Three Miseries of Barbary: Plague. Famine. Civill Warre

Miseries of Barbary:
Civill warre.

With a relation of the death of Maha-
met the late Emperour: and a briefe
report of the now present Wars
betweene the three Brothers.
Printed by W. I. for Henry Gosson, and are to be sold in Pater noster rowe at the signe of the Sunne.


1. To the Right Worshipfull the whole Company of the Barbary Merchants.

HAving drawn certaine Collections together of some, the best and maine occurrents which have now lately (and not many yeares past) hapned in Barbary; & they being digested into a Volume (although little for quantity, yet delightfull to be perused for the raritye,) I thought they could not better be bestowed, than upon such as holde commerce with that Countrey, and know the state and condition of the people. Amongest which number I make bolde to present these my labors to you onely, because you are all Brothers, and men that most worthily can judge of the Relation, and the truth thereof. The chiefe and farthest point that my intention seeks to arrive at in [Page] this, is to describe the horrour and un-heard-of misery that hath falne upon that Kingdome by a Plague: to the intent that by comparing our sins with theirs (being altogether as greet if not greater) and the hand of mercy which Heaven hath stretcht forth over our Nation, above theirs, we may be allured to looke into our soules betimes, least the like Viols of Wrath bee powred downe uppon us. It is my love that bestowes this uppon you, which I pray receive with such good acceptation, as with my best affection it comes unto you. And thus referring my selfe to your censure I take my leave.
Devoted yours,
Geo. Wilkins.

2. Barbary.

THis is a story (like a briefe Chronicle) conteining various and much matter in few lines: It is but a little bottom of Tyme, which you may holde and hide in your hand, yet being unrolled (to the length) it reacheth to the beginning of many yeares past. A word now must stand heare (as in a Map) for a Citty, and a few sheetes for the Chart of a spacious Kingdome.

Understand therefore that Abdela the Emperor being dead: Muly Mahamet his Brother succeeded, and was crowned King of Barbary. No sooner was this dignity conferred uppon him, but he revenged himselfe on those that in Abdelaes raign loved him not, and therefore by their counsels did what in them lay, to draw his Brothers (the Emperors affection) from him, yea so far that they perswaded either to have his eyes put out, or bee sent to death: of these counsellours, these three were chiefe, Alcade Azus, Alcade Mussa , and Alcade Bardu, from two of which he commaunded their lives: but because his state needed the heads of Wise-men to hold it up, and for yt he was not generally beloved of ye Nobility and some of the bloud Royal: he gave [Page] Alcade Azus his life, and of a prisoner and a Man in disgrace, advanced him up to higher honours then before; receiving him every daie into his bosome for his counsell: which he did the rather because he knew that Azus would bee provident and carefull to increase the Emperors Bittelmell (that is to say) his treasury. Much and often was his mind perplexed with thoughts about settling his Empire; his cogitations fought within the[m]selves, when sometimes hee would (in his owne pryuate Judgment) make such a man fit to be of his secret and chiefest counsels, and sometimes another: this he would like to day, and to morrow utterly distast him.

At length he resolved to trust none of his owne Country-men, but lay his hart in the brest of one of his Elkes, (yt is to say, a Christian turned Moore) yet (upon sounder contemplation) him hee rejected too: he would put the health of so great a Kingdome into no such dangerous Physitiaus hands: for he delivered that Mahamet (his GOD) would take all favor from him if he should doe so: besides he that had forsaken his owne Law and religion, could not have the temper of constancy, to serve one of a contrary religion: nay, how ever in out-ward shew, these Elkes or Regadoes (quoth hee) seeme Saints, and holy ones, to me they may prove Divels, and hold it no conscience to betray my bloud and Kingdome. Azus therefore was the man culled out from the rest, by the Emperor.


This Prince flourished in as great glory, as the greatest of his predecessors: the blessed fruites of sweete peace, tooke away the sourenesse of any warre (either forren or domesticke) that was served in against him: his subjects were infinite, his Citties filled with Nations: He had more Wives then any of his fore-fathers: his Concubins were fairer and more in number; he was as happy as ever was any King in Barbary , in the flourishing multitudes of his people: and as infortunate as ever any before him, in beholding their misery. Fortune twice had her pleasure upon him, first in lifting him uppe hygh in her love, lastly in pursuing him and his subjectes with her tyrrany.

