The “Other” ambassador and the “Fascination of Persia”

In addition to getting overshadowed by Robert Sherley’s figure and posturings, Sampsonia/Teresia‘s narrative gets mixed with the story of Naqd Ali Beg, a Persian who showed up in England as ambassador from Shah Abbas. His presence totally messed up Robert’s self-proclaimed position as the true and only ambassador from the “Great Sophi.”

Naqd Ali Beg didn’t get his due play on the international stage in early 17th century as he was sent back to Iran, along with Robert and Teresia Sherley and Dodmore Cotton, so that Cotton, appointed as English Ambassador to Persia, could determine who was the real Persian Ambassador. On board the East India Company’s ship on the way to Persia, Naqd Ali Beg mysteriously died. The reason this all seems important in relation to Sampsonia/Teresia is that the only extant writing attributed to her is a petition she wrote to the Privy Council asking that she and her husband would not be sent to Persia on board the same ship as Naqd Ali Beg. The authorship of this petition seems suspect to me. Robert himself could have written it and passed it as hers. Just saying.

The “Honourable East India Company,” presented Naqd Ali Beg a full-body portrait of him before he sailed back to Persia. A copy of this portrait that stayed in England recently made news as it was included in an exhibition titled “Fascination of Persia” in Rietberg museum in Switzerland.

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