Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

A letter of M. Arthur Edwards, written the 8. of August 1566. from the towne of Shamaki in Media, to the right worshipfull the Gouernours, Consuls, Assistants and generalitie of the Companie of Russia, &c. Shewing his accesse vnto the Emperour of Persia, his conference with him, his obtaining of a priuiledge, with diuers other good obseruations.

Right worshipfull Sirs, my bounden dutie remembered, with most humble commendations and like request to God for the preseruation of your good healths, with the rest of the companie, &c. His arrival at Casbin the 25. of May. It may please you to vnderstand, that the last letter which I sent you from hence was of the 26. of April of this present yeere by Richard Iohnson at my departure towards Casbin: to which citie I came the 25. of May folowing, not slacking any day, houre, nor moment, to procure and make friends for the speedie bringing me before the presence of the Shaugh, being the 29. day of the same moneth brought before him, with, whose maiestie I was in talke (as 1 thinke) two houres. He willed me twise to come neerer him, demanding what were my requests: and hauing heard them, he promised me his gracious letters. Conference and demands of the Shaugh. Afterwards he called me twise againe to come neerer him, and talked with me of our Queenes maiestie and Countrey, and what commodities we had, and what other commodities we desired: and then of other countries adioining to vs and their commodities, as also of king Philip, what ouerthrow he gaue the Turks at the siege of Malta. And how long we had traded into Russeland and Moscouia, and in what space we might saile out of England into Russeland, and how many weekes trauell it is from Comolgro to Astracan: and then came to discourse of Russeland, and what townes the Emperour had wonne, declaring vnto me himselfe most of our commodities. All sorts of cloth to be spent, specially Westerne dozens died into scarlet. In the end he willed that your worships should send him of all sorts of clothes, but of one especially which maidens do make (as he sayd:) He named it Karengi, I thinke it is Westerne dozens died into scarlets. Time will not permit mee to write at large the conference which I had with his maiesty. It was strange to his people (knowing our religion) to see me so long in talke with him, willing his Secretarie before mee to write what he was desirous of: to wit, of London clothes, three or foure of all sorts for example, being well shorne and drest. Violets in graine and fine reds be most worne, but other good colours will away, when they shall see them. I wore a garment of London russet, being much esteemed. You shall doe well lo send such sorts as be liuely to the sight, and some blacks for womens garments, with some Orenge colours and tawneis. Here is much broad cloth worne. London clothes much talked of in Persia. They talke much of London clothes, and they that know the wearing, are desirous of them before the cloth of the womens making, for they find it nothing durable. For when it commeth to weare on the threed, it renteth like paper. Much Venice clothe worn in Persia. Here is much Venice cloth worne, being cromplisted a yard and a halfe broad, and sold here from 24. to 30. shaughes their arshine, being longer by two inches then the Russe arshine is; I wish also that you send some good chamlets and veluets died in graine, with purple colours and fine reds: because these are most worne. Also some blacks with other colours: some cloth of gold, tissue and bocky, some veluets wrought with gold, with sattins and damaskes, most purple, and reds of all sorts. You may not forget to send some Western karseis, to wit, dozens, which be thicked well, and close shut in the weauing, being died into fine reds, and some skarlets: for I thinke there is no such cloth for their caps.

The second admission to the Shaughs presence, the 29. of Iune 1566. at which time he reciued the priuiledge. The Shaughs promise to increase the priuiledge. Your worships shall vnderstand, that after my first departure from the presence of the Prince, I neglected no time in daily attendance on them, who had my priuiledge in writing, that I might haue it in readinesse at such time as I should againe bee called before the presence of the Shaugh, which was the 29. of Iune last. I was in apparell that he gaue vnto me, with other garments to mine interpreter, and one of your seruants, and then I receiued your letters or privilege, according to my desire, sealed and firmed with the Shaughs owne hand. Praysed bee God who hath wrought with me, and for me, in all my doings.

The 29. of Iune is one of their chiefe festiuall daies, so that all his nobilitie was there present, with two Ambassadors in companie with his maiestie, who sayd vnto me that if my letters were not to my mind, in time to come they should be mended. Whereupon I made my reuerence, and gaue his highnesse most humble and heartie thanks, saying, that with as much speed as might bee, our Queenes Maiestie should vnderstand of his goodnesse towardes her Merchants, which I thought would write their letters of request vnto his Highnes, in such forme and order as by them should be thought meete and requisite for their good assurance in the trade of merchandizes: who replied with these wordes: when wee shall see their reasonable requests, we will shew them our farther good will, and so I departed.