Many noble and notable occurrentes, presented themselves to the eye and eare of the world, during his Raigne: of which to write as they deserve, were to adde a large Volume to the Chronicles of that Countrey. I will therefore (as one having been at a royall banquet) reserve some of it to my selfe, and bestow some uppon others, such as I thinke will be sweetest in going downe: of which take this as part.

It was in his time, when that great Armada, (that brought terror in her Wombe from Spaine) was delivered of it, in the narrowe Seas of England. At the birth (but indeed the buriall) of which invincible Navy, the [Page] Spaniards that lay then in Barbary and attended on the Spanish Embassadour, beguiling themselves with a false rumor, that this land was conquered, prepared for triumphs, as (if their joy had bin tamely begot) they had reason: But one Maister Arnold Tomson (an english Marchant) certifying to the Emperour the truth and certaine defeature of the Spanish Fleete: the English men that were there, hadde likewise leave of Mahamet, to expresse their joy in Bonefires, and other triumphes; for the King did ever love the Nation of our Countrey, and did many favors to our Marchantes.

The English Embassadour lying in the same streete where the Spanish Embassador lay, and our Marchants gathering togither, determining to ride into the fielde, and there having put themselves into some gallant order, to come backe into the Citty, in a triumphant and civill manner, to doe honour to their Country for so happy and un-heard-of a victory: behold, before the Spanish Embassadors gate (by which our Country-men determined on horsebacke to passe) stood a company of Spaniardes, (with some Moores whom they had hired) armed with pike and shot to stoppe their passage; betweene whom what happened, those english Marchantes ye then were hurt, (of which maister Arnold Tomson was one) can if they be yet living testifie: [Page] and for those that were then slaine out-right, the Emperour (in indignation) swore not onely that they who did execute this trechery uppon the english Nation, should have Iron given them (that is to say, should have their throates cut) but hee would also certifie the King of Spaine of this abuse: so willing was hee to doe Justice even to strangers.

Another accident (because it is worthy note for the example, and may be a warning to our Countrey-men) will I set downe: and this is it. An English man fallen out and struck by his maister, desperately resolved (whilest the fire was in his bloud) to revenge those blowes on his body, by giving wounds to his own soule: and thereupon he presently went and denyed his religion, forsooke Christ to follow Mahomet; And from a Christian turned Moore.

It is the custome of that Countrey when any Man wil do so, to observe (amongst others) these ceremonies: It is signified to those Christians yt are in the Citty, Towne, &c. that such a one will be an Elke, or turne Moore, A certaine equall number therefore (aswel Barbarians as Christians) are assembled in a place fit for such purposes; one part sitting (like Judges) on ye one side, the other, opposite directly against them: the Turne-coate just in the middle of the roome betweene them, and in presence of both, he is there then demaunded, [Page] whether he will deny the law of his owne religion and embrace theirs or no: It is offered unto him his free liberty to take the one or the other: nay it is lawfull for those that sit there on the contrary part (being Christians) to use all the power of Argument to winne him from this delinguishment. Thus did they serve this man: thus was he three severall times, convented before them: and three several times did he most stifly defend what he had done, and defie Christ: no Physicke of Spirituall counsell doing good uppon him, they gave him over. But note the judgment of that Captaine (the Lord of hoasts) whose colours of salvation he had forsaken, within a short time (after this Apostasy & rebellion of his soule) this Traytor to God, happened to kill a Man: for which fact hee was adjudged by the Ladies of that Country, not to loose his life, but (which was worse) to live; But how to live? As the first Murderer that ever drew bloud of Man: as Cayne lived, wandering up and down, with none (on paine of death) to keep him company, but his owne thoughtes which were tenne thousand executioners; none to give him bread, so that he fed upon despaire: none to quench his thirst, so that he drunke the poison of an infected conscience, he knew he had killed a Man, and therefore even Infidels abhorred him: he knew he had forsaken his Religion, and therefore Christians would not pitty him: In this wretehed state he went up and downe, in this misery he pyned, till hee dyed: let that death of his teach others how to live.


