London, South Kensington
28 November 2011
CORFU -- Johann Matthias von der SCHULENBURG (1661-1747). Autograph letter signed ('de schoul.) to an unidentified recipient (evidently a close family connection), Corfu, 7 August 1716, in French, DESCRIBING THE SIEGE OF CORFU (at which Schulenburg commanded the defences), reporting the heavy losses he has already sustained ('j'ai eu deia de mes 6 compagnies 80 ho[mmes] morts et tués [sic]') and the particular difficulties imposed by the topography ('a cause des hauteurs et une situation bizarre ce sera un siege meurtrier') and his complete lack of supplies; the 'furieuse chaleur' is only increasing the suffering of his soldiers, and there is hardly any shelter from the bombardment ('il y a guere d'endroit sur ou les boulet ou coups de fusils ne tuent et ne blessent du monde'), though he himself is in excellent health; the letter concludes with instructions regarding his will, and compliments to his sisters and other relatives, 4 pages, 4to, bifolium, contemporary underlining, docket.
A professional mercenary of Prussian descent, Schulenburg was recruited by Venice to protect Corfu against its last siege by the Ottomans. His outstanding success in this task brought him a pension of 5000 ducats and a comfortable retirement on the Grand Canal in the Palazzo Loredan as an art collector and patron. One of Schulenburg's sisters was Melusine, Duchess of Kendal, the mistress of George I, and his reference to his sisters here, coupled with fact that letter is written in French rather than German, may suggest that it was addressed to a close member of her circle in England.
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