The Travels of Sir John Mandeville

Part 4 out of 4

and beasts that were defended by the old law. And they eat all the
beasts without and within, without casting away of anything, save
only the filth. And they eat but little bread, but if it be in
courts of great lords. And they have not in many places, neither
pease ne beans ne none other pottages but the broth of the flesh.
For little eat they anything but flesh and the broth. And when
they have eaten, they wipe their hands upon their skirts; for they
use no napery ne towels, but if it be before great lords; but the
common people hath none. And when they have eaten, they put their
dishes unwashen into the pot or cauldron with remnant of the flesh
and of the broth till they will eat again. And the rich men drink
milk of mares or of camels or of asses or of other beasts. And
they will be lightly drunken of milk and of another drink that is
made of honey and of water sodden together; for in that country is
neither wine ne ale. They live full wretchedly, and they eat but
once in the day, and that but little, neither in courts ne in other
places. And in sooth, one man alone in this country will eat more
in a day than one of them will eat in three days. And if any
strange messenger come there to a lord, men make him to eat but
once a day, and that full little.

And when they war, they war full wisely and always do their
business, to destroy their enemies. Every man there beareth two
bows or three, and of arrows great plenty, and a great axe. And
the gentles have short spears and large and full trenchant on that
one side. And they have plates and helms made of quyrboylle, and
their horses covertures of the same. And whoso fleeth from the
battle they slay him. And when they hold any siege about castle or
town that is walled and defensible, they behote to them that be
within to do all the profit and good, that it is marvel to hear;
and they grant also to them that be within all that they will ask
them. And after that they be yielden, anon they slay them all; and
cut off their ears and souse them in vinegar, and thereof they make
great service for lords. All their lust and all their imagination
is for to put all lands under their subjection. And they say that
they know well by their prophecies, that they shall be overcome by
archers and by strength of them; but they know not of what nation
ne of what law they shall be of, that shall overcome them. And
therefore they suffer that folk of all laws may peaceably dwell
amongst them.

Also when they will make their idols or an image of any of their
friends for to have remembrance of him, they make always the image
all naked without any manner of clothing. For they say that in
good love should be no covering, that man should not love for the
fair clothing ne for the rich array, but only for the body, such as
God hath made it, and for the good virtues that the body is endowed
with of Nature, not only for fair clothing that is not of kindly

And ye shall understand that it is great dread for to pursue the
Tartars if they flee in battle. For in fleeing they shoot behind
them and slay both men and horses. And when they will fight they
will shock them together in a plump; that if there be 20,000 men,
men shall not ween that there be scant 10,000. And they can well
win land of strangers, but they cannot keep it; for they have
greater lust to lie in tents without than for to lie in castle or
in towns. And they prize nothing the wit of other nations.

And amongst them oil of olive is full dear, for they hold it for
full noble medicine. And all the Tartars have small eyen and
little of beard, and not thick haired but shear. And they be false
and traitors; and they last nought that they behote. They be full
hardy folk, and much pain and woe may suffer and disease, more than
any other folk, for they be taught thereto in their own country of
youth. And therefore they spend as who saith, right nought.

And when any man shall die, men set a spear beside him. And when
he draweth towards the death, every man fleeth out of the house
till he be dead. And after that they bury him in the fields.

And when the emperor dieth, men set him in a chair in midst the
place of his tent. And men set a table before him clean, covered
with a cloth, and thereupon flesh and diverse viands and a cup full
of mare's milk. And men put a mare beside him with her foal, and
an horse saddled and bridled. And they lay upon the horse gold and
silver, great quantity. And they put about him great plenty of
straw. And then men make a great pit and a large, and with the
tent and all these other things they put him in earth. And they
say that when he shall come into another world, he shall not be
without an house, ne without horse, ne without gold and silver; and
the mare shall give him milk, and bring him forth more horses till
he be well stored in the tother world. For they trow that after
their death they shall be eating and drinking in that other world,
and solacing them with their wives, as they did here.

And after time that the emperor is thus interred no man shall be so
hardy to speak of him before his friends. And yet natheles,
sometime falleth of many that they make him to be interred privily
by night in wild places, and put again the grass over the pit for
to grow; or else men cover the pit with gravel and sand, that no
man shall perceive where, ne know where, the pit is, to that intent
that never after none of his friends shall have mind ne remembrance
of him. And then they say that he is ravished into another world,
where he is a greater lord than he was here.

And then, after the death of the emperor, the seven lineages
assemble them together, and choose his eldest son, or the next
after him of his blood. And thus they say to him; we will and we
pray and ordain that ye be our lord and our emperor.

And then he answereth, If ye will that I reign over you as lord, do
everych of you that I shall command him, either to abide or to go;
and whomsoever that I command to be slain, that anon he be slain.

And they answer all with one voice, Whatsoever ye command, it shall
be done.

Then saith the emperor, Now understand well, that my word from
henceforth is sharp and biting as a sword.

After, men set him upon a black steed and so men bring him to a
chair full richly arrayed, and there they crown him. And then all
the cities and good towns send him rich presents. So that at that
journey he shall have more than sixty chariots charged with gold
silver, without jewels of gold and precious stones, that lords gave
him, that be without estimation, and without horses, and cloths of
gold, and of camakas, and tartarins that be without number.



THIS land of Cathay is in Asia the deep; and after, on this half,
is Asia the more. The kingdom of Cathay marcheth toward the west
unto the kingdom of Tharse, the which was one of the kings that
came to present our Lord in Bethlehem. And they that be of the
lineage of that king are some Christian. In Tharse they eat no
flesh, ne they drink no wine.

And on this half, toward the west, is the kingdom of Turkestan,
that stretcheth him toward the west to the kingdom of Persia, and
toward the septentrional to the kingdom of Khorasan. In the
country of Turkestan be but few good cities; but the best city of
that land hight Octorar. There be great pastures, but few corns;
and therefore, for the most part, they be all herdsmen, and they
lie in tents and they drink a manner ale made of honey.

And after, on this half, is the kingdom of Khorasan, that is a good
land and a plenteous, without wine. And it hath a desert toward
the east that lasteth more than an hundred journeys. And the best
city of that country is clept Khorasan, and of that city beareth
the country his name. The folk of that country be hardy warriors.

And on this half is the kingdom of Comania, whereof the Comanians
that dwelled in Greece sometime were chased out. This is one of
the greatest kingdoms of the world, but it is not all inhabited.
For at one of the parts there is so great cold that no man may
dwell there; and in another part there is so great heat that no man
may endure it, and also there be so many flies, that no man may
know on what side he may turn him. In that country is but little
arboury ne trees that bear fruit ne other. They lie in tents; and
they burn the dung of beasts for default of wood. This kingdom
descendeth on this half toward us and toward Prussia and toward

And through that country runneth the river of Ethille that is one
of the greatest rivers of the world. And it freezeth so strongly
all years that many times men have fought upon the ice with great
hosts, both parties on foot, and their horses voided for the time,
and what on horse and on foot, more than 200,000 persons on every

And between that river and the great sea Ocean, that they clepe the
Sea Maure, lie all these realms. And toward the head, beneath, in
that realm is the Mount Chotaz, that is the highest mount of the
world, and it is between the Sea Maure and the Sea Caspian. There
is full strait and dangerous passage for to go toward Ind. And
therefore King Alexander let make there a strong city, that men
clepe Alexandria, for to keep the country that no man should pass
without his leave. And now men clepe that city, the Gate of Hell.

And the principal city of Comania is clept Sarak, that is one of
the three ways for to go into Ind. But by that way, ne may not
pass no great multitude of people, but if it be in winter. And
that passage men clepe the Derbent. The tother way is for to go
from the city of Turkestan by Persia, and by that way be many
journeys by desert. And the third way is that cometh from Comania
and then to go by the Great Sea and by the kingdom of Abchaz.

And ye shall understand, that all these kingdoms and all these
lands above-said unto Prussia and to Russia be all obeissant to the
great Chan of Cathay, and many other countries that march to other
coasts. Wherefore his power and his lordship is full great and
full mighty.



NOW, since I have devised you the lands and the kingdoms toward the
parts Septentrionals in coming down from the land of Cathay unto
the lands of the Christian, towards Prussia and Russia, - now shall
I devise you of other lands and kingdoms coming down by other
coasts, toward the right side, unto the sea of Greece, toward the
land of Christian men. And, therefore, that after Ind and after
Cathay the Emperor of Persia is the greatest lord, therefore, I
shall tell you of the kingdom of Persia.

First, where he hath two kingdoms, the first kingdom beginneth
toward the east, toward the kingdom of Turkestan, and it stretcheth
toward the west unto the river of Pison, that is one of the four
rivers that come out of Paradise. And on another side it
stretcheth toward the Septentrion unto the sea of Caspian; and also
toward the south unto the desert of Ind. And this country is good
and plain and full of people. And there be many good cities. But
the two principal cities be these, Boyturra, and Seornergant, that
some men clepe Sormagant. The tother kingdom of Persia stretcheth
toward the river of Pison and the parts of the west unto the
kingdom of Media, and from the great Armenia and toward the
Septentrion to the sea of Caspian and toward the south to the land
of Ind. That is also a good land and a plenteous, and it hath
three great principal cities - Messabor, Saphon, and Sarmassan.

