Volume 9, Chapter 11 -- Continuation of the Early Voyages of the English East India Company to India: *section index*

Volume 9, Chapter 11, Section 13 -- Relation of the war of Ormus, and the taking of that place by the English and Persians, in 1622. [302]

"In the Pilgrims of Purchas, vol. II. pp. 1785-1805, there is a long confused account of this business, contained in four several sections; to which many letters and certificates on the subject are subjoined. The first is a brief historical memoir of the foundation of Ormus, from a chronicle in the Arabic, said to have been composed by Pacha Turunxa, perhaps Pacha Turun Shah, one of the kings of that petty sovereignty. The second is a relation of the Ormus war by Mr. W. Pinder, who appears to have served under Andrew Shilling during the preceding voyage, and sailed as master of the Andrew on this occasion. The third is an account of the earlier part of this war of Ormus, written by T. Wilson, a surgeon serving in the expedition. The fourth is a more particular relation of the whole events of this expedition, extracted by Purchas from the journal of Mr. Edward Monoxe, agent for the East Indian merchants trading in Persia. This last has been chosen, as best adapted to give a distinct view of the expedition, but some freedoms have been assumed with it, by assisting the narrative from the other documents in Purchas, already specified."--E.

       *       *       *       *       *

At a consultation held in Swally roads on the 14th November, 1621, a commission was given by Mr. Thomas Rastell, president, and the rest of the council, of our factory at Surat, to Captains Richard Blithe and John Weddell, who were bound for Jasques, with five good ships and four pinnaces. The ships were the London, Jonas, Whale, Dolphin, and Lion, and the pinnaces the Shilling, Rose, Robert, and Richard. They were directed to sail with the earliest opportunity for Jasques, keeping together for their mutual defence against the enemy; and, as the Portuguese had disturbed the trade, and made sundry assaults on our ships, killing, maiming, and imprisoning our men, they were authorized to chase and capture any vessels belonging to the ports or subjects under the viceroy of Goa; as likewise, if they met any ships belonging to Dabul, Chaul, or other ports of the Deccan, or to the subjects of the Zamorin of Calicut, to arrest them, in replacement of goods robbed and spoiled by these powers, without embezzling any part of their cargoes, that restitution might be made, after due satisfaction rendered on their parts.

A sixth part of the goods taken from the Portuguese were to be distributed as prize, the ship and the rest of the goods to remain to the company; and all the prisoners to be retained, that they might be exchanged for our countrymen held by them in miserable bondage. They were directed to hasten their business and dispatch at Jasques, if possible within thirty days. And as our enemy under Ruy Frere de Andrada was reinforced to six galleons, with other small vessels, waiting on the coast of Persia in all likelihood to attack our fleet, they were authorized, both defensively and offensively also, to use all opportunities or advantages against the Portuguese fleet, even in their own ports, if approved by a general council of war.

We arrived in Costack roads on the 23rd December, about twenty-seven leagues from Jasques, Ormus being in sight about ten leagues W.N.W. by a meridional compass. Our factors here informed us that after our sea-fight in the former year, the Portuguese governor of Ormus had erected a fort on Kismis, an island within sight of Ormus, to which the Persians had laid siege for seven or eight months ineffectually, and had lost eight or nine thousand men in the siege; wherefore the Khan or prince of Shiras had, by his ministers, demanded the aid of our ships against the common enemy, the Portuguese, otherwise threatening to detain all the goods and money belonging to the company in Persia.

In a consultation held on the 26th December on board the Jonas, in which were present, Captain Richard Blithe, John Weddell, Edward Monoxe, William Baffin, and many others, articles of agreement for giving our aid to the Persians against the Portuguese were drawn up, and being translated into the Persian language, were forwarded by the governor of the province of Mogustan to the Khan of Shiras, then on his way towards Mina, near the mouth of the Persian gulf.

In this consultation, it was considered, as it was required of us by the Persians, that we should give them aid with our ships and people in this war, not only for the purpose of vanquishing the Portuguese navy, but for conquering the island and castle of Ormus; and as we were confident they would endeavour to force us into this service, by embargoing our goods, the governors having already refused to give us camels for their carriage from Mina to the ports: Wherefore, the foresaid proposition being maturely considered, together with the commission from the factors at Surat, warranting us to right ourselves for the great losses and hindrances suffered from the Portuguese, by interrupting our trade both in India and Persia, and their attack last year against the fleet under Captain Shilling; we therefore agreed to proffer the following articles to the Khan, for the public benefit and the securing a peaceable and profitable trade.

First.-- In case of conquering the island and castle of Ormus by the Persians with our aid, one half of the spoil and purchase of both to belong to the English, and the other half to the Persians. Secondly.-- The castle of Ormus shall be delivered up to the English, with all the ordnance, arms, and ammunition thereunto belonging; and the Persians to build another fortress there for themselves, at their own charges. Thirdly.-- The customs of Ormus shall be equally divided between the English and the Persians, and the English shall be forever free from customs. Fourthly.-- All Christians made prisoners in this war shall be given up to the disposal of the English, and all Mahomedan prisoners to the Persians. Fifthly.-- The Persians shall be at half the charges of the ships employed in this enterprize, in victuals, wages, wear-and-tear, and shall furnish all necessary powder and shot at their sole expense.

