THE HISTORY OF PADRE OTTOMANO, The first Impostor.
SUltan Ibrahim began his Reign in the Year 1049, according to the Turkish Hegira or Period, which was of our Style Anno 1640. He was about nine years Emperor, and had born to him (after the first three years) a Son nam'd Mahomed, who is the present Grand Signior now swaying the Otto∣man Scepter: The Halaki or Great Sultana his Mother (for by that Ad∣junct of Great she is distinguished from the rest of that high title) being ex∣treamly Page 2 weak after her delivery, ne∣cessitated them to seek out, and pro∣vide a fitting Nurse for the new-born Infant. But, before we can proceed in the event of that, some other Circum∣stances require the Readers attenti∣on.
It fortun'd that from the Year 1640, to 44 there liv'd in Constantinople one Giovanni Iacobo Cesii native of Persia, but descended from a noble Family in Rome, who, being by profession a Mer∣chant, did use to traffique not onely in this Port, but held commerce likewise in divers other places of the Levant; so as being a Man of more than ordi∣nary note, he came at last to be parti∣cularly favour'd by the Grand Signiors chief Eunuch, whose name was Iumbel Aga, otherwise called Keslar Agasi, a great Minion of Sultan Murad, who deceasing a while after, his following Successor confirm'd to him his former Charge, which was to take Care of the Ladies, who were kept in the Se∣raglio, and superintended the Women (for so the name imports) nor is the dignity of less esteem than that of the Visier himself, within the precincts of Page 3 the Seraglio; since it intitules him to the same Access to the Emperour his Lord and Master, whom he serves as Pimp of honour; if there be any true honour in so vile an Employment.
This Kefler Aga, Eunuch as he was, and of no denomination for Sex, (for his Lower-belly was par'd as smooth as his Chin,) would for all this, be thoughr a Lover of Women; not for his ability and furniture; or that he took plea∣sure in their Embraces; but because it is the Style of the Countrey, and a mark of good breeding and Courtly Gran∣deur.
It was upon this Occasion that he one day sent for Iacobo Cesii, and desir'd that he would search out and purchase for him the most elegant and handsome Wench he could possibly light upon, amongst such slaves as are daily ex∣pos'd to sale in the Turkish Dominions.
The Merchant was not longbe'r he happen'd upon a very beautiful Crea∣ture, of a modest Countenance, and, as near as could be guess'd, a Virgin. He bought her, and brought her to the Aga, who being extreamly taken with her shape and mine, pay'd him for her 450 Page 4Dollers, which was the Price she was valued at. But this pretty Girle had, for all her simpering and innocent de∣meanour, been corrupted, it seems, be∣fore she came to the Eunuch; and after some time that she had been with him, (for he kept her in a house of his own, and not in the Seraglio)▪ was suspected to be with child. Her Lord was wonder∣ful importunate to sift out who it was that might be the Father of her great belly; but she would by no means be induc'd to discover it; which so in∣censed him, that the Aga forthwith causes her to be turn'd out of doores; and thus for some time she remained in disgrace, though in the house of her Major Damo, to whom he had given her to be disposed of, till she was at last brought to bed of a goodly Boy.
Some time after the Child was born, the Aga, whether mov'd with Compassi∣on or Curiosity, we need not enquire, be∣gins to discover a most passionate de∣sire to see the little Bastard; which was no sooner brought to him, but being exceedingly pleas'd with the Babe, he immediately orders it a rich Vest, and other fine things to wear, though it was Page 5 then not above eight or nine moneths old; commanding that it should still be kept in his Stewards house, where it was born.
It fortun'd, that not long after was the Birth of the present Turkish Em∣perour; and the Great Sultana (as we said) being indisposed, The grand Aga was sent for to provide a Nurse for the young Prince, that care belonging like∣wise particularly to his charge: Imme∣diately the Aga reflects upon his dis∣grac'd Slave, whom he speedily sent for to him, and brought to Court, (toge∣ther with her pretty By-blow, the pre∣sent Padre Ottomano) recommending her for a Nurse to the Royal Infant, upon which account she stay'd near two whole years in the Seraglio: Sultan Ibrahim (father of the young Prince) during this time grew so taken with the Nurses Boy, as being much a love∣lier CHILD than his own, that he grew infinitely fonder of him; which so in∣rag'd and displeas'd the Great Sultana, that being now no longer able to dis∣semble her Resentment, she grew in wroth with Ibrahim, and gave a second and more cruel exilement to the unfor∣tunate Page 6Nurse, and her darling Child; whom she banish'd out of the Seraglio, and could never after abide the Aga that introduc'd them.