And then after is Armenia, in the which were wont to be four
kingdoms; that is a noble country and full of goods. And it
beginneth at Persia and stretcheth toward the west in length unto
Turkey. And in largeness it dureth to the city of Alexandria, that
now is clept the Gate of Hell, that I spake of before, under the
kingdom of Media. In this Armenia be full many good cities, but
Taurizo is most of name.

After this is the kingdom of Media, that is full long, but it is
not full large, that beginneth toward the east to the land of
Persia and to Ind the less; and it stretcheth toward the west,
toward the kingdom of Chaldea and toward the Septentrion,
descending toward the little Armenia. In that kingdom of Media
there be many great hills and little of plain earth. There dwell
Saracens and another manner of folk, that men clepe Cordynes. The
best two cities of that kingdom be Sarras and Karemen.

After that is the kingdom of Georgia, that beginneth toward the
east to the great mountain that is clept Abzor, where that dwell
many diverse folk of diverse nations. And men clepe the country
Alamo. This kingdom stretcheth him towards Turkey and toward the
Great Sea, and toward the south it marcheth to the great Armenia.
And there be two kingdoms in that country; that one is the kingdom
of Georgia, and that other is the kingdom of Abchaz. And always in
that country be two kings; and they be both Christian. But the
king of Georgia is in subjection to the great Chan. And the king
of Abchaz hath the more strong country, and he always vigorously
defendeth his country against all those that assail him, so that no
man may make him in subjection to no man.

In that kingdom of Abchaz is a great marvel. For a province of the
country that hath well in circuit three journeys, that men clepe
Hanyson, is all covered with darkness, without any brightness or
light; so that no man may see ne hear, ne no man dare enter into
him. And, natheles, they of the country say, that some-times men
hear voice of folk, and horses neighing, and cocks crowing. And
men wit well, that men dwell there, but they know not what men.
And they say, that the darkness befell by miracle of God. For a
cursed emperor of Persia, that hight Saures, pursued all Christian
men to destroy them and to compel them to make sacrifice to his
idols, and rode with great host, in all that ever he might, for to
confound the Christian men. And then in that country dwelled many
good Christian men, the which that left their goods and would have
fled into Greece. And when they were in a plain that hight Megon,
anon this cursed emperor met with them with his host for to have
slain them and hewn them to pieces. And anon the Christian men
kneeled to the ground, and made their prayers to God to succour
them. And anon a great thick cloud came and covered the emperor
and all his host. And so they endure in that manner that they ne
may not go out on no side; and so shall they evermore abide in that
darkness till the day of doom, by the miracle of God. And then the
Christian men went where them liked best, at their own pleasance,
without letting of any creature, and their enemies enclosed and
confounded in darkness, without any stroke.

Wherefore we may well say with David, A DOMINO FACTUM EST ISTUD; &
EST MIRABILE IN OCULIS NOSTRIS. And that was a great miracle, that
God made for them. Wherefore methinketh that Christian men should
be more devout to serve our Lord God than any other men of any
other sect. For without any dread, ne were not cursedness and sin
of Christian men, they should be lords of all the world. For the
banner of Jesu Christ is always displayed, and ready on all sides
to the help of his true loving servants. Insomuch, that one good
Christian man in good belief should overcome and out-chase a
thousand cursed misbelieving men, as David saith in the Psalter,
that it might be that one should chase a thousand, David himself
saith following, QUIA MANUS DOMINI FECIT HAEC OMNIA, and our Lord
himself saith, by the prophet's mouth, SI IN VIIS MEIS
we may see apertly that if we will be good men, no enemy may not
endure against us.

Also ye shall understand that out of that land of darkness goeth
out a great river that sheweth well that there be folk dwelling, by
many ready tokens; but no man dare not enter into it.

And wit well, that in the kingdoms of Georgia, of Abchaz and of the
little Armenia be good Christian men and devout. For they shrive
them and housel them evermore once or twice in the week. And there
be many of them that housel them every day; and so do we not on
this half, albeit that Saint Paul commandeth it, saying, OMNIBUS
commandment, but we ne keep it not.

Also after, on this half, is Turkey, that marcheth to the great
Armenia. And there be many provinces, as Cappadocia, Saure,
Brique, Quesiton, Pytan, and Gemethe. And in everych of these be
many good cities. This Turkey stretcheth unto the city of Sachala
that sitteth upon the sea of Greece, and so it marcheth to Syria.
Syria is a great country and a good, as I have told you before.
And also it hath, above toward Ind, the kingdom of Chaldea, that
stretcheth from the mountains of Chaldea toward the east unto the
city of Nineveh, that sitteth upon the river of Tigris; and in
largeness it beginneth toward the north to the city of Maraga; and
it stretcheth toward the south unto the sea Ocean. In Chaldea is a
plain country, and few hills and few rivers.

After is the kingdom of Mesopotamia, that beginneth, toward the
east, to the flom of Tigris, unto a city that is clept Mosul; and
it stretcheth toward the west to the flom of Euphrates unto a city
that is clept Roianz; and in length it goeth to the mount of
Armenia unto the desert of Ind the less. This is a good country
and a plain, but it hath few rivers. It hath but two mountains in
that country, of the which one hight Symar and that other Lyson.
And this land marcheth to the kingdom of Chaldea.

Yet there is, toward the parts Meridionals many countries and many
regions, as the land of Ethiopia, that marcheth, toward the east to
the great deserts, toward the west to the kingdom of Nubia, toward
the south to the kingdom of Moretane, and toward the north to the
Red Sea.

After is Moretane, that dureth from the mountains of Ethiopia unto
Lybia the high. And that country lieth along from the sea ocean
toward the south; and toward the north it marcheth to Nubia and to
the high Lybia. (These men of Nubia be Christian.) And it
marcheth from the lands above-said to the deserts of Egypt, and
that is the Egypt that I have spoken of before.

And after is Lybia the high and Lybia the low, that descendeth down
low toward the great sea of Spain, in the which country be many
kingdoms and many diverse folk.

Now I have devised you many countries on this half the kingdom of
Cathay, of the which many be obeissant to the great Chan.



NOW shall I say you, suingly, of countries and isles that be beyond
the countries that I have spoken of.

Wherefore I say you, in passing by the land of Cathay toward the
high Ind and toward Bacharia, men pass by a kingdom that men clepe
Caldilhe, that is a full fair country.

And there groweth a manner of fruit, as though it were gourds. And
when they be ripe, men cut them a-two, and men find within a little
beast, in flesh, in bone, and blood, as though it were a little
lamb without wool. And men eat both the fruit and the beast. And
that is a great marvel. Of that fruit I have eaten, although it
were wonderful, but that I know well that God is marvellous in his
works. And, natheles, I told them of as great a marvel to them,
that is amongst us, and that was of the Bernakes. For I told them
that in our country were trees that bear a fruit that become birds
flying, and those that fell in the water live, and they that fall
on the earth die anon, and they be right good to man's meat. And
hereof had they as great marvel, that some of them trowed it were
an impossible thing to be.

In that country be long apples of good savour, whereof be more than
an hundred in a cluster, and as many in another; and they have
great long leaves and large, of two foot long or more. And in that
country, and in other countries thereabout, grow many trees that
bear clove-gylofres and nutmegs, and great nuts of Ind, and of
Canell and of many other spices. And there be vines that bear so
great grapes, that a strong man should have enough to do for to
bear one cluster with all the grapes.

In that same region be the mountains of Caspian that men crepe Uber
in the country. Between those mountains the Jews of ten lineages
be enclosed, that men clepe Goth and Magoth and they may not go out
on no side. There were enclosed twenty-two kings with their
people, that dwelled between the mountains of Scythia. There King
Alexander chased them between those mountains, and there he thought
for to enclose them through work of his men. But when he saw that
he might not do it, ne bring it to an end, he prayed to God of
nature that he would perform that that he had begun. And all were
it so, that he was a paynim and not worthy to be heard, yet God of
his grace closed the mountains together, so that they dwell there
all fast locked and enclosed with high mountains all about, save
only on one side, and on that side is the sea of Caspian.

Now may some men ask, since that the sea is on that one side,
wherefore go they not out on the sea side, for to go where that
them liketh?

But to this question, I shall answer; that sea of Caspian goeth out
by land under the mountains, and runneth by the desert at one side
of the country, and after it stretcheth unto the ends of Persia,
and although it be clept a sea, it is no sea, ne it toucheth to
none other sea, but it is a lake, the greatest of the world; and
though they would put them into that sea, they ne wist never where
that they should arrive; and also they can no language but only
their own, that no man knoweth but they; and therefore may they not
go out.

