Author: evidence119

Historian, Writer, Researcher.

Eclipses that changed history, My magazine articles for Astronomy Ireland.

Eclipses that changed history
The battle of the Halys river: an eclipse brings
warring people to peace.
Sometimes ancient people could interpret positive things out of what were for them unexplained phenomena. According to the famed Greek historian Herodutus, around the late 7th to early 6th century BC a band of Scythian nomads had ended up as mercenaries in the court of the Median King Cyaxeres, who had just conquered modern day Iraq. Seeing them as potential trainers for his army of horse-archers, he used the Scythians to train some of his youths in the use of the horse and bow. The Scythians also employed themselves in hunting and bringing home game to the King. But they were unsuccessful one day. Cyaxeres, who was as short-tempered as he was angry insulted them, upbraiding them for their failure. The Scythians in turn fumed over this. As a form of revenge, they decided to chop up one of the Median youths they were training, and served him to the King as game. The King, none the wiser, proceeded to eat the flesh of one of his own men.
The Scythians fled to Alyattes, the King of Lydia in modern day Turkey, who took them in and refused to hand them over to a vengeful Cyaxeres who had realised what happened. The Median King, ever the hot-head, responded by going to war with the Lydians for the next five years. The two sides inflicted and suffered many defeats on one another, though the fighting seems to have been indecisive. In the sixth year, the two nations armies met again at the river Halys, though by now neither side was that pushed about the war since it was evident the whole thing had stalemated.
As the battle got going, suddenly the day went dark and the sun was covered in an apparent Solar eclipse. The Medians and Lydians, seeing this, were both anxious to make peace, presumably worrying about divine intervention.
Peace was made in the standard traditional way with the Kings forming a marriage alliance and by cutting their respective arms and sucking each other’s blood.
Herodotus tells us that a Greek, Thales the Milesian had predicted the Eclipse. Thales was also among the first philosophers to discuss the possibility of non-mythological causes for natural phenomena – in other words, he helped underpin the development of scientific method.
This is very significant because this is one of the first accounts of a solar eclipse being predicted in advance, though the precise methods which Thales used are unknown. It is possible he borrowed his methods from the Chaldeans or Babylonians, and probably only knew the year, not the exact date it would fall on, partly because of issues with trying to sync it with the Greek calendar. There is some dispute over the exact solar eclipse Herodotus was referring to. Many historians and scientists have suggested that this was the solar eclipses of 21 September 581 or 16 March 581, or was possibly even a lunar eclipse, though 28 May 585 BC seems to be the most precise time.
Ultimately, Alyattes died and was replaced by his son, Croesus, who soon went to war with the Persian Empire who had replaced the Medes.
This time, Thales the Milesian accompanied Croesus on his campaign to the Halys river, and even helped his army cross it. But he could not help Croesus being defeated when Cyrus the Persian leader took him by surprise next spring. He barely avoided being burnt alive, saying to the sympathetic Persian leader:
‘In peace, Sons bury their Fathers, in war Fathers bury their Sons’.
It was up to subsequent generations to relearn this lesson over and over.
Eclipse 2: Lawrence of Arabia
We all know Lawrence of Arabia from David Lean’s famous 1962 film. A famed historical figure, Lawrence helped organise the rebellion of some of the Arab tribes against the Ottoman Empire during World War 1. And one such lunar eclipse played a role in the decisive campaign by Lawrence of Arabia around Aqaba, in July 1917.
Lawrence had just helped organise an epic 180-mile trek across the Nefud desert. After this, he had linked up with the feared Auda ibu Tayi, leader of the Howeitat clan, who as legend had it had been married 28 times, wounded thirteen times, slain 75 men with his own hand and did not even bother counting Turks.
Then they set off to attack Aqaba from the landward side. They had had to balance off countless blood feuds of their own troops, bribe local tribes to avoid being harassed, and fight a major battle at the end of this.
They ambushed a Turkish resupply column in a major battle at Abu al Lasan nearby, then marched on to Aqaba, which would cut off the Turks supply lines to Medina and enable them to bring in crucial weapons supplies. But on the way they came across a Turkish military post at a place called Kethira. This post commanded the entire valley nearby – it was a strong place which would be very costly in men to take, but they had to pass through it to get to Aqaba. Lawrence’s troops were low on supplies, and this comes through in his personal account of the events, Seven Pillars of wisdom. Worse, there was a full moon for the next few nights. Convincing the booty-obsessed fractious nomadic Bedouin to fight for any unified purpose for any length of time was always difficult. Getting them to assault a heavily fortified position in the middle of a bright full moon which would make them visible was nigh on impossible. Yet Lawrence noted something in his diary. A total Lunar eclipse was due on the 4th-5th of July 1917. This was a partial ‘Reddened’ eclipse, or ‘Bloodred’ moon.
The Turks were superstitiously banging on pots and firing into the air to ‘Rescue the threatened satellite’ according to Lawrence. Sure enough, Auda’s men overran the encampment without any losses.
The town of Aqaba fell a few days later to much fanfare. He crossed the Sinai desert all the way to Cairo and showed up in British military headquarters, causing a sensation. Lawrence helped the British and Arabs drive the Ottomans out of the rest of the levant by the end of the war.
So why did the Turks react this way, even in the 20th century? Ottoman astronomy had fallen behind its European counterpart centuries before this and had mostly stagnated, though knowledge of Occidental science was slowly spreading. However astrology was alive and well in the empire. The (frequently snobby) European travellers accounts often reported that the Turks could be quite superstitious, with some even believing that eclipses of the moon were caused by a ‘great dragon’ in the Earth’s crust. This was probably the feared Jawzahr of Middle Eastern legend which periodically swallowed the sun or moon much like its Chinese counterpart. It also required prompt banging on drums and pots to scare away. Bearing in mind the psychological state of the isolated Ottoman garrison after a costly defeat by the Arabs this seems the most likely explanation. So superstition had cost yet another people another battle.
Lawrence’s role in the capture of Aqaba is probably seriously exaggerated, and the Eclipse story must be understood in the context of a greater series of embellished facts which grew up around him as the decades went on. Lawrence wanted the western powers to honour their agreements with the Arab people and respect their territorial boundaries, but he was ignored, eventually dying in a motorcycle accident in May 1935. Future generations are sorry he was not listened to.

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Isis and Myths of History: did the Caliphate solve poverty? My new post on the Quillium foundation blog.

One of the myths which underpins ISIS is that it is a replica of the historical Caliphate. That is, it harkens back to the rightly guided Caliphs (successors to the Prophet) in the middle of the 7th century CE and onwards through the Umayyads, Abbassids and the Ottoman Empire till 1921 depending how one defines it.

The new ‘Caliphate’ is vastly different in structure, technology, economics and many other things from its supposed inspiration. But these historical distortions help underpin the myth of a political system which can solve all of mankind’s problems. This helps justify the destruction and death inflicted on all others in Iraq and elsewhere or radicalisation of Muslims here in Britain. This is similar to many European nationalist movements, like the only vaguely historical Nazi vision of an ‘Aryan’ past. So each historical myth about the Caliphate needs to be examined, and if necessary, buried, much like many nationalist’s foundational myths have been.

This includes the ‘No poverty’ argument which is touted by Islamists like Hizb-ut-Tahrir and by many speakers here in the UK in endless debates, lectures, and in the odd Journal.

The story goes like this: During the Rule of the rightly guided Caliph Umar Ibn al Khattab (Umar I, Ruled 634-644 CE) and again under Umar ‘Abd Al Aziz (Umar II, ruled 717-720 CE) poverty was eliminated, and the people lived at a time of total freedom from hunger and want. Because the people degenerated away from the true message of Islam (which is conveniently left vague) the state of the Caliphate declined, leading to domination in the 19th-21st centuries by European capitalists.

Virtually all Premodern societies had a very large percentage of poor people, whatever their exact structure. So if the Caliphate had ‘no’ poverty it would be a massive anomaly. The evidence itself is largely circumstantial. Islamists have relied on narrations by historical Islamic scholars of letters or historical works. These sources talk about local governors or/and tax collectors in Africa, Iraq, or Yemen stating that they did not need to collect Zakat (Islamic alms/charity) as there were no eligible Zakat recipients left, or they could not find poor people.

The narrations are usually written hundreds of years after the events described, and dependent on doubtful oral sources. There was no ‘UN of the medieval period’, taking down in-depth, objective, representative statistics or archaeology which contextualises or unquestionably proves that want was eliminated. And most of the surviving history was written (hence biased) by the wealthiest people.

Looking at Umar Ibn Al Khattab’s reign, it was hit by the plague and ensuing famine of Amwas in 939. It is said by the Muslim historians Tabari and Waqidi to have killed as many as 25,000 people. As a general rule, societies which have famines have at least some poverty, like Ireland (1846-51), Ethiopia (1983-1985), and Somalia (2011). He also made laws which took account of the poor’s existence, so poverty did exist in his time.

Umar II’s reign was a time of budgetary retrenchment. It seems likely they were looking for excuses to cut spending like Zakat and this could be little more than standard court propaganda to cover that fact. Moreso, Tabari states that during Umar II’s reign the ‘Poor of Basra’ definitely did exist. Even if Umar II managed to briefly solve this issue, his reign lasted only 2 years and the problem almost certainly came back not long afterwards. So whatever progress was made towards dealing with poverty in either ruler’s short reigns was ephemeral. This is not to state we should ignore their attempt to do so – it was an honourable and decent try at solving a basic human need.

The Caliphate saw many other famines, for instance in 641, 674-78, 686/7, 740s, 790, 960, 969-76, 1642, and 1676. According to the modern historian Muhammad Ahsan, locusts were eaten by the poor of Baghdad in times of hardship, and Bedouins ate ‘anything that runs except the reptiles.’ Even Umar II’s reign may have suffered at least some famine, according to later sources. Whatever their rulers intentions and efforts, whatever the laws or sources stated, in reality the ‘model’ of the Caliphate was not able to eradicate poverty in its entirety or hunger any more so than any other medieval system.

Looking at the available evidence, it must be concluded that the ‘Poverty solved’ idea is either unprovable or implausible.

None of this is to rob Muslims of the Legacy of the Caliphate. They are heirs to an amazing tradition of science, learning and culture. But it is not a model for now. The majority of the Caliphate’s denizens were Peasants, Pastoral steppe nomads (Bedouin) or Slaves living in utterly different circumstances to most people today.

When we look to ISIS/Daesh right now, we see a dramatic drop in the standard of living for most of its denizens, including most Sunnis. ISIS is (at least theoretically) working on a model which is so far removed from the modern world economically, politically, technologically and so on that it can only end – as we are seeing now – in disaster.

Translations of the apocalypse: some original sources for the fall of Vijayanagara, 1565

Translations of the apocalypse:

Some original sources for the fall of Vijayanagara, 1565 (still under construction!)
Vijayanagara was a premodern South Asian civilisation which was around from the 1330s, petering out in the 1600s. It thrived, producing some of the greatest monumental temples in South India, and has been seen, rightly or wrongly, as the last Hindu bulwark against the expansion of Turko-Muslim states into India. In 1565, a Vijayanagara army led by their King Rama Raja fought with an alliance of southern Indian Muslim sultans, including Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, and Golconda. Rama Raja was ultimately beheaded, and the army was destroyed. Vijayanagara was sacked, and the great city became an abandoned ‘wood of tigers’, and has only now been re-examined by archaeologists.
Below are a series of translations of historians who covered this fateful battle. This includes some historians who have already been translated (Fredericks), some who have to be retranslated because the original translation into English was not so satisfactory (Firishta) and sources which have never been translated before to my knowledge (Shirazi.) Brenda O’Loinsigh provided a rendering of the Portuguese.
This page is under construction, and I intend to edit and write up this section, and put in more translations/sources as they become available, so watch this space!

