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Title: A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. I
       Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the
       Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce,
       by Sea and Land, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time

Author: Robert Kerr

Release Date: January 4, 2004 [EBook #10600]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Robert Connal and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from images generously made available by the Canadian Institute for
Historical Microreproductions.

[Transcriber's Note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original have
been retained in this etext.]


(Taken from Volume 18.)


Voyages and Travels of Discovery in the middle ages; from the era of Alfred King of England, in the ninth century, to that of Don Henry of Portugal, at the commencement of the fifteenth century.


General Voyages and Travels, chiefly of Discovery; from the era of Don Henry in 1412, to that of George III. in 1760.


General Voyages and Travels of Discovery during the era of George III., which were conducted upon scientific principles, and by which the Geography of the globe has been nearly perfected.


Historical Deduction of the Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by sea and land, from the earliest times to the present period.





















Discovery of Iceland by the Norwegians.

Voyages of Ohthere to the White Sea and the Baltic.

Remarks on the situation of Sciringe-heal and Haethum, by J.R. Forster.

Voyage of Wulfstein in the Baltic.

—— of Sighelm to India.

Travels of John Erigena to Athens.

Geography of the known world as described by King Alfred.

Travels of Andrew Leucander.

Voyage of Swanus to Jerusalem.

—— of three ambassadors from England to Constantinople.

Pilgrimage of Alured to Jerusalem.

—— of Ingulphus.

Original discovery of Greenland by the Icelanders in the ninth century.

Early discovery of America by ditto, in 1001.

Travels of two Mahometans into India and China, in the ninth century.

—— of Rabbi Benjamin from Spain to China, in the twelfth century.

—— of an Englishman in Tartary, in 1243.

Sketch of the Revolutions in Tartary.

Travels of Carpina to the Moguls, &c. in 1246.

—— of Rubruquis into Tartary about 1253.

—— of Haitho, in 1254.

—— of Marco Polo into China, &c. from 1260 to 1295.

—— of Oderic, in 1318.

—— of Sir John Mandeville, in 1322.

Itinerary of Pegoletti between Asofand China, in 1355.

Voyages, of Nicolo and Antonio Zeno, in 1380.

Travels of Schiltberger into Tartary, in 1394.

—— of the Ambassadors of Shah Rokh, in China, in 1419.

Voyage and Shipwreck of Quirini, in 1431.

Travels of Josaphat Barbaro from Venice to Tanna (now Asof), in 1436.


Various early pilgrimages from England to the Holy Land, between 1097 and 1107.

Discovery of Madeira.

Discovery and conquest of the Canary Islands.

Discoveries along the coast of Africa; and conquests in India, from 1412 to 1505.

Discoveries of the world, from their commencement to 1555, by Antonio Galvano.

Journey of Contarini into Persia, in 1473-6.

Voyages of discovery by the Portuguese along the western coast of Africa, during the life of Don Henry.

Original journals of the Voyages of Cada Mosto, and Pedro de Cintra, to the coast of Africa, from 1455.

Voyages of discovery by the Portuguese along the coast of Africa, from the death of Don Henry, in 1463, to the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1486.

History of the discovery and conquest of India by the Portuguese, between 1497 and 1505, by Herman Lopes de Castanecla.

Letters from Lisbon in the beginning of the 16th century, respecting the discovery of the route by sea to India, &c.


History of the discovery of America, and of some of the early conquests in the New World.

Discovery of America, by Columbus, written by his son Don Ferdinand Columbus.

—— written by Antonio de Herrera.

An account of the Voyages of Americus Vespucius to the New World, written by himself.

Discoveries and settlements of the Spaniards in the West Indies, from the death of Columbus, to the expedition of Hernando Cortes against Mexico.

History of the discovery and conquest of Mexico, written in 1568, by Captain Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of the conquerors.


History of the discovery and conquest of Peru, written by Augustus Zarate.


Continuation of the history of Peru, extracted from the Commentaries of Garcilosso de la Vega.

History of the discovery and conquest of Chili, taken from various sources.

Discovery of Florida, and ineffectual attempts to conquer that country by the Spaniards,—from the General History of America, by Herrera.


Early English Voyages of discovery to America.

Voyages of Jacques Cartier, from St. Maloes to Newfoundland and Canada, in 1534-5.

