Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim (1569 – 1627), known by his imperial name, Jahangir, was the fourth Mughal emperor and ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. Jahangir means ‘conqueror of the world’, ‘world-conqueror’ or ‘world-seizer’ (Jahan: world; gir: the root of the Persian verb gereftan: to seize, to grab). The following excerpt is by Edward Terry (1590–1660), chaplain at the English embassy to the emperor. His book, A voyage to East-India wherein some things are taken notice of, is an absorbing account of his years in Gujurat and the surrounding provinces, where the English legation followed and attended the emperor as he travelled from place to place with his court.
Yet may this king be thought to exceed any other in glorious thrones and rich jewels. Hee hath a throne in his palace at Agra, ascended by degrees [steps], on the top whereof are foure lions made of massie silver, gilded, set with precious stones, supporting a canopie of massie gold. By the way I may mention a tame lion living in his court while I was there, going up and downe without hurt like a dogge. His jewels, wherewith hee is daily adorned about his head, necke, wrists, and hilts of his sword and dagger, are invaluable. He is on his birthday, the first of September, (now sixtie times renewed) yearely weighed, and account kept thereof by his physicians, thereby ghessing at his bodily estate.
Part of two letters to His Majestie is here translated out of Persian; sent by Sir Thomas Roe [the English ambassador], but written one a yeare before the other.
When Your IVIajestie shall open this letter, let your royall heart be as fresh as a sweet garden ; let all people make reverence at your gate ; let your throne be advanced higher amongst the greatnesse of the kings of the Prophet Jesus. Let Your Majestie be the greatest of all monarches, who may derive their counsell and wisedome from your brest as from a fountayne, that the law of the majestie of Jesus may revive and flourish under your protection. The letters of love and friendship which you sent me, and the presents (tokens of your good affection toward mee), I have received by the hands of your embassadour Sir Thomas Roe, who well deserveth to be your trusted servant; delivered to me in an acceptable and happie houre. Upon which mine eyes were so fixed that I could not easily remoove them to any other object, and have accepted them with great joy,’ etc. [Terry does not quote the remainder of the letter, which is of considerable interest, touching as it does on English trade in the Mughal empire as follows: Upon which assurance of your royal love I have given my general command to all the kingdoms and ports of my dominions to receive all the merchants of the English nation as the subjects of my friend; that in what place soever they choose to live, they may have free liberty without any restraint; and at what port soever they shall arrive, that neither Portugal nor any other shall dare to molest their quiet; and in what city soever they shall have residence, I have commanded all my governors and captains to give them freedom answerable to their own desires; to sell, buy, and to transport into their country at their pleasure.For confirmation of our love and friendship, I desire your Majesty to command your merchants to bring in their ships of all sorts of rarities and rich goods fit for my palace; and that you be pleased to send me your royal letters by every opportunity, that I may rejoice in your health and prosperous affairs; that our friendship may be interchanged and eternal.Your Majesty is learned and quick-sighted as a prophet, and can conceive so much by few words that I need write no more.The God of heaven give you and us increase of honor.]
The last letter hath this beginning :—
‘How gracious is Your Majestie, whose greatnesse God preserve. As upon a rose in a garden, so are mine eyes fixed upon you. God maintayne your estate, that your monarchic may prosper and be augmented, and that you may obtayne all your desires, worthy the greatnesse of your renowme. And as your heart is noble and upright, so let God give you a glorious raigne, because you strongly defend the niajestie of Jesus, which God yet made more flourishing, because it was confirmed by miracles,’ etc.
That which followeth in both letters is to testifie his care and love toward the English. These letters being written, their copies were sent to the Lord Embassadour, and the originals, rolled up and covered with cloth of gold and sealed up at both ends ; which is the letter-fashion of those parts.