The Travels of Sir John Mandeville

Part 3 out of 4


And they that worship simulacres, they worship them for some worthy
man that was sometime, as Hercules, and many other that did many
marvels in their time. For they say well that they be not gods;
for they know well that there is a God of kind that made all
things, the which is in heaven. But they know well that this may
not do the marvels that he made, but if it had been by the special
gift of God; and therefore they say that he was well with God, and
for because that he was so well with God, therefore they worship
him. And so say they of the sun, because that he changeth the
time, and giveth heat, and nourisheth all things upon earth; and
for it is of so great profit, they know well that that might not
be, but that God loveth it more than any other thing, and, for that
skill, God hath given it more great virtue in the world.
Therefore, it is good reason, as they say, to do it worship and
reverence. And so say they, and make their reasons, of other
planets, and of the fire also, because it is so profitable.

And of idols they say also that the ox is the most holy beast that
is in earth and most patient, and more profitable than any other.
For he doth good enough and he doth no evil; and they know well
that it may not be without special grace of God. And therefore
make they their god of an ox the one part, and the other half of a
man. Because that man is the most noble creature in earth, and
also for he hath lordship above all beasts, therefore make they the
halvendel of idol of a man upwards; and the tother half of an ox
downwards, and of serpents, and of other beasts and diverse things,
that they worship, that they meet first at morrow.

And they worship also specially all those that they have good
meeting of; and when they speed well in their journey, after their
meeting, and namely such as they have proved and assayed by
experience of long time; for they say that thilk good meeting ne
may not come but of the grace of God. And therefore they make
images like to those things that they have belief in, for to behold
them and worship them first at morning, or they meet any
contrarious things. And there be also some Christian men that say,
that some beasts have good meeting, that is to say for to meet with
them first at morrow, and some beasts wicked meeting; and that they
have proved oft-time that the hare hath full evil meeting, and
swine and many other beasts. And the sparrow-hawk or other fowls
of ravine, when they fly after their prey and take it before men of
arms, it is a good sign; and if he fail of taking his prey, it is
an evil sign. And also to such folk, it is an evil meeting of

In these things and in such other, there be many folk that believe;
because it happeneth so often-time to fall after their fantasies.
And also there be men enough that have no belief in them. And,
sith that Christian men have such belief, that be informed and
taught all day by holy doctrine, wherein they should believe, it is
no marvel then, that the paynims, that have no good doctrine but
only of their nature, believe more largely for their simplesse.
And truly I have seen of paynims and Saracens that men clepe
Augurs, that, when we ride in arms in divers countries upon our
enemies, by the flying of fowls they would tell us the
prognostications of things that fell after; and so they did full
oftentimes, and proffered their heads to-wedde, but if it would
fall as they said. But natheles, therefore should not a man put
his belief in such things, but always have full trust and belief in
God our sovereign Lord.

This isle of Chana the Saracens have won and hold. In that isle be
many lions and many other wild beasts. And there be rats in that
isle as great as hounds here; and men take them with great
mastiffs, for cats may not take them. In this isle and many other
men bury not no dead men, for the heat is there so great, that in a
little time the flesh will consume from the bones.

From thence men go by sea toward Ind the more to a city, that men
clepe Sarche, that is a fair city and a good. And there dwell many
Christian men of good faith. And there be many religious men, and
namely of mendicants.

After go men by sea to the land of Lomb. In that land groweth the
pepper in the forest that men clepe Combar. And it groweth nowhere
else in all the world, but in that forest, and that endureth well
an eighteen journeys in length. In the forest be two good cities;
that one hight Fladrine and that other Zinglantz, and in every of
them dwell Christian men and Jews, great plenty. For it is a good
country and a plentiful, but there is overmuch passing heat.

And ye shall understand, that the pepper groweth in manner as doth
a wild vine that is planted fast by the trees of that wood for to
sustain it by, as doth the vine. And the fruit thereof hangeth in
manner as raisins. And the tree is so thick charged, that it
seemeth that it would break. And when it is ripe it is all green,
as it were ivy berries. And then men cut them, as men do the
vines, and then they put it upon an oven, and there it waxeth black
and crisp. And there is three manner of pepper all upon one tree;
long pepper, black pepper and white pepper. The long pepper men
clepe SORBOTIN, and the black pepper is clept FULFULLE, and the
white pepper is clept BANO. The long pepper cometh first when the
leaf beginneth to come, and it is like the cats of hazel that
cometh before the leaf, and it hangeth low. And after cometh the
black with the leaf, in manner of clusters of raisins, all green.
And when men have gathered it, then cometh the white that is
somedeal less than the black. And of that men bring but little
into this country; for they beyond withhold it for themselves,
because it is better and more attempre in kind than the black. And
therefore is there not so great plenty as of the black.

In that country be many manner of serpents and of other vermin for
the great heat of the country and of the pepper. And some men say,
that when they will gather the pepper, they make fire, and burn
about to make the serpents and the cockodrills to flee. But save
their grace of all that say so. For if they burnt about the trees
that bear, the pepper should be burnt, and it would dry up all the
virtue, as of any other thing; and then they did themselves much
harm, and they should never quench the fire. But thus they do:
they anoint their hands and their feet [with a juice] made of
snails and of other things made therefore, of the which the
serpents and the venomous beasts hate and dread the savour; and
that maketh them flee before them, because of the smell, and then
they gather it surely enough.

Also toward the head of that forest is the city of Polombe. And
above the city is a great mountain that also is clept Polombe. And
of that mount the city hath his name.

And at the foot of that mount is a fair well and a great, that hath
odour and savour of all spices. And at every hour of the day he
changeth his odour and his savour diversely. And whoso drinketh
three times fasting of that water of that well he is whole of all
manner sickness that he hath. And they that dwell there and drink
often of that well they never have sickness; and they seem always
young. I have drunken thereof three or four sithes, and yet,
methinketh, I fare the better. Some men clepe it the well of
youth. For they that often drink thereof seem always young-like,
and live without sickness. And men say, that that well cometh out
of Paradise, and therefore it is so virtuous.

By all that country groweth good ginger, and therefore thither go
the merchants for spicery.

In that land men worship the ox for his simpleness and for his
meekness, and for the profit that cometh of him. And they say,
that he is the holiest beast in earth. For them seemeth, that
whosoever be meek and patient, he is holy and profitable; for then,
they say, he hath all virtues in him. They make the ox to labour
six year or seven, and then they eat him. And the king of the
country hath alway an ox with him. And he that keepeth him hath
every day great fees, and keepeth every day his dung and his urine
in two vessels of gold, and bring it before their prelate that they
clepe Archi-protopapaton. And he beareth it before the king and
maketh there over a great blessing. And then the king wetteth his
hands there, in that they clepe gall, and anointeth his front and
his breast. And after, he froteth him with the dung and with the
urine with great reverence, for to be fullfilled of virtues of the
ox and made holy by the virtue of that holy thing that nought is
worth. And when the king hath done, then do the lords; and after
them their ministers and other men, if they may have any remenant.

In that country they make idols, half man half ox. And in those
idols evil spirits speak and give answer to men of what is asked
them. Before these idols men slay their children many times, and
spring the blood upon the idols; and so they make their sacrifice.

And when any man dieth in the country they burn his body in name of
penance; to that intent, that he suffer no pain in earth to be
eaten of worms. And if his wife have no child they burn her with
him, and say, that it is reason, that she make him company in that
other world as she did in this. But and she have children with
him, they let her live with them, to bring them up if she will.
And if that she love more to live with her children than for to die
with her husband, men hold her for false and cursed; ne she shall
never be loved ne trusted of the people. And if the woman die,
before the husband, men burn him with her, if that he will; and if
he will not, no man constraineth him thereto, but he may wed
another time without blame or reproof.

In that country grow many strong vines. And the women drink wine,
and men not. And the women shave their beards, and the men not.



FROM that country men pass by many marches toward a country, a ten
journeys thence, that is clept Mabaron; and it is a great kingdom,
and it hath many fair cities and towns.

In that kingdom lieth the body of Saint Thomas the apostle in flesh
and bone, in a fair tomb in the city of Calamye; for there he was
martyred and buried. And men of Assyria bare his body into
Mesopotamia into the city of Edessa, and after, he was brought
thither again. And the arm and the hand that he put in our Lord's
side, when he appeared to him after his resurrection and said to
him, NOLI ESSE INCREDULUS, SED FIDELIS, is yet lying in a vessel
without the tomb. And by that hand they make all their judgments
in the country, whoso hath right or wrong. For when there is any
dissension between two parties, and every of them maintaineth his
cause, and saith that his cause is rightful, and that other saith
the contrary, then both parties write their causes in two bills and
put them in the hand of Saint Thomas. And anon he casteth away the
bill of the wrong cause and holdeth still the bill with the right
cause. And therefore men come from far countries to have judgment
of doubtable causes. And other judgment use they none there.

Also the church, where Saint Thomas' lieth, is both great and fair,
and all full of great simulacres, and those be great images that
they clepe their gods, of the which the least is as great as two

And, amongst these other, there is a great image more than any of
the other, that is all covered with fine gold and precious stones
and rich pearls; and that idol is the god of false Christians that
have reneyed their faith. And it sitteth in a chair of gold, full
nobly arrayed, and he hath about his neck large girdles wrought of
gold and precious stones and pearls. And this church is full
richly wrought and, all overgilt within. And to that idol go men
on pilgrimage, as commonly and with as great devotion as Christian
men go to Saint James, or other holy pilgrimages. And many folk
that come from far lands to seek that idol for the great devotion
that they have, they look never upward, but evermore down to the
earth, for dread to see anything about them that should let them of
their devotion. And some there be that go on pilgrimage to this
idol, that bear knives in their hands, that be made full keen and
sharp; and always as they go, they smite themselves in their arms
and in their legs and in their thighs with many hideous wounds; and
so they shed their blood for love of that idol. And they say, that
he is blessed and holy, that dieth so for love of his god. And
other there be that lead their children for to slay, to make
sacrifice to that idol; and after they have slain them they spring
the blood upon the idol. And some there be that come from far; and
in going toward this idol, at every third pace that they go from
their house, they kneel; and so continue till they come thither:
and when they come there, they take incense and other aromatic
things of noble smell, and cense the idol, as we would do here
God's precious body. And so come folk to worship this idol, some
from an hundred mile, and some from many more.