And also ye shall understand, that the Jews have no proper land of
their own for to dwell in, in all the world, but only that land
between the mountains. And yet they yield tribute for that land to
the Queen of Amazonia, the which that maketh them to be kept in
close full diligently, that they shall not go out on no side but by
the coast of their land; for their land marcheth to those

And often it hath befallen, that some of the Jews have gone up the
mountains and avaled down to the valleys. But great number of folk
ne may not do so, for the mountains be so high and so straight up,
that they must abide there, maugre their might. For they may not
go out, but by a little issue that was made by strength of men, and
it lasteth well a four great mile.

And after, is there yet a land all desert, where men may find no
water, neither for digging ne for none other thing. Wherefore men
may not dwell in that place, so is it full of dragons, of serpents
and of other venomous beasts, that no man dare not pass, but if it
be strong winter. And that strait passage men clepe in that
country Clyron. And that is the passage that the Queen of Amazonia
maketh to be kept. And though it happen some of them by fortune to
go out, they can no manner of language but Hebrew, so that they
cannot speak to the people.

And yet, natheles, men say they shall go out in the time of anti-
Christ, and that they shall make great slaughter of Christian men.
And therefore all the Jews that dwell in all lands learn always to
speak Hebrew, in hope, that when the other Jews shall go out, that
they may understand their speech, and to lead them into Christendom
for to destroy the Christian people. For the Jews say that they
know well by their prophecies, that they of Caspia shall go out,
and spread throughout all the world, and that the Christian men
shall be under their subjection, as long as they have been in
subjection of them.

And if that you will wit how that they shall find their way, after
that I have heard say I shall tell you.

In the time of anti-Christ a fox shall make there his train, and
mine an hole where King Alexander let make the gates; and so long
he shall mine and pierce the earth, till that he shall pass through
towards that folk. And when they see the fox, they shall have
great marvel of him, because that they saw never such a beast. For
of all other beasts they have enclosed amongst them, save only the
fox. And then they shall chase him and pursue him so strait, till
that he come to the same place that he came from. And then they
shall dig and mine so strongly, till that they find the gates that
King Alexander let make of great stones, and passing huge, well
cemented and made strong for the mastery. And those gates they
shall break, and so go out by finding of that issue.

From that land go men toward the land of Bacharia, where be full
evil folk and full cruel. In that land be trees that bear wool, as
though it were of sheep, whereof men make clothes and all things
that may be made of wool.

In that country be many hippotaynes that dwell some-time in the
water and sometime on the land. And they be half man and half
horse, as I have said before. And they eat men when they may take

And there be rivers of waters that be full bitter, three sithes
more than is the water of the sea.

In that country be many griffins, more plenty than in any other
country. Some men say that they have the body upward as an eagle
and beneath as a lion; and truly they say sooth, that they be of
that shape. But one griffin hath the body more great and is more
strong than eight lions, of such lions as be on this half, and more
great and stronger than an hundred eagles such as we have amongst
us. For one griffin there will bear, flying to his nest, a great
horse, if he may find him at the point, or two oxen yoked together
as they go at the plough. For he hath his talons so long and so
large and great upon his feet, as though they were horns of great
oxen or of bugles or of kine, so that men make cups of them to
drink of. And of their ribs and of the pens of their wings, men
make bows, full strong, to shoot with arrows and quarrels.

From thence go men by many journeys through the land of Prester
John, the great Emperor of Ind. And men clepe his realm the isle
of Pentexoire.



THIS emperor, Prester John, holds full great land, and hath many
full noble cities and good towns in his realm, and many great
diverse isles and large. For all the country of Ind is devised in
isles for the great floods that come from Paradise, that depart all
the land in many parts. And also in the sea he hath full many
isles. And the best city in the Isle of Pentexoire is Nyse, that
is a full royal city and a noble, and full rich.

This Prester John hath under him many kings and many isles and many
diverse folk of diverse conditions. And this land is full good and
rich, but not so rich as is the land of the great Chan. For the
merchants come not thither so commonly for to buy merchandises, as
they do in the land of the great Chan, for it is too far to travel
to. And on that other part, in the Isle of Cathay, men find all
manner thing that is need to man - cloths of gold, of silk, of
spicery and all manner avoirdupois. And therefore, albeit that men
have greater cheap in the Isle of Prester John, natheles, men dread
the long way and the great perils in the sea in those parts.

For in many places of the sea be great rocks of stones of the
adamant, that of his proper nature draweth iron to him. And
therefore there pass no ships that have either bonds or nails of
iron within them. And if there do, anon the rocks of the adamants
draw them to them, that never they may go thence. I myself have
seen afar in that sea, as though it had been a great isle full of
tree, and buscaylle, full of thorns and briars, great plenty. And
the shipmen told us, that all that was of ships that were drawn
thither by the adamants, for the iron that was in them. And of the
rotten-ness, and other thing that was within the ships, grew such
buscaylle, and thorns and briars and green grass, and such manner
of thing; and of the masts and the sail-yards; it seemed a great
wood or a grove. And such rocks be in many places thereabout. And
therefore dare not the merchants pass there, but if they know well
the passages, or else that they have good lodesmen.

And also they dread the long way. And therefore they go to Cathay,
for it is more nigh. And yet it is not so nigh, but that men must
be travelling by sea and land, eleven months or twelve, from Genoa
or from Venice, or he come to Cathay. And yet is the land of
Prester John more far by many dreadful journeys.

And the merchants pass by the kingdom of Persia, and go to a city
that is Clept Hermes, for Hermes the philosopher founded it. And
after that they pass an arm of the sea, and then they go to another
city that is clept Golbache. And there they find merchandises, and
of popinjays, as great plenty as men find here of geese. And if
they will pass further, they may go sikerly enough. In that
country is but little wheat or barley, and therefore they eat rice
and honey and milk and cheese and fruit.

This Emperor Prester John taketh always to his wife the daughter of
the great Chan; and the great Chan also, in the same wise, the
daughter of Prester John. For these two be the greatest lords
under the firmament.

In the land of Prester John be many diverse things and many
precious stones, so great and so large, that men make of them
vessels, as platters, dishes and cups. And many other marvels be
there, that it were too cumbrous and too long to put it in
scripture of books; but of the principal isles and of his estate
and of his law, I shall tell you some part.

This Emperor Prester John is Christian, and a great part of his
country also. But yet, they have not all the articles of our faith
as we have. They believe well in the Father, in the Son and in the
Holy Ghost. And they be full devout and right true one to another.
And they set not by no barretts, ne by cautels, nor of no deceits.

And he hath under him seventy-two provinces, and in every province
is a king. And these kings have kings under them, and all be
tributaries to Prester John. And he hath in his lordships many
great marvels.

For in his country is the sea that men clepe the Gravelly Sea, that
is all gravel and sand, without any drop of water, and it ebbeth
and floweth in great waves as other seas do, and it is never still
ne in peace, in no manner season. And no man may pass that sea by
navy, ne by no manner of craft, and therefore may no man know what
land is beyond that sea. And albeit that it have no water, yet men
find therein and on the banks full good fish of other manner of
kind and shape, than men find in any other sea, and they be of
right good taste and delicious to man's meat.

And a three journeys long from that sea be great mountains, out of
the which goeth out a great flood that cometh out of Paradise. And
it is full of precious stones, without any drop of water, and it
runneth through the desert on that one side, so that it maketh the
sea gravelly; and it beareth into that sea, and there it endeth.
And that flome runneth, also, three days in the week and bringeth
with him great stones and the rocks also therewith, and that great
plenty. And anon, as they be entered into the Gravelly Sea, they
be seen no more, but lost for evermore. And in those three days
that that river runneth, no man dare enter into it; but in the
other days men dare enter well enough.

Also beyond that flome, more upward to the deserts, is a great
plain all gravelly, between the mountains. And in that plain,
every day at the sun-rising, begin to grow small trees, and they
grow till mid-day, bearing fruit; but no man dare take of that
fruit, for it is a thing of faerie. And after mid-day, they
decrease and enter again into the earth, so that at the going down
of the sun they appear no more. And so they do, every day. And
that is a great marvel.

In that desert be many wild men, that be hideous to look on; for
they be horned, and they speak nought, but they grunt, as pigs.
And there is also great plenty of wild hounds. And there be many
popinjays, that they clepe psittakes their language. And they
speak of their proper nature, and salute men that go through the
deserts, and speak to them as apertly as though it were a man. And
they that speak well have a large tongue, and have five toes upon a
foot. And there be also of another manner, that have but three
toes upon a foot, and they speak not, or but little, for they can
not but cry.

