The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan

Neishabur City

Previous - Next

On Friday they were supplied with post horses, and travelled all night. On Saturday morning they came to a small town, and remained there until night, on account of the great heat; when they again set out, and travelled all night. On Sunday, the 20th of July, they reached the city of Vascal; and when the ambassadors arrived there, they found a great knight called Ennacora, who was waiting for them by order of the lord, to do them honour. He came to see them at their lodging, and, as they were too unwell to dine with him, he sent them much meat and fruit. After they had dined, he sent to say that they should come to him, to a great palace, and that they should be clothed in the robes of the great lord. They replied that they could not walk, and that they trusted he would excuse them; but he sent again to ask them to come, and at last the master of theology went to him, and he dressed him in a robe, according to the custom; and it was usual when these robes were presented, to have a grand feast, and afterwards to put on the robes; and then to touch the ground three times, with the knee, out of reverence for the great lord. This was done, and afterwards the knight sent horses to the ambassadors, and to their retinue. He also sent to say that they should proceed on their journey, as it was the command of the lord that they should follow him, as quickly as possible, both by day and night. They answered that they would prefer to rest for two days; but he replied that they must not stay any longer, for that, if the lord should know of it, it would cost him his life. The ambassadors were so ill, that they were more dead than alive; so the knight caused soft pillows to be placed on the bows of their saddles, and so they departed. They travelled all night, and rested in a plain, near a deserted village. On Monday they slept in some large buildings, which were erected by the road side, for travellers, as no people live in the country, for a distance of two days journey, on account of the great heat, and the want of water. The water in the buildings was brought from a great distance, by pipes under ground. On Tuesday, the 22nd of July, they slept at a city called Jagaro, and the day was very hot. This city was in a plain, at the foot of a mountain, without trees, and large pipes lead water from the mountain to the city. In the middle of the city there is a castle, on the top of a mound of earth, and the city had no wall of any kind. In the previous winter there was much snow, and when the summer came, it melted; and so much water came down the pipes that it ruined the castle, and several houses. The road was very level, and there was not a single stone to be found on it; and the country was very hot, and with little water. When they arrived, they were given plenty of meat, and fresh horses; and they set out again with the knight whom the great lord had sent, who provided them with food, and with all that they required; and gave them fresh horses every day, that they might travel faster. The lord had horses waiting at the end of each day's journey, at some places one hundred, and at others two hundred; and thus the posts were arranged, on the road, as far as Samarkand. Those whom the lord sent in any direction, or who were sent to him, went on these horses as fast as they could, day and night. He also had horses placed in deserts, and uninhabited districts, as well as in places that were populous; and he caused great houses to be built in uninhabited places, where horses and provisions were supplied by the nearest towns and villages. Men were appointed to take care of these horses, who were called Anchos. Thus, when ambassadors or messengers arrive, these men take their horses, take off their saddles, and place them on fresh horses, and one or two of these Anchos go with them, to take care of the horses; and when they reach another post, they return with these horses. If any of the horses become tired on the road, and they meet another at any place, belonging to any other man, they take it in exchange for the tired horse. The custom is that when anyone rides on a road, if he is a lord, or merchant, or ambassador, he must give up his horse for the service of anyone who is going to the great lord, and if anyone refuses, it costs him his head, for such are the commands of Timur Beg. They even take horses from the troops, and the ambassadors often took horses from the troops, for themselves and their men; and, not only can those, who are going to the great lord, take the horses of such people, but they can even demand them from the son or the wife of the great lord himself. They told the ambassadors that even the eldest son of Timur Beg had been obliged to give up his horse to ambassadors who were going to the great lord. Not only was this road thus supplied with post horses, but there were messengers on all the roads; so that news could come from every province, in a few days. The lord is better pleased with him who travels a day and night for fifty leagues, and kills two horses, than with him who does the distance in three days. The great lord, considering that the leagues were very long, in his empire of Samarkand, divided each league into two, and placed small pillars on the roads, to mark each league; ordering all his Chatagais to march twelve, or at least ten of these leagues, in each day's journey. They call these leagues moles, because these turrets, which he caused to be built at the end of each league, and these leagues, the length of which he regulated, are in a country which is called Mogolia. The ambassadors travelled in the country, and saw the pillars, and each of the leagues was equal to two leagues of Castille. In truth it would scarcely be believed, unless it was actually seen, the distances which these fellows travel, each day and night; for they ride as far as their horses can carry them; and they do not only travel the distance which, the lord has ordered, but they sometimes go over fifteen and twenty leagues in a day and night, without any consideration for the toil of their horses. When their horses are knocked up, they kill and sell them, if they are in an inhabited country; but we found many dead horses on the road, which had been killed by hard riding. The ambassadors left this city, on the day they arrived; and travelled all night, for, though they wished to rest, they were not permitted; and, although it was night, the heat was so great that it was quite wonderful, and there was a hot and burning wind. On this night Gomez de Salazar, who had been ill, was nearly dying. There was no water on the road, during this day's journey, and they did not stop all night, except to give barley to the horses. On Tuesday they travelled all day, without seeing any habitation whatever, until night, when they arrived at a city called Zabrain. This city is very large, and contains many fine houses and mosques; but most of them were deserted. When they had dined, they departed with fresh horses, and travelled all night. On Friday, near noon, they reached a deserted village; but the people, brought them food, and all they required, from another village, distant about half a league. At the hour of vespers they set out again, and travelled all night, along a very level road to Neishabur {Neyshabur or Nishapore}.