The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Iv Trebizond and The Journey Through Armenia

Trabzon to Cabasica

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On Tuesday they travelled on a very bad road, over very high mountains, covered with snow, and traversed by many streams; and at night they encamped near a castle called Sigana, which is on the top of a high rock, the only entrance to which was by a wooden bridge, leading from a rock to the gate of the castle. The owner of the castle was a Greek knight, named Quirileo Arbosita. On Wednesday they came to a castle, on a high rock near the road, called Cadaca, on one side of which there was a river, and on the other a precipice, and the road led through a very narrow pass, between the river and the foot of the castle rock, so that only one man could pass at a time. A few men in the castle might defend this pass against an army, and in all this country there is no other pass. Men came forth from the castle, and demanded a toll from the ambassadors, for their effects. This castle always contains thieves and bad men; and the lord of it is also a thief; and this road is not used, except when many merchants travel together, and give a great present to the lord of this land, and to his men. Three leagues beyond this castle there was a tower, on the top of a high rock, in a narrow pass; and at the hour of vespers they approached a castle, on a high hill, called Dorile, which looked very beautiful, and the road came close to it. The ambassadors understood that the lord of the country lived in that castle, so they sent an interpreter to let him know who they were; and when they approached the foot of the castle, a man on horseback came out to them, and said that the lord of the castle desired that they should stop, and they put their luggage in a church close by. The man then told them that it was the custom for those who travelled on that road, to pay a certain duty to the lord of the castle, and that they were expected to do so. He said that his master had people in the mountains, who were making war on the Turks; and that he lived by the dues taken from travellers who used that road, and by the spoils taken from his enemies. When the ambassadors wished to visit the lord of the castle, to show him such courtesy as he might desire, his men would not consent, and said that they should not go to him, but that next morning he would come to them. On Thursday, the 1st of May, Cabasica, the lord of the castle, came to the place where the ambassadors were encamped, with thirty men on horseback, armed with bows and arrows. They all got off their horses, and sat down, and Cabasica made the ambassadors sit down near him, and said to them that his country was barren and craggy, as they might see, that he was always at war with the Turks, who were his neighbours, that he and his people had nothing to live upon, except what was given them by those who passed that way, and what they robbed from their neighbours. He, therefore, desired that they would help him, with some clothing and money. The ambassadors replied that they were not merchants, but ambassadors, whom their lord the king of Spain had sent to the lord Timur Beg, and that they had nothing but what they were taking to the said Timur; and the ambassador from Timur Beg said that he knew well that the emperor of Trebizond was lord of that land, and that he was a vassal of Timur Beg; adding that the things they had with them belonged to Timur, and that they ought to be allowed to pass safely through that land. They of the castle replied that what he had said was true, but that they had nothing to live on, except what they had already described, and that, at all events, they must give them what they demanded. The ambassadors, seeing their determination, produced a piece of scarlet, and a silver cup; and Timur Beg's ambassador gave a scarlet cloth made in Florence, and a piece of fine linen; but they were not satisfied with all this, and asked for more. Notwithstanding all the courteous speeches that were made to them, they cared nothing for them, but continued to insist upon being given what they demanded, and declared that words were worth nothing. The ambassadors therefore bought a piece of camlet from a merchant who was with them, and gave it to the people of the castle. At last they were satisfied, and the lord of the castle said that the ambassadors should be guarded on their road, as far as the land of Erzingan (Arsinga) , which then belonged to Timur Beg. The ambassadors desired to depart at once, but they could not. They, however, hired horses to carry them as far as the land of Erzingan , and men to guard them. On Friday they set out, accompanied by ten men on horseback, and at the hour of mass they came to a castle, on the top of a high rock, which also belonged to Cabasica, where they found men in the road, who took a toll from them. At noon they came to a valley where they were told that there was a castle belonging to the Turks of a lineage called Chapenies, who were at war with Cabasica, and that in the valley there was a guard, which waited for passengers. At the hour of vespers they came to a town of Erzingan , called ALango (Kos)gaza, and Cabasica's ten men took leave of them. On this day the road was very mountainous; and in this town there was a Turkish cavalier, who held the place for the lord of Erzingan . He received the ambassadors very well, and gave them good lodging and food, and everything they required; and they learned from this cavalier that Timur Beg had departed from Carabaqui {Karabagh}, where he had wintered, and had gone to the land of Sultanieh.