Issue 2 – 2nd April 2017 – rattuos
First I must explain what was happening to our English economy in the 16th century. We exported wool, lead and tin in very large quantities to Antwerp, at least £1,000,000 worth of goods annually (euivalent to billions today). At Antwerp it was not uncommon for 2000 to 3000 ships at a time to be waiting to unload or load up goods. These came from all over the world. At Antwerp was the bourse or exchange and the money lenders. King Henry V111 amassed huge debts and in order to borrow not only had to pay far in excess of 14% interest but was obliged to buy very costly jewels to achieve the loans, increasing his debts. But worse was the fact that the bourse decided the value of English money and in Henry’s day the coinage had become debased, ie the gold or silver content was reduced by the mint.
“The Great Debasement (1542–1551) refers to the English Crown’s policy of coinage debasement during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. Coinage debasement occurred when governments replaced to a significant degree the gold or silver content of coinage with a base metal such as copper. By reducing the value of gold or silver content relative to face value, governments extracted usable revenue from domestic money stocks. This stratagem was called debasement because each coin was worth less in terms of its precious metal content
….During the Great Debasement the English crown’s profits from debasement rose to unreasonable levels. In March 1542 the value of the silver content of each English coin averaged 75 percent of each coin’s face value. By March 1545 the value of the silver content had fallen to 50 percent, and by March 1546 to 33.33 percent. The value of each coin in silver content fell to only 25 percent of face value by the time the debasement had run its course in 1551.
During a period of coinage debasement, a mechanism called Gresham’s law comes into play. Gresham’s law is sometimes expressed as bad currency drives out good currency. Households and businesses will hoard the good (or undebased) coinage, and use the debased coinage to pay for goods and services. The result is that only the debased currency remains in circulation, and the good currency goes into hiding or is spent on goods from foreign countries where the debased currency is not legal tender and therefore not acceptable.
In 1561 the English government under Elizabeth I instituted a plan to retire the debased currency and replace it with currency the face value of which corresponded with its precious metal content. Because of Gresham’s law, retiring the debased currency was a tricky affair because households and businesses tend to hoard good coinage and pay debts with debased coinage. To retire the debased currency the government enacted laws forbidding the outflow of good coinage to foreign markets, and ending the legal-tender status of the debased coinage beyond a certain date….” Wikipedia
As a result HenryV111 got very poor exchange rates which caused even more trouble. At the end of his reign he owed a vast sum to Fugger banking family. That was when Sir Thomas Gresham took over as our agent in Antwerp and by sensible management managed to get the loans paid off.
‘The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Gresham’ was compiled in 1839 from records and correspondence and explains much more. It is online and free:
Lord Burghley (William Cecil) and George Talbot 6th Earl of Shrewsbury were good friends of Gresham. Burghley ran the government and spy service while Talbot was the major exporter of wool and lead and had his own shipping fleet. Between them they devised a grand vision to bring Antwerp’s trade and its Exchange to London. They also used plundered gold and silver from our pirate fleet to restore our currency, an early example of money laundering. But getting the better of the Fugger family was something else. All the European governments were in debt to them and they owned vast mining rights. Jacob Fugger was certainly the richest man the world has seen:
“Jakob Fugger of the Lily (German: Jakob Fugger von der Lilie) (6 March 1459 – 30 December 1525), also known as Jakob Fugger the Rich or sometimes Jakob II, was a major merchant, mining entrepreneur and banker of Europe…..The foundation of the family’s wealth was created mainly by the textile trade with Italy. The company grew rapidly after the brothers Ulrich, Georg and Jakob began banking transactions with the House of Habsburg as well as the Roman Curia, and at the same time began mining operations in Tyrol, and from 1493 on the extraction of silver and copper in the kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary. As of 1525 they also had the right to mine quicksilver and cinnabar in Almadén.
