CELT document T305000

The Gaelic Maundeville


The Gaelic Maundeville

The Buke of John Maundeville was translated into Irish in the year 1475 by Fingin O'Mahony, an Irish chieftain who died in 1496, and of this translation there are two copies (neither quite complete) and a small fragment. The first, oldest and best copy was written at Cell Créide (Kilcrea), a Franciscan monastery near Bandon, in the co. Cork, and was found by Dr. J. H. Todd1 in the Irish MS. at Rennes, 2 ff. 52a2–68b2. The second copy is in the British Museum 3, Egerton 1781, ff. 129 a–146b, and was made, probably in Brefne, not later than 1484. This contains at the end a folio the contents of which are wanting in the Rennes MS. For a comparison of these two copies see the Hon. John Abercromby's able paper, Revue Celtique 7, 66. The fragment is also in the British Museum, Additional 33,993, ff. 6a– 7a. It begins thus: “Seon Manndual .i. ridire do muindtir righ Saxan”, and ends thus: “⁊ rucadur léo co garda Anda i fiadnaisi in espaic agus luchta.”

The present edition reproduces the Rennes copy, so far as it goes, and adds the last folio of the copy in Egerton 1781. I have divided the text into numbered paragraphs, extended the contractions, and given a literal translation and a list of the rarer words.

The Irish preface asserts that Fingin made his version from English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. But it is clear enough that he worked solely from an English text. See the notes to paragraphs 4, 7, and 138.

For the sources of the Buke of John Maundeville, see Dr. Albert Bovenschen's Quellen für die Reisebeschreibung des Johanns von Mandeville, Berlin, 1888, and Mr. G. F. Warner's magnificent edition of an English and a French text, printed for the Roxburghe Club in 1889, from which I have borrowed most of the identifications of placenames.

John Maundeville

Edited by Whitley Stokes


Translator's Preface


The Place of this book is Ross Broin in the territory of the Húi Echach of Munster, 4 and the Author of it, John Maundeville, a knight of the king of England's household, who left England on Michaelmas day, and traversed many of the countries of the world, such as France and Germany, and the way thence unto Jerusalem.


And whoever hath desire to go to see that (Holy) Land, because Christ chose it for His own people as a Land of Promise, and traversed it with His own holy feet, and made therein many sermons and teachings to His people, and chose that His Mother and Himself should be born and buried therein, and as he said that He Himself was the king of the Jews; [and] because of the goodness of the fruit which the land produced, and the holiness of Him that traversed it, and who chose to receive His Passion in the very central point of the world, in Jerusalem, so that it might be convenient for tidings of Him and of His faith to reach from that place eastwards and westwards, southwards and northwards, and it was there that He sent the Holy Ghost to His apostles on Pentecost Sunday, and sent them to the four quarters of the world, to sow faith and devotion in the tribes of the world—and whosoever would fain know the best way to wend from every country to Jerusalem and the holy places that are thereabout, Fingin, son of Diarmait Mór Húa Mathgamna, will tell it.


For 'tis he that put this book out of English and Latin and Greek and Hebrew into Gaelic to shew the ways, on sea and on land, to Jerusalem unto every one who may desire to go in pilgrimage thither and to the river Jordan and to Mount Zion, and every way that John (Maundeville) took thenceforward. and to relate every marvel that John saw among the men and the countries of the world in general.


And the age of the Lord, when John set out on his journey 5 was a thousand and three hundred and thirty-two years. 6 When Fingin at last put it into Gaelic the Lord's age was 1475 years.



And John was thirty-four years making a visitation of the world, and on his return to Rome the Pope confirmed his book. 7


These are the lords who were over the Gaels when Fingin put this into Gaelic, to wit, Tadg, son of Domnall Óc, son of Tadg of the Monastery, son of Domnall Óc, was the Mac Carthaig Mor;
and Diarmait, son of Tadg, son of Olaf, was the Húa Súlabain Bérre;
and Donnchad, son of Diarmait, son of Domnall, son of Fingin, and Domnall with their brothers, over Húi Echach;
and Cormac, son of Donnchad, son of Domnall the Swarthy, over Húi Cairbri;
and Diarmait, son of Domnall the Swarthy, was the Mac Carthaig Cairbrech;
and Domnall, son of Domnall, son of Domnall the Longeared, over the sept of Diarmait the Fat;
and Fingin, son of Mac Con, son of Mac Con, son of Fingin, was the Húa Etersceoil Mór;
and Cormac, son of Tadg, son of Cormac, over Muscraige;
and Donnchad Óc, son of Donnchad, over Ella;
and Conchobar, son of Tordelbach, son of Brian, son of Mathgamain, was the Húa Briain;
and Henry, son of Eogan, son of Niall Óc, was the Húa Néill,
and the power of Congal's Third was with Conn, son of Aed the Yellow, son of Brian Ballach, and his father's brother was the Húa Néill the Yellow;
and Aed the Red, son of Niall the Rough, son of Tordelbach of the Wine, was the Húa Domnaill, and he had the power of Lower Connaught;
and Fedlim, son of Tordelbach, son of Aed, son of Tordelbach, was the Húa Conchobair;
and Tadg the Oneeyed, son of William Húa Cellaig, was the Húa Cellaig, and William, son of Aed, son of Brian, opposing him on the east side of (the river) Suca;
and Eogan, son of Murchad Húa Madugain, over Sil Anmchada; and Murchad, son of Muirchertach, son of Donnchad Coemanach, was king over Leinster;
 p.7 and Catháir, son of Conn, son of the Calbach, over Húi Conchobair Failge; and Tadg, son of Laigen, son of Ruadri, was the Húa Duinn;
and John, son of Mael Ruanaid, son of Tadg, son of Tadg, was king; over Éli;
and Gilla na nóeb, son of Tadg, son of Gilla na nóeb, over Húi Mechair;
and many others in Ireland from henceforward who, for sake of brevity, are not (here) reckoned.


7. Of the Way to Constantinople

Every company that shall come out of the west of the world, as from Ireland and Scotland and England and Norway, to seek the Holy Land may, if they themselves wish, avoid going to the passage over the Red Sea, but keep through Germany and through the kingdom of Hungary that marches on the kingdom of Poland, and Pannonia, and Anasig (Silesia). And the king of Hungary is a great king and a mighty, and holdeth in his hand many countries besides Hungary, such as Savoy (Slavonia) and Comania, and a great part of Bulgaria, and a great part of the realm of Russia, which marches on the kingdom of the Land of the Snow (Nyfeland, Livonia), and on Prussia. Men go into Hungary as far as the city that is called Ciproner (Sopron, Oedenburg) and the castle of Nebrock (Meseburg, now Wieselburg) and thence over the river Danube. And great is that river, for it goeth 8 between the hills of Germany and the hills of Lombardy, and two score other rivers fall into it, and it flows through Hungary, and Greece, and Thrace; and it flows so strongly between those countries that it is sweet water (twenty miles) westward in the high sea.


Thence men go to Belgrade, and thence to Buigris (Bulgers), where they find a bridge of stone over the river which is called Straet Ombarrocc (the Morava), and thence through the land that is called Pinnseras (Pincenati), and thence to the city of Sternes (Hesternit, Sofia) in Greece, and thence  p.9 to the city Apimpane (Philippopolis), and thence to the city of Bradinoble (Adrianople), and thence to the city of Constantinople, which is named Balsamson (Byzantium).

And therein dwelleth commonly the Grecian Emperor, and in it stands the church that is fairest in the world, (dedicated) to Saint Sophia. And before the Church is the image of the Emperor Justinian seated on a horse of red marble, and gilded. And there was an apple in his hand, and a crown round his head, and he let the apple fall out of his hand, and the philosophers and sages of Greece understood thereby, that the lordship which the Grecian Emperor possessed, such as Romans and the Greeks and Asia Minor and Syria, and the land of Judaea wherein is Jerusalem, and the land of the Persians, and Arabia, and Egypt, was all gone from him, save only Greece. And oftentimes men tried to put that apple into the hand of that image again, and it could not be done. And the other hand of that image is held on high, and its face is westward in token of challenging the evildoers.


9. Of the Cross and Crown of Christ

And in the church is the sponge which was put to Christ with a drink when He was on His Cross. And ye shall know that the Cross of our Lord was made of four trees, as saith this verse:
“In cruce sit palma, cedrus, cypressus, oliva.”
to wit, the tree that went upright from the earth to His head was of cypress, and the tree that was overthwart, to which His hands were fastened, was of palm, and the stock that was in the earth, in which the Cross was set, was of cedar, and the table above His head, which was a foot and a half long, and on which the titles were written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, it was of an olive-tree.


This is the reason that the Jews made Christ's Cross of four trees, for they trowed that the Lord's body would be left on the Cross so long as it held together, and therefore they made of cedar the part of the Cross that was in the ground, for cedar doth not decay in water or in earth.  p.11 And the part that was above to Christ's head, and against which His body was stretched, that was of cypress, because of the goodness of its odour, so that when the body of Christ should decay thereon, as they thought it would, it might not do harm to those that should pass near it, by the badness of its smell. The tree that was athwart the Cross, against which His arms were stretched and into which the nails were driven, it was of palm, because in the Old Testament it was ordained that whosoever should gain victory in battle over his enemies should have a crown of palm put round his head; and it seemed to the Jews that they had gained a victory over Christ by putting Him to death—and it was not so, but He gained the victory over Jews and devils, and harrowed hell. And the piece that was up over His head, and on which the titles were written, was of an olive-tree, so that it might be a sign of peace, as the history relates when Noah let the culver out of the Ark he brought it back again with its branch of olive as a sign of peace between God and men; and it is thus the Jews thought, that they themselves would have peace after putting God's Son to death, and they said that from Him came every strife which they had so long as he was alive.


Know ye that the Cross was lying down when Christ was cast upon it, and that His pain was increased when the Cross was raised with Him upon it. And the Greeks, and from the Greek sea east all men who read a book and have knowledge of the scripture, say that the tree of the Cross, which we call cypress, was of the fruit of the forbidden tree whereof Eve and Adam ate the apple, and they say that thus they find it written in their books. And they also say that when death sickness attacked Adam, he sent for his son Seth, and told him to go to Paradise and to entreat the angel who was guarding it for some small matter of the oil of the Tree of Life to be put to him to anoint his limbs so that they might be made whole. So, at his father's words, Seth went to Paradise, and the angel refused to let him in, or to give him the oil; but he gave him four seeds of the fruit of the tree whereof his father had eaten the apple, and he told him, when his father should die, to bury him  p.13 and to put the four seeds at the root of his tongue. and that out of them four branches would grow, and that from those branches fruit would spring forth to heal Adam with his race. When Seth came from Paradise to where his father lay, he found him [] dead, and he put the seeds at the root of his tongue, as the angel had said, and buried him honourably. And the four branches which we mentioned grew, and of them is the fourth tree of which the Cross was made, and which bore a goodly fruit, to wit, Jesus Christ, when Adam was saved and his descendants, excepting those who would not through their sin.


The Jews hid the Cross of the Passion and the crosses of the two thieves in the earth under a rock of Mount Calvary; and it lay there for two hundred years until Helena, daughter of Cola, king of England (which was then called the Greater Britain) came, for the emperor, Constantine's father, had taken her to wife, because of her beauty, when he lived in that country.


And know ye that there were eight cubits in length in the Cross, and verily in the overthwart piece three cubits and a half.


There is a piece of Christ's crown in a vessel of crystal in the king's chapel at Paris, and one of the nails of His hands or His feet, and the head of the spear that was thrust into His side, and many other relics there also given to the king of France by the Jews. And though some men say that the crown was of thorns, this is not true, but it is certain that it was of rushes that grow near the sea, and that they are so sharp that they will prick even as thorns do. And I myself saw it, and often handled the piece of the crown that is in Paris and the piece that is at Constantinople, and they are of hard white rushes, as we have said, which grow near the sea, (and were) divided by men amongst them at a certain time. And the piece in Paris which I have seen is the head of a white rush, and 'tis like a thorn which broke by the movement of the vessel in which it lies, when displayed to lords and honourable men who come to see it. And I myself asked for it together with graces, and thus I obtained it, and it is certain that it was the head of a rush,  p.15 as we have said, and that it was the same as the piece that is in Constantinople.


And know ye that on the night that our Lord was taken He was brought into the garden of Annas, and sharp dishonour was shewn to Him, and on His head was put a crown of white-thorn so hard that the blood of His head ran copiously down His face and His shoulders and His breast; and they made great mockery of Him. And whosoever carries a branch of white-thorn in his hand, or on his back, or keeps in his house a branch thereof, thunder nor lightning doth him no detriment. And it hath many other virtues, and no evil spirit dares enter the house in which it is.


And in that night Peter denied our Lord, and thereafter our Lord was brought to the garden of Annas before the bishop and all the officers. And they scorned Him greatly, and they mocked Him, and did Him dishonours, and placed on His head a crown of white-thorn which grew in that garden, and which is called barberry, and it also hath many virtues. At last they brought Him to the house of Caiaphas and scorned and mocked Him, and put a crown of eglantine round His head, and took Him to Pilate's chamber. And there they accused Him of every evil that they knew, and put round His head a crown of sea-rushes, as we said before, and clothed Him with purple raiment like a lord, and set Him on a throne, and fell on their knees before Him, and this is what they said: “We salute thee, O king of the Jews.” And it is that crown which was parted between Paris and Constantinople, and it is honoured by men because of its having been round His head on the Cross.


And the shaft of the spear which was thrust into Christ's side belongs to the German emperor, and its head is at Paris. And the Greek emperor says that it is he that hath the head of the spear, and I have seen it, and it is larger than the head in Paris.


18. Of the City of Constantinople

And at Constantinople is the body of St. Anne, Mary's mother, which was brought by Helena from Jerusalem, and in  p.17 that city is (the body of John) Chrysostom, who was bishop in that city (Constantinople), and in it are the relics of apostle Luke, which were brought thither out of Bithynia[], and many other relics along with it. And in it are the vessels of marble which are called “hydria”, and they are always dropping water, and they fill of themselves every single year.


And know ye that the city of Constantinople is very beautiful and full of wealth, and that the walls surrounding it are good, and that it hath three corners, and the sea Hellespont going round its side; and men call that sea the Mouth of Constantinople, and others call it the Arm of St. George. And there is another place on a full fair plain beside this stream, wherein was the city of Troy once upon a time, and the Greeks destroyed it.


There are many islands in that country, such as Chalce, Calliste, Ortygia, Tesbuirie (Lesbos?), Arinona (Minois?), Faidton (Paros?), Malo (Naxos?), Carpathos, Lemnos, and in that island is Mount Athos, which goes over the border of the hills (leg. clouds).


There are many countries there that are obedient to the Greek emperor, such as Turcuple, Prinsinard, Comange, Thrace, Macedonia, over which Alexander was king before he set himself to conquer the world. And in a city in that country named Stagira, Aristotle, the philosopher, was born and buried. And there is an altar upon his tomb therein, at which the people of that country hold a feast every year, as if he were a saint, and 'tis there that they discuss every hard question and every difficult counsel that they have, and they are of opinion that through the help of God and of his (Aristotle's) wisdom the best counsel befalls them.