Since the receiuing of the Shaughs letters, I haue eaten in company of good Dukes and others, who before would not come neere me. And euery day some would come to my Shop, and eate and drinke with me out of mine owne dish. Likewise in riding from Casbin hither, on the way when I sate downe to dinner, they would come and eate with mee vnbidden, when I wished them further off: for I spared them that, which gladly I would haue eaten my selfe. I doubt not but we shall liue here from hencefoorth in quietnes: for now in all places where I come, I am friendly vsed with the best.

I was asked by the Shaugh if you were able to bring him yeerly one hundred thousand pieces of kersies, and clothes. And I answered him, saying, your worships were able to furnish his countrey with two hundred thousand. Whereat his Highnesse reioyced: for the Turkes Ambassador the last yere, as diuers haue told me, did put the Shaugh in despaire, saying, that the, Turke would not permit any cloth to be brought into his countrey.

Aleppo a citie of great trade. There is a citie in Syria named Aleppo, wherein coninually are many Venetians dwelling, besides other that come yeerely and there buy wools, gals, tallow, saffron, skins, cotton wooll, and other wares, and great store of spices. Armenians barter with the Venetians. Also the Armenians yeerly receeiue at the Venetians hands, karsies in barter for rawe silks, giuing sometimes 60. pieces of karsies for 70. batmans of silke of this countrey, and 40. pieces for Grosin silke. And karsies sold commonly for ready money in Aleppo, at 11. and 12. duckets the piece, (the ducket being here woorth 12. shillings) may cost the first peny 132. and 144. Shaughs a karsie. The distance from Shamaky to Alappo. By report it is one moneths trauel from this towne of Shamaky to Aleppo, and from thence to Tripolis, six dayes iourney: and from Tripolis to Venice by water, a moneth or fiue weekes sailing. As I learne, from hence to Venice may easily be trauelled in lesse then three moneths. Therefore I wish your worships to procure some trustie and assured friend there, to whom from hence letters may be sent For I can haue them here to put in suerties to deliuer my letters, and to bring answere. If I had any other here with me, I would nothing haue doubted to haue brought you the Shaughs letters that way.

Armenians and others desirous to barter silke and spices for karsies. The Armenians and other are desirous to barter with vs, giuing silke for katsies, and also will seme vs of all kind of Spices, we giuing them sufficient warning to fetch it in the Indies, and will deliuer it vs in Shamaky at these prizes.

Pepper this townes batman for 18. Shaughs, euery Shaugh is sixepence.

Maces large for 40. Shaughs, and 45. the batman.

Cloues for 40. Shaughs the batman.

Nutmegs for 16. and 18. Shaughs the batman.

Sinamon for 40. Shaughs the batman. I doubt not but there will be profile and good done in spices, with drugs and other like in time.

From Casbin to Ormus is six weeks trauel, and from hence to Casbin is 16. dayes with camels laden: but if one trauell with a good Mule vnladen, it may be gone in seuen or eight dayes. And I thinke to Ormus and other places, may be trauelled in like order and proportion, with cattel vnladen. But here in all places as men may trauel, they must carie their owne prouision on horses, which they are to buy, and thus they, uauel but a footepasse.

The Shaugh desirous to bargaine for our commodities. The Shaugh himselfe is desirous to bargaine with you who will giue money, silke, and other wares as we will, and take our wares as we may affoord them, willing me himselfe to bring such wares as we might gaine by him. The Armenians by report, and as I perceiue, bring from Aleppo yeerely, foure, fiue, and six thousand pieces of karsies, and clothes, besides those which other men bring. If your Worships might procure and find vent or sales for rawe silke, and silke died in graine, besides other silkes wrought and made here, by which, profile may be made: then you might send a great substance of wares hither. But I feare you shall be hindered by the Venetians if they may: for I know it will grieue them that you doe trade into these partes: for in short time it shall cleane alter their trade, and hinder the sales of their clothes in Aleppo and other places adioyning. You shall understand that 60. batmans of silke is a Mules lading: and as it is reported, one village of the Armenians yerely carieth 400. and 500. Mules lading of silke to Aleppo, and bringeth thence 800. or a thousand Mules laden with karsies and Venice clothes. And 18. pieces of karsies are a Mules lading. 2000. pieces of karsies to be sent into Persia. But I wish you not to send aboue 2000. pieces of karseis, although I haue bene willed to write for more. If I might haue had any vnderstanding what your Worships had written for in your letters sent this yeere, I should in this my letter haue bene better able to haue answered you. They which be now in Astracan, might haue written some thing vnto me hither, if it had pleased them, or else haue sent me such letters of mine, as I hope some of my friends haue written to me: for here are arriued eight weekes past, two boates with wares and Russes, by whom they might haue written, had it bene but 3. or 4. lines. They promised the Russes to write, but promise was not kept. I would be sory that any boat should depart out of these partes, and not write vnto them, waying how all things stand. I heare they haue bought a boat, which coast 40. rubbles, and shipped certaine wares to come hither. God send them in safetie. I do tarie their comming, or els I had thought to haue come to Astraean in those boates which departed hence lately.

