-board a vessel on the Sava river on 25 January 1758, he was introduced by the Minister of Finance to his Austrian guide. On the outskirts of Vienna, three days were spent resting and making arrangements for his entrance into the city. Finally, on 13 March 1758, Ahmet Resmi and his retinue proceeded into Vienna, where at a bridge, they were met by interpreter and a cavalry regiment who escorted them all to Leopoldstat, a residence for ambassadors.

On 19 April, the Turkish ambassador was taken to the palace in the Emperor's carriage, with quite a ceremony, as described in the present manuscript. He was first received by Francis I, who impressed him immensely, also described herein, and three days later by Mary Theresa, the same ceremony and formalities taking place on both occasions. Staying in Vienna for 4 months, the foreigners were treated with superb hospitality by the Hasburg monarchs, the hosts preparing great banquets and entertainment. Ahmet Resmi and his court officials in turn hosted a meal for the Austrian court officials. Touring, however, was hampered by the fear of the city being attacked by the armies of Frederick the Great. Late June saw their departure, after approval and provisions for safe passage from the Austrian monarchs.

[It was the second year of the Seven Years' War. Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Archduchess of Austria Maria Theresa, were equally dissatisfied with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which had ended the Austrian War of Succession in 1748, and were once again at war.]

Upon his return to Istanbul early September 1958, Ahmet Resmi documented his detailed observations of the Hasburg Empire in "Viyana Sefaretnamesi" [Vienna Embassy], including politics, government, war, and Austrian custom, which generated a new political interest on behalf of the Turkish Court to further acquaint itself with European nations. This also laid the foundation for his subsequent appointment, an embassy to Berlin.

The embassy to Vienna 1757-1758 was followed by a similar appointment, the first ever Turkish embassy to the court of Frederick the Great in Berlin in 1763-1764. After each embassy, Ahmed Resmî submitted a detailed report on the geography of his passage and the politics of the courts he encountered. In the case of the Berlin embassy, he left behind not just an account of diplomatic niceties but also a portrayal of Frederick the Great and a description of the Seven Years' War. His observations abroad initiated a profound priority within the Ottoman Empire, to further study European politics.

Achmet Resmî Efendi (Ahmed Efendi of Resmo) 1700-1783, was a Greek-Ottoman statesman, diplomat and author of the late 18th century. He was Turkey's first ever ambassador in Berlin (1763/1764). In terms of international relations, his most important and unfortunate task however was to act as the chief of the Ottoman delegation during the negotiations and the signature of the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca. He wrote several important and fascinating works of social and political interest pertaining to the Ottoman Empire, the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, being best remembered for the sefâretnâme accounts from his embassies to Vienna and Berlin. Ahmet Resmi was associated with a circle of reformers, who transformed diplomatic relations of the Ottomans with Europe in the 18th century, and who established some of the first privately funded public libraries of Istanbul.

The present succinct translation, made from the original firsthand Turkish report "Viyana Sefaretnamesi", discloses excellent detail of an official diplomatic conference between Turkish Embassador Ahmet Resmi and Hasburg monarchs Francis I and Maria Theresa, in the Imperial Court at Vienna. It features descriptions of the exquisite palace and royal dress, the perils of travel during the during the Seven Years' War, as well as naming numerous ancient fortresses dispersed between the two nations.

Following are some excerpts from the translated manuscript:

Title: Takriri Resmi [Memorandum on Resmi]: The Narrative of Resmi Effendi containing a description of Germany, Vienna, Yassi, Hotin, the fortress of Kaminiek, the country of Poland, & the country of Brandenburg (Prussia).

"... this is the description of a journey, undertaken in order to announce to the Court of Germany the accession of the clement Emperor Mustafa Khan the Third, which accession took place on the 16th day of the month of Sefer in the year 1711... that commission having been deputed to his servant Hadji Ahmed Resmi."

"... we reached Constantinople by the mercy of God... Adrianople [Edirne]in eight days, & were obliged to remain there three days. We then proceeded a distance of six hours to a place taking its name from Mustafa Pasha... passed the river Meriç (Hebrus)... spent the night in the village... during the space of 250 years dinners were distributed to the towns-people & wayfaring men, but latterly... this charity has been cut short... the people of the town are evidently much afflicted."

"Exactly on the fortieth day of our journey, at the commencement of Jemadi ul Ewwel, we reached & entered the fortress of Belgrade. During a sojourn there of three days, having through the intervention of the Governor of Semlin [Zemun], & the Commandant of Varadin, communicated my arrival to the General at Esseck [Osijek], the Interpreter & Mehmandar who had been dispatched from Vienna to meet me, came to Semlin, & then to Belgrade..."