In that country there be full high hills, such as Mount Olympus, which parteth Macedonia and Thrace, and it is so high towards the air that it is impossible to describe it. And there is another hill therein which is called Athos, and the shadow of this mountain reacheth to Mount Olympus,—there are three score and seven miles from it,—and above that mountain the air is so pure, that men never get wind there; and it is so dry that no animal in the world can remain alive therein. And the wise  p.19 men of that country say that, once upon a time, philosophers went with a (moistened) sponge in their nostrils for the dryness of the air, and wrote letters with their fingers in the dust of the tops of those hills, and at the year's end, when they came (again), they saw the same letters, and they found them without defect small or great; and hence it seems to them that those hills are higher than the air that is nearer to us.


And the Emperor of Constantinople hath a splendid palace, and a place built on vaults supported by marble pillars, wherein is the Emperor with his kings and his lords seeing the jousting and the assembly, and sollers under them wherein are their horses; and not a single man can go near themselves or their horses, save those whom they themselves desire.


The Emperor went to the Church of Saint Sophia to bury his father, and the earth was dug by him to put his father therein, and there he found a plate of gold, with a body beneath it, and on the plate was written in Greek, in Hebrew, and in Latin: “Jesus Christ will be born of Mary the Virgin, and I believe in Him.” And according to the date that was on the plate itself, it was two thousand years before Christ's birth when that writing was made, and the plate is still in that church, and they say that it was the wise philosopher Hermogenes who was buried there.


And there is a hill in Cyprus which is called the Hill of the Holy Cross, and a monastery of monks is there, which contains the cross of Dismas, the good thief. And the monks say to certain men that they have half of the Cross of the Passion; but that is not true, and it is wrong of them for sake of gain or friendship to make a lie.


And though the Greeks in general say that they are Christians, there is a difference between our belief and theirs. For they say that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Son and from the Father, but only from the Father; and they are not obedient to the Pope or to the Roman Church, and they say that the power of the Pope is not greater, on this side of the Grecian sea, than the power of the Patriarch on the eastern side; wherefore Pope John XXII. sent letters to the Greeks to  p.21 request that they should have one faith and be obedient to the Pope, since he is God's vicar on earth, and since it is (one) of his powers that whatsoever he should bind on earth should be bound in heaven, and whatsoever he should loose should be loosed in heaven.


The Greeks sent this answer to him: “We firmly believe in thy power and thy great pride, over thine own people; but it is impossible for us to endure it, and we cannot satisfy thy great covetousness. The Lord be with thee, for He is along with us.” And other answer gat he not from them.


And it is with unleavened (?) bread that they perform the sacrament of the Church, because it was the same kind of bread that our Lord had when He made the Maundy for His apostles on Holy Thursday; and 'tis on that day that they make the bread of the whole Church in that way, and dry it in the sun, and keep it for the masses till the end of the year to be given to sick men in lieu of Christ's Body, just as the host is given by us before death.


And they only make one unction on the little children at their baptism, and they do not anoint any one before death, and they say that there is no Purgatory, and that no one will have either happiness or pain until the Day of Doom shall come, when every one who has done evil will be cast into hell, and he who has done good will be sent to heaven to partake of the happiness.


It is the Emperor in Constantinople makes the patriarch, and archbishops and bishops, and bestows every dignity which is throughout his own dominion.


31. Of the Way from Constantinople to Jerusalem

Now whosoever desires to fare from Constantinople to Jerusalem, through Turkey, goes toward the city of Nicaea and passes through the Gate called Songchod (Cibotus). It is a mile and a half from Nicaea up hill, and thence as far as the great sea which is called the Arm of Saint George, and thence to (a place, Myra) where Saint Nicholas is buried, and thence as far as an island called Silo (Chios). Mastic grows in this island on small trees like sloes or cherries. And thence to  p.23 the island Patmos, where John the Evangelist wrote the Apocalypse; and know that John was a man of thirty-two years when the Lord received his death, and that after Him he remained alive for three score and ten years. And from Patmos to Ephesus, a fair city belonging to John, and he hath a beautiful church therein. And John himself ordered a tomb to be made for him near the high altar, and when he saw that it was time for him, he entered it, and ordered it to be closed upon him, and so was it done. And when the tomb was again looked at, nought was found therein save manna; and men say that the body was carried thence into Paradise. And that city and the whole of Asia Minor are now in the hands of the Turks. The likeness of live men is often seen under that tomb of John.


And from Ephesus (men go) to the island of Patrian (Patera), where Saint Nicholas was born, and thence to Marca (Myra), where he was chosen to be bishop. There grows a noble wine and strong which is called the wine of Marca, and thence is seen the Greek island which once upon a time the Emperor gave to Jonas 9 the Prophet.


And thence to the island of Cofus (Cos) and Longa (Lemgo) in which Hippocrates was born. And men say that in that island Hippocrates hath a daughter in form of a dragon, a hundred feet in length, and she lives in an old desolate castle, and the folk of that island call her the Lady of the Isle. She sheweth herself thrice every year, and she doth no harm to anyone unless he does harm to her, for when she was a damsel (the goddess) Diana put her into that form. And men say that she will remain thus until a knight shall come from the west of the World, and give a kiss to her mouth, and when she gets that kiss she will become a woman, and thenceforward she shall have only her own age. And it is not long since that a knight came from Rhodes and went with spirit and strength to give her a kiss, and rode on his courser to the place wherein she lay. But when he saw her he fled from her, and she followed him and took him against his will with her on the peak of a great rock, and (thence) cast him into the sea.


On another day a young merchant happened to leave  p.25 his ship to seek tidings in the island, and he chanced on the cave and the castle; and when he went the length of the cave he saw a damsel, the most lovely he had ever seen till then, combing her head and much treasure and precious stones and other jewels around her. He drew near her and saluted her, and she turned her face to him and asked him what was his pleasure. He answered that he wished her to be with him as his wife, for he thought that she was a woman who used to sell herself publicly. She asked him was he a knight. He said that he was not. She answered “thou shalt not be my leman until thou art a knight, and whence hast thou come?” says she, “or who art thou?” “A merchant”, says he, “and a gentleman, and I have come ashore from my ship into this island.” “If so”, quoth she, “go to thy companions and let them make thee a knight, and come to me tomorrow to the door of the cave and await me, and I will come forth to thee as a dragon, and kiss me on my mouth, and I undertake that thou shalt have no fear of my doing evil or harm to thee, for whatsoever knight shall so kiss me shall be my husband. And give a kiss to me, and if thou give it, thou shalt get all the wealth that thou hast seen with me, and myself, and the kingship of all these islands.” And she told all her tales to him. Then he bade her farewell, and went to his vessel, and told his companions this story from beginning to end. On the morrow, having been made a knight, he came as he had promised; but when he saw the dragon in front of the cave he fled to his ship, and she followed him. And when she saw that he turned not again to her, she went back to the castle and cried loudly and sadly, and on reaching his ship the knight died. And thenceforward no knight has dared to see her, and none will dare until the knight shall come, whose fate it is to give the kiss and be king over the islands, and have her to wife with all her wealth. And 'tis thus that I have heard; but I myself have not seen it.


And thence men come to the isle of Rhodes, which is held by the Order of St. John the Baptist, and was given to them by the Emperor; and this island is two hundred miles from Constantinople.

 p.27 5

36. Of Cyprus

And thence men go to the isle of Cyprus, where groweth an excellent wine, which is red at first and white finally, and the part of it that is whitest is clearest and best of smell. And thence to a great city Satalax. A man in that land had an exceeding great love for a woman, and the woman died and was buried in a tomb of marble. And one night the man went, and opened the tomb, and lay with her, and afterwards left the tomb and went forward. At the end of nine months from that night the voice came to him and said: “Go to the same sepulchre, and open it, and see what thou wilt get from the same woman, and if thou go not, a great evil will befall thee.” Then he went, and opened the tomb and beheld a hideous form rising out of it; and on seeing it he fled, and a stream of water leaped after him out of the tomb, and surrounded the city, and without delay drowned it and the greater part of the country.


And though there are five hundred miles from Rhodes as far as this, still that is the place where the passage of the sea is most perilous. Howbeit it is possible for men to go to Cyprus without coming to Rhodes. There are many good cities in that island (Cyprus), and in the city called Nicosia, there is an Archbishop with four bishops under him. And the harbour of Famagosta is the best harbour in the world, and Christians and Saracens are there, and every nation on earth near one another. And in that island is buried Saint Genenont (Sozomenus?) for whom that country holds a feast, and to whom it pays great honour, and in the castle Amaros (Amours) in the same Cyprus is the body of Hilarion in keeping and in exceeding great honour. And in Cyprus beside Famagosta Saint Bernard 10 was born.


And in the same land men hunt with baboons which are like unto leopards, and they take and kill wild beasts better than hounds do, and they are better (leg. bigger) than the lions.


Every lord and every gentleman that lives in Cyprus eats his meals in the earth, so that it may be cooler for them than on the tables, and their legs as far as their knees in the  p.29 ground. But when men from other countries visit them, the put them at tables.


Thence men go by land to Jerusalem, and by sea for a day and a night as far as the haven which is called Sur, and thence one comes into Syria. The Christians had, once upon a time, a beautiful city there; but the Saracens destroyed it; and they keep a great garrison at that haven for dread that the Christians should overcome them. And it is in that country that the woman said to Christ: “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and blessed are the paps that thou drankest from.” In that country Elijah, the prophet, brought back the widow's son to life, and the Lord forgave the woman of Canaan her sins, and preached on the flag-stone whereon today is a noble church of Saint Saviour.


There stands a fair city there beside the sea, Sofen (Sûrafend), where Elijah the prophet dwelt, and thence to Didonsate (Sidon) and thence to Béruth (Beyrout), and from Béruth to Sardana five miles, and from Sardana five other miles to the city of Damascus.


Whosoever would fain take a longer way by sea to Jerusalem, let him go to the port of Jaffa, whence it is only a day's journey and a half to Jerusalem. Japhet, the son of Noah, founded that town, and it stands there from the time of the Flood till today, and it was before the Flood; and in that town there are a man's ribs two score feet in length.


I do not say that one cannot go in one day from Tyre or Jerusalem to Acon (Acre), a city which sometime belonged to the Christians; and from it to Lombardy by sea is two thousand and three hundred Lombard miles. And beside that city is the hill of Carmel, where the prophet Elijah used to dwell, and there first was founded the Order of the Carmelite Friars. At the foot of that hill is a city which was named Caiphas (Haifa) because Caiphas founded it. It is now destroyed; and on the side of it nearest to the other hill Saint James and Saint John, son of Zebedee were born; and there is a noble church built in that place for them together.



A hundred miles from the city Acon to the great hill which is called Scala Trojae (leg. Tyriorum, Macc. XI, 59) “the Ladder of the Tyrians”, and there is a river beside the city of Acre, and a gravel-pit; and if all the gravel in it be taken out at night, it would not be the less on the morrow. And of it is made the best glass on earth, and men come by sea and land from far-off places for that gravel, and there is evermore great wind in that fosse that stirreth the gravel. And every metal on earth which is carried into that place to be melted turneth into glass, and the glass which is made of that gravel, when it is put again there, turneth (back) into gravel.


And it is a journey of three days from Acre to Gaza, the city of the Philistines; and that city is splendid and its folk are many. And in that city Samson dragged the pillars from the palace of the king of the Philistines, and killed the king with his kings and with all bis people, by making the palace fall upon them. Thence (men go) to Askalon, and thence to Jaffa, and thence to Jerusalem.


The road from Jerusalem to Babylon to the city of the Soldan the first day and to Gaza, and thence to the castle of Daire (Daron) and to one of the two ends of Syria, and through the wilderness which is called Asalec, a journey of eight days with sandy paths; and though it be a desert, food can be got by purchase. And on leaving that castle or that desert men come to Bellech, a good town in Egypt Canopica, and thence one gets to Alofe (Halope), and from Alofe to Babylon, and from Babylon to Cairo.


46b. Of Babylon and the Soldan

Here there is to day a beautiful church belonging to Mary, and here she and her Son and Joseph dwelt seven years in flight from Herod. In that church is the body of the virgin Saint Barbara, and in that city dwelt Joseph, the son of Jacob, after being sold by his brethren; and in it Nebuchadnezzar cast the three youths—Shadrach, Mesech, and Abednego—into the furnace of fire.


The Soldan has usually eight thousand men in that  p.33 castle of Babylon, who take their needments from himself. Strong and fair is that castle, built on a huge rock. And I myself was with him there as a soldier for a month, and a quarter, and a year, while he waged a war against the folk who dwell in the desert of Arabia, and who are called Bedouins or Asgoloperdes. And he would have given me to wife the daughter of a prince of his own family if I had been willing to remain with him and forsake my own faith. He conquered five kingdoms by the strength of his hand and of his own army, and they are these, to wit, Egypt Canopica, and Jerusalem, and Syria, and the kingdom of Analfe (Halope), and the kingdom of Damé, and the kingdom of Arabia, the king of which was one of the three men that came with the offerings to God's Son on the night of His nativity, and many other lordships, and Calafes which was named the island of the kings.


48. Of the Mount of Saint Catherine

From Babylon (men go) to the mount of Saint Catherine, and it is higher than Mount Sinai. And there Saint Catherine was buried, and neither church nor chapel, nor man's dwelling is there, but stones dragged to her. And though men say that on the same mountain the Commandments were given to Moses and Saint Catherine was buried, not so is the opinion of the folk of that country, for they have two mountains, one of which they call the mount of Saint Catherine, and the other the mount of Moses. Howbeit they (the mountains) are in the same country, but a space is between them.


49. Of the Desert between the Mount of Saint Catherine and Jerusalem

After leaving the mount of Saint Catherine to go to Jerusalem, you come to a monastery of monks, which bestows victuals on the pilgrims who pass through the desert of Suria a journey of thirteen days; and in that desert are tribes full of every evil condition and named Bedouins and Asgoloperdes. They never have any houses except a kind of tents made of  p.35 the skins of camels and other animals which they eat, and they never dwell save near cold water, and it is hard to find water in that desert. And they make no habitation nor husbandry, and they eat no bread unless one of them dwell near a town of another country. They roast their fish and their flesh on stones against the sun, and they are bold and strong, and they do not (any) work on earth for their livelihood save hunting, and they never willingly settle down. They earn no thanks from Soldan or Prince, whatever be his strength, and they have no arms save shields and spears, and (they wrap) abundance of linen cloth round their heads and their necks.


After leaving that desert men come to Bersabe, which was once upon a time a city belonging to Christians, and wherein are some of the churches of the King. Therein dwelt Abraham the Patriarch, and Bersabe, wife of Urias, and mother of Salomon who built the city; and Solomon was king for two score years over the children of Israel.


And thence men go to Hebron, which is called (the Vale of Mambre, that is) the Vale of Tears, because Adam was there a hundred years bewailing Abel his son, who had been killed by Cain through envy and jealousy. And this was once the chief city of the Philistines. And in the Valley of Hebron were Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, with their companions, when they came from the children of Israel to espy the Land of Promise, and there dwelt David as King for seven years and a half, and he was thirty-three and a half in Jerusalem. And there is the tomb of the Patriarchs, even Adam, and Abraham, and Jacob with their wives, even Sarah and Rebecca. And beside the burial-place of those people stands a venerable church, and over it the Saracens keep a close watch for dread lest Jew or Christian should come into it without permission from the Soldan, for they deem it meeter for a dog to go into a holy place than a Jew. And this is the name of the place in their language, Cariotarba, its Gaelic is Adlacadh na Patrierca (the Sepulture of the Patriarchs), its Hebrew is Arboth.