Translations of original sources for the battle of Talikota:
Please note that these translations have not been edited, and the Portuguese ones are not especially accurate. As well as this, we have a problem in that these come from different languages and very different source traditions and writing styles, while the exact rendering of places, people, animals and things can vary from text to text.
Please find the following sources included:
Shirazi
Firishtah (re-translated.)
Antonio Rubino (Jesuit missionary in the later Vijayanagara king of Penukonda’s court. )
Diogo De Couto.
Cesar Fredericks

Shirazi: Please note that Shirazi, like Firisteh, was a court chronicler who was almost certainly at the battle or in Vijayanagara shortly thereafter.
… and when the emirs and high officials of the government heard that both princes have arrived, they, too, got prepared [and left their] their houses and appeared at the field. Some of the emirs and high officials of the government, most of whom were foreigners, reached for Miran Shah Hussein and stood there. The Other emirs, who saw this situation, were wondering in fear. Some went to Miran Abd al-Qadir and said ‘why have you left the castle on it its own, losing all the ammunition of the kingdom? Standing here is of no use. If you wait here for longer, Miran Shah Hussein, with the army you can see, will attack and arrest you. Even if they do not take your life, they will injure you. When Miran Abd al-Qadir realized that Qasim beik has betrayed him, he went out of the castle. Meanwhile, Qasim Beik, with his huge army arrived and saluted Miran shah Hussein and prostrated. Until this moment, Miran Abd al-Qadir was still hopeful that Qasim Beik would join him with his army. But he [Miran Abd al-Qadir] saw that, on the contrary, he [Qasim Beik] saluted Miran Shah Hussein and stood in his service,
Do not underestimate the sovereign, who is both an army-man and prosperous
Miran Abd al-Qadir bit his hand [in distress or regret] and turned away to leave. And when the majority of the emirs wanted to follow him, Qasim beik stopped them and said ‘there is no need, as you won the kingdom with no war, nor chaos or riot and captured the castle. Now why do you want to fight? Let the enemy go wherever they want.’
One can kill one to a hundred men by a sword, but with wisdom, one can break the shoulder of [or win] an army
When Miran Shah Hussein saw the enemy leaving in distress, he thanked the Qarashomeh (Qarasomeh?) for their help, entered the castle victoriously and triumphantly and ascended the throne.
He was unaware of how God had nurtured him by his side
[He was unaware of] what treasures would be added to his properties and what lucks he would gain
When fortune and luck came together, they took Miran Shah Hussein to high positions. He was just and worked hard for the army and the poor and day by day, the reputation of his justice would spread around the world and brought the masters of wisdom and sagacity, the scientists and the learned and the righteous and the virtuous and the poets and the meritorious to take shelter at his doorway and benefit from all kinds of attentions. And in this house of prosperity (his court) they all gathered in such a group that cannot be described.
And because of the fight between Burhan Nizam al-Mulk and Rafi’ Adl Khan over the kingship, after the death of Jahan Panah’s father, Bamdad Ramarj invaded the lands of Nizam Shah twice to take revenge, as I wrote earlier. The second time, Nizam al-Mulk establish an alliance with Qutb al-Malik and married his daughter to him and strengthened their relationship as father and son-in-law. He, also won the aid and friendship of Imad al-Mulk, and then the three of them invaded the lands of Jahan Panah together. When Jahan Panah learned about the alliance of the three of them, he sent someone to fetch Ramaraj. Ramaraj went to help Jahan Panah by all means and they embarked on war. For some time, the two armies fought and every day a battle took place. Ram Raj tried to negotiate with Nizam al-Mulk and planned to initiate peace between the two sides, because he also saw his own benefit in peace. When Jahan Panah learned about his initiative, he thought with himself that his toleration with the enemy will cost his reputation; he had to start the war and had to invade them with no considerations, relying on God to defeat the enemy. When the following day he set off for the battle, he invaded the heart of Nizam Shah’s army with no considerations. Therefore, the fire of devilry was ignited and led into excessive killings and controversy. So, Nizam Shah thought that Ram Raj’s toleration was a trick. He preferred to escape and Jahan Panah himself chased him and killed a lot of his soldiers. His warfare (?) and horses were taken by the army of Jahan Shah. When Nizam Shah saw himself surrendered, he went to hide with a few of his soldiers to a corner and left all his royal signs – such as the green flag and the tent (?) and the shade and the fish and the (?) – and escaped. And all the royal belongings came into the ownership of Jahan Panah. Jahan Panah’s royal sign ,which has always been yellow, was donated to one of his special officials. The green flag and the tent (?) and shade were the gifts of Sultan Bahadur Shah Gojararti to Nizam Shah and Nizam Shah had owned them with glorification and pride. Jahan Panah, who had obtained them due to his bravery and endeavours in war, chose them as his own sign. Until today, the year one thousand and seventeen of Hijra the sign has remained the same. Nizam Shah, too, kept his green sign but he added some red to the margins to make it different [from that of Jahan Panah] in courts and it has remained the same to this date. Because Nizam Shah was defeated in every battle and lost all the warfare and elephants and horses he decided to defeat Ram Raj following the will of Jahan Panah Ali Adil Shah. Therefore, Nizam Shah found his benefit in alliance, friendship, and agreement with Jahan Panah, to collaborate with him and remove Ram Raj from the Islamic world. [he thought] when Jahan Panah is left alone, it will be easy to defeat him.
 We try and others try and our fate depends on the sky [God]
In the end, defeating the infidels [Ram Raj] was made possible at the time of Jahan Panah and most of Ram Raj’s royal belongings and his lands were possessed by Jahan Panah. For defeating Ram Raj, qutb al-Malik and Nizam Shah had agreed with each other on peace with Jahan Panah. In order to raise trust, they offered their children and amirs and appropriate gifts and the key to the castle of Sandlapur (?) – Known as castle of Shu lapur (?) today – to Nizam Shah. Also Nizam Shah agreed to marry his daughter, Chand bibi Sultan, to Jahan Panah, and Jahan Panah’s sister, who was named Bibi Amineh Sultan, to his own son, Nizam Shah. For celebrating this marriage, Nizam Shah’s men (suppliers) decorated the Allah pur lake so meticulously that no one had heard of such a celebration since the time of Adam. It was simply competing with heaven. Every day, loads of musk and amber and Saffron were used. They diffused various perfumes under the feet of dancers and musicians and speakers. And the good looking musicians had decorated themselves in a manner that one would think they were made of jewelleries and gems. They attended the reception with fine golden clothes and lots of accessories. More than one thousand guests attended the celebration. They lit the Banquet all day and night by taking turns to dance and sing and play music with coquettish and seducing gestures. The sound of their pleasure and wine drinking reached the sky (?). The floor of the hall was covered with ground amber. Every day one of the amirs was in charge of the celebration and the amirs competed with each other day by day, by adding to the formalities and joys and donations of the celebration. If one wants to describe all the formalities of this banquet, one has to write books, so we shall be brief. In a nutshell, the celebration was held for about three lunar months and people were enjoying themselves. Meanwhile the news was spread that Ram Raj had sent a huge army of soldiers from Bijangar to the borders and had started destroying their territories.
Thus, Kings of Islam united to defeat the enemies and prepared their army by the river Kishnah (or Kushnah) which is a famous ancient river. The river was between the army of Islam and the enemies. They arranged the armies and set off. But none of the armies could enter each other’s lands. When they finished celebrating, they sent girls to each other’s tents and after affection and caresses and joy and satisfaction, they achieved what they wanted and the Sultans got ready for the war. The three kings met near the city of Bijapur and renewed the treaty and embarked on defeating the enemies. When they arrived at the banks of the Kishnah, they crossed the agreed border and went up for two milestones where the river was more shallow and overnight, crossed the river there with their supplies. The next day, they approached the enemies’ camp and because the enemy was unaware of this matter (their approaching their camp), when they suddenly saw the army of Islam that were moving towards them in arranged masses did not find the time to get organized. So the army of Islam invaded them fearlessly and ignited the fire of war. The infidels, too, started to fight and the chaos reached the highest sky.
 Even if you are a lion, you should fear the lion killers, don’t try to be brave to those who are brave
 Although a fawn is brave, he had better run away from the male lion
When the infidels showed courage in the battle and defeated the left wing of the army of Islam and dispersed them, Nizam Shah learned about this and sent one of the amirs to the army of Qutb Shah and asked them to join him. And together with that army, he raided the heart of the army of the infidels and tried to save his position and fought like a man and put a lot of effort. When Nizam Shah saw that the infidels are fighting with bravery and they are about to do them some harm, he appointed a khoja Sara with a bare sword for each of the one hundred members of his Haram on horses, to avoid allowing the enemy to kill his haram. He ordered his soldiers to build a vestibule and a fireplace (?) which they call ‘Ran Nahasb’ (?) and this by this act they announced that we will either defend our position or die. When Ram Raj saw this, he persuaded the Turks to be strong and encouraged his army to fight. Jahan Panah, from the right, had confronted his brother (Ramraj’s) Iltamraj (?). A big battle started and Iltamraj could not resist and had to move towards Ram Raj. Jahan Panah followed him until he reached Ram Raj. When Ram Raj heard the battle behind him he looked back and saw that Jahan Panah had defeated his army and was moving towards him. He [Ram Raj] was surrendered to the point that nobody could move, not even on foot. His only chance was to fight and was ready to die and shook the battle.
 In the time of hardship when there is no other choice, he takes a sharp sword in his hands
In the end, Ram Raj found out that he was stuck and would get killed. And from the front, the army of Nizam Shah and Qutb Shah, and from behind, the army of Jahan Panah were approaching him and on the left and right were his own supplies and there was no way to scape. He ordered his soldiers around to fight. And when Nizam Shah learned the news of Jahan Panah defeating the infidels, he was astonished. Meanwhile, Rumikhan (Dumikhan?), the sheriff of the artillery came to him. He [Nizam Shah] asked where the artillery was and was told that they were arriving and that two large canons were ready. He asked him [Dumikhan] to fill the canons and fire them. When they fired the canons, the army of infidels were all killed. Rumikhan got on his elephant and invaded the army of the enemy with the canons and soldiers. Nobody could confront him until he reached a place where a mass of people had gathered. When he led the elephant into the mass, they all dispersed. And the tooth of the elephant injured Ram Raj who was among that group and he fell on the ground. The people around Ram Raj scattered except for Dilpit Rad (?) who was the headman of Ram Raj. He dropped himself on him and shouted “this man is one of the leaders”. Then Rumikhan realised that this was Ram Raj, so he took him on the elephant and brought him to Nizam Shah. Nizam Shah went to the vestibule and asked to see Ram Raj and sat him beside himself and asked how he felt. He did not answer. But he pointed to his head meaning that this is my fate. Then Qasim beig who was one of the prominent amirs of his [Nizam Shah’s] government and was the head of all other amirs and all the ammunition of the kingdom was managed by him, told him in worry that this was not the time for talking. Because, if his son – Jahan panah – arrived at that moment, he would not let this cursed infidel stay with him. He should not wait. And so they behead Ram Raj immediately and put his head on a spear and showed it around in the camp to prove that the victory belonged to the Muslims, otherwise, the war was still on from both sides. When all allies and enemies heard the news, the rest of the warriors (?) used all the tricks to save their lives from the battle. And the army of Islam started to plunder and took about one thousand elephants and countless horses and royal belongings and warfare. They sent the head of Ram Raj to Imad Shah, because he had not allied with them in war and had started destruction in the territories of Nizam Shah. When he heard the news he returned to his own province. And the victory over the cursed infidel is the date of this victory. For about twenty days, the army of Islam was in the battle field, collecting the belongings of the infidels. The poor and the army of Muslims became rich and wealthy and after that they set off for Bijangar and they looted that flourished and populous town, whatever they saw. Since bijangar was an ancient city and no stranger had reached it for the last thousand years, the army and the peasants were living in wealth and peace. In this riot and chaos, everybody hid all their belongings in houses (?) and mountains and rivers and escaped to caves and mountains. When the army of Muslims learnt about this, the soldiers of the three kings spent all day digging the ground in houses and temples (?) and found treasures. Even slaves betrayed their masters and searched all day for treasures and found some. One day, Nizam Shah was wandering in the streets and bazaars of the town. He arrived at a place where some Bazaar businessmen and dervishes of the army of Jahan Panah had found a copper jar full of jewelleries and gold coins and pearl. They were sitting in the ruins and dividing them between themselves. A group of Nizam Shah’s soldiers came across them and wanted to take a share of the treasure by force. So, a fight started between them and some from both sides were killed and some were injured including two Tarmazi Seyyeds who were martyred. There was also Ashigh (Ashik) Abdal who was a dervish of great knowledge. About thirty to forty disciples of Shimr (?) attacked him from behind and cut his neck, but his artery was intact. They stitched his wound and he survived. And after this he eulogized the kings, but in reality the reason for his survival was the God of the earth (?) and the skies. When Nizam Shah saw this situation, he told his high officials, in this destroyed town, where all these evils happen, we cannot let this evil come between the kings. Something has to be done to stop this chaos. Then he stood there and ordered to collect some brushwood and grass and to leave the doors of houses and bazaars open and set them on fire until all the buildings were burnt down and demolished. However, people kept looking for treasures and found some. And for about six months, they kept demolishing Bijangar and an area of twenty milestones in twenty milestones of the town, borough, and villages was in ruins. About forty to fifty years after this event, this area is still in ruins