After 1487, Jakob Fugger was the de facto head of the Fugger business operations which soon had an almost monopolistic hold on the European copper market. Copper from Upper Hungary was transported through Antwerp to Lisbon, and from there shipped to India. Jakob Fugger also contributed to the first and only trade expedition to India that German merchants cooperated in, a Portuguese fleet to the Indian west coast (1505/06) as well as a failed Spanish trade expedition to the Maluku Islands.
With his support of the Habsburg dynasty as a banker he had a decisive influence on European politics at the time. He financed the rise of Maximilian I and made considerable contributions to secure the election of the Spanish king Charles V to become Holy Roman Emperor. Jakob Fugger also funded the marriages which later resulted in House Habsburg gaining the kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary.
Jakob Fugger secured his legacy and lasting fame through his foundations in Augsburg. A chapel funded by him and built from 1509 to 1512 is Germany’s first renaissance building and contains the tombs of the brothers Ulrich, Georg and Jakob. The Fuggerei which was founded by Jakob in 1521 is the world’s oldest social housing complex still in use. The Damenhof, part of the Fuggerhäuser in Augsburg, is the first secular renaissance building in Germany and was built in 1515.
At his death on 30 December 1525, Jakob Fugger bequeathed to his nephew Anton Fugger company assets totaling 2,032,652 guilders. He is among the most well known Germans and arguably the most famous citizen of Augsburg, with his wealth earning him the moniker “Fugger the Rich”. In 1967 a bust of him was placed in the Walhalla, a “hall of fame” near Regensburg that honors laudable and distinguished Germans.” Wikipedia
What Burghley, Shrewsbury and Gresham set in motion was the most audacious intelligence mission, one still shrouded in secrecy. If the Fuggers were financiers that was only part of the story. They were also alchemists. The great Paracelsus for example was taught alchemy by his father but as a young man learned more alchemy and metallurgy in the mines of the Fuggers. After Jacob Fugger died the empire grew from the American conquest. His successor was Anton:
“Anton was the third and youngest son of George Fugger and Regina Imhof. He was born in Nuremberg on June 10, 1493. At his death on 30 December 1525, Jacob Fugger bequeathed to his nephew Anton Fugger company assets totaling 2,032,652 guilders. He ran his uncle’s business along with his brother Raymund and his cousin Hieronymus Fugger. As a result, he expanded trade to Buenos Aires, Mexico and the West Indies. He supported the Emperor Ferdinand I and Charles V. He was regarded as the “Prince of Merchants”. His greatest achievement was to set the course for the future of the Fugger family. He prepared the next generation of the family through arranged marriages of his sons and daughters with the nobility” Wikipedia
“The banking and trading house of Fugger from Augsburg was particularly well-known. Its links with the Habsburgs go back to the late fifteenth century, when the Fuggers lent Archduke Sigismund of Tyrol 500,000 gulden. In return they were granted rights to the yield from the silver mines in Schwaz on favourable terms. Trade in metal remained an important part of their business until well into the sixteenth century. Money from the Fuggers was also used to pay bribes to the electoral princes in connection with the election of Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, and he later used loans provided by the Fuggers to finance the war against the Schmalkalden League of Protestant princes in Germany in 1546-7. It was above all Anton Fugger who had close ties with the Habsburgs and lent them some 400,000 ducats from his personal fortune at the time of the Princes’ Revolt in 1552. In this way the Fuggers could on the one hand make large profits from their dealings with the Habsburgs, but on the other hand by the middle of the seventeenth century they had lost some eight million Rhenish gulden because the Court Chamber (Hofkammer) did not settle its debts
“A golden medallion from the reign of Leopold I has been preserved which is supposed to have been transmuted from silver into gold using a tincture – in the presence of the Emperor. Another commemorative medallion has an inscription indicating that it was transmuted from lead into silver. They were apparently the result of experiments in alchemy carried out by Johann Joachim Becher, imperial counsellor and one of the three major economists of the seventeenth century – all of whom were, significantly, also alchemists. Becher was even made a kind of advisor in alchemical matters to the imperial Court under Leopold I. Among other things, he tried to transmute sand into gold.