And in the same place was Abraham's house, when he beheld the three Persons, and worshipt one of them and took him to his home. [Gen. XVIII, 1, 2.]



And a short distance thence is the cave of stone wherein Adam and Eve dwelt after they had been put out of Paradise, and therein Eye brought forth the greater part of her children.


'Tis there also that, according to some men, Adam was first made; and that place is called the Hill of Damascus. And there is a valley there wherein men cut abundance of spice, and to whatsoever depth and width they dig the earth, it is found every year in its own form.


Two miles from Hebron is the burial place of Lot, Abraham's first cousin. And a short way from Hebron is the mountain of Mambre from which the valley takes its name. And there is an oak-tree on that mountain from the time of Abraham, and this is the Saracens' name for it, the Dry Tree. And they say that it has been there since the beginning of the World, and it was fresh and bore leaves until the time that our Lord was put to death, and thenceforward it is dry, without leaves, and without fruit, for then its leaves and its fruit went from it, and from many of the trees of the world, or they decayed on the ground, and there are many of them now like that. And some of the prophets said that out of the west of the world would come a prince, who would win the Land of Promise and masses would be said for him under that tree, and then its leaves and its fruit should wax from that time forward, and through that miracle many Saracens and Jews should be turned to belief. And they hold the tree in full honour, and in constant care; and though this tree is dry it hath many virtues, for whoso carries little or much of it never falls in the falling sickness, and it hath abundance of other virtues.


There are five miles from Hebron to Bethlehem, and that road is dangerous, to wit, close, low woods.


Long and narrow is the town of Bethlehem, and good are the walls and the dykes that surround it; and at one time its name was Ephrata. On the east side of that town is a full fair church whereon are many towers, and belfries, and battlements, strongly and firmly built; and within that church are four and twenty pillars of marble the fairest and strongest that thou hast ever seen. And between that church and the city is a  p.39 beautiful lawn full of rose with its blossom, and its name is the Field of the Flower. There was a beautiful maiden in that city condemned to be burnt alive for committing fornication manifestly (?), and much firewood was collected around her, and fire was put on every side there. “O God of all powers”, saith the girl, “if thou seest that a lie hath been told of me, save and succour me!” As soon as she had finished speaking, the firewood and the branches took earth, and roots and leaves and red roses grew on the part that was ablaze, and roots and leaves and white roses on the part that blazed not. So that was the first rose that came into the world, and thus the maiden was saved by God's miracles.


And on one side of that city, on the south side of the battlement of the church, where everyone comes downwards to the eighteenth step, is the place where God's Son was born; and it is covered with gold and silver and azure and other things. And three paces on the south side thereof is the manger of the ass and the ox, and beside it is the place where the star fell which was before the kings and was guidance to them to the Lord. Jaspar, Melchior and Balthazar were their names in Greek. Galgha, Galgla, Sarafi their names in Hebrew. These three kings brought gold and myrrh and frankincense to God's Son as an offering. Through the graces of God these three kings met each other in India, in the city named Gasacc, a journey of two score and thirteen days from Bethlehem, and yet they were at Bethlehem four days after the birth of the Lord and after seeing the star.


In the cloister of the same church is the burial-place of the children who were put to death by Herod.


Beside that church stands a beautiful church belonging to Saint Nicholas, where Mary rested after bringing forth her Son, and where she milked her paps; and the milk that she milked there still remains as white streams on the red marble.


And all that dwell in that city are Christians. And there is plenty of good wine all around it although the Saracens do not drink wine, for Mahomet cursed all that drink wine, and  p.41 this he did in the book which he gave them for keeping their own law, and which is named Al Koran, and others call it Masapair and others Harme. And some men say that it was a hermit whom Mahomet killed when he was drunk with wine, that caused him to make that excommunication. And the Saracens do not eat swine's flesh because it is like to the flesh of human beings. And in the Old Law it was forbidden to eat swine. And neither in Egypt or the country of the Philistines is the flesh of a beef eaten, only that of a sucking calf, or of an old cow that cannot travel.


In that city of Bethlehem David, the king of the children of Israel, was born. He had three score wives and three hundred concubines.


It is two miles from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, and half a mile from Bethlehem there stands a full fair church where the angel came to tell the shepherds of the birth of Christ.


On the same road is the burial-place of Rachel the mother of the Patriarch Joseph, and her own husband Jacob put twelve great stones on her, in token that she bore twelve sons. And between Bethlehem and Jerusalem are many beautiful churches.


65. Of Jerusalem and the Holy Places thereabout

Pleasant is the place in which Jerusalem is, between hills, without sea, without water save what is drawn to it in pipes from the Valley of Hebron. And the head of the kingdom of Suria is to it on the north, and the kingdom of the Philistines on the north-east, but Jerusalem itself is in the land of Judaea, for it was called Judaea from Judas Maccabaeus who was king over it. And eastward is the end of the kingdom of Arabia, and Egypt is on its southern side, and Greece on the west. Once upon a time there was a Patriarch and an archbishop in Jerusalem, and many bishops around it in the country thenceforward.


Seven miles from it to the town of Hebron, and six miles to Jericho, eight miles to Bersabe, eighteen miles to Ascalon, six and twenty miles to Jaffa, three miles to Ramatha, and two miles to Bethlehem.



On the south side of it stands a church in which Macarius dwelt; and when he was dying he portrayed on the wall of the monastery the monks mourning for him; and that painting still remains, and it is sad to one to be beholding it today.


This land of Jerusalem hath been in the hands of many nations in the world, such as the Canaanites and Assyrians and Persians, and Medes, and Turks, Macedonians, Greeks, and Romans, Franks, Christians, and Saracens, and many other nations, for God was not willing to leave that land to sinners. And it is now for a long while in the hands of the Saracens; but God is able to wrest it from them whenever he shall think fit.


When Jerusalem was captured by the Soldan, he ordered the city-wall to be put on the north side of the church, so that the sepulchre might be inside, in the place where it was before. And thus is the church which stands about the sepulchre, all round, and open below on pillars, with a dome of lead above it, and on the west side thereof there is a fair tower for bells, and the Tabernacle is on the floor of the church (made) in manner of half a compass, (and) adorned with gold and azure and other noble colours.


And the Lord's sepulchre is on the south side: eight feet is the length of the Tabernacle, five feet in breadth, eleven feet in height. And it is not long since the sepulchre was open, so that every one who came to it might kiss it, and touch it. But because men used to carry off some of its stones the Soldan ordered it to be enclosed all round, so that it may be the easier to protect it, so that (now) one cannot reach it except on one side. And there is a window on the Tabernacle, and many lamps around it blazing continually. And the lamp which is right before the sepulchre goes out of itself every Friday, and lights by itself every Sunday at the time that Christ rose from death to life; and it remains alight until the following Friday.


On the south side of the church stands Calvary, the place in which our Lord was put on the Cross, and where the Cross was set in a white stone, but there is a little red in it where the Lord's blood dropped. And the name of this place  p.45 in Greek is Golgotha, and there, after the Flood had departed, Adam's head was found as a token that his sin should be redeemed therein. And upon the same stone Abraham made his sacrifice to the Lord. And Godfrey de Boulogne, and Baldwin, and the other kings of the Christians who took Jerusalem, are buried on the other side of the altar, that is, before the altar on its right side.


And the place in which the Cross was set is the central point of the earth, and that is the basis of the faith and of all the lands.


Thirteen years and twenty (years) and three months was the age of the Lord at His crucifixion, and on the south side of Mount Calvary is an altar, and the pillar to which our Lord was bound. And there are four stones there continually dropping water, and some say that they are weeping for the Lord.


And two score and two feet from that place Helena found the Holy Cross under a rock where the Jews had hidden it, and the crosses of the two thieves. And she found the four nails which were in His feet and in His hands, and one of these nails the Emperor Constantine put into his bridle, whereby he gained the world eastward from the sea. And in the place in which is the same church the Lord displayed himself to Mary Magdalene.


And that is the place where the city is most spacious because of the size of the plain on the east side of the church; and outside of the city-wall stands the church of Saint Stephen, where he himself was stoned, and there is the gilded gate that opened of itself before the Lord when he was going on an ass to the Temple on Palm Sunday; and the track of that ass still remains in three places in the hard stones.


And two hundred paces from the sepulchre is the church of Saint John the Baptist, the foundation of every church which belongs to John.


77. Of the Temple of our Lord

And this is the church of the Sepulchre. Eightscore paces east (of it) stands a church as round, beautiful, high, covered with lead (and) belonging to the Lord, and its floor  p.47 paved with white marble. And neither Jews nor Christians dare to enter it, for the Saracens say that it is not right that men such as they should come into so holy a place. But I came into it, because I had the seal of the Soldan; and when the Saracens saw the seal, they fell on their knees before it just as we would fall in the presence of the Holy Body.


And that is not the Temple which Solomon built to the Lord, for it endured only eleven hundred and two years, when Titus, son of Vespasian, the Roman Emperor, came and pitched a camp around Jerusalem and took it, and destroyed it, and burnt Solomon's Temple, and put eleven hundred thousand of the Jews to death, and cast the rest of them into prison. And such of them as he did not kill he starved, so that they ate girdles and old shoes and welts and withered grass, and the dung of men themselves, and what is worse than that, their own mothers were eating their little children. And he used to sell thirty of them for one penny in compensation for their having bought God's Son for thirty pence. And Emperor Julian ordered the Temple to be built again, and when it was built by the Jews, there came a great earthquake and again laid low the Temple. Emperor Hadrian the Trojan ordered the Temple of Jerusalem to be built in the same form as Solomon had built it; and by the emperor's proclamation the Jews durst not frequent it, for Christians were dearer to him than any other nation, though he himself was not a Christian. And 'tis he that first directed the town-wall to be put outside the church of the Sepulchre. And great is the honour which the Saracens pay to that church, for when they cross the door from outside they doff their shoes and kneel often, and say that this place is sanctified.


And there in the middle of this temple is a place wherein there are four and twenty steps in height made upon a pillar of marble. It is called Sancta sanctorum, and no one ever goes there save their prelate who makes sacrifice for them.


And beside that temple is the stone named Belech (Bethel), where was the holy ark with its treasures, and they are the ten commandments which the Lord gave Moses, and the rod with which he made the Red Sea depart when the Children  p.49 of Israel came through it with dry feet, and with which he brought water out of hard rocks to the Children of Israel in the wilderness, and with which he wrought many other marvels, and Aaron's rod, and a vessel of gold full of manna and of noble ointment, and the Tabernacle of Aaron, and a four-cornered plate of gold in which were twelve precious stones, and figures of animals of green jasper, and eight names of our Lord inscribed therein, and seven candlesticks of gold, and twelve pots of gold, and four censers of gold, and an altar of gold twelve spans in length, with four lions of gold upon it, and twelve trumps of silver, and a tabernacle of gold, and every treasure that was in the whole church until the birth of the Son of God.


And on that stone the Son of God was preaching, and when the Jews would fain have stoned Him, it clave in two before Him and hid Him. And on that stone He wrought many marvels that are not recounted here.


And beside the same church is the site of the house of Herod who slew the (Innocent) Children, from desire to put God's Son to death and his own children, boy and girl, and his wedded wife, and his concubine. A fearful dropsy attacked this Herod, so that all his limbs swelled and putrefied, and when he understood that he would not arise, he sent a message to the lords that were in the country and to their children. And when they came to him, he cast them into prison, and he made his sister swear that she would kill them all when he himself should be dead; for he knew that in no other way would he be lamented in the country, so that it might be said that the wailing and great lamentation were through his (own) death. Then he went into a bath-tub and asked for an apple and a knife, and thrust the knife into his belly, and let his bowels out into the tub. And when this Herod, the Ascalonite, died, his sister let the prisoners out unharmed.


It was Herod, the son of Antipater, that ordered John Baptist's head to be cut off, and Herod Agrippa that put Saint James to death.


In the same church are the arm of John Chrysostom and the greater part of Saint Stephen's head.



On the south side of that church, between it and Mount Zion, stands a beautiful church dedicated to Saint James, where he was beheaded. And there is a beautiful church dedicated to Mary and the Lord, beside Mount Zion, in the place where she dwelt, and where she died, and the apostles bore her hence unto the Valley of Jehosaphat. 11 And in that church Christ, after rising from the dead, appeared to His apostles and said, “Peace be with you.” In the same church were the apostles when the Holy Ghost descended on them in likeness of fire.


And in Mount Sion were buried David and Solomon and many other kings; and hard by that place is the tree whereon Judas hung himself after returning the thirty talents and confessing that he had betrayed the innocent blood. And again, on the southern side thereof, is Aceldama, the land that was bought for that wealth to bury pilgrims therein.


And on the western side of Jerusalem is a church where grew the tree which was put into the Cross, and which was used as a bridge across the river which is called Torrens Cedron (and) which comes out of the Valley of Jehosaphat. And there is the sepulchre of Mary when she had spent three score and twelve years in her age. And beside it is the place where, before His Passion, the Lord besought His Father to put it past Him, and where He sweated blood for fear. And there is the tomb of the king Jehosaphat from whom the valley takes its name.


And on one side of it is the Mount of Olives, where many olive-trees grow, and it is so high that men see the streets of Jerusalem from it. And the trace of Mary's left foot is on a stone there, where she went to heaven. And seven and twenty paces thence is the chapel in which He (our Lord) sat to preach, and said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they have the kingship of the Heavenly City.” And there he taught His apostles the paternoster. And hard by is Bethphage, where our Lord sent Peter for the ass on Palm Sunday to go to Jerusalem, and hard by to the east of it is Bethany, where dwelt Simon, the leper, whom the Lord healed, and where He forgave Mary Magdalen her sin; and that Simon, after being baptized by the apostles, was bishop in that town.



And in Bethany is a chapel wherein was buried Lazarus, whom our Lord raised from death after being four days buried, and after he was stinking. And there Mary, after rising from the dead, gave her own girdle to Thomas. And near to it is the Mount of Galilee, and the Mount of Olives where the apostles were assembled when Mary Magdalen told them that the Lord had arisen, and had been seen by herself.


Between the Mount of Galilee and the Mount of Olives is a venerable church where the angel told Mary of her death. It is five miles from Bethany to Jericho, where Rahab, the harlot, gave hospitality to the lads of Israel, and saved them from death and from danger; and the Scripture saith that from thence came her salvation.


From Bethany men go to the river Jordan through wildernesses, and hard by it is the mountain on which our Lord fasted forty days and forty nights. And there the Devil told Him, if he were the Son of God, to make bread of the stones.


92. Of the Dead Sea

It is the Dead Sea that divides Arabia from the land of Judaea, and it extends from Soara to Arabia, and neither man nor beast can ever find death in it, and this has often been seen. And iron has often been thrown into it and it casts it on shore; but if a light quill were thrown into it, it would not let it from the bottom. And its brine is never drunk, and there is no dwelling near it. And it swallowed up five cities, through the unnatural sin of the men and the women, to wit, Sodom and Gomorrah, Aldama, and Segor, and Solome; and in time of fair weather, part of Segor is seen above the sea.