Retranslation of Tārīkh-I Firishteh | The paragraph on page. 250 (page 246 of The History of the Rise).
… as it is recorded in the accounts of Adil shāh, with the efforts of benevolent people the hatred among the three kings turned into friendship. They married Chānd Bībī (Pīpī), the daughter of Husayn Nizām Shāh to Alī Shāh, and the castle of Shūlāpūr, that was a matter of disagreement, was given to them as dowry. And Hediyeh Sultan, daughter of Ibrāhīm Adil Shāh was married to Murtizā Nizām Shāh, the son of Husayn Nizām Shāh. The two Shīa kings allied in friendship and agreement. And in the year 972, as it is clearly explained in the story of Adil Shāh, the sultans of the Deccan, except for Burhān Imād al-Mulk, all allied to fight and overthrow Rāmrāj who claimed to be the only authority in the Deccan. After Nizām Shāh and Adil shāh and Qutb shāh and Alī Barīd were prepared for the battle, they crossed the river of Kīshnah and encamped by the bank of Hickery, which is six gurūhs from Kishna. Rāmrāj left Bijāngar with seventy-thousand Cavalries and nine laks of infantry who were mostly archers and artillery-men. The Muslims were terrified by pomp and power and were ready to retreat provided that he [Rāmrāj] gave back the lands of Adil Shāh and Qutb shah and promised that he would not cause any trouble and distress after that. But that infidel [Rāmrāj] considered them too weak and underestimated them and rushed into a war.
Tārīkh-I Firishteh | Events of the Year 972 (pages 126-131 of The History of the Rise) Peyvand Firouzeh.
[Rāmrāj] sent Tenkanādrī with twenty-five thousand Cavalries and two hundred thousand infantry and five hundred elephants to fight Adil Shāh, and sent Iltimrāj with twenty thousand Cavalries and two hundred thousand infantry and five hundred elephants to fight Gutb shāh and Alī Barīd. He, himself, with thirty thousand special Cavalries, and two thousand auxiliary Cavalries from the Rājs of the areas around, that had joint him on the day of the battle, and five hundred thousand infantry, and one thousand elephants, and according to other accounts two thousand elephants, decided to fight Husayn Nizām Shāh. His arrogance stopped him from seeing God… He ordered his brother to arrest Adil Shāh and Qutb Shāh Alīve so that he could imprison them for their whole life. And he ordered his left and right to behead Nizām Shāh right away and bring the head to him… The Sultans of Islam … arranged their army, Adil Shāh on the right, Qutb Shāh and Alī Barīd on the left and Nizam Shāh in the middle… Husayn Nizām Shāh arranged six hundred artillery – including small artillery – in three rows in front of his army. Similarly, he kept two hundred artillery on the right and left, and two hundred – which were of medium size – at the back. After that he prepared two hundreds of small artillery that were bigger than a gun and smaller than medium-sized artillery and put Rūmi Khān – who had exceptional skills in working with artillery [firework] – in charge of them and provided them with plenty of bullets and gunpowder. Meanwhile, two thousand Nizām Shāhi archers – brought the army of Rāmrāj to the artillery little by little. Rūmi Khān started to fire big artillery and when they were emptied, he started using medium-sized and small artillery and many of Rāmrāj’s soldiers were killed. That infidel [Rāmrāj], seeing the Muslim’s fight, got worried. Until then, he was riding Sangāsan . he got off and ordered to bring him golden and red Satins and sat on an adorned stool and made two piles of gold on his sides and donated the gold to his army and encouraged them to fight the kings of Islam and promised that whoever came to him with victory, he would give them the odorned stool (?) and more lands [iqta’]. Therefore, the soldiers on his right and left and front attacked the army of Muslims in a big group and disturbed (or got by surprise?) the right and left of the Niām Shāhi army, which included Adil Shāh’s and Qutb Shāh’s soldiers. People thought that the army of infidels gained victory. At this time, Husayn Nizam Shāh sent a group to the sultans of Islam to deliver a message; that with the help of God and masūmin we will gain victory soon, do not give up fighting…
Tārīkh-I Firishteh pp.72-78 | Events of the Year 972 (pages 126-131 of The History of the Rise)
[Alī Adil Shāh] together with Husayn Nizām Shāh-I Bahrī, and Ibrāhīm Qutb Shāh, and Alī Barīd raised the flag of war. Therefore, in the year 972, based on their promises, the four kings met around Bījāpūr, and on the twentieth of Jamādī al-Awwal of that year … they set off from there together.
….
And after traversing different places, when they arrived at Bālnakūta which was located at the bank of the river Kishna, they camped. And because that region belonged to Alī Adil Shāh, his majesty hosted both kings and held parties. And sent orders to all the provinces under his rule to provide the necessities of the journey and bring them to the camp so that the people of the camp would have no problems. And when the Rāy [Rāj] of Bījāngar learned about the alliance of the Sultans and the intention of their victorious army, he did not hesitate or feel humble at all, but he considered fighting them an easy task. First, he quickly sent his younger brother, Timrāj (Tirumala), with twenty thousand cavalries, and five hundred elephants, and organized infantry including one lak [one hundred thousand] soldiers, to the river Kishna to block all the paths. And following him [Timrāj], he [Rāmrāj] sent his middle brother, Tenkanādrī (Venkatadri), with complete retinue. And after they blocked the bank of the river and stopped the Muslims from passing, Rāmrāj made the Rāys of the areas around to join him and then with his huge army, like a breathing dragon and a roaring sea, set off and arrived by the river Kishna. And because the infidels of Bījāngar had somehow blocked all the possible paths that Muslims could use, it was not wise to think of crossing the river. The kings of Islam assigned a group to go up the river for thirty to forty gurūhs to search for a path. After a lot of research, the group came back and announced that there were two or three points where they could cross the river. And the path that was more shallow and appropriate for chariots and the army to cross, was the opposite path which the infidels had blocked from the other side and had built a wall and set up different kinds of artillery on it. The kings of Islam had a meeting and consulted with each other about crossing the river…. They decided that they should spread the rumour that there was a new path made and then two or three groups should start leaving that place, and when the infidels were tricked, they [the infidels] too would leave to take that [new] path, so they will leave this [first] path. [Meanwhile] The Sultans of Islam would return quickly and cross the first path and rush into the battlefield. In this way, three groups left one after each other and moved by the river. The infidels fearing that the enemy would cross the river from another path, left that place and quickly started moving with the Muslims on the other side [of the river]. And because God’s will … was that Rāmrāj’s government had to collapse, they [Rāmrāj’s army] were not cautious enough to leave a group to guard the first path and the kings of Islam who saw that their plans were working, returned to the main path and raided to the passage and crossed the river in three days from morning to the sunset. Rāmrāj’s army has not reached there yet when they [kings of Islam] crossed the river with a small group and when the whole army arrived from behind, early in the morning, they moved towards Rāmrāj’s camp that was five gurūhs from there and camped there. Although the infidels were terrified excessively, because they had no other option, they arranged their army and stood opposite their camp all night. The next day, kings of Islam raised the flags of the twelve Imāms and arranged their army. They gave the right wing to Alī Adil Shāh and the left wing to Alī Barīd and Ibrāhīm Qutb Shāh and the middle to Husayn Nizām Shāh-i Bahrī. The artillery chariots (?) were fixed on chains and the drunken war elephants were held in order… and they attacked the enemy…. From the other side, the Rāy of Bījāngar summoned the generals of the army and tried to satisfy them with his kindness and attention. He opened the armoury and distributed guns among them and started to arrange the army. He gave the right wing to Timrāj, opposite Ibrāhīm Qutb Shāh, and empowered the left wing with Tenkanādrī to fight opposite Alī Adil Shāh, and he himself stood in the middle opposite Husayn Nizām Shāh-i Bahrī, holding two thousand elephants and one thousand artilleries in order. And when the sun was at the equator… he raided into the battlefield. Although his fellows begged him to ride a horse, because of his pride, he did not accept and said that in a children’s game [fighting the kings of Islam] there is no need to ride a horse, these people will escape right away. So, the courageous people of the two armies, one from people of wisdom and one from people of evil, fought each other with swords and spears…. The infantry of Bījāngar stood opposite the rows [of soldiers] and to kill the warriors [of God], they would fire about fifty thousand air shoots (?) and guns and cannons at once. And their cavalries [Rāmrāj’s army] took out their Indian draggers and held their shields over their heads and attacked like [brave] men. They were about to trouble the army of Islam when Rāmrāj – as a result of Nizām Shāh’s good will and his determination – was arrested by one of Nizām Shāhi people, accounts of which are as follows: Suddenly when Rāmrāj saw how the Muslims were fighting, contrary to what he had thought earlier, he was afraid of them and in the middle of the battle he got off the Sangāsan and sat on the square stool and raised red and golden velvets which had pearl and gold balls on their four sides and ordered that they made piles of red and white jewellery and carbuncles and pearls. And during the war, because their time was limited, he divided the gold using shields as the scale (?) among the generals and officials and promised that whoever proved their bravery and manhood in the battle, would come to me victoriously and I would donate him trays of gold and bins of different kinds of jewellery. And with these promises, the soldiers of the Deccan were satisfied. Timrāj and Tenkanādrī and other amirs of the infidels suddenly attacked the army of Islam one more time and this time, the right and left wings of the army of Islam dispersed in fear…. The Sultans of Islam were disappointed of winning [the battle] and felt anxious and insecure… But although there was no one left on the right and left [of the army of Islam] and the infidels were firing thousands of air shoots (?) and guns and cannons each time and were attacking from right and left, the determined Husayn Nizām Shāh-i Bahrī did not hesitate at all and did not move from his position. When some of the defeated amirs and Muhammad Kishwar Khān who were in the van of Adil Shāhi army saw him in his position, they came to him. He ordered them to fill the canon of the king of the battle (?) with black money (?) and leave it there. After that they started moving forward, ready to die, and attacked the soldiers of Rāmrāj for several times and dispersed them; to the point that Rāmrāj, whose age had reached eighty, was in panic and got on the Sangāsan. Meanwhile, one of the drunk elephants of Nizām Shāhi whose name was Qulām Alī, approached Rāmrāj’s Sangāsan and squashed a group of people under its feet. And the carriers put down the Sangāsan – which they call Būmi – and Rāmrāj and escaped. And because it was a chaotic situation, no one was paying attention to him. Rāmrāj was left alone and then the carbuncled Sangāsan draw the attention of a mahout. Motivated by his greed for the Sangāsan, he rode the elephant towards it. A birahman who had served Rāmrāj for several years thought that the mahout wanted to take the Sangāsan and therefore he came forward and shouted in misery “this is Rāmrāj, bring him a horse and he will make you one of his great amirs.” When the mahout heard Rāmrāj’s name, he forgot about the carbuncled Sangāsan and took the real treasure [Rāmrāj] by the elephant’s trunk and hurried to Rūmī Khān who was the leader of Nizām Shāh’s artillery. Rūmī Khān took him to Husayn Nizām Shāh right away and cut his [Rāmrāj’s] head with a sword and raised it in front of the army and the infidels saw it and started to return in tears….
The victorious army of Islam chased the infidels and killed so many of them that the earth turned red from their blood. Famous accounts say that the number of the dead reached three hundred thousand. But according to the accurate accounts, about a total of one hundred thousand infidels were killed in the battle and after that. As a result, from the battlefield to the city of Ana Kundī that was ten gurūhs from Bījāngar, the desert was filled with the corpses of the infidels. And the victorious army gained so much gold and jewellery and so many horses and mules and tents and slaves (men and women) that they became needless.
And the kings of Islam moved forward to the outskirts of Bījāngar and ruined the tall and magnificent buildings and temples and houses and destroyed many towns and villages. After Tenkanādrī, Rāmrāj’s brother who had escaped and hid somewhere, sent messengers [to kings of Islam] to ask for mercy and gave back all the castles and mausoleums of Adil Shāh and Qutb Shāh and satisfied Husayn Nizām Shāh-i Bahrī, and the kings left those lands and together, returned to their provinces victoriously. At that time, Timrāj, the son of Rāmrāj, who had sought refuge at Alī Adil Shāh’s at the time of the defeat, told him [Alī Adil Shāh]: “Tenkanādrī has become so powerful and is now Rāmrāj’s successor and because all the amirs are following him, I beg you to accept me as one of your servants and donate me the castle of Ana Kundī and its annexes.” Idālat Panāh [Alī Adil Shāh] accepted him as his son and tried to console him and gave the shade [umbrella] and other symbols (?) of kinship that were a necessity of the Rāys of Bījāngar to him immediately and sent him to rule Bījāngar and wrote to Tenkanādrī that Timrāj has been sent to that area on my order, it is necessary to return Ana Kundī to him and avoid bothering him. Because Tenkanādrī could not disobey the order of Alī Adil Shāh, he transferred the castle of Ana Kundī to his nephew and he himself ruled the other towns of Kirnātik. And since then, the castle of Ana Kundī belongs to the family of Timrāj and the other towns to that of Tenkanādrī and because there are few provinces in their possession, they live in adversity. And the amirs of the area have taken the rest of the large province of Kirnātik up to Sīt Band completely and have claimed independence and become separate divisions (Mulūk Tawāyif) and none of them would obey others and that is the reason that after the mentioned war they have not bothered the Muslims. And Alī Adil Shāh succeeded in taking the castle of Bīkāpūr (?) – that was also captured by the Muslims at the time of the Bahmanīds – together with the fort of Chand Kūtī in the late years of his reign. He could also add the castle of Adūnī – which the Bahmanīds always wanted to capture but were not successful in the end – to his lands with his wise plan. And all the other lands that he captured we will mention in the following parts. And to this date – which is the year one thousand twenty three – the city of Bījāngar is still in ruins and the descendants of Tenkanādrī have not found it necessary to re-build it. And they added the city of Tulkandih to their province and the murder of Rāmrāj happened in the year nine hundred and seventy two. And the father of the author of this book, Mulānā Qulām Alī Istar Abādī, has mentioned the date of his murder in a verse….
And then, because Husayn Nizām Shāh-I Bahrī passed away, his eldest son – Murtizā Nizām Shāh – succeeded him and Alī Adil Shāh took the opportunity to attack Ana Kundī ….