And before the minster of this idol, is a vivary, in manner of a
great lake, full of water. And therein pilgrims cast gold and
silver, pearls and precious stones without number, instead of
offerings. And when the minister of that church need to make any
reparation of the church or of any of the idols, they take gold and
silver, pearls and precious stones out of the vivary, to quit the
costage of such thing as they make or repair; so that that nothing
is faulty, but anon it shall be amended. And ye shall understand,
that when [there be] great feasts and solemnities of that idol, as
the dedication of the church and the throning of the idol, all the
country about meet there together. And they set this idol upon a
car with great reverence, well arrayed with cloths of gold, of rich
cloths of Tartary, of Camaka, and other precious cloths. And they
lead him about the city with great solemnity. And before the car
go first in procession all the maidens of the country, two and two
together full ordinatly. And after those maidens go the pilgrims.
And some of them fall down under the wheels of the car, and let the
car go over them, so that they be dead anon. And some have their
arms or their limbs all to-broken, and some the sides. And all
this do they for love of their god, in great devotion. And them
thinketh that the more pain, and the more tribulation that they
suffer for love of their god, the more joy they shall have in
another world. And, shortly to say you, they suffer so great
pains, and so hard martyrdoms for love of their idol, that a
Christian man, I trow, durst not take upon him the tenth part the
pain for love of our Lord Jesu Christ. And after, I say you,
before the car, go all the minstrels of the country without number,
with diverse instruments, and they make all the melody that they

And when they have gone all about the city, then they return again
to the minster, and put the idol again into his place. And then
for the love and in worship of that idol, and for the reverence of
the feast, they slay themselves, a two hundred or three hundred
persons, with sharp knives, of the which they bring the bodies
before the idol. And then they say that those be saints, because
that they slew themselves of their own good will for love of their
idol. And as men here that had an holy saint of his kin would
think that it were to them an high worship, right so then, thinketh
there. And as men here devoutly would write holy saints' lives and
their miracles, and sue for their canonizations, right so do they
there for them that slay themselves wilfully for love of their
idol, and say, that they be glorious martyrs and saints, and put
them in their writings and in their litanies, and avaunt them
greatly, one to another, of their holy kinsmen that so become
saints, and say, I have more holy saints in my kindred, than thou
in thine!

And the custom also there is this, that when they that have such
devotion and intent for to slay himself for love of his god, they
send for all their friends, and have great plenty of minstrels; and
they go before the idol leading him that will slay himself for such
devotion between them, with great reverence. And he, all naked,
hath a full sharp knife in his hand, and he cutteth a great piece
of his flesh, and casteth it in the face of his idol, saying his
orisons, recommending him to his god. And then he smiteth himself
and maketh great wounds and deep, here and there, till he fall down
dead. And then his friends present his body to the idol. And then
they say, singing, Holy god! behold what thy true servant hath done
for thee. He hath forsaken his wife and his children and his
riches, and all the goods of the world and his own life for the
love of thee, and to make thee sacrifice of his flesh and of his
blood. Wherefore, holy god, put him among thy best beloved saints
in thy bliss of paradise, for he hath well deserved it. And then
they make a great fire, and burn the body. And then everych of his
friends take a quantity of the ashes, and keep them instead of
relics, and say that it is holy thing. And they have no dread of
no peril whiles they have those holy ashes upon them. And [they]
put his name in their litanies as a saint.



FROM that country go men by the sea ocean, and by many divers isles
and by many countries that were too long for to tell of. And a
fifty-two journeys from this land that I have spoken of, there is
another land, that is full great, that men clepe Lamary. In that
land is full great heat. And the custom there is such, that men
and women go all naked. And they scorn when they see any strange
folk going clothed. And they say, that God made Adam and Eve all
naked, and that no man should shame him to shew him such as God
made him, for nothing is foul that is of kindly nature. And they
say, that they that be clothed be folk of another world, or they be
folk that trow not in God. And they say, that they believe in God
that formed the world, and that made Adam and Eve and all other
things. And they wed there no wives, for all the women there be
common and they forsake no man. And they say they sin if they
refuse any man; and so God commanded to Adam and Eve and to all
that come of him, when he said, CRESCITE ET MULTIPLICAMINI ET
REPLETE TERRAM. And therefore may no man in that country say, This
is my wife; ne no woman may say, This my husband. And when they
have children, they may give them to what man they will that hath
companied with them. And also all the land is common; for all that
a man holdeth one year, another man hath it another year; and every
man taketh what part that him liketh. And also all the goods of
the land be common, corns and all other things: for nothing there
is kept in close, ne nothing there is under lock, and every man
there taketh what he will without any contradiction, and as rich is
one man there as is another.

But in that country there is a cursed custom, for they eat more
gladly man's flesh than any other flesh; and yet is that country
abundant of flesh, of fish, of corns, of gold and silver, and of
all other goods. Thither go merchants and bring with them children
to sell to them of the country, and they buy them. And if they be
fat they eat them anon. And if they be lean they feed them till
they be fat, and then they eat them. And they say, that it is the
best flesh and the sweetest of all the world.

In that land, ne in many other beyond that, no man may see the Star
Transmontane, that is clept the Star of the Sea, that is unmovable
and that is toward the north, that we clepe the Lode-star. But men
see another star, the contrary to him, that is toward the south,
that is clept Antartic. And right as the ship-men take their
advice here and govern them by the Lode-star, right so do ship-men
beyond those parts by the star of the south, the which star
appeareth not to us. And this star that is toward the north, that
we clepe the Lode-star, ne appeareth not to them. For which cause
men may well perceive, that the land and the sea be of round shape
and form; for the part of the firmament sheweth in one country that
sheweth not in another country. And men may well prove by
experience and subtle compassment of wit, that if a man found
passages by ships that would go to search the world, men might go
by ship all about the world and above and beneath.

The which thing I prove thus after that I have seen. For I have
been toward the parts of Brabant, and beholden the Astrolabe that
the star that is clept the Transmontane is fifty-three degrees
high; and more further in Almayne and Bohemia it hath fifty-eight
degrees; and more further toward the parts septentrional it is
sixty-two degrees of height and certain minutes; for I myself have
measured it by the Astrolabe. Now shall ye know, that against the
Transmontane is the tother star that is clept Antarctic, as I have
said before. And those two stars ne move never, and by them
turneth all the firmament right as doth a wheel that turneth by his
axle-tree. So that those stars bear the firmament in two equal
parts, so that it hath as much above as it hath beneath. After
this, I have gone toward the parts meridional, that is, toward the
south, and I have found that in Lybia men see first the star
Antarctic. And so far I have gone more further in those countries,
that I have found that star more high; so that toward the High
Lybia it is eighteen degrees of height and certain minutes (of the
which sixty minutes make a degree). After going by sea and by land
toward this country of that I have spoken, and to other isles and
lands beyond that country, I have found the Star Antarctic of
thirty-three degrees of height and more minutes. And if I had had
company and shipping for to go more beyond, I trow well, in
certain, that we should have seen all the roundness of the
firmament all about. For, as I have said to you before, the half
of the firmament is between those two stars, the which halvendel I
have seen. And of the tother halvendel I have seen, toward the
north under the Transmontane, sixty-two degrees and ten minutes,
and toward the part meridional I have seen under the Antarctic,
thirty-three degrees and sixteen minutes. And then, the halvendel
of the firmament in all holdeth not but nine score degrees. And of
those nine score, I have seen sixty-two on that one part and
thirty-three on that other part; that be, ninety-five degrees and
nigh the halvendel of a degree. And so, there ne faileth but that
I have seen all the firmament, save four score and four degrees and
the halvendel of a degree, and that is not the fourth part of the
firmament; for the fourth part of the roundness of the firmament
holds four score and ten degrees, so there faileth but five degrees
and an half of the fourth part. And also I have seen the three
parts of all the roundness of the firmament and more yet five
degrees and a half. By the which I say you certainly that men may
environ all the earth of all the world, as well under as above, and
turn again to his country, that had company and shipping and
conduct. And always he should find men, lands and isles, as well
as in this country. For ye wit well, that they that be toward the
Antarctic, they be straight, feet against feet, of them that dwell
under the Transmontane; also well as we and they that dwell under
us be feet against feet. For all the parts of sea and of land have
their opposites, habitable trepassable, and they of this half and
beyond half.

And wit well, that, after that that I may perceive and comprehend,
the lands of Prester John, Emperor of Ind, be under us. For in
going from Scotland or from England toward Jerusalem men go upward
always. For our land is in the low part of the earth toward the
west, and the land of Prester John is in the low part of the earth
toward the east. And [they] have there the day when we have the
night; and also, high to the contrary, they have the night when we
have the day. For the earth and the sea be of round form and
shape, as I have said before; and that that men go upward to one
coast, men go downward to another coast.

Also ye have heard me say that Jerusalem is in the midst of the
world. And that may men prove, and shew there by a spear, that is
pight into the earth, upon the hour of midday, when it is equinox,
that sheweth no shadow on no side. And that it should be in the
midst of the world, David witnesseth it in the Psalter, where he
part from those parts of the west for to go toward Jerusalem, as
many journeys as they go upward for to go thither, in as many
journeys may they go from Jerusalem unto other confines of the
superficiality of the earth beyond. And when men go beyond those
journeys toward Ind and to the foreign isles, all is environing the
roundness of the earth and of the sea under our countries on this

And therefore hath it befallen many times of one thing that I have
heard counted when I was young, how a worthy man departed some-time
from our countries for to go search the world. And so he passed
Ind and the isles beyond Ind, where be more than 5000 isles. And
so long he went by sea and land, and so environed the world by many
seasons, that he found an isle where he heard speak his own
language, calling on oxen in the plough, such words as men speak to
beasts in his own country whereof he had great marvel, for he knew
not how it might be. But I say, that he had gone so long by land
and by sea, that he had environed all the earth; that he was come
again environing, that is to say, going about, unto his own
marches, and if he would have passed further, till he had found his
country and his own knowledge. But he turned again from thence,
from whence he was come from. And so he lost much painful labour,
as himself said a great while after that he was come home. For it
befell after, that he went into Norway. And there tempest of the
sea took him, and he arrived in an isle. And, when he was in that
isle, he knew well that it was the isle, where he had heard speak
his own language before and the calling of oxen at the plough; and
that was possible thing.

But how it seemeth to simple men unlearned, that men ne may not go
under the earth, and also that men should fall toward the heaven
from under. But that may not be, upon less than we may fall toward
heaven from the earth where we be. For from what part of the earth
that men dwell, either above or beneath, it seemeth always to them
that dwell that they go more right than any other folk. And right
as it seemeth to us that they be under us, right so it seemeth to
them that we be under them. For if a man might fall from the earth
unto the firmament, by greater, reason the earth and the sea that
be so great and so heavy should fall to the firmament: but that
may not be, and therefore saith our Lord God, NON TIMEAS ME, QUI

And albeit that it be possible thing that men may so environ all
the world, natheles, of a thousand persons, one ne might not happen
to return into his country. For, for the greatness of the earth
and of the sea, men may go by a thousand and a thousand other ways,
that no man could ready him perfectly toward the parts that he came
from, but if it were by adventure and hap, or by the grace of God.
For the earth is full large and full great, and holds in roundness
and about environ, by above and by beneath, 20425 miles, after the
opinion of old wise astronomers; and their sayings I reprove
nought. But, after my little wit, it seemeth me, saving their
reverence, that it is more.