There trees grow which bear beautiful fruit; but when they (the fruits) are broken or cut a coal is found therein in token of the burning (of the Cities) (?). And the water of that sea is all stinking. And on the southern side of it standeth Lot's wife as a stone of salt, for that she looked behind her on the city when it was sinking.


Isaac was the son of Abraham, (and) at the end of the eighth day after his birth the heathen baptism was conferred  p.55 upon him. Ishmael, the son of Abraham, at the end of his fourteen years, was baptized on the same day, wherefore after Isaac the Jews caused their children to be baptized in the heathen manner at the end of the eighth day, and after Ishmael the Saracens do it at the end of fourteen years.


The river Jordan in Mount Lebanon comes from the two wells which are named Jeor and Dan, and abundant is the fish of that river. On one side of it are Mount Gilboa and a very beautiful plain, and on the other side is Mount Lebanon, as far as the desert of Faran. And it is these hills that divide the kingdom of Suria and the Land of the Wine (Phoenicia), where grow apples of cedar larger than a man's head. This river goes between Galilee and Idumaea and Botron, and through the plain of Meridan (Meldan) wherein is the temple of Job, and into the Red Sea.


When our Lord was getting baptized in this river the voice of His Father was heard above His head saying: “This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him”, and the Holy Ghost was seen coming upon Him in likeness of a culver, so that the whole Trinity was at that baptism. And by bathing in this stream Naaman, the Syrian, was cured of his leprosy.


From the Dead Sea eastward in the marches of the Holy Land stands the castle of Carras, which was named the Beautiful Mountain. Baldwin, the king of the Franks, built it after conquering that kingdom and making Christians of the folk; and under that castle is Gabao, a beautiful town, and there are many Christians therein, who pay tribute to the Soldan.


Thence men go to Nazareth, and a journey of three days thence to Jerusalem, and out of the province of Galilee to Ramatha, and thence, to Sethim, and to the high hill of Ephraim, whereon dwelt Anna, the mother of the prophet Samuel, and thence to Shiloh, where the holy Ark was in keeping of Elias, the prophet, and where the people of Hebron made an offering to our Lord, and where the Lord spake to Samuel.


A short way thence is Gabaon and Ramah, and Benjamin, of which the Scripture speaketh.


Ten miles from Jerusalem it is to the city of Sichem, which is named Neopolis. Hard by is a church dedicated to  p.57 Joseph, son of Jacob, who was governor over Egypt with Pharao, and in which his remains were buried when they were brought out of Egypt.


And there beside is the city of Garasón (Gerazim) where the Saracens (leg. Samaritans) make their offering.

Beside that is the Valley of Bitam (Dothaim) where bis brethren took Joseph, the son of Jacob, and where they tried to kill him. and the cave into which he was put before he was sold.


The road (is) thence to the city of Samaria, the chief place of that country, and in that city were twelve (leg. ten) tribes of the children of Israel, and therein John the Baptist was buried between the two other prophets, namely Heliseus and Abdon. Howbeit he was beheaded in the castle of Maicin (Macheron), beside the Dead Sea, and his disciples bore bis body thither. And the Emperor Julian the Apostate ordered bis bones to be taken up and to be burned completely; but the finger which he had stretched out to the Lord through bis mother's womb, when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God”, that could never be burned. The virgin Saint Thekla brought it to the hills (of Sebaste), and there great honour was shewn to it. And the Emperor Theodosius found John's head in the wall of that place, and he ordered it to be taken out, together with a cloth wrapped round it and full of blood; and he sent it thus to Constantinople; and thenceforward one half of it is there and the other half in the church of Sylvester in Rome. And the platter into which John's head was put after it had been smitten off is at Genoa, and it receives great honour from that country. And some men say that John's head and the platter are in Picardy, and others say that it is not John's head that is there, but the head of a holy bishop, who dwelt in that country.


Twelve miles from Sebaste to Jerusalem, and between the hills of that country, is Jacob's Well, which, four times in the year, changes colours, sometimes red, sometimes green, sometimes turbid, sometimes thick. And the folk of that country are called Samaritans, and though they had the Apostles' creed, in belief they are not the same as the Christians, and they are not the same as the Saracens. And red linen cloths are always  p.59 round their heads, while white cloths are round the heads of the Saracens, and blue cloths round the heads of the Christians who are there, and red (yellow) cloths round the heads of the Jews. So that each set of them may be known from the other.


104. Of the Province of Galilee

Galilee belongs to the Holy Land, and therein are Nain, and Capernaum, and Chorazin, and Bethsaida, where Peter and Andrew were born. And it is in Chorazin in Babylon that Antichrist shall be born, as the prophet said, “Out of Babylon a duke (leg. dragon) that will swallow up the whole world.” Antichrist will be nourished in Bethsaida, and he will reign over Chorazin, and therefore saith the Scripture: “Woe to thee, Chorazin! Woe to thee, Bethsaida! Woe to thee, Capernaum!”


Four miles from Nazareth to Cana of Galilee, where our Lord wrought his first miracle, when he turned the water into wine in the house of the ruler of the feast, and Mary herself was attending there.


In Nazareth was Mary reared, and half a mile from it is the high rock on which the Jews put the Lord to make him leap down from it; but he leaped upon another rock, and the trace of his soles is still therein. Fifteeen years old was Mary when she brought forth the Lord, and she lived thirty-three years and three months at the same time as he, and four and twenty years after him.


Three miles from Nazareth is Mount Tabor, where our Lord went with Peter and John and Saint James, and met Elias and Moses, and where Peter said, “It is good to be here, and let us make three tabernacles for Thee, and for Elias, and for Moses.” And Christ forbade them to tell that until he were risen from death to life. And on that hill the three angels will blow their trumpets, by which they will bring the seed of Adam in their human bodies unto the Judgment.


A mile from Mount Tabor to Mount Hermon, and there is the city of Nain, and thence to the city of Tiberias that stands on the Sea of Galilee, and it is not to a sea that this name is given, but to a river forty miles in breadth, and abundant is the fish of that river. And there the great fear seized Peter, and  p.61 in the city of Tiberias is the table whereon our Lord partook of food with his apostles after His resurrection, and they knew Him in the breaking of the bread (Luke XXIV, 35).


Know ye that at Mount Lebanon beginneth the land of Promise in the east, and thence to Bersabe in the north, and from Bersabe southwards ninety miles in length, and from Jericho, and to Jerusalem and Japhet forty miles athwart; and amongst the Saracens there are many Christians paying tribute to the Soldan.


110. Of Damascus

Whosoever would fain go from Galilee to Jerusalem will betake himself to Damascus. Fair is that city, and it is full of wealth and merchandise. From it to Jerusalem is a journey of three days, and on camels and mules, and on dromedaries, and on horses, men carry their merchandise thither. From Eliseus of Damascus, who was a servant of Abraham, the town was named before Isaac was born, for the servant thought that he himself would be lord there after Abraham.


Hard by Damascus is a town called Mount Seir, and in that town are many physicians, and [] Paul the apostle dwelt in it as a physician, before he came to belief, and Luke, the evangelist, as his disciple learning physic. And in the place where Damascus stands Cain slew his own brother, even Abel.


Five miles from Damascus, on a rock, there stands a stately church, wherein Christian monks are dwelling, and in that church beside the altar is a board on the wall with the image of Mary well painted thereon, and it is often turned into blood and flesh, and that image is but rarely seen. And that board droppeth oil today as if it were an olive-tree, and under it is a vessel of marble in which that oil is kept to be given to sick men, and it helps them from diseases.


There is a river named Sabatori between the city of Dac and Rafana, and it runneth every Saturday, and throughout the week thenceforward it standeth still.


From the west of the world to Jerusalem there is a  p.63 way round without going by sea, that is to Germany and to Prussia, and thence through Tartary, that is one of the kingdoms of Magnus Khan. Noxious and sandy is that country, and little produce comes there, and little corn grows therein, and no wine grows there, nor peas nor beans; but bestial it hath in plenty. And the folk eat the flesh of every animal, both rats and mice and cats and dogs, without bread; and they have milk and buttermilk as drink, and with the dung of their cows, dried in the sun, for want of fire they warm all the food they have. And in that land are often thunder and lightning which kill many human beings and cattle, and in it are cold and heat shortly after each other; and from the description of this country that I have got from wise men it is not fit to be inhabited, and I have not been therein.

One would be a journey of three days from Prussia into that land of the Saracens, and unless Christians themselves bring food with them, they do not get it in that country; and from the abundance of its waters it is never easy to traverse it, save in winter, and then it is not easy except there is abundance of snow on the back of the ice. There is no one in that country without a club leg. a stove), and to the men of the world outrageous is its winter-cold because of its being so far north.

London. Whitley Stokes. (To be continued.)

 p.227 15

115. Of the Saracens' belief

I will (now) tell you somewhat of the belief of the Saracens, even as is read in the book which Mahomet gave them, and which is named Al-Qurán by some of them, Misáp (Mashaf “book”) by others, and Haram (Horme “holy”) by others, according to their respective languages. (In the which book is written that) whosoever shall do good will go to Paradise after his death, and whoso shall do evil will go to hell. And if one of them be asked what is Paradise, he will say that it is a place wherein is every delight and all manner of fruit for ever and ever, and wherein there is a river of wine and a river of honey and a river of new-milk and a river of sweet water, and fair houses at one's desire, of red gold and of silver and of precious stones, and wherein every man hath ten wives, and though he went with them all, they will not the less be maidens.


And they often speak of Mary the Virgin, and how she became pregnant from Gabriel's whisper, and how she was chosen beyond the women of the world, and brought forth a Son without corruption of her virginity. And He spake immediately after His birth, and Mary had great awe when the angel spake to her, and thus the Koran tells this tale. And it says that there was a man named Tacina, and that by enchantment he used to assume the form of an angel, and thus corrupted many maidens: wherefore Mary dreaded Gabriel, from commerce with whom the Son of God came into her womb without the action of a man or without polluting her virginity.



And the same book says that she brought forth her Son under a palm-tree, and seeing him she had shame and wept, and said that she would rather have been dead. But the babe spake to her and told her not to be dismayed. And Mahomet often relates in the Koran that the babe, namely Jesus Christ, spake when He was born, and said that He came from mighty God, and that He was that God who should come to judge mankind, to put the sinners into hell and the righteous into the (heavenly) kingdom; and that of all the prophets that ever came, He was the most excellent, and that He gave sight to the blind and brought the dead to life, and made the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, and healed lepers and every other disease, and cast devils out of men and beasts, and Himself went whole to heaven. And they (the Saracens) give great honour to the books which contain the gospels, and especially to the gospel of Gabriel, and those that know not how to read books often recite that gospel as a prayer and with good will.


They fast a whole month in the year on one meal, unless they be sick or infirm men, and keep them from their wives during that time. And the same book saith that the belief of the Jews is evil because they do not hold that Jesus Christ came from God, and that they lie when they say that they put God's Son on the cross and inflicted death upon Him. That was not so; but when it was time for Him, He went to Heaven and left the likeness of His form on Judas Iscariot whom the Jews crucified. And He Himself will come again to judge the men of the earth. And they say that the creed of the Christians is wrong to declare that the Jews could have crucified Jesus Christ, (for) that almighty God would not do such injustice as to cause Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, to die on behalf of other human beings; and it seems to them that it is this article that most separates the Christians and them.


And they well believe that the working of God was just, and that His gospels and everything that he said were true, and also His miracles. And they believe that Mary was a virgin (both) before the birth of God's Son and after it; and they are  p.231 ready to be converted to our belief. And they hear sermons and the sayings of the prophets, and they say the law of the Jews and the law of Mahomet will be rejected and that the law of the Christians would remain continually. And they believe in almighty God who created heaven and earth and everything therein, and without Him nothing right is done, and that on the day of judgment everyone will receive good or evil as he shall deserve, and they believe, forsooth, all that God hath said to them through the prophets.


And in the Koran Mahomet permitted every man of them to have two or three or four wives; but now they do not remain without nine wives, or as many as each man of them can sustain; and if he puts one of these wives away, he will give her part of his goods, and put another wife in her place.


They believe in the three Persons of the Trinity, but they do not believe in one Person. They say that God hath speech and that unless He spake He would be dumb, and that there is a spirit in Him, and unless there were He would not be alive. And they believe that all the good that ever hath been done, and that ever may be done has come from the mouth of God, and they believe it was God that sent the angel to Mary to tell her that He had taken Jesus Christ for His son.


And the bible, and the gospels, and all the sayings of the prophets, they have, written in their own tongues; and they say that the Jews commit sin because they do not fulfil the law which Moses left with them, and that the Christians sin because they do not fulfil Christ's commandments or His gospels.


I shall tell you, saith Maundeville, what the Soldan told me one night in his Chamber after putting everyone forth. “How is service to God performed in your country?” I answered that it is performed well. “That is untrue”, quoth the Soldan, “for evil is the honour that the prelates pay their Lord, and evil is the example that they give to the people.” And I asked him, how they do this, or how he had got that knowledge. “They do it”, said he: “they are the first people that enter the taverns, and they deem it not excessive to be eating and drinking all the day and all the night as if they were beasts that have  p.233 no reason, and who know not what God is. And if they did right, it is the example of Christ from whom they are named, which they should follow in gentleness and goodness, in charity and in mercy. And the Christians are so covetous, that they sell their children for a few debts, and their wives to other men, and they have other men's wives instead of their own, and the pledges that they give, they fulfil not, and thus they despise and deny the law which Christ gave to them for their salvation. Wherefore ye have left your lordship and your land to us, since Christ was not fighting for you against us; and not only this, but He gave it to us because of your sin; and it is certain that it is not by our own strength that we have gotten it. And in our books we have true knowledge that whensoever ye shall serve God well and fulfil His law, ye will get the land again. Howbeit, so long as ye shall remain in your own sins, we have no fear of you; but we know well that some time ye will turn from the sins, and that the place to which ye will turn your face will not be taken from you, and that this whole land will belong to you, for your Christ himself will be in your Company whensoever ye shall serve him well.”


I asked him what gave him the knowledge of the rule of the Christians such as he possessed. Then he brought in the people whom he had put out before, and of them he shewed me four of the greatest lords, and he told me that he had sent them in the guise of merchants with precious stones, into every country where Christians dwelt, to see their customs and how they were serving Christ. And he himself spake the French language to me, and said that it was thus that tidings of the Christians came to him, and of their lands, and that men were ready to become Christians owing to the excellence of their law; but they flinch owing to the badness with which the Christians fulfil it. And he said that the Saracens well fulfil the law which Mahomet gave them in the Koran, and which Gabriel brought to him. And that Gabriel used often to converse with Mahomet and tell him perfectly the will of God.


Be it known unto you that Mahomet was born in  p.235 Arabia, and that he was a horse-boy therein with merchants, travelling from land to land until he came to Egypt, which was at that time a Christian country. While he was travelling he happened to meet a hermit in his chapel in the desert of Arabia, and having entered the chapel the (little) door was enlarged for him, so that its size became wondrous. And that (the Saracens say) is Mahomet's first miracle.


