What Did Shakespeare Read?

The Public School Commissioners who sat in 1862 found that the lines of instruction laid down in the sixteenth century
remained practically unchanged till within the memory of the present generation.

The only considerable change that took place between Shakespeare’s school days and those of Hoole was in the more general teaching of Greek, as a regular branch of school instruction.

in the fourth form, in addition to the Testament and grammar, the “Elements of Rhetoric,” Terence, “The Selected Epistles of Cicero,” Ovid’s “De Tristibus,” and “Metamorphoses,” and Buchanan’s Psalms;

in the fifth form, in addition to the “Elements of Ehetoric,” Livy’s Orations, Justin, Caesar, Florus, the Colloquies of Erasmus, and Virgil;

in the sixth form, Horace, Juvenal, Persius, Lucan, Plautus, Martial, Cicero’s Oations, and Seneca’s Tragedies.





History Of Spain and Portugal

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  1. The World in the 15th Century: Iberian Peninsula

    1. 700-1000: Muslim conquest of Iberian Peninsula
    2. The Spanish Reconquest
    3. The Spanish Inquisition 1478
    4. Age of Exploration: Spanish and Portuguese
    5. Martin Luther, 1483-1546
  2. The World in the 16th Century
    1. Reformation in Europe
    2. The Beginnings of European Imperialism
      1. Fall of Inca to Spain 1532
      2. Fall of Aztec to Spain 1519

England’s Pioneers to India

Go Back To England’s Pioneers to India by Ralph Fitch

Ralph Fitch Visited India in 1583-84


But by common consent the great Albuquerque, governor and captain-general, 1509-15, was the real founder of the Portuguese dominion inthe East. Whatever may now be thought of hismethods, his hectoring and his savagery, he followeda consistent policy. He broke down the Moorishmonopoly, and actually threatened the TurkishSultan in his own dominions.1 Establishing his capital in the island of Goa, which long flourished as a monument to his genius, his personal conquests extended from Ormuz to Malacca. At the time ofhis death, which took place on the bar of Goa in 1515, peace, so called, was universal from Ormuz to
Ceylon ; and from Cape Comorin eastward the Kingof Portugal was on terms of friendship with the kings of Pegu, Bengal, Pedir, Siam, Pacem, Java and China, the King of Maluco and the Gores.

List of governors of Portuguese India

The Decline of Portuguese Rule in India
Prof. Stephens dates the decline of Portuguese political influence from the death of the Viceroy Dom Joao de Castro at Goa in the arms of his friend St. Francis Xavier in 1548. He adds: ” But at the time when the political interest in the career of the Portuguese in Asia diminishes, the religious interest increases. . . . These (missionaries) were the men who made their way into the interior of India, and who penetrated the farthest East.”
The Inquisition was established at Goa in 1560, but it was not till the seventeenth century that the periodical auto-da-fe was commenced.



England’s first embassy as represented by Fitch and his fellow travellers, armed
with the Queen Elizabeth’s letter to the chief potentate in all India should have reached its destination. Elizabeth died in 1603 and Akbar in 1605, but before either of these dates the systematic attempt to open up trade by the establishment of the East India Company had been launched.

Further, at the end of the sixteenth century, history tells us, Akbar was trying to rule his empire on principles founded on the welfare of the vast aggregate of his peoples ; at the end of the nineteenth century the Queen-Empress of
England and India, Queen Victoria, is engaged in the same task, but over a still wider area, in the same land.

Note (Page 91)
In 1573, the Viceroy, Antony Moronha, had sent Antony Cabral to Akbar to obtain a treaty for the security of Daman, consequent upon the Emperor’s successes in Guzerat. It is further stated, adds Hunter, that one of Akbar’s wives was a
Christian, and that he ordered his son Murad, when a child, to take ” lessons ” in Christianity.


From thence I went to  Barrampore, which is in the country of Zelabdim Echebar.
In this place their money is made of kind of siluer round and thicke, to the value of twentie pence, which is very good siluer. It is marueilous great and a populous countrey. In their winter which is in lune, luly, and August, there is no passing in the streetes but with horses, the waters be so high. The houses are made of lome and thatched. Here is great store of cotton cloth made, and painted clothes of cotton wooll : here groweth great store of corne and Rice.

We  found mariages great store both in townes and villages in many places where wee passed, of boyes of eight or ten yeeres, and girls of flue or six yeeres old. They both do ride vponone horse very trimly decked, and are caried through the towne with great piping arid playing, and so returne home and eate of a banket made of Rice and fruits, and there they daimce the most part of the night and so make an ende of the marriage. They lie not together vntill they be ten yeeres old. They say they marry their children so yoong, because it is an order that when the man dieth, the woman must be burned with him : so that if the father die, yet they may haue a father in lawe to helpe to bring vp the children which bee maried : and also that they will not leaue their sonnes without wiues, nor their daughters without husbands.