And for to have better understanding I say thus. Be there imagined
a figure that hath a great compass. And, about the point of the
great compass that is clept the centre, be made another little
compass. Then after, be the great compass devised by lines in many
parts, and that all the lines meet at the centre. So, that in as
many parts as the great compass shall be departed, in as many shall
be departed the little, that is about the centre, albeit that the
spaces be less. Now then, be the great compass represented for the
firmament, and the little compass represented for the earth. Now
then, the firmament is devised by astronomers in twelve signs, and
every sign is devised in thirty degrees; that is, 360 degrees that
the firmament hath above. Also, be the earth devised in as many
parts as the firmament, and let every part answer to a degree of
the firmament. And wit it well, that, after the authors of
astronomy, 700 furlongs of earth answer to a degree of the
firmament, and those be eighty-seven miles and four furlongs. Now
be that here multiplied by 360 sithes, and then they be 31,500
miles every of eight furlongs, after miles of our country. So much
hath the earth in roundness and of height environ, after mine
opinion and mine understanding.

And ye shall understand, that after the opinion of old wise
philosophers and astronomers, our country ne Ireland ne Wales ne
Scotland ne Norway ne the other isles coasting to them ne be not in
the superficiality counted above the earth, as it sheweth by all
the books of astronomy. For the superficiality of the earth is
parted in seven parts for the seven planets, and those parts be
clept climates. And our parts be not of the seven climates, for
they be descending toward the west [drawing] towards the roundness
of the world. And also these isles of Ind which be even against us
be not reckoned in the climates. For they be against us that be in
the low country. And the seven climates stretch them environing
the world.



BESIDE that isle that I have spoken of, there is another isle that
is clept Sumobor. That is a great isle, and the king thereof is
right mighty. The folk of that isle make them always to be marked
in the visage with an hot iron, both men and women, for great
noblesse, for to be known from other folk; for they hold themselves
most noble and most worthy of all the world. And they have war
always with the folk that go all naked.

And fast beside is another isle, that is clept Betemga, that is a
good isle and a plenteous. And many other isles be thereabout,
where there be many of diverse folk, of the which it were too long
to speak of all.

But fast beside that isle, for to pass by sea, is a great isle and
a great country that men clepe Java. And it is nigh two thousand
mile in circuit. And the king of that country is a full great lord
and a rich and a mighty, and hath under him seven other kings of
seven other isles about him. This isle is full well inhabited, and
full well manned. There grow all manner of spicery, more
plenteously than in any other country, as of ginger, cloves-
gilofre, canell, seedwall, nutmegs and maces. And wit well, that
the nutmeg beareth the maces; for right as the nut of the hazel
hath an husk without, that the nut is closed in till it be ripe and
that after falleth out, right so it is of the nutmeg and of the
maces. Many other spices and many other goods grow in that isle.
For of all things is there plenty, save only of wine. But there is
gold and silver, great plenty.

And the king of that country hath a palace full noble and full
marvellous, and more rich than any in the world. For all the
degrees to go up into halls and chambers be, one of gold, another
of silver. And also, the pavements of halls and chambers be all
square, of gold one, and another of silver. And all the walls
within be covered with gold and silver in fine plates, and in those
plates be stories and battles of knights enleved, and the crowns
and the circles about their heads be made of precious stones and
rich pearls and great. And the halls and the chambers of the
palace be all covered within with gold and silver, so that no man
would trow the riches of that palace but he had seen it. And wit
well, that the king of that isle is so mighty, that he hath many
times overcome the great Chan of Cathay in battle, that is the most
great emperor that is under the firmament either beyond the sea or
on this half. For they have had often-time war between them,
because that the great Chan would constrain him to hold his land of
him; but that other at all times defendeth him well against him.

After that isle, in going by sea, men find another isle, good and
great, that men clepe Pathen, that is a great kingdom full of fair
cities and full of towns. In that land grow trees that bear meal,
whereof men make good bread and white and of good savour; and it
seemeth as it were of wheat, but it is not allinges of such savour.
And there be other trees that bear honey good and sweet, and other
trees that bear venom, against the which there is no medicine but
[one]; and that is to take their proper leaves and stamp them and
temper them with water and then drink it, and else he shall die;
for triacle will not avail, ne none other medicine. Of this venom
the Jews had let seek of one of their friends for to empoison all
Christianity, as I have heard them say in their confession before
their dying: but thanked be Almighty God! they failed of their
purpose; but always they make great mortality of people. And other
trees there be also that bear wine of noble sentiment. And if you
like to hear how the meal cometh out of the trees I shall say you.
Men hew the trees with an hatchet, all about the foot of the tree,
till that the bark be parted in many parts, and then cometh out
thereof a thick liquor, the which they receive in vessels, and dry
it at the heat of the sun; and then they have it to a mill to grind
and it becometh fair meal and white. And the honey and the wine
and the venom be drawn out of other trees in the same manner, and
put in vessels for to keep.

In that isle is a dead sea, that is a lake that hath no ground; and
if anything fall into that lake it shall never come up again. In
that lake grow reeds, that be canes, that they clepe Thaby, that be
thirty fathoms long; and of these canes men make fair houses. And
there be other canes that be not so long, that grow near the land
and have so long roots that endure well a four quarters of a
furlong or more; and at the knots of those roots men find precious
stones that have great virtues. And he that beareth any of them
upon him, iron ne steel may not hurt him, ne draw no blood upon
him; and therefore, they that have those stones upon them fight
full hardily both on sea and land, for men may not harm [them] on
no part. And therefore, they that know the manner, and shall fight
with them, they shoot to them arrows and quarrels without iron or
steel, and so they hurt them and slay them. And also of those
canes they make houses and ships and other things, as we have here,
making houses and ships of oak or of any other trees. And deem no
man that I say it but for a trifle, for I have seen of the canes
with mine own eyes, full many times, lying upon the river of that
lake, of the which twenty of our fellows ne might not lift up ne
bear one to the earth.

After this isle men go by sea to another isle that is clept
Calonak. And it is a fair land and a plenteous of goods. And the
king of that country hath as many wives as he will. For he maketh
search all the country to get him the fairest maidens that may be
found, and maketh them to be brought before him. And he taketh one
one night, and another another night, and so forth continually
suing; so that he hath a thousand wives or more. And he lieth
never but one night with one of them, and another night with
another; but if that one happen to be more lusty to his pleasance
than another. And therefore the king getteth full many children,
some-time an hundred, some-time a two-hundred, and some-time more.
And he hath also into a 14,000 elephants or more that he maketh for
to be brought up amongst his villains by all his towns. For in
case that he had any war against any other king about him, then
[he] maketh certain men of arms for to go up into the castles of
tree made for the war, that craftily be set upon the elephants'
backs, for to fight against their enemies. And so do other kings
there-about. For the manner of war is not there as it is here or
in other countries, ne the ordinance of war neither. And men clepe
the elephants WARKES.

And in that isle there is a great marvel, more to speak of than in
any other part of the world. For all manner of fishes, that be
there in the sea about them, come once in the year - each manner of
diverse fishes, one manner of kind after other. And they cast
themselves to the sea bank of that isle so great plenty and
multitude, that no man may unnethe see but fish. And there they
abide three days. And every man of the country taketh of them as
many as him liketh. And after, that manner of fish after the third
day departeth and goeth into the sea. And after them come another
multitude of fish of another kind and do in the same manner as the
first did, other three days. And after them another, till all the
diverse manner of fishes have been there, and that men have taken
of them that them liketh. And no man knoweth the cause wherefore
it may be. But they of the country say that it is for to do
reverence to their king, that is the most worthy king that is in
the world as they say; because that he fulfilleth the commandment
that God bade to Adam and Eve, when God said, CRESCITE ET
multiplieth so the world with children, therefore God sendeth him
so the fishes of diverse kinds of all that be in the sea, to take
at his will for him and all his people. And therefore all the
fishes of the sea come to make him homage as the most noble and
excellent king of the world, and that is best beloved with God, as
they say. I know not the reason, why it is, but God knoweth; but
this, me-seemeth, is the most marvel I saw. For this marvel is
against kind and not with kind, that the fishes that have freedom
to environ all the coasts of the sea at their own list, come of
their own will to proffer them to the death, without constraining
of man. And therefore, I am siker that this may not be, without a
great token.

There be also in that country a kind of snails that be so great,
that many persons may lodge them in their shells, as men would do
in a little house. And other snails there be that be full great
but not so huge as the other. And of these snails, and of great
white worms that have black heads that be as great as a man's
thigh, and some less as great worms that men find there in woods,
men make viand royal for the king and for other great lords. And
if a man that is married die in that country, men bury his wife
with him all quick; for men say there, that it is reason that she
make him company in that other world as she did in this.

From that country men go by the sea ocean by an isle that is clept
Caffolos. Men of that country when their friends be sick they hang
them upon trees, and say that it is better that birds, that be
angels of God, eat them, than the foul worms of the earth.

From that isle men go to another isle, where the folk be of full
cursed kind. For they nourish great dogs and teach them to
strangle their friends when they be sick. For they will not that
they die of kindly death. For they say, that they should suffer
too great pain if they abide to die by themselves, as nature would.
And, when they be thus enstrangled, they eat their flesh instead of

Afterward men go by many isles by sea unto an isle that men clepe
Milke. And there is a full cursed people. For they delight in
nothing more than for to fight and to slay men. And they drink
gladliest man's blood, the which they clepe Dieu. And the more men
that a man may slay, the more worship he hath amongst them. And if
two persons be at debate and, peradventure, be accorded by their
friends or by some of their alliance, it behoveth that every of
them that shall be accorded drink of other's blood: and else the
accord ne the alliance is nought worth: ne it shall not be no
reproof to him to break the alliance and the accord, but if every
of them drink of others' blood.

And from that isle men go by sea, from isle to isle, unto an isle
that is clept Tracoda, where the folk of that country be as beasts,
and unreasonable, and dwell in caves that they make in the earth;
for they have no wit to make them houses. And when they see any
man passing through their countries they hide them in their caves.
And they eat flesh of serpents, and they eat but little. And they
speak nought, but they hiss as serpents do. And they set no price
by no avoir ne riches, but only of a precious stone, that is
amongst them, that is of sixty colours. And for the name of the
isle, they clepe it Tracodon. And they love more that stone than
anything else; and yet they know not the virtue thereof, but they
covet it and love it only for the beauty.

After that isle men go by the sea ocean, by many isles, unto an
isle that is clept Nacumera, that is a great isle and good and
fair. And it is in compass about, more than a thousand mile. And
all the men and women of that isle have hounds' heads, and they be
clept Cynocephales. And they be full reasonable and of good
understanding, save that they worship an ox for their God. And
also every one of them beareth an ox of gold or of silver in his
forehead, in token that they love well their God. And they go all
naked save a little clout, that they cover with their knees and
their members. They be great folk and well-fighting. And they
have a great targe that covereth all the body, and a spear in their
hand to fight with. And if they take any man in battle, anon they
eat him.