But leaving this, let us againe fixe our eyes upon Mahamet the Emperor, who (thinking it would be as great a glory to him, to create others, Kings, as to be a King himselfe) did (by the advice of his counsell, but most of all out of the working and height of his owne spirit) determine to divide his large and fruitful Empire amongst his Sonnes.

Of all the Wives and Concubins that this Emperor had, three onely, (above the rest) had a soveraignty over his amorous affections, and of those three, he did still prefer one before the other. Lilia Isa was the fairest, and her did he love dearest: shee was empresse over the rest, yet were ye rest Queenes over others, shee had the supreame commaund of the Kinges house, and none commaund her but the King. Lilia Ageda was a Negro, yet had she a second place in his heart. Lilia Myriem had the third: of Lilia Myriem (being a blacke Woman likewise) did hee beget a Son, called Muly-Shem, being one of the fairest Children that ever he had, but this Muly-Shem offring some offence to a youth that attended on him, was by him slaine. The young-man afterward (knowing the Emperours wrath) killing himselfe. Lilia Agede was mother to Muly-Beferris, and Muly-Sheck, (the youngest Brother:) Lilia Isa Mother to Muly-Sidan (the eldest.) Betweene these three were these late civell warres in Barbary.

And thus did >Mahamet make division of his Kingdome, which afterwarde bred division amongst his people, and set all in a Combustion to [Page] Muly sidan (who was given to Armes and to love a Souldier) gave he the Kingdome Tadula, and Taphalet: to Mulibefarris (whose soule lusted after nothing but sensuall pleasure) gave he the Kingdome of Sus: to Muly-Sheck, the Kingdome of Fez : appoynting Mustapha (that was born a Christian, and turned Moore, but a Souldier, and a Gentleman of a Noble Spirit) to attend on Sheck as his Guardian, because he was but young.

Before we step any farther, it shall not be amisse (because I would draw this Barbary-picture, with as much life and delightfull colours as I could) to set downe a pretty combat betweene two of the Emperours Wives, playd before the Emperour himselfe. Thus it was: Mahamet sitting one morning with Lilia Ageda (the Negro ) by him, talking mearily (for hee tooke pleasure in her speech, because shee was wise:) In comes Isa (his fairest bedfellow) and seeing the Blacke-one so neere her beloved, she blushed and shewed anger even in her eyes, (for what Woman woulde not be angry to see another robbe her of the love of an Emperour?) At length bowing to the earth, she fell at the Kings feete, and with a pretty smile beganne to tell a tale of the Larke and the Crow: the shutting uppe of her morrall being, that the Larke was the Bird of the morning, and of the day, and therefore might be bold to challenge the mornings due, and all Rytes of the day; But the Crow was the Bird of the night, and had nothing to do with the morning.


The emperor understanding her sweete witty bitternesse, that by the Larke shee ment her selfe, and by the Crow, Lilia Ageda (because of her blacknesse) was so delighted with the comparison, that hee gave charge none should ever after presume to give the Emperour his good morrowe, till Lilia Isa had bin with him, and thereupon was Isa called the emperors Larke, or his Bird of the morning.

Let us loose one poynt more of our compasse, and sayle a little out of our intended way to finde out in what feare and awful reverence the subjects of this Kingdome hold the anger of their Soveraigne: to understand which, receive this only as a tast. One of the emperours officers of his Custome (whose name was Cidde Abdela Creme) being an olde Man, had one Sonne onely, (called Enhamet ) whom he tendred as his life, being the hope and health of his age: him had the father put into his owne place: the young man comming in a morning betimes to the Custome-house, but the rest of the officers being not present, he could not enter (for every one hath a severall Key, and unlesse all be there together, not one can get in) he determined within himselfe to spend an houre (til the rest met) in renewing the emperors pallace (where his Concubins lived) because he was told it was a rare and rich place, and that it was not lawfull without great meanes to enter. That report more inflamed his desire, insomuch that in the end (watching his time) by stealth he got in.