From thence we went to Agra passingmany riuers, which by reason of theraine were so swollen, that wee wadedand swamme oftentimes for our Hues.Agra is a very great citie and populous,built with stone, hauing faire and largestreetes, with a faire riuer running by it, which falleth into the gulfe of Bengala. It hath a faire castle and a strong with
a very faire ditch. Here bee many
Moores and Gentiles, the king is called
Zelabdim Echebar: the people for the most part call him The great Mogor.
From thence wee went for Fatepore,
which is the place where the king kept his court. 1 The towne is greater
than Agra, but the houses and streetes
Jbe not so faire. Here dwell many
people both Moores and Gentiles. The
king hath in Agra and Fatepore as they
doe credibly report 1,000. elephants,
thirtie thousand horses, 1,400. tame
Deere, 800. concubines : such store of
Ounces, Tigers, Buffles, Cocks &
Haukes, that is very strange to see. He
keepeth a great court, which they call
Dericcan.2 Agra and Fatepore are two
very great cities, either of them much
greater than London and very populous. Bctwecne Agra and Fatepore are 12  miles, and all the way is a market of victuals & other things, as full as though
a man were still in a towne, and so
many people as if a man were in a
market. They haue many fine cartes, and many of them carued and gilded
with gold, with two wheeles which be
drawen with two litle Buls about the
bignesse of our great dogs in England,
and they will runne with any horse, and
carie two or three men in one of these
cartes : they are couered with silke or
very fine cloth, and be vsed here as our
Coches be in England. Hither is great
resort of marchants from Persia and
out of India, and very much marchandise
of silke and cloth, and of precious
stones, both Rubies, Diamants, and
Pearles. The king is apparelled in a
white Cabie made like a shirt tied with
strings on the one side, and a litle cloth
on his head coloured oftentimes with
red or yealow. None come into his
house but his eunuches which keepe his

Here in Fatepore we staled all
three vntill the 28. of September 1585,
and then master lohn Newberie tooke
his journey toward the citie of Lahor determining from thence to goe for
Persia and then for Aleppo or Constantinople,
whether hee could get soonest
passage vnto, and directed me to goe
for Bengala and for Pegu, and did promise
me, if it pleased God, to meete me
in Bengala within two yeeres with a
shippe out of England. I left William Leades the iewcller in seruice with the king Zelabdim Echebar in Fatepore,
who did entertaine him very well, and
gaue him an house and fiue slaues,
an horse, and euery day sixe S. S. in

I went from Agra to Satagam in Bengala, in the companie of one hundred and fourescore boates ladenwith Salt, Opium, Hinge, Lead, Carpets,and diuers other commodities downe
the riuer lemena. (Down the rivers Jumna and Ganges to Satgaon (or Saptagram), now a ruined town in the Hugli District, butsometime the mercantile capital of Bengal.) The chiefe marchantsare Moores and Gentiles.

The Brahmins

In these countries (he is now at Allahabad) they haue many strange ceremonies. The Bramanes which are their priests, come to the water and haue a string about their necks made with great ceremonies, and lade vp water with both their hands, and turne the string first with both their hands within, and then one arme after the other out. Though it be neuer so cold, they will wash themselues in cold water or in warme. These Gentiles will eate no flesh nor kill any thing. They Hue with rice, butter, milke, and fruits.

They pray in the water naked, and dresse their meat & eate it naked, andfor their penance they lie flat vpon theearth, and rise vp and turne themseluesabout 30. or 40. times, and vse to heauevp their hands to the sunne, & to kissethe earth, with their armes and legsstretched along out, and their right legalways before the left. Euery time they lie downe, they make a score onthe ground with their finger to knowwhen their stint is finished. TheBramanes marke themselues in theforeheads, eares and throates with akind of yellow geare which they grind,& euery morning they do it. And they haue some old men which go in thestreetes with a boxe of yellow pouder, and marke men on their heads & necksas they meet them. And their wiues do come by 10. 20. & 30. together to the water side singing, & there do wash themselues, & then vse their ceremonies, & marke themselues in their foreheds and faces, and cary some with them, and so depart singing. Their daughters be maried, at, or before the age of 10. yeres. Their men may haue 7. wiues. They be a kind of craftie people, worse then the Jewes. When they salute one another, they heaue vp their hands to their heads, and say Rame, Rame.  (Ram-Ram).

From Agra I came to Prage (Prayag, ancient name for Allahabad, by which the
city is still known amongst the Hindu population)
, where the riuer lemena entreth into the Ganges. mightie riuer Ganges, and lemena looseth his name. Ganges cometh out of the Northwest, & runneth East into the gulfe of Bengala.

In those parts (Allahabad) there are many Tigers and many partriges & turtle doues, and much other foule. Here be many beggers in these countries which goe naked, and the people make great account of them : they call them Schesche. Here I sawe one which was a monster among the rest. He would haue nothing vpon him, his beard was very long, and with the haire of hishead he couered his priuities. Thenailes of some of his fingers were twoinches long, for he would cut nothing from him, neither would he speake. Hewas accompanied with eight or tenne,and they spake for him. When anyman spake to him, he would lay hishand upon his brest and bowe himselfe, but would not speake. Hee would not speake to the king.

From Allahabad to Benaras (Page 102)
We went from Prage downe Ganges, the which is here very broad. Here is great store of fish of sundry sorts, & of wild foule, as of swannes, geese, cranes, and many otherthings. The countrey is very fruitfull and populous. The men for the mostpart haue their faces shauen, and their heads very long, except some which bee all shauen saue the crowne : and some of them are as though a man should set a dish on their heads, and shaue them round, all but the crowne. In this riuer of Ganges are many Hands. His water is very sweete and pleasant, and the countrey adioyning very fruitfull.

From thence wee went to Bannaras which is a great towne, and great store of cloth is made there of cotton, and Shashes for the Moores. In this place they be all Gentiles, and be the greatest idolaters that euer I sawe. To this towne come the Gentiles on pilgrimage
out of farre countreys. Here alongst the waters side bee very many faire houses, and in all of them, or for the most part they haue their images standing, which be euill fauoured, made of stone and wood, some some like lions, leopards, and monkeis, some like men & women, and pecocks, and some like the deuil with foure armes and 4 hands. They sit crosse legged, some with one
thing in their hands, & some another,
& by breake of day and before, there are
men & women which come out of the
towne and wash theselues in Ganges.
And there are diuers old men which
vpon places of earth made for the
purpose, sit praying, and they giue the
people three or foure strawes, which
they take & hold them betweene their
fingers when they wash themselues :
and some sit to marke them in the foreheads,
and they haue in a cloth a little
Rice, Barlie, or money, which, when
they haue washed themselues, they giue
to the old men which sit there praying.
Afterwards they go to diuers of their
images, & giue them of their sacrifices.
And when they giue, the old men say
certaine prayers, and then is all holy.
And in diuers places there standeth a
kind of image which in their language
they call Ada.

