The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan


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This night they slept at a castle called Vasit-calaside, which was on the top of a high rock, and was wonderfully strong. On another rock there was a large town, joined to the castle by a great wall, with towers; and from this wall, a flight of steps led to the castle gate. The rock was very high, and within the castle, there was a spring of water. This castle was besieged by Timur Beg; and the lord of it agreed to pay tribute, on condition that the troops should not enter it. On Sunday, the first of June, at the hour of vespers, they came to a castle called Maca, belonging to a catholic Christian named Noradin, and the people who lived in it were catholic Christians, though they were by birth and language Armenians, and they also knew the Tartar and Persian tongues. In this place there was a monastery of Dominican friars. The castle was in a valley, at the foot of a very high rock, and there was a village on a hill above, and on the top of the hill there was a wall of stone and mortar, with towers, and against the wall there were houses. There was also another wall with towers, and the entrance to it was by a great tower, built to guard it, along steps cut in the rock. Near the second wall there were houses cut in the rock, and in the centre were some towers and houses, where the lord lived, and here all the people in the village kept their provisions. The rock was very high, and rose above the walls and houses; and from the rock, an overhanging part stretches out, which covers the castle, walls, and houses, like the heaven that is above them; so that when it rains, the water does not fall upon the castle, for the rock covers it; and thus the castle cannot either be attacked from the land, or from the sky. Inside the castle a spring rises up, which supplies all the people, and irrigates many fruit gardens. At the foot of this castle there is a beautiful valley, full of vineyards, and corn fields, through which a river flows. Timur Beg besieged this castle, and could not take it; but he negotiated with the lord of it, that he should supply him with twenty mounted soldiers, when he called for them. Soon afterwards Timur Beg marched away, with his army; and the lord of the castle sent his son, who was about twenty years old, with three richly caparisoned horses, as presents to Timur Beg, who received them; and the lord's son asked him not to damage the lands belonging to the castle. Timur replied that the lord of the castle had so fine a son that he must accompany him, and he took him, and afterwards ordered him to live with his grandson, Omar Meerza, who was governor of Persia, and of that land. He still lives with him, and marches in his army; and that governor made the son of this lord turn Moor, by force, and named him Sorgart-mix, and made him one of his guards; but, though he became a Moor by force, he is not one willingly, or by his acts. The ambassadors were well received by the lord of this castle, and he was much comforted by their being Christians, and was very hospitable; and told them that it was about fifteen days since Janza Meerza, the nephew and favourite of Timur Beg, sent to him to say that he wished to use the castle as a deposit for his treasure; and he answered that he could not admit it. The ambassadors remained during the day on which they arrived, and afterwards they saw the son of the lord of the castle, who was in the host of the ruler of Persia, and spoke with him. The lord of the castle also had another son, smaller than this, and he told the ambassadors that that son was learned, and a good grammarian; and that when God willed that they should return, he should go with them to the lord their king, that he might be recommended to the pope, to be made bishop of that land. It is very wonderful that this castle should hold out, amidst so many Moors, with a garrison of Christians, and of Armenians turned catholics, which is a very great service to God. On Monday, the 2nd of June, they departed, and slept in the open air, as they could not reach any village; and on that day they were shown a castle, on the left hand side of the road, called Alinga, which was on a high mountain, and surrounded by a wall with towers; within which there were many vineyards, and fruit gardens, and corn fields, and streams, and pastures for sheep, and on the highest part of the mountain there was a castle. When Timur Beg conquered the Sultan of Persia, who was called Sultan Ahmed, he besieged this castle of Alinga for three years, and Ahmed fled from it, and went to the Sultan of Babylonia, where he is now. On Tuesday they slept in a plain, where there were about a hundred tents of Chatagais, who were wandering over that land with their flocks. On Wednesday they passed the night near some other tents of Chatagais, and in these tents they gave meat and horses to the ambassadors, in the same way as they did in the towns and villages. The road by which they had passed went over hills, in which there was plenty of water and herbage, and there were many of these Chatagais, who belonged to the host in the city of Khoi. On Thursday, the 5th of June, at noon, they arrived at a city which is called Khoi, and is situated in a plain, and is surrounded by many fruit gardens and corn fields, and near the city there are plains of very great extent, through which, and through the city, flow many streams of water. The city is surrounded by a brick wall, with towers and barbicans. At the city of Khoi the land of upper Armenia ends, and the land of Persia commences.