Where being, and staring up and downe, it chanced that one of the Women saw him, who presently screeked out, and ranne crying, A man, a man: for you must note, that if any one of them spy a Man, (except the Eunuches that attend them) and doe not call for helpe, it is death to her: and what Man soever rudely presume to have a fight of the[m], it is death to him. It was knowne by inquiry, (upon her noyse) that it was Enhamet the Customers Sonne, who had thus offended the lawes: the Emperor being given to understand so much, made an oath he should dye for it. Immediately upon this (by occasion of some busines) comes the olde Man (Enhamets Father) to the King, who supposing it hadde beene about his Sonnes pardon, and his indignation being now a little cooler) suddainely demaunded of him what that Man deserved, that durst breake into the place where his Emperours Concubins were: Cidde Abdela (not suspecting the offender) answered, that hee deserved the sharpest sentence of death, for so the Law would adjudge him. Be thou then (quoth the Emperor) thine owne Sonnes condemnation: As thou hast judged him, so let it be. But the King beholding death sitting in the olde Mans face at that doome, grew pittifull, and (for love he bare the Father) forgave the Sonne, which mercy notwithstanding, Abdela Creme not truely laying holde of, but mistaking the Noble spirit of a Prince, and imagining that this favor so strangely extended was but a snare to intrap his owne [Page] life, because offences of that nature were never before pardoned in any: home hee comes; with sorrow in his afflicted looks, and his heart even murdered within him, by the cruelty of his owne thoughtes: his Sonne demaunded the cause of this so strange and suddaine distemperature, but his Father giving no answer, sends for cordes, shewes them onely insteade of speech, and to make this dumb Tragedy fall in the end, he causeth him before his owne eyes to bee strangled: great were the lamentations of the Sonne, and aboundant were the teares he let fall to soften his Fathers heart: a mighty conflict was there in the poore old mans bosome, betweene naturall piety to a Child, and naturall feare of a Soveraigne: but the last of the two prevailed: and having bestowed upon the dead body the ceremonies of the grave, according to the custome of the Countrey, hee caused the Act to bee registred downe for his owne safety, alledging that howsoever the Emperor (when he heard this blacke and unnaturall deed reported) would happily bee moved unto wrath, yet inwardly he would be highly contented with it.

Mahamet being thus feared and loved of his subjects, wanted nothing that (according to humane Judgement) could make a Prince happy: pleasure was his slave and waighted on him whensoever he lusted for her company: Riches flowed into his houses of treasure in large & Golde[n] streams: his Court was ful of counsellors; his Cittyes full of [Page] Merchants, his Castles full of souldiers: he was a mightie King himselfe, & had sonnes that were as mightie as hee, their Dominions were ample, they were full of men, and full of all thinges that maintaine men. It seemed that the Father lost much of his imperiall state and dignitie, when hee placed his three sonnes (like three great lights) to shine equally in his kingdome, considering that all the beames of majestie that came from them, might (if he had pleased) have beene sent foorth from the centred glory of his owne head, but even this borrowed reflexions of theirs, made his brightnes the greater: and his sonnes yeelding acknowledgement of all their royaltie to flow from him, did (like Rivers paying tribute to the Sea) seeme not a whit the lesse for such homage and fealtie.

Fortune having turnd the wheele of this Emperours fate along time with steddie hand, had now brought it about to the uppermost point & highest, on which she meant he should sitte: he should be no more her darling, and therefore shee tooke her favours from him. Or to speake of a power that co[n]trolls Fortune, and whose very finger throwes downe kingdoms to utter confusion, or holdes the[m] up in their greatnesse, whether the generall sinnes of the whole Nation deserved it, or whether the people were punisht for the particular faults of the king and his Courtiers, as many times it falls out, and as it hapned to the Grecians, for Quicquid delirant Reges plestantur Achini: or for what other faultes soever, the rodde of vengeance was made [Page] readie: it is in man to thinke uppon and feare, but not to examine, yet sure it is, that as a fire catching hold at first but of some meane cottage, in some one end or corner of a Cittie, hath oftentimes (ere the furie of it could bee put out) swallowed up in his flames, the goodliest and most beautifull buildings that stoode even fardest out of reach, so did the clowdes of infection burst open their vaines, and let fall the poyson of them, on this kingdom of Barbary.

If ever the Plague in any place got his true name, there he had it. At the beginning it strooke (like an Arrowe) on the head but of one Citty, but in a short time after, it fleme from Cittie to Citty, and in the end stucke in the very hart of the whole kingdome. Insomuch, that Death came (like a tyrannous Usurper) to the Court gates, & threatned to depose the Emperour himselfe.

