ENVOYS FROM SIAM
1 side 8¾ x 13¾ ins. 22 x 35.5 cms. inscribed on the reverse in a secretarial hand "His Royal Highness to Mr. Pepys", outer margin of integral blank and a few small holes expertly restored,
This letter was written at the time of the Embassy from King Phra Narai of Siam to France. In 1680, France had obtained the monopoly of the spice trade in Siam with the encouragement of Paulkon Constantine, the Greek Adventurer, the King's First Minister.
In 1684, the first of many diplomatic missions composed of two Siamese Ambassadors and Father Bénigne Vachet, left Siam for France on January 5th. James Duke of York's request to Pepys in this letter for a yacht to take the Ambassadors to France, suggesting that they were in England at that time, but there appears to be no record of this. Bénigne Vachet was appointed as an interpreter, to accompany the Siamese diplomatic mission, composed of two Siamese ambassadors in 1684 . They were received at the Palace of Versailles , in the Hall of Mirrors , by King Louis XIV. During this visit to Versailles , Father Benigne Vachet reported that the king of Siam Phra Nai ( Narai ) could be converted to Catholicism . Later in 1685 Louis XIV decided to send an embassy to Siam, led by the Chevalier de Chaumont with the presence of Bénigne Vachet, the Abbé de Choisy , the Jesuit Guy Tachard , and Siamese ambassadors. In 1686 , he returned to Versailles during the diplomatic visit of the Siamese ambassadors led by Prince Kosa Pan. This was also the time of the Bombay Rebellion against the East India Company, and the ship mentioned in this letter, H.M.S.Phoenix "Phenix", was sent to Bombay by Charles II's brother James Duke of York as the Minister in charge of the Navy and Colonies, to help with the suppression of Pirates at Bombay. The King later pardoned Richard Keigwin and his followers who had been ruling Bombay by force since the previous December. Samuel Pepys was appointed King's Secretary of Affairs to the Admiralty in June 1684, a post he kept until the end of James II's reign. He had spent time in the Tower of London having been accused of being a Catholic and passing Naval Secrets to the French, during his previous time as Secretary to the Admiralty Commission 1673-1679.
Stock ref: 14225