Dire financial straits were the reason why, since Maximilian II, the Habsburg rulers had been interested in alchemy. The aim of alchemy was to transmute one chemical element into another and hence to provide additional financial means in the form of ‘synthetic’ gold. Like other European courts, the Habsburgs invested a great deal of money in such experiments. However, the experiments in alchemy were not only intended to open up new sources of money but were also part of a culture of theatrical representation and display which symbolized Habsburg power. While it is well-known that the alchemists did not succeed in actually producing gold, they did, however, make some useful discoveries in the course of their experiments, developing, for example, new metallurgical processes which the Habsburgs used in their mining operations and which thus brought them some financial advantages after all.
But it was the Fugger fascination with alchemy that was to be the direction of the mission. Burghley was also interested in alchemy and so was the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph 11. They chose John Dee, Burghley’s cousin to lead the mission or at least to give it its veneer of respectability.
John Dee is the man credited for giving the British empire its vision. There was no empire at that time but Dee wrote a thesis suggesting that Elizabeth 1 had a claim to America because her ancestor Prince Madoc had discovered it first (ignore any Indians there obviously). It was nonsense but sufficed to set in motion a push to take over both North America and the West Indies. But the empire needed the City of London to be the centre of world trade and finance to enable global domination.
John Dee was known to be interested in spiritual matters as well as science. He had written a book dedicated to the Emperor Maximilian in 1564:
“The Monas Hieroglyphica (or Hieroglyphic Monad) is an esoteric symbol invented and designed by John Dee, the Elizabethan Magus and Court Astrologer of Elizabeth I of England. It is also the title of the 1564 book in which Dee expounds the meaning of his symbol.
The Hieroglyphic embodies Dee’s vision of the unity of the Cosmos and is a composite of various esoteric and astrological symbols. Dee wrote a commentary on it which serves as a primer of its mysteries….” Wikipedia
He was well known in Europe, had been to Antwerp and was known of by Rudolph 11, a keen collector of all occult work. What Dee needed was an alchemist who could convince the Europeans, especially the Fuggers, that he was genuine. This was to be Edward Talbot now to be known as Edward Kelly. Queen Elizabeth 1 herself visited Dee just before he set off to Europe with Edward, their wives and children and Albert Laski, a Polish lord who was also particularly interested in alchemy and helped them at the beginning of the mission.
Edward was first presented to Dee as a ‘scryer‘ or medium. Dee had worked with others before but none as talented as Edward. What Dee wanted was someone who could communicate with angels and it seemed as if Edward could. First Edward made a point of discrediting the man working with Dee at that time – Barnabus Saul. Saul had been taken to court for some charge of witchcraft and Dee was probably only too happy to be rid of the man but here is his diary extract for a scrying session with Saul as the medium:
“22 Dec (1581) Mane, Mortlake. After my fervent prayers made to God, for his merciful comfort and instruction, through the ministry of his holy and mighty angel, namely Anael, I willed the scryer (named Saul) to look into my great crystalline globe, if God had sent his holy angel Anael, or no: and Saul looking into my foresaid stone (or crystal globe) for to espy Anael, he saw there one which answered to that name. But being earnestly requested of me to tell the truth if he were Anael, another did appear very beautiful, with apparel yellow, glittering, like gold, and his head had beams like star beams, blazing, and spreading from it: his eyes fiery.
He wrote in the Stone very much in Hebrew letters, and the letters seemed all transparent gold, which Saul was not able either presently to read that I might write after his voice, neither to imitate the letters in short time.
A bright star did go up and down by him.
There appeared also a great number of dead men’s skulls likewise and a white dog with a long lead.
And many other visions appeared with this second: the first being voided quite away. Thereupon I said as followeth:
‘In the name of Jesus Christ, who are you?’
He answered to Saul his hearing: ‘All power is granted to me’
Dee ‘What power?’
Anael: ‘Good and evil’.
Then appeared in the stone these two letters, MG. I then asking him some question about hidden treasure, he answered: ‘be not troubled, for these things are of no importance.’