The king of that isle is full rich and full mighty and right devout
after his law. And he hath about his neck 300 pearls orient, good
and great and knotted, as paternosters here of amber. And in
manner as we say our PATER NOSTER and our AVE MARIA, counting the
PATER NOSTERS, right so this king saith every day devoutly 300
prayers to his God, or that he eat. And he beareth also about his
neck a ruby orient, noble and fine, that is a foot of length and
five fingers large. And, when they choose their king, they take
him that ruby to bear in his hand; and so they lead him, riding all
about the city. And from thence-fromward they be all obeissant to
him. And that ruby he shall bear always about his neck, for if he
had not that ruby upon him men would not hold him for king. The
great Chan of Cathay hath greatly coveted that ruby, but he might
never have it for war, ne for no manner of goods. This king is so
rightful and of equity in his dooms, that men may go sikerly
throughout all his country and bear with them what them list; that
no man shall be hardy to rob them, and if he were, the king would
justified anon.

From this land men go to another isle that is clept Silha. And it
is well a 800 miles about. In that land is full much waste, for it
is full of serpents, of dragons and of cockodrills, that no man
dare dwell there. These cockodrills be serpents, yellow and rayed
above, and have four feet and short thighs, and great nails as
claws or talons. And there be some that have five fathoms in
length, and some of six and of eight and of ten. And when they go
by places that be gravelly, it seemeth as though men had drawn a
great tree through the gravelly place. And there be also many wild
beasts, and namely of elephants.

In that isle is a great mountain. And in mid place of the mount is
a great lake in a full fair plain; and there is great plenty of
water. And they of the country say, that Adam and Eve wept upon
that mount an hundred year, when they were driven out of Paradise,
and that water, they say, is of their tears; for so much water they
wept, that made the foresaid lake. And in the bottom of that lake
men find many precious stones and great pearls. In that lake grow
many reeds and great canes; and there within be many cocodrills and
serpents and great water-leeches. And the king of that country,
once every year, giveth leave to poor men to go into the lake to
gather them precious stones and pearls, by way of alms, for the
love of God that made Adam. And all the year men find enough. And
for the vermin that is within, they anoint their arms and their
thighs and legs with an ointment made of a thing that is clept
lemons, that is a manner of fruit like small pease; and then have
they no dread of no cockodrills, ne of none other venomous vermin.
This water runneth, flowing and ebbing, by a side of the mountain,
and in that river men find precious stones and pearls, great
plenty. And men of that isle say commonly, that the serpents and
the wild beasts of that country will not do no harm ne touch with
evil no strange man that entereth into that country, but only to
men that be born of the same country.

In that country and others thereabout there be wild geese that have
two heads. And there be lions, all white and as great as oxen, and
many other diverse beasts and fowls also that be not seen amongst

And wit well, that in that country and in other isles thereabout,
the sea is so high, that it seemeth as though it hung at the
clouds, and that it would cover all the world. And that is great
marvel that it might be so, save only the will of God, that the air
sustaineth it. And therefore saith David in the Psalter, MIRABILES



FROM that isle, in going by sea toward the south, is another great
isle that is clept Dondun. In that isle be folk of diverse kinds,
so that the father eateth the son, the son the father, the husband
the wife, and the wife the husband. And if it so befall, that the
father or mother or any of their friends be sick, anon the son
goeth to the priest of their law and prayeth him to ask the idol if
his father or mother or friend shall die on that evil or not. And
then the priest and the son go together before the idol and kneel
full devoutly and ask of the idol their demand. And if the devil
that is within answer that he shall live, they keep him well; and
if he say that he shall die, then the priest goeth with the son,
with the wife of him that is sick, and they put their hands upon
his mouth and stop his breath, and so they slay him. And after
that, they chop all the body in small pieces, and pray all his
friends to come and eat of him that is dead. And they send for all
the minstrels of the country and make a solemn feast. And when
they have eaten the flesh, they take the bones and bury them, and
sing and make great melody. And all those that be of his kin or
pretend them to be his friends, an they come not to that feast,
they be reproved for evermore and shamed, and make great dole, for
never after shall they be holden as friends. And they say also,
that men eat their flesh for to deliver them out of pain; for if
the worms of the earth eat them the soul should suffer great pain,
as they say. And namely when the flesh is tender and meagre, then
say their friends, that they do great sin to let them have so long
languor to suffer so much pain without reason. And when they find
the flesh fat, then they say, that it is well done to send them
soon to Paradise, and that they have not suffered him too long to
endure in pain.

The king of this isle is a full great lord and a mighty, and hath
under him fifty-four great isles that give tribute to him. And in
everych of these isles is a king crowned; and all be obeissant to
that king. And he hath in those isles many diverse folk.

In one of these isles be folk of great stature, as giants. And
they be hideous for to look upon. And they have but one eye, and
that is in the middle of the front. And they eat nothing but raw
flesh and raw fish.

And in another isle toward the south dwell folk of foul stature and
of cursed kind that have no heads. And their eyen be in their

And in another isle be folk that have the face all flat, all plain,
without nose and without mouth. But they have two small holes, all
round, instead of their eyes, and their mouth is plat also without

And in another isle be folk of foul fashion and shape that have the
lip above the mouth so great, that when they sleep in the sun they
cover all the face with that lip.

And in another isle there be little folk, as dwarfs. And they be
two so much as the pigmies. And they have no mouth; but instead of
their mouth they have a little round hole, and when they shall eat
or drink, they take through a pipe or a pen or such a thing, and
suck it in, for they have no tongue; and therefore they speak not,
but they make a manner of hissing as an adder doth, and they make
signs one to another as monks do, by the which every of them
understandeth other.

And in another isle be folk that have great ears and long, that
hang down to their knees.

And in another isle be folk that have horses' feet. And they be
strong and mighty, and swift runners; for they take wild beasts
with running, and eat them.

And in another isle be folk that go upon their hands and their feet
as beasts. And they be all skinned and feathered, and they will
leap as lightly into trees, and from tree to tree, as it were
squirrels or apes.

And in another isle be folk that be both man and woman, and they
have kind; of that one and of that other. And they have but one
pap on the one side, and on that other none. And they have members
of generation of man and woman, and they use both when they list,
once that one, and another time that other. And they get children,
when they use the member of man; and they bear children, when they
use the member of woman.

And in another isle be folk that go always upon their knees full
marvellously. And at every pace that they go, it seemeth that they
would fall. And they have in every foot eight toes.

Many other diverse folk of diverse natures be there in other isles
about, of the which it were too long to tell, and therefore I pass
over shortly.

From these isles, in passing by the sea ocean toward the east by
many journeys, men find a great country and a great kingdom that
men crepe Mancy. And that is in Ind the more. And it is the best
land and one the fairest that may be in all the world, and the most
delectable and the most plenteous of all goods that is in power of
man. In that land dwell many Christian men and Saracens, for it is
a good country and a great. And there be therein more than 2000
great cities and rich, without other great towns. And there is
more plenty of people there than in any other part of Ind, for the
bounty of the country. In that country is no needy man, ne none
that goeth on begging. And they be full fair folk, but they be all
pale. And the men have thin beards and few hairs, but they be
long; but unnethe hath any man passing fifty hairs in his beard,
and one hair sits here, another there, as the beard of a leopard or
of a cat. In that land be many fairer women than in any other
country beyond the sea, and therefore men clepe that land Albany,
because that the folk be white.

And the chief city of that country is clept Latorin, and it is a
journey from the sea, and it is much more than Paris. In that city
is a great river bearing ships that go to all the coasts in the
sea. No city of the world is so well stored of ships as is that.
And all those of the city and of the country worship idols. In
that country be double sithes more birds than be here. There be
white geese, red about the neck, and they have a great crest as a
cock's comb upon their heads; and they be much more there than they
be here, and men buy them there all quick, right great cheap. And
there is great plenty of adders of whom men make great feasts and
eat them at great solemnities; and he that maketh there a feast be
it never so costly, an he have no adders he hath no thank for his

Many good cities there be in that country and men have great plenty
and great cheap of all wines and victuals. In that country be many
churches of religious men, and of their law. And in those churches
be idols as great as giants; and to these idols they give to eat at
great festival days in this manner. They bring before them meat
all sodden, as hot as they come from the fire, and they let the
smoke go up towards the idols; and then they say that the idols
have eaten; and then the religious men eat the meat afterwards.

In that country be white hens without feathers, but they bear white
wool as sheep do here. In that country women that be unmarried,
they have tokens on their heads like coronals to be known for
unmarried. Also in that country there be beasts taught of men to
go into waters, into rivers and into deep stanks for to take fish;
the which beast is but little, and men clepe them loirs. And when
men cast them into the water, anon they bring up great fishes, as
many as men will. And if men will have more, they cast them in
again, and they bring up as many as men list to have.

And from that city passing many journeys is another city, one the
greatest of the world, that men clepe Cassay; that is to say, the
'City of heaven.' That city is well a fifty mile about, and it is
strongly inhabited with people, insomuch that in one house men make
ten households. In that city be twelve principal gates; and before
every gate, a three mile or a four mile in length, is a great town
or a great city. That city sits upon a great lake on the sea as
doth Venice. And in that city be more than 12,000 bridges. And
upon every bridge be strong towers and good, in the which dwell the
wardens for to keep the city from the great Chan. And on that one
part of the city runneth a great river all along the city. And
there dwell Christian men and many merchants and other folk of
diverse nations, because that the land is so good and so plenteous.
And there groweth full good wine that men clepe Bigon, that is full
mighty, and gentle in drinking. This is a city royal where the
King of Mancy was wont to dwell. And there dwell many religious
men, as it were of the Order of Friars, for they be mendicants.

From that city men go by water, solacing and disporting them, till
they come to an abbey of monks that is fast by, that be good
religious men after their faith and law. In that abbey is a great
garden and a fair, where be many trees of diverse manner of fruits.
And in this garden is a little hill full of delectable trees. In
that hill and in that garden be many diverse beasts, as of apes,
marmosets, baboons and many other diverse beasts. And every day,
when the convent of this abbey hath eaten, the almoner let bear the
relief to the garden, and he smiteth on the garden gate with a
clicket of silver that he holdeth in his hand; and anon all the
beasts of the hill and of diverse places of the garden come out a
3000, or a 4000; and they come in guise of poor men, and men give
them the relief in fair vessels of silver, clean over-gilt. And
when they have eaten, the monk smiteth eftsoons on the garden gate
with the clicket, and then anon all the beasts return again to
their places that they come from. And they say that these beasts
be souls of worthy men that resemble in likeness of those beasts
that be fair, and therefore they give them meat for the love of
God; and the other beasts that be foul, they say be souls of poor
men and of rude commons. And thus they believe, and no man may put
them out of this opinion. These beasts above-said they let take
when they be young, and nourish them so with alms, as many as they
may find. And I asked them if it had not been better to have given
that relief to poor men, rather than to those beasts. And they
answered me and said, that they had no poor men amongst them in
that country; and though it had been so that poor men had been
among them, yet were it greater alms to give it to those souls that
do there their penance. Many other marvels be in that city and in
the country thereabout, that were too long to tell you.

