Convoy to Iskendrun 1687 - 1688

Iskendrun Fleet 1687 - 1688
Hoofdtoren of Hoorn
The Hoofdtoren in Hoorn, Hoorn HQ of
the 'Directie van de Levantsche Handel'
Date:Aug 87 - June 1689
Outcome:Alliance Feat
United Provinces

1 The Levant trade

1.1 Iskendrun convoys

The traditional trade route for eastern luxuries to reach Europe was by land. For goods like spices, the discovery of a direct trade route to the far east had reduced the overland (camel) trade to Iskendrun (Scandaroon) to nothing. For goods like silk it was however still thriving, and a visit to Iskendrun was often combined with getting salt from Cyprus. Smyrna was the primary port for trading with the huge Turkish empire, and by this time it was significantly more important than Iskendrun.

1.2 Levant Companies

The trade to Smyrna and Iskendrun did require some organization. It suffered from the dangers of piracy, and required permanent representatives (consuls) to defend and promote the interests of the traders. To organise all this the English had the Levant Company, the Dutch had the Directie van de Levantse Handel, both levied 'taxes'.

To counter the dangers of piracy, ships entering the Mediterranean had to sail in convoys, and had to be defendable. The latter meant getting a few dozen cannon on board and having c 50 or even 75 sailors on board. This incurred a big expense for each individual ship, and a tendency to count on other ships in the convoy making this expense. The Dutch Levant company therefore checked that ships abided by the regulations regarding armament. These proscribed the minimum number of crew and the number and size of cannon according to the size of the ship.

1.3 The Nine Years War

In late September 1688 France started to seize all Dutch ships in its ports. It meant that all merchants had to count with imminent hostilities by French warships and privateers.

In late September the 1688 the Iskendrun convoy commanded by Rudolph Swaen had just reached Cadiz when these events held it there for some time. Shortly before them Cornelis Draecks' 1688 convoy to Cadiz (cf. 1689 Silver Fleet) had reached Cadiz. The convoy of Swaen was then combined with the silver fleet as the 1689 Cadiz to the United Provinces convoy (cf. 1689 Silver Fleet) sailing in April 1689. It was only escorted by 3 warships, but was also very capable of defending itself.

2 Iskendrun Convoy of Captain Swaen

2.1 Swaen to Cadiz

August 1687 Swaen's Outbound Iskendrun Convoy
Ship Captainnext / notes Ship Captain next / notes
Warship Catharina Rudolf Swaen Wapen van Sevilien* Jacob Borstelmanto Seville
Nieuw Livorno Cornelis Swerverto Iskendrun Konig Salomon* Boy Seville
Rosendael Cornelis van Beverento Iskendrun Nostra Signora* Jan Rogto Seville
Stad Haarlem Gerrit Palermo Jupiter* Cornelis Bruynto Cadiz
De Smyrnase KoopmanGerrit Potto Venice Postellion* Joost de Klerckto Malaga
Sint Anna Pieter Klinckertto Venice Leonora to Lisbon
Fluyt Gouden Leeuw Pieter Fonteynto Marseille Prins te Paert to Lisbon
Anna (English) Jan Schovel 'Some other ships'**
Based on a list in the OHC 11 Oct 1687
*These ships were not mentioned on 8 august, but were with the convoy when it arrived in Cadiz.
**These some other ships migth be ones turning up in Cadiz.

The story of Swaen's Iskendrun convoy started in 1687, way before the Nine Years War. Swaen was to escort ships till Iskendrun. On 31 July these made a command structure (Dutch: admiraalschap) OHC 2 Aug 1687 On 8 August 1687 Swaen's Iskendrun convoy left Texel OHC 9 Aug 1687. On 4 September 1687 Swaen's Iskendrun convoy arrived in Cadiz with 12 ships, the English Anna entering the harbor a few days early OHC 11 Oct 1687. The Jupiter was later reported as ready to sail back to Holland OHC 11 Nov 1687.

2.2 Into the Mediterranean

On 30 September the convoy left Cadiz, but it was blown back and anchored before to the bay on 1 October. On 2 October in the evening it sailed again with a good windOHC 11 Nov 1687. The warship of Swaen with the Haarlem, Smirnaese Koopman and St Anna first sailed to Cartagena. The Nieuw Livorno, Rosendael and one other arrived in Alicante on 11 October OHC 11 Nov 1687. On 24 October the Iskendrun convoy left Alicante for Genoa OHC 25 Nov 1687.