This violent action of the Sultana made, you may imagine, a foul house in the Court, and it grew at last to that height, that the Emperour (who took it greatly to heart, his pretty Favorite should be thus thrown out of the Se∣raglio, running one day to the Sultana, he snatches his son out of her arms, and threw him into a Piscina or large Fountain, which was near them, where he had like to have been drown'd. This passionate and unnatural action of Ibrahim inrag'd the Sultana now more then ever against the Aga, so as she sought all occasions possible to put him to death, as imputing the ill∣nature of her Lord the Emperour to some wicked impressions of his Fa∣vorite; but chiefly, for his bringing the fair Slave and her Bastard into the Seraglio.
The continual hatred and machina∣tions of the G. Sultana caused the Aga to consult his safety; and besides, he was not a little apprehensive of the Page 7capricious and unconstant humour of Ibrahim, who being of a weak com∣plexion and understanding, he feared might in time be wrought upon by the Sultana to destroy him; and there∣fore makes suit to the Emperour that he would permit him to go on Pilgri∣mage to Mecha, since Absence might possibly mitigate her fury; and for that he was now grown aged, and less capable of doing him service in his charge, which he desired he would give him leave to resign.
But Ibrahim, finding him by long experience to be a discreet Person, and one that had faithfully served the Em∣perour his Brother, would by no means hearken to his Request, or permit him to go from him; since as the constitu∣tion of the Seraglio stands, That had been to have for ever depriv'd him of a Servant, whom he so dearly loved. For you are to understand, that who∣ever obtains leave to go that holy Pil∣grimage, is ipso facto made free; No Eunuch belonging to the Seraglio (be∣ing Slaves of honour to the Grand Sig∣nior) can obtain his Liberty, but by the Emperours especial Grace; which Page 8 also entitles him to a certain Annual Pension, arising from the Revenue of Grand Cairo, set apart for such Rewards: And for this reason it was, that Ibrahim was very unwilling to part with his Eu∣nuch: However, being vanquish'd at last with his continual importunity, and for that it was upon condition, that not∣withstanding the Custom• and Style of the Seraglio in such Cases, he should go but as his slave, and having perform'd his Devotion, return to him again, and to the Office which he would have re∣sign'd; he grants him his Request. Up∣on this stipulation he dismisses his Fa∣vourite, and the Eunuch prepares for his Iourney in the Caravan of Alexandria; the Grand Signior having at that time never a Man of War in the Port.
The whole Fleet consisted of but Eight Vessels, whereof Giafer command∣ed the first, Mahumed the second, Arab Ogli the third, (this Arab O•li was Pa•tner with the above-nam'd Gio Ia∣cobo Cesii) Cura Mahumed commanded the fourth, Memi the fifth, Bodur the sixth, Nicola a Christian the seventh; and Ian• another Christian Captain the eighth, who brought up the rear: These Page 9 being ready to set Saile, the Aga em∣barkes with his Family, and whole E∣quipage (amongst which was his beau∣tiful Slave, and her little Son) in the first Ship, whereof, as we said, Giafer was Commander: And now directing their course towards Alexandria, they touch'd a while at Scio (an Island in the Archipelago) where lingering some little time, they happen'd to meet with a certain Dominican Fryer (well belo∣ved of the chief of the Country) whom, for a former prevarication with them in matter of Religion, they would needs have constrained to abjure his Faith, and become a Turke; which the Reli∣gious Man refusing to do, the cruel Eu∣nuch caus'd him to be immediately burnt alive: This was in the Year 1644.
Loosing from Scio, they were sur∣priz'd with a dismal Tempest, which caus'd them to put in at Rhodes, where they were likewise forc'd to continue for some dayes e'r they durst adven∣ture out; But at last pursuing their in∣tended Voyage from thence (being now about 15 Leagues distant from Rhodes) they discover six Gallies: It fortun'd to be a great Calme, and yet they were Page 10 hardly within Ken, so as to distinguish what they were; yet supposing they might be the Gallies of Bailer (who are certain Turkish Guardians of the Ar∣chipelago) that were making towards them, they seem'd not to be so much concern'd: But when a little after they came to find their Mistake, and that they belonged to Malta, they were strangely surpriz'd, and in great confusion what to resolve on; for divers Vessels of their company were so dispers'd, by reason of the calme, that they could not possibly joyn them •or want of VVind. This happen'd upon the Tenth of May, in the Year 1644.
Well, for all this, the Aga resumes cou∣rage, prepares for the Conflict; and upon their approach, begins bravely to defend himself. The Fight continues for some time ve•y fiercely on either part, and not without mutual loss; till by an unlucky Broad-side from one of the Malta-Gal∣lies, the Eunuch receives a Canonade on his breast, which dash'd him into the Sea; and at the same instant, there was also fallen dead the fair Sciabas, (for so was that female Slave nam'd, a Russe by Nation, and Mother of our Pa∣dre Page 11 Ottomano) without any mark or wound, or so much as the least bruise to be found, which made divers be∣lieve she dy'd of very fright and appre∣hension; and with these perish'd like∣wise divers others in that Vessel; upon which the rest immediately struck Saile, and submitted to Mercy.