From that city go men by the country a six journeys to another city
that men clepe Chilenfo, of the which city the walls be twenty mile
about. In that city be sixty bridges of stone, so fair that no man
may see fairer. In that city was the first siege of the King of
Mancy, for it is a fair and plenteous of all goods.

After, pass men overthwart a great river that men clepe Dalay. And
that is the greatest river of fresh water that is in the world.
For there, as it is most narrow, it is more than four mile of
breadth. And then enter men again into the land of the great Chan.

That river goeth through the land of Pigmies, where that the folk
be of little stature, that be but three span long, and they be
right fair and gentle, after their quantities, both the men and the
women. And they marry them when they be half year of age and get
children. And they live not but six year or seven at the most; and
he that liveth eight year, men hold him there right passing old.
These men be the best workers of gold, silver, cotton, silk and of
all such things, of any other that be in the world. And they have
oftentimes war with the birds of the country that they take and
eat. This little folk neither labour in lands ne in vines; but
they have great men amongst them of our stature that till the land
and labour amongst the vines for them. And of those men of our
stature have they as great scorn and wonder as we would have among
us of giants, if they were amongst us. There is a good city,
amongst others, where there is dwelling great plenty of those
little folk, and it is a great city and a fair. And the men be
great that dwell amongst them, but when they get any children they
be as little as the pigmies. And therefore they be, all for the
most part, all pigmies; for the nature of the land is such. The
great Chan let keep this city full well, for it is his. And
albeit, that the pigmies be little, yet they be full reasonable
after their age, and can both wit and good and malice enough.

From that city go men by the country by many cities and many towns
unto a city that men clepe Jamchay; and it is a noble city and a
rich and of great profit to the Lord, and thither go men to seek
merchandise of all manner of thing. That city is full much worth
yearly to the lord of the country. For he hath every year to rent
of that city (as they of the city say) 50,000 cumants of florins of
gold: for they count there all by cumants, and every cumant is
10,000 florins of gold. Now may men well reckon how much that it
amounteth. The king of that country is full mighty, and yet he is
under the great Chan. And the great Chan hath under him twelve
such provinces. In that country in the good towns is a good
custom: for whoso will make a feast to any of his friends, there
be certain inns in every good town, and he that will make the feast
will say to the hosteler, array for me to-morrow a good dinner for
so many folk, and telleth him the number, and deviseth him the
viands; and he saith also, thus much I will dispend and no more.
And anon the hosteler arrayeth for him so fair and so well and so
honestly, that there shall lack nothing; and it shall be done
sooner and with less cost than an a man made it in his own house.

And a five mile from that city, toward the head of the river of
Dalay, is another city that men clepe Menke. In that city is
strong navy of ships. And all be white as snow of the kind of the
trees that they be made of. And they be full great ships and fair,
and well ordained, and made with halls and chambers and other
easements, as though it were on the land.

From thence go men, by many towns and many cities, through the
country, unto a city that men clepe Lanterine. And it is an eight
journeys from the city above-said. This city sits upon a fair
river, great and broad, that men clepe Caramaron. This river
passeth throughout Cathay. And it doth often-time harm, and that
full great, when it is over great.



CATHAY is a great country and a fair, noble and rich, and full of
merchants. Thither go merchants all years for to seek spices and
all manner of merchandises, more commonly than in any other part.
And ye shall understand, that merchants that come from Genoa or
from Venice or from Romania or other parts of Lombardy, they go by
sea and by land eleven months or twelve, or more some-time, ere
they may come to the isle of Cathay that is the principal region of
all parts beyond; and it is of the great Chan.

From Cathay go men toward the east by many journeys. And then men
find a good city between these others, that men clepe Sugarmago.
That city is one of the best stored of silk and other merchandises
that is in the world.

After go men yet to another old city toward the east. And it is in
the province of Cathay. And beside that city the men of Tartary
have let make another city that is dept Caydon. And it hath twelve
gates, and between the two gates there is always a great mile; so
that the two cities, that is to say, the old and the new, have in
circuit more than twenty mile.

In this city is the siege of the great Chan in a full great palace
and the most passing fair in all the world, of the which the walls
be in circuit more than two mile. And within the walls it is all
full of other palaces. And in the garden of the great palace there
is a great hill, upon the which there is another palace; and it is
the most fair and the most rich that any man may devise. And all
about the palace and the hill be many trees bearing many diverse
fruits. And all about that hill be ditches great and deep, and
beside them be great vivaries on that one part and on that other.
And there is a full fair bridge to pass over the ditches. And in
these vivaries be so many wild geese and ganders and wild ducks and
swans and herons that it is without number. And all about these
ditches and vivaries is the great garden full of wild beasts. So
that when the great Chan will have any disport on that, to take any
of the wild beasts or of the fowls, he will let chase them and take
them at the windows without going out of his chamber.

This palace, where his siege is, is both great and passing fair.
And within the palace, in the hall, there be twenty-four pillars of
fine gold. And all the walls be covered within of red skins of
beasts that men clepe panthers, that be fair beasts and well
smelling; so that for the sweet odour of those skins no evil air
may enter into the palace. Those skins be as red as blood, and
they shine so bright against the sun, that unnethe no man may
behold them. And many folk worship those beasts, when they meet
them first at morning, for their great virtue and for the good
smell that they have. And those skins they prize more than though
they were plate of fine gold.

And in the midst of this palace is the mountour for the great Chan,
that is all wrought of gold and of precious stones and great
pearls. And at four corners of the mountour be four serpents of
gold. And all about there is y-made large nets of silk and gold
and great pearls hanging all about the mountour. And under the
mountour be conduits of beverage that they drink in the emperor's
court. And beside the conduits be many vessels of gold, by the
which they that be of household drink at the conduit.

And the hall of the palace is full nobly arrayed, and full
marvellously attired on all parts in all things that men apparel
with any hall. And first, at the chief of the hall is the
emperor's throne, full high, where he sitteth at the meat. And
that is of fine precious stones, bordered all about with pured gold
and precious stones, and great pearls. And the grees that he goeth
up to the table be of precious stones mingled with gold.

And at the left side of the emperor's siege is the siege of his
first wife, one degree lower than the emperor; and it is of jasper,
bordered with gold and precious stones. And the siege of his
second wife is also another siege, more lower than his first wife;
and it is also of jasper, bordered with gold, as that other is.
And the siege of the third wife is also more low, by a degree, than
the second wife. For he hath always three wives with him, where
that ever he be.

And after his wives, on the same side, sit the ladies of his
lineage yet lower, after that they be of estate. And all those
that be married have a counterfeit made like a man's foot upon
their heads, a cubit long, all wrought with great pearls, fine and
orient, and above made with peacocks' feathers and of other shining
feathers; and that stands upon their heads like a crest, in token
that they be under man's foot and under subjection of man. And
they that be unmarried have none such.

And after at the right side of the emperor first sitteth his eldest
son that shall reign after him. And he sitteth also one degree
lower than the emperor, in such manner of sieges as do the
empresses. And after him sit other great lords of his lineage,
every of them a degree lower than the other, as they be of estate.

And the emperor hath his table alone by himself, that is of gold
and of precious stones, or of crystal bordered with gold, and full
of precious stones or of amethysts, or of lignum aloes that cometh
out of paradise, or of ivory bound or bordered with gold. And
every one of his wives hath also her table by herself. And his
eldest son and the other lords also, and the ladies, and all that
sit with the emperor have tables alone by themselves, full rich.
And there ne is no table but that it is worth an huge treasure of

And under the emperor's table sit four clerks that write all that
the emperor saith, be it good, be it evil; for all that he saith
must be holden, for he may not change his word, ne revoke it.

And [at] great solemn feasts before the emperor's table men bring
great tables of gold, and thereon be peacocks of gold and many
other manner of diverse fowls, all of gold and richly wrought and
enamelled. And men make them dance and sing, clapping their wings
together, and make great noise. And whether it be by craft or by
necromancy I wot never; but it is a good sight to behold, and a
fair; and it is great marvel how it may be. But I have the less
marvel, because that they be the most subtle men in all sciences
and in all crafts that be in the world: for of subtlety and of
malice and of farcasting they pass all men under heaven. And
therefore they say themselves, that they see with two eyes and the
Christian men see but with one, because that they be more subtle
than they. For all other nations, they say, be but blind in
cunning and working in comparison to them. I did great business
for to have learned that craft, but the master told me that he had
made avow to his god to teach it to no creature, but only to his
eldest son.

Also above the emperor's table and the other tables, and above a
great part in the hall, is a vine made of fine gold. And it
spreadeth all about the hall. And it hath many clusters of grapes,
some white, some green, some yellow and some red and some black,
all of precious stones. The white be of crystal and of beryl and
of iris; the yellow be of topazes; the red be of rubies and of
grenaz and of alabrandines; the green be of emeralds, of perydoz
and of chrysolites; and the black be of onyx and garantez. And
they be all so properly made that it seemeth a very vine bearing
kindly grapes.

And before the emperor's table stand great lords and rich barons
and other that serve the emperor at the meat. And no man is so
hardy to speak a word, but if the emperor speak to him; but if it
be minstrels that sing songs and tell jests or other disports, to
solace with the emperor. And all the vessels that men be served
with in the hall or in chambers be of precious stones, and
specially at great tables either of jasper or of crystal or of
amethysts or of fine gold. And the cups be of emeralds and of
sapphires, or of topazes, of perydoz, and of many other precious
stones. Vessels of silver is there none, for they tell no price
thereof to make no vessels of: but they make thereof grecings and
pillars and pavements to halls and chambers. And before the hall
door stand many barons and knights clean armed to keep that no man
enter, but if it be the will or the commandment of the emperor, or
but if they be servants or minstrels of the household; and other
none is not so hardy to neighen nigh the hall door.

And ye shall understand, that my fellows and I with our yeomen, we
served this emperor, and were his soldiers fifteen months against
the King of Mancy, that held against him. And the cause was for we
had great lust to see his noblesse and the estate of his court and
all his governance, to wit if it were such as we heard say that it
was. And truly we found it more noble and more excellent, and
richer and more marvellous, than ever we heard speak of, insomuch
that we would never have lieved it had we not seen it. For I trow,
that no man would believe the noblesse, the riches ne the multitude
of folk that be in his court, but he had seen it; for it is not
there as it is here. For the lords here have folk of certain
number as they may suffice; but the great Chan hath every day folk
at his costage and expense as without number. But the ordinance,
ne the expenses in meat and drink, ne the honesty, ne the
cleanness, is not so arrayed there as it is here; for all the
commons there eat without cloth upon their knees, and they eat all
manner of flesh and little of bread, and after meat they wipe their
hands upon their skirts, and they eat not but once a day. But the
estate of lords is full great, and rich and noble.