On its route to Genoa it sailed before the Gulf of Marseille, where the Gouden Leeuw entered on 6 November. (The Gouden Leeuw was back in Alicante on 18 January 1688 OHC 17 Feb 1688) The convoy, with at least the Nieuw Livorno and Rosendael, did not enter the bay and continued without it OHC 20 Nov 1687. The convoy reached Genoa mid November OHC 6 Dec 1687, and left it on 27 November. The ships reached Livorno on 1 December. The convoy of Swaen then was: Warship Catharina, Rosendael, Nieuw Livorno, Haerlem, and two in sight of the harbor. The Anna of John Shovell arrived on the same day OHC 20 Dec 1687. The St. Anna of Pieter Klinckert and the Koopman van Smirna of Gerrit Pot indeed arrived in Livorno on 3 December 1687 OHC 03 Jan 1688

On 3 January 1688 the Haarlem, Anna and Nieuw Livorno entered Naples. The Catharina with the Smyrna Merchant and Rosendael had entered Gaeta OHC 31 Jan 1688. On 29 January the Anna and Smyrna merchant arrived before Venice OHC 14 Feb 1688

2.3 to Iskendrun

On 10 February 1688 the Nieuw Livorno and Rosendael anchored in Iskendrun. Along the way they had lost Captain Swaen, who arrived on 19 February OHC 24 April 1688. It seems the ships first arrived in Scandaroon, then sailed from Scandaroon to Tripoli (Lebanon) with cargo, and then returned to Scandaroon again for the finer cargoOHC 24 April 1688.

2.4 In Livorno again

August 1688: Swaen's homeward Convoy in Livorno
Ship Captainnext / notes
Warship Catharina* Rudolf Swaen
Nieuw Livorno* Cornelis Swerverfrom Iskendrun
Rosendael* Cornelis van Beverenfrom Iskendrun
Juffrouw Maria Joost Jillesz.from Venice
Stad Haarlem* Gerrit Hendricksz.from Venice
Vrije Zee** Willem Ley
1-2 others
*Came with Swaen to the Mediterranean
**Came with Schrijver to the Mediterranean

On his way back Swaen would meet Schrijver's 1688 Iskendrun convoy in Livorno in August 1688. We have a description of Swaen's convoy at this moment OHC 18 Sep 1688. It indeed had the Nieuw Livorno and Rosendael, and also the Stad Haarlem, which had arrived in Livorno on 13 August OHC 4 Sep 1688 and so spent considerable time on a trip to Venice. The Juffr. Maria, Joost Jillesz. had arrived on 25 August OHC 11 Sep 1688, it had first gone to Venice, and then to Zanten (Cythera), Cefalonia and Messina, taking three months altogether OHC 18 Sep 1688. An interesting detail is that it had 56 guns and 85 men OHC 28 Feb 1688. The convoy was joined by the Vrije Zee of Willem Ley. He had come into the Mediterranean with the 1688 Iskendrun Convoy of Schrijver, which had left Holland 9 months after Swaen did. On 1 September 1688 the convoy left Livorno for Spain OHC 25 Sep 1688.

2.5 back in Spain

On 12 September Swaen would arrive in Alicante. He had with him: the Rosendael and Nieuw Livorno of his own convoy; the Vrije Zee from Schrijver's convoy; The Stad Haerlem and the Maria, both having sailed with him till Messina AC 9 Oct 1688. The AC mistakenly supposed that Schrijver would command the convoy to Alicante, the OHC does have Swaen with the convoyOHC 9 Oct 1688. What is interesting is that the Maria did not stop in Alicante, but continued straigth to Cadiz, reaching that place on 26 September.

On 19 September Swaen and his 'Aleppo Convoy' left Alicante for Cadiz, by 27 September 1688 they had reached Malaga OHC 26 Oct 1688. On 2 October 1688 the convoy reached Cadiz OHC 09 Nov 1688 Meanwhile it had crossed a fleet under Draecks and van Gendre that had been sailing to Cadiz and Alicante. Swaen's convoy would wait for it in Cadiz and then both would sail home toghether.

3 Back to Holland

What happened in Cadiz, and how the 1687 Iskendrun fleet got back in Holland, is in the page about the 1689 Silver Fleet.

4 Sources

Most of this page is based on two papers published at the time. 'OHC 5 Aug 1689' stands for the Oprechte Haarlemse Courant of 5 August 1689, and it can be found at Delpher the site of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Dutch Library). The same goes for AC, which stands for Amsterdamsche Courant. I did not make an effort to standardize names like Van der Saen. In the digital age looking for Van der Saen with the original orthography will probably be much more effective.