Notes concerning this fourth voyage into Persia, begun in the moneth of Iuly 1568. gathered by M. Richard Willes from the mouth of Master Arthur Edwards which was Agent in the same.
When he came first to the Sophies presence, at his court in Casbin, bringing his interpreter with him, and standing farre off, the Sophie (sitting in a seat roiall with a great number of his noble men about him) bad him come neere, and that thrise, vntill he came so neere him that he might haue touched him with his hand. Then the first demand that he asked him was, from what countrey he came: he answered, that he came from England. Then asked hee of his noble men, who knew any such countrey? But when Edwards saw that none of them had any intelligence of that name, he named Inghilterra, as the Italians call England. Londro, London. Then one of the noble men said Londro, meaning thereby London, which name is better knowen in far countries out of Christendom, then is the name of England. When Edwards heard him name Londro, he said that that was the name of the chiefe citie of England, as was Teueris of the chiefe city of Persia. He asked him many things more, as of the realme of England, maruelling that it should be an Island of so great riches and power, as Edwards declared vnto him: of the riches and abundance of our merchandize he further vnderstood by our traffike in Moscouia and other countreis. He demanded also many thinges of the Queenes maiestie, and of the customes and lawes of the realme: saying oftentimes in his owne language, Bara colla, (that is to say) Well sayd. He asked also many things of King Philip, and of his wars against the Turke at Malta. Then he demanded of him what was the chiefe cause of his resort into his realme. And being certified that it was for the trade of merchandize he asked what kind of merchandize he could bring thither. Such (sayd hee) as the Venetian merchants do, which dwelling in our country in the city of Londro send to Venice, and from thence into Turkie by Halepo and Tripoli in Syria, from whence, as by the second and third hands, with great charges of many customs and other things thereunto pertaining, they are at the length brought into your countrey and cities of Persia. What merchandize are those? sayd the Sophie. Edwards answered, that they were great abundance of fine karsies, of broad clothes of all sorts and colours, as skariets, violets, and other of the finest cloth of all the world. The Venetians traffike in England. Also, that the Venetians brought out of England not onely such clothes ready made, but furthermore great plenty of fine wooll to mingle with their wools, of which they could not otherwise make fine cloth: affirming that there went out of England yeerly that waies, aboue two hundredth thousand karsies, and as many broad clothes, beside fine wooll and other merchandize, beside also the great abundance of like clothes, the which were caried into Spaine, Barbarie, and diuers other countries. The Sophie then asked him by what means such merchandize might be brought into Persia. Right wel sir (said he) by the way of Moscouia, with more safetie and in much shorter time then the Venetians can bring them: first from England to Venice, and from thence into Persia by the way of Turkie. And therefore if it shall please your maiestie to grant vs free passage into all your dominions, with such priuiledges as may appertaine to the safegard of our liues, goods and merchandize, we will furnish your countries with all such merchandize and other commodities, in shorter time, and better cheape then you may haue the same at the Turks hands. This talke and much more was between the Sophie and Edwards for the space of two houres: all which things liked him so well, that shortly after he granted to the sayd Arthur Edwards other priuiledges for the trade of merchandize into Persia, all written in Azure and gold letters, and deliuered vnto the lord keeper of the Sophie his great seale. The lord keeper was named Coche Califay, who sayd that when the Shaugh (that is the king or prince) did sit to seale any letters, that last priuiledge should be sealed and deliuered to Laurence Chapman. In this priuiledge is one principall article for seruants or merchants: That if the Agent do perceiue that vpon their naughtie doings, they would become Bursormen, that then the Agent wheresoeuer he shall find any such seruant or seruants, to take them and put them in prison, and no person to keepe them or maintaine them. This article was granted in respect of a custome among the Persians, being Mahumetans, whose maner is friendly to receiue and wel entertaine, both with gifts and liuing, all such Christians, as forsaking their religion, wil become of the religion of the Persians. Insomuch that before this priuiledge was granted, there was great occasion of naughty seruants to deceiue and rob their masters, that vnder the colour of professing that religion, they might liue among them in such safetie, that you might haue no lawe agaynst them, either to punish them or to recouer your goods at their hands, or elsewhere. For before the Sophie (whom they say to be a maruelous wise and gracious prince) seemed to fauour our nation, and to grant them such priuiledges, the people abused them very much, and so hated them, that they would not touch them, but reuiled them, calling them Cafars and Gawars, which is, infidels or misbeleeuers. But after they saw how greatly the prince fauoured them, they had them afterward in great reuerence, and would kisse their hands and vse them very friendly. For before they tooke it for no wrong to rob them, defraud them, beare false witnesse against them, and such merchandizes as they had bought or sold, make them take it againe, and change it as often as them listed. And if any stranger by chance had killed one of them, they would haue the life, of two for one slaine, and for the debts of any stranger would take the goods of any other of the same nation, with many other such like abuses, in maner vnknowen to the prince, before the complaints of our men made vnto him for reformation of such abuses: which were the cause that no merchant strangers of contrary religion durst come into his dominions with their commodities, which might be greatly to the profite of him and his subiects.
The Articles of the second priuiledge deliuered to Laurence Chapman, which are to be annexed vnto the former priuiledge.
10 Item, that the merchants haue free libertie, as in their first priuiledge, to goe: vnto Gilan, and all other places of his dominions, now or hereafter when occasion shall be giuen.