Antonio Rubino’s 1608 account of the history and
religion of Vijayanagara.
Trans: Brenda O’loinsigh. (Rubino was a Jesuit missionary who travelled to the king of Penukonda’s court (what was then left of the vijayanagara state) in or around 1608. His account probably reflects the biases of that court.
Archivium Romanum Societatis Iesum,
ms. Goa 33i [320r-325v].
Concerning the four eras, or ages of the world.

The pagans of this kingdom of Bisnaga have the opinion that there were four worlds, of which the first was called Credaiugam, which they say lasted a million seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand years: and in this time they give to be understood that God spoke in/through men. (Page 244- )The second was called Tredaiugam, and, according to their fables, it lasted a million, two hundred and ninety-six thousand years. They say that in this time there reigned truth and charity among men, and their Rama and? simio Animonta [Hanuman] flourished. They went to Ceilano, and killed Ravana, who was a much celebrated great/giant king of Ceilano, who had a hundred arms and hands, and had stolen the wife of Rama, who as another name is called Peremal. And left victorious in an act of thanksgiving, built the temple of Ramanancur to their idols, who collectively are called Ramanaspera, that is ‘the lord Rama’.
The third was called Disaparaiugam, which lasted for 864 thousand years, during which they pretend that God did not allow himself to be seen if not by some in secret, and in this they say that their devil of Peremal lived, under the name of Crisna, who even in this name, the king of the lie turned/tended to imitate that (name) of Christ our lord. They say furthermore that in this same time there flourished their Damaputram , who with the favour of Peremal together with his brothers entirely destroyed the emperor Treodam.
The fourth they call Caliogam, which means ‘time full of falsehood’, and it is the present in which we find ourselves. And they say that it is to last 432 thousand years, and that this year of 1608 is four thousand, six hundred and 88 years from the creation of the world. The first king who lived in this fourth time, or indeed age of the world, they say that he was called Gena Messen, the second Parasi Dorma Raiulu, the third Sudriga Raiulu, the fourth Vicanamarea, who according to their fables lived for two thousand years. The fifth Bogia Raiulu, after whom reigned the three kings famous among the Malavari, Cioren, Ciolen and Pandian [Chera, Chola and Pandya], who divided the kingdom in three parts, that is Cioren remained lord of the lands of Zamorino, and of all Canara as far as Cassi, which includes the lands of Idalcano, Izamaluco, and Viridi. Ciolen was king of all the coast of Negapatam as far as Bengal. Finally, Pandian governed the lands of Cochino as far as the cape of Comorino, and all the country/land from Madure as far as Trichinapali [Tiruchirapalli]. The histories/stories of these three kings recount that they were very perfect and just, and that through the many and enormous sins that reigned in the world, they concealed, and showed a palm so that in the leaves of this were written the sins of the world , from which they say arose the custom of writing on palm leaves. These three kings were succeeded by Gembus Raiulu, after whom reigned Xalinagamaxagani, and Cadacalaxolen, in whose time the lineages of nobles and mechanics separated. Others were succeeding these kings, up to when Duodaba Rudaram reigned, who was succeeded by Nabana Pracsabat, Avia Raiulu, Para Pudatema Raiulu, and Narsinga Raiulu [Narasimha Raya], in whose time, or slightly before, the Portuguese came to India, from when arose the naming of this reign the reign of Narsinga. After// Narsinga reigned Vira Narsinga Raiulu [Vira Narasimha Raya], who lived for 21 years, who was succeed by Qrisna Raiulu [Krishna Deva Raya], who lived another so many years , and Achunda Raiulu [Achyuta Raya], who lived for 12 years. After this by right Xedasiva Raiulu [Sadashiva Raya] had to succeed, but as he was a little boy, Ramargiu [Rama Raja], uncle of the present king, maliciously/cunningly took his place. This Ramaragiu was very valiant and powerful; he conquered the lands of the dark kings his neighbours, he arrived (page 245- ) as far as Abdenogram [Ahmadnagar], court of the Isamaluco [Nizam-ul-Mulk], and he extended his rule as far a place called “the palms of Bengal”. He brought with him 4 thousand elephants, 20 thousand horses, and six million persons on foot/ foot soldiers (YES – IT SAYS SIX MILLION). With these so powerful (an) army he entirely destroyed the lands of the neighbouring dark kings. Isamaluco remained very affected by this, and determining to take revenge for the injuries thus done (inflicted), he formed a confederation with the two dark kings Idalcan [Adil Khan] and Cotamaluco [Qutb-ul-Mulk], giving them two of his daughters (two daughters whom he had) in marriage. These three kings united together, they set out for Ramaragiu, and when Trimalaragiu [Tirumala Raja], brother of the king, saw such a powerful army, he said to him that it was better to make peace with the three dark kings, than to put the whole kingdom in danger; to which king Ramaragiu singularly replied that if he were not his brother he would have (had) to order his tongue cut for giving such vile and infamous advice. The three dark kings crossed the river, and arranging their army, they made three squadrons; Isamaluco against Ramaragiu, (the) Idalcano against Trimalaragiu, and Cottamaluco against Vencatatriragiu [Venkatadri Raja], brother of the king. Cotamaluco soon took flight through the force of Vencatatriragiu, (the) Idalcano turned shoulders to Trimalaragiu who put him in a bad state; when (the) Isamaluco saw himself abandoned by his two confederate kings, facing death he drove his horse and set upon Ramaragiu, and both parties combating bravely, it happened that an elephant touched Ramaragiu, and he fell from his horse, and he was immediately killed and the whole army was put to the sword. It is believed that this was God’s castigation for what he did to the city of Saint Thomas, where he took many Portuguese to destroy certain idols, that he then liberated, the Portuguese promising to pay him a hundred thousand gold scudi, and immediately they gave 50 thousand, promising to pay the other 50 thousand in a short time, though until now they have not yet paid him. All this happened in the time of the viceroy Don Constantino.
Page 246 – With the death of Ramaragiu, the dark kings took possession of many lands and cities, and principally remained entirely destroyed the city of Visnagarano [Vijayanagara], which was the king’s court, and was 18 miles round, and today has been made a wood of tigers, like the city which was the court of the king of Pegu. And thus this authority was left greatly diminished. The king Ramaragiu was succeeded by his brother Trimalaragiu, father of this king [i.e. Venkata II, or Vemkata Pati Raya], who escaped from the battle badly wounded, and governed for two years, for 13 months with only the title of Ragni, and the last eleven months with the title of Raiulu, which means king. After whose death (there) governed his son called Ciranga Raiulu [Sriranga Raya] who lived for 14 years, and finally his brother who is the present king, called Vencata Padi Rayulu [Venkata Pati Raya], who is aged 66 years, and has already governed for 22; very perfect in all parts of his body, tall and well proportioned, half white (? white haired), very prudent and grave, and of measured (? concerted) words in his dealings, very well regarded (? well versed) in their language and sciences, and so curious about them that nearly every day he spends many hours // with his Brahmans reading and disputing their dogmas, very affably and courteously. One sole matter he lacks speaking humanly, that he is of greater rigour in doing justice and castigating delinquents, and so he is not much feared by his vassals; very friendly with the Portuguese, and principally with the fathers of our Company, very curious about painting, he delights in seeing painting every day in his palace. No less is the delight he feels in hearing the matters of our holy faith which we ordinarily propose to him with the opportunity of many images which we show him. According to the custom of the country he is married to five queens, although he lives with only one, who is entirely her own boss/ has entirely her own role and does whatever she thinks or pleases, nor has the king the right to contradict her in any matter. May it please his/your divine majesty to enlighten him so that he won’t be lost, that (page 247) if he is lost it will not be through not knowing the matters of our holy faith, but for fear of his vassals, or through malice/cunning, so as not to contradict the Brahmans. This king, though married as I said to five wives, never had any child/son, and so primarily two of his nephews, sons of his brother, pretend to succeed to the kingship; one of these is already 40 years old, he is called Trimalaragiu [Tirumala Raya], and he is the legitimate prince and successor to the kingdom, and he keeps his government separate and stays in Cirangapatnam [Srirangapatnam], a hundred and twenty miles away from the king. The king cannot see him, since for fifteen years making war against the naiche [nayaka] of Madure, this prince declared himself partial to the naiche, and rebelled against the king, while it was necessary that the king retired without doing anything for the moment. In recompense for this benefit which the prince made for the naiche, every year the naiche gave him 50 thousand scudi as a present; other of his vassals pay him every year a tribute of 20 thousand gold scudi, and his income/earnings are 300 thousand gold scudi. His army is of ten thousand men on foot, 200 elephants, and a thousand horses. The brother of this prince, called Chica Raiulu [Chikka Raya], cannot succeed in the kingdom in conformity with their laws, because his first wife has already died, which infallibly excludes from reign. After these two come other more distant relatives of theirs, nor does the king wish to name a successor, and because of this it is believed that after his death there must be a great revolt, and that the kingdom must remain divided in more parts, and whoever can (do the) most, he will govern.
In times past, these kings had 64 drugoni, which are fortresses built on the summits of certain high mountains provided with all necessary human food; but now, after the death of Ramaragiu, they possess hardly 16, the others remaining in the power of the dark kings. Also he possesses 72 fortresses on the plain, of which the most beautiful is that of Vellur (Vellore), made with such art and beauty, that it competes with any (qualsivuglia) fortress in Italy.
The remittances which this king possesses are eight million approximately. He three vassals who are called naichi [nayakas], that is of Madure, Tanguer, and Gingia [Madurai, Tanjore and Gingee], who every year pay him 600 thousand scudi in tribute. The first has an income of two million// of gold, the second one million, the third half a million. These three naichi are as absolute lords, nor are they obliged to accompany the king to war, that for which they pay him the tribute described above. Another naiche called Lingama naiche in past years rebelled against the king and he was lord of this fortress of Vellur. The king made war on him and took his fortress, and the naiche gave as a present to the king jewels which were worth two million of gold. The naiche of Madure puts into the field a hundred thousand men on foot, 300 elephants and 4000 horses. That of Tangeur puts into the field 16 thousand men on foot, 150 (Page – 248) elephants and 2000 horses. Finally, the naiche of Gingia arms 10,000 men, 150 elephants, and 1000 horses.
This king also has another 20 captains of the lineage of rajíu,
and another 24 of the lineage of (the) naichi, and 74 (? wood) captains. All these captains enjoy and dominate all the king’s lands, cities and fortresses, without paying him any tribute, but they are obliged to always accompany him in whatever war with all their soldiers. The major/elder and the most grave of all these captains, and the most prudent, and his father-in-law called Oba Rajin [Oba Raya], who has five hundred thousand scudi in income, whose army is of 150 elephants, 500 horses, and 20,000 men. This (captain) is like the right arm of the king in enterprises of major importance. The second captain is the dalavai, which is the official name of the head captain of the king, who has 300 hundred thousand gold scudi in income, whose army is of 150 elephants, 500 horses, and 10 thousand men. That one who held this office died in this past year of 1607, at the age of 40 years, being at the limit of his prosperity married to 53 wives, all of whom burned themselves alive, which was a horrendous spectacle, since some of them were young girls of 14 or 15 years, and they fled from the fire, and hid themselves among the people, though little use it was to them, because the ministers of the devil threw them into the fire by force.