Thence he went to be warden in the kingdom of Karadan under the king, and after the death of the king he wedded Kadriga the king's wife, and afterwards he had the falling sickness, wherefore she repented having married him. Howbeit he made her understand that it was the angel Gabriel who used to come to speak with him, and that because of the angel's splendor, he (Mahomet) must fall and be thus on the floor so long as he was conversing with him.


This Mahomet reigned in Arabia: and at that time the Year of the Lord was 620. And of the race of Ismael, son of Abraham and Hagar, was he, and (some) Saracens are called Ismaelites from Ismael, and others of them Hagarenes from Hagar, and others Ammonites from the two sons that his own daughters bore to Lot, and the true Saracens from Sara herself.


Dear to this Mahomet was a hermit who dwelt two miles from Mount Sinai in the desert on the great road between Arabia and Chaldea, a day's journey from the land of Judea, where cometh merchandise from Venice and from other countries. This Mahomet used to go so often to visit the hermit and to hear him preach—for this hermit was dear to him,—that his men were displeased; and Mahomet's people were fain that the hermit should die, since from him it came to pass that they were often sleepless all night. One day when Mahomet went to visit his comrade the hermit, he remained that night with him in his own house, and the hermit gave him good wine, and Mahomet became drunk and fell asleep. Then Mahomet's people followed him to the hermit's house, and found him, and took his sword out of its sheath and therewith they slew the hermit. Then they put the sword all bloody into its sheath again. When Mahomet rose out of his sleep, he found the hermit dead, and he said that he would hang all his people  p.237 because of the hermit's death. But they said that he himself when he was drunk, had slain the hermit, wherefore Mahomet cursed the wine and everyone who should ever drink it. And hence the Saracens never drink wine openly, though they drink it in private; and they have another good beverage made of the roots of the cane whereof men make the sugar.


129. Of Mesopotamia, Trebizond and the castle in Armenia

Of the situation of the other countries between the four rivers which come out of Paradise: the kingdom of Mesopotamia and the kingdom of Chaldea, they are between the Tigris and Euphrates, and the kingdom of Media and Persia between the Tigris and the Nile, and the kingdom of Syria and Palestine between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea, the which sea dureth from Morocco till it comes into the sea on the westward side of Spain: three thousand and two score miles from Constantinople to the end of that river.


Trebizond is a good city, and therein is the body of Athanasius who made the psalm (creed) Quicunque vult. The Greek Emperor put a good lord of his household to keep that city against the Turks, and that lord went into rebellion against the Greek Emperor, and called himself Emperor of Trebizond, and thenceforward that city with its lordship is apart from the Greeks.


There is a castle in Little Armenia with the form of a hawk with a perch therein, and overagainst it the form of a lady that keeps it; and whosoever will remain without sleep in that desert castle for three days and three nights, watching those two forms, that lady would come to him and give him the wish that he asketh. Now once upon a time there was a proud and spirited king over that country, and he kept that watch without sleep for three days and three nights. At the end of the third night he saw a woman, the fairest of the world's women that he had seen, and she said to him, “whatsoever thou art fain to get thou shalt get it.” “I have gold and silver”, saith he, “and a good lordship and friendly peace, and my power is over every one, and this is the wish that I desire to obtain, to  p.239 have thee for my wife.” “That cannot be”, saith she, “for I am a spirit, and there is no earthly body around me, and no man can be with me. Howbeit I will grant to thee the great wealth and the lordship and the strength and the peace which thou now hast, and whatsoever other temporal wealth there is in the World to be held by thyself and thine heirs to the end of the ninth generation.” He refused to accept this. “Since thou acceptest not”, saith the lady, “I will give the contrary to thee and to thy successor from today till Doom, (namely) to be in subjection to another king, and need of goods, and constant war.” She quitted him, and what she said is being fulfilled. The son of a poor man happened to watch for three days and three nights in the same castle, and the lady came to him and told him to ask of her his demand, “I were fain to get the wealth of the world”, saith he. “Thou shalt have it”, she said; “and say from me that whosoever shall sleep one wink here will never put his sole on the world henceforward.”


The road from Trebizond is to the city of Arturon, which the Turks destroyed and ravaged. And from that to Mount Ararat, which the Jews call Dano, where there is the ark of Noah, and in fine weather men see it on that hill.


And thence as far as a full fair city, which is called Tansora, and hard by it is a hill of salt and everyone can take away what sufficeth him.


And thence (one goes) through the Great Armenia, and to the city Casatus, where the three kings met together, when they went with the presents to the Son of God.


135. Of the Land of the Women, of the Land of Job, and of Diamonds

And thence to the Land of the Women, and hard by is the land of Job whence those women bring men to cohabit with them, and if it be boys that they bear they send them to the fathers when they can walk, and if it be girls they burn off their right or left paps. And the queen that is over them governs that land well, and these women are always obedient to her.



On the other side of Chaldea, that is, towards the south, is Ethiopia, and great is that country, and jet-black men dwell therein, and on its southern side is a well which no one in the World can drink because of its coldness in the day and its heat in the night; and all the rivers of that country are turbid water, and the taste of salt .... And the folk are all lightly drunken, and but little food do they eat. And there are some people there who have only one huge foot, and wonderful is the swiftness of those people, and when they rest, they lift up their soles between them and the sun, so that they are sheltered from the heat. And in that country is Sado (Saba) the city from which the third king came with an offering to the Lord and under guidance of the star.


From that land men go into the Greater India, which is divided into three parts, and mighty is the heat of that land. And the Lesser India is without excess of heat or cold; but the India that is farthest from us is exceeding cold, and such is the greatness of its frost and its ice that it maketh crystal of its water and that the diamond groweth abundantly in it. Such is the strength of the diamond that grows therein that nothing on earth can hurt it save a he-goat's blood.


Other diamonds are gotten in Arabia, and they are large, but not so good. And another diamond is found in Cyprus, and a diamond in Macedonia. And another portion of them is found in Amasee 12 when men separate the gold and the ore, and the Indian diamond is no harder than this. Another good diamond is obtained in crystal, and a diamond in the lodestone, and they two are gotten together, cleaving to each other, for there is a male kind of them, and a female, and the dew of heaven nourishes them, and in that country it is commonly said that many diamonds are engendered by those two. I myself have seen this, (that) if they be taken for a little time to the place where they grow, and laid under the dew, they increase in size there.


If the diamond be (worn) on a man's left side, its virtue is greater than on the right, because it grows more constantly toward the north, the left side of the world, than towards  p.243 the south. And whoso beareth a diamond on his left side it keepeth him strong and vigorous, and is a sound safeguard, and giveth him graces in deed and arbitrament against his enemies if his cause be rightful, and it keepeth him in good wit and parteth him from strife, and evil dreams and wicked spirits and from the hurt of every wild beast, and from enchantments, and from poison. And thus it is best (when obtained) without traffic, and without being gotten by begging, and thus its virtues are the greater, and it protects one more strongly against one's enemies, and it helpeth against the lightness of the intellect. Put it on the loadstone, and if the diamond be good it will not let it draw the needle, and the loadstone is the same as the magnet. And these virtues are not always therein through the fault of him who carries it.


140. Of India

In the river Indus there are many other precious stones; and in it are eels thirty feet in length. And the folk that dwell nigh that river are green and yellow of an evil colour.


In India there is an island wherein are men and habitations and market-towns, and it is more than five miles in length, and it is not the custom of these men ever to leave the island because they are under the planet Saturn, which is slow in performing his course, and such is the nature of the men under it. And the contrary is in our country, because we are under the planet of the Moon, and it is easy for us to travel and to leave our own country and to go throughout the world after our planet.


On the southern side of India is an island called Armes (Ormuz) and ships and merchants come for merchandise from Venice and from Genoa, and out of many other Christian countries.


From the heat therein men's ballocks fall down on their legs, with the dissolving power of the heat; and when men of their own country meet them, they raise them up quickly,  p.245 and anoint them with a special ointment; and unless that were done to them, they would die without delay in this island and in many other islands of India.


From the greatness of the heat with which the sun gains strength till noon, men lie in that country without a single stitch upon them, in a river or in a sea, save only their mouths and their eyes; and in the ships of that island there is not a single nail of iron, because the adamant draws out the iron.


From this island, men go to the island of Canaa, and there is plenty of wine and corn in that island. And there is a great variety of belief therein, some of the folk worshipping the sun and others the fire; some worship poisonous serpents, others trees, and others the first thing that meets them in the morning; some of them worship images and others idols; and there are none of these things to which they give honour, which do not draw to God, wherefore they give it.


The rats in that island are as big as dogs. 13


Thence men go to Lombé, where there is a city named Polomé from the hill of Polomé which is hard by it. At the foot of that hill is a well that hath a goodly odour and a sweet savour, and whoso tasteth it thrice cometh into youth, and it healeth every sickness that he hath, and every hour in the day this well changeth a different odour of spicery. And men say that it cometh out of the Earthly Paradise because of its many virtues, and they call that well the Fountain of Youth.


The king of that country hath an ox, which a man is always keeping, and he hath a vessel of gold, and all the dung and urine that the ox maketh, he carries off in that golden vessel to the prelate, and the prelate takes it with him to the king. The king puts his hand therein and rubs those holy things on himself as an ointment, and after him come the lords according to their degrees, and all the people, and they do likewise.


And the god that others have in that country, half of it is in the likeness of a man and half of it is in the likeness of an ox, and the Devil speaks to them therein. Men there often kill their children before that god and sprinkle their blood as an offering around it. And when a man dies in that country his body is burnt lest he should suffer pain from the worms  p.247 eating him in the ground. And his wife, if she have no children, shall be burnt alive with him; but if she have children, she is left beside them without burning. And in like wise they do to the man when his wife dies, unless the wife forbids him to go to death to her. They say that what they had in life they must have in the other world.


Abundant is the wine of that country, and women drink it, and the men not; and the women shave their beards, and the men not.


151. Of the kingdom of Mobaron

From that country men fare to the kingdom of Mobaron, a ten days' journey in length, and there are many cities and towns in that country. In the city of Calami, in that country, is the burial place of Thomas, the Apostle, in a beautiful tomb, and the hand he put into the wound of the Lord's side, and it stands out naked through the tomb; and whenever there is any lawsuit or dispute between two parties they write two bills which are put into that hand, and it holdeth the bill of the right cause and casts away the bill of the wrong cause. And men come from many countries to perform that ordeal.


There is a false god covered with gold and precious stones in the church of Saint Thomas, and men go to it in pilgrimage from afar. And from love of their false god, the pilgrims cut off a portion of their limbs, and others come to it with kneeling and bowing of their heads at every third step from the time they leave their home till they reach that god.


There is a pool of water on one side of that church into which those pilgrims cast many precious stones and much gold as an offering to that god, and when the church needs them, they are taken out of the pool and applied to the service of the church. And on the feast-days that are there the people gather to the church, and they set the idol as an honour to it in the chariot, and many precious stones and goodly things around it in the chariot, and the people follow it thenceforward. Pilgrims go and lie down under the chariot, so that the legs and arms of some of them are broken and others of them are killed; and they think that the more evil that they suffer in that place the more honour they will have in the other world.

 p.249 20

154. Of the kingdom of Lamar

It is a journey of two score and twelve days thence to the kingdom of Lamar. Neither woman nor man wears clothing in that country, and they mock at any one whom they see clad, and they say God made Adam and Eve stark naked, and that it is right for everyone to be thus from that time to this. Their women never refuse any men in the world, and they say that God told them to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth; and no man there can say, my own wife, and no woman can say, my own husband. And when one of their women bears a child, she gives it to the man that she herself pleases; and everything they have is in common, both land and gold and silver and women and men. And men are brought from other countries to be bought by them, and those that are fat they eat without delay, and those that are lean they fatten and eat afterwards.


In that land no man may see the star toward the North, because the floor of the earth is between that land and it, for it is not seen on the southern side of the earth, and truly they have a star in the South which never makes any move from them, just as there is a star in the North. And from this I understand that if men would get a ship and provisions and a wind, they would go round the world beneath and above and all about it. I myself went from that country to Libya, and there is seen the star in the South that is called Antarctic, and by it the mariners of all that southern half steer, as do the mariners of the Northern side steer by the star which is called Transmontana; and these are the two stars that divide the firmament between them. And I have journeyed from the star in the South as far as the star in the North, and it was possible for me to go round the world beneath and above and all about it; and I found men and islands in every place just as in the country in which we are. And truly the folk that are under the northern star are foot against foot to those that dwell under us; for every part of the world and of the sea have their opposites equally long from the middle of the world eastward and westward to the south and to the north.



And know ye that when we have day in the western quarter of the world it is night in the dominion of the king of India, and when it is night with us it is day with them; and as from every point one goes upward in the west to Jerusalem, so one goes down from Jerusalem in the East as far as India. And know that Jerusalem is the very centre of the earth, as every saying we have said certifies.


When I was a young lad, I heard that a man had come out of his own country to travel through the world, and that he fared through the whole of India, and thence till he reached an island where he heard shepherds driving cattle and speaking the language of his own country. And when we suppose them to be under us, just so they are of opinion that we are under them. And if it were possible for a man to fall from the earth into the firmament, it is unlikely, for it were more likely for a man to fall from the firmament to the earth, 14 as God Himself said: Do not fear, have I not hung the earth without fastening it to anything. 15 Howbeit it is one of a thousand who would take the right way to his own country, because of the abundance of the ways on which a man may be wandering, unless he have the graces of God a-guiding him. For the earth is so extensive round about and above and beneath, 2424 miles, according to the opinion of the wise men to which I do not object; and neither Ireland nor Scotland nor England is counted to be in the high region, just as the islands of the east of India are not counted.


158. Of the Isles of Samaber and Java

Hard by the island called Lamar is the island called Samaber (Sumatra), and good is that island, and the gentlemen put a mark with a red (hot) iron on their faces, for then they think that they will be noble in the world. And there are constant wars between them and the naked folk of whom we have already spoken.


Some distance from that island is an island named Java, and there are seven kingdoms under it, and in it grows  p.253 every kind of spice, such as ginger, and cloves, and canel, and mace, and nutmeg and every other spice, and the husk that is round the nutmeg is the mace. And there is nothing in the World wanting save wine. And the king of that country is wealthy and potent (?), and in the floor of his halls and his courts and his chambers the stones are one of gold, another of silver; 16 and the walls of his court are on the same plan. And on the walls and floors is abundance of stories painted and battles; and no one on earth would believe the wealth of that country save one who should see it. And often has the king of that land gained victory in battle from Magnus Khan, though he is the greatest king in the world.


Hard by is an island called Salnasé and some men call it Paté. Great is this kingdom and there are many beautiful cities in it, and there are trees in it whereon there grows meal white, odorous, of good savour. 'Tis thus that they hew this tree, round about near the earth, and vessels are put round about it, and thick juice drops out of it, and this is dried in the sun or in the wind, and then it is put to be ground, and it be comes a bright white flour without defect. And wine and oil come in the same manner out of the trees of that island. And there are other trees there in which poison is found in like manner, and whoever takes that poison cannot be cured save by drinking the leaves of that tree on water or on wine.


There is a dead sea near that land, and on it grow canes, and at the roots of those canes precious stones are found, and he that beareth one of these stones iron never draws blood upon him, and it doth them no harm, and (therefore) when there is a battle among them, they have weapons of wood, and with this they kill each other.


