Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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8                      HISTORY OF THE STATES

vessel, which, sailing along the shores of Arabia Felix,
brought me in fifteen days to Moka, near the straits of
Bab-el-mandel. It was now my intention to pass over to
the island of Masowa, and Arkiko, on my way to Gonder^
the capital of Habech,'^ or Kingdom of Ethiopia; but I was
informed that Catholics were not safe in that country,
since the period when, through the intrigues of the Queen-
Mother, the Portuguese were slaughtered, or expelled, with
the Jesuit Patriarch whom they had brought thither from
Goa; and that, in fact, an unhappy Capuchin had been
recently beheaded at Stiaken,'' for having attempted to
enter the kingdom. It seemed, indeed, that less risk
would be incurred if I adopted the disguise of a Greek or
an Armenian; and that when the King knew I could be of
service to him, he would probably make me a grant of
land, which might be cultivated by slaves, if I possessed
the means of purchasing them ; but that I should, at the
same time, be compelled to marry immediately, as a monk,
who had assumed the character of a Greek physician, had
already been obliged to do; and that I could never hope
to obtain permission to quit the country.

These considerations, among others which may be
mentioned in the sequel, induced me to abandon my
intention of visiting Gonder.      I embarked, therefore, in

^ Gondar, more correctly Guendar, formerly the capital of the
Amharie kingdom of Abyssinia, with which there was a considerable
trade to India. In the erection of its Fort—a massive building,
designed on the plan of a mediseval stronghold, and built in the i6th
century—Indian workmen were employed. It contained many
Christian churches, and Venetian artists are said to have had a hand
in the decoration of some of them. Bernier proposed to visit it,
via Massowah, the well-known town on an island of the same name
on the Abyssinian coast of the Red Sea, from thence crossing over
to the mainland at the town of Arkiko, or Ereico.

^ From the Arabic Habash, the country of Abyssinia, or Ethiopia.
The Abash of Marco Polo. Hiibshee is the modern Hindostanee term
for .^ll negroes.

^ Suakin, or more correctly Sawakin, was then, as it still is, the chief
port of the Soudan on the Red Sea.
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