The Tour of the world project:

Pedro Ordóñez de Ceballos,
El viaje del mundo (Madrid: 1614).

Book I, Chapter 2 (Part 2)

Uploaded on 6 September 2012 by .

Permalink for this paragraph 0 [5r continued]

Permalink for this paragraph 0 We assumed from all this that all the fleet had suffered from the weather, and it turned out to be true. Within three hours we had discovered another caramoussal, slightly smaller than the last, and we thought we could repeat our feat and board it with the same success. And so we charged at it with the same fury as with the first, but when we boarded it, the Janissaries and other Turks onboard defended themselves with such courage and determination that had to fight them man to man. With me was a servant called Marcos Ortiz, from Jeréz, and a fellow soldier called Pedro de Lomelín, and both were brave soldiers, as will be told. We were the first to board them, and behind us another fourteen men. But we were soon surrounded on deck, and our fellows stopped from boarding with such tenacity that three fell overboard, and another six lost their fingers and hands. When the General saw this, he shouted, ‘forward soldiers, to the defence of our friends!’, and so thirty men broke through the port side and pushed the Turks back, joining us. The Janissaries fought back, but they failed to win that side back, and so another hundred men were able to come through. The Turks retreated to the stern, where they defended themselves for over three hours. Great deeds were performed on both sides, and the greatest by Pedro de Lomelín. By around three we had won, since by this time everything valuable had been looted and taken to our galleys; and since those who were left did not want to surrender, our [5v] General ordered that we return to our ships and breach their hull; and so we sank them. We found thirty-two Christians, but lost thirteen of our men, and more than thirty were wounded. On their side, over half we killed in combat, and the rest drowned.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 That night, we encountered a small scout ship – a long vessel with thirteen oars on each side. It was so light it seemed to fly, but by the time it understood our strategy, and that ours were not Turkish ships, it had been fallen in our trap. We released their Christian captives, keeping onboard those who wanted to join us as soldiers, and forced the Turks to row. We sent this brigantine to Messina to tell our news to the Marquess of Santacruz. We loaded it with gold and silver, and sent with it one of the Marquess’s secretaries, along with twenty-four soldiers – twelve from each of our galleys – and ordered the crew not to stop before reaching Sicily, even if they spotted the Marquess on the way, and it arrived safely with the greatest riches a ship had ever carried.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 We sailed through that whole archipelago of islands, which must number over two hundred, some with a town, others with three, and many with none: all their inhabitants are Greeks, subjects of the Turk, and in the stronger ones there are Turkish garrisons. We entered the open sea, touched at two ports, and eventually anchored. We heard in all Karamania of the great deaths and punishments that had been ordered by the Turk in response to an uprising led against him by a bishop. In the end, they were defeated and punished as people with no weapons, and those Greeks and Albanians, and those of other nations that inhabit this region, that all they want are weapons and direction to take revenge on that cruel enemy [6r] that oppresses them. And it is certain that it is a most inexplicable secret why in God’s great mercy and divine providence, He keeps so many Christians subject to such lords and exploited by such a tyrant.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 We took in that sea ten or twelve small vessels, taking what we needed and sinking the rest, including their people, to the bottom of the sea. One morning, after five days of making no progress, near cape Quersoneso and the island of Xops,1 we discovered large ship, like a wargalley, sailing diagonally and very battered by the weather. It seemed to prepare to attack us, and it carried over thirty guns on each side, and we saw great numbers of people, so we resolved not to attack it, but rather retreat before the day cleared up, and alter our course greatly. Two or three hours later, we saw and chased a large ship. From its crew we heard great news, since it bore great quantities of coin from all those kingdoms, and that this ship and another two caramoussals carried a total of four millions, and our joy was immense, given what had happened to the last ones. This ship we sank like the rest, as this was convenient, and to avoid being discovered. What happened next will now be told.

  1. It is not entirely clear what this is referring to. Chersonesos (Χερσόνησος) is Greek for ‘peninsula’, which is deeply unhelpful. Most probably, he is referring to the peninsula of Erythraia (modern Cesme), which is opposite Chios (Χίος), an important island at the time. The Chios straight between them is on the way from Crete and Karamania to the Black Sea, where they head next. Moreover, in contemporary Castilian, the letter ‘X’ would have been pronounced /ʃ/ rather than /x/ (e.g. [‘doŋ kiˈʃote], rather than [‘doŋ ki’xote]), which would mean that the pronunciation of ‘Xops’ would be something like the English ‘shops’, and certainly closer to the Greek pronunciation of Χίος [ˈçios] than the modern Castilian pronunciation of ‘Xops’ would be. Ceballos is writing this in his retirement, many years later, and it is not unlikely that he only vaguely remembers the sound of the name. The other plausible possibility, that he is referring to the Chersonesos of Crete, the ancient harbour of Lyctus, seems unlikely, especially given the difficulty of identifying an island of this name and the course that the galleys are taking.
    I am indebted to Ares Papangelou for this suggestion, and for his research into this question. []