The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619, Volume II

About this text

Introductory notes

The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe was published in 1899.It was written by Thomas Roe.It describes the travails of the diplomat to the Mughal court. Sir Thomas Roe was born around 1581.He was sent to India to Jahangir’s court to secure protection for an East India Company factory.He passed away in 1644.Selections have been made from Volumes One and Two of The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe.Roe’s visit would be among the first official visits of an Englishman to India,among the first to look at the Mughal court machinations and daily Indian tribulations from an English perspective. Primary Reading Roe,Thomas,Sir, The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe ,Volume Two,The Haklyut Society. Secondary Reading Tavernier,Jean Baptiste,Travels in India,Volume 1, Oxford University Press. Tavernier,Jean Baptiste,Travels in India,Volume 2, Oxford University Press.


Edited from Contemporary iRecords
Editor of" Letters Received by the East India Company, 1615 ;'' Joint Editor of
" The First Letter Book of the East India Company, 1600-1619 ;"
Honorary Secretary of the Hakluyt Society.

Inter eos autem qui relationes suas de hoc Regno prodiderunt,
facile fide et dignatione princeps est THOMAS ROEUS, Eques, Magnae
Britanniae Regis ad superiorem lndiae Regem Legatus.
DE LAET: De lmperio Magni Mogolis, 1631.



PUBLISHED FOR The Haklyut Society
[Page 383]


And so resolved to dissemble that I hope to repay. When I came, with base flattery worse then the theft, or at least to give me some satisfaction, because trouble was [Page 384] in my face (for otherwise it is no injury heere to bee so used), he beganne to tell me he had taken divers things that please[d] him extreamely well, naming two Cushions embroydered, a folding Glasse, and the Dogges, and desired mee not to bee discontent, for whatsoever I would not give him, I should receive backe. I answered: there were few things that I entended not to present him, but that I tooke it a great discourtesie to my Soveraigne, which I could not answere, to have that was freely given seazed, and not delivered by my hands, to whom they were directed : and that some of them were entended for the Prince and Normahall, some to lye by me, on occasions to prepare his Majesties favour to protect us from injuries that strangers were daily offered, and some for my friends or private use, and some that were the Merchants, which I had not to doe withall. He answered that I should not be sad nor grieved that hee had his choyce, for that hee had not patience to forbeare seeing them: hee did mee no wrong in it, for hee thought I wished him first served : and to my Lord the King of England hee would make satisfaction, and my excuse : the Prince, Normahall and he were all one : and for any to bring with me to procure his favour, it was a [Page 385] ceremony and unnecessary, for he would at all times heare me : that I should be welcome emptie handed, for that was not my fault, and I should receive right from him : and to go to his sonne, he would returne me somewhat for him, and for the Merchants goods pay to their content ; concluding I should not be angry for this freedome : he entended well. I made no reply. Then hee pressed me whether I was pleased or no. I answered: His Majesties content pleased me. So seeing Master Terry, whom I brought in with me, he called to him : Padre, you are very welcome, and this house is yours, esteeme it so: whensoever you desire to come to me, it shall bee free for you, and whatsoever you will require of mee, I will grant you. Then he commented himselfe with this cunning unto me, naming all particulars in order : The Dogges, Cushions, Barbers [Page 386] case, you will not desire to have backe, for that I am delighted in them? I answered: No. Then, said he, there were two Glasse chestes : for they were very meane and ordinary, for whom came they ? I replyed : I entended one for his Majestie, the other to Normahall. Why then, said hee, you will not aske that I have, being contented with one ? I was forced to yeeld. Next he demanded whose the Hats were, for that his women liked them. I answered : Three were sent to his Majestie : the fourth was mine to wear. Then, said he, you will not take them from me, for I like them, and yours I will returne if you need it, and will not bestow that on me ; which I could not refuse. Then next he demanded whose the Pictures were. I answered : Sent to me to use on occasions, and dispose as my businesse required. So hee called for them, and caused them to be opened, examined me of the women, and other little questions, requiring many judgements of them. Of the third Picture, of Venus and a Satyre, he commanded my Interpreter not to tell me what he said, but asked his Lords what they conceived should be the interpretation or morall of that. He shewed the Satyres homes, his skinne, which was swart, and pointed to many particulars. Every man replyed according to his fancie ; but in the end hee concluded they were all deceived : and seeing they could judge no better, hee would keepe his conceit to himselfe, iterating his command to conceale this passage from me [Page 387] but bade him aske me what it meant. I answered : An Invention of the Painter to shew his arte, which was Poetical, but the interpretation was New to mee that had not seene it. Then he called Master Terry to give his judgement, who replying hee knew not, the King demanded why hee brought up to him an invention wherein hee was ignorant ; at which I enterposed that he was a Preacher, and medled not with such matters, nor had charge of them ; onely, comming in their company, hee was more noted, and so named as their conductor.