And albeit that some men will not trow me, but hold it for fable to
tell them the noblesse of his person and of his estate and of his
court and of the great multitude of folk that he holds, natheles I
shall say you a part of him and of his folk, after that I have seen
the manner and the ordinance full many a time. And whoso that will
may lieve me if he will, and whoso will not, may leave also. For I
wot well, if any man hath been in those countries beyond, though he
have not been in the place where the great Chan dwelleth, he shall
hear speak of him so much marvellous thing, that he shall not trow
it lightly. And truly, no more did I myself, till I saw it. And
those that have been in those countries and in the great Chan's
household know well that I say sooth. And therefore I will not
spare for them, that know not ne believe not but that that they
see, for to tell you a part of him and of his estate that he
holdeth, when he goeth from country to country, and when he maketh
solemn feasts.



FIRST I shall say you why he was clept the great Chan.

Ye shall understand, that all the world was destroyed by Noah's
flood, save only Noah and his wife and his children. Noah had
three sons, Shem, Cham, and Japhet. This Cham was he that saw his
father's privy members naked when he slept, and scorned them, and
shewed them with his finger to his brethren in scorning wise. And
therefore he was cursed of God. And Japhet turned his face away
and covered them.

These three brethren had seisin in all the land. And this Cham,
for his cruelty, took the greater and the best part, toward the
east, that is clept Asia, and Shem took Africa, and Japhet took
Europe. And therefore is all the earth parted in these three parts
by these three brethren. Cham was the greatest and the most
mighty, and of him came more generations than of the other. And of
his son Chuse was engendered Nimrod the giant, that was the first
king that ever was in the world; and he began the foundation of the
tower of Babylon. And that time, the fiends of hell came many
times and lay with the women of his generation and engendered on
them diverse folk, as monsters and folk disfigured, some without
heads, some with great ears, some with one eye, some giants, some
with horses' feet, and many other diverse shape against kind. And
of that generation of Cham be come the Paynims and divers folk that
be in isles of the sea by all Ind. And forasmuch as he was the
most mighty, and no man might withstand him, he cleped himself the
Son of God and sovereign of all the world. And for this Cham, this
emperor clepeth him Cham, and sovereign of all the world.

And of the generation of Shem be come the Saracens. And of the
generation of Japhet is come the people of Israel. And though that
we dwell in Europe, this is the opinion, that the Syrians and the
Samaritans have amongst them. And that they told me, before that I
went toward Ind, but I found it otherwise. Natheles, the sooth is
this; that Tartars and they that dwell in the great Asia, they came
of Cham; but the Emperor of Cathay clepeth him not Cham, but Can,
and I shall tell you how.

It is but little more but eight score year that all Tartary was in
subjection and in servage to other nations about. For they were
but bestial folk and did nothing but kept beasts and led them to
pastures. But among them they had seven principal nations that
were sovereigns of them all. Of the which, the first nation or
lineage was clept Tartar, and that is the most noble and the most
prized. The second lineage is clept Tanghot, the third Eurache,
the fourth Valair, the fifth Semoche, the sixth Megly, the seventh

Now befell it so that of the first lineage succeeded an old worthy
man that was not rich, that had to name Changuys. This man lay
upon a night in his bed. And he saw in avision, that there came
before him a knight armed all in white. And he sat upon a white
horse, and said to him, Can, sleepest thou? The Immortal God hath
sent me to thee, and it is his will, that thou go to the seven
lineages and say to them that thou shalt be their emperor. For
thou shalt conquer the lands and the countries that be about, and
they that march upon you shall be under your subjection, as ye have
been under theirs, for that is God's will immortal.

And when he came at morrow, Changuys rose, and went to seven
lineages, and told them how the white knight had said. And they
scorned him, and said that he was a fool. And so he departed from
them all ashamed. And the night ensuing, this white knight came to
the seven lineages, and commanded them on God's behalf immortal,
that they should make this Changuys their emperor, and they should
be out of subjection, and they should hold all other regions about
them in their servage as they had been to them before. And on the
morrow, they chose him to be their emperor. And they set him upon
a black fertre, and after that they lift him up with great
solemnity. And they set him in a chair of gold and did him all
manner of reverence, and they cleped him Chan, as the white knight
called him.

And when he was thus chosen, he would assay if he might trust in
them or no, and whether they would be obeissant to him or no. And
then he made many statutes and ordinances that they clepe YSYA
CHAN. The first statute was, that they should believe and obey in
God Immortal, that is Almighty, that would cast them out of
servage, and at all times clepe to him for help in time of need.
The tother statute was, that all manner of men that might bare arms
should be numbered, and to every ten should be a master, and to
every hundred a master, and to every thousand a master, and to
every ten thousand a master. After he commanded to the principals
of the seven lineages, that they should leave and forsake all that
they had in goods and heritage, and from thenceforth to hold them
paid of that that he would give them of his grace. And they did so
anon. After he commanded to the principals of the seven lineages,
that every of them should bring his eldest son before him, and with
their own hands smite off their heads without tarrying. And anon
his commandment was performed.

And when the Chan saw that they made none obstacle to perform his
commandment, then he thought well that he might trust in them, and
commanded them anon to make them ready and to sue his banner. And
after this, Chan put in subjection all the lands about him.

Afterward it befell upon a day, that the Can rode with a few meinie
for to behold the strength of the country that he had won. And so
befell, that a great multitude of enemies met with him. And for to
give good example hardiness to his people, he was the first that
fought, and in the midst of his enemies encountered, and there he
was cast from his horse, and his horse slain. And when his folk
saw him at the earth, they were all abashed, and weened he had been
dead, and flew every one, and their enemies after and chased them,
but they wist not that the emperor was there. And when the enemies
were far pursuing the chase, the emperor hid him in a thick wood.
And whet, they were come again from the chase, they went and sought
the woods if any of them had been hid in the thick of the woods;
and many they found and slew them anon. So it happened that as
they went searching toward the place that the emperor was, they saw
an owl sitting upon a tree above him; and then they said amongst
them, that there was no man because that they saw that bird there,
and so they went their way; and thus escaped the emperor from
death. And then he went privily all by night, till he came to his
folk that were full glad of his coming, and made great thankings to
God Immortal, and to that bird by whom their lord was saved. And
therefore principally above all fowls of world they worship the
owl; and when they have any of their feathers, they keep them full
preciously instead of relics, and bear them upon their heads with
great reverence; and they hold themselves blessed and safe from all
perils while that they have them upon them, and therefore they bear
their feathers upon their heads.

After all this the Chan ordained him, and assembled his people, and
went upon them that had assailed him before, and destroyed them,
and put them in subjection and servage. And when he had won and
put all the lands and countries on this half the Mount Belian in
subjection, the white knight came to him again in his sleep, and
said to him, Chan! the will of God Immortal is that thou pass the
Mount Belian. And thou shalt win the land and thou shalt put many
nations in subjection. And for thou shalt find no good passage for
to go toward that country, go [to] the Mount Belian that is upon
the sea, and kneel there nine times toward the east in the worship
of God Immortal, and he shall shew the way to pass by. And the
Chan did so. And anon the sea that touched and was fast to the
mount began to withdraw him, and shewed fair way of nine foot
breadth large; and so he passed with his folk, and won the land of
Cathay that is the greatest kingdom of the world.

And for the nine kneelings and for the nine foot of way the Chan
and all the men of Tartary have the number of nine in great
reverence. And therefore who that will make the Chan any present,
be it of horses, be it of birds, or of arrows or bows, or of fruit,
or of any other thing, always he must make it of the number of
nine. And so then be the presents of greater pleasure to him; and
more benignly he will receive them than though he were presented
with an hundred or two hundred. For him seemeth the number of nine
so holy, because the messenger of God Immortal devised it.

Also, when the Chan of Cathay had won the country of Cathay, and
put in subjection and under foot many countries about, he fell
sick. And when he felt well that he should die, he said to his
twelve sons, that everych of them should bring him one of his
arrows. And so they did anon. And then he commanded that men
should bind them together in three places. And then he took them
to his eldest son, and bade him break them all together. And he
enforced him with all his might to break them, but he ne might not.
And then the Chan bade his second son to break them; and so,
shortly, to all, each after other; but none of them might break
them. And then he bade the youngest son dissever every one from
other, and break everych by himself. And so he did. And then said
the Chan to his eldest son and to all the others, Wherefore might
ye not break them? And they answered that they might not, because
that they were bound together. And wherefore, quoth he, hath your
little youngest brother broken them? Because, quoth they, that
they were parted each from other. And then said the Chan, My sons,
quoth he, truly thus will it fare by you. For as long as ye be
bound together in three places, that is to say, in love, in truth
and in good accord, no man shall be of power to grieve you. But
and ye be dissevered from these three places, that your one help
not your other, ye shall be destroyed and brought to nought. And
if each of you love other and help other, ye shall be lords and
sovereigns of all others. And when he had made his ordinances, he

And then after him reigned Ecchecha Cane, his eldest son. And his
other brethren went to win them many countries and kingdoms, unto
the land of Prussia and of Russia, and made themselves to be clept
Chane; but they were all obeissant to their elder brother, and
therefore was he clept the great Chan.

After Ecchecha reigned Guyo Chan.

And after him Mango Chan that was a good Christian man and
baptized, and gave letters of perpetual peace to all Christian men,
and sent his brother Halaon with great multitude of folk for to win
the Holy Land and for to put it into Christian men's hands, and for
to destroy Mahomet's law, and for to take the Caliph of Bagdad that
was emperor and lord of all the Saracens. And when this caliph was
taken, men found him of so high worship, that in all the remnant of
the world, ne might a man find a more reverend man, ne higher in
worship. And then Halaon made him come before him, and said to
him, Why, quoth he, haddest thou not taken with thee more soldiers
and men enough, for a little quantity of treasure, for to defend
thee and thy country, that art so abundant of treasure and so high
in all worship? And the caliph answered him, For he well trowed
that he had enough of his own proper men. And then said Halaon,
Thou wert as a god of the Saracens. And it is convenient to a god
to eat no meat that is mortal. And therefore, thou shall not eat
but precious stones, rich pearls and treasure, that thou lovest so
much. And then he commanded him to prison, and all his treasure
about him. And so he died for hunger and thirst. And then after
this, Halaon won all the Land of Promission, and put it into
Christian men's hands. But the great Chan, his brother, died; and
that was great sorrow and loss to all Christian men.