If a man or a woman be sicke and like to die, they will lay him beforetheir idols all night, and that shall helpehim or make an ende of him. And ifhe do not mend that night, his friendswill come and sit with him a litle andcry, and afterwards will cary him to the
waters side and set him vpon a litle raftmade of reeds, and so let him goe downe the riuer.

When they be maried the man and the woman come to the water side, and there is an olde man which they call a Bramane, that is, a priest, a cowe, and a calfe, or a cowe with calfe.

Note: Benares, the sacred city of Hinduism, situated on the Ganges about 120 miles below its junction with the Jumna

Patna (Page 109)
From Bannaras I went to Patenaw Jdowne the riuer of Ganges : where in theway we passed many faire townes, and acountrey very fruitfull : and many verygreat riuers doe enter into Ganges ;and some of them as great as Ganges,which cause Ganges to bee of a greatbreadth, and so broad that in the time of raine you cannot see from one side to the other. Herethe women bee so decked with siluer andcopper, that it is strange to see, theyvse no shooes by reason of the rings ofsiluer and copper which they weare on their toes.
Patenaw is a very long and a great towne. In times past it was a kingdom, but now it is vnder Zelabdim, Echebar the great Mogor. The men are tall and slender, and haue many old folks among them : the houses are simple, made of earth and couered with strawe, the streetes are very large. In this towne there is a trade of cotton, & cloth of cotton, much sugar, which they cary from hence to Bengala and India, very much Opium & other commodities. He
that is chiefe here vnder the king is called Tipperdas, and is of great account
among the people. Here in Patenau I saw a dissembling prophet which sate
vpon an horse in the market place, and made as though he slept, and many
of the people came and touched his feete with their hands, and then kissed
their hands. They tooke him for a great man, but sure he was a lasie
lubber. I left him there sleeping. The people of these countries be much
giuen to such prating and dissembling hypocrites.

Gour (In Maldah)
From Patanaw I went to Tanda which is in the land of Gouren.1 It hath in times past bene a kingdom, but now is subdued by Zelabdim Echebar.

Note: Tanda, Tandan, or Tanra, is a petty village in Maldah District, Bengal, but even the site of the ancient town, which became the capital of Bengal after the decadence of Gaur, has not been accurately determined

Cooch Behar
I went from Bengala into the country of Couche, which lieth 25. dayes iourny Northwards from Tanda. The king is a Gentile, his name is Suckel Counse : his countrey is great, and lieth not far from Cauchin China.

Here they haue much silke & muske, and cloth made of cotton.The people haue eares which bemarueilous great of a span long, whichthey draw out in length by deuises when
they be yong. Here they be all Gentiles,and they will kil nothing. Theyhaue hospitals for sheepe, goates, dogs,cats, birds, & for all other liuing creatures.When they be old & lame, theykeepe them vntil they die. If a mancatch or buy any quicke thing in otherplaces & bring it thither, they will giue him mony for it or other victuals, & keepe it in their hospitals or let it go.


From thence I returned to Hugeli,which is the place where the Portugals keep in the country of Bengala which standeth in 23. degrees of Northerly latitude, and standeth league from Satagam: they cal it Porto Piqueno.1 We went through the wildernes, becausethe right way was full of thieues, wherewe passed the countrey of Gouren, where
we found but few villages, but almostall wildernes, & saw many buffes, swine& deere, grasse longer then a ma, and very many Tigers. Not far from Porto Piqueno southwestward, standeth anhauen which is called Angeli, in thecountrey of Orixa. It was a kingdomof it selfe, & the king was a great friendo strangers. Afterwards it was taken by the king of Patan which was their neighbour, but he did not enjoy it long but was taken by Zelabdim Echebar which is king of Agra, Belli, & Cambaia. In this place is very much Rice, and cloth made ofcotton, & great store of cloth which ismade of grasse, which they call Yerua,it is like a silke. They make good clothof it which they send for India & diuers
other places. To this hauen of Angelicome euery yere many ships out ofIndia, Negapatan, Sumatra, Malacca,and diuers other places ; & lade fromthence great store of Rice, & muchcloth of cotton wooll, much sugar, &long pepper, great store of butter & other victuals for India.

Satagam (50 KM north of Howrah along Ganges) is a faire citie for a citie of the Moores, andvery plentifull of all things. Here in
Bengala they haue euery day in oneplace or other a great market whichthey call Chandeau, and they haue manygreat boats which they cal pericose,wherewithall they go from place to place and buy Rice and many other
things : these boates haue 24. or 26. oares
to rowe them, they be great of burthen,
but haue no couerture. Here the Gentiles
haue the water of Ganges in great
estimation, for hauing good water neere
them, yet they will fetch the water of
Ganges a great way off, and if they
haue not sufficient to drinke, they will
sprinkle a litle on them, and then they
thinke themselues well. From Satagam
I trauelled by the countrey of the king of Tippara or porto Grande, with whom
the Mogores or Mogen haue almost continuall
warres. The Mogen which be of
the kingdom of Recon and Rame, be
stronger then the king of Tippara, so
that Chatigan or porto Grande is oftentimes
vnder the king of Recon. [Page 115]

Note: Hugli, now the chief town and administrative headquarters of Hugli District, Bengal, is situated on the east bank of the river of the same name. It is said to have been founded by the Portuguese in 1537 on the decay of Satgaon (Saptagram) (Fitch’s Satagam or Satagan already identified), the royal port of Bengal, caused by the silting up of
the Saraswati river.