The Maltezes now boarding their Prizes, and seeing so many Women, Eunuchs, and other Passengers (for as we recounted, one of these Vessels was wholly taken up by the Aga, and his Domesticks) asked, What pretty Child that was? the distracted People, partly out of terror, and haply, upon hope of better quarter, tell them, that he was the Son of Sultan Ibrahim going to Meca to be Circumcis'd. Greatly pleas•d with their success, they set Saile imme∣diately for Malta, where the hopes of their fancied Prize had so far exalted them, that they soon noys'd it over all Christendome, that they had taken the Grand Signiors Son, and the Sultana his Mother, with many like stories which pass'd about the VVorld for current, and it gain'd credit, and was indeed general∣ly believ'd by themselves: Nay, the Page 12 whole Colledge, and Religion of Malta were so elated and possess'd with the con∣ceit of it, that they began seriously to consult of proposing an Exchange for Rhodes, which had been their antient Seat, and which they almost made themselves as good as sure of.
The Great Master, and the Grand Croci were absolutely of th•s Opinion; and did thereupon write Letters to Con∣stantinople, to Smyrna, and to several other places and correspondences, to cer∣tifie where they might find their young Prince, and his Mother, provided they would come up to their Conditions. For though she were dead in the Com∣bate, yet it seems they had either drest up a Property to Personate her amongst the She-slaves that were taken, or wil∣ling to have it believed so, and both her own, and the Portrait of her young Son, were Painted to the life, and fami∣liarly sold in Italy and France, for the better confirmation of this Beliefe: But after long expectations, receiving no Answer to their satisfaction, they be∣gin to be in some doubt, and could not well divine what to make of it, and whether they were not all this while Page 13deluded of their Boast, and entertain'd in suspense to abuse them; for so it ap∣pears they were to the very Year 1649. But how farr this contributed to the Quarrel with the Venetians, whom they unexpectedly surpriz'd soon after, will be made appear by the Se∣quel.
It was in this Year that the Person who gives us this Information (return∣ing from Rome, where he had finish'd his Studies in the Colledge De Propa∣ganda Fide) into his Native Country of Persia, happen'd in his Journey to ar∣rive at Malta; where making some stay, he came to be known to divers of the Order, and principal Persons there; as namely to the Treasurer, several of the Grand Croci, to the Great Master himself, the Commandator, the General of the Gallies, and most of the Nobility there. The Grand Master was then Io∣hannes Lascaris, the Grand Commanda∣tor, Monsieurde la Helle, the General Mon∣sieur de Beauchamp, &c. to omit the rest. These enter into a Solemn Consultation, what was to be done to fift out the truth, and value of their Prize; that is, to know whether the Child were indeed Page 14Sultan Ibrahims Son or no; And find∣ing this Person, as they conceiv'd, a fit Instrument for their Purpose, as being well experienc'd in the Turkish Langu∣age, and the Customes of their Country, and for some other Relations of his at the Port, and one who had given them good Markes of his capacity and faith∣fulness, they resolve to dispatch him forthwith to Constantinople, accompa∣nyed onely with three or four Turkish Slaves, who had redeem'd themselves, and with Instructions to their Envoye how the Design was to be mana∣ged.
Signior Pietro (for so we will now call him) Sailes from Malta, arrives at Constantinople; makes Friends in the Seraglio; enquires with all the se∣dulity imaginable, Whether any Child of the Grand Signiors were missing? and whether it were true, that the Ha∣saki, or Great Sultana, had some years since been lost, or taken by the Malte∣zes in her Pilgrimage towards Mecha? &c. But after all the dilligence he could possibly make, he could never discover any likelihood, or so much as shadow of it: In sum, he finds there Page 15 was not a syllable of it true; and that the Religion of Malta had all the while but abused themselves in their Creduli∣ty, and all Christendom in the Report of it. Pietro writes back to the Religion, and assures them by many indubitable Evidences, nay Oathes and Affidavit's, which he had procur'd, and several other Effects of his dilligence, that it was all Imposture, and that they ought to give credit to the Romance no longer, or hope for the least advantage by it: This was in the Year 1650; for so long, and somewhat longer it was, e'r they would be dis-abus'd: And now at last they begin to defend themselves, and by little and little to let their boast∣ing dye, and to neglect any farther Ce∣remony to their pretended Royal Cap∣tive; In short, they now grew very cold, hardly made any more account of him; Yet so, that having for a long time abus'd the World, as asham'd at their credulity, and to prevent reproach, they continually endeavour'd to have it still thought true; and therefore gave the Boy the Title of Ottomano, which he weares to this day, Non per dignitatem (sayes our ingenious Informer) ma per la vanita.