Hard by them is another island called Colonach, and the king of that country has as many wives as he likes, and he lies only but one night with each of them, and he has a vast number of children. And he has four hundred tame elephants, on which he puts a castle of wood when he goes to battle; and the like of that is usual in those countries.


There is another strange thing in that country, all  p.255 manner of fish that are in the sea come in turn to the shore of that country, and there abide for three days and three nights, until the folk of the country take as much as they please of them; and as one kind of fish departs another kind comes in its place, until men do to them in the same way. And no one in the world knows what is the cause of this; but they of that island say that the fish do this reverence to their king, because of the multitude of children and wives that he hath.


There be in that island snails, and such is their size that people lodge in their shells like houses.


And when a man dies in that island his wife is buried along with him.


It is possible to go from that island to Capolus by sea on the southern side; and when people die there they are hung on trees; and men say that it is better that the birds, which are angels of God, should eat them than the worms of the earth.


Hard by is another island, in which hounds are reared to strangle men; and when sickness seizes a man there, and his friends know that he will not arise, those hounds are let loose at him, and strangle him; and after that he is eaten.


And thence men may go to Melc (Malacca?), and the folk of that island care for nothing on earth save war and manslaying; and men's blood is their usual drink, and the more men that one slays the more honour he hath from them all.


Hard by this island is Traccoda, where men are like wild beasts, and have no houses save caves in the earth. And they have poisonous serpents as food, and they have no care for wealth, save for the stone named traconite, a stone in which there are two score 17 colours.


Near this is another island named Natumeran, and the women and men of that isle have hounds' heads, and they wear no clothing save a covering of their nakedness. And this folk is good in battle and conflict, and when they take a man in battle they deliver him to the king. And this king is worthy and pious, for he has three hundred pearls like beads around his neck, and he says three hundred prayers every day before  p.257 he eats meat. And there is on his neck a ruby a foot in length and five inches (in breadth), and whenever a king is made, this stone is put on his neck, and he goes all round the city with it on his neck; and if ever he is seen going without that stone on his neck the kingdom and the stone are taken from him. Magnus Khan often desired to get that stone for himself, but he gat it not either by the war, however great, which he carried on to obtain it, or from the bribe of gold or silver which he offered for it.



Hard by that island is an island Dodem, and when any one becomes sick there his son, if he have a son, or his friend, if he have not a son, goes to the priest, and they go together before their false god and ask him whether the patient will arise. If the god say that he will arise they keep him well, but if it says that he will not arise, the son and the priest will go to the sick man and put their hands on his mouth and on his nose until they smother him. And (then) small pieces are made of his flesh, and an invitation is sent to his friends, and the flesh is divided amongst them like a feast. And thus doth the son to the father, and the father to the son, and the wife to her husband, and the husband to the wife.


There are two score and fifteen islands, over each of which is a king, and all subject to the king of that country. Subject to him is the island in which every one of the folk has but one great eye in the forehead; and it is raw that they eat their portion of flesh and all fishes also.


Hard by that is another island where the folk have no heads on them, and their eyes are in their chests (lit. the bare part of their shoulders), and their mouths are in their breasts.


There is another island there, whose folk are without heads or eyes, and their mouths are between their shoulderblades.


There is another island there, and the folk have a face very broad and very round, and not one of them has a nose, and the mouth is quite round and two little holes like eyes.


There is another island there in which there are men, who when they sleep out in the sun cover their faces with their lips.



There is another island where man and woman are joined together. And greater pains(?) than these I saw not while I was travelling over the world.


Hard by is the island of the little men, who have no mouths save a place into which the end of a quill goes, and through the end of that quill they eat and drink their portion.


Hard by that is an island named Sila, in whose circumference are eight hundred miles, and the wild beasts allow only a little of it to be inhabited. There is a hill there with a lake at its foot. This is the hill on which they say that Adam and Eve were for a hundred years performing penance, and they say that it was of the tears which they wept together that that lake was made. At a certain time of the year the king of that country gives leave to poor men to gather the precious stones of that lake in honour of Adam.


And in that country are a multitude of geese which have two heads, and there are white lions there, and the sea is so high that it seems to one that it would come over the earth.


From this men go south-east to Manci, and that is the kingdom that is wealthiest and hath most goods that is in powers of men. Therein are Christians and Saracens and beautiful women, and that country is called Albania, and if any man give a feast in that kingdom unless he give poisonous serpents at the feasts more evil is said of him than good. White wool, such as is on the sheep of our country, is on the hens of that country like feathers. Every woman who has a wedded husband has a crown round her head as a sign of marriage.


Thence men go to Casay, and that is the greatest city in the world, and it is two score and ten miles in circumference, and there are twelve thousand bridges in it, and at the end of each bridge a castle, in the which dwell wardens and people guarding them from Magnus Khan, for 'tis it that marcheth on his lordship, and round it grows the wine which is named Rígón. There are many Christians and non-Christians therein, and in it oftenest dwells the king of that country.


It is possible to go from that city to a monastery of monks that is hard by, and vast is the honour and wealth of that monastery. And when its congregation eat their portion  p.261 one of the monks comes and collects all their leavings and takes them with him to the gate of the garden of the monastery, wherein are many noble trees. Then he strikes a bell of silver, and to him come all the animals that are therein, both bird, and bee, and beast, and eat that food out of a vessel of silver. And when the monk strikes the bell again every one of these creatures goes to the place from whence it came.


And the monk told me that all these were the souls of lords and gentlemen. I replied that it would be better to give to poor men than to them; whereupon he rejoined that there were no poor men in that country, and if there had been, that it would be better to give it to the three thousand souls who were unable to leave the place in which they were than to give it to people who were able to go and ask for food in any place they pleased.


From that city is a journey of sixteen days to Sivens. The walls of that city are twenty miles about, and there are sixty bridges in it, and the king of Manci often resides in that city.


From that city men go over a river of fresh water four miles in breadth throughout the dominion of Magnus Khan, and that river flows through the land of the little men who are called pygmies, and in each of them there are not more than three man's hands in height, and they are fair and warrior-like according to their size, and they marry at the end of half a year of age, and the man who liveth eight years is holden very old. They do no work whatever, but have men like us in size labouring for them. And they are making a mock of these as we should of giants.


Thence men go to Menk, and in that city are many ships than which the snow is not whiter, built like great houses, with chambers and abundance of conveniences; and from the nature of the wood of which they are built, they are white, and not of any other colour.


It is possible for men to go by the river named Karmasan through the whole of Cathay, and when this river rises it sometimes doth much evil there.

 p.263 23

189. Of the great Khan of Cathay

Great is the land of Cathay, and beautiful and abundant are its spices and its merchandise. And ships and merchandise come constantly from Venice, and Genoa, and Rome into Cathay, and in going or in coming one is at sea a month less than a year.


On the east side of Cathay is an ancient city on which the Tartars have built a new different city wherein there are twelve gates with a mile between every two of them. And in it Magnus Canus hath a great palace whose wall is two miles in circumference, and within are many palaces. And in the garden of that palace is a great hill on the top of which stands another palace, and round that hill is abundance of noble trees which produce many good fruits and on which are wondrous birds. And when Magnus Can goes to take the air he brings with his band as many as he likes of those birds and fruits, and without leaving the palace.


Under that hall stand four and twenty pillars of gold, and its walls are filled with the skin of the animal called panther. No blood is redder than that skin, and it hath the best odour in the world, and when the sun is shining upon it 'tis hard for any eye to behold it owing to the excellence of its sheen. And the excellence of its odour letteth not evil air near the place in which it is, and it is worth its own weight of gold.


The place in the hall where this emperor sitteth for his meal, is high above every one, and the table on which he partakes of his meal is full of precious stones and pearls, and when he goes up to that table, it is by steps of gold, full of jewels. On his left side is the sitting-place of his (first) wife, a foot lower than himself, and the second of his wives is a foot lower than the first. And in the sitting-place of both these wives is jasper with a covering of gold and with many other precious stones. The third of his wives is a foot lower than the second. For he is never without three wives. And the rest of the ladies of the (royal) house sit [] as far as the end of the table, according to their own nobility and rank. And every wife of a wedded man there wears upon the top of her head-dress the semblance of a foot, to declare that she is obedient to her own husband. And all gold and full of precious stones is the table  p.265 whereat they partake of food. And of the emperor's children the heir apparent sits on his right side, a foot lower than himself, and the lords of his lineage, according to their own nobility and rank, thence to the end of the table. And the table on which they eat their meal is gold full of precious stones.


At the place where the emperor eats his meal, there are four clerks writing down every single word that he says, both evil and good.


At great feasts, all round the hall is filled with branches of gold, as if a vine under fruit were there, with every colour on those fruits; and those of them that are red are rubies: the white are crystal or beryl; the yellow are amber: the green are emeralds or chrysolites: the black are onyxes or garants: 18 the blue of mastic: 19 and it is made so well of that gold and precious stones that a man who knew not what it was would think that it was all a (real) vine.


No vessel on earth goes on that Emperor's table save jasper or crystal or amethyst or pure gold, and no cup goes there save one of emeralds or sapphire, or red gold or amber, for they have no regard for silver to make vessels of it or aught else save the pavement in their halls, and their chambers, and their courts.


I and my fellows were a year and a quarter and a month along with him while he was waging war on the king of Manci. We had a great description of him before we came to him, but it was a thousand times greater after we were acquainted with him, and had we not seen him himself we never should have believed in his excellence and wealth. Howbeit the food and drink of the west of the world is more honourable and better than their food, for they eat the flesh of every animal, and after their meals they wipe their hands on the lower parts of their shirts, and they drink the milk of every kind of beast.


197. Of the Great Khan

This Magnus Khan is of the race of Ham, the son of Noah, whose share of the world is the whole of Asia. Shem with  p.267 his children took Africa, Japhet took Europe, and of these three Ham was the wealthiest and strongest. And shortly afterwards there were seven nations of the race of Ham, the first of which was named Tartar, the second Tangeid, the third Grase, the fourth Valare, the fifth Semi, the sixth Mense, the seventh Tobe, all these are obedient to Magnus Khan. It befel that an old man of the Tartars saw one night as he was in bed a bright, white knight coming to him as he was on a horse. “Art thou asleep?” saith the knight, “for it is the mighty God that sent me to thee to say this to thee: Tell the seven nations that are disobeying and dishonouring the Emperor and other kings hitherto that it is thy will to be Emperor over them, and as they have been hitherto in subjection and slavery to Emperors and kings, so the same folk should be in subjection and slavery to thee.” And because of what he said to them they mocked him as if he were a fool. The same knight travelled to those nations and told them to take Sangbus (Genghis), and that he would put away their bondage from them, and that he would conquer many other countries in their behalf.


On the morrow they came and made him Emperor over themselves, and gave him every honour they could, and gave him the name of Khan, as the knight had told them. When he was made Emperor he passed statutes and new ordinances which are named Josa Can, and this is the first thing which it says, to give honour to Almighty God who freed them from bondage to enemies, and that they should call upon Him to help them from every difficulty which should befal them. The second statute was that every man who could bear arms should be with him, and the tenth man of them should be made a master, and the twentieth man should be his master, and the hundredth man should be his master, and the thousandth in like wise.


Then he proclaimed to those seven nations to forsake all they had of land and heritage, and to be thankful for whatsoever he should give them. This they did, and when he understood that they were obedient to perform whatever he thought fit, he marched with them and gained strength and power over what was around him as far as the mountain Beleal.



In the night the same knight came again and said to him: “Alas”, says he, “get thee eastward from Mount Beleal with a large force, and this is the will of God; and if thou canst not pass between the mountain and the sea, fall on thy knees nine times, and make prayer to Almighty God with thy face eastward, and He will give thee a way.” Khan did this, and the sea retreated nine feet from the edge of the mountain, and left a way for Khan between the mountain and itself. So Khan and his army fared over it, and so he conquered Cathay, the greatest kingdom in the world. Because of those nine kneelings and the nine feet which the sea retreated, the number nine is held thenceforward in great honour by Magnus Khan and his country.


And when Magnus Khan conquered the kingdom of Cathay, he himself died, and Sito Khan took his place, and the other two sons went to seek a dominion for themselves, and conquered Prussia and Russia, and called each of them Khan. And hence the king of Cathay is called Magnus Khan, the great Khan, and he says in his own letters that he himself is lord of lords, and king of kings, and he says also that God is king in heaven, and that he himself is king on earth.


202. Of the Court of Magnus Khan

To describe the array and governance of the court of Magnus Khan. Four feasts are held in the year by Magnus Khan: the first feast on his birthday, the second feast is called after the day on which the heathen baptism was conferred upon him, the third feast is when his god begins to speak, the fourth is when it works miracles. He arrays his people into their hundreds and into their thousands, and everyone of them knows what his function is.


There are four thousand barons arranging each of these feasts and attending on Magnus Khan, and on the head of each of these barons is a crown of gold full of precious stones and pearls. And each of them wears clothes of gold, and they hold those clothes cheaper than clothes of wool in our country. And these four thousand barons are divided, and there is a different colour on the raiment of each thousand, and when the  p.271 first thousand goes with service to the Emperor, they withdraw on their own side. And the second thousand come and leave fresh service with the emperor and withdraw to another part of the hall. And the third thousand and the fourth thousand do like the first; and not one of the four parties speaks a single word.


Before the Emperor are many philosophers and folk of every science, and when one of the philosophers sees that it is time he saith: “Do reverence to the Emperor that is God's son and lord over the lords of the earth.” Then every one bows his head to the ground; and the same man says, “Raise up your heads”, and then they all raise them up together. The signification of this is, that they are all obedient for ever to the Emperor. Another philosopher says: “Let each one of you put his little finger into his ear.” They put it forthwith. This is the meaning of that, that none of them would ever hear a single word of slander or rebellious talk against the Emperor. And it is not possible to plan warfare against the Emperor which his philosophers and his astrologers will not declare to him.


Every lord arises according to his kindred and his country, and each of them gives a mule or a white steed to the Emperor in token of the old law which said that no lord should go empty into his presence; and a number of every animal in which there is life is brought before him, both fish and bird and lion and leopard, in token that every animal in which there is life is obedient to him.


Jugglers come before him and cause the likeness of a sun and moon full of radiance to do him reverence as a sun and as a moon. The maidens of the house then come and bring to him and to the ladies cups of gold full of mares' milk. Knights mount their horses and are jousting in the hall until the king and all his family go to their meal.


This emperor hath every kind of bird and many men keeping it, and he has ten thousand tamed elephants and many men keeping them.


He has two hundred Christian physicians and two hundred Saracen physicians, and he trusts more to the Christian physicians than to the Saracen, and in the court of Magnus  p.273 Khan are many Christian barons, and though he himself and his country are not called Christian he believes well in God, the Father Almighty.


In the emperor's Chamber stands a pillar of gold, wherein are a ruby and a carbuncle a foot in length, and they make the room radiant in the night.