Continuation of the discoveries and conquests of the Portuguese in the East; with some account of the early Voyages of other European nations to India.

Discoveries, &c. &c. from 1505 to 1539.

A particular relation of the expedition of Solyman Pacha, from Suez to India, against the Portuguese; written by a Venetian officer in the Turkish service on that occasion.

Account of the Voyage of Don Stefano de Gama, from Goa to Suez, in 1540; written by Don Juan de Castro.

Continuation of the account of the Portuguese transactions in India, from 1541 to the middle of the 17th century; from De Faria's Asia.


Voyages and Travels in Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Persia, and India, by Ludovico Verthema, in 1503-8.

—— in India, &c. by Cesar Frederic, in 1563-81.

Second Voyage to Barbary, in 1552, by Captain Thomas Windham.

Voyages to Guinea and Benin, in 1553, by Captain Windham and Antonio Anes Pinteado.

—— in 1554, by Captain John Lok.

—— in 1555, by William Towerson, merchant, of London.

Second Voyage to Guinea, in 1556, by William Towerson, merchant, of London.

Third, in 1558.

Instructions for an intended Voyage to Guinea, in 1561.

Voyage to Guinea, in 1562; written by William Rutter.

Supplementary account of the foregoing Voyage.

Voyage to Guinea, in 1563, by Robert Baker.

—— in 1564, by Captain David Carlet.

—— and to the Cape de Verd Islands, in 1566, by George Fenner.

Account of the embassy of Mr. Edmund Hogan to Morocco, in 1577; by himself.

Account of the embassy of Mr. Henry Roberts from Queen Elizabeth to Morocco, in 1585; by himself.

Voyage to Benin, beyond Guinea, in 1588, by James Welsh.

Supplement to the foregoing.

Second Voyage of ditto in 1590.

Voyage of Richard Rainolds and Thomas Dassel to the Senegal and Gambia, in 1591.

Some miscellaneous early Voyages of the English.

Voyage to Goa, in 1579, in the Portuguese fleet, by Thomas Stevens.

Journey over-land to India, by Ralph Fitch.

Supplement to ditto.


Voyage of Mr. John Eldred to Tripoli, and thence by land and river to Bagdat and Basorah, in 1583.

Account of the Monsoons in India, by William Barret.

First Voyage of the English to India in 1591, by Captain Geo. Raymond and James Lancaster.

Supplement to ditto, by John May.

Voyage of Captain Benj. Wood towards the East Indies, in 1596.

—— of Captain John Davis to the East Indies, in 1598.

—— of William Adams to Japan, in 1598.

—— of Sir Edward Michelburne to India, in 1604.

First Voyage of the English East India Company in 1601, under Captain James Lancaster.

Account of Java and of the English at Bantam, from 1603 to 1605.

Second Voyage of the Company, in 1604, under Captain Henry Middleton.

Third Voyage of the Company, in 1607, under Captain William Keeling.

Narrative by William Hawkins during his residence in the dominions of the Great Mogul.

Observations of William Finch, who accompanied Hawkins.

Voyage of Captain David Middleton, in 1607, to Bantam and the Moluccas.

Fourth Voyage of the Company, in 1608, under Captain Alexander Sharpey.

Voyage of Captain Richard Rowles.

Fifth Voyage of the Company, in 1609, under Captain David Middleton.

Sixth Voyage of the Company, in 1610, under Sir Henry Middleton.

Journal of the same, by Nicholas Downton.

Seventh Voyage of the Company, in 1611, under Captain Anthony Hippou.

Notices of the same, by Peter Floris.

Eighth Voyage of the Company, in 1611, under Captain John Saris.


Ninth Voyage of the Company, in 1612, under Captain Edward Marlow.

Tenth Voyage of the Company, in 1612, by Mr. Thomas Best.

Observations made on the foregoing by different persons.

Eleventh Voyage of the Company, in 1612, in the Salomon.

Twelfth Voyage of the Company, in 1613, under Captain Christopher Newport.

Voyage of Captain Downton to India, in 1614.

Supplement to ditto.

Journey of Richard Steel and John Crowther, from Agimere to Ispahan, in 1615-16.

Voyage of Captain Peyton to India, in 1615.

Proceedings of the factory at Cranganore, by Roger Hawes.