This Emperor Prester John when he goeth into battle against any
other lord, he hath no banners borne before him; but he hath three
crosses of gold, fine, great and high, full of precious stones, and
every of those crosses be set in a chariot, full richly arrayed.
And for to keep every cross, be ordained 10,000 men of arms and
more than 100,000 men on foot, in manner as men would keep a
standard in our countries, when that we be in land of war. And
this number of folk is without the principal host and without wings
ordained for the battle. And when he hath no war, but rideth with
a privy meinie, then he hath borne before him but one cross of
tree, without painting and without gold or silver or precious
stones, in remembrance that Jesu Christ suffered death upon a cross
of tree. And he hath borne before him also a platter of gold full
of earth, in token that his noblesse and his might and his flesh
shall turn to earth. And he hath borne before him also a vessel of
silver, full of noble jewels of gold full rich and of precious
stones, in token of his lordship and of his noblesse and of his

He dwelleth commonly in the city of Susa. And there is his
principal palace, that is so rich and so noble, that no man will
trow it by estimation, but he had seen it. And above the chief
tower of the palace be two round pommels of gold, and in everych of
them be two carbuncles great and large, that shine full bright upon
the night. And the principal gates of his palace be of precious
stone that men clepe sardonyx, and the border and the bars be of
ivory. And the windows of the halls and chambers be of crystal.
And the tables whereon men eat, some be of emeralds, some of
amethyst, and some of gold, full of precious stones; and the
pillars that bear up the tables be of the same precious stones.
And the degrees to go up to his throne, where he sitteth at the
meat, one is of onyx, another is of crystal, and another of jasper
green, another of amethyst, another of sardine, another of
cornelian, and the seventh, that he setteth on his feet, is of
chrysolite. And all these degrees be bordered with fine gold, with
the tother precious stones, set with great pearls orient. And the
sides of the siege of his throne be of emeralds, and bordered with
gold full nobly, and dubbed with other precious stones and great
pearls. And all the pillars in his chamber be of fine gold with
precious stones, and with many carbuncles, that give great light
upon the night to all people. And albeit that the carbuncles give
light right enough, natheles, at all times burneth a vessel of
crystal full of balm, for to give good smell and odour to the
emperor, and to void away all wicked airs and corruptions. And the
form of his bed is of fine sapphires, bended with gold, for to make
him sleep well and to refrain him from lechery; for he will not lie
with his wives, but four sithes in the year, after the four
seasons, and that is only for to engender children.

He hath also a full fair palace and a noble at the city of Nyse,
where that he dwelleth, when him best liketh; but the air is not so
attempre, as it is at the city of Susa.

And ye shall understand, that in all his country nor in the
countries there all about, men eat not but once in the day, as they
do in the court of the great Chan. And so they eat every day in
his court, more than 30,000 persons, without goers and comers. But
the 30,000 persons of his country, ne of the country of the great
Chan, ne spend not so much good as do 12,000 of our country.

This Emperor Prester John hath evermore seven kings with him to
serve him, and they depart their service by certain months. And
with these kings serve always seventy-two dukes and three hundred
and sixty earls. And all the days of the year, there eat in his
household and in his court, twelve archbishops and twenty bishops.
And the patriarch of Saint Thomas is there as is the pope here.
And the archbishops and the bishops and the abbots in that country
be all kings. And everych of these great lords know well enough
the attendance of their service. The one is master of his
household, another is his chamberlain, another serveth him of a
dish, another of the cup, another is steward, another is marshal,
another is prince of his arms, and thus is he full nobly and
royally served. And his land dureth in very breadth four month's
journeys, and in length out of measure, that is to say, all isles
under earth that we suppose to be under us.

Beside the isle of Pentexoire, that is the land of Prester John, is
a eat isle, long and broad, that men clepe Mistorak; and it is in
the lordship of Prester John. In that isle is great plenty of

There was dwelling, sometime, a rich man; and it is not long since;
and men clept him Gatholonabes. And he was full of cautels and of
subtle deceits. And he had a full fair castle and a strong in a
mountain, so strong and so noble, that no man could devise a fairer
ne stronger. And he had let mure all the mountain about with a
strong wall and a fair. And within those walls he had the fairest
garden that any man might behold. And therein were trees bearing
all manner of fruits, that any man could devise. And therein were
also all manner virtuous herbs of good smell, and all other herbs
also that bear fair flowers. And he had also in that garden many
fair wells; and beside those wells he had let make fair halls and
fair chambers, depainted all with gold and azure; and there were in
that place many diverse things, and many diverse stories: and of
beasts, and of birds that sung full delectably and moved by craft,
that it seemed that they were quick. And he had also in his garden
all manner of fowls and of beasts that any man might think on, for
to have play or sport to behold them.

And he had also, in that place, the fairest damsels that might be
found, under the age of fifteen years, and the fairest young
striplings that men might get, of that same age. And all they were
clothed in cloths of gold, full richly. And he said that those
were angels.

And he had also let make three wells, fair and noble and all
environed with stone of jasper, of crystal, diapered with gold, and
set with precious stones and great orient pearls. And he had made
a conduit under earth, so that the three wells, at his list, one
should run milk, another wine and another honey. And that place he
clept Paradise.

And when that any good knight, that was hardy and noble, came to
see this royalty, he would lead him into his paradise, and show him
these wonderful things to his disport, and the marvellous and
delicious song of diverse birds, and the fair damsels, and the fair
wells of milk, of wine and of honey, plenteously running. And he
would let make divers instruments of music to sound in an high
tower, so merrily, that it was joy for to hear; and no man should
see the craft thereof. And those, he said, were angels of God, and
that place was Paradise, that God had behight to his friends,
he make them to drink of certain drink, whereof anon they should be
drunk. And then would them think greater delight than they had
before. And then would he say to them, that if they would die for
him and for his love, that after their death they should come to
his paradise; and they should be of the age of those damosels, and
they should play with them, and yet be maidens. And after that yet
should he put them in a fairer paradise, where that they should see
God of nature visibly, in his majesty and in his bliss. And then
would he shew them his intent, and say them, that if they would go
slay such a lord, or such a man that was his enemy or contrarious
to his list, that they should not dread to do it and for to be
slain therefore themselves. For after their death, he would put
them into another paradise, that was an hundred-fold fairer than
any of the tother; and there should they dwell with the most
fairest damosels that might be, and play with them ever-more.

And thus went many diverse lusty bachelors for to slay great lords
in diverse countries, that were his enemies, and made themselves to
be slain, in hope to have that paradise. And thus, often-time, he
was revenged of his enemies by his subtle deceits and false

And when the worthy men of the country had perceived this subtle
falsehood of this Gatholonabes, they assembled them with force, and
assailed his castle, and slew him, and destroyed all the fair
places and all the nobilities of that paradise. The place of the
wells and of the walls and of many other things be yet apertly
seen, but the riches is voided clean. And it is not long gone,
since that place was destroyed.



BESIDE that Isle of Mistorak upon the left side nigh to the river
of Pison is a marvellous thing. There is a vale between the
mountains, that dureth nigh a four mile. And some men clepe it the
Vale Enchanted, some clepe it the Vale of Devils, and some clepe it
the Vale Perilous. In that vale hear men often-time great tempests
and thunders, and great murmurs and noises, all days and nights,
and great noise, as it were sound of tabors and of nakers and of
trumps, as though it were of a great feast. This vale is all full
of devils, and hath been always. And men say there, that it is one
of the entries of hell. In that vale is great plenty of gold and
silver. Wherefore many misbelieving men, and many Christian men
also, go in oftentime for to have of the treasure that there is;
but few come again, and namely of the misbelieving men, ne of the
Christian men neither, for anon they be strangled of devils.

And in mid place of that vale, under a rock, is an head and the
visage of a devil bodily, full horrible and dreadful to see, and it
sheweth not but the head, to the shoulders. But there is no man in
the world so hardy, Christian man ne other, but that he would be
adread to behold it, and that it would seem him to die for dread,
so is it hideous for to behold. For he beholdeth every man so
sharply with dreadful eyen, that be evermore moving and sparkling
as fire, and changeth and stirreth so often in diverse manner, with
so horrible countenance, that no man dare not neighen towards him.
And from him cometh out smoke and stinking fire and so much
abomination, that unnethe no man may there endure.

But the good Christian men, that be stable in the faith, enter well
without peril. For they will first shrive them and mark them with
the token of the holy cross, so that the fiends ne have no power
over them. But albeit that they be without peril, yet, natheles,
ne be they not without dread, when that they see the devils visibly
and bodily all about them, that make full many diverse assaults and
menaces, in air and in earth, and aghast them with strokes of
thunder-blasts and of tempests. And the most dread is, that God
will take vengeance then of that that men have misdone against his

And ye shall understand, that when my fellows and I were in that
vale, we were in great thought, whether that we durst put our
bodies in adventure, to go in or not, in the protection of God.
And some of our fellows accorded to enter, and some not. So there
were with us two worthy men, friars minors, that were of Lombardy,
that said, that if any man would enter they would go in with us.
And when they had said so, upon the gracious trust of God and of
them, we let sing mass, and made every man to be shriven and
houseled. And then we entered fourteen persons; but at our going
out we were but nine. And so we wist never, whether that our
fellows were lost, or else turned again for dread. But we saw them
never after; and those were two men of Greece, and three of Spain.
And our other fellows that would not go in with us, they went by
another coast to be before us; and so they were.