After Mango Chan reigned Cobyla Chan that was also a Christian man.
And he reigned forty-two year. He founded the great city Izonge in
Cathay, that is a great deal more than Rome.

The tother great Chan that came after him became a Paynim, and all
the others after him.

The kingdom of Cathay is the greatest realm of the world. And also
the great Chan is the most mighty emperor of the world and the
greatest lord under the firmament. And so he clepeth him in his
And the letter of his great seal, written about, is this; DEUS IN
IMPERATORIS SIGILLUM. And the superscription about his little seal

And albeit that they be not christened, yet nevertheless the
emperor and all the Tartars believe in God Immortal. And when they
will menace any man, then they say, God knoweth well that I shall
do thee such a thing, and telleth his menace.

And thus have ye heard, why he is clept the great Chan.



NOW shall I tell you the governance of the court of the great Chan,
when he maketh solemn feasts; and that is principally four times in
the year.

The first feast is of his birth, that other is of his presentation
in their temple that they clepe their Moseache, where they make a
manner of circumcision, and the tother two feasts be of his idols.
The first feast of the idol is when he is first put into their
temple and throned; the tother feast is when the idol beginneth
first to speak, or to work miracles. More be there not of solemn
feasts, but if he marry any of his children.

Now understand, that at every of these feasts he hath great
multitude of people, well ordained and well arrayed, by thousands,
by hundreds, and by tens. And every man knoweth well what service
he shall do, and every man giveth so good heed and so good
attendance to his service that no man findeth no default. And
there be first ordained 4000 barons, mighty and rich, for to govern
and to make ordinance for the feast, and for to serve the emperor.
And these solemn feasts be made without in halls and tents made of
cloths of gold and of tartaries, full nobly. And all those barons
have crowns of gold upon their heads, full noble and rich, full of
precious stones and great pearls orient. And they be all clothed
in cloths of gold or of tartaries or of camakas, so richly and so
perfectly, that no man in the world can amend it, ne better devise
it. And all those robes be orfrayed all about, and dubbed full of
precious stones and of great orient pearls, full richly. And they
may well do so, for cloths of gold and of silk be greater cheap
there a great deal than be cloths of wool. And these 4000 barons
be devised in four companies, and every thousand is clothed in
cloths all of one colour, and that so well arrayed and so richly,
that it is marvel to behold.

The first thousand, that is of dukes, of earls, of marquises and of
admirals, all clothed in cloths of gold, with tissues of green
silk, and bordered with gold full of precious stones in manner as I
have said before. The second thousand is all clothed in cloths
diapered of red silk, all wrought with gold, and the orfrays set
full of great pearl and precious stones, full nobly wrought. The
third thousand is clothed in cloths of silk, of purple or of Ind.
And the fourth thousand is in cloths of yellow. And all their
clothes be so nobly and so richly wrought with gold and precious
stones and rich pearls, that if a man of this country had but only
one of their robes, he might well say that he should never be poor;
for the gold and the precious stones and the great orient pearls be
of greater value on this half the sea than they be beyond the sea
in those countries.

And when they be thus apparelled, they go two and two together,
full ordinately, before the emperor, without speech of any word,
save only inclining to him. And every one of them beareth a tablet
of jasper or of ivory or of crystal, and the minstrels going before
them, sounding their instruments of diverse melody. And when the
first thousand is thus passed and hath made his muster, he
withdraweth him on that one side; and then entereth that other
second thousand, and doth right so, in the same manner of array and
countenance, is did the first; and after, the third; and then, the
fourth; and none of them saith not one word.

And at one side of the emperor's table sit many philosophers that
be proved for wise men in many diverse sciences, as of astronomy,
necromancy, geomancy, pyromancy, hydromancy, of augury and of many
other sciences. And everych of them have before them astrolabes of
gold, some spheres, some the brain pan of a dead man, some vessels
of gold full of gravel or sand, some vessels of gold full of coals
burning, some vessels of gold full of water and of wine and of oil,
and some horologes of gold, made full nobly and richly wrought, and
many other manner of instruments after their sciences.

And at certain hours, when them thinketh time, they say to certain
officers that stand before them, ordained for the time to fulfil
their commandments; Make peace!

And then say the officers; Now peace! listen!

And after that, saith another of the philosophers; Every man do
reverence and incline to the emperor, that is God's Son and
sovereign lord of all the world! For now is time! And then every
man boweth his head toward the earth.

And then commandeth the same philosopher again; Stand up! And they
do so.

And at another hour, saith another philosopher; Put your little
finger in your ears! And anon they do so.

And at another hour, saith another philosopher; Put your hand
before your mouth! And anon they do so.

And at another hour, saith another philosopher; Put your hand upon
your head! And after that he biddeth them to do their hand away.
And they do so.

And so, from hour to hour, they command certain things; and they
say, that those things have diverse significations. And I asked
them privily what those things betokened. And one of the masters
told me, that the bowing of the head at that hour betokened this;
that all those that bowed their heads should evermore after be
obeissant and true to the emperor, and never, for gifts ne for
promise in no kind, to be false ne traitor unto him for good nor
evil. And the putting of the little finger in the ear betokeneth,
as they say, that none of them ne shall not hear speak no
contrarious thing to the emperor but that he shall tell it anon to
his council or discover it to some men that will make relation to
the emperor, though he were his father or brother or son. And so
forth, of all other things that is done by the philosophers, they
told me the causes of many diverse things. And trust right well in
certain, that no man doth nothing to the emperor that belongeth
unto him, neither clothing ne bread ne wine ne bath ne none other
thing that longeth to him, but at certain hours that his
philosophers will devise. And if there fall war in any side to the
emperor, anon the philosophers come and say their advice after
their calculations, and counsel the emperor of their advice by
their sciences; so that the emperor doth nothing without their

And when the philosophers have done and performed their
commandments, then the minstrels begin to do their minstrelsy,
everych in their instruments, each after other, with all the melody
that they can devise. And when they have done a good while, one of
the officers of the emperor goeth up on a high stage wrought full
curiously, and crieth and saith with loud voice; Make Peace! And
then every man is still.

And then, anon after, all the lords that be of the emperor's
lineage, nobly arrayed in rich cloths of gold and royally
apparelled on white steeds, as many as may well sue him at that
time, be ready to make their presents to the emperor. And then
saith the steward of the court to the lords, by name; N. of N.! and
nameth first the most noble and the worthiest by name, and saith;
Be ye ready with such a number of white horses, for to serve the
emperor, your sovereign lord! And to another lord he saith; N. of
N., be ye ready with such a number, to serve your sovereign lord!
And to another, right so, and to all the lords of the emperor's
lineage, each after other, as they be of estate. And when they be
all cleped, they enter each after other, and present the white
horses to the emperor, and then go their way. And then after, all
the other barons every of them, give him presents or jewels or some
other thing, after that they be of estate. And then after them,
all the prelates of their law, and religious men and others; and
every man giveth him something. And when that all men have thus
presented the emperor, the greatest of dignity of the prelates
giveth him a blessing, saying an orison of their law.

And then begin the minstrels to make their minstrelsy in divers
instruments with all the melody that they can devise. And when
they have done their craft, then they bring before the emperor,
lions, leopards and other diverse beasts, and eagles and vultures
and other divers fowls, and fishes and serpents, for to do him
reverence. And then come jugglers and enchanters, that do many
marvels; for they make to come in the air, by seeming, the sun and
the moon to every man's sight. And after they make the night so
dark that no man may see nothing. And after they make the day to
come again, fair and pleasant with bright sun, to every man's
sight. And then they bring in dances of the fairest damsels of the
world, and richest arrayed. And after they make to come in other
damsels bringing cups of gold full of milk of diverse beasts, and
give drink to lords and to ladies. And then they make knights to
joust in arms full lustily; and they run together a great random,
and they frussch together full fiercely, and they break their
spears so rudely that the truncheons fly in sprouts and pieces all
about the hall. And then they make to come in hunting for the hart
and for the boar, with hounds running with open mouth. And many
other things they do by craft of their enchantments, that it is
marvel for to see. And such plays of disport they make till the
taking up of the boards. This great Chan hath full great people
for to serve him, as I have told you before. For he hath of
minstrels the number of thirteen cumants, but they abide not always
with him. For all the minstrels that come before him, of what
nation that they be of, they be withholden with him as of his
household, and entered in his books as for his own men. And after
that, where that ever they go, ever more they claim for minstrels
of the great Chan; and under that title, all kings and lords
cherish them the more with gifts and all things. And therefore he
hath so great multitude of them.

And he hath of certain men as though they were yeomen, that keep
birds, as ostriches, gerfalcons, sparrow-hawks, falcons gentle,
lanyers, sakers, sakrets, popinjays well speaking, and birds
singing, and also of wild beasts, as of elephants tame and other,
baboons, apes, marmosets, and other diverse beasts; the mountance
of fifteen cumants of yeomen.

And of physicians Christian he hath 200, and of leeches that be
Christian he hath 210, and of leeches and physicians that be
Saracens twenty, but he trusteth more in the Christian leeches than
in the Saracen. And his other common household is without number,
and they all have all necessaries and all that them needeth of the
emperor's court. And he hath in his court many barons as
servitors, that be Christian and converted to good faith by the
preaching of religious Christian men that dwell with him; but there
be many more, that will not that men know that they be Christian.

This emperor may dispend as much as he will without estimation; for
he not dispendeth ne maketh no money but of leather imprinted or of
paper. And of that money is some of greater price and some of less
price, after the diversity of his statutes. And when that money
hath run long that it beginneth to waste, then men bear it to the
emperor's treasury and then they take new money for the old. And
that money goeth throughout all the country and throughout all his
provinces, for there and beyond them they make no money neither of
gold nor of silver; and therefore he may dispend enough, and
outrageously. And of gold and silver that men bear in his country
he maketh cylours, pillars and pavements in his palace, and other
diverse things what him liketh.

This emperor hath in his chamber, in one of the pillars of gold, a
ruby and a carbuncle of half a foot long, that in the night giveth
so great clearness and shining, that it is as light as day. And he
hath many other precious stones and many other rubies and
carbuncles; but those be the greatest and the most precious.

This emperor dwelleth in summer in a city that is toward the north
that is clept Saduz; and there is cold enough. And in winter he
dwelleth in a city that is clept Camaaleche, and that is an hot
country. But the country, where he dwelleth in most commonly, is
in Gaydo or in Jong, that is a good country and a temperate, after
that the country is there; but to men of this country it were too
passing hot.