Orissa, the Holy Land of the Hindus. In 1567-8 Sulaiman, the Afghan king of Bengal, overran Orissa and captured the city of Puri where stands the famous shrine of Jagannath (Vishnu). His second son, Daud Khan, who succeeded to the governorship of Bengal, threw off his allegiance to the Moghul Emperor at Delhi with the result that in 1578 a battle took place in which Daud was killed. Orissa became a province of Akbar’s empire, and remained so till 1751, when the Marathas obtained it

England’s Pioneers to India by Ralph Fitch

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Ralph Fitch Visited India in 1583-84

“The voyage of M. Ralph Fitch marchant of London by the way of Tripolis in Syria, to Ormus, and so to Goa in the East India, to Cambaia, and all the kingdome of Zelabdim Echebar the great Mogor (Akbar the Great Mughal), to the mighty riuer Ganges, and downe to Bengala, to Bacola, and Chonderi, to Pegu, to lamahay in the kingdome of Siam, and backe to Pegu, and from thence to Malacca, Zeilan, Cochin, and all the coast of the East India : begunne in the yeere of our Lord 1583, and ended 1591, wherein the strange rites, maners, and customes of those people, and the exceeding rich trade and commodities of those countries are faithfully set downe and diligently described, by the
aforesaid M. Ralph Fitch.

In the yeere of our Lord 1583, I Ralph Fitch of London marchant being desirous to see the countreys of the East India, in the company of M. lohn Newberie marchant (which had beene at Ormus once before) of William Leedes leweller, and lames Story Painter, being chiefly set foorth by the right worshipfull Sir Edward Osborne knight, and M. Richard Staper citizens and marchants of London, did ship my selfe in a ship of London called the Tyger, wherein we went for Tripolis in Syria : & from thence we tooke the way for Aleppo, which we went in seuen dayes with the Carouan.1 Being in Aleppo, and finding good company, we went from thence to Birra, which is two dayes and an halfe trauaile with Camels.

” Birra is a little towne, but very plentifull of victuals : and neere to the wall of the towne runneth the riuer of Euphrates. Here we bought a boate and agreed with a master and bargemen, for to go to Babylon. These boats be but for one voiage ; for the streame doth
runne so fast downewardes that they cannot returne. They carie you to a towne which they call Felugia, and there you sell the boate for a litle money, for that which cost you fiftie at Birra you sell there for seuen or eight. From Birra to Felugia is sixteene dayes
iourney, it is not good that one boate.

Here very shortly after our arriuall we were put in prison, and had part of our goods taken from vs by the Captaine of the castle, whose name was Don Mathias de Albuquerque ; and from hence the eleuenth of October he shipped vs and sent vs for Goa vnto the Viceroy, which at that time was Don Francisco de Mascarenhas. The shippe wherein we were imbarked for Goa belonged to the Captaine, and carried one hundred twentie and foure horses in it. All marchandise carried to Goa in a shippe wherein are horses pay no custome in Goa. The horses the Viceroy, which at that time was Don Francisco de Mascarenhas. The shippe wherein we were imbarked for Goa belonged to the Captaine, and carried one hundred twentie and foure horses in it. All marchandise carried to Goa in a shippe wherein are horses pay no custome in Goa. The horses pay custome, the goods pay nothing ; but if you come in a ship which bringeth
no horses, you are then to pay eight in the hundred for your goods.

Page 57:

“The first citie of India that we arriued at vpon the fift of Nouember, after we had passed the coast of Zindi (Sind) is called Diu, which standeth in an Hand in the kingdome of Cambaia, andis the strongest towne that the Portugaleshaue in those partes. It is but litle, but well stored with marchandise ;for here they lade many great shippeswith diuerse commodities for the streitsof Mecca, for Ormus, and other places,and these be shippes of the Moores andof Christians. But the Moores cannotpasse, except they haue a passeportfrom the Portugales. Cambaiettas (Khambhat, Gujrat) ) isthe chiefe citie of that prouince, whichis great and very populous, and fairelbuilded for a towne of the Gentiles :but if there happen any famine, the people will sell their children for very little. The last king of Cambaia was Sultan Badu (Shah Bahadur), which was killed at thesiege of Diu, and shortly after hiscitie was taken by the great Mogor, which is the king of Agra and of Belli, which are fortie dayes iourney from the country of Cambaia. Here the women weare vpon their armes infinite numbers of rings made of Elepsants teeth, wherein they take so much delight, that they had rather be without their meate then without their bracelets. Going from Diu we come to Daman the second towne of the Portugales in the countrey of Cambaia which is distant from Diu fortie leagues. 1 Here is no trade but of corne and rice. They haue many villages vnder them which they quietly
possesse in time of peace, but in time of warre the enemie is maister of hem.

