The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Preface

Clavijos Life

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Clavijo's Itinerary was first published by Gonzalo Argote de Molina, �the careful antiquary of the time of Philip II {Ticknor, i, p. 183},� in Seville, in the year 1582 {folio}, with �a brief discourse, drawn up for the better understanding of this book {Argote de Molina dedicates the Itinerary of Clavijo, to Antonio Perez, Secretary of State to Philip II. He says, �As the history of Tamerlane, promised by Juan de Barros, has not yet appeared, I have brought this itinerary, written by Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, to light; the original of which is in my possession.� Argote also gives a life of Tamerlane by Pero Mexia, and another by Pablo Jovio, bishop of Nochera. The edition of 1582 contains sixtyeight folio pages, with double columns}.� There is only one other edition, a very good one, published by Antonio de Sancha at Madrid in 1782 {quarto}. In this edition there is an additional notice of Timur, by Garcia de Silva y Figueroa, a Spanish envoy, who was sent by Philip III to the court of Shah Abbas the Great of Persia in 1618, to urge him to continue his wars with the Turks, so as to check their encroachments in the Mediterranean. I have carefully compared my edition of 1782, from which this translation has been made, with the edition of 1582 in the King's Library, at the British Museum. Having performed this most remarkable journey, Clavijo landed in his native country on the 24th of March, 1406, after an absence of nearly three years; and proceeded at once to the court of his sovereign, at Alcala de Henares. He remained at court for about a year, as chamberlain to the king, but on the death of Henry in 1407 {Clavijo was one of the witnesses to King Henry's will, which was signed at Toledo, in December 1406}, he retired to his native city of Madrid, where he rebuilt the chapel of the monastery of San Francisco {This chapel was pulled down in 1760. �Clavijo's house stood on the spot where the chapel called 'of the bishop' was afterwards erected, in the parish of St. Andrew. It was so handsome that it subsequently served as a residence for Don Enrique of Aragon, cousin of King John II.�Hijos de Madrid, iv, p. 302}, in a most costly way. After a few years his remains found a resting place in this chapel, with those of his fathers, in a rich marble tomb, bearing the following inscription:� �Here lies the honourable knight, Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, whom God pardon. He was chamberlain to the King Don Henry, of happy memory, and to Don John his son. The King Don Henry sent him on an embassy to Tamerlane, and he died on the 2nd of April, in the year of our Lord 1412.� His arms were placed over the tomb�quarterly, on a field gules, a half moon or, and on a field argent, three girdles gules. His tomb was, a few years afterwards, removed from the chapel, to make room for that of Juana, queen of Henry IV. In 1573 it was placed in the centre of the church of San Francisco, and in 1580 it was finally put in the wall, near the pulpit, where at length it found a resting place. A brief sketch of the life of Clavijo was written by Don Jose Antonio Alvarez y Baena, in the end of the last century; but the old knight's claim to be remembered by posterity, must rest on his bold and adventurous journey, which he has so fully and so pleasantly described {Hijos de Madrid, por Don Jose Antonio Alvarez y Baena, vecino y natural de la misma villa.�Madrid, 1791, tom, iv, p. 302}. This narrative, independently of any intrinsic value which it may possess, is interesting as the first of a long series of chronicles of Spanish voyages and travels in every quarter of the globe, when Spain was in the height of her glory, and when her sons might proudly exclaim� �Qu� regio in terris, nostri non plena laboris ?