The travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta in which, the several countries, together with the customs, manners, traffique, and rites both religious and civil, of those Oriental princes and nations, are faithfully described : in familiar letters to his friend Signior Mario Schipano : whereunto is added a relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East-Indies.
Della Valle, Pietro, 1586-1652., Roe, Thomas, Sir, 1581?-1644., Havers, G. (George)

SECTION XXVIII. Of the Mogols Wives and Women; [where somthing of his Children, &c.]

WHom I conceive to be Women of good feature, though for their colour very swart, which that people may call Beauty, it being the complexion of them all, as the Crow thinks his bird fairest; but (as before) I never observed any crooked or deform'd person of either sex amongst them: For the honesty of those great Mens Wives and Women, there is such a quick eye of jealousie continually over them, that they are made so by force, though (as they say) they are never much regarded by those great ones after the very first, and prime of their youth is past.

For that great Monarch the Mogol, in the choice of his Wives and Women, he was guided more by his eye and phansie, than by any respect had to his Honour; for he took not the Daughters of neighbouring Princes, but of his own Subjects, and there preferr'd that, which he looked upon as beauty, be∣fore any thing else.

He was married to four Wives, and had Concubines, and Wo∣men beside (all which were at his command) enough to make up their number a full thousand (as they there confidently af∣firm'd.) Page  470 And that he might raise up, his beastly and unnatural lusts, even to the very height, he kept boyes as before, &c.

His most beloved Wife (when I lived at his Court) he called Noor-Mahal, which signified, The Light of the Court; and to the other of his Wives and Women, which he most loved, he gave new Names unto them, and such Names as he most fancied.

For his Wife I first named, he took her out of the dust, from a very mean Family; but however, she made such a through Conquest on his Affections, that she engrossed almost all his Love, did what she pleased in the Government of that Empire, where she advanced her Brother Asaph-Chan, and other her nearest Relations, to the greatest places of Command and Honour, and Profit in that vast Monarchy.

Her Brother Asaph-Chan was presently made one of the Stars of the first Magnitude that shined in that Indian Court; and, when he had once gotten, so kept the Mogol's Favour by the assistance of his Sister Noor-Mahal, that by the Pensions given, and many Offices bestowed on him, he heaped up a mass of Treasure above all belief (as before), and married his Daughter unto Sultan Caroom, who is now King.

The Mogol of all his so many Wives and Concubines had but six Children, five Sons and one Daughter. The Names he gave his Children, and others, were Names that proceeded from Counsel (as he imagined) rather than Chance. His eldest Son was called Sultan Coobsurroo, which signified the Prince with the good Face, his Person and Beauty answered his Name; for he was a Prince of a very lovely presence. His second Son he cal∣led Sultan Perum, Prince of the Pleiades, or of the sweet influ∣ences of the Pleiades. His third Son (now King) though that great dignity was never intended to him by his Father, was called Sultan Caroom, or, The Prince of Bounty. His fourth, Sultan Shahar, or, The Prince of Fame. His fifth, and last Son was cal∣led by him Sultan Tanct, Tanct in the Persian Tongue, signifies a Throne; and he was named so by the King his Father, because the first hour he sat peaceably on his Throne, there was News brought him of that Sons Birth.

Yet the first Son of that King, which he hath by any of his married Wives, by Prerogative of Birth, inherits that Empire, the eldest Son of every Man (as before) is called there (the great Brother.) And he that inherits that Monarchy, doth not openly slaughter his younger Brothers, as the Turks do; yet it is ob∣served, that few younger Brothers of those Indostan Kings have long survived their Fathers.

Yet notwithstanding that long continued custom there for the eldest Son to succeed the Father in that great Empire; Acha∣bar Sha, Father of that late King, upon high and just displea∣sure taken against his Son, for climbing up unto the bed of Anarkelee, his Fathers most beloved Wife (whose name signified the Ker∣nel of a Pomegranate) and for other base actions of his, which Page  471 stirred up his Fathers high displeasure against him, resolved to break that ancient custom; and therefore often in his life time protested, that not he, but his Grand-child Sultan Coobsurroo, whom he alwayes kept in his Court, should succeed him in that Empire.

And now, by the way, the manner of that Achabar Sha his death (as they report it in India) is worthy observation. That wicked King was wont often to give unto some of his Nobles (whom upon secret displeasure he meant to destroy) Pills prepared with Poyson, that should presently put them into incurable diseases. But the last time he went about to pra∣ctise that bloody Treachery, he dyed himself by his own instru∣ment of death: for then having two Pills in his Hand, the one very like the other, the one Cordial for himself, the other Corro∣sive, for one of his Grandees he meant to purge, and flattering him with many proffers of Courtesie before he gave him the Pill, that he might swallow it down the better; at last having held them both in the palm of his Hand long, by a mistake took the poysoned Pill himself, and gave him the other, which Pill put the King immediately into a mortal flux of blood, which in few dayes put an end to his life in his City Lahore.