Da Asia De Diogo De Couto: (Please note that this translation is not particularly brilliant.)
ASIA de Diogo de Couto
ASIA by Diogo de Couto

Capitulo XIV – Chapter XIV
Concerning how the Deccan kings (se conjuram) conjured/banded together by oath/made a pact against the king of Bisnaga, in that/how they gave him battle, in which they destroyed and killed and took/captured the kingdom.

In many parts of my (?)Decadas I have written, in how the kings of Bisnaga (Vijayanagara) were lords of all the kingdoms which they (?)created from Bengal as far as the Cinde (?)Sind, whose power, and wealth were an incredible matter; and since the Moors (?)Muslims conquered the kingdom of Decca, there was always great hatred between them, and wars; and even the years after fifteen hundred and sixty-three, in the time of the Count of Redondo, between Rama King of Bisnaga for the kings of Izamaluco (Ahmadnagar – Hussein Nizam shah) (l)hum year after others (?) year, and (he) destroyed them, (assolou/affolou), and destroyed everything, of which they took/had great riches.????? ?The Izamaluco Sultan (Hussein Nizam shah), seriously hurt by that general, called together the Idalxa, (Bijapur) and the Hebrahe,(Berar?) and the Cotubixa,(Golconda) and the Verido (Bidar?) in an alliance. So the alliance would stay secure, he (between Moors there is confidence/safety), tried to (give the) appear(ance) (page 89) with all, as he did in this manner: to (the) Idalxa he gave his daughter in marriage with a large dowry, and the City of Selapor, which he ??? had taken(que lhe tinha tomado), and to(the) Cotubixa he gave another; and he married a daughter or sister of Idalxa: which marriages were celebrated with great feasts, and firm oaths that they would all join against the king of Bisnaga, (do que)(of which) they were soon advised; and joining (together) their power, and having summoned their vassals, they soon started out for(found themselves on) the country/field with their brothers Venta Vengata Raje field Captain, and Timaraje Veador (?overseer) of the farm, and affirmed that he had a hundred thousand horses, and more than six hundred thousand infantry. The three enemies brought five hundred thousand horses, and three hundred thousand infantry, and some field/camp people: with this power they went to seek the enemy with great determination.

Capitulo XV. – Chapter XV.
Concerning the encounter of the Kings, disruption, the battle in which the King of Bisnaga was killed, and destroyed.

The three Kings of the conjuration arrived at the extremes of the Kingdom of Bisnaga, and entered/invaded/pillaged it, doing great damage in terms of money; the (king) of Bisnaga also went (page 90) in search of them. One day while he was dining, they gave him a message that the enemy Kings had appeared, whereupon with much haste he sat up on his splendid horse, and ordered/commanded his people the best that he understood. His two brothers went to him, and asked him to ?collect up(que se recolhesse) the city of Bisnaga which was strong, and that they would remain giving battle to the enemies: and that ——————they knew what they had in Bisnaga, they would take care that they would always look after them: and that the enemies would have to make peace with him, as long as he was there, that he held with him much greater power, and they would always have to fear him.
The king as being ninety-six years of age, with the dignity of thirty replied to them, that although/even though they might collect, that they could play with their children: that he was King, and had to do his duty, which was to go out in front of his vassals, defending them, and encouraging them. The King had sent before his vassals a Captain of the Royal (cofta/costa) with ten, or twelve thousand soldiers to the (costa/cofta) (Rafes/Rases), which are called Rachebidas, like the Janissaries of the Turks, to scout the countryside; the two brothers, ——, that already the Rachebidas(page 91) had worked with the enemies: for which turning on horseback, they took two lances in each of their hands, and they sent in front Vengata Raje, as field General, so that he would (?cause the Rachebidas to be favoured). Vengata Raje arrived where the(feus) came to a stop/break and surrounded them, fighting valiantly; but at the first/earliest encounters soon disappear(ed); and when Intima Raje went to help with his son Raganate Raje, they fought the enemies with great force, even though they had only a thousand five hundred Rachebidas (some sort of bodyguard unit), as most were dead and wounded ; and when they were involved in battle, although they made valiant efforts(cavallarias) he was wounded and his son was very badly inujured as well and they left the battle. This news they gave to the King; pulling away with the rest/Remainder of his power, he went to face his enemies, calling at times Gorida, Gorida, who was his idol in battles, as we do with the Apostle Saint James. The vanguard of the conjured (Deccan sultanal alliance) brought the Idalxa (Bijapur), and Cotubixa, (Golconda) and in rearguard the Izamaluco (The nizam shahis/Ahmadnagar) the first encounters of the King of Bisnaga, which were very furious,released(?pushed) him from the front of the field; and when the King with the Rachebidas came to the Izamaluco, who had ten thousand horse, he drove (?) him from the field and was (dando nelle ? Fighting them) for a space of a (page 92)half league, in which he ?(lhe matou) ?killed/surpassed him from an advantage of two thousand. The Rachebidas, when they saw their King involved in danger, (they) got down from their horses, and still on foot they made a great massacre of the enemies. The Izamaluco, who (hia? was) in disarray, went back to reform and they turned with some field pieces and the King was mixed up with the Idalxa; and when the bombardments took fire, made great destruction on the enemies, which was a fright/shock, and they all fled in fear, and the poor, old King was made captive, and very badly wounded, and so he was brought to the Nizamexa, (Nizam shah) who ????blindfolded him???, (remetteo a elle- ? set at him), and cut off his head, saying I am avenged of thee! Let god do what he wills with! (faca Deos de ?mim o que quizer).
The Idalxa soon had word of the taking of the King , and went very quickly in order to release him, because he was still his friend, and called him Father, but he was slain already, which he felt in the extreme. Having rested on the (battle)field, they remained to be the victors in the place of battle for three days, in which the sons of the Rajas/nephews of the King went into Bisnaga, and carried away a thousand , five hundred and fifty elephants of jewels, (?precious) stones, money coins, and other things of the sort, which were estimated at more than a hundred millions of gold, and the (page 93) royal chair, on which the King used to sit on his feast days, which was affirmed to be without estimate, and with all that they went through the inner enclosure, and collected everything in the Paco of Tremil, because (it) was very secure, which was(em –f/sima de huma f/serra inexpugnavel), ten days walk from Bisnaga; and after the collections with these treasures, the Bedues, (?? who were bush/country peoples – que fam gentes dos mattos) went six times into Bisnaga, and took other great riches, all of which the conjurors lost as they did not quickly follow(?up) the victory. When the three days were completed, they went to the City of Bisnaga, to (rabificar), that which remained, which was a lot, which they ?stopped ??within five months, at the end of which were collected all the very rich: the Idalxa even now have a diamond the size of an egg, (supposedly in the English crown jewels!) which the King of Bisnaga used to carry on the base of the ?feathers of the head of his horse, and another for the button of the ?names/nominas, as well as other pieces of infinite value. When the five months had passed, the conjured went to their Kingdoms; and the sons, and the nephews of the dead King shared out amongst themselves the Kingdoms, that even now they might be able to be his heirs.
Since the destruction of the King of Bisnaga made India, and our State very broken; because the greater dealings which all had, were from that Kingdom, from where they got (page 94) horses, velvets, satins, and other sorts of merchandises, from which they made great profits: and the Alfandega of Goa well felt it in his income, such that from then, here the residents of Goa began to be less(i.e. the number began to decrease); because the (?blessed things/beatilhas), and fine robes, which was a dealing of great importance for Ormuz, and for Portugal, quickly stopped; and the gold pagodas, of which more than five hundred thousand came every year to use in the (?naos) of the Kingdom, they were then worth seven and a half tangas, and they are now worth eleven and a half, and likewise at that count all the ?other/major currencies: even though in this we take the first blame, and the greatest, because we moved our liquid and pure assets, and we made them false, and of a defective sort , with which everything changed.
In the beginning of the year sixty-six Luiz de Mello went into the Captaincy of Ormuz, for news came to him that D. Pedro de Souza had died, that he was buried in the doors/gates of the Fortresses, and his bones were moved to the wall, where they have a niche with iron bars, and his inscription. Fidalgo was a most honourable and good Christian, and God fearing. They say that he had the Formation of the Grand Turk, through being able to go by land through the Kingdom, and to take certain horsemen through which he made himself (page 95) ready; but God our Lord ordered that he go to another, better Kingdom, where one presumes he would go because of his virtue and goodness. There went at the same time to the straight of Meca, two ?rowing ships, Captains Antonio Cabral, and Pedro Lopes Rebello, to take ?the news (salla or falla de gales), and they warned Ormuz; and as they found everything quiet, they turned to winter in Goa.
On the fifth of September of that year 1566, the Turk Soliman died, being about Segete, a place in the confines of Hungry, being at the of sixty-six years. His son of the name of Solimon II succeeded him, who was to whom Lord D. John of Austria destroyed that powerful Armada, as General of the League; others say that that he didn’t die much before 1567. This Solimon was crowned Emperor of the Turks on the same day, as the Emperor Charles V was invested by the German Empire.