From thence we passed by Basaim, chaui. and from Basaim to Tana, at both which places is small trade but only of corne and rice. The tenth of Nouember we arriued at Chaul which standeth in the firme land. There be two townes, the one belonging to the Portugales, and the other to the Moores. That of the Portugales is neerest to the sea, and commaundeth the bay, and is walled round about. A little aboue that is the towne of the Moores which is gouerned by a Moore king called Xa-Maluco.1 Here is great traffike for all sortes of spices and drugges, silke, and cloth of silke, sandales, Elephants teeth, and much China worke, and much sugar which is made of the nutte called Gagara : the tree is called the palmer : which is the profitablest tree in the worlde : it doth alwayes beare fruit, and doth yeeld wine, oyle, sugar, vineger, cordes, coles, of the leaues are made thatch for the houses, sayles for shippes, mats to sit or lie on : of the branches they make their houses, and broomes to sweepe, of the tree wood for shippes. The wine doeth issue out of the toppe of the tree. They cut a branch of a bowe and binde it hard, and hange an earthen pot vpon it, which they emptie euery morning and euery euening, and still it and put in certaine dried raysins, and it becommeth strong wine in short time. Hither many shippes come from all partes of India, Ormus, and many from Mecca : heere be manie Moores and Gentiles.
They haue a very strange order among them, they worshippe a cowe, and esteeme muchof the cowes doung topaint the walles of their houses. Theywill kill nothing not so much as alouse : for they holde it a sinne to killeanything. They eate no flesh, but Hue
by rootes, and ryce, and milke. Andwhen the husbande dieth his wife isburned with him, if shee be aliue : ifshe will not, her head is shauen, andthen is neuer any account made of herafter. They say if they should beburied, it were a great sinne, for oftheir bodies there would come manywormes and other vermine, and whentheir bodies were consumed, thosewormes would lacke sustenance, whichwere a sinne, therefore they will beburned. In Cambaia they will killnothing, nor haue anything killed : inthe towne they haue hospitals to keepe lame dogs and cats, and for birds. They will giue meat to the Ants.

Note: It is recorded that the situation early attracted the notice of the Portuguese as affording a convenient rendezvous for shipping, and the town and land adjoining were ceded to them in 1534 by Shah Bahadur, King of Guzerat.


Further particulars of the experiences of the four travellers at Goa are given in the correspondence they sent home and happily preserved in Hakluyt’s Collection (vol. ii.). But even more interest attaches to the independent account of their arrival, detention, and escape given by John Huyghen van Linschoten (1563-1611) – served as the Portuguese Viceroy’s secretary in Goa between 1583 and 1588, the Netherlander, who, as a pioneer of discovery and commerce, stands to his own countrymen at least in quite as prominent a position as Fitch occupies in regard to the East India Company. Huyghen sailed for Goa on 8 April 1583, arriving five months later.

Image result for scene in the marketplace of goa during Portuguese rule
Goa,  market scene 16th century during the Portuguese colonisation. Engraving from ‘Navigatio in Orientem’, 1599.

The following is the text of a letter Ralph Fitch,  during his arrest, to  his friend Master Leonard Foore of London :

From Goa in the East Indies the 25 of Januarie 1584. Yours to command, Ralph Fitch.”

The following account of the arrival Lhischoten’s ancj secret departure of the Englishmen is given by John Huyghen van Linschoten, the young Dutchman who was in the train of the Archbishop of Goa. He may be accepted as an entirely unbiassed witness:
” In the moneth of December, 1 Anno, 1583, there arived in the towne and Island of Ormus foure Englishmen, which came from Aleppo in the countrie of Suria. .. Three of the said Englishmen aforesaide were sent by the Companie of Englishmen, in Aleppo,
to see if in Ormus they might keepe any Factors, and so trafficke in that place, like as also the Italians doe, that is to say, the Venetians, which in Ormus, Goa and Malacca have their Factors, and trafficke there, as well for stones and pearles, as for other wares and spices of those countries, which are caryed over land into Venice.

One of these Englishmen had beene once before in Ormus, and there had taken good information of the trade, and upon his advise the other were come thether, bringing great store of marchandises with them, as Clothes, Saffron, all kindes of glasses, knives, and such like stuffe, to conclude, all kinde of small wares that may be devised.

File:Saint Francis Xavier taking leave of King John III (1635) - José Avelar Rebelo.png

Saint Francis Xavier taking leave of King John III Date: 1635
Francis Xavier was born in the royal castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre, (now in Spain) on 7 April 1506.
In 1540 King John of Portugal had Pedro Mascarenhas, Portuguese ambassador to the Vatican, request Jesuit missionaries to spread the faith in his new Indian possessions, where the king believed that Christian values were eroding among the Portuguese. (the Jesuits were members of a new religious order, the Society of Jesus). Xavier accidentally began his life as the first Jesuit missionary in India.Francis Xavier left Lisbon on 7 April 1541 and arrived in Goa, then capital of Portuguese India on 6 May 1542, thirteen months after leaving Lisbon.

Following quickly on the great voyages of discovery, the Portuguese had established themselves at Goa thirty years earlier. Francis’ primary mission, as ordered by King John III, was to restore Christianity among the Portuguese settlers. According to Teotonio R. DeSouza, recent critical accounts indicate that apart from the posted civil servants, “the great majority of those who were dispatched as ‘discoverers’ were the riff-raff of Portuguese society, picked up from Portuguese jails.” Nor did the soldiers, sailors, or merchants come to do missionary work, and Imperial policy permitted the outflow of disaffected nobility. Many of the arrivals formed liaisons with local women and adopted Indian culture. Missionaries often wrote against the “scandalous and undisciplined” behaviour of their fellow Christians.

Afonso de Albuquerque, Duke of Goa (1453 –  1515)

Portuguese discoveries and explorations: first arrival places and dates; main Portuguese spice trade routes in the Indian Ocean (blue)


Elizabeth’s Letter to Akbar

Back to England’s Pioneers in India

Elizabeth by the grace of God,
To the most inuincible and most mightie prince, lord Zelabdim Echebar king of Cambaya.

