Produce Imported to England

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Institute of Historical Research

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Rawdon Brown (editor)

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1864

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135-139

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'Produce Imported to England', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 1: 1202-1509 (1864), pp. CXXXV-CXXXIX. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=94081 Date accessed: 16 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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TABLE No. 5.

Produce and Manufactures conveyed to England by the Venetians in the Flanders Galleys, during the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.

Name of Produce or Manufacture.Site of the Article's Growth or Manufacture.Where procured by the Venetians.Remarks.
Spun cottonIndia
Cyprus
Egypt
Damascus.
Cyprus,
Messina.
Raw cotton, or Maltese cottonPatras-ArtaMessina.
Cloths of silkVeniceVeniceThe Venetian silk manufactures dated from the year 1240. See Marin, History of Venetian Commerce, vol. 5, p. 252.
Bawdekins of gold and silkVeniceVeniceThe word in Venetian is “Baldacchini,” from Baldacca sive Bagdad sive Babylon (see Menagio: Le origini della lingua Italiana. Ginevra, 1685); and this material being used for “Canopies” they were called in Italian “Baldacchini.”
Damasks and satins, mostly blackVeniceVenice.
Camlets—mostly black and fine; and some violet-colouredAngora and CyprusCyprus.
Dyed silks, yellow, blue and light greenPersia
Turkey.
Sicily.
Greece.
Italy.
Aleppo.
Damascus.
Sicily.
Greece.
These silks were dyed in Venice.
Raw silkMessina
Calabria.
Almeria.
Malaga.
Messina.
Almeria.
Malaga.
The raw silks sold well in England, and two Venetian lbs., silk-weight, were equal to 1 lb. English.
Double-twisted wimple silksVeniceVeniceIn the original, this manufacture is styled “Zendalli torti dopi.” The Venetian Zendalle closely resembled the English wimple, and the “zendada” silk is mentioned by Marin as having been first manufactured in the year 1240. “Cendallum,” Sandali, a fine silk stuff. See Webb's Glossary. Household Roll of Bishop Swinfield.
Lamb-skinsPugliaMessinaThese lamb-skins were of the sort now called “Astrachan
MarchianiWhat “Marchiani” may have been I am unable to ascertain.

In the Fifteenth Century the following Articles figured in the Venetian “Price Currents” as Spices.

GingersMalabarAlexandria Damascus.Ginger, in the 14th and 15th centuries, was taken as a stimulant, and supposed to be anti-scorbutic.
CinnamonCeylonDamascus. Alexandria.
PepperHindostanDamascus. Alexandria.
ClovesTernateDamascus. Alexandria.
Clove stemsTernateThis spice, termed by Paxi “Fusti de garofoli” may possibly have been pimenta.
NutmegsMalacca
Cassia in the reedEast Indies
Egypt.
Alexandria.
Alexandria.
Red sandal woodTanasarim Coromandel.Red sandal-wood was considered an astringent and tonic; and taken internally to purify the blood and allay sickness.
“Verzin,” sive Phytolacca ScosandraEast IndiesThe flowers of this tree were purgative and it also furnishes a purple dye.
WormwoodPersiaConstantinople
Damascus.
Alexandria.
Aleppo.
Vermifuge and stimulant to menstruation.
SaffronAquila
Sulmona.
Romagna.
Tuscany.
Cremona.
Lombardy.
Puglia.
Bari.
Venice.By the laws of the Grand Council, date 21 August 1288, it may be inferred that the general use of saffron, in Europe, commenced at that period. It was considered a cordial, a pectoral, an anodyne, an aperient, and an antidote to poison and hysterics. It was also employed for culinary purposes. Saffron is supposed to have been first cultivated in England A. D. 1582.
MasticScioScio
Alexandria.
Astringent—anodyne, tonic.
GalangalEast IndiesDamascusTonic, diuretic, stimulant to menstruation.
SpikenardEast IndiesAlexandria Damascus.Supposed to be a remedy for stone: diuretic, stimulant to menstruation; antidote to poison, &c.
GalbanumEast Indies Syria and Arabia.Aleppo
Alexandria.
A remedy mentioned by Dioscorides, and much in use with women.
Sal ammoniacEgyptDamascusSudorific and aperient.
Sagapen sive Gum SeraphicPersiaAleppo
Alexandria.
Sudorific and aperient.—Remedy in use with women.
Opopanax (gum)MacedoniaAleppoTonic—remedy for hysteria.
Gum DragonEast Indies Southern Arabia.AlexandriaAstringent—styptic. For an account of the Dracæna Draco see Wellsted's Travels in Arabia, vol. 2, p. 448, 449.
Gum ArabicArabiaAlexandria.
BoraxPersiaAlexandriaUsed for glandular affections, to encourage menstruation, and for diseases of the spleen.
CamphorBorneoUsed as an anti-scorbutic, for hysterical affections, &c.