Hee that before sate in his throne of majestie, greatly feared of other Nations round about him, and strongly garded by his owne, is on the suddaine daunted, and (beeing accounted one of the mightiest amongst the Kings of the earth) is ready to submit to him, with whom even Infants doe every howre fight hand to hand.

See the authoritie, fame and terror of that Invader (Death) hee strooke but up an Allarum in this Emperous Pallace, and the Emperour himselfe trembled through feare thereof: his conceites that stood before like so many aged Oakes, bowed presently to the earth like so many ranks of young [Page] Willowes: yet his Citties shooke at the voyce, no lesse then if it had beene at an Earth-quake. And so hardly did the pestilence pursue Mahamet, that he durst not sleep for it in one place twice together: every night was he compelled (for safety) to flye unto a contrary lodging.

As his Court removed so did the plague: whersoever the one kept his standing house, there the other pitched up his Pavilion as a proud and daring Challenger to all commers. Insomuch that sicknesse in the end (though weake of himselfe) wrastled with so many that were neere and about the Princes person, and still got the better of the[m], that Mahomet had not men to remove those tents which hee was inforced to carry up and downe with him for his owne houshold to lye in: fourescore Barbarians (being all attendants and Officers in Court) falling every night, in this mortal and pestiferous massacre. So that the Emperour for want of Servants was glad to take chained slaves from the Oare (out of their gallies) and to make them his guard.

What a strange alteration is here of a Court? He that had seene this prince so royally attended, so majestically attyred, with such God-like reverence kneeled unto: so guarded, so followed, so circled round with a Nation in number infinite: Would that Man have ever thought that such a Prince could have beene driven out of his stately pallaces, and beene glad to lye abroade in the fields? Or that he shold ever submit to such humility, [Page] as to put his life into the hands of slaves and miserable Captives? The onely dispised wretches of his Kingdome: the beggerliest: the most disconte[n]ted, the worst-minded to him & his Nation: yea, such whom he knew could have been glad to cut his throat, to ransome themselves from the bondage and Hell of the gally? Yet even these most forlorne Creatures, (which before like Oxen were yoaked by the Neckes with Iron) was this great Monarch faine to make much of, and to turne them into his best and fayrest courtiers. So easily and so low can the hand of Heaven pull downe the mightiest upon earth, and make them stoope even to the weakest.

The hart being thus sicke, was not the whole body (thinke you) in danger to perish? The eye of the Kingdome being so much blemished, did not the Universall land dwell in darkenesse? Was it possible that the Court should pyne, and that the Citties should flourish? No, no, Alasse! Full houses were emptied there of whole families: whole streetes of their housholds: yea, even the Citties themselves were left desolate of inhabitants.

Had all the Artifiers in the Land, layed by all other worke, onely to have made Coffins, they could not all have builded roomes fast enough, for the dead to dwell in: For sicknesse was even weary of throwing downe bodies, and Death even glutted with killing them. Doe but imagine how the World shewed, when all Creatures that were drowned in the Universall floud, lay heaped [Page] together, after the waters were shrunke into the earth, such a Mount Calvary was Barbarie: the carkases of unburied men were so many, that a far off they might be taken for hills, yea so numberlesse were they, that it seemed as if all the Nations uppon earth had sent their dead thether, and that Barbarie had beene the common Church-yard.

When Vespasian besieged Jerusalem, Famine fed upon the Cittie within, and warre without, yet did the Jewes choose rather to steale forth, and trust the doubtfull mercy of an Enemie, then to perrish under the crueltie of their owne countrymen. At length, such multitudes of them got daily through the gates, that Tytus (to be ridde of them, & fright them from comming) crucified them all, and fixt the bodies so put to death, round about the Cittie, before their walls, as a terror to those within: so that in the end, (they pressing forth for all this continuallie uppon him) there coulde be found neither wood enough for Crosses to nayle them upon, nor ground enough whereon to set Crosses.

The like miserie fell upon this royall kingdom of Barbarie , for the people in it were strooke downe so fast by the Pestilence, that the living were not able to inter the dead, neither could there be found ground sufficient enough (about theyr Citties) to affoord them buriall, so that the earth did not (as in other Countries) cover and burie them, but they buried and covered the earth.

