The Commentaries of D. García de Silva y Figueroa on his Embassy to Shāh ʿAbbās I of Persia on Behalf of Philip III, King of Spain

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The Commentaries is the first complete English language translation, with complete annotations, of a unique and extraordinary memoir from the pen of the erudite Spanish soldier-diplomat D. García de Silva y Figueroa over the course of his embassy to Persia (1614–1624). The Commentaries transcend the travel-literature genre, emerging as a precocious European intellectual global history that is remarkable for its encyclopedic breadth, its historical depth, and its ethnographic and even artistic sensitivity. The Commentaries will be of interest to historians, ethnographers, and literary critics, or anyone with an interest in early modern European accounts of the encounter between the Portuguese and Spanish Empires and Safavid Persia during the early modern period.
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Biographical Note

Jeffrey S. Turley is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Brigham Young University, where he currently holds a College of Humanities Professorship. He is the translator and co-editor with Souza of The Boxer Codex: Transcription and Translation of an Illustrated Late Sixteenth-Century Spanish Manuscript Concerning the Geography, History and Ethnography of the Pacific, South-East and East Asia (Brill, 2015).

George Bryan Souza is affiliated with the Department of History, University of Texas, San Antonio and, recently, a Mercator Guest Professor at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. He is the author of The Survival of Empire (CUP, 1986, 2004), Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese in Maritime Asia, c. 1595-1800 (Ashgate / Variorium, 2014), and a co-editor of Hinterlands and Commodities (Brill, 2014). He is the General Editor of Brill’s EURO series.

Review Quotes

"...Turley and Souza’s English edition of the Commentaries — a key source to understand Safavid–Iberian relations in the early 1600s, as well as early modern travel writing and cross-cultural contacts — is an excellent one and the two editors are to be commended for an impressive achievement."
- Jorge Flores (European University Institute, Florence), Journal of Early Modern History, Vol. 22, No. 1-3, 2018

"Overall, this painstaking edition of Silva y Figueroa’s mission to Persia is about as good as it gets in terms of editing a text and while the Commentaries are not particularly groundbreaking in what they reveal, readers of this journal will find this a fascinating source of material regarding voyages not mentioned in Boxer’s admittedly very general study of Portugal’s Seaborne Empire, and more broadly regarding oceanic travel a hundred years after da Gama first demonstrated the viability of the maritime route from Europe to India via the Cape [...]"
Christopher Storrs, The International Journal of Maritime History, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2018, pp. 592-594

"To be sure, this is a fascinating account and the Herculean task of making it available to the Englishspeaking world was clearly a labour of love."
Andrew J. Newman, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2018, DOI: 10.1017/S1356186318000482

“Es esta obra monumental el volumen 26 de la colección European Expansion and Indigenous Response dirigida por el profesor George Bryan Souza de la Universidad de Texas, San Antonio. Su realización ha exigido la colaboración de un especialista en filología románica (Jeffrey S. Turley) y de un historiador de la expansión europea en Asia (George Bryan Souza), además del apoyo varias instituciones, del asesoramiento de un número crecido de eruditos y de la colaboración de expertos en la confección de mapas, según se hace constar en los Acknowlegments. Conscientes ambos autores de que los Comentarios de Silva y Figueroa son uno de los más importantes libros de viajes europeos a Persia, aunque no hayan alcanzado la fama de los de Adam Olearius y Jean Chardin pese a contar con la traducción francesa de Abraham de Wicquefort de 1667, se propusieron ofrecer por primera vez la traducción anotada de los mismos en lengua inglesa a los desconocedores del español, confiados en que su trabajo sería ampliamente utilizado por los historiadores y etnógrafos de Asia, y por los interesados en las relaciones de los imperios portugués y español con la Persia Safávida. Concebido el proyecto a fines de los setenta del siglo pasado, los autores se repartieron el trabajo de la siguiente manera: Turley haría la traducción inglesa, y Souza prepararía el índice, las ilustraciones, mapas y glosarios. Ambos colaborarían en la edición, traducción y redacción de la introducción y las notas. La sinergia ha resultado tan perfecta que, salvo en los comentarios estrictamente lingüísticos (italianismos, latinismos, portuguesismos), se hace difícil averiguar la respectiva contribución de ambos autores.”
– Luis Gil Fernandez, Anuario de Estudios Americanos, Vol. 75, No. 1

Table of contents

General Editor’s Preface Acknowledgments List of Tables, Maps, and Plates Measurements Monies Abbreviations Introduction

The Commentaries of D. García de Silva y Figueroa on his Embassy to Shah ʿAbbās I of Persia on behalf of Philip III, king of Spain

Book I [The Voyage to India April–November 1614] Book II Description of the Island and City of Goa Book III [Goa to Hormuz 21 March–12 October 1617] Book IV [Journey to Qazvīn and Meeting with Shah, 12 October 1617–1618] Book V [Report on the Regions of the Persian Empire] Book VI [Long-delayed Meetings with Shah ʿAbbās I in Eṣfahān and Return to Goa, 27 July 1618–15 December 1620] Book VII [First Attempt to Return to Spain and Forced Return from Mozambique to Goa. Account of Loss of Qeshm and Hormuz. D. García de Silva y Figueroa’s Final Departure from Goa. 19 December 1620–28 April 1624] Bibliography Index

Readership

All interested specialists (historians, ethnographers, travel literature) and generalists in early modern European accounts of encounters between Safavid Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Portuguese and Spanish Empires in Asia.

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