And withal appeared many dead men’s skulls, on his left hand. He said to me:
‘Where is your power’.
Dee’Why do you ask about any power of mine?’
Anael: ‘Why? I have shown you, it does not please me’. I thereupon set by him the Stone in the frame, and said: ‘Is any good angel assigned to the Stone?’
Dee: ’Is that the good angel who is mentioned in the Scriptures?’
Dee’Is it possible that I may see him and work with him’.
And therewith appeared this character A
Dee: What do you wish to convey by this?’
Anael: ‘It is the character of another angel’.
Dee: Why are you showing me – why here and now?’
Anael: ‘For a great cause. Make an end: it shall be declared, but not by me’.
Dee: ‘By whom then?’
Anael: ‘By him that is assigned to the Stone: but not until after the feast. And then thou must prepare thyself to prayer and fasting. In the name of God, be secret. And in all thy doings praying, till thou hast thy desire: which shall not be far off. After New Year’s tide, deal, but not on the Sabbath day. Pray continuously. When it shall please God to stir thee up, then proceed. In the brightest day, when the sun shineth: in the morning fasting, begin to pray. In the sun, set the Stone. Deal both kneeling and sitting. I have done for this time.
‘My name is ANNAEL. I will speak it once more to thee: and then farewell: for thou shalt not have me any more’.
‘Be not too hasty in wrath’.
Dee’Is this that you meant to speak?’
Anael: ‘Aye. Do good to all men. God hath sufficient for thee, and for all men. Fare well’.
Remember that divers other particulars might have been noted of this day’s Action: but these may suffice: and yet it is not forgotten, that as he said his name was Annael (with a double n) so he also confessed himself to be the same Annael which is governor of the planet Venus: and also chief governor-general of this great period, as I have noted in my book of Famous and Rich Discoveries.’
Well make of it what you will but this was what Dee was most interested in at the time. Soon after meeting Edward a crystal ball seemed to appear out of nowhere and Edward persuaded Dee that the angels had sent it. Who knows if Dee really believed this? What is to be noted is that he wrote all of it up in his diaries as if he did. Perhaps he knew that foreign agents were monitoring him and if Dee, an expert in such matters, was believing that Kelly could conjure up angels and make gold out of lead and mercury that would be good enough for some.
Edward was not only a skilled actor and conjuror, a linguist and trained scientist, he was an exceptional hand in the laboratory having trained at Magdelen College, Oxford. In Europe he would be displaying his prowess to no less than the Emperor himself.
In December 1586 Dee wrote that Kelly transmuted 1 ¼ oz of mercury into an ounce of gold using a grain sized piece of a special powder, the philosopher’s stone, before him and two witnesses. But it should be noted that at this time Kelly had been using mercury to extract gold from lead mining slag for the emperor. Also that the two witnesses were the Garland brothers who were probably also working for Walsingham and the English Secret Service. Elias Ashmole wrote about this after Kelly died and it has long fascinated would be alchemists.
Kelly and Dee often argued and eventually separated, but not until the angels had told Kelly that they were required to swap wives, which they did. This has caused him even greater notoriety. But he was an agent pretending to be a great magician, with State support. If so, Saul was a major part of this mission, as was Clerkson who brought these agents to work with Dee. After Kelly’s celebrated vision of the Four Castles on 26.6.1584 Dee notes ‘Hereby may you subvert whole countries without armies: which you must, and shall do, for the glory of God’.
This the real reason for the European mission. Certainly this vision is still a magnet to would be magicians and probably has been of interest to Secret Services ever since. It is inscribed on a CD sized gold disc which is now in the British Museum, with a crystal ball and an Aztec Obsidian mirror that they used in the actions. Dee records that this crystal ball miraculously appeared on the floor one day and that he was directed to it by Kelly who was scrying. Kelly told Dee that the angels took it back in April 1587 for a while before returning it again. Dee had been a talented psychic investigator at one time so one might wonder why he should believe this. I would suggest that it was a much wider European audience who were supposed to be taken in. Little declared by the angels to Dee and Kelly came to pass, and of that most would have been known by the Secret Service at the time. Dee was promised that he would live past one hundred and become very rich. It never happened.