Journal of Sir Thomas Roe, ambassador from James I. to the Emperor of Hindoostan.

Voyage to India, in 1616, by Mr. Edward Terry.

Journey of Thomas Coryat from Jerusalem to the Court of the Great Mogul.

Wrongs done the English at Banda by the Dutch, in 1617-18.

Fifth Voyage of the Joint-Stock by the Company, in 1617, under Captain Pring.

Voyage of the Ann-Royal from Surat to Mokha, in 1618.

Voyage to Surat and Jasques, in 1620.

War of Ormus, and capture of that place by the English and Persians, in 1622.

Massacre of the English at Amboyna, in 1623.

Observations during a residence in the island of Chusan, in 1701, by Dr. James Cunningham.


Historical account of early circumnavigations; of Magellan, in 1519-22. of Sir Francis Drake, in 1577-80. of Sir Thomas Cnmlish, in 1586-8. of Van Noort, in 1598-1601. of George Spilbergen, in 1614-17. of Schouten and Le Maire, by Cape Horn, in 1615-17. of the Nassau fleet under Jacques Le Hermit, in 1623-6. of Captain John Cooke, accompanied by Captains Cowley and Dampier, in 1683-91. in 1703-6, by William Funnell. in 1708-11, by Captain Woods Rogers and Stephen Courtney. in 1719-22, by Captain John Clipperton. in 1719-22, by Captain George Shelvocke.


Voyage round the world, in 1721-3, by Commodore Roggewein.

—— in 1740-4, by Lord Anson.


Commodore Byron's Voyage, in 1764-6.

Captain Wallis's Voyage, in 1766-8.

Captain Carteret's Voyage, in 1766-9.

Captain Cook's first Voyage, in 1768-70.


Captain Cook's first Voyage continued and concluded..

Abstract of Bougainville's Voyage, in 1766-9.


Captain Cook's second Voyage towards the S. Pole, in 1772-5.


Captain Cook's second Voyage concluded.

Captain Cook's third Voyage, in 1776-80.


Captain Cook's third Voyage continued.


Captain Cook's third Voyage concluded.

Commodore Byron's narrative of his shipwreck, &c.; written by himself.

Bulkeley's narrative of the same.


















Go to Contents of Volume I


Dear Sir,

Unused to the adulatory language of dedications, I am well aware that any such mode of address would offend your delicacy. While, therefore, I gratify my own feelings by inscribing this work with your valued name, I only use the freedom to assure your Excellency, that I have the honour to be, with the warmest sentiments of respectful esteem and sincere regard,

Dear Sir,

Your affectionate friend, and gratefully devoted servant,


Edinburgh, 1st March 1811.


In this enlightened age, when every department of science and literature is making rapid progress, and knowledge of every kind excites uncommon interest, and is widely diffused, this attempt to call the attention of the public to a Systematic Arrangement of Voyages and Travels, from the earliest period of authentic history to the present time, ought scarcely to require any apology. Yet, on appearing before the tribunal of public opinion, every author who has not cherished an unreasonable estimate of his own qualifications, must necessarily be impressed with considerable anxiety respecting the probable reception of his work; and may be expected to offer some account of the plan and motives of what he proposes to lay before the public.

The present work is the first of the kind that has ever been attempted in Scotland: and though, as already avowed in the Prospectus, the Editor has no wish to detract from the merits of similar publications, it might appear an overstrained instance of false delicacy to decline a statement of the circumstances which, he presumes to hope, will give some prospect of the work being received with attention and indulgence, perhaps with favour. It certainly is the only General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels that has been hitherto attempted in the English language, upon any arrangement that merits the appellation of a systematic plan. And hence, should the plan adopted be found only comparatively good, in so far the system of arrangement must be pronounced the best that has been as yet devised. If this be conceded, and the fact is too obvious to require extended proof or minute elucidation, the Editor shall not feel mortified even if his arrangement may be considerably improved hereafter.