These were the chief articles, besides which several others were agreed upon, to be proposed to the Khan. After his arrival at Mina, Mr. Bell and Mr. Monaxe were sent to wait upon him, on the 8th January, 1622, and were entertained at a sumptuous banquet. A great feast and triumph was also made, in consequence of intelligence that the Shah had conquered a great country in Arabia, with its capital Aweiza.[303] Next day, the Khan sent his vizier and two other principal officers to give an answer to our proposed articles. The first was granted. For the second, it was substituted that the castle of Ormuz was to be occupied by both nations till the King's pleasure was known. The third was granted, provided also that the goods from India belonging to the king and the Khan were to pass free of duty. In regard to the fourth, reservation was made as to the two principal Portuguese captains, Ruy Frere, captain of Kismis Castle, and Simon de Mela, governor of Ormus, till the king's pleasure were known. Other articles were agreed upon; such as that no change was to be made in regard to religion, and the expense of military stores was to be divided. The Khan and Mr. Bell signed these articles; and presently our goods were laden upon the Khan's own camels at free cost, which could not be procured before for any money.

The 10th of January we returned to Costack and, going on board, acquainted our commanders with the success of our mission. When the news of this agreement became known among the several ships' companies, they consulted among themselves, and with one voice refused to take any share in the business. This broke out first in the London, in which ship fifty or sixty of her crew took part in refusing to have anything to do with this warlike measure; but, after taking much pains to reconcile them to the propriety and necessity of joining with the Persians, Captain Blithe at last prevailed with them, and they promised to go with him wherever he chose to lead them. In a day or two, the flame of discontent and opposition spread among the other ships, alleging that it was no mercantile business, and that it might lead to a breach of the peace between our nation and Spain; but formal protests being taken against the crews, what with the fear of forfeiting their wages, and a promised gratification of a month's pay, they all at last yielded.

We set sail for Ormus on the 19th of January, and anchored on the night of the 22nd before the town, about two leagues from the castle, expecting that the enemy's armada would come out to fight us, consisting of five galleons, and some fifteen or twenty frigates, or armed barks; but they hauled in so near the castle, that we could not get nigh them. For which reason, and because our avowed enemy, Ruy Frere de Andrada, was in his newly-erected castle of Kismis, we sailed to that place, where we arrived the next day, and were just in time to save the lives of the Portuguese, who were no longer able to hold out against the Persians, and were willing rather to yield to us than them.

After many meetings and treaties, they yielded up both themselves and their castle into our hands on the 1st February, it being concluded that the whole garrison was to depart with their private property to any place except Ormus, their commander only remaining in our hands as a pledge for the fulfilment of the capitulation. In this service two of our people were slain, one of whom was Mr. Baffin.[304]

There were about a thousand persons of all sorts in this castle, of whom the Portuguese and some Mahometans were sent away: But the Khan required certain Mahometans to be given up, who he pretended had revolted from him. They were accordingly delivered up; and though he had formerly promised them mercy, he put them all to death. This castle had seventeen pieces of ordnance, one of which was a brass pedro, two iron demiculverins, four brass sackers, two iron minions, and six iron falcons.[305]

Leaving some Englishmen to assist in keeping possession of this fortress along with the Persians, according to agreement, we set sail on the 4th February for Gambroon, on the mainland of Persia, within three leagues of Ormus, and directly opposite. Ruy Frere de Andrada, the late commander of Kismis, was sent off for Surat, in the Lion, accompanied by the Rose and Richard. The London, Jonas, Whale, and Dolphin, with the two prizes of 250 tons each, remained to transport the Persians in safety to Ormus. We were royally feasted at Gambroon by the Khan, who was much dissatisfied that Andrada and some of the Moors had not been delivered up to him, yet dissembled his discontent, in regard of his farther need for our ships in the enterprise against Ormus. After the feast, all the English gentlemen present were presented with vests, each according to his rank.

On the 9th of February we set sail for Ormus, having about two hundred Persian boats of all sizes, besides two frigates or barks, and our ships, having in them about 2500 or 3000 Persian soldiers, of various sorts. We anchored that night about two leagues from the castle; and next forenoon all the Persians were landed on the island of Ormus, a little way from the town, to which they marched in a confused manner, penetrating as far as the Meidan, or market-place, without resistance. The market-place was barricadoed and defended for some time by the Portuguese with shot and pikes; but the Persians soon made way, with small loss, and drove the Portuguese before them into the castle, like so many sheep. One Persian only, who first entered, was slain by a pike, and he who slew him soon lost his head, his heels being too heavy to carry it away.

On first entering the city, the Persian general, named Einam Culi Beg, placed captains with detachments of soldiers in various quarters, proclaiming that each officer was to be answerable for the safety of the quarter assigned to him, and threatening death to all who were found pillaging. Some infringing these orders were severely punished, some being hanged, others having their ears or noses cut off, and others bastinadoed even for trifles. Yet, in two or three days after, the shops and houses were forced open, and every man so wearied with carrying away plunder all day long, and sleeping so securely at night without any proper military precautions, that the Portuguese might easily have slain many, if they had ventured upon making a sally.