Let us muster the dead together, and take a view of this disordered Armie. In Morocco the cheefest [Page] Cittie of Barbarie, died in one yeere seaven hundred thousand Moores, and seaven thousand seaven hundred Jewes, as by bills daily sent to the Emperour did appeare.

What Nation in the Worlde would not have trembled, hearing of such an invinsible host marching against them, yet Death with one Arrowe slew all these. In the Cittie of Far, died (the same yeere five hundred thousand, beside those that fell in the Country.

Yea so terrible and fierce was Death in his execution of those in Morocco , that in the space of one day and a night, hee slewe there with his owne handes, foure thousand, seaven hundred and odde. A mercilesse and tragicall conquest, an inglorious victorie, for he made them away in their beddes.

O what a number of graves must have beene opened, if all these thousands should have had their rites of buriall? Howe many fathers for children, wives for husbands, sonnes and daughters for Parents, and kinsfolkes for friends, should heere have wept, if the dead had beene paid their due lamentations? But Mourning heere had so wasted it selfe, that it quite forgot truly howe to mourne. Sicknes & griefe grew so familiar with men, that to be ridde of such lothsome company, they sought out Death, when they knewe not where to finde a Grave.

O thou beautiful Kingdome, how couldest thou chuse but looke unlovely, having so many children dead in thy wombe? how could thy body be otherwise [Page] then unwholesome, having so mortall a disease running uppon thee, yea, all over thee seven years together! And O your Citties that were the fairest Daughters to so Noble a Mother; What shrikes, and soule-afflicting passions did not you breath forth, seeing all your Marchants (that had wont to court you bee your loves) and forsaking you to see your buildinges stand in their wonted height, but robbed of their wonted ornamentes! to see Foxes and wilde Beastes (instead of Men) inhabiting in your goodliest streetes and meeting daily upon your Exchanges! A more then Widdow-like lamentation must you needes put one, to behold your selves utterly bereaved of those that were your best-beloved: What Kingdome (thogh never so farre removed) is not heavy at the heart, hearing these sad stories of your sorrow? Quis talia fando, Mirmydonum, Dolopumùe, aut Durimiles Vlissi Temperet àlachrimis? Your enimies cannot bee so barbarous as not to yeeld to your condolement. We will therefore no longer let out your teares within-doores, nor no more stand wondring to see all your buildinges shew like so many hearses; but will survay your filds abroad, & try if they can afford any better co[n]solation, Alasse they cannot: calamity there travels up and downe in the same wretched habilyments, that she weares within the walled Citties, People fly in numbers up to the Mountaines, to dwell amongst beastes, and to dispossesse them of [Page] their inheritance: they flie thinking Death would not follow them, but hee like a politicke Generall, lay so close in Ambush at their returning backe to their Citties, that he cut them off faster then at the first, & left their bodies to be a pray to those beasts, who not many daies before ranne into their Caves as beeing afraid of them.

O what a miserie was it, to see high-wayes strewed with dead and infected carkases, as if the whole kingdome had beene sacked, and the enemie had had all the people in execution? A rich and abundant harvest covered the face of the earth, but the Husbandmen in steade of filling their Barnes, were busied in filling up graves: the fruites which the ground brought forth, shee herselfe did againe devoure. A strange harvest was it, for Corne was had in without Reapers, it was gathered & sowed againe all at one time, for the Earth did now play the good Huswife, shee saved all to herselfe, and yet even in saving it, did she spill all: there were not handes enough to gather the foode, which she out of her plenteous lappe bestowed amongst her children, nor mouthes enough to eate it.

The Country-Lasse sate not nowe singing by her Milking-payle, for the poore beastes ran bellowing up and downe with swolne vdders, mourning before their Maisters doores, because they could not be eased of their burdens.

The Pestilence having thus (like a mercilesse Invader) destroyed both Citties & Villages, and having oftentimes made the greatest Lords in the [Page] kingdome stoope to his commaund, and determining to conclude his conquest, with taking the Generall over so great a Nation prisoner, did at the last set upon the Emperour Mahamet himselfe, and with her venemous breath kild him. Which glorious victorie beeing gotten, Death and his Liefetenant (Sicknes) beganne to sound a retraite, to march from their walls, and to let them live in quiet.