Inuincible Emperor,
The great affection which our Subiects haue to visit the most distant places of the world, not without good will and intention to introduce the trade of marchandize of al nations whatsoeuer they can, by which meanes the mutual and friendly trafique of marchandize on both sides may came, is the cause that the bearer of this letter lohn Newbery, ioyntly with those that be in his company, with a curteous and honest boldnesse, doe repaire to the borders and countreys of your Empire, we doubt not but that your imperial Maiestie through your royal grace, will fauourably and friendly accept him. And that you would doe it the rather for our sake, to make vs greatly beholding to your Maiestie; wee should more earnestly, and with more wordes require it, if wee did think it needful. But by the singular report that is of your imperial Maiesties humanitie in these vttermost parts of the world, we are greatly eased of that burden, and therefore wee vse the fewer and lesse words : onely we request that because they are our subiects, they may be honestly
intreated and receiued. And that in respect of the hard iourney which they haue vndertaken to places so far distant, it would please your Maiesty with some libertie and securitie of voiage to gratifie it, with such priuileges as to you shall seeme good : which curtesie if your Imperiall maiestie shal to our subiects at our requests performe, wee, according to our royall honour, wil recompence the same with as many deserts as we can.

And herewith we bid your Imperial Maiestie to farewel.

Ralph Fitch(born c. 1550—died c. Oct. 4, 1611, London, Eng.), merchant who was among the first Englishmen to travel through India and Southeast Asia.

In February 1583, together with John Newberry, John Eldred, William Leedes, and James Story, Fitch embarked in the Tiger and reached Syria in late April. (Act I, scene 3 of William Shakespeare’s Macbethalludes to the trip.) From Aleppo (Syria), they went overland to the Euphrates, which they descended to Al-Fallūjah, now in Iraq, and from there crossed over to Baghdad and sailed down the Tigris to Basra(May–July 1583). Eldred remained, but Fitch and the others sailed down the Persian Gulf to the trading centre of Hormuz, where they were arrested at the instigation of Venetian merchants and transported to the island of Goa in Portuguese India. They were jailed until they were released on bond provided by two Jesuits.

Story chose to remain in Goa, but in April 1584 Fitch, Newberry, and Leedes escaped and began their journey across India. They visited the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar at Fatehpur Sīkri, near Āgra, in north-central India, where Leedes settled as court jeweler. Newberry began a return journey to England, but he is believed to have died in India.

Fitch descended the Yamuna and Ganges rivers and visited Vārānasi (Benares) and Patna. By land he traveled to Cooch Behār at the base of the Himalayas, where he possibly hoped to learn of Tibetan trade across the mountains. After traveling through East Bengal, he sailed for Myanmar (Burma) in November 1586. He visited the Yangon (Rangoon) region; sailed up the Irrawaddy River; stopped at Pegu, fabled for its splendour; and ventured into the Siamese Shan states, now in Myanmar (1586–87).

Elizabeth : Exploration and Foreign Policy

Go back to The Tudors

  1. Elizabeth I: exploration and foreign policy

CHAPTER II ADVENTURE AND DISCOVERY  (England’s Pioneer to India and Burma)

This was the period of renaissance for the Royal Navy, in which the Queen from the first exhibited the liveliest interest, though her subsequent niggardliness imperilled the safety of her realm. At the death of Henry VIII. the navy consisted of 53 vessels, with an aggregate burden of 6,255 tons, and a total complement officers, soldiers, sailors, and gunners of about 8,000 men. The largest vessel was the Great Harry of 1,000 tons.

By 1578 she had succeeded in forming a fleet of 24 vessels, with a total complement of 7,000 men, the largest being the Triumph, 1,000 tons, while there were two of 900 tons, two of 800 tons, five of 600 tons and so on down to 60 tons. Meanwhile enterprise and adventure had been carried on far beyond these shores, till at last the fortitude, endurance, and courage displayed in various parts of the globe opened out permanent
avenues to commerce, and laid the foundations of the British Empire.

It need not be a matter of surprise that the beginnings of expansion were left to individual adventurers and small combinations of merchants surely such a commencement should be rather a matter of congratulation than otherwise. But Elizabeth never forgot that she was a proscribed person, that her kingdom was in a state of incipient antagonism to the leading European Powers, and, secretly to begin with, then openly and defiantly, she furthered the projects of her vigorous, almost unruly adventurers, thus reaping a rich reward for herself and leaving a greater one for posterity. Up to the time of the departure of Master Ralph Fitch for India and the Far East (1583) various of his countrymen had within comparatively recent years penetrated to other distant lands, but a summary of their doings will suffice. [Page 24]

Note: By late 1495, Sebastian Cabot had reached Bristol, England, a port city that had served as a starting point for several previous expeditions across the North Atlantic. From there, he worked to convince the British crown that England did not have to stand aside while Spain claimed most of the New World, and that it was possible to reach Asia on a more northerly route than the one Columbus had taken.

Sebastian Cabot

Richard Chancelor/ Anthony Jenkinson

Sir Humphrey Gilbert
Martin Frobisher / Walter Raleigh

Francis Drake 

Drake’s expedition to Nombre de Dios

John Hawkins (1562) ==> the first English trader to profit from the Triangle Trade

Gilbert (1578) may be fittingly described as the father of British colonisation. His first expedition, which was to found a colony somewhere in North America, left England in 1578, but was beaten back by the Spaniards, and returned in 1579. In 1583 he started again, steering for Newfoundland, where the English had for some time enjoyed a share of the fisheries, his idea being to sail southward afterwards to find a suitable spot to found a permanent home.

