Travels to Tana and Persia. [WITH] A narrative of Italian travels in Persia in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries

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Author: Barbaro, Josafa (1413-1494) and Ambrogio Contarini

Year: 1873

Publisher: Hakluyt Society

Place: London


xi+175 with errata and index; xvii+229 with errata and index. Octavo (9" x 6") bound in original publsiher's blue cloth with gilt lettering to spine and gilt pictorial representation of the ship Victoria on the cover and edge ruled decorative blind stamp to covers. Edited and with introduction by Lord Stanley of Alderley and translated by William Thomas Clerk and by S. A. Roy. Second part translated by Charels gray. Works issued by the Hakluyt Society, First Series, Number 49a. First edition.

Giosafat Barbaro (also Giosaphat or Josaphat) was a member of the Venetian Barbaro family. He was a diplomat, merchant, explorer and travel writer. From 1436 to 1452 Barbaro traveled as a merchant to the Genoese colony Tana on the Sea of Azov. During this time the Golden Horde was disintegrating due to political rivalries. In November 1437, Barbaro heard of the burial mound of the last King of the Alans, about 20 miles up the Don River from Tana. Barbaro and six other men, a mix of Venetian and Jewish merchants, hired 120 men to excavate the kurgan, which they hoped would contain treasure. Barbaro analytically and precisely recorded information about the layers of earth, coal, ashes, millet, and fish scales that composed the mound. Modern scholarship concludes that it was not a burial mound, but a kitchen midden that had accumulated over centuries of use. The remains of Barbaro's excavation was found in the 1920s by Russian archeologist Alexander Alexandrovich Miller. In 1472, Giosafat Barbaro was also selected as an ambassador to Persia, due to his experience in the Crimean, Muscovy, and Tartary. He also spoke Turkish and a little Persian. His instructions included urging admiral Pietro Mocenigo to attack the Ottomans and attempting to arrange naval cooperation from the Kingdom of Cyprus and the Knights of Rhodes. He was also in charge of three galleys full of artillery, ammunition, and military personnel who were to assist Uzun Hassan. In February 1473, Barbaro and the Persian envoy Haci Muhammad left Venice and traveled to Zadar, where they met with representatives of Naples and the Papal court. From there, Barbaro and the others traveled by way of Corfu, Modon, Corone reaching Rhodes and then Cyprus, where Barbaro was delayed for a year. Barbaro and Bailo Pasqualigo were protected by the Venetian soldiers that had accompanied Barbaro. The conspirators made several attempts to persuade Barbaro to hand over the soldiers' arms. The Constable of Cyprus sent an agent, while the Count of Tripoli, the Archbishop of Nicosia, and the Constable of Jerusalem made personal visits. After consulting with Bailo Pasqualigo, they decided to disarm the men, but keep the weapons. Barbaro alerted the captains of the Venetian galleys in the harbor. Barbaro and the Venetian troops withdrew to one of the galleys.Giosafat Barbaro was still in Cyprus in December 1473, and the Venetian Senate sent a letter, telling Barbaro to complete his journey, as well as sending another ambassador, Ambrogio Contarini to Persia. In 1487, Barbaro wrote an account of his travels. Barbaro's account of his travels, entitled Fiaggi falti da Fenezia alla Tana in Persi was first published from 1543 to 1545. It is included Giovanne Baptista Ramusio's 1559 Collection of Travels as Journey to the Tanais, Persia, India, and Constantinople. The scholar and courtier William Thomas translated this work into English for the young King Edward VI under the title ‘’Travels to Tana and Persia’’ and also includes the account of Barbaro’s fellow ambassador to Persia, Ambrogio Contarini. This work was republished in London in 1873 by the Hakluyt Society.


Spine age toned and gilt dulled, corners bumped, spine end rubbed, some occasional foxing, book plate on front pastedown else good to very good.

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