The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Preface

Clavijo journey to Samarkand

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Journey of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, in his embassy to the court of Timur, at Samarkand, (2005 Full Online Text Edited and © ) PREFACE. THE account of the journey of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, in his embassy to the court of Timur, at Samarkand, is the oldest Spanish narrative of travels of any value. Indeed the literature of Spain then consisted only of ballads, and a few chronicles. John II, the poet, and patron of literature, was in his cradle; and the exquisite serranas of the Marquis of Santillana were still unwritten {John II was born in 1405; Santillana in 1398}. None of the great historians and poets, who afterwards raised Spanish literature to such a height of excellence, had appeared, and no Spaniard had yet produced a narrative of travels which is at all worthy of remembrance. It was in the earliest dawn of Spanish literature that the good and trusty old knight, Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo carefully wrote the journal of his embassy; and this fact alone gives a peculiar interest to the work. In a historical point of view it is also important, because the descriptions of the Spanish knight corroborate many of the statements of Ali of Yezd, Mirkhond, and other eastern writers; and, as a narrative of what he saw and heard, his journal describes travels which are equal in interest to those of Marco Polo and of Sir John Mandeville. Note 1: Clavijo's text was written in Spanish (c1406) and translated into English in 1859. The spelling of many names has since changed since the nineteenth century. Current spelling is has been used for this first online text of Clavijo for modern travelers and historians. For example: Samarcand has been changed to Samarkand, Mollah to Mullah and Toork to Turk. Note 2: Many national boundaries have also changed (1) since the time of Clavijo (2) since the time of Markham's translation (3) since the break-up of the Soviet Union. The historic area of Khorassan, for example, is rendered by Markham as Iran/Afganistan. But the western part of Khorassan, through which Clavijo travelled is now the eastern province of Iran. Clavijo sees his goal as the empire of TimurBeg. Today it is Uzbekistan. Note 3: the measure of distance used by Clavijo is the league. This is generally taken to be about 3 miles.