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0323 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 323 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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provision, or any species of goods, but you will find great store thereof at Tauris. It is admirable for situation, and so opulent a city that you would scarcely believe the things to be found there ; for the whole world, almost, hath dealings with that city for merchandise. And the Christians will tell you that the emperors there hath more revenue from that one city than the king of France hath from his whole realm. Near that city is a mountain of salt, which furnisheth great store of salt for the whole place. And of this salt taketh every man as much as he listeth, and payeth nothing to any man. In that city, also, there dwell many Christians of every description, but the Saracens have the rule over them in all things. And there are many things else to be said of that city, but it would take too long to relate them.

Departing from this city of Tauris, I travelled for ten days, and reached a certain city called SOLDANIA,3 in which dwelleth the emperor of the Persians in the summer season.

I The " Emperor of Persia" at this time was Abusaid Bahadur Khan, the last of the Mongol dynasty who had real power.

2 I do not find recent mention of this salt mine. But Ricold de Montecroce, in entering Persia from this side, speaks with wonder of its mountains of salt, which had to be quarried like stone and broken with iron tools ; whilst the Arabian geographer Bakui notices specifically at Tabriz " a mountain of salt, which is extracted in blocks," and Chardin also speaks of an important salt mine close to the city. (Peregrin. Quat., p. 122; Notices et Extraits, ii, 477; Chardin, i, 258.)

3 Sultâniah was built as a royal residence by Oljaïtu, son of Argon, the eighth of the Mongol Khans of Persia, in 1305. Long after the destr uction of the city by Timur, indeed into the seventeenth century, the tomb of Oljaïtu was still magnificent, and especially noted for its colossal gates of damasked steel. The city was reoccupied by some of the Persian kings in the sixteenth century, till Shah Abbas transferred the seat of government to Ispahan. The ruins were of vast extent in Chardin's time. The present Persian dynasty has again adopted Sultâniah as a summer residence. Pope John XXII set up an archbishopric at Sultâniah in 1318, in favour of Francis of Perugia, a Dominican, and the series of archbishops is traced down to 1425. (Desguignes, iv, 277, 279; Barbaro in Ramus., ii, 105 ; Chardin, i, 271 ; Le Quien, iii, 1359-1368 ; De Sacy in Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscr., vi, 503 seq.)