The foregoing articles of Eastern produce were styled by the Venetians “Grossspice” (Speciegrosse, whence the terms Grocer and Epicier). The Drugs or “small spice” (Specie menude) with which they supplied England were of the following kinds:

Name of Produce or Manufacture.Site of the Article's Growth or Manufacture.Where procured by the Venetians.Remarks.
Refined scammonyAleppoAleppoStrong purgative. Botanical names: convolvulus Syriacus, scammonia Syriaca.
RhubarbPersiaConstantinopleGentle purgative.
MannaPersia Syria.Aleppo
Damascus.
Slightly purgative.
AloesSocotraAlexandria
Damascus.
Aleppo.
” ”
Refined turbithCeylon
Surat.
Goa.
Damascus
Alexandria.
Purgative. Botanical name:. convolvulus Indicus.
TerebenthinaIsle of ScioIsle of ScioA liquid rosin or gluey liquid, procured by incision from several trees. It was strongly aperient, and administered in doses varying from half a drachm to one drachm, for ulcers in the kidneys and bladder, for gonorrhoea, and also as a diuretic.
Seed-pearls for pounding.Persian GulfDamascus
Aleppo.
Alexandria.
Oriental pearls were used in the 14th and 15th centuries for medicinal purposes, and those of smallest size took the name of seed pearls from their shape. Being alkaline, they corrected acidity, and were also supposed to be an antidote to poison and an invigorating cordial, which may account for the dissolved pearl presented by Cleopatra to Marc Anthony. Dose from six grains to half a drachm.
AmbergrisShores of the Indian Ocean.Alexandria
Aleppo.
Damascus.
Constantinople.
Tonic, and an exhilarating cordial, an antidote to poison, and a strong stimulant. It was supposed to render women hysterical, to cure men of melancholy. The dose varied from half a grain to four.
MuskAsia and where-ever the gazelle is found.Alexandria Damascus. Aleppo. Constantinople.A tonic and cordial, an antidote to poison &c. &c. Dose from half a grain to four grains.
Belzoe,
sive
Belzoim,
sive Belzuinum.
East Indies
Siam.
Sumatra.
AlexandriaA very strong-smelling resinous gum, supposed to take effect on ulcerated lungs, to cure asthma, to be an antidote to poison, &c. &c.
CivetEast Indies and wherever the hyaena is found.Aleppo
Constantinople.
Alexandria.
An anodyne, supposed to cure children of the cholic.
Tignames,
sire
Elichrysum.
AlexandriaPlant of flower said to be vermifuge, and to facilitate menstruation, &c. &c.
Calamus verus,
seu
amarus.
in Italian, “Calamita.”
East IndiesAlexandria
Damascus.
A reed whose pulp was very bitter, and supposed to aid menstruation, to be an antidote to poison, and an aperient, &c. &c.
StoraxSyriaAlexandria
Damascus.
Aleppo.
A gum supposed to be a tonic and emollient, &c. &c.
Auripigmentum,
seu
Orpiment.
Persia
Natolia.
Constantinople.
Damascus.
Elephants' teeth or tusks.At so many gold pennies (fn. 1) (grossi) per lb.
Green gingers
Preserved myrabolansAn Indian plum, resembling the damson. They were considered purgative and astringent in the same degree as rhubarb.
Brown sugarPalermo.
Syruped fruits, and White comfits.Palermo.
CurrantsPatrasOf good quality, and sold well.
Dried prunesNaples.
Sicily.
Dates, coral, and coral buttons or beads.MessinaOf large size and good colour. They were called “Pater nostri” from their resemblance to the five large beads in the Roman Catholic chaplet.
Gall-nutsPuglia,
MalmsiesCandiaOf good quality.
WineTyreBy an Act, 1 Richard III. (1433–4), it it is seen that the Venetians were charged, with every butt of malmsey and every butt of Tyre, to import ten bow staves, under penalty of 135. 4d.
Bow staves.
Books, manuscript and printed, and illuminated works.See an Act, 1 Richard III. (1483–4), concerning “lympners, bynders, and imprynters.”
PaperSee Commission to Bartolomeo Minio, captain of the Flanders galleys, A.D. 1485.
Earthenware and glassSee sate conducts from. Richard II., date September 17, 1399, and from Henry IV., December 3,1400, Commemoriale, No. ix., p. 3 and p. 152.

Exports from Sicily conveyed by the Flanders Galleys to England.

Refined sugar.
Brown sugar.
Molasses.
White comfits.
Syruped confections.
Dried prunes.
Large coral beads or buttons, or “Pater nosters.”
Spun cottons.
Maltese cottons.
Raw silk, or silk yarn, from Messina.
Saltpetre.
The dates assigned to the discovery of Madeira vary, in printed works.
In Marin Sanuto's MS. diaries it is stated, date August 1496, that the discovery was made in 1450; that thenceforth the sugars of Cyprus, Alexandria, Syria, Damietta, Sicily, Valentia, and other parts fell to a very low price; and that, commencing with the year 1486, there arrived annually at Venice five or six ships, caravels, or barks, of from two to five hundred butts each, freighted with Madeira sugar.
By the foregoing list of Venetian exports it appears, that down to the year 1503 the sugars of Sicily were preferred, in England, to those of the Levant or of Madeira.

Footnotes

1 The gold penny was equal to 20d. sterling. (See Ruding, vol. p. 2 70.)