Chapter XV completed.

Overleaf: The Burhan I’ Ma’asir, another Persian Court Chronicle which is very partial to the Nizam Shahis of Ahmadnagar.

Cesar Fredericks account of the Battle of Talikota (Contained in ‘Hakluytus posthumus’ or ‘his travels’.):

‘….and the fleet which commeth every yeere from
Portugall, which are five or sixe great shippes that come
directly for Goa, arrive there ordinarily the sixth or
tenth of September, and there they remaine forty or
fifty dayes, and from thence they goe to Cochin, where
they lade for Portugall, and often times they lade one
shippe at Goa and the other at Cochin for Portugall.
Cochin is distant from Goa three hundred miles. The
city of Goa is situate in the kingdome of Dialcan a
king of the Moores, whose chiefe city is up in the
countrey eight dayes journey, and is called Bisapor : this
king is of great power, for when I was in Goa in the
yeere of our Lord 1570, this king came to give assault
to Goa, being encamped neere unto it by a river side
with an army of two hundred thousand men of warre,
and he lay at this siege foureteene moneths : in which
time there was peace concluded, and as report went
amongst his people, there was great calamity and mor
tality which bred amongst them in the time of Winter,
and also killed very many elephants. Then in the yeere
of our Lord 1567, I went from Goa to Bezeneger the
chiefe city of the kingdome of Narsinga eight dayes
journey from Goa, within the land, in the company of
two other merchants which carried with them three
hundred Arabian horses to that king : because the horses
of that countrey are of a small stature, and they pay
well for the Arabian horses : and it is requisite that the
merchants sell them well, for that they stand them in
great charges to bring them out of Persia to Ormus,
and from Ormus to Goa, where the ship that bringeth
twenty horses and upwards payeth no custome, neither
ship nor goods whatsoever ; whereas if they bring no
horses, they pay 8 per cento of all their goods : and at
the going out of Goa the horses pay custome, two and
forty pagodies for every horse, which pagody may be of
sterling money sixe shillings eight pence, they be pieces
of golde of that value. So that the Arabian horses are

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A very good of great value in those countreys, as 300, 400, 500

sale for hones, duckets a horse, and to 1000 duckets a horse.

Bezeneger.

THe city of Bezeneger was sacked in the yeere 1565,
by foure kings of the Moores, which were of great
power and might : the names of these foure kings were
these following, the first was called Dialcan, the second
Zamaluc, the third Cotamaluc, and the fourth Viridy :
and yet these foure kings were not able to overcome this
city and the king of Bezeneger, but by treason. This
king of Bezeneger was a Gentile, and had, amongst all
other of his captaines, two which were notable, and they
were Moores : and these two captaines had either of
them in charge threescore and ten or fourescore thousand
men. These two captaines being of one religion with
the foure kings which were Moores, wrought meanes
with them to betray their owne king into their hands.
The king of Bezeneger esteemed not the force of the
foure kings his enemies, but went out of his city to
wage battell with them in the fieldes ; and when the
armies were joyned, the battell lasted but a while not the
space of foure houres, because the two traitourous cap
taines, in the chiefest of the fight, with their companies
turned their faces against their king, and made such dis
order in his army, that as astonied they set themselves
to flight. Thirty yeeres was this kingdome governed
by three brethren which were tyrants, the which keeping
the rightfull king in prison, it was their use every yeere
once to shew him to the people, and they at their
pleasures ruled as they listed. These brethren were
three captaines belonging to the father of the king they
kept in prison, which when he died, left his sonne very
yong, and then they tooke the government to themselves.
The chiefest of these three was called Ramaragio, and
sate in the royall throne, and was called the king : the
second was called Temiragio, and he tooke the govern
ment on him : the third was called Bengatre, and he was

382

A most unkind
& wicked
treason against
their prince :
this they have
for giving
credit to stran
gers, rather
then to their
owne native
people.

CAESAR FREDERICK A.D.

1563-81.

captaine generall of the army. These three brethren
were in this battell, in the which the chiefest and the
last were never heard of quicke nor dead. Onely Temi-
ragio fled in the battel, having lost one of his eyes :
when the newes came to the city of the overthrow in the
battell, the wives and children of these three tyrants,
with their lawfull king (kept prisoner) fled away, spoiled
as they were, & the foure kings of the Moores entred The sacking of
the city Bezeneger with great triumph, & there they the at ^
remained sixe moneths, searching under houses & in
all places for money & other things that were hidden,
and then they departed to their owne kingdomes, [II. i. 220.]
because they were not able to maintaine such a king-
dome as that was, so farre distant from their owne
countrey.

When the kings were departed from Bezeneger, this
Temiragio returned to the city, and then beganne for
to repopulate it, and sent word to Goa to the Mer
chants, if they had any horses, to bring them to him,
and he would pay well for them, and for this cause the
aforesayd two Merchants that I went in company with-
all, carried those horses that they had to Bezeneger.
Also this Tyrant made an order or lawe, that if any An excellent
Merchant had any of the horses that were taken in the f 10
aforesayd battell or warres, although they were of his
owne marke, that he would give as much for them as
they would : and beside he gave generall safe conduct
to all that should bring them. When by this meanes
he saw that there were great store of horses brought
thither unto him, hee gave the Merchants faire wordes,
untill such time as he saw they could bring no more.
Then he licenced the Merchants to depart, without giving
them any thing for their horses, which when the poore
men saw, they were desperate, and as it were mad with
sorrow and griefe.

I rested in Bezeneger seven moneths, although in one
moneth I might have discharged all my businesse, for
it was necessary to rest there untill the wayes were

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A.D. THE ENGLISH VOYAGES

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cleere of theeves, which at that time ranged up and
downe. And in the time I rested there, I saw many
strange and beastly deeds done by the Gentiles. First,
when there is any Noble man or woman dead, they
burne their bodies : and if a married man die, his wife
must burne herselfe alive, for the love of her husband,
and with the body of her husband : so that when any
man dieth, his wife will take a moneths leave, two or
three, or as shee will, to burne her selfe in, and that day
being come, wherein shee ought to be burnt, that morn
ing shee goeth out of her house very earely, either on
horsebacke or on an eliphant, or else is borne by eight
men on a smal stage : in one of these orders she goeth,
being apparelled like to a Bride, carried round about
the City, with her haire downe about her shoulders,,
garnished with jewels and flowers, according to the
estate of the party, and they goe with as great joy as-
Brides doe in Venice to their nuptials : shee carrieth
in her left hand a looking glasse, and in her right hand
an arrow, and singeth thorow the City as she passeth,,
and sayth, that she goeth to sleepe with her deere spowse
and husband. She is accompanied with her kindred
and friends untill it be one or two of the clocke in the
afternoone, then they goe out of the City, and going
along the rivers side called Nigondin, which runneth
under the walles of the City, untill they come unto a
A dmnption place where they use to make this burning of women,
of the burning being widdowes, there is prepared in this place a great

square cave, with a little pinnacle hard by it, foure or

five steppes up : the foresayd cave is full of dried wood.
The woman being come thither, accompanied with a
great number of people which come to see the thing,

Feasting and then they make ready a great banquet, and she that

sha11 be burned eateth with as reat J ? and gkdnesse,
as ^ugh it were her wedding day : and the feast being
ended, then they goe to dancing and singing a certeine
time, according as she will After this, the woman of
her owne accord, commandeth them to make the fire-

384

CAESAR FREDERICK AJ>.

1563-81.

in the square cave where the drie wood is, and when
it is kindled, they come and certifie her thereof, then
presently she leaveth the feast, and taketh the nearest
kinseman of her husband by the hand, and they both
goe together to the banke of the foresayd river, where
shee putteth off all her jewels and all her clothes, and
giveth them to her parents or kinsefolke, and covering
herselfe with a cloth, because she will not be seene of
the people being naked, she throweth herselfe into the
river, saying : O wretches, wash away your sinnes.
Comming out of the water, she rowleth herselfe into
a yellow cloth of foureteene braces long : and againe
she taketh her husbands kinseman by the hand, and
they go both together up to the pinnacle of the square
cave wherein the fire is made. When she is on the
pinnacle, shee talketh and reasoneth with the people,
recommending unto them her children and kindred.
Before the pinnacle they use to set a mat, because they
shall not see the fiercenesse of the fire, yet there are
many that will have them plucked away, shewing therein
an heart not fearefull, and that they are not affirayd of
that sight. When this silly woman hath reasoned with
the people a good while to her content, there is another
woman that taketh a pot with oile, and sprinckleth it
over her head, and with the same she anoynteth all her
body, and afterwards throweth the pot into the fornace,
and both the woman and the pot goe together into the
fire, and presently the people that are round about the
fornace throw after her into the cave great pieces of
wood, so by this meanes, with the fire and with the
blowes that she hath with the wood throwen after her,
she is quickly dead, and after this there groweth such
sorrow and such lamentation among the people, that
all their mirth is turned into howling and weeping, in Mourning

such wise, that a man could scarse beare the hearing ;>***%

– . , t . . * snouta.

of it. I have seene many burnt in this maner, because

my house was neere to the gate where they goe out
to the place of burning : and when there dieth any

V 385 2B

A.D.
1563-81.

