The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Ruy Gonzalez De Clavijo


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On Wednesday, the vessel continued her course, and on Thursday, the 27th of June, at sunset, she was off the port of Gaeta, and anchored so near the town that they were able to place a gang board on the city wall. The ambassadors went on shore, and lodged in an inn outside the town, where they remained sixteen days, because the captain and some merchants in the carrack had to land some of the cargo, and to get on board a cargo of oil. This city of Gaeta, and its port, is very beautiful. The entrance of the harbour is narrow, but becomes wider inside, and is enclosed on every side by high hills, where there are castles and fine houses, with many fruit gardens. On the left hand there is an eminence, surmounted by a great tower, said to have been built by Roldan, for which reason it is called the tower of Roldan. Opposite this hill there is another, where the city is built, and the gate and houses facing the harbour are so close to the water, that the walls are washed by it; and two towers stand out from the walls, rising from the sea about a sling's throw from each other. When it is necessary, a chain is stretched from one tower to the other, inside which the galleys and boats take refuge, in time of war. Between the town and the tower of Roldan there is a castle with high towers, battlements, and turrets, and a wall surrounds the whole, to guard the city. Towards the sea there are high rocks, so that no vessel could enter the port in time of war; and another wall runs along the sea face, within which there is a hill covered with vineyards and olive gardens, and between this hill and the wall there is a street, with many houses and shops. In this street there is a church, where the people perform their devotions. It is called Santa Maria la Anunciada, and opposite to it there is another church called San Antonio, and above the church of Santa Maria there is a handsome monastery of Franciscans. At the end of this street the city wall goes over the hill to the sea on the other side, and this wall is built to prevent vessels, in time of war, from coming to damage the city. At the end of the wall, where the walls unite which encircle these hills, there is a church called Trinidad, and near it there are some houses and towers, like an alcazar {Al casr, Arabic for a palace}. Not far from this church there is a fissure made in the rock, about ten brazas in depth, and fifty paces long, and so narrow that only one man could get into it at a time; and a hermit lives there named Santa Cruz. It is said that there is a record in the city, showing that this opening was made on the day on which Jesus Christ suffered his passion. Within the walls there are many beautiful houses and gardens, containing oranges, lemons, citrons, and vines, which are very pleasant to look upon. Outside the walls, and facing the sea, there is a very handsome street containing palaces, houses, and gardens; and this street extends to a place called Mola, two leagues from the city. It is thickly inhabited, and paved throughout, and beyond it there are hills covered with villages; and all these things are visible from the city, presenting a most pleasant and wonderful view. The ambassadors went to see everything while they were there; and beyond Mola there was a town and a high castle, and other places on the hills. At the entrance of the port, on the right hand, there was a very high look-out tower, called the tower of Carellano {Carigliano}; and these places once belonged to the Count of Fondi, but they are now subject to King Lanzalago, who seized upon them during the war with King Louis {Margaret, daughter of Mary, the sister of Joan queen of Naples, married Charles Duke of Durazzo, and on his murder in Hungary in 1386, she caused her son Ladislaus or Lancelot, who is called Lanzalago by Clavijo, to be crowned; and fled with him to Gaeta. In 1390 Louis of Anjou was crowned king of Naples; but in 1401 Ladislaus recovered the whole kingdom, and died in 1414, leaving no children}. The houses of Gaeta are very handsome to look at outside; they are very high, with windows towards the sea. The finest street is that which runs parallel to the sea, the others being steep, narrow, and bad for walking. In the chief street there is much merchandise, and the city has a considerable trade during the whole year. When King Lanzalago was at war with King Louis, he lost all his kingdom except this city; and he marched out from it, and recovered all his dominions again. When King Lanzalago was in this city, and married to Madame Gostanza, daughter of Monfrey de Charamente, he parted from her, and married her by force to his vassal, the son of Louis de Capua; and they say that the king himself, being in the church of Trinidad, took their hands and married them in sight of a great concourse of people; and afterwards, on the day of the marriage, that he took her by the hand, and danced with her. The said woman, his wife, said many ugly things in the streets; and they say that the king did this by the advice of his mother, the lady Margarita. Afterwards the king married the sister of the king of Cyprus, named Dona Maria; and he had no children by his wife, the lady Gostanza, during one year and a half, but by his second wife King Lanzalago had a daughter named Dona Juanela, married to the Duke of Sterlic and Babura, and she is reported to be a very beautiful woman {Margaret married her son Ladislaus or Lanzalago to Constantia, the daughter of Manfred de Claramonte, a Catalonian, who governed Sicily. Manfred, who was Count of Modica, resided at Catania, and had made several successful expeditions against the Moors. He died at Palermo in 1391. In 1392 Constantia was sent to a private house at Gaeta, by advice of Margaret, on the pretext that since Manfred's death her mother had become the mistress of Martin, Duke of Monblanco, brother of John king of Aragon; and that it was dishonourable for King Ladislaus to have the daughter of a concubine for his wife. Two years afterwards Constantia, who had been so basely treated, married Andrew, Count of Altavilla. When he led her home, she declared, before all the courtiers, that he ought to consider himself a fortunate knight, as he had got his sovereign's wife for his mistress. This is the story alluded to by Clavijo. In 1402 Ladislaus married Mary, sister of the king of Cyprus, but she died in 1404} On Friday, the 13th of July, the carrack got under weigh at noon, and leaving Gaeta, continued on her course.