The only work on the subject that has the smallest pretensions to system, and that is fanciful, involved, irregular, abrupt, and obscure, is PURCHAS HIS PILGRIMS. Even admitting the plan of that work to be in itself excellent; although it may be a General History, so far as it extends, it certainly is in no respect a Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels. In a very large proportion of that curious work, it is the author who speaks to the reader, and not the traveller. In the present work, wherever that could possibly be accomplished, it has uniformly been the anxious desire of the Editor that the voyagers and travellers should tell their own story: In that department of his labour, his only object has been to assume the character of interpreter between them and the readers, by translating foreign or antiquated language into modern English. Sometimes, indeed, where no record remains of particular voyages and travels, as written by the persons who performed them, the Editor has necessarily had recourse to their historians. But, on every such occasion, the most ancient and most authentic accessible sources have been anxiously sought after and employed. In every extensive work, it is of the utmost consequence that its various parts should be arranged upon a comprehensive and perspicuously systematic plan. This has been accordingly aimed at with the utmost solicitude in the present undertaking; and the order of its arrangement was adopted after much deliberation, and from a very attentive consideration of every general work of the same nature that could be procured. If, therefore, the systematic order on which it is conducted shall appear well adapted to the subject, after an attentive perusal and candid investigation, the Editor confidently hopes that his labours may bear a fair comparison with any similar publication that has yet been brought forward.

In the short Prospectus of this work, formerly submitted to the public, a very general enunciation only, of the heads of the intended plan, was attempted; as that was then deemed sufficient to convey a distinct idea of the nature, arrangement, and distribution of the proposed work. Unavoidable circumstances still necessarily preclude the possibility, or the propriety rather, of attempting to give a more full and complete developement of the divisions and subdivisions of the systematic arrangement which is to be pursued, and which circumstances may require some elucidation.

An extensive and minutely arranged plan was carefully devised and extended by the Editor, before one word of the work was written or compiled, after an attentive examination of every accessible former collection; That plan has been since anxiously reconsidered, corrected, altered, and extended, in the progress of the work, as additional materials occurred: yet the Editor considers that the final and public adoption of his plan, in a positively fixed and pledged systematic form, any farther than has been already conveyed in the Prospectus, would have the effect to preclude the availment of those new views of the subject which are continually afforded by additional materials, in every progressive step of preparation for the press. The number of books of voyages and travels, as well general as particular, is extremely great; and, even if the whole were at once before the Editor, it would too much distract his attention from the division or department in which he is engaged for the time, to attempt studying and abstracting every subdivision at once. The grand divisions, however, which have been already indicated in the Prospectus, and the general principles of the plan, which are there explained, are intended to be adhered to; as no reasons have been discovered, after the most attentive consideration, for any deviation from that carefully adopted arrangement, the heads of which are here repeated.



Voyages and Travels of Discovery in the middle ages; from the era of Alfred, King of England, in the ninth century to that of Don Henry of Portugal at the commencement of the fourteenth century.


General Voyages and Travels chiefly of Discovery; from the era of Don Henry, in 1412, to that of George III. in 1760.


Particular Voyages and Travels arranged in systematic order, Geographical and Chronological.

Note.--This part will be divided into five books, comprehending, I. Europe.--II. Asia.--III. Africa.--IV. America.--V. Australia and Polynesia; or the prodigious multitude of islands in the, great: Pacific Ocean. And all these will be further subdivided into particular chapters or sections correspondent to the geographical arrangements of these several portions of the globe.


General Voyages and Travels of Discovery during the era of George III. which were conducted upon scientific principles, and by which the Geography of the globe has been nearly perfected.


Historical Deduction of the Progress of Navigation Discovery and Commerce by sea and land, from the earliest times to the present period.

In the deliberate construction of this systematic plan, it has been a leading object of anxious consideration, to reduce the extensive and interesting materials of which the work is composed under a clear, intelligible, and comprehensive arrangement, so combined in a geographical and chronological series, that each successive division and subdivision, throughout the whole work, may prepare the mind of the reader for that which is to follow, and may assist the memory in the recollection of what has gone before. By these means, an attentive perusal of this work must necessarily be of material usefulness, in fixing distinct and just ideas of geography, history, and chronology in the minds of its readers; besides the important information and rational amusement which it will afford, by the frequent description of manners, customs, laws, governments, and many other circumstances, of all the countries and nations of the world.

