Cycling across Persia in the 1890s

In 1896, three British men set off on “the longest bicycle ride ever attempted, just 19,237 miles over continuous new ground” – including a ride through Persia. John Foster Fraser’s account of the two year trip is full of colonial-style anecdotes (many of which are a little too close to racism for many modern readers). …

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Shah Tahmasp’s military encampment

Michele Membré was a Venetian Cypriot, tasked by the Venetian Doge with delivering a letter. This letter, hidden in a book binding, urged Shah Tahmasp to help Venice by attacking the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman from the East. Membré (eventually) reached Tahmasp’s military camp (urdu), and his description of this is uniquely detailed. Membré recording seeing …

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Tales about Shah Abbas – from 1744

Today the commonest tale told in Iran about Shah Abbas concerns the 999 caravanserais he is supposed to have constructed. Jonas Hanway, in his Historical account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea, tells lots more. My two favourites stories are about the shrewdness of Shah Abbas. The first is about Abbas’ supposed “method …

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