The Ridolfi Plot

object of the expedition, it was ” to search the waste of the Pacific and find openings for English commerce; but with private instructions from the Queen, which might be shown or withheld, acted upon or not acted upon, as convenience might afterwards dictate.” [Page 33]

But in the interval a spirit had been growing up for which he never calculated, and such men as Drake and John Hawkins, Frobisher, Raleigh, and Gilbert were inspired by it. The love of adventure ; the hope of something afar off; the stretching forth, as it were, of unshackled limbs ; the drinking in of purer and unaccustomed air these affected the whole mass of a constitutionally vigorous people, who, almost intoxicated as they were by their new-found aspirations, could approach their Sovereign with a certainty of finding sentiments peculiarly in harmony with their own.

These were the circumstances and  these the times in which Master Ralph Fitch and his companions began their memorable journey to India and the Far East. Despite the
relentless cruelties of the Spanish inquisitors, even to castaways like Philips, Englishmen could be found in any number to join any expedition even to unknown regions. [Page 37]

The Tudors

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Image result for the tudor dynasty family tree

The Tudors

  1. Battle of Bosworth
  2. Henry VIII and English Reformation
    1. The Restoration
    2. The Act of Supremacy (1534)
    3. Formation of The Anglican Church
    4. The Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer

    5. The Pilgrimage of Grace
  3. Elizabeth I
      1. Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603)

      2. The Court of Elizabeth I
      3. Voyages of discovery during Elizabethan time
      4. Elizabeth I: exploration and foreign policy First, Second, Next


“I went out to Charing Cross, to see major-general Harrison [a regicide] hanged, drawn and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition.” From

The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1660)

The Tudors occupied a far more brutal society than we do today. Violent death was commonplace, even – or especially – at court, where the stakes were highest and those seeking advancement often paid the ultimate price. Even minor misdemeanours were met with severe punishments: if you stole a loaf of bread, you could be tied to a post and publicly whipped, branded with a hot iron or have your hand struck off. The punishments for more serious crimes could be horrifyingly brutal. Attempted murder could result in the perpetrator being boiled alive, and if a woman was found guilty of petty treason (the betrayal of a superior by a subordinate) she could be burned alive. It was an age when people attended public executions for entertainment,and violent sports such as cock-fighting and bear-baiting were also popular. Elizabeth herself had a penchant for the latter.

History Text Books


    1. Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development 3rd Edition
      by Stanley Katz, ISBN:   9780415879569
    2. Remarkable Providences: Readings on Early American History Paperback – June 18, 1991 by by John Demos (Editor)
    3. The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783
      by John Brewer ISBN: 9780674809307
    4. Capitalism and Slavery, by Eric Williams ==>> Available online
    5. Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550-1653, Aug 17, 2003 by Robert Brenner
    6. The Case for The Enlightenment: Scotland and Naples 1680-1760 (Ideas in Context) 1st Edition by John Robertson
    7. Representation and Misrepresentation in Later Stuart Britain: Partisanship and Political CultureNov 23, 2006 by Mark Knights
    8. The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West Paperback – September 23, 2008 by Mark Lilla
    9. Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not by Prasannan Parthasarathi
    10. The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800 (Princeton Classics) Updated edition with a New Foreword Edition, Kindle Edition by R. R. Palmer (Author), David Armitage (Foreword)
    11. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn ==>> Available online
    12. America: A Narrative History / Edition 9 by  George Brown Tindall and David E. Shi

    13. Coming of Age in Mississippi By Anne Moody


See the texts taught at 10 of the top US colleges and how often they appeared over the last 15 years.
10 top US colleges*

Rank Count Text Author
1 168 Republic Plato
2 163 Leviathan Hobbes, Thomas
3 163 The Prince Machiavelli, Niccolò
4 158 The Clash of Civilizations Huntington, Samuel
5 145 The Elements of Style Strunk, William
6 122 Ethics Aristotle
7 119 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn, Thomas
8 119 Democracy in America Tocqueville, Alexis De
9 116 The Communist Manifesto Marx, Karl
10 113 The Politics Aristotle

The Court of Elizabeth

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Elizabethan Courtiers – the Favorites of Queen Elizabeth I
The Elizabethan Courtiers who were the favorites of Queen Elizabeth I included the men in the following list:

Robert Dudley
Sir Philip Sydney
Sir Thomas Wyatt
Sir Walter Raleigh
Robert Devereux – Earl of Essex

These men were famous Elizabethan courtiers and favorites of Queen Elizabeth I. These men were all handsome, well educated and well versed in courtly manners

Elizabethan Courtiers – the Explorers and Pirates of Queen Elizabeth I

The Elizabethan Courtiers who were the explorers, privateers and pirates of  Queen Elizabeth I included the men in the following list:

Sir Francis Drake
Sir Humphrey Gilbert
Sir Richard Grenville
Sir John Hawkins
Sir Martin Frobisher
Sir Richard Hawkins

Elizabethan Courtiers – the Politicians, Statesmen and Advisors of Queen Elizabeth I
The Elizabethan Courtiers who were the Politicians, Statesmen and Advisors of Queen Elizabeth I included the men in the following list:

John Dee
Sir Francis Walsingham
William Cecil – Lord Burghley
Robert Cecil

File:Shakspeare Performing Before Queen Elizabeth and Her Court.jpg

Shakspeare Performing Before Queen Elizabeth and Her Court


English Alphabet during Elizabeth had 24 letters – no J or U. J was same as V and U was same as I.

Court Of Elizabeth
James Lancaster’s Indian voyage, like Ralph Fitch‘s overland explorations and trading, was an important factor in the foundation of the East India Company.