In determining upon an era for the commencement of this work, the Editor was naturally led, from a consideration of the accidental discovery of Iceland by the Norwegians in the ninth century, as coincident with the reign of the great ALFRED, who ascended the throne of England in 872, to adopt that period as the beginning of the series, both because the commencement of modern maritime discovery took place during the reign of a British sovereign, and because we derive the earliest written accounts of any of these discoveries from the pen of that excellent prince. It is true that the first accidental discovery of Iceland appears to have been made in 861, eleven years before the accession of Alfred to the throne; yet, as the actual colonization of that island did not take place till the year 878, the seventh of his glorious reign, we have been induced to distinguish the actual commencement of maritime discovery by the modern European nations as coinciding with his era.

From that time, till the year 1412, when Don Henry, Prince of Portugal, first began to prosecute a consecutive series of maritime discoveries along the western coast of Africa, during which a long inactive period of 551 years had elapsed, the only maritime incident connected with our subject, was the accidental re-discovery of the Canary or Fortunate Islands, by a nameless Frenchman, about the year 1330, though they were not attempted to be taken possession of till 1400. This long interval, between the eras of King Alfred and Don Henry, constitutes the first Part, or grand division of our work, in the course of which, a considerable number of adventurous travellers penetrated into the almost unknown regions of Tartary and the East, and considerable notices of the empire of China, and even of Japan, and of the coast and islands of India and north-eastern Africa, were communicated to the Europeans by the Polos and others.

In separating Part IV. from Part II. the General Voyages and Travels of Discovery which have been undertaken during the long and busy reign of our present venerable Sovereign, from those of a similar nature which succeeded the discovery of the new world, and of the route by sea to India, the Editor only pays a just tribute to the enlightened spirit of the age, under the munificent and enlightened patronage of the beloved Monarch of a free and happy people. Those former voyages of Part II. were mostly undertaken from mere interested views of direct or expected commercial benefit; while these of the era of George III. originated in the grand principles of endeavouring to extend the bounds of science and human happiness.

Perhaps it may occur to some readers, that PART V. the last in order of the general heads of our plan, ought to have formed PART I. as partaking of the nature of an introduction to the subject, and forming a summary of the whole work. Upon even a very slight consideration, however, it must be obvious, that it is impossible to compose that proposed deduction in any adequate manner, until the whole mass of selected materials is possessed by the Editor, and definitively arranged. It may likewise be known to many, that introductions and prefaces, though usually placed at the beginning of books, are uniformly and necessarily last composed, and usually last printed, except in new editions.

A great variety of Collections of Voyages and Travels have been published at different periods, many of which are inaccessible from their scarcity, or from being in foreign languages: And such great numbers of Voyages and Travels to particular regions and countries have been printed, as to be Altogether unattainable by the generality of readers. Every thing, however, which could contribute to the perfection of this work has been collected, or will be carefully procured during its progress; and no pains or expense shall be withheld which, can contribute to render it as complete and comprehensive as possible. In the employment of the vast variety and extent of excellent materials, great care shall be taken to insert every useful and curious information, reduced, where necessary, to modern language; and nothing shall be omitted which is conducive to valuable information and rational amusement.

In our approach towards the present times, the multitude of particular Voyages and Travels increases prodigiously; and, in employing these, it becomes peculiarly necessary to make a selection of the best in every period, and especially of those best adapted for conveying just ideas of each geographical division and subdivision of the world; while those of less merit, but which contain useful notices of the regions and countries of which they treat, shall be carefully epitomized in illustration of the different subjects. Without the employment of discriminate selection and occasional abridgement, this work must have extended to an inconvenient and consequently expensive size, or must have been left unfinished and abrupt in some of its parts: But abridgement shall be very seldom employed and never without acknowledgment. Indeed, the grand object of the present work is to bring together a more complete and entire collection of Voyages and Travels, than has hitherto appeared in any language.

From the nature of the plan, it is utterly impossible to ascertain, with any precision, the exact length to which it may extend; but, so far as can be judged of at present, it is not expected to exceed eighteen or twenty volumes. Throughout the whole work, a series of Maps and Charts will be inserted in their proper places, carefully selected and constructed for the purpose of illustrating the various Voyages and Travels. At the close of the whole, a complete Index will be given to the entire series of volumes, so arranged as to form a regular Gazetteer of the whole world. In every article which has been adopted into this work, the original and accessory sources of all the materials shall be distinctly indicated. Notes of explanation will be given, wherever necessary; and, as many of these are drawn from various sources, the names of the authors from whom they are adopted shall always be acknowledged: Such notes as are marked by the letter E. are by the Editor of the work.