"... in the middle of the river Save [Sava], the interpreter & the Commandant of Semlin came in a painted ornamented boat... with the customary procession, & accompanied by the Defterdar of Belgrade... [who] ... delivered this servant with his suite of sixty persons... "
['Defterdar' is an Ottoman Minister of Finance]

"On the further bank of Save [Sava] two companies of soldiers were ready with carriages and waggons for ourself & suite. After cannon had been fired, we entered the carriages, & proceeding for a space of two hours... lodging prepared for us at the town of Semlin [Zemun]... receiving hospitality there for seven days we proceeded from town to town with token of honor & distinction, being attended by two Interpreters, two Mehmandars, a Physician, & a Captain with sixty soldiers..."

"... arrived in ten days at the fortress of Esseck [Osijek]... a strong castle... Esseck [Osijek] is distant twenty hours march from the frontier of Bosnia... a very long bridge..."
[Osijek is now the fourth largest city in Croatia. Having been under Ottoman rule since invasion in 1526, the city was restored to western rule in 1687 when the Habsburg Empire exiled the Turks. Between 1712 and 1715, Austrian authorities built a new fortress, outer walls and all five planned bastions known as Tvrda.]

"... came to a city called Altenburg... barns & mills belonging to the Empress [Maria Theresa]... "

"Vienna, in the heart of Germany, we set forth in a pompous procession... being met on the part of Cesar [Kaiser Francis I] at a bridge near Vienna by a principal Secretary & an Interpreter with a troop of horse soldiers... passed within the fortress of Vienna... a splendid hotel prepared for Ambassadors in a suburb of the Isle of Leopoldus close to the Danube."

"Our entrance into Vienna coincided with the beginning of the new year... they were pressing the march of troops from the city in consequence of the invasion of the Check country (Bohemia)"

"... no time to receive the Imperial letter, its presentation was put off until the commencement of Shaban."

"... Cesars Chief Intendant having sent an invitation... coaches drawn by six horses, a troop of soldiers as an escort, & six large saddle horses with splendid trappings for my own suite, we entered the coach... proceeded in a state to the Intendants house. The streets were full of persons appointed to meet me..."

"... in the intendants chamber... he rose from his chair... began to converse... questions appropriate to my position as a friend & an Ambassador... after fixing a day for delivering the epistle of the illustrious Chief of Divan (the Grand Vizier), & presenting the Imperial Letter... we returned..."

"Three days after upon receiving an invitation from the principal Intendant of Vienna... we delivered to him the letter full of grace & sublimity. On the 10th day of the month of Shaban, having been invited on the part of Cesar [Kaiser Francis I], who sent his own coach... we went in procession to the palace [Schönbrunn]."

"... at the mounting stone, & the head of the staircase, a great concourse met me, & I was preceded by a man called the master of ceremonies... near Cesars audience chamber [Kaiser Francis I]... the chief porter opened the door of Divan-khane... The audience chamber was full of great men & their wives... a raised couch... covered with a Persian carpet; on this couch, by the side of an arm chair lined with yellow silk, stood Cesar [Kaiser Francis I] - clad in a suit of black velvet studded with diamonds."

"I spoke this...This Imperial epistle imparts to your friendship the happy tidings of the fortunate accession to the ...throne of Osman, of the clement Emperor, my Master, the asylum of the world."

"Afterwards Cesar [Kaiser Francis I]... replied that the accession of his majesty... he offered his congratulations."

"I gave in my own house an entertainment prepared by my works & with my own cooking utensils, at which the ministers of state & secretaries for foreign affairs assisted; they brought their own dinners, but they likewise partook of my dinner, & approved of it. Afterwards I lived quietly in my own quarters, guarded by sixty soldiers... & changed every four days... each day a coach that I might go out..."

"During four months that we resided at Vienna, what with sending away troops towards Brandenburg, introducing supplies into the fortress of Vienna, under an impression that Brandenburg might come there, & collecting forces in the suburb, they were never free of agitation, which induced them to court the favor of the Sublime [Ottoman] Court."

"Cesar [Kaiser Francis I] received me standing... granted permission for my departure, wished me a prosperous journey... each of us was presented with a gold chain & trinkets of silver. Thus our business terminated."

"... we embarked in boats, with the understanding that in 35 days we should reach Belgrade. Leaving Vienna on Saturday, the 25th day of Sheval... troubles arising from the war with Brandenburg..."

End excerpts.

The Margraviate of Brandenburg (Markgrafschaft Brandenburg) was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg (Mark Brandenburg), it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe. The territory of the Margraviate of Brandenburg was the most important region of the Kingdom of Prussia, and it was the site of the kingdom's capitals, Berlin and Potsdam. From 1701 to 1946, Brandenburg's history was largely that of the state of Prussia, which established itself as a major power in Europe during the 18th century.

Frederick the Great was King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786.

Current Condition

Slight age-toning, otherwise in very good condition.