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The first voyage or journey, made by Master Laurence Aldersey, Marchant of London, to the Cities of Jerusa lem, and Tripolis, &c. In the yeere 1581. Penned and set downe by himselfe.

I DEPARTED from London the first day of April, in the yeere of our Lord 1581, passing through the Nether-land and up the river Rhene by Colen, and other cities of Germanie. And upon Thursday, the thirde day of May, I came to Augusta , where I delivered the letter I had to Master Jenise, and Master Castler, whom I found very willing to pleasure me, in any thing that I could or would reasonably demaund. He first furnished me with a horse to Venice , for my money, and then tooke me with him a walking, to shew me the Citie, for that I had a day to tary there, for him that was to be my guide. He shewed me first the State-house, which is very faire, and beautifull: then he brought mee to the finest garden, and orchard, that ever I sawe in my life: for there was in it a place for Canarie birdes, as large as a faire Chamber, trimmed with wier both above and beneath, with fine little branches of trees, for them to sit in, which was full of those Canarie birdes. There was such an other for Turtle dooves: also there were two pigeon houses joyning to them, having in them store of Turtle dooves, and pigeons. In the same garden also were sixe or seven fishponds, all railed about, and full of very good fish. Also, seven or eight fine fountaines, or water springs, of divers fashions : as for fruite, there wanted none of all sorts, as Orenges, figges, raisons, wallnuts, grapes, besides apples, peares, fillbirds, small nuts, and such other fruite, as wee have in England.

Then did hee bring mee to the water tower of the same Citie that by a sleight and devise hath the water brought up as high, as any Church in the towne, and to tel you the strange devises of all, it passeth my capacitie. Then he brought me to another faire garden, called the Shooters hoose, where are buts for the long bowe, the crosse bowe, the stone bowe, the long peece, and for divers other exercises more.

After this, we walked about the walles of the Citie, where is a great, broade, and deepe ditch, upon one side of the towne, so full of fish, as ever I sawe any pond in my life, and it is reserved onely for the States of the Citie. And upon the other side of the Citie is also a deepe place all greene, wherein Deere are kept, and when it pleaseth the States to hunt for their pleasure, thither they resort, and have their courses with grayhounds, which are kept for that purpose.

The fift of May, I departed from Augusta towards Venice , and came thither upon Whitsunday, the thirteenth of the same moneth. It is needlesse to speake of the height of the mountaines that I passed over, and of the danger thereof, it is so wel knowen already to the world: the heigth of them is marveilous, and I was the space of sixe dayes in passing them.

I came to Venice at the time of a Faire, which lasted foureteene dayes, wherein I sawe very many, and faire shewes of wares. I came thither too short for the first passage, which went away from Venice about the seventh or eight of May, and with them about three score pilgrims, which shippe was cast away at a towne called Estria, two miles from Venice , and all the men in her, saving thirtie, or thereabout, lost.

Within eight dayes after fell Corpus Christi day, which was a day amongst them of procession, in which was shewed the plate and treasure of Venice , which is esteemed to be worth two millions of pounds, but I do not accompt it woorth halfe a quarter of that money, except there be more than I sawe. To speake of the sumptuousnesse of the Copes and Vestments of the Church, I leave, but the trueth is, they bee very sumptuous, many of them set all over with pearle, and made of cloth of golde. And for the Jesuits, I thinke there be as many at Venice , as there be in Colen.

The number of Jewes is there thought to be 1000, who dwell in a certaine place of the Citie, and have also a place, to which they resort to pray, which is called the Jewes Sinagogue. They all, and their offspring use to weare red caps, (for so they are commaunded) because they may thereby be knowen from other men. For my further knowledge of these people, I went into their Sinagogue upon a Saturday, which is their Sabbath day: and I found them in their service or prayers, very devoute: they receive the five bookes of Moses, and honour them by carrying them about their Church, as the Papists doe their crosse.