The riding of Magnus Khan here below. When Magnus Khan travels from one of his countries into another he sends one of his armies a day's journey before him, and an army on each side of him, and an army in his rear. And he himself goes in a chariot made of the wood which is called lignum aloes, and which comes into that country on one of the streams of Paradise, and on the outside are plates of gold full of precious stones, and there are four elephants and four steeds under the chariot drawing it, and five or six lords on horseback around the chariot on every side, so that no one in the world may come near it save one for whom the king should ask. And in like manner the emperor's heir travels; and it were a marvel to tell what folk there are in that country.


There are twelve provinces subject to Magnus Khan, and over each of them is a separate king, and in them are many cities and goodly towns.


One day, when Magnus Khan was travelling near a religious Order, the prelate of the Order came to meet him, and brought with him holy water and sprinkles it on Magnus Khan, and if the prelate have a cross, the king kneels before the cross, and takes the chaplet from his head; and when he sees that pious folk coming to him he tells his lords and the honourable people who are with him to make way for them to him; and whatsoever fruit this congregation hath, they give the number eleven of this fruit to him in a silver dish, and they give as many to his wife or to his son as an honour.


This Magnus Khan is the greatest emperor upon earth, and though the Soldan is great, or the king of Persia, or the king of India, not one of them is comparable to him.


In his country one man has a hundred wives, and one man has twenty wives, one man has more, and another has  p.275 less, and they do not avoid any wife save their mother or their sister. And of the three wives that the emperor hath, the daughter of the king of India is the most honoured: if she have a son, he is the emperor's heir.


215. Of the manners of the Tartars

And they all believe in an almighty God, natheless there are images which are made of trees, or of stones, or of gold, or of silver, to which they offer the first milk of every herd of cattle that they may have.


At the beginning of the new moon these (Tartars) commence doing every work, and great is the honour that they have for the sun and the moon. And the horsemen of this country usually have no spurs. And whatever be the emperor's name, they put Khan after it: when I was there the emperor was Tadg (Thyak) Khan.


The greatest crime that is committed in that country is, in their opinion, if a man leave his urine near a house therein; and whosoever should (so) leave it would be killed by the people of the house, if they have strength to do so; and no one would enter the same house until it is hallowed and until ointment or consecrated frankincense is sprinkled along it.


And they eat every four-footed animal on earth; but little bread they eat unless a lord eat it. 20 Their rich men drink the milk of an ass, or a mare, or any other beast, as a beverage; but all the rest of the people drink englas made of milk and water, 21 for there is no wine in this country.


And they are good warriors. Every one of them has two or three bows, and of arrows great plenty, and a heavy axe. And their gentlemen have sharp swords, and on their heads helmets, and on their horses a coverture of metal which is made by themselves. And if one of them flee from battle or from conflict, he will be slain by his own people. And they are always thinking how they may conquer the countries around them, for they have a prophecy that they will take the countries with their bows, for with their arrows they slay as many men before them and behind them as on each side of them.



Small are their beards and their eyes; and it is commonly said that they are false, for they do not fulfil what they promise. And when anyone dies, they set a spear through him into the ground; and when he draws toward death, his family leave the house to him until he has done dying, and when he has done dying, they carry him out on the green and bury him.


When Magnus Khan dies he is put on a chair in the middle of a tent, and a table is set before him, and on the table a cloth, and food, and a cup full of mare's milk. And they tether a mare with her foal before him, and a horse saddled and bridled, with its load of gold upon it. Then they dig the earth all round the tent till they cover it, and they close the earth over it on every side. And no one ever dares to go near that place. And they say that they will not leave their lord in another life without house, and milk, and gold, and horse—for the people of that country think that those who die eat food in another country, after leaving their life (on earth), just as they eat here—and thenceforward no one ever ventures to talk about his death in the presence of his friends.


And when the emperor dies, the seven nations which we have mentioned come together and make an emperor of his son, and if he have no son, of the nearest akin to him of his nations.


223. Of the Kingdoms near Cathay

This country of which we have spoken, Cathay, it is deeply in Asia, 22 and goes westward to the kingdom of Thrace (Tarse). And the king of that country was one of the three kings that came to Bethlehem with the gifts to God's Son. On the northern side of Cathay is the kingdom of Corryson (Chorasme), which is full of every good thing save wine, and towards the east of it is a desert, (to cross which is) a journey of a hundred days. The best city in it is named Corraym (Chorasme), and from that city the country takes its name.


The kingdom nearest to it is Cumayn, and great is this kingdom, though the whole of it is not for habitation. Part of it is exceeding cold, so that no one can dwell there, and  p.279 part is exceeding hot, so that one cannot live in it. Rare in that country is a tree that bears fruit. And in that country, for want of firewood or turf, the dung of the cows is used as fuel. And there are no houses save tents.


And that country extends to Prussia and Russia, and through this land flows Etil (the Volga), the greatest river of the streams on earth; and (in winter) so much ice is thereon that every one is battling upon it, more than a hundred thousand, both foot and horse. And nigh that river is the sea Ocean (the Black Sea) which they themselves called Maure, 23 and the Caspian sea, and that sea extendeth thence to the country of Judea (India?): therefore Alexander built the city called Alexandria, so that no one might cross that sea without permission. And that city is now called Portefar 24 and the greatest city in this country is Sarasie, and that is (one) way of going into the land of Judea (India), but it is not taken save in winter. And Berbent (Derbend) is the name of that passage.


226. Of Persia and the Land of Darkness

Above I have spoken of the kingdom and lordship of Magnus Khan, and (now) I will speak of the kingdom of Persia, coming down from Cathay to the sea of Greece. Next to Magnus Khan, the king of Persia is the greatest of kings. He has two kingdoms under himself, one of them goes toward the east as far as the great kingdom of the Turks (Turkestan), and the western end of it as far as the Caspian sea, and takes southward again to the country of Judea (India?). And these are the two best cities in it, Bacrie (Bokhara) and Sormogrouant (Samarkand).


The other of these kingdoms goes from the river Phison (the Oxus), as far as Greater Armenia southward, and northward to the Caspian sea, and southward again to the city of Juda. And those countries are rich, and there is no want of anything in the world in them. And these are the three best cities therein, to wit, Nessabor (Nishapúr) and Safan (Ispahán), and Sarmanase.


Hard by is the kingdom of Armenia, wherein were  p.281 once upon a time four kingdoms. Great and rich is this country, and it stretcheth westward from the kingdom of Persia along to Turkey, and its breadth is from Alexandria to the kingdom of Media. There are many beautiful cities in this kingdom, but Tauarisi (Tabriz) is the city most of name therein.


Hard by is the kingdom of the Medes, and it is long and narrow. It goes eastward to the land of the Persians and as far as the Lesser India, and westward to the land of Chaldea, and northward as far as the Lesser Armenia.


The hills, great and small, of this country are many. There are two nations in it, to wit, Saracens and Cordini (Kurds); and the best two cities in it are Saraghe (Shiraz) and Carmen (Kirman).


Georgia is the kingdom that is nearest to this: its end goes eastward to the great mountain Abior (Elbruz), and from Turkey as far as the Great Sea, and thence to the Medes and to Armenia. And one of the kingdoms of this country, Georgia, is subject to Magnus Khan; but he has not been able to conquer the kingdom of Abcas (Abchasia) because of its strength. And there is a journey of four days round it, and in it is Hamson (Hamshen) in a dark land where nothing on earth is seen, and fear forbiddeth any man in the world to enter that mist: howbeit the folk that are nearest to it say that they often hear the crowing of cocks and the voices of human beings.


Once upon a time there was in the country of the Persians a haughty king named Saures (Shápúr), and he liked not that a Christian should be in a place where his power and his might could not follow him. The Christians had collected in the kingdom of Abcas for its strength. He pursued them with a great army. When the great army was seen by the Christians, they made their prayers to Christ, the Son of the living God, to give them succour, for the king was not willing to accept any present on earth from them, (but only) obedience and offerings to his own gods. The king's army was then on the plain of Hamsón. God hearkened to the prayer of the Christians, and cast a dark mist around the plain in which the king of the Persians lay with his army, so that no one durst  p.283 go into it, and thenceforward no one was ever seen coming out of it. And thus it still remains.


Out of that dark land cometh a river and wendeth between Greater Armenia and Turkey and Cappadocia, and Sabra (Isauria), Bricc (Phrygia), Sesion, Pitan (Bithynia) and Soneth; and there are many goodly cities in these countries, and fewer are their hills than their rivers, and they themselves are smooth (and) delightful.


The kingdom of Mesopotamia extendeth eastward to the river Tigris and the city of Mosel (Mosul), and westward to the Euphrates to the city Rocays (Rohâ, Edessa), and from the Upper Armenia to the desert of Lesser India. Delightful and rich is this kingdom, and it extends to Chaldea, and there are two hills in it named Simar (Sindjar) and Lison.


And there is Ethiopia towards the east as far as the Great Desert, and westward to the land of Nubia, and southward to the land of Mauritania, which divideth the hills of Ethiopia and Upper Libya and Lower Libya, and goes westward to the great sea of Spain.


236. Of the Kingdoms of Caldil and Bactria

On the other side of Cathay, the dominion of Magnus Khan, is the kingdom of Caldil; and whosoever shall go out of Cathay into the Greater or the Lesser India must needs pass through that kingdom. Great and delightful is that kingdom, and abundant are the fruits thereof. And fruits are got on (certain) trees therein, and when they are ripe, a lamb with wool is found inside in the middle thereof, both blood and flesh and bone; and that fruit is eaten and the lamb also. And I do not deem that marvel to be excessive, because it is known to me that in my own country birds grow on trees. 25


'Tis in that country Alexander pursued the ten Jewish tribes, called Gog and Magog, to the great hills that are therein. And when he was unable to clear a way between the hills for his army, he entreated God to enclose the Jews in their own hills. God heard Alexander's prayer, and the hills closed round the Jews; and there they are thenceforward without a road for any one to go from them or to them. And in that country men  p.285 say that when Antichrist shall come those Jews will do much evil to the Christians, and therefore the Jews of that land always keep the Hebrew language with them. And they say generally that they will come out of the hills in this way, that a fox will make a hole there in the road that Alexander tried to clear, until it comes into the midst of those nations amongst the hills; and when they see the beast which, or the like whereof, they have never seen, they beat him to his hole, and they dig after him till they reach the work which Alexander made, and thus they will come out of the hills. And they say that the Christians will then be subject to the Jews, even as the Jews today are subject to the Christians.


Hard by that kingdom is the country named Bacarie (Bactria), and on the trees wool grows whereof excellent cloths are made. And in that country are many beasts called hippotans (hippopotami): half of each of these beasts is a man, and the other half is a horse, and they are some time on the land and some time in the water. They eat no food save men when they are able to get them. There are gryphons in that country which in their talons carry off to their nests a man with his horse, and five oxen with their yokes. And there are long, sharp nails on them, and each of these nails is bigger than the horn of an ox: and in that country they are used for drinking out of, as horns are with us; and the folk have bows made of the gryphons' ribs in like manner.


239. Of Prester John and his realms

Prester John, the king of India, many are the islands and kingdoms subject to him, and in Pintosgsor is his own dwelling; and though there are many goodly cities in Pintosgsor, the best city there is Nis, because of the frequency with which the emperor is there. And it is this that causes the country of India to be islands, the rivers that come out of Paradise separating from each other. And good and wealthy is this kingdom that the Indian emperor hath, and there are many other kingdoms subject to him. Howbeit, it is not as wealthy as Cathay, because of the frequency with which merchandise from the west of the world enters Cathay, while their fear  p.287 forbids the merchants to go to India by sea because of the stones of adamant therein.


I myself was one day traversing that sea of India, and I saw before me on the main a great wood covered with leaves. And I asked what that wood was, and whence was the earth under it, and thus the ship's crew told me, that once upon a time a great fleet had come there, in the ships whereof were nails of iron: so the rocks of adamant that were in the sea drew the ships to them down into the bottom, and in these ships were some fruits whereout that wood had grown.


Howbeit the merchants pass through the land of the Persians and through Carmane to the city Hermes (Hormuz) which the philosopher Hermes (Trismegistus) built, and over an arm of the sea there to the city Saboth (Cambay) wherein they find every kind of merchandise. And the birds called popinjays are there just as the larks are with us, and they speak the languages of that country like any human being, and they have five toes on each foot, and long broad tongues; but some of them have only got three toes on each foot and narrow tongues; and these speak little, and this is the name they have, pistác.


A daughter of Magnus Khan's is the wife of Prester John, and a daughter of his is married to Magnus Khan. The precious stones of this country are abundant, and so large are they that men make of them dishes and cups and many other things. The king himself is Christian, and so is the greater part of his country. Howbeit they have not every article of the faith as we have it. They believe well in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and they are faithful and devout, and great is their love for cattle.


There are three score and twelve countries under the king of India, over each of which is a king, and some of these have kings under them.


In that country is a great sea of gravel, which flows  p.289 and ebbs, and on which there is (always) a great storm, and yet there is not a single drop of water or brine therein. Howbeit it doth everything that the salt sea doth, and there is never any dwelling upon it; and no one knows what there is on the other side of it; and in it much fish are taken, which are not like the fish of the sea or the river, and good is their taste and their odour.


From that sea is a journey of three days as far as the great hills out of which comes a river wherein was abundance of precious stones from the Earthly Paradise. And there is not a drop of water therein, and it goes along with a great storm thence as far as the sandy sea, three days in the week, and thenceforward no one can describe it till it comes again. And during the four other days of the week men are gathering those stones; and thus it is in every single week for them.


There is a sandy, smooth land between those mountains on the other side of the river, and woods in which fruit is growing till mid-day; and from mid-day up till none they are going back (into the earth), so that when the sun goes down they cannot be described; and men do not eat that fruit, for they say that it is iron.


On the other side of that country is a desert in which are folk with horns out of their foreheads, such as are on cows; and they do not speak save as the swine do.


When this emperor Prester John goes to battle there are (borne) before him three golden crosses full of precious stones and pearls, and (there are) a thousand armed men guarding each of these crosses, and also more than a hundred thousand men on foot; and one cannot count the rest of his army. And when he is travelling privately in his own country he hath before him only a cross of wood, without painting, or gold, or precious stone, in token that on the same sort of cross his Lord died; and there is a golden vessel full of clay before him as a token that at the end he himself will become clay; 26 and before him is another golden vessel full of precious stones, in token of his strength and his empery.


I will here relate somewhat of the description of the court of Prester John, to wit: The city in which he usually  p.291 dwells is Sas. On the top of the greatest castle therein are two golden apples in which are two carbuncles that in the night greatly illuminate the whole city. And the principal gates in the city are of a precious stone called sardenis, and the windows of his hall and chambers are of crystal, and the table on which he partakes of food is of gold and the noblest stones in his country, and its trestles are of the same kind. And in his chamber are carbuncles which illuminate the night, and though the chamber is made light by them, there are twelve crystal lamps therein full of balm aflame and giving a good odour to the chamber and expelling evil air. And the form of his bed is of gold and of sapphire to keep him from desire of lechery, and to put him to sleep, for he lies with his wife only thrice in the year to engender children. And there are usually in his own court more than thirty thousand men besides those that come and go; and those thirty thousand, nor the thirty thousand that be at the court of Magnus Khan, do not consume as much food and drink as two thousand of folk of our country.