THE ENGLISH VOYAGES

The cause why
the women do
so burne
themselves.

great man, his wife with all his slaves with whom hee
[IL i. 221.] hath had carnall copulation, burne themselves together
with him. Also in this kingdome I have seene amongst
the base sort of people this use and order, that the man
being dead, hee is carried to the place where they will
make his sepulchre, and setting him as it were upright,
then commeth his wife before him on her knees, casting
her armes about his necke, with imbracing and clasping
him, untill such time as the Masons have made a wall
round about them, and when the wall is as high as
their neckes, there commeth a man behinde the woman
and strangleth her : then when she is dead, the worke-
men finish the wall over their heads, and so they lie
buried both together. Besides these, there are an infinite
number of beastly qualities amongst them, of which I
have no desire to write. I was desirous to know the
cause why these women would so wilfully burne them
selves against nature and law, and it was told mee that
this law was of an ancient time, to make provision against
the slaughters which women made of their husbands.
For in those dayes before this law was made, the women
for every little displeasure that their husbands had done
unto them, would presently poison their husbands, and
take other men, and now by reason of this law they
are more faithfull unto their husbands, and count their
lives as deare as their owne, because that after his death
her owne followeth presently.

In the yeere of our Lord God 1567, for the ill
successe that the people of Bezeneger had, in that their
City was sacked by the foure kings, the king with his
Court went to dwell in a castle eight dayes journey up
in the land from Bezeneger, called Penegonde. Also
sixe dayes journey from Bezeneger, is the place where
they get Diamants : I was not there, but it was tolde
me that it is a great place, compassed with a wall, and
that they sell the earth within the wall, for so much a
squadron, and the limits are set how deepe or how low
they shall digge. Those Diamants that are of a certaine

386

Penegonde,

CAESAR FREDERICK A.D.

1563-81.

sise and bigger then that sise, are all for the king, it
is many yeeres agone, since they got any there, for the
troubles that have beene in that kingdome. The first
cause of this trouble was, because the sonne of this
Temeragio had put to death the lawfull king which he
had in prison, for which cause the Barons and Noblemen
in that kingdome would not acknowledge him to be their
King, and by this meanes there are many kings, and
great division in that kingdome, and the city of Beze-
neger is not altogether destroyed, yet the houses stand
still, but empty, and there is dwelling in them nothing,
as is reported, but Tygers and other wilde beasts. The
circuit of this city is foure & twentie miles about, and
within the walles are certeine mountaines. The houses
stand walled with earth, and plaine, all saving the three
palaces of the three tyrant brethren, and the Pagodes
which are idole houses : these are made with lime and
fine marble. I have seene many kings Courts, and
yet have I seene none in greatnesse like to this of Beze-
neger, I say, for the order of his palace, for it hath nine
gates or ports. First when you goe into the place where
the king did lodge, there are five great ports or gates :
these are kept with Captaines and souldiers : then within
these there are foure lesser gates : which are kept with
Porters. Without the first gate there is a little porch,
where there is a Captaine with five and twentie souldiers,
that keepeth watch and ward night and day : and within
that another with the like guard, wherethorow they come
to a very faire Court, and at the end of that Court
there is another porch as the first, with the like guard,
and within that another Court. And in this wise are
the first five gates guarded and kept with those Captaines :
and then the lesser gates within are kept with a guard
of Porters : which gates stand open the greatest part
of the night, because the custome of the Gentiles is to
doe their businesse, and make their feasts in the night,
rather then by day. The city is very safe from theeves,
for the Portugall merchants sleepe in the streets, or under

387

A.D. THE ENGLISH VOYAGES

1563-81.

porches, for the great heat which is there, and yet they
never had any harme in the night. At the end of two
moneths, I determined to go for Goa in the company
of two other Portugall Marchants, which were making
ready to depart, with two palanchines or little litters,
which are very commodious for the way, with eight
Falchines which are men hired to cary the palanchines,
eight for a palanchine, foure at a time : they carry them
Men ride on as we use to carry barrowes. And I bought me two
bullocks, and bullocks, one of them to ride on, and the other to carry
*&m0ntL m y y i ctua l s an d provision, for in that countrey they ride
w^. on bullocks with pannels, as we terme them, girts and

bridles, and they have a very good commodious pace. From
Bezeneger to Goa in Summer it is eight dayes journey, but
we went in the midst of Winter, in the moneth of July,
and were fifteene dayes comming to Ancola on the
sea coast, so in eight dayes I had lost my two bullocks :
for he that carried my victuals, was weake and could not
goe, the other when I came unto a river where was a
little bridge to passe over, I put my bullocke to swim
ming, and in the middest of the river there was a little
Hand, unto the which my bullocke went, and finding
pasture, there he remained still, and in no wise we could
come to him : and so perforce, I was forced to leave
him, and at that time there was much raine, and I was
[II. i. 222.] forced to go seven dayes a foot with great paines : and
by great chance I met with Falchines by the way, whom
I hired to carry my clothes and victuals. We had great
trouble in our journey, for that every day wee were
taken prisoners, by reason of the great dissension in that
kingdome : and every morning at our departure we must
pay reseat foure or five pagies a man. And another
trouble wee had as bad as this, that when as wee came
into a new governours countrey, as every day we did,
although they were al tributary to the king of Bezeneger,
yet every one of them stamped a several coine of Copper,
so that the money that we tooke this day would not
serve the next : at length, by the helpe of God, we came

388

CAESAR FREDERICK A.D.

1563-81.

safe to Ancola, which is a country of the queene of
Gargopam, tributary to the king of Bezeneger. The Tkemarchan-

marchandise that went every yere from Goa to Bezeneger d ? se tk f com
A1 . TT TT 1 T^ 1 10 in and out to

were Arabian Horses, Velvets, Damasks, and Sattens,

Armesine of Portugall, and pieces of China, Saffron, and every yere.
Skarlets: and from Bezeneger they had in Turky for
their commodities, jewels, and Pagodies which be ducats
of golde: the apparell that they use in Bezeneger is The apparell
Velvet, Satten, Damaske, Scarlet, or white Bumbast
cloth, according to the estate of the person with long
hats on their heads, called Colae, made of Velvet, Satten,
Damaske, or Scarlet, girding themselves in stead of
girdles with some fine white bombast cloth : they have
breeches after the order of the Turks : they weare on
their feet plaine high things called of them Aspergh, and
at their eares they have hanging great plenty of golde.
Returning to my voyage, when we were together in
Ancola, one of my companions that had nothing to lose,
tooke a guide, and went to Goa, whither they goe in
foure dayes, the other Portugall not being disposed to
go, taried in Ancola for that Winter. The Winter in Their Winter
those parts of the Indies beginneth the fifteenth of May, * 50urSummer –
and lasteth unto the end of October : and as we were in
Ancola, there came another Marchant of horses in a
palanchine, and two Portugall souldiers which came
from Zeilan, and two cariers of letters, which were
Christians borne in the Indies ; all these consorted to
goe to Goa together, and I determined to goe with
them, and caused a pallanchine to be made for me very
poorely of Canes ; and in one of them Canes I hid
privily all the jewels I had, and according to the order,
I tooke eight Falchines to cary me : and one day about
eleven of the clocke wee set forwards on our journey, and
about two of the clocke in the after noone, as we passed
a mountaine which divideth the territory of Ancola and
Dialcan, I being a little behinde my company, was
assaulted by eight theeves, foure of them had swordes
and targets, and the other foure had bowes and arrowes.

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A-D. THE ENGLISH VOYAGES

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When the Falchines that carried me understood the noise
of the assault, they let the pallanchine and me fall to the
ground, and ranne away and left me alone, with my
clothes wrapped about me: presently the theeves were
on my necke and rifeling me, they stripped me starke
naked, and I fained my selfe sicke, because I would not
leave the pallanchine, and I had made me a little bedde
of my clothes ; the theeves sought it very narrowly and
subtilly, and found two pursses that I had, well bound
up together, wherein I had put my Copper money which
I had changed for foure pagodies in Ancola. The
theeves thinking it had beene so many duckats of golde,
searched no further : then they threw all my clothes in
a bush, and hied them away, and as God would have it,
at their departure there fell from them an handkercher,
and when I saw it, I rose from my pallanchine or couch,
and tooke it up, and wrapped it together within my
pallanchine. Then these my Falchines were of so good
condition, that they returned to seeke mee, whereas
I thought I should not have found so much goodnesse
in them : because they were payed their mony aforehand,
as is the use, I had thought to have seene them no more.
Before their comming I was determined to plucke the
Cane wherein my jewels were hidden, out of my coutch,
and to have made me a walking staffe to carry in my hand
to Goa, thinking that I should have gone thither on foot,
but by the faithfulness of my Falchines, I was rid of that
trouble, and so in foure dayes they carried me to Goa,
in which time I made hard fare, for the theeves left me
neither money, golde, nor silver, and that which I did
eat was given me of my men for Gods sake : and after at
my comming to Goa I payed them for every thing
royally that I had of them. From Goa I departed for
Cochin, which is a voyage of three hundred miles, and
betweene these two cities are many holdes of the Portu-
small gals, as Onor, Mangalor, Barzelor, and Cananor.

Overleaf: The Burhan I’ Ma’asir, another Persian Court Chronicle which is very partial to the Nizam Shahis of Ahmadnagar.

Ronan’s reviews

Adam Zamoyski’s
1812: Napoleon’s fatal march on Moscow.
Adam Zamoyski’s 1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow is a stunning narrative retelling of the French emperor Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia.
The French invasion of Russia in 1812 was in effect supposed to be Napoleon’s final assertion as the supreme power in early 19th – century Europe. Over the past ten years he had pummelled the various military powers with stunning battlefield successes – Austria (along with the Russians) at Austerlitz (1805), and Wagram (1809), Prussia at Jena and Auerstadt (1806), and Russia herself at Friedland (1807). In 1812 he put together a vast, 500,000 strong multinational army drawn from all over Europe known as the Grande Armee for one final, all – out effort to subdue Tsar Alexander I’s Russia, his one remaining serious obstacle to dominating mainland Europe.
Zamoyski’s work takes us into the initial invasion, as it proceeds via Poland and Smolensk, through increasingly savage and, for both sides, desperate battles, as well as the slow debilitation of the army, then up to the sack and burning of Moscow. With lucid use of images and excellent characterisation he guides us through all the macabre savagery and horror of the retreat from the funeral pyre of Moscow, then illustrates the slow destruction of the Grand Armee through a combination of the oncoming Russian winter, French incompetence, roving Cossack bands and a host of other factors, leading to the essential destruction of the largest army in European history till that time. Some of the best (and downright chilling, no pun intended) moments are when he skilfully weaves in tales of the sheer, yet futile determination of the soldiers to return and the travails they encounter. He draws attention to the French soldieries continued faith in Napoleon even as they froze to death, and their sadness in watching him get off his horse and march with them in an attempt to share some of their suffering and boost morale.
He gorily recounts how troops unused to cold conditions of down to minus 38 degrees Celsius would simply expire after walking for only a few minutes, or the bizarre case of otherwise starving French troops feasting on rich sugar and coffee captured from the Muscovite nobility.
His use of imagery – the warm, though stark conditions of summer in eastern Europe as the French marched to their doom, in contrast with the endless icy barrenness and suffering of the French retreat mere months later – is extremely effective, which makes this work far more accessible to the general reader.
He is not sparing in his criticism of the Russian’s overall response, as well as the Russian Tsar Alexander’s dilly-dallying between compromise or conflict with Napoleon. Though the Russian leaderhip’s competence was certainly questionable, the criticism is perhaps slightly overplayed and is one (minor) part of this work that must be taken issue with.
There was very real logic behind many of the Russian strategic decisions, such as Kutuzov’s unwillingness to engage Napoleon directly in battle and his decision to essentially let the French be killed by the elements instead.
He fails to see that Alexander and his generals realised that the French army, with its veteran core of crack troops who had served through 20 years of campaigns from the battle of Valmy through to Austerlitz would have been very difficult to defeat in a straight fight, and heavily outnumbered the Russian army anyway. So a retreat, despite the fact that this ceded the initiative to the French and allowed them to ravage Russia for months, was really the only logical option apart from some sort of accommodation.
Nonetheless, for the most part Zamoyski’s research is excellent, using a mixture of diaries, battle reports, newspapers and various other sources to weave together a tapestry of death and destruction, battles, triumph and tragedy, folly, farce, sacrifice, incompetence, and human suffering that was part of the events of 1812. Though this is well-trodden ground for most historians by now, Zamoyski’s real skill is in how he brings this story to life in a riveting, shocking and emotional work which will catch the reader’s attention till the final page.