11 Item, if by misfortune any of their ships should breake, or fall vpon any part of his dominions on the sea coast, his subiects to helpe with all speed to saue the goods and to be deliuered to any of the sayd merchants that liueth: or otherwise to be kept in safetie vntil any of them come to demaund them.
12 Item, if any of the said merchants depart this life in any citie or towne, or on the high way, his gouernours there to see their goods safely kept, and to be deliuered to any other of them that shall demand them.
13 Item, the said merchants to take such camel-men as they themselues wil, being countrey people, and that no Kissell Bash do let or hinder them. And the said owners of the camels to bee bound to answere them such goods as they shal receiue at their hands, and the camel-men to stand to the losses of their camels or horses.
14 Item more, that the sayd Cariers do demaund no more of them, then their agreement was to pay them.
15 Item more, if they be at a price with any Cariers, and haue giuen earnest, the camel-men to see they keepe their promise.
16 Item, if any of the said merchants be in feare to trauel to giue them one or more to go with them and see them in safetie with their goods, to the place they will goe vnto.
17 Item, in all places, to say, in all cities, townes or villages on the high way, his subiects to giue them honest roume, and victuals for their money.
18 Item, the sayd merchants may in any place, where they shall thinke best, build or buy any house or houses to their owne vses. And no person to molest or trouble them, and to stand in any Carauan where they will, or shal thinke good.
The commodities which the merchants may haue by this trade into Persia are thought to bee great, and may in time perhaps be greater then the Portugals trade into the East Indies, forasmuch as by the way of Persia into England, the returne may be made euery yeere once: whereas the Portugals make the returne from Calecut but once in two yeers, by a long and dangerous voiage all by sea: for where as the citie and Island of Ormus, lying in the gulfe of Persia, is the most famous Mart towne of all East India, whither all the merchandises of India are brought, the same may in shorter time and more safelie be brought by land and riuers through Persia, euen vnto the Caspian sea, and from thence by the countreis of Russia or Moscouia by riuers, euen vnto the citie of Yeraslaue, and from thence by land 180. miles to Vologda, and from thence againe all by water euen vnto England.
The merchandises which he had out of Persia for the returne of wares are silke of all sortes of colours, both raw and wrought. Also all maner of spices and drugs, pearles, and precious stones, likewise carpets of diuers sortes, with diuers other rich merchandises. It was told me of them that came last from Persia, that here is more silke brought into some one city of Persia, then is of cloth brought into the city of London. Also that one village of Armenia named Gilgat doeth carie yeerely fiue hundred, and sometime a thousand mules laden with silke to Halepo in Soria of Turkie, being 4. dayes iourney from Tripoli, where the Venetians haue their continuall abiding, and send from thence silks which they returne for English karsies and other clothes into all partes of Christendome.
The maner how the Christians become Busormen, and forsake their religion.
I haue here noted before that if any Christian wil become a Busornan, that is, one that hath forsaken his faith, and be a Mahometan of their religion, they giue him many gifts and sometimes also a liuing. The maner is, that when the deuill is entred into his heart to forsake his faith, he resorteth to the Soltan or gouenour of the towne, to whom hee maketh protestation of his diuelish purpose. The gouernour appointeth him a horse, and one to ride before him on another horse, bearing a sword in his hand, and the Busorman bearing an arrow in his hand, and rideth in the citie, cursing his father and mother: and if euer after he returne to his owne religion, he is guiltie of death, as is signified by the sword borne before him. A yong man, a seruant of one of our merchants, because he would not abide the correction of his master for his faults, was minded to forsake his faith. But (as God would) he fell suddenly sicke and died, before he gaue himself to the deuill. If he had become a Busorman, he had greatly troubled the merchants: for if he then would haue said that halfe their goods had bene his, they would haue giuen credite vnto him. For the auoiding of which inconuenience, it was granted in the priuiledges, that no Busorman, &c. as there appeareth.
In Persia in diuers places oxen and kine beare the tents and houshold stuffe of the poore men of the countrey, which haue neither camels nor horses.
Of the tree which beareth Bombasin cotton, or Gossampine.
In Persia is great abundance of Bombasin cotton, and very fine: this groweth on a certaine litle tree or brier, not past the height of a mans waste or litle more: the tree hath a slender stalke like vnto a brier, or to a carnation gillifloure, with very many branches, bearing on euery branch a fruit or rather a cod, growing in round forme, containing in it the cotton: and when this bud or cod commeth to the bignes of a walnut, it openeth and sheweth foorth the cotton, which groweth still in bignes vntill it be like a fleece of wooll as big as a mans fist, and beginneth, to be loose, and then they gather it as it were the ripe fruite. The seeds of these trees are as big as peason, and are blacke, and somewhat flat, and not round; they sowe them in plowed ground, where they grow in the fields in great abundance in many countries in Persia, and diuers other regions.
The writing of the Persians.
Arthur Edwards shewed me a letter of the Sophie, written in their letters backward, subsigned with the hands both of the Sophy and his Secretarie. The Sophies subscription was onely one word (his name I suppose was Shaugh) written in golden letters vpon red paper. The whole letter was also written on the same piece of red paper, being long and narow, about the length of a foote, and not past three inches broad. The priuate signet of the Sophie was a round printed marke about the bignes of a roial, onely printed vpon the same paper without any waxe or other seale, the letters seem so mishapen and disordered, that a man would thinke it were somewhat scribled in maner at aduentures. Yet they say that almost euery letter with his pricke or circumflexe signifieth a whole word. Insomuch that in a piece of paper as big as a mans hand their writing doeth containe as much as doeth ours almost in a sheet of paper.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51