And when this emperor will ride from one country to another he
ordaineth four hosts of his folk, of the which the first host goeth
before him a day's journey. For that host shall be lodged the
night where the emperor shall lie upon the morrow. And there shall
every man have all manner of victual and necessaries that be
needful, of the emperor's costage. And in this first host is the
number of people fifty cumants, what of horse what of foot, of the
which every cumant amounteth 10,000 as I have told you before. And
another host goeth in the right side of the emperor, nigh half a
journey from him. And another goeth on the left side of him, in
the same wise. And in every host is as much multitude of people as
in the first host. And then after cometh the fourth host, that is
much more than any of the others, and that goeth behind him, the
mountance of a bow draught. And every host hath his journeys
ordained in certain places, where they shall be lodged at night,
and there they shall have all that them needeth. And if it befall
that any of the host die, anon they put another in his place, so
that the number shall evermore be whole.

And ye shall understand, that the emperor, in his proper person,
rideth not as other great lords do beyond, but if he list to go
privily with few men, for to be unknown. And else, he rides in a
chariot with four wheels, upon the which is made a fair chamber,
and it is made of a certain wood, that cometh out of Paradise
terrestrial, that men clepe lignum aloes, that the floods of
Paradise bring out at divers seasons, as I have told you here
before. And this chamber is full well smelling because of the wood
that it is made of. And all this chamber is covered within of
plate of fine gold dubbed with precious stones and great pearls.
And four elephants and four great destriers, all white and covered
with rich covertures, leading the chariot. And four, or five, or
six, of the greatest lords ride about this chariot, full richly
arrayed and full nobly, so that no man shall neigh the chariot, but
only those lords, but if that the emperor call any man to him that
him list to speak withal. And above the chamber of this chariot
that the emperor sitteth in be set upon a perch four or five or six
gerfalcons, to that intent, that when the emperor seeth any wild
fowl, that he may take it at his own list, and have the disport and
the play of the flight, first with one, and after with another; and
so he taketh his disport passing by the country. And no man rideth
before him of his company, but all after him. And no man dare not
come nigh the chariot, by a bow draught, but those lords only that
be about him. And all the host cometh fairly after him in great

And also such another chariot with such hosts ordained and arrayed
go with the empress upon another side, everych by himself, with
four hosts, right as the emperor did; but not with so great
multitude of people. And his eldest son goeth by another way in
another chariot, in the same manner. So that there is between them
so great multitude of folk that it is marvel to tell it. And no
man should trow the number, but he had seen it. And some-time it
happeth that when he will not go far, and that it like him to have
the empress and his children with him, then they go altogether, and
their folk be all mingled in fere, and divided in four parties

And ye shall understand, that the empire of this great Chan is
divided in twelve provinces; and every province hath more than two
thousand cities, and of towns without number. This country is full
great, for it hath twelve principal kings in twelve provinces, and
every of those Kings have many kings under them, and all they be
obeissant to the great Chan. And his land and his lordship dureth
so far, that a man may not go from one head to another, neither by
sea ne land, the space of seven year. And through the deserts of
his lordship, there as men may find no towns, there be inns
ordained by every journey, to receive both man and horse, in the
which they shall find plenty of victual, and of all things that
they need for to go by the country.

And there is a marvellous custom in that country (but it is
profitable), that if any contrarious thing that should be prejudice
or grievance to the emperor in any kind, anon the emperor hath
tidings thereof and full knowledge in a day, though it be three or
four journeys from him or more. For his ambassadors take their
dromedaries or their horses, and they prick in all that ever they
may toward one of the inns. And when they come there, anon they
blow an horn. And anon they of the inn know well enough that there
be tidings to warn the emperor of some rebellion against him. And
then anon they make other men ready, in all haste that they may, to
bear letters, and prick in all that ever they may, till they come
to the other inns with their letters. And then they make fresh men
ready, to prick forth with the letters toward the emperor, while
that the last bringer rest him, and bait his dromedary or his
horse. And so, from inn to inn, till it come to the emperor. And
thus anon hath he hasty tidings of anything that beareth charge, by
his couriers, that run so hastily throughout all the country. And
also when the Emperor sendeth his couriers hastily throughout his
land, every one of them hath a large throng full of small bells,
and when they neigh near to the inns of other couriers that be also
ordained by the journeys, they ring their bells, and anon the other
couriers make them ready, and run their way unto another inn. And
thus runneth one to other, full speedily and swiftly, till the
emperor's intent be served, in all haste. And these couriers be
clept CHYDYDO, after their language, that is to say, a messenger,

Also when the emperor goeth from one country to another, as I have
told you here before, and he pass through cities and towns, every
man maketh a fire before his door, and putteth therein powder of
good gums that be sweet smelling, for to make good savour to the
emperor. And all the people kneel down against him, and do him
great reverence. And there, where religious Christian men dwell,
as they do in many cities in the land, they go before him with
procession with cross and holy water, and they sing, VENI CREATOR
SPIRITUS! with an high voice, and go towards him. And when he
heareth them, he commandeth to his lords to ride beside him, that
the religious men may come to him. And when they be nigh him with
the cross, then he doth adown his galiot that sits on his head in
manner of a chaplet, that is made of gold and precious stones and
great pearls, and it is so rich, that men prize it to the value of
a realm in that country. And then he kneeleth to the cross. And
then the prelate of the religious men saith before him certain
orisons, and giveth him a blessing with the cross; and he inclineth
to the blessing full devoutly. And then the prelate giveth him
some manner fruit, to the number of nine, in a platter of silver,
with pears or apples, or other manner fruit. And he taketh one.
And then men give to the other lords that be about him. For the
custom is such, that no stranger shall come before him, but if he
give him some manner thing, after the old law that saith, NEMO
ACCEDAT IN CONSPECTU MEO VACUUS. And then the emperor saith to the
religious men, that they withdraw them again, that they be neither
hurt nor harmed of the great multitude of horses that come behind
him. And also, in the same manner, do the religious men that dwell
there, to the empresses that pass by them, and to his eldest son.
And to every of them they present fruit.

And ye shall understand, that the people that he hath so many hosts
of, about him and about his wives and his soil, they dwell not
continually with him. But always, when him liketh, they be sent
for. And after, when they have done, they return to their own
households, save only they that be dwelling with him in household
for to serve him and his wives and his sons for to govern his
household. And albeit, that the others be departed from him after
that they have performed their service, yet there abideth
continually with him in court 50,000 men at horse and 200,000 men a
foot, without minstrels and those that keep wild beasts and divers
birds, of the which I have told you the number before.

Under the firmament is not so great a lord, ne so mighty, ne so
rich as is the great Chan; not Prester John, that is emperor of the
high Ind, ne the Soldan of Babylon, ne the Emperor of Persia. All
these ne be not in comparison to the great Chan, neither of might,
ne of noblesse, ne of royalty, ne of riches; for in all these he
passeth all earthly princes. Wherefore it is great harm that he
believeth not faithfully in God. And natheles he will gladly hear
speak of God. And he suffereth well that Christian men dwell in
his lordship, and that men of his faith be made Christian men if
they will, throughout all his country; for he defendeth no man to
hold no law other than him liketh.

In that country some men hath an hundred wives, some sixty, some
more, some less. And they take the next of their kin to their
wives, save only that they out-take their mothers, their daughters,
and their sisters of the mother's side; but their sisters on the
father's side of another woman they may well take, and their
brothers' wives also after their death, and their step-mothers also
in the same wise.



THE folk of that country use all long clothes without furs. And
they be clothed with precious cloths of Tartary, and of cloths of
gold. And their clothes be slit at the side, and they be fastened
with laces of silk. And they clothe them also with pilches, and
the hide without; and they use neither cape ne hood. And in the
same manner as the men go, the women go, so that no man may unneth
know the men from the women, save only those women that be married,
that bear the token upon their heads of a man's foot, in sign that
they be under man's foot and under subjection of man.

And their wives ne dwell not together, but every of them by
herself; and the husband may lie with whom of them that him liketh.
Everych hath his house, both man and woman. And their houses be
made round of staves, and it hath a round window above that giveth
them light, and also that serveth for deliverance of smoke. And
the heling of their houses and the walls and the doors be all of
wood. And when they go to war, they lead their houses with them
upon chariots, as men do tents or pavilions. And they make their
fire in the midst of their houses.

And they have great multitude of all manner of beasts, save only of
swine, for they bring none forth. And they believe well one God
that made and formed all things. And natheles yet have they idols
of gold and silver, and of tree and of cloth. And to those idols
they offer always their first milk of their beasts, and also of
their meats and of their drinks before they eat. And they offer
often-times horses and beasts. And they clepe the God of kind

And their emperor also, what name that ever he have, they put
evermore thereto, Chan. And when I was there, their emperor had to
name Thiaut, so that he was clept Thiaut-Chan. And his eldest son
was clept Tossue; and when he shall be emperor, he shall be clept
Tossue-Chan. And at that time the emperor had twelve sons without
him, that were named Cuncy, Ordii, Chadahay, Buryn, Negu, Nocab,
Cadu, [Siban], Cuten, Balacy, Babylan, and Garegan. And of his
three wives, the first and principal, that was Prester John's
daughter, had to name Serioche-Chan, and the tother Borak-Chan, and
the tother Karanke-Chan.

The folk of that country begin all their things in the new moon,
and they worship much the moon and the sun and often-time kneel
against them. And all the folk of the country ride commonly
without spurs, but they bear always a little whip in their hands
for to chace with their horses.

And they have great conscience and hold it for a great sin to cast
a knife in the fire, and for to draw flesh out of a pot with a
knife, and for to smite an horse with the handle of a whip, or to
smite an horse with a bridle, or to break one bone with another, or
for to cast milk or any liquor that men may drink upon the earth,
or for to take and slay little children. And the most sin that any
man may do is to piss in their houses that they dwell in, and whoso
that may be found with that sin sikerly they slay him. And of
everych of these sins it behoveth them to be shriven of their
priests, and to pay great sum of silver for their penance. And it
behoveth also, that the place that men have pissed in be hallowed
again, and else dare no man enter therein. And when they have paid
their penance, men make them pass through a fire or through two,
for to cleanse them of their sins. And also when any messenger
cometh and bringeth letters or any present to the emperor, it
behoveth him that he, with the thing that he bringeth, pass through
two burning fires for to purge them, that he bring no poison ne
venom, ne no wicked thing that might be grievance to the Lord. And
also if any man or woman be taken in avoutry or fornication, anon
they slay him. And who that stealeth anything, anon they slay him.

Men of that country be all good archers and shoot right well, both
men and women, as well on horse-back, pricking, as on foot,
running. And the women make all things and all manner mysteries
and crafts, as of clothes, boots and other things; and they drive
carts, ploughs and wains and chariots; and they make houses and all
manner mysteres, out taken bows and arrows and armours that men
make. And all the women wear breeches, as well as men.

All the folk of that country be full obeissant to their sovereigns;
ne they fight not, ne chide not one with another. And there be
neither thieves ne robbers in that country. And every man
worshippeth other; but no man there doth no reverence to no
strangers, but if they be great princes.

And they eat hounds, lions, leopards, mares and foals, asses, rats
and mice and all manner of beasts, great and small, save only swine


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