1 Spaniard is worth 100 oranges

From SP 94/14 ff. 47-48, Cocks to Wilson as usual:

“the news is still confermed that the hollanders haue taken & Sunke all those Spanish gallions, & now is anexed that they haue Carid the Spaniards into Barberry, and Soulde them for Slaues, to say, on[e] Spaniard for 100 of orrenges & 4 or 5 for a bife / & 5 or 6 Spaniards in Exchange for on[e] ffleminge”

At this time (1607), not only were the English, Dutch, French and Spanish bickering with each other at sea, there were also pirates of all nations who would happily rob their own kinsmen. And this was a favourite sport: capture a ship and sail it to North Africa (“Barbary”), sell the captives for slaves, and take the loot home.

What I love about this above passage is the idea that the “Hollanders” have captured enough Spaniards to esteem them of little value – a man being worth only 100 oranges (!) sounds dirt cheap, as does 4 or 5 for “a beef”, or 5-6 in exchange for one Dutch or Flemish prisoner or slave kept in Barbary.

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