He departed from Casbin the 15 of Iuly. The fifteenth of Iuly last, I departed from Casbin, and came to this towne the 29. of the same. And the fourth of August I found means to arrest the falsest knaue in this countrey, to wit, the Customer for 22. tumens, and 100. shaughs, (200. shaughs is a tumen.) I haue caused him to put in suerties for his foorth comming at all times, what ende I shall haue with him, God knoweth, the debt will be recouered, but not yet, for he must pay the Shaugh 1000. rubbles. These partes as yet are in no stay for lacke of a Gouernour or head to rule, which I thinke shall bee the Mursey. Within 5. or 6. dayes we shall know, for it is time, because men are in feare to trauell for being robbed. If there were a prince placed, I should soone get in your debts, for they dare not disobey the Shaughs letters or priuiledge: wherein he hath not onely written that our debts shall be paied, but also that we shall be taken heed to, so as we need not to doubt (God willing) in time to come, to be here as wel vsed as we are in Russeland. Rich. Iohnsons great negligence. The bils of debt that Rich. Iohnson left with me, had neither the parties name nor summe of money in two of them, and in other bils but his owne name. If I had not used discretion in causing to be written in our priuiledge, that such debtes as are owing, should be paied any of vs in the absence of the other, some men would not haue paied one penie, but onely to Richard Iohnson, who hath written but his owne name onely in the bils. I receiued in Casbin of Forackan in part of 29. tumens, 300. shaughs in money: the rest he will deliuer me here in silke, and this is all that I haue receiued to this day. And as for Hawrambecks twelue tumens, I make accompt, that if I could ride to speake with him, I should be paid in money and wares. Touching Ackons money, by meanes of Duke Ameddinbeck, who first owed the debt, because they meant not to pay a penie, he did rather seeke to hinder my sute then to further mee, but I found out a present remedie: for God sent me friends that were alwayes about the Shaugh, and daily put on his apparell, who opened all my sute, and brought mee to the presence of the Shaugh before that Cozomomet sawe the Shaughs eyes. Cozomomet was Arthur Edwards friend to the Shaugh. But Cozomomet in the end was my friend: for he was sent for, and declared vnto the Shaugh what good merchants we were, vsing trueth in all our doings, and how we were in great fauour with the Emperour of Russia, and what good commodities wee might bring into his Countrey, with other talke. And daily he was sent for to the Shaugh about the affaires in those partes, for no man was able to aduise the Shaugh of the state and affaires of those Countreys so much as hee was. He owed your Worships seuen tumens and 48. shaughs, which was not all this time to be gotten at his hands: for hee was at great charges in riding to Casbin, and giuing great gifts since his comming, which he twise declared vnto mee. I feeling his griefe became Physicion to ease his pain, and forgaue him his debt abouesayd, in recompence of ten pieces of karsies, that were promised him by Richard Iohnson and me, to giue him at the comming of our goods, in consideration that he should with speed doe what lay in him, to dispatch me away: for I perceiue hee procured other that did helpe me in my sute to delay me of, till time he had his purpose. Victuals and all things dear at Casbin. I neuer was in quiet, till I had the Princes priuiledge, and had got mee out of Casbin: for victuals, and all other things are very deare there, because they are brought thither from farre off. As for all other smal debts (which may be about 7. tumens) when our Merchants are come hither, we shall seeke, to get them in as we may. I wish your Worships to send some bullion to bee coyned here, it will please the prince there, and be profitable to you. Silke is better cheape by two or three shaughs the batman, then it was the last yeere. You shall vnderstand that I haue written two letters of all my proceedings, which I sent from Casbin long since: to wit, the 24. and 29. of Iune last, by one of your seruants to Gilan, there to take ship and to goe to Astracan, and to deliuer the same vnto your Factors, which might haue bene to their quietnes and mine, long agoe. But I am right sorie to heare since my comming hither, that he hath plaied the loitering merchant in Gilan, not going in those boats that went first, but taried for the last boats. But I will teach him, to the example of other, how he shall make haste hereafter in such affaires. The karsies which you sent last, being bought of M. Quarles, were good and full lengths and well sorted. The Ambassador of the prince of Gilan. The Ambassador of Gilan was