And thus we passed that perilous vale, and found therein gold and
silver, and precious stones and rich jewels, great plenty, both
here and there, as us seemed. But whether that it was, as us
seemed, I wot never. For I touched none, because that the devils
be so subtle to make a thing to seem otherwise than it is, for to
deceive mankind. And therefore I touched none, and also because
that I would not be put out of my devotion; for I was more devout
then, than ever I was before or after, and all for the dread of
fiends that I saw in diverse figures, and also for the great
multitude of dead bodies, that I saw there lying by the way, by all
the vale, as though there had been a battle between two kings, and
the mightiest of the country, and that the greater part had been
discomfited and slain. And I trow, that unnethe should any country
have so much people within him, as lay slain in that vale as us
thought, the which was an hideous sight to see. And I marvelled
much, that there were so many, and the bodies all whole without
rotting. But I trow, that fiends made them seem to be so whole
without rotting. But that might not be to mine advice that so many
should have entered so newly, ne so many newly slain, with out
stinking and rotting. And many of them were in habit of Christian
men, but I trow well, that it were of such that went in for
covetise of the treasure that was there, and had overmuch
feebleness in the faith; so that their hearts ne might not endure
in the belief for dread. And therefore were we the more devout a
great deal. And yet we were cast down, and beaten down many times
to the hard earth by winds and thunders and tempests. But evermore
God of his grace holp us. And so we passed that perilous vale
without peril and without encumbrance, thanked be Almighty God.

After this, beyond the vale, is a great isle, where the folk be
great giants of twenty-eight foot long, or of thirty foot long.
And they have no clothing but of skins of beasts that they hang
upon them. And they eat no bread, but all raw flesh; and they
drink milk of beasts, for they have plenty of all bestial. And
they have no houses to lie in. And they eat more gladly man's
flesh than any other flesh. Into that isle dare no man gladly
enter. And if they see a ship and men therein, anon they enter
into the sea for to take them.

And men said us, that in an isle beyond that were giants of greater
stature, some of forty-five foot, or of fifty foot long, and, as
some men say, some of fifty cubits long. But I saw none of those,
for I had no lust to go to those parts, because that no man cometh
neither into that isle ne into the other, but if he be devoured
anon. And among those giants be sheep as great as oxen here, and
they bear great wool and rough. Of the sheep I have seen many
times. And men have seen, many times, those giants take men in the
sea out of their ships, and brought them to land, two in one hand
and two in another, eating them going, all raw and all quick.

Another isle is there toward the north, in the sea Ocean, where
that be full cruel and full evil women of nature. And they have
precious stones in their eyen. And they be of that kind, that if
they behold any man with wrath, they slay him anon with the
beholding, as doth the basilisk.

Another isle is there, full fair and good and great, and full of
people, where the custom is such, that the first night that they be
married, they make another man to lie by their wives for to have
their maidenhead: and therefore they take great hire and great
thank. And there be certain men in every town that serve of none
other thing; and they clepe them cadeberiz, that is to say, the
fools of wanhope. For they of the country hold it so great a thing
and so perilous for to have the maidenhead of a woman, that them
seemeth that they that have first the maidenhead putteth him in
adventure of his life. And if the husband find his wife maiden
that other next night after that she should have been lain by of
the man that is assigned therefore, peradventure for drunkenness or
for some other cause, the husband shall plain upon him that he hath
not done his devoir, in such cruel wise as though the officers
would have slain him. But after the first night that they be lain
by, they keep them so straitly that they be not so hardy to speak
with no man. And I asked them the cause why that they held such
custom: and they said me, that of old time men had been dead for
deflowering of maidens, that had serpents in their bodies that
stung men upon their yards, that they died anon: and therefore
they held that customs to make other men ordained therefore to lie
by their wives, for dread of death, and to assay the passage by
another [rather] than for to put them in that adventure.

After that is another isle where that women make great sorrow when
their children be y-born. And when they die, they make great feast
and great joy and revel, and then they cast them into a great fire
burning. And those that love well their husbands, if their
husbands be dead, they cast them also in the fire with their
children, and burn them. And they say that the fire shall cleanse
them of all filths and of all vices, and they shall go pured and
clean into another world to their husbands, and they shall lead
their children with them. And the cause why that they weep, when
their children be born is this; for when they come into this world,
they come to labour, sorrow and heaviness. And why they make joy
and gladness at their dying is because that, as they say, then they
go to Paradise where the rivers run milk and honey, where that men
see them in joy and in abundance of goods, without sorrow and

In that isle men make their king evermore by election, and they ne
choose him not for no noblesse nor for no riches, but such one as
is of good manners and of good conditions, and therewithal
rightfull, and also that he be of great age, and that he have no
children. In that isle men be full rightfull and they do rightfull
judgments in every cause both of rich and poor, small and great,
after the quantity of the trespass that is mis-done. And the king
may not doom no man to death without assent of his barons and other
men wise of counsel, and that all the court accord thereto. And if
the king himself do any homicide or any crime, as to slay a man, or
any such case, he shall die there for. But he shall not be slain
as another man; but men shall defend, in pain of death, that no man
be so hardy to make him company ne to speak with him, ne that no
man give him, ne sell him, ne serve him, neither of meat ne of
drink; and so shall he die in mischief. They spare no man that
hath trespassed, neither for love, ne for favour ne for riches, ne
for noblesse; but that he shall have after that he hath done.

Beyond that isle is another isle, where is great multitude of folk.
And they will not, for no thing, eat flesh of hares, ne of hens, ne
of geese; and yet they bring forth enough, for to see them and to
behold them only; but they eat flesh of all other beasts, and drink
milk. In that country they take their daughters and their sisters
to their wives, and their other kinswomen. And if there be ten men
or twelve men or more dwelling in an house, the wife of everych of
them shall be common to them all that dwell in that house; so that
every man may lie with whom he will of them on one night, and with
another, another night. And if she have any child, she may give it
to what man that she list, that hath companied with her, so that no
man knoweth there whether the child be his or another's. And if
any man say to them, that they nourish other men's children, they
answer that so do over men theirs.

In that country and by all Ind be great plenty of cockodrills, that
is a manner of a long serpent, as I have said before. And in the
night they dwell in the water, and on the day upon the land, in
rocks and in caves. And they eat no meat in all the winter, but
they lie as in a dream, as do the serpents. These serpents slay
men, and they eat them weeping; and when they eat they move the
over jaw, and not the nether jaw, and they have no tongue.

In that country and in many other beyond that, and also in many on
this half, men put in work the seed of cotton, and they sow it
every year. And then groweth it in small trees, that bear cotton.
And so do men every year, so that there is plenty of cotton at all
times. Item; in this isle and in many other, there is a manner of
wood, hard and strong. Whoso covereth the coals of that wood under
the ashes thereof, the coals will dwell and abide all quick, a year
or more. And that tree hath many leaves, as the juniper hath. And
there be also many trees, that of nature they will never burn, ne
rot in no manner. And there be nut trees, that bear nuts as great
as a man's head.

There also be many beasts, that be clept orafles. In Arabia, they
be clept gerfaunts. That is a beast, pomely or spotted, that is
but a little more high than is a steed, but he hath the neck a
twenty cubits long; and his croup and his tail is as of an hart;
and he may look over a great high house. And there be also in that
country many camles; that is a little beast as a goat, that is
wild, and he liveth by the air and eateth nought, ne drinketh
nought, at no time. And he changeth his colour often-time, for men
see him often sithes, now in one colour and now in another colour;
and he may change him into all manner colours that him list, save
only into red and white. There be also in that country passing
great serpents, some of six score foot long, and they be of diverse
colours, as rayed, red, green, and yellow, blue and black, and all
speckled. And there be others that have crests upon their heads,
and they go upon their feet, upright, and they be well a four
fathom great, or more, and they dwell always in rocks or in
mountains, and they have alway the throat open, of whence they drop
venom always. And there be also wild swine of many colours, as
great as be oxen in our country, and they be all spotted, as be
young fawns. And there be also urchins, as great as wild swine
here; we clepe them Porcz de Spine. And there be lions all white,
great and mighty. And there be also of other beasts, as great and
more greater than is a destrier, and men clepe them Loerancs; and
some men clepe them odenthos; and they have a black head and three
long horns trenchant in the front, sharp as a sword, and the body
is slender; and he is a full felonious beast, and he chaseth and
slayeth the elephant. There be also many other beasts, full wicked
and cruel, that be not mickle more than a bear, and they have the
head like a boar, and they have six feet, and on every foot two
large claws, trenchant; and the body is like a bear, and the tail
as a lion. And there be also mice as great as hounds, and yellow
mice as great as ravens. And there be geese, all red, three sithes
more great than ours here, and they have the head, the neck and the
breast all black.

And many other diverse beasts be in those countries, and elsewhere
there-about, and many diverse birds also, of the which it were too
long for to tell you. And therefore, I pass over at this time.



AND beyond that isle is another isle, great and good and plenteous,
where that be good folk and true, and of good living after their
belief and of good faith. And albeit that they be not christened,
ne have no perfect law, yet, natheles, of kindly law they be full
of all virtue, and they eschew all vices and all malices and all
sins. For they be not proud, ne covetous, ne envious, ne wrathful,
ne gluttons, ne lecherous. Ne they do to any man otherwise than
they would that other men did to them, and in this point they
fulfil the ten commandments of God, and give no charge of avoir, ne
of riches. And they lie not, ne they swear not for none occasion,
but they say simply, yea and nay; for they say, he that sweareth
will deceive his neighbour, and therefore, all that they do, they
do it without oath.