No sooner were their backes turnd, but againe in multitudes came the people downe from the Mountaines, and as all Rivers (when Land-waters have opprest the[m]) flie to the bosome of the Sea for safety, so did the Nation of this great Empire, fro[m] all parts thereof come marching joyfully, (and yet fearefully) to fill up & make good againe theyr disinhabited houses. What stories are now tolde of lamentable Funeralls? what friends and kinsfolkes are missing? what sorrowe there is for so much Acquaintance lost? what gladnes to meete with any, whom they heard or doubted were in their graves? Their Citties doe now looke with cheerefull countenaunces, streetes are filled with men, houses with families: every one applies himselfe to his former labour, every Merchant to his trafficke. But behold, in the heate of all this Sunshine, when no wrinkle could be seene in the browe of Heaven, when all was calme, and that men lay safely snorting on their secure pillowes, a seconde storme burst out of the clowdes, a second & a more fearefull: God poured another vengeance on the [Page] heads of this people he sent Famine to breath upon them, and to suck the lifeblood out of theyr bosoms, so that they that before durst not come neere one another, for feare of beeing infected with the Pestilence, are now ready to lay hold each of other, and to turne their owne bodies into nourishment. The Plague was mercifull to them, in dispatching them quickly out of the world, but this tyrant put the[m] to lingering deaths. They had once more meate then mouthes, now they had many mouthes and no meate. O Hunger! how pittilesse art thou? a monster thou art of a most strange condition, for, how small a thing will appease thee, and yet what wilt thou not destroy to satisfie thy ravenous appetite? thou art most cruell to them that most seeke to relieve thee, and when thou hast nothing to feede upon, thou plaiest the murderer, and eatest up thy selfe. How tirannous hast thou shewed thy selfe to this great Nation? thou hast heard children crying for bread to their Parents, yet wouldest not relieve them, whilst the Parents went mourning and pyning up and downe that they wanted foode themselves. Men that were strong of body, didst thou by thy sorcerie bring so lowe, that they could scarce stand on their legs: Weomen that had fresh blood in theyr cheekes, and were lovely to be lookt uppon, didst thou make leave, and turnedst them into Anatomies.

O Famine, thou cruellest executioner of Gods wrath, thou dishonest guest, for into what house soever thou commest, thou destroiest all that is set [Page] before thee: thou traytor to Plentie, envious hag, malicious Witch, that with thy unsavorie breath blasteth whole fieldes of Corne: away, gette thee gone, the hand of Heaven keepe thee from landing upon the English share, hide thy head for shame, in the graves of those whom most unmercifullie thou hast slaughtered, bee buried there for ever: for if thou shouldest set footing upon this little Ile, thou wouldest quickly turne it into a great Land of miserie.

But was the terrible Judge of the world, satisfied with punishing this people twice in this manner, had their offences towardes him deserved no more blowes? It seemes they had run into a most proude rebellion, and that hee had sworne in his indignation to be revenged uppon them for it: for loe, the spirit of his rage comes nowe in a consuming fire, it is wrapt up in clowdes of lightning, and the thunder of it breakes into Civill warre. The three sonnes of so great an Emperour, shine now like three Meteors in the firmament, all in steele, their Courts now are Campes, and none are Courtiers but Souldiers. Three Brothers beeing all three Kings, are up in Armes, only to make of three but one, miserie upon miserie. They that escaped the stripes of the Pestilence, were eaten to death by Famine, they that saved themselves out of the Jawes of Famine, are now in danger to perish on the Sword.

O noble France, if I should bid thee onely to tell the horror, the terrors, the unbounded mischiefe [Page] and calamity that come marching in with intestive Broyles, thou needest to say nothing, but to open thy bosome, and shew those deepe scars which thine owne sons have set there. There are teares yet in thine eyes, for those sad funeralls which the Civill sworde prepared. The Low-Countries have beene in labour a long time, and are not yet delivered of that Monster: if they could not expresse the paynes and pangs that followe this inward disease of a kingdome, this griefe about the heart of a Land, this very Earth-quake that hath power to over-turne Townes and Towers, wee have too many leaves in our own Chronicles, spotted with the invenomed Inck of Civill discord. Too many of our Kings have beene too famous by that miserie: too many of our noblest Families, have shaken their ancient Houses by that thunder.