Upcoming Publications / projects

 Islam and the west compared (working title):

Drawing from years of research into world and countrywide social statistics, this work will objectively examine the issues of what the two societies are doing right, and what they are doing wrong.This is an immensely complicated debate, with numerous highly distorted rhetorics and dialogues competing against one another: the ‘decadent west’ versus the ‘medieval islamic world’, and occidentalism and orientalism constantly raging against one another, smoothing the way to conflict. This work seeks to cut through the mythology and examine the real social issues behind so many assumptions: Does ‘Islam’, ‘Islamic law (Sharia)’ or wider islamic culture oppress women? Is the west decadent? Is ‘Islam’ particularly violent? Using UN, WHO, World bank and other statistics to objectively examine these issues, this work sheds light on one of the most fundamental problems of our time.

Other War. (Novel, fiction, sci-fi.) Due 2016.

Battle Bits – Observations on the great battles of the past.

Plataea: A snippet of time in a decisive ancient battle.
Were the Spartans the great warriors we would believe?

So this is a problem I’ve been thinking about for a while.

It concerns this: That great, and somewhat underlooked, battle at Plataea. For a few insane minutes, a huge army of Spartans hunkered under their shields as a black sandstorm of arrows fell on them. The army stood on the knife-edge of destruction.
Herodotus, the revered ‘father of history’ and the first great world historian gives us a rough account of this decisive battle from over two millenia ago. He tells us that as the massed forces of the Persian warrior elite, the famous ‘Immortals’ thumped into view, they proceeded to bombard the Spartans with arrows. Rather than charging the Persians immediately (The Spartans weren’t so good at long-range skirmishing) they needed to consult their auguries, make sacrifices and generally go through several stodgy pre-battle rituals. But this account seems a little strange to me. The Spartans were professional warriors. No doubt rituals meant a lot to them as they did to most premodern peoples. But to stand there being hit by arrows while their priests tried to slaughter their animals for a ritual? This is a little difficult to believe.
So what happened?
So the year was 479 BC. The Persian Empire, the greatest the world has ever known, had invaded Greece, under its King-of-kings Xerxes. A relatively weak alliance of city states including the Athenians and Spartans has tried to put up resistance with mixed success. The Persians have overran the Spartans at Thermopylae, and destroyed Athens. But their fleet has gone and gotten itself destroyed at Salamis. Xerxes had fled home, leaving his chief commander, Mardonius, to finish the job.
A motley group of Greek city-states including Sparta and Athens had arrayed themselves up to fight Mardonius and hopefully kick his still-large army of elite Persian troops out of Greece. But if Mardonius won, or even just caused a stalemate, the Greek army would probably fall apart, leading in all likelihood to a Persian conquest of this, one of the starting points of western civilisation.
Historians have frequently ignored this Battle. But Persia, even though its army was probably reliant on sea power to project itself in the mediterranean, was primarily a land power. Any long-term Greek victory had to involve the defeat of the land army which had conquered most of Asia.
During the battle, the Spartans, who made up perhaps a third or even half the Greek army were busy arguing among themselves. They had just spent several days on the receiving end of hit-and-run horse archery tactics by the Persian cavalry which had been slowly battering them and wearing them out disrupting their supply lines and hitting them with arrows from long range from where the spear-and-sword armed Greeks could not effectively reply.
The Spartan commander Pausanius had decided to retreat the Greek army. And the Persians (or at least most of their elite cavalry and infantry troops under Mardonius, while at least one of his commanders had mysteriously fled) had gone in pursuit, thinking the Greeks were finished and they could destroy the alliance once and for all. Their cavalry nipped at the Greeks heels with arrows, threatening to turn the whole thing into a rout. To make things worse, at least one Spartan commander had stubbornly tried to stay behind to fight the Persians while the rest kept going. This endangered the whole army, which was strung out retreating.
It was at this stage that the slower Persian elite infantry, which had been pursuing them as well, thundered into view. As per the Persian Infantry doctrine of the time, they arrayed up in units ten ranks deep, with the first rank carrying large wicker shields arrayed next to each other like a huge wall. Few could have helped being impressed by this huge display of Persian tactics.
So the Arrow–storm started. What happened next?
Prior to the battle, the Greeks had tried hard to array their forces opposite those forces in the Persian camp whom their respective contingents were more familiar with. Since the Athenians had more experience of the Persians tactics, they should fight them, while the Spartans, being more experienced with hand-to-hand fighting against other Greeks, should fight the Thebans, the Persians Greek allies. But things didn’t turn out like that – the Persians fought the Spartans.
In other words, it seems (if we can trust a battle account that is 2,400 years old and handed down to us through several oral and written sources) the Spartans were surprised by that initial volley of arrows, and basically stood quivering there for the first few minutes. The Greeks at times used archery, but hardly on this scale and it is unlikely that the Spartans would have ever seen anything like it before.
The only Spartans who had actually encountered the Persians in a set-piece battle in living memory were at Thermopylae or Salamis. The elite Spartans at Thermopylae had all been slain (except for the immensely brave aristodemus, who would charge into the Persian ranks in this battle) by the time of Plataea. At Salamis, the small Spartan contingent took a backseat to the Athenians and were facing Persians who had been either rowing all night, unaccustomed to fighting at sea, or had their aim knocked off by the heaving triremes they were in.
Bear in mind that they were fighting against at least 10,000 Persians from the elite Immortals (and probably rather more), who heavily grounded their fighting expertise based on archery fire, either from horseback or on foot. These were amongst the very best Persian and Asiatic warriors, drawn from selected families amongst the Persian nobility – the equivalent of the best Spartan hoplites to some degree.
The fire would have been not unlike that at Agincourt or the river Sajo, with literally hundreds of thousands of arrows splitting sky in just those first few ghastly minutes. Anyone not completely covered by a shield and armour (incidently Persian archery could penetrate their armour at close range so there was no sure defence) could feel an arrows strike through hand, leg, groin or eyeball.
No wonder Callicrates ‘the most beautiful man in the army’ was amongst those who died with an arrow in his side without lifting an arm against the enemy to his ending regret. And no wonder this is recorded with such (apparent) accuracy: this would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which few on the Greek side had ever witnessed before or since.
So what was happening here? If we go by modern authors like Adrian Goldsworthy, many ancient battles worked essentially through complicated issues of crowd psychology. Trying to motivate an army to charge through such an arrow-storm against a strangely dressed unknown enemy (especially when many were Helot serfs who may not have had any particular investment in a Spartan victory) would have been difficult to do.
The Spartans just stood there quivering (in a most unSpartan way) for several minutes while the Persians shot arrow after arrow into them.
It was probably only after the battle that the ‘consulting the auguries’ myth was inserted, either consciously or unconsciously, to help keep the historical narrative in line with the myth of Spartan bravery. The Spartans had frequently used their rituals as an excuse not to do things – such as the battles of Marathon or Thermopylae, where the participation of their whole army in said battles (and not just a small force at the latter fight) could have made a big difference. And we know that the Spartans were vulnerable to missiles – Later on in the century, in the battle of Sphacteria (425 BC) against the Athenians, the use of slings and arrows would prove to be highly effective, causing a Spartan army to surrender. So all this is essentially an excuse for the fact that the Spartans basically stood there, unfamiliar with this devastating weapon and unable to get up the courage to charge for several crucial minutes, suffering serious losses in the process.
With the Spartans evidently unable to get up off their backsides, maybe the Persians archery, combined with cavalry and the likes, could have earned them the battle.
But this didn’t happen. Their Tegean allies, tired of the Spartans hesitation, were the ones who managed to break the psychological impasse, running on to fight the Persians hand-to-hand. Simultaneously the auguries suddenly became favourable (In other words, the Spartans were shamed into charging by the much smaller Tegean contingent) and the warriors joined in. Indeed, Herodotus notes that the ‘Valour’ of the Tegeans was at least equal that of the Spartans.
At the end of the day, the Spartans are only as good as they are recorded to be. They were efficient warriors, but they never had quite the versatility to conquer most of the Middle East like the supposedly militarily weak Persians did. Later on they would manage to conquer much of Turkey, but would ultimately fail to hold onto it, and were eventually defeated by the relatively minor Thebans. This makes me wonder if the Spartan’s military effectiveness is all it has been cracked up to be – by generational legions of historian-fanboys and, much later, books and several… regrettable films.
Anyway, the Spartans charged, and despite considerable losses to themselves as well as the immense bravery of the Persians, they eventually killed Mardonius, destroyed most of his elite troops, captured their camp in the midst of savage hand-to-hand fighting with the help of their Athenian allies who had demolished the Thebans. The Persians were kicked permanently out of Greece, their all-important land power destroyed.
Why did the Persians lose? This isn’t hard to see. They got lured into the sort of hand-to-hand combat that the Spartans excelled at but for which their training and equipment was only halfway designed. The Persians had to hold down an empire where they fought against a diverse range of enemies ranging from horsemen out on the vast steppes of the east, to camel-riding arabs, to infantry and so on. They could not completely match the Spartans in this particular grubbing infantry melee. It comes down, in other words, to skill-sets and equipment. Had the fighters met each other, say in an open field (as happened to the Greeks on other occasions during the Ionian wars) which was closer to the sort of skillset match that the Persians were proficient at, the Greeks would have probably lost.
The Persians were also defeated through a mixture of their own poor morale and internal divisions, the absence of many of their troops from the battle (some fleeing, some apparently never getting involved in the crucial fight between the Spartans and Immortals until it was already lost) not to mention a poorly-placed cavalry charge at the smaller Greek city states which I believe probably took most of their crucial mounted arm away from this main fight against the Spartans at precisely the wrong moment.
Nor should we place much stock by the supposedly light Greek casualties of only a couple of hundred versus tens if not hundreds of thousands of Persian dead if we took Herodotus literally. It is clear the Greeks suffered heavily through the battle, (probably more so in the less-well-armoured uncounted lower ranks and amongst allied and tributary states), and this was no one-sided fight, but a desperate battle to the finish where the stakes could not have been higher.
Frankly given the level of division and strife amongst the commanders while their enemy bore right down on them, it is only thanks to the fact that the Persians were even more divided and at each other’s throats and the terrain (largely by accident) in their favour that the Greeks saw victory in this most epic encounter battle of accidents.
Anyway, the moral of this story is: The Spartans were doubtlessly great warriors, yes. But were they the legendary, all-conquering warriors of the time? Were they immune to archery, or for that matter cowardice? Probably not. They proved themselves unmatched in a specific tactical situation – heavy infantry combat. The Spartans constructed their reputation not just on Thermopylae, but on their later victories at Plataea and so on, which made their survival – and the ensuing playing up of Thermopylae – possible. But these were not the clear-cut battles which demonstrated Spartan superiority in arms. In many cases, they were lucky, or had favourable circumstances going for them.
They did defeat the Persians. But only just.

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Further Reading:

Herodotus, Histories, translated by George Rawlinson. (Hertfordshire, 1996)
(Please note that there are multiple translations of this great work.)
Adrian Goldsworthy, The complete Roman army, (London, 2011)