On the night of our landing, I took possession of a very commodious house for a factory, which, for convenience and goodness of its rooms, exceeded, as I think, any factory belonging to the Honourable Company. But it proved too hot for me on the 13th, in the night, as one of the master's mates of the Whale, with others of his companions, after I was in bed, by carelessness of candles, while searching for plunder, set a room on fire in which were some goods given me in charge by the general. Fortunately the wind favoured us, so that the house was not consumed.

Considering the strength of this city, and that every house was as it were a little castle, I was astonished the Portuguese should have abandoned it so soon. But it seems they were afraid of being intercepted by the Persians in their retreat to the castle, and dreaded that the Mahometan inhabitants might have betrayed them.

The Persians began presently to throw up trenches, and daily approached nearer the castle, and, with our help, erected batteries for ordnance, and sconces or redoubts for securing their men, and protecting the trenches. With the cannon from our ships, we sore galled the Portuguese ships, forcing them to haul in as close as possible to the castle. On the 24th of February, four of our boats set fire to the San Pedro, formerly admiral of Andrada's fleet, which put all the rest in great danger, but the tide carried her out to sea, and her relics were towed on shore at Gambroon by the Arab and other country boats, some iron ordnance and shot being got out of her burnt carcass. The Khan was much rejoiced at this exploit.

The Persians having succeeded in constructing a mine under one of the bastions, which was charged with upwards of forty barrels of powder, it was exploded on the 17th of March, by which a practicable breach was made in the salient angle of the bastion. The Persians made immediately a fierce assault, and Shah Culi Beg got possession of the bastion with 200 of his bravest men, and maintained himself there for at least three hours; but the Portuguese made a brave defence, and with powder-pots, scalding lead, and other devices of fire, did much hurt to the assailants, burning, scalding, and slaying many of them, so that the Persians were at last driven out with considerable loss, most of them being wounded, scalded, or scorched. On the same day, the city was set on fire in several places, by the command of the Persian general, as was reported, because his Arab soldiers lurked among the houses, and could not be got forth to do any service in the siege.

To the number of four or five thousand men, we were now cooped up in a barren island without shelter, producing nothing in itself except salt; and I know not by what mistaken policy the general had been induced to send away all the rice and other victuals, by which means we were reduced to depend upon the continent for a daily supply of provisions, and even water; so that, if a fleet of Portuguese frigates had come, as was expected, we must have been famished, as the country boats durst not have ventured to us from the main. The rain water in the open cisterns was daily wasted, and became brackish, no care being taken to fill the jars and private cisterns in almost every house, while it remained good.

The Persians are quite ignorant in the art of war, for they entered the breach without fear, precaution, or means of establishing themselves; and they lost with shame what they might have defended with honour. I observed other defects in their management, even of the very sinews of war; and I am astonished that Shah Abbas, the wonder of our age, should have sent his army on this expedition so weakly provided with money, arms, ammunition, ships, and all other necessaries. I am even satisfied that all the money belonging to the Khan was consumed in one month's pay to our ships, and I fear we shall have to wait for the rest till the plunder is converted into money.

In regard to arms and ammunition, they have only small pieces, with bows and arrows, and swords, some of their chiefs having coats of mail. They were so scarce of powder that after blowing their mine, they had hardly enough to supply the small arms for entering the breach, though furnished with twenty or twenty-five barrels from our ships. They had not a single scaling-ladder to assist their entry. Were we to forsake them, they would soon be completely at a stand; yet they have already broken conditions with us in several things, and I much fear, when all is done, we shall be paid with reversions, and what else they themselves please.

Our ordnance so galled the Portuguese ships from the shore, that a galleon was sunk on the 19th of March, and two more on the 20th and 23rd. The last-come ship from Goa, which was their admiral, and one of the others, were, I think, sacrificed by the policy of the governor, that the garrison might have no means of escape, and might therefore defend themselves manfully to the last, in hopes of relief from Goa, though some thought they went down in consequence of injuries from sunken rocks, in hauling them so near the castle to get them out of the range of our battery.

On the 27th, news was brought me that some of the Portuguese were come from the castle to treat of peace, upon which I repaired to the general's tent, where I could well perceive, by the countenances of our two English commanders, that I was by no means welcome: But, to requite them in their own coin, both they and I soon saw that none of us were acceptable to the Persians, for they long delayed bringing in the Portuguese messenger, in hopes we would have gone away, but at length, seeing we remained, he was brought in.

The drift of his speech was to the following effect:-- "His captain had sent him to kiss the hands of the general, and to ask the reason of making war upon the Portuguese, who were friends to the Persians, and thought it strange, considering their ancient league and friendship, that so great a war should be made only for one or two wells of water. Besides, that the governor and people of Ormus were not to blame for what had been done at Kismis by Ruy Frere de Andrada; yet were they willing, so far as might consist with the honour of their sovereign, to purchase peace, which they needed not to do either from fear or weakness, having above a thousand able-bodied men in the castle, with provisions and water for many months; besides which, they were in daily expectation of succours from Goa. He concluded by saying, that the Persians would find it a hard matter to win the castle, as they were resolved to defend themselves to the last man."