Owing to the indispensable nature of this work, it makes no positive claim to the character of an original composition, in the strict acceptation of that term; and he, therefore, who has undertaken the care of its collection and arrangement, assumes no higher title than that of Editor. In the discharge of that duty, however, the labour which he has necessarily bestowed, though always pleasing, has often been considerable, and sometimes arduous; and he trusts that the plan of the work, which is altogether original, will be found appropriately adapted to the end in view, and that the execution may appear not inadequate to the high importance of the subject. Without imputation of arrogance, he may be permitted to assert, that he has exerted the most unremitting attention and industry, in the collection, selection, and preparation of the several portions of the whole work, and in the arrangement and distribution of its parts. He has the satisfaction to add, that all his efforts have been seconded with the utmost readiness and liberality by the Proprietor of the work, who has spared no trouble, and withheld no expense, in procuring and supplying the necessary materials.

It is with much grateful satisfaction, that the Editor has to acknowledge his high obligations to the Curators and Librarians of the Edinburgh public libraries, belonging to the Faculty of Advocates, the University, and the Writers to his Majesty's Signet, for the communication of many valuable and scarce materials. Nor ought he to withhold his tribute of gratitude, on this occasion, from the liberal spirit of a private individual, the Reverend Henry White of Lichfield, who has most obligingly offered the use of his valuable Collection of Voyages and Travels, and other curious and scarce works connected with the subject, for assisting towards the perfection of this publication.

Having thus briefly announced the nature, plan, and object of the present work, of which this first Volume is now before the public, it only remains to say, that the Editor and Proprietor, each in his particular department, are resolved to exert their utmost endeavours, that nothing may be omitted which can contribute to render the work deserving of public approbation and extensive patronage.





Voyages and Travels of Discovery, from the Era of Alfred, King of England, in the Ninth Century, to the Era of Don Henry, Prince of Portugal, at the commencement of the Fifteenth Century.


Discoveries in the time of Alfred, King of England, in the Ninth Century of the Christian Era.

Section I.

Discovery of Iceland by the Norwegians, in the Ninth Century

Section II.

Voyages of Ohthere to the White Sea and the Baltic, in the Ninth Century

Section III.

Remarks on the situation of Sciringes-heal and Haethum, by J. R. Forster

Section IV.

Voyage of Wulfstein in the Baltic, as related to King Alfred

Section IV. [1]

[1] By error of the press, Sect, IV. has been numerically repeated.

Voyage of Sighelm to India, in the reign of Alfred, King of

Section V.

Travels of John Erigena to Athens, in the Ninth-Century

Section VI.

Geography of the known World, in the Ninth Century, as described by King Alfred

Section VII.

VII. Travels of Andrew Leucander, in the Eleventh Century

Section VIII.

Voyage of Swanus to Jerusalem, in 1052

Section IX.

Voyage of three Ambassadors from England to Constantinople, about 1056

Section X.

Pilgrimage of Alured to Jerusalem, in 1058

Section XI.

Pilgrimage of Ingulphus to Jerusalem, in 1064


Original Discovery of Greenland by the Icelanders, in the Ninth Century


Early Discovery of Winland, or America, by the Icelanders, about the year 1001


Travels of two Mahometans into India and China, in the Ninth Century


Travels of Rabbi Benjamin from Spain to China, in the Twelfth Century


Travels of an Englishman in Tartary, in 1243


Sketch of the Revolutions in Tartary


Travels of John de Piano Carpini, in 1246


Travels of W. de Rubruquis, about 1253


Travels of Haitho, Prince of Armenia, in 1254


Travels of Marco Polo into China and the East; from A.D. 1260 to 1295


Travels of Oderic of Portenau, in 1318


Travels of Sir John Mandeville, in 1322


Itinerary of Pegoletti, between Asof and China, in 1355


Voyages of Nicolo and Antonio Zeno, in 1380


Travels of Schildtberger, in 1394


Travels of the Ambassadors of Shah Rokh, in 1419


Voyage and Shipwreck of Quirini, in 1431


Travels of Josaphat Barbaro, in 1436

(Transcriber's note: The following errata have been applied to the text.)