Their Synagogue is in forme round, and the people sit round about it, and in the midst, there is a place for him that readeth to the rest : as for their apparell, all of them weare a large white lawne over their garments, which reacheth from their head, downe to the ground.

The Psalmes they sing as wee doe, having no image, nor using any maner of idolatrie: their error is, that they beleeve not in Christ, nor yet receive the New Testament. This Citie of Venice is very faire, and greatly to bee commended, wherein is good order for all things: and also it is very strong and populous: it standeth upon the maine Sea, and hath many Islands about it, that belong to it.

To tell you of the duke of Venice , and of the Seigniory: there is one chosen that ever beareth the name of a duke, but in trueth hee is but servant to the Seigniorie, for of himselfe hee can doe litle: it is no otherwise with him, then with a Priest that is at Masse upon a festival day, which putting on his golden garment, seemeth to be a great man, but if any man come unto him, and crave some friendship at his handes, hee will say, you must goe to the Masters of the Parish, for I can not pleasure you, otherwise then by preferring of your suite: and so it is with the duke of Venice , if any man having a suite, come to him, and make his complaint, and deliver his supplication, it is not in him to helpe him, but hee will tell him, You must come this day, or that day, and then I will preferre your suite to the Seigniorie, and doe you the best friendship that I may. Furthermore, if any man bring a letter unto him, hee may not open it, but in the presence of the Seigniorie, and they are to see it first, which being read, perhaps they will deliver it to him, perhaps not. Of the Seigniory there be about three hundreth, and about fourtie of the privie Counsell of Venice, who usually are arayed in gownes of crimsen Satten, or crimsen Damaske, when they sit in Counsell.

In the Citie of Venice, no man may weare a weapon, except he be a souldier for the Seigniorie, or a scholler of Padua , or a gentleman of great countenance, and yet he may not do that without licence.

As for the women of Venice , they be rather monsters, then women. Every Shoomakers or Taylors wife will have a gowne of silke, and one to carie up her traine, wearing their shooes very neere halfe a yard high from the ground: if a stranger meete one of them, he will surely thinke by the state that she goeth with, that he meeteth a Lady.

I departed from this Citie of Venice, upon Midsommer day, being the foure and twentieth of June, and thinking that the ship would the next day depart, I stayed, and lay a shippeboord all night, and we were made beleeve from time to time, that we should this day, and that day depart, but we taried still, till the fourteenth of July, and then with scant winde wee set sayle, and sayled that day and that night, not above fiftie Italian miles: and upon the sixteene day at night, the winde turned flat contrary, so that the Master knewe not what to doe: and about the fift houre of the night, which we reckon to be about one of the clocke after midnight, the Pilot descried a saile, and at last perceived it to be a Gallie of the Turkes, whereupon we were in great feare.

The Master being a wise fellowe, and a good sayler, beganne to devise howe to escape the danger, and to loose litle of our way: and while both he, and all of us were in our dumps, God sent us a merry gale of winde, that we ranne threescore and tenne leagues before it was twelve a clocke the next day, and in sixe dayes after we were seven leagues past Zante . And upon Munday morning, being the three and twentie of the same moneth, we came in the sight of Candia which day the winde came contrary, with great blasts, and stormes, untill the eight and twentie of the same moneth: in which time, the Mariners cried out upon me, because I was an English man, & sayd, I was no good Christian, and wished that I were in the middest of the Sea, saying, that they, and the shippe, were the worse for me. I answered, truely it may well be, for I thinke my selfe the worst creature in the worlde, and consider you your selves also, as I doe my selfe, and then use your discretion. The Frier preached, and the sermon being done, I was demaunded whether I did understand him: I answered, yea, and tolde the Frier himselfe, thus you saide in your sermon, that we were not all good Christians, or else it were not possible for us to have such weather: to which I answered, be you well assured, that we are not indeede all good Christians, for there are in the ship some that hold very unchristian opinions: so for that time I satisfied him, although (they said) that I would not see, when they said the procession, and honoured their images, and prayed to our Lady, and S. Marke.