The latter part of this speech, consisting of bravado, was by no means pleasing to the Persian general, who desired the messenger to declare the purpose of his coming. On which he said, the governor wished to know what the Persian general would have? To this the general answered, that he would have the castle; and with that answer the messenger was dismissed, without even the offer of a cup of wine, if I had not caused one to be given him. I suspect he brought a more substantial message, which was omitted on account of our presence, having been so instructed by Shah Culi Beg, in whose house he was at least for an hour before he was brought before the general. I fear therefore some sinister designs of the Persians, which a few days will discover.

Our captains, by means of their interpreters, now moved their own affairs with the general, to which he gave no great heed, but desired that business might be deferred for some time; yet had he that very day earnestly entreated them to send him a quantity of powder from the ships, meaning that night to attempt blowing up the castle, for which the mines were all ready, and he wanted nothing but powder. They had accordingly sent him thirty-four barrels, for which forwardness I fear the Company at home will give them little thanks.

The 28th March, understanding that two chief men of the Portuguese garrison were in Shah Culi Beg's house, where they had been four or five hours in conference with the Persian general, without sending to us, which increased our suspicions that the Persians meant to deal fraudulently with us; the two English commanders and I went together to the tent of the Persian general, and expressed our dislike of this underhand manner of proceeding. We stated that we were partakers with them in this war, in which we had hazarded ourselves, our ships, and our goods, besides the hindrance we sustained by losing the monsoon, and that we ought to be equal participators in all treaties and proceedings, as well as in the war, and desired therefore to know what they had concluded, or meant to conclude, with the Portuguese.

To this he answered, that nothing had been done, neither should any thing be concluded, without acquainting us. This was a mere empty compliment, which all his actions belied. We must, however, be content to suffer all with patience: Yet, were it not for our merchants and woods in Persia, we could easily have remedied this affair, and have brought the Portuguese to such terms as we pleased. As matters stand, however, we are so tied down, we must be patient, and I fear things will turn out very ill, though they pretend all things shall be done to our contentment.

About noon this day, seeing many Arabs in the Meidan armed with pikes and guns, whom I did not usually see so armed, I at length observed them ranged upon both sides of the market-place, and presently afterwards two Portuguese gentlemen passed, attended by six or eight pages and servants, one of whom carried an umbrella over their heads. They were accompanied by Shah Culi Beg, and other chief Persians, who conducted them to the house of Agariza of Dabul. Though uninvited, I went there also, and intruded into their company, where I found the Persian general and other chiefs, his assistants and counsellors.

The general gave me a kind welcome, and made me sit down next himself, which I did not refuse, that the Portuguese might see we were in grace and favour. Having made my obeisance to the Persians, I then saluted the Portuguese officers, who returned the compliment, after which I had some general conversation with them, not pertaining to the great purpose in hand, of which I did not presume to speak, till the general gave me occasion, which was not until after a collation of pilaw, and other dishes, after the fashion of Persia.

The collation being ended, the general asked them what was now their desire. They answered, that the captain of the castle had given them written instructions, but had desired them to make their proposals to the Khan himself, who now resided at Gombroon, if they might be permitted to wait upon him. To this the general answered, that he durst not allow them, unless the Khan were first made acquainted with their desire. I could plainly perceive that this proceeded only from affected delays on both sides, to give time for attaining their several purposes.

The Portuguese then proceeded to complain, as formerly, against Ruy Frere, as if he durst have presumed to seize and fortify Kismis without orders from the king his master. They alleged also that the affair was in itself of no moment, being only a barren island with a well or two. To this the Persian general replied, it was of no matter what might be its value, but they had gone to war against the king of Persia and his subjects, for which their castle of Ormus must make satisfaction; wherefore, if they would surrender the castle without any more bloodshed, they should have good quarter and kind usage. The Portuguese said they had no commission to treat of any such matter, and so the conference ended, and they were dismissed.

Notwithstanding of the Portuguese being refused leave to go to the Khan, they had licence that same night, and were sent over to treat with him at Gambroon. I could never know the certainty of the proposed treaty, but shall here insert what I heard reported on the subject. They proposed, in the first place, to the Khan, to raise the siege, and permit them to enjoy their city and castle of Ormus as formerly, in consideration of which, they offered to pay 200,000 tomans in hand, and the yearly rent they had formerly paid to the king of Ormus, from the revenue of the custom-house, which, as I have heard, was 140,000 rials of eight or Spanish dollars yearly. But some said, besides the 200,000 tomans in hand, they offered as much yearly. [306] It was reported that the Khan demanded 500,000 tomans in hand, equal to £172,418:10:7 sterling,[307] and an yearly rent of 200,000 tomans.

The 2nd April, with the aid of the English, the Persians blew up two other mines, by which a fair and practicable breach was opened, through which the besiegers might have entered without much difficulty, yet was there no assault made. Having noticed this carefully, Captain Weddell went to the Persian general to learn his purposes; when, to excuse the backwardness of his people, he pretended that the breach was too difficult to be assaulted with any hope of success. Yet we knew the contrary, as an English youth, who was servant to the master of the Jonas, bolder than any of the Persians, had gone up the breach to the very top of the castle wall, and told us it was as easily ascendible as a pair of stairs, and broad enough for many men to go abreast.

In representing this to the general, and asking what were his future plans of proceeding, he told us he would be ready with another mine in three days. This I believed to be true, for his mining is to procure gold, not to make breaches, unless breach of promise to us, which he can easily do; for of late they have not performed any of their engagements, yet will not this teach us to look to ourselves.

