Monday, 21 November 2011

Patras and the Albanian trade, 1813

At various points Patras, situated on the northern Peloponnese on the Gulf of Corinth was ruled by the Genoese and Venetians. Apart from 1687–1715, when the Venetians re-established themselves, this area was ruled by the Turks and their vassals. Possibly the Jews arrived during the Venetian rule and remained.
"Patras is governed by a bey, subject to the pasha of the Morea; the town contains a great number of Jews, who are the principal commercial agents; almost all business in this way passes through their hands. France names a commercial agent who receives no salary, but all ships of the country which stop here make him some present; they also pay an anchorage, though it cannot be exacted. The drogmans are all Jews, who eagerly seek after an office which they know very well how to turn to a good account. To judge by one of these good people, by name Solomon, they do no great honour to the languages they pretend to speak: the French, as he called it, which he spoke was a terrible mix of the Provençal and Barbary languages, pronounced with so strange and discordant an accent, that it was no very easy matter to comprehend what he meant to say."
Pouqueville comments that French trade has done very well in Albania over the preceding ten years. The merchants of Ancona and Sinigaglia pass their shoddy products off as French. While the locals still prefer Venetian-supplied muskets from Brescia to the French product, the Jews can’t compete with the French. I suspect the situation changed within the year once formerly embargoed British products entered the market.

François Charles Hugues Laurent Pouqueville. Travels in the Morea, Albania, and other parts of the Ottoman empire. 1813

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