[Page 411]

Was the Kings Birth-day, and the solemnitie of his weighing, to which I went, and was carryed [Page 412] into a very large and beautiful! Garden ; the square within all water; on the side, flowres and trees ; in the midst a Pinacle; where was prepred the scaies, being hung in large vessels, and a crosse beame plated on with Gold thinne; the scales of massie Gold, the borders set with small stones; Rubies and Turkey, the Chaines of Gold large and massie, but strengthened with silke Cords. Here attended the Nobilitie, all sitting about it on Carpets, untill the King came; who at last appeared clothed, or rather loden with Diamonds, rubies, Pearles, and other precious vanities, so great, so glorious! his Sword, Target, Throne to rest on correspondent; his head, necke, breast, armes, above the elbowes, at the wrists, his fingers every one with at least two or three Rings, fettered with chaines; or dyalled Dyamonds, Rubies as great as Walnuts (some greater), and Pear1es such as mine eyes were amazed at. Suddenly hee eritered into the scales; sate like a woman on his legges, and there was put in against him many bagges to fit his weight, which were changed sixe times, and they say was silver, and that I understood his weight to be nine thousand Rupias, which are almost one thousand pound sterling. After with Gold and Jewels, and precious stones, but I saw none; it beeing in bagges might bee Pibles. Then against Cloth of Gold, Silke, Stuffes, Linnen, Spices, and all sorts of goods, but I must beleeve, for they were in fardies. Lastly, against Meale, Butter, Come, which is said to be given to the Baniani, and all the rest of the Stuffe; but I saw it carefully carryed in, and none distributed. Onely the silver is reserved for the poore, and serves the ensuing yeare, the King using in the night to call for some before [Page 413] him, and with his owne hands in great familiaritie and hu militie to distribute that money. The scale he satein by one side; he gazed on me, and: turned me his stones and wealth, and smiled, but spake nothing; for my Enterpreter could not be admitted in. After he was weighed, he as cended his Throne, and had Basons of Nuts, Almonds, Fruits, Spices of all sort, made in thinne silver, which he cast about, and his great men scrambled prostrate upon their bellies ; which seeing I did not, bee reached one Bason almost full, and powred into my Cloke. His noble men were so bold as to put in their hands, so thicke that they liad left ine none if I had not put a remayner up. Heard he threw Gold till I came in, but found it silver thinne, that all i had at first, being thousands of severall pieces, had not weighed sixtie rupias. I saved about twentie Rupias weight, yet a good dishfull which I keep, to shew the ostentation; for by my proportion he could not that day cast away above one hundred pound sterling At night he drinketh with all his Nobilitie in rich Plate. I was invited to that, but told I must not refuse to drinke, and their waters are fire. I was sicke and in a little fluxe of bloud, and durst not stay to venture my health.

This is a selection from the original text


drink, fruit, glass, rubies, silver, spices

Source text

Title: The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619, Volume II

Author: Thomas Roe

Editor(s): William Foster

Publisher: The Hakluyt Society

Publication date: 1899

Original compiled 1615-1619

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Internet Archive: Original compiled 1615-1619

Digital edition

Original author(s): Thomas Roe

Original editor(s): William Foster

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) tp, 383-7, 411-13


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: India > non-fiction prose > travel narratives and reports

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