Thursday, 7 August 2014


FROM GAZA TO JERUSALEM. TRAVELS IN 1596

 
More from Fynes Moryson’s Itinerary Containing His Ten Yeeres Travell:

 We coasted the land of the Philistines, and first did plainly see the City of Gaza. On Friday we entered the Haven of Joppa [Jaffa] and [entreated the ruler] to give us leave to pass to Jerusalem.

The shore of the Philistines seemed to be a wild, narrow and sandy plain near the sea with mountains pleasant and fruitful towards the East upon Palestine. The City of Joppa had some ruins of walls standing, but not so much as any ruins of houses. [We encountered only] the exactors of tribute come out of two ruinous towers, and some ragged Arabians and Turks lying within certain caves.

We thought it better to stay on our ship, especially since the place afforded no entertainment for strangers. Our mariners brought us eggs and fruit, and we had with us wine and biscuits, which we hid, lest the Arabians or Turks should take them from us.

On Monday, [the ruler sent us a guide] and an interpreter, a Maronite Christian. They brought us asses to ride upon. The asses had panels instead of saddles, ropes for bridles, and ropes laid across the panels and knotted at the ends instead of stirrups.

In the port of Joppa we had bought apricots, but we were afraid of eating too much of such dainties. The intemperate eating whereof, we had read, has often killed Europeans.

In Ramma we were brought into a house, where pilgrims used to be lodged…but at this time more fit to lodge beasts than men…The rooms were full of dust, and we hardly got straw to lie upon.

Someone in the name of the ruler brought us a present of some flagons of a medicinal drink made of cooling herbs and sold in the taverns, as we sell wine.

[We hired a watchman] to protect us from wrong, who being a man of very great stature, was called Goliath, and he walked all night and sang or rather howled with his hoarse voice continually.

[We rode toward Jerusalem at dawn] and were warned to be silent lest we waken the Arabians, Turks, or thieves…who were likely to offer us violence or at least to extort some money from us. The Arabians are not unlike the wild Irish…and cannot be brought to due obedience, much less to abstain from robberies.

We were within two miles of Jerusalem when a spachi (or horseman under the great Turk’s pay) riding swiftly and crossing our way, suddenly turned toward us and with his spear …rushed upon us…By the grace of God his spear lighted in the panel of an ass and never hurt the Frenchman, his rider.

[When the guide asked the reason for his violence, the horseman said]: Why don’t these dogs get down on foot and honour me as I pass? …We presently tumbled from our asses and bent our bodies to him. And we did not act basely in doing so, but wisely, for woe be to the Christian who resists any Turk!

(The English spelling has been modernized. Map by Sebastian Munster, 1598: http://www.antiquemaps.com/uk/mzoom/29756.jpg)

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