The greatest hurt done by the Portuguese to the Persians in the assault on the castle, was by means of powder-pots, by which many of the assailants were scorched and severely burned. To guard against this, the Khan has now sent over many coats and jackets of leather, as not so liable to catch fire as their calico coats, quilted or stuffed with cotton wool. Yet, according to the English proverb, The burnt child dreads the fire; notwithstanding their leathern coats, none of them are hardy enough to attempt this new breach, though much easier to enter than the former, any farther than to pillage certain bales of bastas and other stuffs which have fallen down from a barricade or breast-work, thrown up by the Portuguese for defending the top of the breach from the fire of the Persians.

On the 5th of April the Persian general had news that 100,000 maunds of powder were arrived from Bahrein. On the 12th, a Portuguese came to the Persian general, having escaped from the castle, and gave accounts of the great wants and weaknesses of the garrison, insomuch that six or eight died daily of the flux, chiefly owing to their having nothing to drink but corrupted brackish water, of which even they have so little as to be put on short allowance, so that several have died of thirst. Their only food consists of rice and salt fish, both of which would require a good allowance of drink.

Notwithstanding all this, the Persian general wastes his time in constructing new mines, of which he has no less than three in hand at this time, as if he proposed to blow up the wall all round about, before making any fresh assault. On the night of the 12th, one of our frigates or barks, which belonged to the London, being on guard alone, to prevent the escape of the Portuguese frigates, was clapped on board by two of these at once, but beat them both off. I know not what might be the loss of the Portuguese on this occasion, but two of our men were slain, and seven wounded; yet, had not our black rowers forsaken them, our people might easily have taken the assailants.

The 14th, the Persians sprung another mine, by which a very assailable breach was made, yet no assault was attempted. On this occasion, the mine had to be sprung before it was quite ready, because the Portuguese had already come so near it with a counter mine, that the Persians were afraid of their mine being rendered useless before they could place their powder. Another deserter came from the castle on the 15th, who confirmed the report given by the former, and told us that the two frigates which had assailed ours had come from Muskat, with the son of the deceased Don Francisco de Sousa, late governor of the castle of Ormus, who had come on purpose to carry away his mother and other women from the castle.

At this time, the Moors who had surrendered to us from the castle of Kismis were delivered up to the Persian general, at his earnest request, and partly with their own consent, on promise of being pardoned for having served under the Portuguese against their own king and country, and of being provided for and employed in the siege of Ormus. He seemed to ratify this promise, both to them and us, by entertaining some of their chiefs in our presence, with much apparent courtesy, even giving fine new vests to five or six of the principal officers.

Yet next morning he caused eighty of their heads to be cut off, and sent the five or six newly-vested chiefs to the Khan at Gambroon, to receive their final doom, which was soon settled, as they were sentenced to the same fate with their fellows. Mir Senadine, their chief captain, was executed by the hands of Shere Alli, governor of Mogustan, who had married his daughter, and yet put his father-in-law to death with as much willingness as if he had been his mortal enemy.

The 17th of April, the Persians sprung another mine, closely adjoining their first. This did not produce the effect expected, as it burst out at the side, carrying part of the wall along with it, yet did little or no harm upwards, which was the point aimed at, on purpose to widen the former breach. Yet it encouraged the Persian general to try another assault, with at least 2000 soldiers. They ran up the breach with great resolution, into part of a bulwark or bastion, which they might easily have gained, had not their haste run their resolution out of breath; insomuch that eight or ten Portuguese, assisted by a few blacks, armed only with rapiers, made them give ground and retire to the outer skirt of the bulwark, where there was not room for forty men to face the enemy.

They here endeavoured, however, to entrench themselves; but, before they could establish a lodgement, the Portuguese plied two or three pieces of ordnance upon them from a flanking battery, which sent some scores of the Persians with news to their prophet Mortus Alli that more of his disciples would shortly be with them. This accordingly was the case, chiefly owing to their own ignorance and cowardice; for had they not made a stand in that place, but rushed pell-mell along with the Portuguese into the castle, they might have carried it with less than half the loss they sustained that day to little purpose.

Had I not been an eye-witness, I could hardly have believed the stupid ignorance of the Persian general on this occasion. He had two breaches, almost equally good, yet applied all his men to the assault of one only, instead of attempting both at one time. Besides, he had at least eighty or an hundred scaling-ladders, yet not one of them was brought near the castle walls. His soldiers hung clustering on the breach, like a swarm of bees, or a flock of sheep at a gap, none having the heart to enter, while the Portuguese gleaned away five or six at a shot, sometimes more, driving forwards their black soldiers to throw powder-pots among the Persians.

The assault was renewed on the 18th, but with more harm to the Persians than the Portuguese. During the intervening night, two blacks made signs to the Persians on the top of the breach, that they wished to come over to them, and were drawn up with ropes. By these it was learned that the captain of the castle had been wounded in the head by a stone; that there were not above an hundred men in the garrison able to handle their arms: and that their water grew daily more scanty and worse in quality, by which the mortality continually increased.