in Casbin, at my being there. I hope in God, if I remaine here, and may goe to Gilan to obtaine for your worships the like priuiledge at the kings hand there also. Gilan but five dayes riding from Casbin. For I haue something moued the matter, being put in such comfort, that I doubt not the getting thereof with small charges, which I had done at this time if I had had other here with me to put in trust: for from Casbin to Gilan is but 5. dayes riding, which Countrey may be profitable to your Worships. There is in that Prouince good store of silke, better cheape, and better in goodnesse then this countrey silke is. Also great store of Alom, being there sold this townes batman, for one bist and a halfe. I haue made reckoning, al charges borne from hence to Colmogro, and from thence fraight into England at three pounds the tunne, al charges accounted, will not stand you in aboue 18. and 20. shillings the hundreth. You haue yeerly by report two or three hundred tunnes lading. Other commodities there for England I heare not of. Gals. As for gals here to bee bought, there is no profit to be done by them. They be brought from Aleppo, and sold here not vnder 3. or 4. shaughs their batman, being six pounds English waight. Graine. Graine that you die scarlet withall is worth the batman ready mony, 200 shaughs, reckoning the shaugh for 6. pence Russe, it may be 6. rubbles their batman. Your worships may send some portion of mony, if you may buy, as I thinke you may, for 12. and 13. s. a pound the berries, so you shall gaine both in the price and waight. Ormus Aleppo. If one Englishman more had bene here with me, to whom I might haue deliueied our bils of debts and other things, whatsoeuer should haue chanced of me, I would then haue become seruant to mine Interpreter, and so haue gone to Ormus and Aleppo, which both ioyne on the borders of this countrey, being the chiefe Marte townes, whereunto from all places merchants resort. And thus would I haue spent 4. or 5. months in trauelling for further knowledge of things for to haue certified your worships of. I hope in God to vse things in such order, that yeerly you shall haue returne of your goods from hence, as you haue forth of Russeland, and in those ships. For if we may, as I doubt not with diligence, prouide to make sales in time, and with speed receiue silke at the Shaughs hand, and other mens, that it may be sent from hence to be in Astracan at the beginning of Aprill, from whence it may be sent to Colmogro in three moneths and lesse, and there to be ready with the rest of your goods by the end of Iune for your ships to receiue, that will be time inough. This I doubt, not to bring to passe within a yeere or two, when we are throughly setled in these parts, and better knowen. M. Anthonie Ienkinsons offer to the Persain. Moreouer you shall vnderstand, that at my last being in the presence of the Shaugh, it was sayd to mee that M. Anthonie Ienkinson did proffer to take all the rawe silke in those parties, delivering cloth and other commodities for the same. I assure you there is in those parts to be had three or foure thousand horses, lading, euery horse load being 50. or 60. batmans, beside silke of Grosin. Great abundance of silke at times is sent out of these parts, to wit. 4. or 5. hundred horse lodes at a time by the Turkes, who bring great store of siluer to be coined, to wit, Dollars at ten shaughs the piece. The Hungarie Ducket is at 12. shaughs. And hauing money in readines at the time of the yeere, they buy silke the better cheape, when the countrey men bring it first to be sold. If your worships may bargaine with the Venetians to take silke at your hands, or otherwise deale with them, I doe not mistrust but to haue at the Shaughs hand sixe batmans of silke for two pieces and a halfe of karsies. Your good aduise herein, and in other matters, I trust you will write with conuenient speed. M. Anthonie Ienkinson commended. Master Anthonie Ienkinson hath deserued great commendation at all your worships hands: for the good report of his well and wise doings in those parts, was oftentimes a comfort to me to heare thereof, and some good helpe to me in my proceedings. To this day I neuer heard from any of our merchants. God graunt me in health to see your worships, for I haue had a carefull trauell, with many a sorowfull day and vnquiet sleepes. Neither had I the company of one English person, to whom sometimes I might haue eased my pensiue heart, as God well knoweth, who hath deliuered me from mine enemies. Thus almightie God graunt you in health and wealth long to liue.

Your humble seruant at commandement during life,

Arthur Edwards.

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Last updated Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 22:12