And men clepe that isle the Isle of Bragman, and some men clepe it
the Land of Faith. And through that land runneth a great river
that is clept Thebe. And, in general, all the men of those isles
and of all the marches thereabout be more true than in any other
countries thereabout, and more rightfull than others in all things.
In that isle, is no thief, ne murderer, ne common woman, ne poor
beggar, ne never was man slain in that country. And they be so
chaste, and lead so good life, as that they were religious men, and
they fast all days. And because they be so true and so rightfull,
and so full of all good conditions, they were never grieved with
tempests, ne with thunder, ne with light, ne with hail, ne with
pestilence, ne with war, ne with hunger, ne with none other
tribulation, as we be, many times, amongst us, for our sins.
Wherefore, it seemeth well, that God loveth them and is pleased
with their creaunce for their good deeds. They believe well in
God, that made all things, and him they worship. And they prize
none earthly riches; and so they be all rightfull. And they live
full ordinately, and so soberly in meat and drink, that they live
right long. And the most part of them die without sickness, when
nature faileth them, for eld.

And it befell in King Alexander's time, that he purposed him to
conquer that isle and to make them to hold of him. And when they
of the country heard it, they sent messengers to him with letters,
that said thus; What may be enough to that man to whom all the
world is insufficient? Thou shalt find nothing in us, that may
cause thee to war against us. For we have no riches, ne none we
covet, and all the goods of our country be in common. Our meat,
that we sustain withal our bodies, is our riches. And, instead of
treasure of gold and silver, we make our treasure of accord and
peace, and for to love every man other. And for to apparel with
our bodies we use a silly little clout for to wrap in our carrion.
Our wives ne be not arrayed for to make no man pleasance, but only
convenable array for to eschew folly. When men pain them to array
the body for to make it seem fairer than God made it, they do great
sin. For man should not devise ne ask greater beauty, than God
hath ordained man to be at his birth. The earth ministereth to us
two things, - our livelihood, that cometh of the earth that we live
by, and our sepulture after our death. We have been in perpetual
peace till now, that thou come to disinherit us. And also we have
a king, not only for to do justice to every man, for he shall find
no forfeit among us; but for to keep noblesse, and for to shew that
we be obeissant, we have a king. For justice ne hath not among us
no place, for we do to no man otherwise than we desire that men do
to us. So that righteousness ne vengeance have nought to do among
us. So that nothing thou may take from us, but our good peace,
that always hath dured among us.

And when King Alexander had read these letters, he thought that he
should do great sin, for to trouble them. And then he sent them
sureties, that they should not be afeard of him, and that they
should keep their good manners and their good peace, as they had
used before, of custom. And so he let them alone.

Another isle there is, that men clepe Oxidrate, and another isle,
that men clepe Gynosophe, where there is also good folk, and full
of good faith. And they hold, for the most part, the good
conditions and customs and good manners, as men of the country
abovesaid; but they go all naked.

Into that isle entered King Alexander, to see the manner. And when
he saw their great faith, and their truth that was amongst them, he
said that he would not grieve them, and bade them ask of him what
that they would have of him, riches or anything else, and they
should have it, with good will. And they answered, that he was
rich enough that had meat and drink to sustain the body with, for
the riches of this world, that is transitory, is not worth; but if
it were in his power to make them immortal, thereof would they pray
him, and thank him. And Alexander answered them that it was not in
his power to do it, because he was mortal, as they were. And then
they asked him why he was so proud and so fierce, and so busy for
to put all the world under his subjection, right as thou were a
God, and hast no term of this life, neither day ne hour, and
willest to have all the world at thy commandment, that shall leave
thee without fail, or thou leave it. And right as it hath been to
other men before thee, right so it shall be to other after thee.
And from hence shalt thou bear nothing; but as thou were born
naked, right so all naked shall thy body be turned into earth that
thou were made of. Wherefore thou shouldest think and impress it
in thy mind, that nothing is immortal, but only God, that made the
thing. By the which answer Alexander was greatly astonished and
abashed, and all confused and departed from them.

And albeit that these folk have not the articles of our faith as we
have, natheles, for their good faith natural, and for their good
intent, I trow fully, that God loveth them, and that God take their
service to gree, right as he did of Job, that was a paynim, and
held him for his true servant. And therefore, albeit that there be
many diverse laws in the world, yet I trow, that God loveth always
them that love him, and serve him meekly in truth, and namely them
that despise the vain glory of this world, as this folk do and as
Job did also.

And therefore said our Lord by the mouth of Hosea the prophet,
PONAM EIS MULTIPLICES LEGES MEAS; and also in another place, QUI
TOTUM ORBEM SUBDIT SUIS LEGIBUS. And also our Lord saith in the
say, that he had other servants than those that be under Christian
law. And to that accordeth the avision that Saint Peter saw at
Jaffa, how the angel came from heaven, and brought before him
diverse beasts, as serpents and other creeping beasts of the earth,
and of other also, great plenty, and bade him take and eat. And
Saint Peter answered; I eat never, quoth he, of unclean beasts.
And then said the angel, NON DICAS IMMUNDA, QUE DEUS MUNDAVIT. And
that was in token that no man should have in despite none earthly
man for their diverse laws, for we know not whom God loveth, ne
whom God hateth. And for that example, when men say, DE PROFUNDIS,
they say it in common and in general, with the Christian, PRO

And therefore say I of this folk, that be so true and so faithful,
that God loveth them. For he hath amongst them many of the
prophets, and alway hath had. And in those isles, they prophesied
the Incarnation of Lord Jesu Christ, how he should be born of a
maiden, three thousand year or more or our Lord was born of the
Virgin Mary. And they believe well it, the Incarnation, and that
full perfectly, but they know not the manner, how he suffered his
passion and death for us.

And beyond these isles there is another isle that is clept Pytan.
The folk of that country ne till not, ne labour not the earth, for
they eat no manner thing. And they be of good colour and of fair
shape, after their greatness. But the small be as dwarfs, but not
so little as be the Pigmies. These men live by the smell of wild
apples. And when they go any far way, they bear the apples with
them; for if they had lost the savour of the apples, they should
die anon. They ne be not full reasonable, but they be simple and

After that is another isle, where the folk be all skinned rough
hair, as a rough beast, save only the face and the palm of the
hand. These folk go as well under the water of the sea, as they do
above the land all dry. And they eat both flesh and fish all raw.
In this isle is a great river that is well a two mile and an half
of breadth that is clept Beaumare.

And from that river a fifteen journeys in length, going by the
deserts of the tother side of the river - whoso might go it, for I
was not there, but it was told us of them of the country, that
within those deserts were the trees of the sun and of the moon,
that spake to King Alexander, and warned him of his death. And men
say that the folk that keep those trees, and eat of the fruit and
of the balm that groweth there, live well four hundred year or five
hundred year, by virtue of the fruit and of the balm. For men say
that balm groweth there in great plenty and nowhere else, save only
at Babylon, as I have told you before. We would have gone toward
the trees full gladly if we had might. But I trow that 100,000 men
of arms might not pass those deserts safely, for the great
multitude of wild beasts and of great dragons and of great serpents
that there be, that slay and devour all that come anent them. In
that country be many white elephants without number, and of
unicorns and of lions of many manners, and many of such beasts that
I have told before, and of many other hideous beasts without

Many other isles there be in the land of Prester John, and many
great marvels, that were too long to tell all, both of his riches
and of his noblesse and of the great plenty also of precious stones
that he hath. I trow that ye know well enough, and have heard say,
wherefore this emperor is clept Prester John. But, natheles, for
them that know not, I shall say you the cause.

It was sometime an emperor there, that was a worthy and a full
noble prince, that had Christian knights in his company, as he hath
that is now. So it befell, that he had great list for to see the
service in the church among Christian men. And then dured
Christendom beyond the sea, all Turkey, Syria, Tartary, Jerusalem,
Palestine, Arabia, Aleppo and all the land of Egypt. And so it
befell that this emperor came with a Christian knight with him into
a church in Egypt. And it was the Saturday in Whitsun-week. And
the bishop made orders. And he beheld, and listened the service
full tentively. And he asked the Christian knight what men of
degree they should be that the prelate had before him. And the
knight answered and said that they should be priests. And then the
emperor said that he would no longer be clept king ne emperor, but
priest, and that he would have the name of the first priest that
went out of the church, and his name was John. And so ever-more
sithens, he is clept Prester John.

In his land be many Christian men of good faith and of good law,
and namely of them of the same country, and have commonly their
priests, that sing the Mass, and make the sacrament of the altar,
of bread, right as the Greeks do; but they say not so many things
at the Mass as men do here. For they say not but only that that
the apostles said, as our Lord taught them, right as Saint Peter
and Saint Thomas and the other apostles sung the Mass, saying the
PATER NOSTER and the words of the sacrament. But we have many more
additions that divers popes have made, that they ne know not of.