This fire of Discention hath now taken holde of Barbarie , a kingdome full of people, abundant in riches, flowing with Arts and trafficke with all Nations: how happy therefore are we, that have peace in our Citties, and plentie in our fieldes? yet doubtlesse, our sinnes are in number infinite, in nature abhominable, wee deserve as little pardoning as they, yet is our wickednes as blacke and detestable as theirs. Let us therfore stray aside awhile, and by comparing the heavy afflictions which the Divine Justicer hath layd upon other Countries in times past, acknowledge an incommensurable love and mercy of his, to this Iland of ours, nowe in these present dayes. For in the yere of Christ 81. [Page] and in the yeere 188, the breath of the Pestilence was so strong, and so contagious, that in Rome there died daily two thousand people. In the yeere 254, fifteene Provinces of the Romaine Empyre were almost co[n]sumed with the like calamitie. Nay in Constantinople the rage of the disease was so great, that in the yeere 530, there fell every day (for many dayes together) five thousand, & sometimes tenne thousand. Within tenne yeeres after that, (which was in Anno 540,) there began an universall plague over the whole world, which continued 50 yeeres with hot violence.

In the yeere 1359, so mortall a blow did Death give to Italy by infection, that there was scarce left tenne of a thousand. And to Rome (in the yere 1521) that shee made graves for a hundred thousand. Millan likewise, Padua and Venice, in the yeres 1576 and 77, opened the Earth to receive into her womb a hundred thousand dead carkasses, that were left breathlesse in each of those Citties, by the tyrannie of this pestiferous disease. And in Bohemia (beeing but a small kingdome) there died three hundred thousand the same time. In the yeere 1596, fel such a plague in Constantinople, that it strooke downe in sixe moneths space, seaven hundred thousand persons. And this misery was seconded by so terrible a Famine, that a penny loafe of breade of English mony, was worth a crowne in golde, by reason of which, the people were worse consumed the[n] before by the Pestilence.

We will now set forth some of our owne homeborne [Page] tragedies wrought by the Plague, of which take this as Prologue to the rest. In the raigne of K. Edward the third, the Infection spred it selfe in the East Indies, amongst the Tartars, Saracens and Turks, which had a hand over them by the space of 7 yeeres: and this vengeance which was poured downe from heaven upon this people, strooke their soules into such amazement and terror, that many of the Heathen (with the very feare thereof) offred to be converted and turne Christians. Shorthe after, by reason of Passengers from one Province to another, the same mortall plague was dispersed in many Christian kingdoms, & (amongst others) brought into England, where it was so forcible all over the Land, that not onely men, but also beasts, birdes and fishes were smitten there-with, and found dead with botches upo[n] them. Yea, such a massacre did it make amongst the living, that they were scarce able to burie the dead. At which time, (with the rest that then died of the Plague,) Henry Duke of Lancaster, Blanch Dutchesse of Lancaster, and the Earle of Warwick ended their lives. So that in one yeere, in a little plot of ground of 13 Acres compasse (then called Spittle-croft, and nowe the Charterhouse) were buried 50000. persons, besides all them that were then buried in the Church yards & divers other places. Our late calamities infliced upon us for our sinnes are fresh in memory, the eyes of many people are yet wet with mourning at burials, the rod is stil held over us, the stripes of it are even nowe to bee seene sticking in our flesh. [Page] Yet you see howe the Great Father of Nations, keepes us under his wing, he is loth to chide, more loath to strike us, let us not therefore, like foolish haire-braind children, provoke him too often, and too much to anger, least he take up his triple Mace of hote vengeance, and with it bruze our people, as hee hath already stretcht out his Arme to smite those of Barbarie.


This is the full version of the original text


child, death, earthquake, famine, fresh, religion, war

Source text

Title: Three Miseries of Barbary: Plague. Famine. Civill Warre

Author: George Wilkins

Publisher: W. I.

Publication date: 1607

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 25639 Physical description: [30] p. Copy from: Harvard University Library Reel position: STC / 1016:19

Digital edition

Original author(s): George Wilkins

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) Whole


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > chronicle histories

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.