There was also a Gentleman, an Italian, which was a passenger in the ship, and he tolde me what they said of me, because I would not sing, Salve Regina, and Ave Maria, as they did: I told them, that they that praied to so many, or sought helpe of any other, then of God the Father, or of Jesus Christ his onely sonne, goe a wrong way to worke, and robbed God of his honour, and wrought their owne destructions.

All this was told the Friers, but I heard nothing of it in three daies after: and then at evening prayer, they sent the purser about with the image of our Lady to every one to kisse, & I perceiving it went another way from him, and would not see it: yet at last he fetched his course about, so that he came to me, & offered it to me as he did to others, but I refused it: whereupon there was a great stirre: the patron and all the friers were told of it, and every one saide I was a Lutheran, and so called me: but two of the friers that were of greatest authoritie, seemed to beare mee better good will then the rest, and travelled to the patron in my behalfe, and made all well againe.

The second day of August we arrived in Cyprus , at a towne called Missagh: the people there be very rude, and like beasts, and no better, they eat their meat sitting upon the ground, with their legges a crosse like tailors, their beds for the most part be hard stones, but yet some of them have faire mattraces to lie upon.

Upon thursday the eight of August we came to Joppa in a small barke, which we hired betwixt Missagh and Salina , and could not be suffered to come on land till noone the next day, and then we were permitted by the great Basha, who sate upon the top of a hill to see us sent away. Being come on land, we might not enter into any house for victuals, but were to content our selves with our owne provision, and that which we bought to carie with us was taken from us. I had a paire of stirrops, which I bought at Venice to serve me in my journey, and trying to make them fit for me, when the Basha saw me up before the rest of the companie, he sent one to dismount me, and to strike me, whereupon I turned me to the Basha, and made a long legge, saying, Grand mercie Signior: and after a while we were horsed upon litle asses, and sent away, with about fiftie light horsemen to be our conduct through the wildernesse, called Deserta foelix, who made us good sport by the way with their pikes, gunnes, and fauchins.

That day being S. Laurence day, we came to Rama, which is tenne Italian miles from Joppa , and there we stayed that night, and payed to the captaine of the castell every man a chekin, which is seven shillings and two pence sterling. So then we had a new gard of souldiers, and left the other.

The house we lodged in at Rama had a doore so low to enter into, that I was faine to creepe in, as it were upon my knees, & within it are three roomes to lodge travellers that come that way: there are no beds, except a man buy a mat, and lay it on the ground, that is all the provision, without stooles or benches to sit upon. Our victuals were brought us out of the towne, as hennes, egges, bread, great store of fruite, as pomgranates, figges, grapes, oringes, and such like, and drinke we drue out of the well. The towne it selfe is so ruinated, that I take it rather to be a heape of stones then a towne.

Then the next morning we thought to have gone away, but we could not be permitted that day, so we stayed there till two of the clocke the next morning, and then with a fresh gard of souldiers we departed toward Jerusalem. We had not ridde five English miles, but we were incountred with a great number of the Arabians, who stayed us, and would not suffer us to passe till they had somewhat, so it cost us for all our gard above twentie shillings a man betwixt Joppa and Jerusalem. These Arabians troubled us oftentimes. Our Truchman that payed the money for us was striken downe, and had his head broken because he would not give them as much as they asked: and they that should have rescued both him and us, stood still, and durst doe nothing, which was to our cost.

Being come within sight of Jerusalem, the maner is to kneele downe, and give God thankes, that it hath pleased him to bring us to that holy place where he himselfe had beene: and there we leave our horses, and go on foote to the towne, and being come to the gates, there they tooke our names, and our fathers names, and so we were permitted to go to our lodgings.