TOWARD the east part of Prester John's land is an isle good and
great, that men clepe Taprobane, that is full noble and full
fructuous. And the king thereof is full rich, and is under the
obeissance of Prester John. And always there they make their king
by election. In that isle be two summers and two winters, and men
harvest the corn twice a year. And in all the seasons of the year
be the gardens flourished. There dwell good folk and reasonable,
and many Christian men amongst them, that be so rich that they wit
not what to do with their goods. Of old time, when men passed from
the land of Prester John unto that isle, men made ordinance for to
pass by ship, twenty-three days, or more; but now men pass by ship
in seven days. And men may see the bottom of the sea in many
places, for it is not full deep.

Beside that isle, toward the east, be two other isles. And men
clepe that one Orille, and that other Argyte, of the which all the
land is mine of gold and silver. And those isles be right where
that the Red Sea departeth from the sea ocean. And in those isles
men see there no stars so clearly as in other places. For there
appear no stars, but only one clear star that men clepe Canapos.
And there is not the moon seen in all the lunation, save only the
second quarter.

In the isle also of this Taprobane be great hills of gold, that
pismires keep full diligently. And they fine the pured gold, and
cast away the un-pured. And these pismires be great as hounds, so
that no man dare come to those hills for the pismires would assail
them and devour them anon. So that no man may get of that gold,
but by great sleight. And therefore when it is great heat, the
pismires rest them in the earth, from prime of the day into noon.
And then the folk of the country take camels, dromedaries, and
horses and other beasts, and go thither, and charge them in all
haste that they may; and after that, they flee away in all haste
that the beasts may go, or the pismires come out of the earth. And
in other times, when it is not so hot, and that the pismires ne
rest them not in the earth, then they get gold by this subtlety.
They take mares that have young colts or foals, and lay upon the
mares void vessels made there-for; and they be all open above, and
hanging low to the earth. And then they send forth those mares for
to pasture about those hills, and with-hold the foals with them at
home. And when the pismires see those vessels, they leap in anon:
and they have this kind that they let nothing be empty among them,
but anon they fill it, be it what manner of thing that it be; and
so they fill those vessels with gold. And when that the folk
suppose that the vessels be full, they put forth anon the young
foals, and make them to neigh after their dams. And then anon the
mares return towards their foals with their charges of gold. And
then men discharges them, and get gold enough by this subtlety.
For the pismires will suffer beasts to go and pasture amongst them,
but no man in no wise.

And beyond the land and the isles and the deserts of Prester John's
lordship, in going straight toward the east, men find nothing but
mountains and rocks, full great. And there is the dark region,
where no man may see, neither by day ne by night, as they of the
country say. And that desert and that place of darkness dure from
this coast unto Paradise terrestrial, where that Adam, our formest
father, and Eve were put, that dwelled there but little while: and
that is towards the east at the beginning of the earth. But that
is not that east that we clepe our east, on this half, where the
sun riseth to us. For when the sun is east in those parts towards
Paradise terrestrial, it is then midnight in our parts on this
half, for the roundness of the earth, of the which I have touched
to you of before. For our Lord God made the earth all round in the
mid place of the firmament. And there as mountains and hills be
and valleys, that is not but only of Noah's flood, that wasted the
soft ground and the tender, and fell down into valleys, and the
hard earth and the rocks abide mountains, when the soft earth and
tender waxed nesh through the water, and fell and became valleys.

Of Paradise ne can I not speak properly. For I was not there. It
is far beyond. And that forthinketh me. And also I was not
worthy. But as I have heard say of wise men beyond, I shall tell
you with good will.

Paradise terrestrial, as wise men say, is the highest place of
earth, that is in all the world. And it is so high that it
toucheth nigh to the circle of the moon, there as the moon maketh
her turn; for she is so high that the flood of Noah ne might not
come to her, that would have covered all the earth of the world all
about and above and beneath, save Paradise only alone. And this
Paradise is enclosed all about with a wall, and men wit not whereof
it is; for the walls be covered all over with moss, as it seemeth.
And it seemeth not that the wall is stone of nature, ne of none
other thing that the wall is. And that wall stretcheth from the
south to the north, and it hath not but one entry that is closed
with fire, burning; so that no man that is mortal ne dare not

And in the most high place of Paradise, even in the middle place,
is a well that casteth out the four floods that run by divers
lands. Of the which, the first is clept Pison, or Ganges, that is
all one; and it runneth throughout Ind or Emlak, in the which river
be many precious stones, and much of lignum aloes and much gravel
of gold. And that other river is clept Nilus or Gison, that goeth
by Ethiopia and after by Egypt. And that other is clept Tigris,
that runneth by Assyria and by Armenia the great. And that other
is clept Euphrates, that runneth also by Media and Armenia and by
Persia. And men there beyond say, that all the sweet waters of the
world, above and beneath, take their beginning of the well of
Paradise, and out of that well all waters come and go.

The first river is clept Pison, that is to say in their language
Assembly; for many other rivers meet them there, and go into that
river. And some men clepe it Ganges, for a king that was in Ind,
that hight Gangeres, and that it ran throughout his land. And that
water [is] in some place clear, and in some place troubled, in some
place hot, and in some place cold.

The second river is clept Nilus or Gison; for it is always trouble;
and Gison, in the language of Ethiopia, is to say, trouble, and in
the language of Egypt also.

The third river, that is dept Tigris, is as much for to say as,
fast-running; for he runneth more fast than any of the tother; and
also there is a beast, that is clept tigris, that is fast-running.

The fourth river is clept Euphrates, that is to say, well-bearing;
for there grow many goods upon that river, as corns, fruits and
other goods enough plenty.

And ye shall understand that no man that is mortal ne may not
approach to that Paradise. For by land no man may go for wild
beasts that be in the deserts, and for the high mountains and great
huge rocks that no man may pass by, for the dark places that be
there, and that many. And by the rivers may no man go. For the
water runneth so rudely and so sharply, because that it cometh down
so outrageously from the high places above, that it runneth in so
great waves, that no ship may not row ne sail against it. And the
water roareth so, and maketh so huge noise and so great tempest,
that no man may hear other in the ship, though he cried with all
the craft that he could in the highest voice that he might. Many
great lords have assayed with great will, many times, for to pass
by those rivers towards Paradise, with full great companies. But
they might not speed in their voyage. And many died for weariness
of rowing against those strong waves. And many of them became
blind, and many deaf, for the noise of the water. And some were
perished and lost within the waves. So that no mortal man may
approach to that place, without special grace of God, so that of
that place I can say you no more; and therefore, I shall hold me
still, and return to that, that I have seen.



FROM those isles that I have spoken of before, in the Land of
Prester John, that be under earth as to us that be on this half,
and of other isles that be more further beyond, whoso will, pursue
them for to come again right to the parts that he came from, and so
environ all earth. But what for the isles, what for the sea, and
what for strong rowing, few folk assay for to pass that passage;
albeit that men might do it well, that might be of power to dress
them thereto, as I have said you before. And therefore men return
from those isles abovesaid by other isles, coasting from the land
of Prester John.

And then come men in returning to an isle that is clept Casson.
And that isle hath well sixty journeys in length, and more than
fifty in breadth. This is the best isle and the best kingdom that
is in all those parts, out-taken Cathay. And if the merchants used
as much that country as they do Cathay, it would be better than
Cathay in a short while. This country is full well inhabited, and
so full of cities and of good towns inhabited with people, that
when a man goeth out of one city, men see another city even before
them; and that is what part that a man go, in all that country. In
that isle is great plenty of all goods for to live with, and of all
manner of spices. And there be great forests of chestnuts. The
king of that isle is full rich and full mighty, and, natheles, he
holds his land of the great Chan, and is obeissant to him. For it
is one of the twelve provinces that the great Chan hath under him
without his proper land, and without other less isles that he hath;
for he hath full many.

From that kingdom come men, in returning, to another isle that is
clept Rybothe, and it is also under the great Chan. That is a full
good country, and full plenteous of all goods and of wines and
fruit and all other riches. And the folk of that country have no
houses, but they dwell and lie all under tents made of black fern,
by all the country. And the principal city and the most royal is
all walled with black stone and white. And all the streets also be
pathed of the same stones. In that city is no man so hardy to shed
blood of any man, ne of no beast, for the reverence of an idol that
is worshipped there. And in that isle dwelleth the pope of their
law, that they clepe Lobassy. This Lobassy giveth all the
benefices, and all other dignities and all other things that belong
to the idol. And all those that hold anything of their churches,
religious and other, obey to him, as men do here to the Pope of

In that isle they have a custom by all the country, that when the
father is dead of any man, and the son list to do great worship to
his father, he sendeth to all his friends and to all his kin, and
for religious men and priests, and for minstrels also, great
plenty. And then men bear the dead body unto a great hill with
great joy and solemnity. And when they have brought it thither,
the chief prelate smiteth off the head, and layeth it upon a great
platter of gold and of silver, if so [he] be a rich man. And then
he taketh the head to the son. And then the son and his other kin
sing and say many orisons. And then the priests and the religious
men smite all the body of the dead man in pieces. And then they
say certain orisons. And the fowls of ravine of all the country
about know the custom of long time before, [and] come flying above
in the air; as eagles, gledes, ravens and other fowls of ravine,
that eat flesh. And then the priests cast the gobbets of the flesh
and then the fowls, each of them, taketh that he may, and goeth a
little thence and eateth it; and so they do whilst any piece
lasteth of the dead body.

