The Garden Guide

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


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On Friday, the 3rd of August, at daylight, the vessel was off an inhabited island called Calamo {Kalimno?}, which is covered with corn fields; and on the same day she was off the island of Lango, which is held by the knights of the order who possess Rhodes; and on the left hand they sighted a part of the main land of Turkey, which is called Nisari and Lucrio. The islands are so close to the main land that they did not attempt to pass through the passage between them during the night: but they passed close to some other islands belonging to the lordship of Rhodes, called Piscopia {Piscopi}, and St. Nicholas de Carquini, and Pimia; and on the same afternoon the carrack was anchored in the port of the island of Rhodes. When the ambassadors arrived in port, they sent to the city, to know if the grand master was there; and an answer came that the master, with certain galleys, and a great part of his troops, together with certain carracks and galleys of Genoa, led by captain Buchicate, were gone to make war on the kingdom of Alexandria. {In 1396 the French seized upon Genoa. In 1401 John le Meingle, surnamed Boucicault, a marshal of France, entered Genoa as governor, and became so acceptable to the people, that they induced the French king to make him governor for life. In April, 1403, Boucicault sailed from Genoa with a fleet against the king of Cyprus, and forced him to a peace. He then went to Candelorum, in Cilicia, forced the lord of it to ally himself with France and Genoa, plundered Beyrout, and returned towards Genoa with a galley from Chios, and another from the Knights of Rhodes. In 1410 the Genoese rebelled against him, and expelled the French} On Saturday the ambassadors went on shore, and proceeded to the great palace of Rhodes, to see the lieutenant who had been left there by the grand master, and to speak with him. {In 1396 the grand chapter at Rhodes elected Philibert de Naillac, grand prior of Aquitaine, to be Grand Master. He was immediately invited by the Pope to join a league against Bajazet, which he did with great readiness, and ordered his galleys to be equipped. Naillac fought with bravery at the fatal battle of Nicopolis; and escaped, with Sigismund king of Hungary, in a fisherman's boat to the mouth of the Danube, where the Christian fleet received him. The Grand Master then combined with Boucicault, to ravage the coasts of Syria. They were repulsed from Tripoli, but plundered Beyrout. In 1409 the Rhodian Knights made an advantageous peace with the Sultan. Naillac died in 1421, at a good old age}. The said lieutenant, and the friars who were with him, when they knew that the ambassadors were approaching, came out to meet them, and told them that the grand master was absent, but that, for the sake of the king of Castille, all their desires should willingly be complied with. The said ambassadors replied that they wished to go on shore, to obtain news respecting Timur Beg, and to collect information. The lieutenant, therefore, ordered them to be lodged in an inn belonging to a knight of the order, in which there was a church dedicated to the blessed St. Catherine. The ambassadors went to this lodging on Sunday, the 5th of August, and remained there until Thursday the 30th; and all that time they could obtain no news, except such as was brought by some who had come from the fleet, from parts of Syria, and from the Jerusalem pilgrimage. These said that Timur Beg intended to invade Syria, to reduce the Sultan of Babylon, that he had already sent his ambassadors, with, a message demanding that the Sultan should coin his money, use his arms, and pay a certain annual tribute, and that, if the Sultan refused, he, the great Timur Beg, would not wait until the summer, but would presently invade Syria. Such were the rumours amongst the Moors of Jerusalem, but they were only from hearsay, and the ambassadors did not consider them to be certain. While they were in Rhodes, four great carracks and two Genoese ships arrived, with news from the fleet. They said that the fleet had sailed to Candelor, a castle of Turkey, and besieged it for twelve days; when the lord of Candelor came out and fought those of the fleet, and certain Frenchmen and Genoese were killed. Thence the fleet sailed to Ripuli {Tripoli, in Syria}, a town in Syria, and attacked it. The people of Ripuli crossed a river which flows near the town, attacked the invaders, and did them much harm. The commanders of the fleet, therefore, took council together, and decided that as the carracks and ships sailed better than the galleys, they should go on ahead, towards Alexandria {Alexandretta, or Scanderoon, in Cilicia ? previously attacked by Boucicault}, and wait off that port for nine days; while the galleys should proceed to the attack of Beyrout, a town of Syria, which is the port of Damascus. The said carracks made sail for Alexandria, and the galleys attacked and destroyed the town of Beyrout. The carracks waited for nine days off Alexandria, and, as they received no news of the galleys, as the horses died for want of water, and as their provisions were running short, they returned to Rhodes. Before the ambassadors departed, these carracks arrived at Rhodes; and as the ambassadors were unable to obtain any certain news respecting the great Timur Beg, they determined to go to Carabaqui {Karabagh}, a place which is in Persia, where he is accustomed to winter, and where they would learn certain intelligence respecting him. This city of Rhodes is not very large; it is built on a plain near the sea, and it has a large castle, which is partly without, and partly within the city. Here is the palace of the grand master, and of his friars, and also a convent, and a beautiful church, and a great hospital for the sick. The friars are not allowed to go abroad, without permission from their superior. The harbour of this city is large, and well guarded from the walls, and it has two very fine moles, which enter the sea. On one of these moles there are fourteen windmills; and outside the town there are many houses, and very beautiful fruit gardens, and many citron, and lime, and lemon, and other fruit trees. The people of this city and island are Greeks, and most of them belong to the Greek church. The city is a great mart for merchandize, which comes from many countries; for no ships go to Alexandria, or Jerusalem, or Syria, without touching at this island; and the land of Turkey is so near that it can be clearly seen; and on the island there are other towns and castles, besides the city. On Friday, the 31st of August, the ambassadors hired a ship to carry them to the island of Chios, which was in possession, of a Genoese named Leonardo Gentil. They sailed from Rhodes; but the voyage from Rhodes to Chios is dangerous, as the land of Turkey is very close on the right hand; and there are many islands, both inhabited and desert, on the other side; so that it is dangerous to sail over this route, at night, or in bad weather. From Friday to Tuesday the wind was contrary, and they tacked up and down the whole time, unable to double a cape of the land of Turkey.