They reported also that great difference in opinion prevailed among the Portuguese, some wishing to endeavour to escape by sea, while others held it more honourable to sell their lives at a dear rate, by defending the castle to the last extremity, and proposed, when they could no longer hold out, to put all their women and treasure into a house and blow them up, that the Persians might neither enjoy their wealth nor abuse their wives; and, when this was done, to rush upon the Persians, and so end their days.

In the evening of the 19th, the Persians made another effort to press forwards, and got possession of the entire bulwark, forcing the Portuguese to retire farther within the castle. In this conflict many of the Portuguese were wounded, and sore scalded with fire-pots, in the management of which the Persians had now become expert, though many of them had paid dearly for their instruction. In this conflict four Portuguese were slain, and their heads brought to the Persian general.

In this art of cutting off heads, the Persians are particularly cunning, insomuch that I do not think there is an executioner in all Germany that can excel them. No sooner does a Persian lay hold of an enemy, than off goes his head at one blow of his scymitar.[308] He then makes a hole in the ear or cheek with his dagger, by which he will sometimes bring three or four heads at once to his general. When it is proposed to send these heads taken in war to be seen by the king or the khan, they very adroitly flea off the skin of the head and face, which they stuff up with straw like a foot-ball, and so send them by whole sackfulls.[309]

This night, one of the frigates that came from Muskat for Douna de Sousa, made her escape, no doubt very richly freighted. Her consort, which likewise attempted to get away, was chased in again. That which escaped, being hailed by the Arab boats that lay in wait to intercept the passage, got off by using the watch-word usual between the English and Arabs, Ingres ingresses, which had not been once changed since the commencement of this enterprize, in which oversight both the Persians and English were highly blameable, as by the continual use of this watch-word it had come to the knowledge of the Portuguese, who thus used it to their great benefit.

During the night of the 20th April, the other frigate made an effort to escape, but was intercepted and taken by the frigate and pinnace belonging to the London. This frigate was employed to carry away the Portuguese almirante, named Luis de Brito, a kinsman to the viceroy of Goa; but the captain of the castle would not permit him to go away; and the men belonging to this frigate, being seven persons, fearing the capture of the castle and desirous to secure their own lives, stole away without leave.

The 21st, the Persians made a display of making themselves masters of the castle by storm; but, while we expected to see them put this bold measure in execution, I discovered that they and the Portuguese were engaged in a parley. While I was preparing to wait on the Persian general, to enquire the cause of this sudden change of measures, I met a messenger from our English commanders, informing me that a boat had come off to our ships from the castle, bearing a flag of truce, and desiring my presence on board to see what was the purpose of this communication. On my getting on board the London, I found two Portuguese there, with the following letters from the captain of the castle, and the almirante:

"There hath been such ancient friendship between the Portuguese and English nations, that, considering the present war at this place, we ought to come to a mutual good understanding. From what I see of the mines made by the Persians, by which one of my bulwarks is already won, I am of opinion these could not have been constructed without your aid. Wherefore, I request you would be the means of procuring peace for me with the Persians, if the same may be done with your and their good pleasure, yet so that I may not lose my credit, nor you fail to gain honour. Thus, not else, our Lord keep you," &c.

 --Simon de Mela Pereira.

"This castle is so hard pressed, that the Persians demand us to surrender by capitulation, but which we will not consent to: For, when reduced to that necessity, we will call upon your worships for that purpose, as it were not reasonable for us to capitulate with the infidels when you are present. We hold it more humane to deliver our innocent women, and other unnecessary people, to the rigour of our own weapons, than to the clemency of the Persians; and that you might know this our purpose, I have written these lines to    accompany the letter from our captain. What else you may wish to know, you may learn from the bearer of these letters, to whom you may give the same credit as to myself. And so God keep your worships," &c.

--Luis de Brito Dar.
Dated 1st May, 1622.[310]

Taking these letters into consideration, and commiserating their situation as Christians, it was resolved to give them a favourable answer, which was done accordingly in a letter to the Captain Simon de Mela, offering to become an intermedium for procuring them such conditions from the Persians as might save the lives of the Christians who still remained in the castle, which we had in our power to warrant, and were willing to show them such farther courtesy as might tend to their relief, as far as we could see.

We desired him therefore to put his demands in writing, and send them to us as soon as possible. A similar answer was written to the almirante, and with these the two messengers were sent back to the castle in one of our own boats. They soon returned with other letters from the captain and almirante, saying, "That they left themselves entirely in our hands, the necessity of their situation not allowing time for farther writing, lest the Persians might in the mean while break in and put them all to the sword."

Upon this we addressed ourselves to the Persian general, requesting him to grant a truce of two days to the distressed Portuguese, in which time we might treat with them for such conditions as might be at the same time beneficial for the Persians and ourselves. At length, a Persian officer and I were deputed to go into the castle to treat with the Portuguese, and they also desired our vice-admiral, Mr. Woodcock, might accompany us.

We all three went to the castle gate, but could not be allowed to enter; yet were met by Luis de Brito, the Portuguese almirante, and five or six other cavalieros, but did not see the captain, as the inferior officers and soldiers had mutinied against him, and detained him as a prisoner. Our whole conference, therefore, was with the almirante, who chiefly addressed himself to Captain Woodcock, our almirante, or vice-admiral.