The governor of the house met us a mile out of the towne, and very curteously bade us all welcome, and brought us to the monasterie. The gates of the citie are all covered with yron, the entrance into the house of the Christians is a very low & narrow doore, barred or plated with yron, and then come we into a very darke entry: the place is a monastery: there we lay, & dieted of free cost, we fared reasonable well, the bread and wine was excellent good, the chambers cleane, & all the meat well served in, with cleane linnen.

We lay at the monasterie two dayes, friday and saturday, and then we went to Bethlem with two or three of the friers of the house with us: in the way thither we saw many monuments, as:

The mountaine where the Angell tooke up Abacuck by the haire, and brought him to Daniel in the Lions denne.

The fountaine of the prophet Jeremie.

The place where the wise men met that went to Bethlem to worship Christ, where is a fountaine of stone.

Being come to Bethlem we sawe the place where Christ was borne, which is now a chappell with two altars, whereupon they say masse: the place is built with gray marble, and hath bene beautifull, but now it is partly decayed.

Neere thereto is the sepulchre of the innocents slaine by Herod, the sepulchres of Paul, of Jerome, and of Eusebius.

Also a litle from this monasterie is a place under the ground, where the virgine Mary abode with Christ when Herod sought him to destroy him.

We stayed at Bethlem that night, and the next day we went from thence to the mountaines of Judea , which are about eight miles from Jerusalem, where are the ruines of an olde monasterie. In the mid way from the monasterie to Jerusalem is the place where John Baptist was borne, being now an olde monasterie, and cattell kept in it. Also a mile from Jerusalem is a place called Inventio sanctae crucis, where the wood was found that made the crosse.

In the citie of Jerusalem we saw the hall where Pilate sate in judgement when Christ was condemned, the staires whereof are at Rome, as they told us. A litle from thence is the house where the virgin Mary was borne.

There is also the piscina or fishpoole where the sicke folkes were healed, which is by the wals of Jerusalem. But the poole is now dry.

The mount of Calvaria is a great church, and within the doore therof, which is litle, and barred with yron, and five great holes in it to looke in, like the holes of taverne doores in London, they sit that are appointed to receive our money with a carpet under them upon a banke of stone, & their legs a crosse like tailors: having paid our money, we are permitted to go into the church : right against the church doore is the grave where Christ was buried, with a great long stone of white marble over it, and rayled about, the outside of the sepulchre is very foule, by meanes that every man scrapes his name and marke upon it, and is ill kept.

Within the sepulchre is a partition, & in the further part thereof is a place like an altar, where they say masse, and at the doore thereof is the stone whereupon the Angell sate when he sayde to Marie, He is risen, which stone was also rowled to the doore of the sepulchre.

The altar stone within the sepulchre is of white marble, the place able to conteine but foure persons, right over the sepulchre is a devise or lanterne for light, and over that a great louer, such as are in England in ancient houses. There is also the chappell of the sepulchre, and in the mids thereof is a canopie as it were of a bed, with a great sort of Estridge egges hanging at it, with tassels of silke and lampes.

Behinde the sepulchre is a litle chappell for the Chaldeans and Syrians.

Upon the right hand comming into the church is the tombe of Baldwine king of France, and of his sonne: and in the same place the tombe of Melchisedech.

There is a chappell also in the same church erected to S. Helen, through which we go up to the place where Christ was crucified : the stayres are fiftie steps high, there are two altars in it: before the high altar is the place where the crosse stood, the hole whereof is trimmed about with silver, and the depth of it is halfe a mans arme deepe: the rent also of the mountaine is there to be seene in the crevis, wherein a man may put his arme.

Upon the other side of the mount of Calvarie is the place where Abraham would have sacrificed his sonne. Where also is a chapell, and the place paved with stones of divers colours.

There is also the house of Annas the high Priest, and the Olive tree whereunto Christ was bound when he was whipt. Also the house of Caiphas , and by it the prison where Christ was kept, which is but the roome of one man, and hath no light but the opening of the doore.