There are seven kings serving him continually every month, and twelve dukes, and three hundred and sixty earls, and many other lords and knights; and there are twelve archbishops, and the Patriarch of saint Thomas the apostle is the Pope with them, and the archbishops and the abbots are like kings with us. Some of the lords are over the chamber in which the king is, others over the court, and others over the hall, and so on.


It is a journey of four months to cross India completely, and it is not possible to calculate its length unless one gets his (its?) dígend(?) on it.


The emperor has a very beautiful palace in Pinntigsor, (but) in the city of Nis today he is oftenest. Once upon a time there was a very rich man named Cotolombes, and he had a castle firm and strong on the top of a hill, and a high, strong, spacious enclosure all around it, and within the enclosure a very beautiful garden containing trees bearing noble fruit, and every fruit and every herb on earth which had a delicious odour, and beautiful flowers, and many fountains exceeding fair, and halls  p.293 and comely chambers covered with gold and azure, and forms of beasts and birds which by noble crafts were caused to speak and make music as if they were alive. And into that garden he put every bird and every beast which he thought would yield delight to men. And he had many damsels under seventeen years of age of the fairest (?) damsels he found on earth, and striplings of the same age. And they wore clothes of gold, and he said that they all were angels. And he made three beautiful wells, and around them walls of jasper and crystal bound in gold. And under earth he made conduits from each of the three wells, in which wine should run from one well, honey from another, and milk from another. And that (place), he said, was Paradise.


And when envoys would come to him out of other countries, he would bring them into that Paradise, and display it to them, both melodies and wells, and give them a drink whereof anon they should be drunken, and tell them that, if they should fain endure death for his sake, he would bring their souls into that paradise, and that they should for ever be of the age of those maidens, again listening to that music, and that they should be brought (thither) when they pleased if they would leave their own glory. Those of them that accepted that (offer) he would despatch to such lord or man of the country as he thought fit, (to slay him and) to be slain themselves; and he would tell them to have no fear, for it was certain that their souls would come again with him into that Paradise. And by means of that wile many of the lords of the country were killed.


After some time men knew this of him, and all the countries came together to attack Catalombes, and they broke down his castle and ravaged it, and slew himself. But the site of those wells still remains.


255. Of the Valley Perilous

Some distance from that, hard by the river Phison, between two hills is a vale four miles in length and named the Vale of the Devils. And it is forever full of storm and exceeding horror, so that oftentimes (?) by great noise it shall be manifest to men that it is full of trumpets and horns and tabors a-sounding  p.295 there together. That vale is all full of devils, and men say that it is one of the gates of hell. And many Christians and other men have gone through it because of the greatness (of the treasure contained therein), and nothing has been heard of thence 27 from that to this.


On a crag in the midst of this vale is a devil's head and shoulders. He often casts fire over his mouth, and over his nose, and out of his eyes whereof the colour changes; and so stinking is he that it would not be easy for anyone coming near his stench to live there.


Before we entered this vale, we heard a mass or two from the Friars Minor who were with us and were of Lombardy; and we confessed, and partook of the holy Body, and fourteen of us came with one counsel to that road, the rest of our companions going round that vale to meet us. We passed into the vale, and often we were beaten down on the road by the thunder and lightning and roaring. And there was great plenty of gold and silver and precious stones cast on the road before us and on every side of us. But we knew not whether they were real things or deceptive. And meseemed that I saw many bodies of men in that vale, and I knew not whether they were alive or dead, but I was of opinion that the Christian garb was on some of them.


I beheld there as though it were two Christian kings had been against each other in a battle wherein the whole of their armies were slain, on each side of the road. I myself know not whether what I saw in that vale was truth or falsehood, because for dread of the devils I did not touch a single thing that I saw in it. Ten of us met our companions, safe and sound; but of the other four nothing has ever since been known.


Hard by that vale on the other side is a great island wherein the folk are thirty feet long, They have no clothing save the skins of goats goats or of other animals, and their food is the raw flesh of men, and their drink is milk, and they like to get men's flesh more than other flesh.


Some distance from that, men say that there is an island, in which the folk are as long as three score and seven feet; and in this island are sheep each of them as great as an  p.297 ox, and I know not what they are. Of the folk I never saw one; but I often beheld the wool that comes from the sheep, as well as some of the sheep themselves.


In the ocean is another island wherein are very beautiful women with precious stones in their eyes; and when they look at any one with wrath or enmity they kill him with their eyes, as doth the basilisk.


There is another island there in which are goodly men and fit for war; and in that island the first night that a man weds a wife he hires another man to take her maidenhead, and if on the morrow he finds her to be a virgin he will inflict a passing great punishment on the hireling. I asked why they did this, and I was told that in that country many men had lain with maidens and, on the morrow, were found dead.


Another island is there, in which the women are sorrowful because of the birth of children and exceeding joyful because of their early death. And they say that whosoever is born comes into this life to labour, sorrow and heaviness, and every child that goes to death goes into Paradise, where it gets milk and honey, and delight without death, and youth without old age, and every good thing without labour. The folk of that island elect the king, and it is not for nobility or for wealth that they choose him, but for honesty and for truthfulness and for good manners and for wisdom. And if they find these in the poorest man in the island they will make a king of him. And if that king commit injustice or unlawfulness, no one in the world will dare to speak to him, or to give him food or drink or service, until (at last) he dies of hunger.


264. Of the Brahmans

In that country is another island in which the folk are good and true, although they have not the right faith. And no one hath hatred of man, or envy, or pride, or covetousness, or lust, or gluttony, and well they keep the ten commandments. And they do no evil to anyone unless he does evil to them, and they have not very much wealth or cattle, and they swear not at all, but (say simply) yea or nay.



And Alexander met with that island when he was travelling over the earth and conquering it, and Dindymus was then king over it. In the world are no men more righteous than the folk of that island, and (therefore) there is never either thunder, or lightning, or storm, or warfare, or tribulation therein, and they are grateful for their life, for they think that they are dear to God. And not for judgments nor for justice is there a king over them, but only that they may be in obedience to a king.


And through this island is a great river called Renemar, and on the other side of it is a vast desert wherein is the tree of the sun and moon, which spake to Alexander and told him of his death. And men say that whoever eats the fruit of those trees remains a hundred years alive; and we were very desirous to go there until wise men hindered us and told us that a hundred thousand armed men could not go thither because of the dread of the wild beasts.


In it are folk all full of quills, save only their faces and the palms of their hands, and they are equally at home on sea and land, and they eat flesh and fish uncooked etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.


I trow that ye have heard the reason why the king of India was called Prester John; natheless I will tell it to them that have not heard. There was once a king in India who had many Christian knights with him, just as there are today. He bethought him that he would like to see the service of the Christians, and in their own churches. At that time Turkey was Christian, and Syria, and Tartary, and Judaea, and Palestine, and Arabia, and Harmape, and Persia, and Media, and Armenia, and the whole of Egypt. The emperor of India and a Christian knight along with him came to the city Easrad in Egypt, and the bishop of the city was conferring a priest's orders. The emperor asked the knight: “Who are those people before the bishop?”, saith he. “Men who desire to become priests”, saith the knight. “I will never be called emperor or king”, (saith the emperor of India,) “but priest, and the first of these priests that shall come forth from the temple, his name I will bear.” Now John was the  p.301 name of the first priest that came forth, and hence it is that from that time to this the king of India is called Prester John.


And there are many good Christians in that country today, and they are righteous and honest; and their priests say mass as the apostles said it, and unknown to them is every addition which the Pope has made to the masses as it is known to the church with us.


269. Of Taprobane

On the east side of India is the island of Taprobane (Ceylon). Great and rich is that kingdom, and it is subject to the king of India, and in it men sow and reap corn twice in the year, and there are two winters and two summers in it{}

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Title (uniform): The Gaelic Maundeville

Author: John Maundeville

Editor: Whitley Stokes

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first translated into Irish by: Fingin O'Mahony

translated from Irish into English by: Whitley Stokes

Electronic edition compiled and proof corrections by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: The Higher Education Authority via PRTLI

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1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 30500 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2010

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T305000

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

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Manuscript sources for the Irish text

  1. Rennes, ff.52a2–68b2. For details about its origin see Denise Maher, Kilcrea friary: Franciscan heritage in Co. Cork (Cork 1999), 21–31 [Rennes, B municipale, 598, with two facsimiles]. See also Dottin, Catalogue, Revue Celtique 15,79–91.
  2. London, British Library, Egerton 1781, ff.129a–146b; vellum, written 'probably in Brefne, not later than 1484', by two scribes; for a description of the manuscript see Robin Flower, Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the British Library [formerly British Museum] ii (London 1926, repr. Dublin 1992). A comparison of these two copies is found in John Abercromby, Revue Celtique 7, 66.
  3. London, British Library, Additional 33,993, ff. 6a–7a (fragment).


  • See below.

Other Literature on John Maundeville's Travels (a small selection)

  1. John Abercromby, Two Irish 15th century versions of Sir John Mandeville's travels, Revue Celtique 7 (1886) 66, 210, 358.
  2. Albert Bovenschen, Quellen für die Reisebeschreibung des Johanns von Mandeville, Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin 23 (1888), 177f. (with rich literature about Maundeville's fictitious travel description).
  3. The Buke of John Maundevill, edited together with the French text by George F. Warner (Westminster: Roxburghe Club 1889).
  4. Richard Hennig, Terrae Incognitae. Eine Zusammenstellung und kritische Bewertung der wichtigsten vorkolumbianischen Entdeckungsreisen an Hand der darüber vorliegenden Originalberichte. 4 vols. (Leiden 1939), vol. 3, 200–204.
  5. Malcolm Letts, Sir John Mandeville, the Man and his Book (London 1949).
  6. Malcolm Letts (ed.), Mandeville's travels: texts and translations (London 1953).
  7. Josephine Waters Bennett, The rediscovery of Sir John Mandeville (New York 1954).
  8. Michael Charles Seymour, 'A medieval redactor at work', Notes and Queries 206 (1961) 169–171.
  9. Michael Charles Seymour, 'The Irish version of 'Mandeville's Travels: the insular version', Notes and Queries 208 (1963) 364–366.
  10. Luc Schepens, 'Quelques observations sur la tradition manuscrite du Voyage de Mandeville', Scriptorium 18 (1964) 49–54.
  11. Michael Charles Seymour, 'The scribal tradition of Mandeville's Travels: the insular version', Scriptorium 18 (1964) 34–48.
  12. Mary Boyle and Michael C. Seymour, 'The Irish epitome of Mandeville's Travels', Éigse 12 (1967/68) 29–36. [Paragraphs 1–2, 7–16 (cf. Stokes's ed.), from MS British Library Additional 33,993; with an Engl. text.]
  13. C. W. R. D. Moseley, 'The metamorphoses of sir John Mandeville', Yearbook of English Studies 4 (1974) 5–25.
  14. Christiane Deluz, Le livre de Jehan de Mandeville: une "géographie" au XIVe siècle, Louvain-la Neuve, Institut d'études médiévales de l'Université catholique de Louvain (Textes, études, congrès, 8) 1988.
  15. Michael Charles Seymour, Sir John Mandeville (Aldershot 1993).
  16. Michael Charles Seymour, 'Sir John Mandeville', Authors of the Middle Ages: English Writers of the Late Middle Ages (London 1993) vol. 1, 38–49 (list of manuscripts); 50–56 (editions).
  17. Gilles Milton, The Riddle and the Knight: In Search of Sir John Mandeville (London 1996).
  18. Iain Macleod Higgins, Writing East: the "Travels" of Sir John Mandeville (Philadelphia 1997).
  19. Rosemary Tzanaki, Mandeville's Medieval Audiences. A Study on the Reception of the Book of Sir John Mandeville. 1371–1550; (Burlington 2003).
  20. Susanne Röhl, Der "Livre de Mandeville" im 14. und 15. Jahrhundert (Munich 2004).

The edition used in the digital edition

‘The Gaelic Maundeville’ (1899). In: Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie‍ 2. Ed. by Whitley Stokes, pp. 1–63, 226–301.

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  editor 	 = {Whitley Stokes},
  title 	 = {The Gaelic Maundeville},
  journal 	 = {Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie},
  volume 	 = {2},
  date 	 = {1899},
  address 	 = {Halle/Saale},
  publisher 	 = {Max Niemeyer },
  pages 	 = {1–63; 226–301}


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Creation: By Whitley Stokes.

Date: 1899

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  • The translation, most annotations and the introduction are in English. (en)
  • Some words are in Early Modern Irish. (ga)
  • Some formulaic phrases are in Latin. (la)
  • The annotations contain some (Middle) French. (fr)
  • The annotations contain one word in Greek. (gr)

Keywords: travel; description; fictitious; prose; John Maundeville; 15c; translation

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  1. 2010-03-08: Corrigenda from Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 2, 311f; 603f. integrated. File reparsed; SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2010-01-27: File proofed (2); bibliographic details compiled. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2010-01-22: Header created. File parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2010-01-20: File proofed (1); structural and content encoding applied. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  5. 2010-01-18: Text scanned. (data capture Beatrix Färber)

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G305000: The Gaelic Maundeville (in Irish)

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  1. See the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Irish MSS. Series, vol. I, pp. 73–79. 🢀

  2. See M. Dottin's catalogue of its contents, Revue Celtique 15, 79–91. 🢀

  3. now British Library 🢀

  4. i. e. the place where the Irish translation was made is Rosbrin in the barony of Skull, co. Cork. 🢀

  5. Literally, made his outing, echtra, a derivative of echtar🢀

  6. As all the French and Latin MSS. have 1322 (Mr. G. F. Warner p. 3, note 1) Fingin must here have been working from an English MS. 🢀

  7. See the peroration printed by Warner, p. 222. 🢀

  8. naist in the French version, misread by the English translator as uait, ua (Warner). 🢀

  9. A mistake for the Genoese! 🢀

  10. A mistake for Barnabas. “Et pres de Famagost fuist neez seint Barnabe lapostre.” 🢀

  11. Eg. inserts: ⁊ is annsin bertar in brath for in ciniudh daenna “and 'tis there that the doom will be given on the human race”. 🢀

  12. A mistake for the English a masse🢀

  13. Literally: not greater are the hounds in that island than are the rats. 🢀

  14. A bad mistranslation: “For, if a man myghte fall fra the erthe to the firmament, by mare skill the erthe and the see, that er so heuy, schuld fall vnto the firmament.” 🢀

  15. Job XXVI, 7: Appendit terram super nihilum🢀

  16. This seems to be the meaning of the Irish. Literally: “every other stone is of gold and of silver.” 🢀

  17. “lx colours” in the English and French versions. 🢀

  18. Garantez in the English MS. which Mr. Warner designates by C. His text has geraudes, the French has Gerautes. This cannot mean garnets, as Mr. Abercromby supposed. 🢀

  19. A mistake here. Read, perhaps, masporis, some kind of gem. 🢀

  20. “And thai ete right lytill breed, bot if it be in lordez courtez.” 🢀

  21. “another maner of drinke made of water and hony.” 🢀

  22. “es in Asie the deepe”; “en Asie la parfounde” 🢀

  23. μαυρος “niger”. 🢀

  24. “now is that citee called Porte de fer”. 🢀

  25. See Giraldus Cambrensis, Topographia Hibernica 1, 15. 🢀

  26. Literally: he will make clay of himself. 🢀

  27. Literally: their description has not been known. 🢀


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