Mir Adul Hassan, and Pulot Beg, had been sent for to the ship, where some persons had embezzled a portion of treasure, as we now wished them to be present at the conference on the part of the Khan. They came accordingly to the English house, when one of them made a long speech, saying how kindly the Khan esteemed the services and assistance given by the English in this war, which he should never forget, nor allow to pass unrewarded. They next declared that the Khan intended to proceed, after the surrender of Ormus, to besiege both Muskat and Sware, and therefore that the Portuguese ought on no account to be allowed to go to either of these places.

Lastly, they insinuated basely and dishonourably, that we should betray the Portuguese captain, and five or six more of his principal officers, into their hands, as this would tend greatly to the honour and satisfaction of the Khan, by enabling him to present them to Shah Abas. On hearing this vile and dishonourable proposal, I left the room, that my ears might not be contaminated by such abominable conditions; saying, at my departure, to these Persians, that I would not be guilty of consenting to so infamous a business for a whole houseful of gold.

The Portuguese being reduced to such extremity as to be under the necessity of surrendering on any terms that might save their lives from the cruelty of the Persians, sent on the morning of the 23rd, offering to put themselves into our hands, on condition that we furnished them with the means of being conveyed either to Muskat or India. We agreed to this proposal, on which Captain Blithe and I went as hostages into the castle, to see them safely set out; the Persian general promising that not one of his soldiers or men should enter the castle till all the Portuguese were gone out, and that only three of his people and three of ours should sit at the gate, to see that they did not carry away any thing of value. This the Persians watched so narrowly, that they most basely searched and abused the women.

But the king of Ormus with his rich vizier, together with their women, treasure, and servants, were all conveyed over the breach in the wall, and not a single Englishman called or allowed to see what they carried out with them. Not only they, but all other Mahometans and Banyans, with their treasure and best things, were conveyed out of the castle in the same manner; whole bales of goods, with boxes and caskets full of treasure, to an unknown amount, were carried at the same time over the breaches. No sooner were the gates opened for letting out the Portuguese, but at least forty Persians got in and spread themselves about the castle, besides whom, some of the ruder sort among the English got in likewise, whose coming in I fear was the cause of the Persians doing the same, judging themselves as worthy of this liberty as our people.

Before mid-day of the 24th, both the Persians and English began to pillage in a most shameful manner, so that I was both grieved and ashamed, yet could see no means of remedy. The Persians drove out the poor sick, wounded, and scorched Christians, who were not able to help themselves, so that my heart yearned with compassion to see their woeful plight. In the evening, the Khan of Shiras came over, as if in triumph, to view the castle and its great ordnance, of which there were near three hundred pieces,[311] part of which belonged to the galleons, and the rest to the castle.

This evening, the commanders and I, wishing to retain possession of the church in which we had placed a quantity of plate and treasure, for its better security against being embezzled, our design was utterly denied by Pulot Beg, who told our commanders, in plain terms, that they might lie out of doors. Being justly incensed at this, we all three left the castle, the two captains going on board their ships, while I went to the city; but, as the tide was up, and I could not get a boat, I had to remain at the castle wall till near midnight. At this time there came about sixty Persians, by their own report, sent by the Khan to prevent the Arabs from conveying away any of the ordnance which lay by the shore, but I suspect their real object was to cut the throats of the poor Christians who lay at the shore, for want of boats to carry them on board; but fortunately they were protected by an English guard.

Our chief business the whole of this day was to see the poor Portuguese sent safely out of the castle, most of them so weakened by divers maladies, but chiefly by famine, and many of them so noisome by their putrified wounds, and scorchings with gunpowder, that their pitiful cries and complaints might have moved pity in a heart of stone; yet such was the cruel disposition of the Persians, that they drove them out of the castle like so many dogs, stripping many of them even of their shirts.

On the evening of the 27th, we allowed the Portuguese to depart for Goa, to the number of 2500 persons, including men, women, and children, to whom we gave our two prizes, the Robert and Shilling, for their transport, with victuals and water necessary for the voyage, and a pass to free them from any molestation, in case they met with any of our ships at sea. Besides these, there were upwards of an hundred persons, so maimed or sick as to be incapable of being sent off at this time, for want of room in these two ships.

The king of Ormus was very poor, and lived chiefly on a pension or allowance of 140,000 rees allowed him by the king of Spain, with some small reserved petty customs. In rummaging among his papers, we found the copy of a letter from him to the king of Spain, complaining loudly of the injustice of the Portuguese, and charging them with the entire overthrow of the kingdom of Ormus.[312]

When we expected to have received 1200 tomans[313] from Pulot Beg, who was chief commissioner under the Khan of Shiras, as our pay for the time occupied in this enterprize, he contrived to make us a larger sum in their debt, under pretence of embezzling the plunder in the castle; while we, on the other hand, made counter demands of a much larger sum due to us from the Persians, in the same manner. At length, three months' pay were allowed, and our other demands were shifted off, as he pretended to have no power to liquidate them without an order from the Khan.

After business was ended, our misery began, occasioned by the insufferable heat of Ormus, and the disorders of our own people in drinking arrack, and other excesses no less injurious; through which such diseases arose among our people, that three-fourths of them were dangerously sick, and many died so suddenly that the plague was feared to have got among them, although no symptoms of that dreadful malady as yet appeared. This extremity lasted for fourteen days, during which time six or seven of our men died every day; but after this, it pleased God to stay the mortality, and the rest recovered.

