MORAGA, Hernando de (d. 1620)
Relacion breve de la embaxada y presente que la Magestad del Rey Don Felipe
Tercero Rey de las Españas, y Emperador del Nuevo mundo, hizo á Xaabay Rey de Persia clarissimo: la qual embaxada dio Don García de Silua y Figueroa su Embaxador, el año passado de 1618 años, hecha por fray Hernando Moraga, Custodio de la Prouincia de San Gregorio de Felipinas, que se halló presente en la Corte del Persiano, y vio dar la di cha embaxada y presente; auiendo venido de Manila, a Malaca, Azilan, Oromuz, Persia, Babilonia, y passado por el desierto de Arabia, Assyria, Tripuli, y de alli a Chipre, Candia, Malta, Francia, y llego a esta Corte este presente año de 1619. a 30. de Enero, y fue bien recebido de su Magestad, por cuyo mandado hizo esta relacion: y otra de su viage, cosa marauillosa y digna de saberse. [Madrid : s.n., 1619]. Folio, disbound, ff. 1-4 (of 8), contemporary manuscript numbering 325-328; woodcut initial; some water staining to top and bottom edges of all leaves and small loss at bottom corner of last leaf (not affecting any text).
A partial copy – being the first half only – of an extremely rare account of Don García de Silva y Figueroa’s embassy from Philip III of Spain and Portugal to the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I, by the Franciscan missionary Father Hernando de Moraga.
Having served as governor of the province of Badajoz, Don García de Silva Figueroa (1550-1624) was selected by Philip III to lead an embassy to the court of Shah Abbas. He travelled to Persia by way of Goa, arriving at his destination in October 1617. The embassy was Philip’s response to the two embassies previously sent to his court by the Shah (those of the Englishman, Robert Shirley, and of Antonio de Gouvea and Denguiz Beg). The most significant achievement of de Silva’s embassy was the sealing of an alliance between Spain and Portugal and the Safavids against the Ottoman Empire. De Silva also travelled extensively throughout Persia, and was the first Westerner to identify the ruins of Takht-e Jamshid as those of Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire. He remained in Persia until 1619.
The author of the present account, the Franciscan missionary Hernando de Moraga, was, coincidentally, also from Badajoz, where de Silva had served as governor. Moraga had arrived in the Philippines in 1599, where he became Custodio of the Province of San Gregorio de Filipinas. He remained in the Philippines until 1616, when he was sent back to Spain by his order. Moraga travelled homeward via Malacca, Goa, Hormuz, Persia, Syria, Cyprus, Malta and France, arriving in Madrid at the end of January 1619. During his journey he visited Baghdad (at that time under Persian rule), where he was received by de Silva and presented to the shah (Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe, III, I, p.324). Moraga’s account of the embassy and of life within the Persian Empire occupies a little more than the first seven pages of his Relacion breve; the last three-quarters of a page describes his crossing to Syria and his departure from Tripoli for Madrid on 30 December 1618. On his arrival in Madrid (on 30 January 1619) Moraga was granted a royal audience, at which he spoke with the king about his travels at length. Much impressed by Moraga, Philip was convinced not to abandon the struggling Philippines as a Spanish dominion; he also urged Moraga to write an account of his visit to Persia, which was duly published later in 1619 as Relacion breve de la embaxada. In the same year an Italian translation was published in Milan by G. Bordoni (Relatione breve dell’ambasciata …), as well as what appears to be a second Spanish version under a variant title (Grandioso presente y real embaxada, que el rey don Felipe III n. señor, embrio a Xaabay, rey de Persia ... ), published in Seville by Juan Serrano de Vargas Urueña (Simón Díaz, Bibliografia de la literatura Hispanica XV, 2469). In December 1619 Moraga, along with 30 fellow Franciscans, joined a squadron of Spanish ships carrying urgently needed troops and supplies for the Philippine colony. The squadron was wrecked in a storm off the Andalusian coast on January 3 1620, with the loss of 150 lives, including that of Moraga.
Moraga’s Breve Relacion focuses on his time spent in Persia, and this part of the account is contained in the first 4 leaves. In the last section of the verso of f.4 Moraga describes his departure from Syria for Spain at Tripoli on 30 December 1618. The final sentence on f.4 seems like a natural endpoint for his narrative, as prior to embarking Moraga observes a comet in the sky (probably the Great Comet of 1618), and prays that it might portend the destruction of the Turks: ‘… se descubrio una cometa que salia del oriente sobre Constantinople a modo de ramo de palma blanca prolongada en lo alto y al principio una estrella resplandeciente. Dios de vitoria al pueblo Christiano y a nuestro Catolico Rey Don Felipe contra los Turcos, que bien temerosos los vi estar, por la nueva que ay de los aparatos de guerra que dizen se hazen en Espana, toda Turquia, y tierra santa, y el desierto hasta Antioca y Aleppo esta muy destruida, y los mas de los baxeles revelados contra el Turco. Dios los destraya, Amen.’
Although it might seem complete, the copy we offer here does lack the last four leaves, which must have contained an account of the last leg of Moraga’s journey, from Syria to Madrid. Pérez Pastor, citing a copy in the Academia de la Historia, Madrid (we can locate no other copy in an institutional collection) calls for “8 fols.”, and his recording of the final section of text (‘… con sangre de Martyres vasallos de V. M. laus Deo.’) also confirms that the present copy must be defective.
Simón Díaz, Bibliografia de la literatura Hispanica XV, 2468; Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, II, 1615 (“impresa seguramente en Madrid”)
Not in OCLC; not in COPAC. We can locate no auction record for any of Moraga’s works.