Page 16This is the true and real History of the so much talk'd-of Padre Ottomano, and consequently of that groundless and vulgar Opinion, which has been spread so long about, that this Acci∣dent alone was the onely sourse and cause of the Grand Signiors Quarrel with the Venetians, but of which there is so little appearance; the Interest of that Repub∣lick, being so different from that of the Maltezes, who are Sworn never to be at Peace with those Miscreants; whil'st the Venetians, on the contrary, were in a profound, and un-interrupted League with them.
It is indeed commonly pretended, that contrary to a stipulation with the Grand Signior, the Venetians had pro∣tected the Knights of Malta, after this Exploit of Surprizing the Sultana and her Son, going with an infinite Trea∣sure to Mecha; but the truth is, finding no occasion to Commence the War up∣on this suggestion, they give out ano∣ther, and which is believed was the more real ground of it.
In the reign of Sultan Amorat, there were destroy'd and burnt by the Vene∣tians no less than five and twenty Page 17Fusti Barbaresche, or Barbary Gallies, who were Rovers and Pyrats upon those seas, and greatly infested the Commerce; These they attaqu'd in the Port of A∣velona, demolishing withal their Castle: Complaint hereof being made to Mo∣rud, he was provok'd to declare War against them as the first Aggressors; though in truth this had been no vio∣lation of any Article between them: However, upon their earnest instigati∣on, Amurat seems highly to resent the Affront, as done against his Allies; Hereupon the Venetians offer to give them two Galeasses in satisfaction, and to pay for all the losse which they had sustain'd. But in this interim the Grand Signior ingag'd in the War at Babylon, dyes soon after his return, and leaves the Quarrel to his Brother Isruhim; who, insensed also somewhat more for the Vessels that were destroy'd, upon the neck as it were of this, by the Maltezes, when Padre Ottomano was taken by them, and his Favorite Aga slain (his Design, which was first against the Maltezes failing) without the least pre∣tence of renewing his Predecessors qua•∣rel with the Venetians, or declaring any Page 18 formal War) with a Fleet of near 500 saile, he Lands an Army of Threescore thousand Men near the City Canea, and in little time became Master of that, and of the whole Kingdome beside; Candia the Metropolis, Spina Songa, Car∣busa, Suda, and some very few Posts more excepted, and leaves the pursuit of this War to his Son Mahomed, who has continued it to this present day. By what Accident the Maltezes contribu∣ted to the fatal rousing of this immane Lyon we have seen, but without the least appearance of intituling it to the Merit of this supposititious Child and his Mother, upon which yet it is so vulgarly and so weakly founded.
But what may farther elucidate the utter impossibility of Padre Ottomano's Title, as Heir to that Family, 'tis noto∣riously known, that the last Emperor of the Turks (Father to the Sulran now Reigning) never had but three Sons; that the present Grand Signior was al∣wayes the Eldest; and that the other two (by an extraordinary Effect of their Brothers good-nature, or Address of the present Valadir or Do•ager) are still li∣ving in the Seraglio, out of whose pre∣cinctsPage 19 they are never allow'd to stir a∣broad, but in company of the Grand Signior, and under the strictest guard: Next, that no Prince of the Ottoman blood, or the Sultana her self, does ever Travel to any place whatsoever out of the Palace, but when the Emperor goes himself in Person. This being so, how probable and likely it is, he should ha∣zard the Great Sultana, and the Heir of the Crown in a weak and ordinary Ca∣ravan, with so small an Equipage, and so little concernment for their losse, as never so much as to treate about their Release, &c. let any rational Man de∣termine upon mature consideration, and prospect of the Circumstances.
Besides, as our Intelligence argues and assures us, those of Malta are so insa∣tiably covetous, that if they could sell even the very Maltezes themselves, they would not stick to make Money of them; and that it is familiar with these Holy Corsaires, to spoil all the Oriental Christians, without distinction, who come in their way; neither regarding their Faith, nor their Profession: So as when ever they surprize any miserable Slaves, who for the diead of tormentPage 20 have been forc'd to turne Renegadoes; but would now most chearfully revert to their Faith again; the Maltezes will not hearken to them, but sell them a second time to the Turkes, to satisfie their prodigious Avarice: How much more then (as our Informer concluded) had it been to their Advantage, to have sold this pretended Royal Boy, being a natural Turke; than to have suffer'd him to become a Christian? But they reserv'd him upon furture hopes, and when they perceiv'd that fail them, to rid their hands of the Expense of the mock-state, they had so long been at, and yet to preserve their Reputati∣on, make out their Boast, and credit their Rel•gion; they find a pretence of send∣ing him to be bred in Italy, and now suf∣fer him to be made a Dominican Fryer forsooth, under the Pompous Title of PADRE OTTOMANO.