Letter from Francesco Gatta to PF, 1681-05-18, Tunis


Letter from Francesco Gatta to PF, 1681-05-18, Tunis


Barbary (unspecified or several locations)
Slaves (Christian)


Letter from Francesco Gatta to PF. Gatta has informed PF as well as Gio' Levascer [Jean Le Vacher] the vicar apostolic in Algiers, about the most important matters of the mission in Tunis. Le Vacher released Gatta from his side to go to Tunis. Some people from Messina who had enough of the Pascia tried to be favored by the grand vizier of Constantinople, in order to obtain Turkish troops for Sicily. Giuseppe Marchese was secretly connected with Mamet Agha (the Turkish ambassador in Tunis), to intermediate in the wars that divided the country. By means of this ambassador, he sent his message to Constantinople. From the returning ship, they received no other news except that it disembarked from Naples in the Romagna; there Giuseppe boarded a ship together with four of his children. Gatta hopes that the ambassadors of the Christian princes will be wise enough to stop him. When he was in Algiers, he came to understand that in Salé, there were many Christian slaves who were left without a priest, because of the pest. Likewise, in Tétouan there are 500 Christian slaves without a priest. When Gatta asked the vicar apostolic for permission to go to Tétouan, however it was not granted. Then, the prefect of Tripoli, Da Castel'vetrano [Girolamo Da Castelverrano] saw that in his decree, Salé was annexed to the mission of Tripoli. As the city is 1,700 Italian miles away by sea, it is impossibile to serve them from Tripoli. Because the city has been abandoned, he begged Da Castelverrano to either visit once every seven years, send two companions there (and two others for Tétouan), or to ask PF to provide these cities with missionaries. Da Castelverrano promised him that he would go himself, but because years have passed and nobody has visited, he decided to inform PF. If they decide to send two missionaries, then it would be best to imbark from Marseille. The people who go there however, must be willing to suffer a lot, considering the people there are more barbaric and wild. He also sends PF a list of all the cities and places with Christian slaves, and their distance from Tripoli. List with distances from Tripoli: a) in Tripoli in Barbary, live a little more than a thousand Christian slaves of various nations. From Tripoli to Tunis, the distance is 500 Italian miles, from Tunis to Utica (today Porto Farina), the distance is 24 Italian miles, and from Porto Farina to Bizerte, the distance is 26 Italian miles; b) in Tunis there are around 2,000 Christian slaves, and a few free Christians. In Porto Farina and Bizerte (that are part of the same mission), there are around 200 ships and galleys. In Caponegro there are around 40 free Christians amongst whom soldiers and merchants. From Bizerte to Algiers, the distance is 450 Italian miles. In Algiers there are around 5,000 Christian slaves, even though the size of the city is only a quarter of Tunis. There are however, 46 ships, two galleys, and two other small boats. From Algiers to Orano, the distance is 300 Italian miles, from Oran to Melilla, the distance is 100 Italian miles, from Mellila to Pignon, the distance is 60 Italian miles; c) the places of Oran, Melilla and Pignon are under the king of Spain. Except for soldiers there are farmers, free people, and they have their own parishes and chapels. From Pignon to Tétouan, the distance is 80 Italian miles; d) in Tétouan, a city of the Moors, there are 500 Christian slaves and no-one to administer the sacraments. From Tétouan to Ceuta, also a Spanish city, the distance is 20 Italian miles, and from Ceuta to Tanger, a place in the hands of the English, the distance is 30 Italian miles and from Tanger to Salé, the distance is 200 Italian miles; and e) Salé is a place of the Moors, in the kingdom of Fez, and there are around 500 Christians without priests. The priests stay in Fez and cannot travel around because the countryside is filled with robbers. From Tripoli to Salé is 1,790 miles over sea. He is not sure whether one could do this in a year because of the difficulties of travelling and the few possibilities of doing so.
Additional comments


Francesco Gatta


APF SC Barbaria 1, 502r-503r




Adressed to [PF}


original; signed








Origin: Tunis
Destination: [Rome]


Francesco Gatta, “Letter from Francesco Gatta to PF, 1681-05-18, Tunis,” Early Modern Documents: Sources and Resources for Historical Research, accessed August 15, 2022, https://earlymoderndocs.omeka.net/items/show/13098.

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