Ten pieces of ordnance belonging to the Portuguese were taken into our ships, to replace that number of our own which had been broken or otherwise spoiled during the siege. Our fleet was detained till the 1st September, owing to the shifting of the monsoon, and waiting its return. Leaving Ormus on that day, we arrived in Swally roads on the 24th of that month, where the London, Jonas, and Lion, loaded for England, and sailed homewards bound on the 30th December. Before setting sail, news was brought of sinking three Portuguese carracks off the port of Masulipatam, by the English and Dutch in conjunction.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Annals of the East India Company,[314] the English are said on this occasion to have received a proportion of the plunder acquired at Ormus, and a grant of the moiety of the customs at Gambroon, which place, in the sequel, became the principal station of their trade with Persia and other places in the Persian gulf. The treaty made in 1615 by Mr. Connock was also renewed, and an additional phirmaund granted by the Sophi, allowing them to purchase whatever quantity of Persian silks they might think proper, in any part of his dominions, with the privilege of bringing their goods from Gambroon to Ispahan free of duties.

In consequence of the war of Ormus, a claim was set up in 1624 by the crown and the Duke of Buckingham, as Lord High Admiral of England, by which the Company was demanded to pay a proportion of the prize-money, which their ships were supposed to have obtained in the seas bordering on the countries within the limits of their exclusive charter. In order to substantiate these claims, Captains Weddell, Blithe, Clevenger, Beversham, and other officers of the Company's ships were examined, and particularly those who had been employed against Ormus.

According to their statements, it appeared that the amount of this prize-money was calculated at £100,000 and 240,000 rials of eight; but without taking into view the charges and losses incurred by the Company on this occasion, and by their ships being called off from commercial engagements, to act as ships of war for the protection of their trade against the Portuguese, and in the assistance of the government of Persia, by which they had been compelled either to engage in this war, or to relinquish a trade in which they had expended large sums, together with the loss of all their goods then in Persia.

At last the Company was obliged to compound, by payment of £10,000 to the Duke of Buckingham in discharge of his claim, and received an order from the secretary of state, Sir Edward Conway, to pay a similar sum also to the crown.--E.

[Footnote 302: Purch. Pilgr. II. 179s.]
[Footnote 303: This assuredly alludes to Ahwas in Khosistan, to the N.W. of the lower Euphrates, opposite to Bussrah, which, though not in Arabia, is in its immediate neighbourhood, and principally inhabited by people of Arabian origin.--E.]
[Footnote 304: Mr. Baffin was a mathematician and mariner, to whom our northern and north-western voyages are much indebted.--Purch.
Hence almost certainly the person to whom Baffin's bay, in the north-east of America, owes its name.--E.]
[Footnote 305: On a former occasion, we have given an account of the various kinds of ordnance used about the 17th century. The pedro was probably a gun of large calibre for throwing stone bullets. In modern times, cannon are designated by the weights of their respective balls, in combination with their being long or short, land or sea, field or garrison, single or double fortified, iron or brass.--E.]
[Footnote 306: A toman, by the data in the text immediately following, is about seven shillings; hence 200,000 tomans are equal to £70,000 sterling.--E.]
[Footnote 307: At the former computation, this sum is equal to £175,000; and the conversion in the text gives 6s. 11-3/4d, and a small fraction more for each toman, being very near 7s. which is more convenient.--E.]
[Footnote 308: This, however, is to the praise of the Persians, as good swordsmen, on which account the Turks fear coming to hand blows with them.--Purch.]
[Footnote 309: In Turkey they manage this barbarous trophy of success more conveniently, as the Grand Signior is satisfied with a display of the ears of his enemies preserved in salt.--E.]
[Footnote 310: The 1st of May, new style, was the 21st April, old style; the difference being then ten days.--E.]
[Footnote 311: In a shorter relation of this siege, by Mr. W. Pinder, the ordnance in the castle of Ormus are thus enumerated:-- Fifty-three pieces mounted, of the following descriptions,-- four brass cannons, six brass demi-cannons, sixteen brass cannons-pedro, nine brass culverins, two brass demi-culverins, three iron demi-culverins, ten brass basses, one iron minion, one iron culverin, one iron cannon-pedro. Besides ninety-two brass pieces not mounted, and seven brass bastels which they had landed from the ships that were sunk. In all, 152 pieces.--E.]
[Footnote 312: Besides this letter, too long and uninteresting for insertion, there are several other letters and documents in the Pilgrims at this place, so much in the same predicament as to be here omitted.--E.]
[Footnote 313: This must be a gross error, as by the value of the toman formerly given, the sum in the text very little exceeds £400. Purchas mentions, in a side-note, that he had heard the English received £20,000 for this service from the Persians.--E.]
[Footnote 314: Vol. I. p. 236. The historiographer makes, however, a small mistake, naming Ruy Frere de Andrada as chief commander of the Portuguese at Ormus, who only commanded in a subordinate fortress at Kismis.--E.]


 -- *Index of Part Two, Book Three* -- *Glossary*-- *Robert Kerr index page* -- *FWP's main page* --