—Neque enim lex justior ulla est,
Quam necis artifices arte perire sua.

Achabar Sha thus dead, Sultan Coobsurroo his Grand-Child, then aged about twenty years, took his opportunity at the first bound, and ascended the Regal Throne at Lahore, where by a general Acclamation of that very great and populous City he was pronounced, and acknowledged King. His Father (the late Mogol) was thus acknowledged at Agra. Two great Ar∣mies were presently levied, and met together to decide the Controversie: and the generality of the people within that Em∣pire, thinking it meet that the Father should be King before the Son, clave by far more to him then to his Son, by which means Sultan Coobsurroo was defeated and taken Prisoner, and a very great many of young Gallants with him, whereof his Father im∣mediately after caused to be impaled, or put upon Stakes (that most cruel and tormenting death) eight hundred in two several ranks in one day, without the City Lahore, and then carried his Son most disgracefully through them, bidding him to behold the men in whom he trusted. His Son told him, that he should have serv'd him so, and spared the other, who did nothing in that action but upon his Command; his Father replyed, that he could serve him so presently (if he so pleased); his Son will'd and desired him so to do, telling his Father that he had no joy at all to live, after the beholding of so many gallant men dead. Not∣withstanding, the King spared his Life, casting him into Prison, where his Eyes were sealed up, (by something put before them Page  472 which might not be taken of) for the space of three years; after which time, that seal was taken away, that he might with free∣dom enjoy the Light, though not his Liberty. And after his Father had taken him out of Prison, he kept him alwayes near about him, but with a very strong Guard upon him; so that he following the King his Father in his Progresses, we sometimes saw him. And once he called my Lord Ambassadour to him as we passed by him, asking him many Questions, as how far di∣stant our Country was from them, and what we brought thither, and what we carryed thence, and how the King his Father had used him since his arrive there, whether or no he had not bestow∣ed upon him some great gifts. The Ambassadour told him, that his business there was to obtain a free Trade for his Nation the Eng∣lish; and that being granted him, he had reward enough. The Prince replyed, that this could not be denyed us, we coming so far to trade there with him; and the Prince further asked him, How long he had been there, the Ambassadour told him, About two years; the Prince replyed again, that it was a very great shame for the Successor of Tamberlane, who had such infinite Riches, to suffer a Man of his quality to come so far unto him, and to live so long about him, and not to give him some Royal Gift; and he further added, that for himself he was a Prisoner, and there∣fore could do him no good, but would pray for him, and so he departed.

For that Prince, he was a Gentleman of a very lovely pre∣sence and fine carriage, so exceedingly beloved of the common people, that, as Suetonius writes of Titus, he was Amor & Deli∣ciae, &c. the very love and delight of them. Aged then about thirty and five years. He was a Man who contented himself with one Wife, which with all love and care accompanied him in all his streights, and therefore he would never take any Wife but her self, though the Liberty of his Religion did admit of Plurality.

It was generally believed to be the intent of his Father (for he would often presage so) to make this Prince his first-born his Successor, though for the present out of some jealousie (he being so much beloved of the people) he denyed him his Liberty.

His Father's Love, brings upon him the extream hatred of his Brother Caroom, the Mogol's third Son, who then lived in very great Pomp and Splendor at that Court, aiming at that Em∣pire: to which end he put many jealousies into his Father's Head (now grown in years) concerning his Brother Coobsurroo, and that his Father might live more secure, and out of all present fear of him, if he so pleased; upon which insinuations, partly, by force, (as I observed before) and, partly, by intreaty of Friends about the King, he was by the King put into the Cruel Hand of his Brother Caroom; who told his Father that he would have both his Eyes upon him, and further so provide, that he Page  473 should never have cause to fear him any more; and he was as good as his word: for, presently after he had gotten possession of him (though his Father had given him as great a charge as pos∣sibly he could to use him well, and to keep him honourably, and by no means to hurt him, which was all promised by Caroom to be faithfully observed) he caused his Second Brother, Sultan Parveen, to be poysoned; and, not long after that, strangled that most gallant Prince his eldest Brother: which did so trouble his Father, that the grief thereof (as it was strongly believed) shortned his dayes; who not long after this (much against his mind) made room for that Murderer to succeed him in that Empire, who lay'd the foundation of his high Advancement, in the Blood of his Brothers; and rather then he would have mis∣sed it, would certainly have made a way through the Blood of his Father likewise: All Laws of honesty, and of Nature were by him thrown down, trampled under foot, forgotten and made void, to compass and gain his most unjust ends; as if he resolved to practise that Language which Polynices out of the height of Am∣bition spake in the Tragedy,

— Pro Regno velim
Patriam, Penates, Conjugem flammis dare;
Imperia Precio quolibet constant bene

Sen. Trag.
Fire on my Gods, Wife, Country for a Crown,
An Empire can the dearest price weigh down.

I shall add but a few things more to this Relation before I con∣clude it. And one shall be to give my Reader a taste, but very briefly,