Without Jerusalem in the vally of Josaphat is a church under the ground, like to the shrouds in Pauls, where the sepulchre of the virgin Mary is: the staires be very broad, and upon the staires going downe are two sepulchres: upon the left hand lieth Josaphat, and upon the right hand lieth Joachim and Anna, the father and mother of the virgin Mary.

Going out of the valley of Josaphat we came to mount Olivet , where Christ praied unto his father before his death: and there is to be seene (as they tolde me) the water & blood that fell from the eyes of Christ. A litle higher upon the same mount is the place where the Apostles slept, and watched not. At the foot of the mount is the place where Christ was imprisoned.

Upon the mountaine also is the place where Christ stood when he wept over Jerusalem, and where he ascended into heaven.

Now having seene all these monuments, I with my company set from Jerusalem, the 20 day of August, and came againe to Joppa the 22 of the same moneth, where wee tooke shipping presently for Tripolis, and in foure dayes we came to Mecina the place where the ships lie that come for Tripolis.

The citie of Tripolis is a mile and a halfe within the land, so that no ship can come further then Mecina: so that night I came thither, where I lay nine daies for passage, and at last we imbarked our selves in a good ship of Venice called the new Nave Ragasona. We entred the ship the second of September, the fourth we set saile, the seventh we came to Salina , which is 140 miles from Tripolis: there we stayed foure dayes to take in more lading, in which meane time I fell sicke of an ague, but recovered againe, I praise God.

Salina is a ruinated citie, and was destroyed by the Turke ten yeeres past: there are in it now but seventeene persons, women and children. A litle from this citie of Salina is a salt piece of ground, where the water groweth salt that raineth upon it.

Thursday the 21 of September, we came to Missagh, & there we stayed eight dayes for our lading: the 18 of September before we came to Missagh, and within ten miles of the towne, as we lay at an anker, because the winde was contrary, there came a great boat full of men to boord us, they made an excuse to seeke for foure men which (they said) our ship had taken from theirs about Tripolis, but our captaine would not suffer any of them to come in to us.

The next morning they came to us againe with a great gaily, manned with 500 men at ye least, whereupon our captaine sent the boat to them with twelve men to know their pleasure: they said they sought for 4 men, and therfore would talke with our maister: so then the maisters mate was sent them, and him they kept, and went their way: the next morning they came againe with him, & with three other gallies, and then would needes speake with our captaine, who went to them in a gowne of crimson damaske, and other very brave apparell, and five or sixe other gentlemen richly apparelled also. They having the Turks safe conduct, shewed it to the captaine of the gallies, and laid it upon his head, charging him to obey it: so with much adoe, and with the gift of 100 pieces of golde we were quit of them, and had our man againe.

That day as aforesaid, we came to Missagh, and there stayed eight dayes, and at last departed towards Candie, with a scant winde.

The 11 day of October we were boorded with foure gallies, manned with 1200 men, which also made a sleevelesse arrant, and troubled us very much, but our captaines pasport, and the gift of 100 chekins discharged all.

The 27 of October we passed by Zante with a merrie winde, the 29 by Corfu , and the third of November we arrived at Istria , and there we left our great ship, and tooke small boates to bring us to Venice .

The 9 of November I arrived again at Venice in good health, where I staied nine daies, and the 25 of the same moneth I came to Augusta , and staied there but one day.

The 27 of November I set towards Nuremberg where I came the 29, and there staied till the 9 of December, and was very well interteined of the English marchants there: and the governors of the towne sent me and my company sixteene gallons of excellent good wine.

From thence I went to Frankford , from Frankford to Collen, from Collen to Arnam, from Arnam to Utreight, from Utreight to Dort , from Dort to Antwerpe, from Antwerpe to Flushing, from Flushing to London, where I arrived upon Twelfe eve in safetie, and gave thanks to God, having finished my journey to Jerusalem and home againe, in the space of nine moneths and five dayes.

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1581 AD (2)
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