And after that, as priests amongst us sing for the dead, SUBVENITE
SANCTI DEI, ETC., right so the priests sing with high voice in
their language; Behold how so worthy a man and how good a man this
was, that the angels of God come for to seek him and for to bring
him into Paradise. And then seemeth it to the son, that he is
highly worshipped, when that many birds and fowls and ravens come
and eat his father; and he that hath most number of fowls is most

And then the son bringeth home with him all his kin, and his
friends, and all the others to his house, and maketh them a great
feast. And then all his friends make their vaunt and their
dalliance, how the fowls came thither, here five, here six, here
ten, and there twenty, and so forth; and they rejoice them hugely
for to speak thereof. And when they be at meat, the son let bring
forth the head of his father, and thereof he giveth of the flesh to
his most special friends, instead of ENTRE MESSE, or a SUKKARKE.
And of the brain pan, he letteth make a cup, and thereof drinketh
he and his other friends also, with great devotion, in remembrance
of the holy man, that the angels of God have eaten. And that cup
the son shall keep to drink of all his life-time, in remembrance of
his father.

From that land, in returning by ten journeys throughout the land of
the great Chan, is another good isle and a great kingdom, where the
king is full rich and mighty.

And amongst the rich men of his country is a passing rich man, that
is no prince, ne duke, ne earl, but he hath more that hold of him
lands and other lordships, for he is more rich. For he hath, every
year, of annual rent 300,000 horses charged with corn of diverse
grains and of rice. And so he leadeth a full noble life and a
delicate, after the custom of the country. For he hath, every day,
fifty fair damosels, all maidens, that serve him evermore at his
meat, and for to lie by him o' night, and for to do with them that
is to his pleasance. And when he is at table, they bring him his
meat at every time, five and five together; and in bringing their
service they sing a song. And after that, they cut his meat, and
put it in his mouth; for he toucheth nothing, ne handleth nought,
but holdeth evermore his hands before him upon the table. For he
hath so long nails, that he may take nothing, ne handle nothing.
For the noblesse of that country is to have long nails, and to make
them grow always to be as long as men may. And there be many in
that country, that have their nails so long, that they environ all
the hand. And that is a great noblesse. And the noblesse of the
women is for to have small feet and little. And therefore anon as
they be born, they let bind their feet so strait, that they may not
grow half as nature would. And this is the noblesse of the women
there to have small feet and little. And always these damosels,
that I spake of before, sing all the time that this rich man
eateth. And when that he eateth no more of his first course, then
other five and five of fair damsels bring him his second course,
always singing as they did before. And so they do continually
every day to the end of his meat. And in this manner he leadeth
his life. And so did they before him, that were his ancestors.
And so shall they that come after him, without doing of any deeds
of arms, but live evermore thus in ease, as a. swine that is fed in
sty for to be made fat. He hath a full fair palace and full rich,
where that he dwelleth in, of the which the walls be, in circuit,
two mile. And he hath within many fair gardens, and many fair
halls and chambers; and the pavement of his halls and chambers be
of gold and silver. And in the mid place of one of his gardens is
a little mountain, where there is a little meadow. And in that
meadow is a little toothill with towers and pinnacles, all of gold.
And in that little toothill will he sit often-time, for to take the
air and to disport him. For the place is made for nothing else,
but only for his disport.

From that country men come by the land of the great Chan also, that
I have spoken of before.

And ye shall understand, that of all these countries, and of all
these isles, and of all the diverse folk, that I have spoken of
before, and of diverse laws, and of diverse beliefs that they have,
yet is there none of them all but that they have some reason within
them and understanding, but if it be the fewer, and that have
certain articles of our faith and some good points of our belief,
and that they believe in God, that formed all things and made the
world, and clepe him God of Nature; after that the prophet saith,
ET METUENT EUM OMNES FINES TERRAE, and also in another place, OMNES
GENTES SERVIENT EI, that is to say, 'All folk shall serve him.'

But yet they cannot speak perfectly (for there is no man to teach
them), but only that they can devise by their natural wit. For
they have no knowledge of the Son, ne of the Holy Ghost. But they
can all speak of the Bible, and namely of Genesis, of the prophet's
saws and of the books of Moses. And they say well, that the
creatures that they worship ne be no gods; but they worship them
for the virtue that is in them, that may not be but only by the
grace of God. And of simulacres and of idols, they say, that there
be no folk, but that they have simulacres. And that they say, for
we Christian men have images, as of our Lady and of other saints
that we worship; not the images of tree or of stone, but the
saints, in whose name they be made after. For right as the books
and the scripture of them teach the clerks how and in what manner
they shall believe, right so the images and the paintings teach the
lewd folk to worship the saints and to have them in their mind, in
whose names that the images be made after. They say also, that the
angels of God speak to them in those idols, and that they do many
great miracles. And they say sooth, that there is an angel within
them. For there be two manner of angels, a good and an evil, as
the Greeks say, Cacho and Calo. This Cacho is the wicked angel,
and Calo is the good angel. But the tother is not the good angel,
but the wicked angel that is within the idols to deceive them and
for to maintain them in their error.

There be many other divers countries and many other marvels beyond,
that I have not seen. Wherefore, of them I cannot speak properly
to tell you the manner of them. And also in the countries where I
have been, be many more diversities of many wonderful things than I
make mention of; for it were too long thing to devise you the
manner. And therefore, that that I have devised you of certain
countries, that I have spoken of before, I beseech your worthy and
excellent noblesse, that it suffice to you at this time. For if
that I devised you all that is beyond the sea, another man,
peradventure, that would pain him and travail his body for to go
into those marches for to ensearch those countries, might be blamed
by my words in rehearsing many strange things; for he might not say
nothing of new, in the which the hearers might have either solace,
or disport, or lust, or liking in the hearing. For men say always,
that new things and new tidings be pleasant to hear. Wherefore I
will hold me still, without any more rehearsing of diversities or
of marvels that be beyond, to that intent and end, that whoso will
go into those countries, he shall find enough to speak of, that I
have not touched of in no wise.

And ye shall understand, if it like you, that at mine home-coming,
I came to Rome, and shewed my life to our holy father the pope, and
was assoiled of all that lay in my conscience, of many a diverse
grievous point; as men must needs that be in company, dwelling
amongst so many a diverse folk of diverse sect and of belief, as I
have been.

And amongst all I shewed him this treatise, that I had made after
information of men that knew of things that I had not seen myself,
and also of marvels and customs that I had seen myself, as far as
God would give me grace; and besought his holy fatherhood, that my
book might be examined and corrected by advice of his wise and
discreet council. And our holy father, of his special grace,
remitted my book to be examined and proved by the advice of his
said counsel. By the which my book was proved for true, insomuch,
that they shewed me a book, that my book was examined by, that
comprehended full much more, by an hundred part, by the which the
MAPPA MUNDI was made after. And so my book (albeit that many men
ne list not to give credence to nothing, but to that that they see
with their eye, ne be the author ne the person never so true) is
affirmed and proved by our holy father, in manner and form as I
have said.

And I, John Mandevile, knight, abovesaid (although I be unworthy),
that departed from our countries and passed the sea, the year of
grace a thousand three hundred and twenty two, that have passed
many lands and many isles and countries, and searched many full
strange places, and have been in many a full good honourable
company, and at many a fair deed of arms (albeit that I did none
myself, for mine unable insuffisance), now I am come home, maugre
myself, to rest, for gouts artetykes that me distrain, that define
the end of my labour; against my will (God knoweth).

And thus, taking solace in my wretched rest, recording the time
passed, I have fulfilled these things, and put them written in this
book, as it would come into my mind, the year of grace a thousand
three hundred and fifty six, in the thirty-fourth year, that I
departed from our countries.

Wherefore, I pray to all the readers and hearers of this book, if
it please them, that they would pray to God for me; and I shall
pray for them. And all those that say for me a PATER NOSTER, with
an AVE MARIA, that God forgive me my sins, I make them partners,
and grant them part of all the good pilgrimages and of all the good
deeds that I have done, if any be to his pleasance; and not only of
those, but of all that ever I shall do unto my life's end. And I
beseech Almighty God, from whom all goodness and grace cometh from,
that he vouchsafe of his excellent mercy and abundant grace, to
fulfil their souls with inspiration of the Holy Ghost, in making
defence of all their ghostly enemies here in earth, to their
salvation both of body and soul; to worship and thanking of him,
that is three and one, without beginning and without ending; that
is without quality, good, without quantity, great; that in all
places is present, and all things containing; the which that no
goodness may amend, ne none evil impair; that in perfect Trinity
liveth and reigneth God, by all worlds, and by all times!




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