At her accession, the Queen inherited over sixty royal residences. Some Elizabeth occasionally frequented, but many were dilapidated. Others fell into ruin over the course of the reign as the cost of maintaining them was enormous. One solution was to bestow these residences on favoured courtiers. Robert Dudley, in particular, did well in this regard, receiving, amongst others, Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire.

Elizabeth, in the early part of her reign, needed to impress a number of people that she could rule England well. Many of the people Elizabeth wished to impress were the ambassadors present from foreign courts, especially those of France and Spain, and had permanent lodgings at the court. Because of these permanent observers, even the menial tasks needed to be performed in such a way as to promote an aura of respect and awe.

The royal household was organized into two major sections, which Sir James Croft classified as “the Chamber and the Household.” The control of the household was divided between the Lord Steward and the Lord Chamberlain.  The Lord Chamberlain was responsible for “public ceremony and … the king’s private service”, in other words the Domus Regie Magnificencie. He was assisted by the Vice-Chamberlain and, infrequently by some of the gentlemen ushers within his department.

The Lord Steward was responsible for the Domus Providencie, as well as “accounting and household management”.

Hampton Court Palace , [Ref 1]

Elizabeth and her court


Comparison to 21st Century Education


The three most prominent poets of the time were John Lyly, Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. Although Elizabethan poetry has been in the background, there are some people that considered it the best lines ever written.

The first and the best poetic work of Edmund Spenser was The Shepheardes Calendar. Particularly, Spenser used the “Spenserian stanza”, a poetic form that he invented. Each stanza has nine lines: eight lines in iambic pentameter followed by a single ‘Alexandrine’ line in iambic hexameter. The rhyme scheme of these lines is “ababbcbcc.”

Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard are considered the introducers of the English sonnet. Finally, Shakespeare also wrote some poems and he popularized the sonnet form, but with some changes in Petrarch’s model. Shakespeare’s sonnets are approximately formed by three four-line stanzas and a final couplet composed in iambic pentameter.


  1. SIR JOHN NEALE, 84, Elizabethen HISTORIAN, IS DEAD, NY Times 
  2. The Elizabethen House Of Commons by John Neale – This is probably the most important book on the politics of the Elizabethan England ever produced.
  3. https://www.ukessays.com/essays/english-literature/looking-at-the-elizabethan-era-english-literature-essay.php

Merry Company Painting of 17th Century

Go back to Categories Of Paintings

Genre: Merry Company

List of works

  1. The Proposition by Judith Leyster, 1631
  2. The Gallant Conversation by Gerard ter Borch, 1654
  3. Use of Lute as a symbol in paintings during the Dutch Golden Age
  4. The Matchmaker or The Procuress by Gerard van Honthorst , 1625, Lute as symbol
  5. The Procuress by Dirck van Baburen, 1622, Lute as symbol

The Italian renaissance ended around the end of 16th century. Da vinci (d. 1519), Michelangelo (1564), Raphael (1520) passed away. The Renaissance is all about Religious and portrait painting. After Renaissance, artists began exploring areas of everyday life. Different “Genre”s developed.

One such Genre is Merry Company.

Gerard ter Borch (II) 019.jpg

Figure 1. Gerard ter Borch | The Gallant ConversationYear c.1654 | Oil-on-canvas

The Paternal Admonition (also known as the Gallant Conversation) belongs to other contemporary Dutch and Fleming “sexual proposition” paintings such as The Proposition, many falling into the Merry company genre.

Judith Leyster The Proposition.jpg

Figure 2. The Proposition, Judith Leyster, 1631

The convention for the genre, a common one at the time, was for the characters to be bawdy, and clearly both interested in sex, for money. The dress would be provocative, the facial expressions suggestive, and sometimes there would be a third figure of an older woman acting as a procuress. The Procuress by Dirck van Baburen clearly also falls in that category.

Also see The Matchmaker or The Procuress by Gerard van Honthorst in this categoryy. There are two ways to interpret this painting. But first, lets understand the symbolism


The painting has only one element of symbolism, the lute. The lute in matchmaker’s hands indicates love, sex or woman genitals based on the context, theme or subject. Use of Lute in paintings during the Dutch Golden Age was prominent. And it also seems to be an object often seen in the settings where love or sex is the main theme.

A Luteplayer Carousing With A Young Woman Holding A Roemer - Hendrick Terbrugghen

A Luteplayer Carousing With A Young Woman Holding A Roemer, Hendrick Terbrugghen

Whether it’s A Luteplayer Carousing With A Young Woman Holding A Roemer by Hendrick Terbrugghen oil painting from 17th Century or the lute used in In the Harem by Filippo Baratti and many other paintings including lute as a prominent piece in the painting, we can tell that artists over the time has somehow related lute with love or sex in the paintings. Though, it’s not necessarily the case for every painting as there are uses of a lute in portrait paintings as a prop, but in aforementioned scenarios from the 17th century, a lute is present element every time.

The witty painting gives viewers a voyeuristic glimpse of a romantic scene on a gondola in 16th-century Venice because under the flap is a picture of a flirtatious couple being serenaded by a lute player. This may have inspired scenes in The Merchant of Venice

The witty painting gives viewers a voyeuristic glimpse of a romantic scene on a gondola in 16th-century Venice because under the flap is a picture of a flirtatious couple being serenaded by a lute player. This may have inspired scenes in The Merchant of Venice

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3497442/Much-ado-manuscripts-Rare-witching-pamphlets-monster-maps-paintings-shed-light-artwork-influenced-William-Shakespeare-s-greatest-plays.html#ixzz4vGtpwgGI
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