A photo I took of the gold ‘4 castl’e disc, crystal ball, Aztec scrying obsidian mirror and wax seals of John Dee and Edward Talbot at the British Museum.
However Edward was in Europe from 1582 until 1595, possibly 1597. He was entertained in many of the castles of Europe and in constant touch with Burghley via messengers and the Talbot trade network. If he needed to be in England at that time it was easily and quickly arranged. But eventually the emperor seems to have become aware that Edward was not really making gold for him and had him imprisoned. Or that is the official narrative. The Pope was putting enormous pressure on him to do this but almost certainly in my view Rudolph 11 was part of the plot. He was a Knight of the Garter like George Talbot and Burghley. And he had good reason to want the Fuggers brought down having had enormous and expensive debts to them too. Where we might wonder had gold come from to transform the lead slag? George Talbot was sending lead from his mines to Europe. But English pirates were capturing Spanish galleons carrying gold from South America, much to their annoyance. The Fuggers produced a newsletter aty this time and were also angry about it. I suspect some of the gold was coated with lead and sent to Europe for use by the mission. Not a huge amount but enough to pay off Rudolph 11. The Fuggers would have been amazed as the debts were paid seemingly by gold transmuted from lead. But it was not sustainable and only intended to set in motion a chain of events that altered Europe from that time on.
Things changed fast. The Spanish armada sank off the coast of Britain in 1588. It was whispered that magic caused the terrible storm that brought it to disaster. But Antwerp was also in trouble:
“Antwerp experienced three booms during its golden age: the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the stabilising Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559, based on the textiles industry. At the beginning of the 16th century Antwerp accounted for 40% of world trade….. When the Eighty Years’ War broke out in 1568, commercial trading between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbao collapsed and became impossible. On 4 November 1576, Spanish soldiers sacked the city during the so-called Spanish Fury: 7,000 citizens were massacred, 800 houses were burnt down, and over £2 million sterling of damage was done.
Subsequently, the city joined the Union of Utrecht in 1579 and became the capital of the Dutch revolt. In 1585, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, captured it after a long siege and as part of the terms of surrender its Protestant citizens were given two years to settle their affairs before quitting the city. Most went to the United Provinces in the north, starting the Dutch Golden Age. Antwerp’s banking was controlled for a generation by Genoa, and Amsterdam became the new trading centre” Wikipedia
Meanwhile in London:
“The Royal Exchange in London was founded in the 16th century by the merchant Thomas Gresham on the suggestion of his factor Richard Clough to act as a centre of commerce for the City of London. The site was provided by the City of London Corporation and the Worshipful Company of Mercers, who still jointly own the freehold. It is trapezoidal in shape and is flanked by Cornhill and Threadneedle Street, which converge at Bank junction in the heart of the City. The design was inspired by a bourse Gresham had seen in Antwerp and was Britain’s first specialist commercial building” Wikipedia
And gradually the Fuggers were no longer the centre of world commerce. It is said that Edward Kelly died trying to escape from prison in Europe but he lived to die again as the 8th Earl of Shrewsbury in 1618. I will add to this issue the timelines of Shakespeare, Kelly and Talbot – ie what each was doing at various times between 1555 (supposed birth of Kelly) 1560 (birth of Edward Talbot) 1565 (birth of Shakespeare) until 1618. I have it all on a table that will not translate into the format here so will need adjustment but you will discover that each of them had ‘lost years’ (Shakespeare is famous for them) and that they fit together just as three heads on one body should.
If the City went from strength to strength and the British Empire eventually covered the globe by 1935 so did the great intelligence service. If we have any hope of surviving we must hope that our intelligence services can make it possible by working together and using their intelligence. Destroying our planet for money is hardly intelligent. Nor is global nuclear war. But the science learned from endless alchemical experiments and laboratory work have created the science that has given us nuclear power, electricity, diesel engines, chemicals and medicine. For Good and Bad.