Page 8, line 26, for insulated read inhabited

51, 21, for phenomena read phenomenon

62, 41, after each insert of the

118 33, after thirteenth insert century

165, note 7, for Keander read Theander.




Discoveries in the time of Alfred King of England, in the ninth century of the Christian era.


In the midst of the profound ignorance and barbarism which overspread the nations of Western Europe, after the dissolution of the Roman empire in the West, a transient ray of knowledge and good government was elicited by the singular genius of the great Alfred, a hero, legislator, and philosopher, among a people nearly barbarous. Not satisfied with having delivered his oppressed and nearly ruined kingdom from the ravages of the almost savage Danes and Nordmen, and the little less injurious state of anarchy and disorganization into which the weakness of the vaunted Anglo-Saxon system of government had plunged England, he for a time restored the wholesome dominion of the laws, and even endeavoured to illuminate his ignorant people by the introduction of useful learning. In the prosecution of these patriotic views, and for his own amusement and instruction, besides other literary performances, he made a translation of the historical work of Orosius into his native Anglo-Saxon dialect; into which he interwove the relations of Ohthere and Wulfstan, of which hereafter, and such other information as he could collect respecting the three grand divisions of the world then known; insomuch, that his account of Europe especially differs very materially from that of Orosius, of which he only professed to make a translation.

Although Alfred only mounted the throne of England in 872, it has been deemed proper to commence the series of this work with the discovery of Iceland by the Nordmen or Norwegians, about the year 861, as intimately connected with the era which has been deliberately chosen as the best landmark of our proposed systematic History and Collection of Voyages and Travels. That entirely accidental incident is the earliest geographical discovery made by the modern nations, of which any authentic record now remains, and was almost the only instance of the kind which occurred, from the commencement of the decline of the Roman power, soon after the Christian era, for nearly fourteen centuries. And as the colonization of Iceland did not begin till A.D. 878, the insertion of this circumstance in the present place, can hardly be considered as at all deviating from the most rigid principles of our plan.


Discovery of Iceland by the Norwegians in the Ninth Century[1].

[1] Fragm. Vet. Islandic. ap. Langebeck, II. 31.--Forster, Hist. of Voy. and Disc. in the North, p. 50.

It were foreign to our present object to attempt any delineation of the piratical, and even frequently conquering expeditions of the various nations of Scandinavia, who, under the names of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans, so long harassed the fragments of the Roman empire. About the year 861, one Naddod, a Nordman or Norwegian vikingr, or chief of a band of freebooters, who, during a voyage to the Faro islands, was thrown by a storm upon the eastern coast of an unknown country, considerably beyond the ordinary course of navigation, to which he gave the significant name of Snio-land, or Snow-land, from the immense quantities of snow which every where covered its numerous lofty mountains, even in the height of summer, and filled its many valleys during a long and dreary winter. As Naddod gave a rather favourable account of his discovery on his return to Norway, one Gardar Suafarson, of Swedish origin, who was settled in Norway, determined upon making an expedition to Snow-land in 864; and having circumnavigated the whole extent of this new discovery, he named it from himself, Gardars-holm, or Gardars-island.

Gardar employed so long a time in this expedition, that, not deeming it safe to navigate the northern ocean during the storms of winter, he remained on the island until the ensuing spring, when he sailed for Norway. He there reported, that though the island was entirely covered with wood, it was, in other respects, a fine country. From the favourable nature of this report, one Flocke, the son of Vigvardar, who had acquired great reputation among the Nordmen or Normans, as an experienced and intrepid vikingr or pirate, resolved to visit the newly-discovered island. Flocke likewise wintered in the northern part of the island, where he met with immense quantities of drift ice, from which circumstance he chose to give it the name of Iceland, which it still bears. He was by no means pleased with the country, influenced, no doubt, by the unfavourable impression he had imbibed by spending a long protracted winter on the dreary northern shore, amid almost ever-during arctic ice, and surrounded by the most unpromising sterility; and though some of his companions represented the land as pleasing and fertile, the desire of visiting Iceland seems, for some time, to have lain dormant among the adventurous Norwegian navigators; probably because neither fame nor riches could be acquired, either by traffic or depredation, in a country which was utterly destitute of inhabitants.

At length, in 874, two friends, Ingolf and Lief, repaired to Iceland, and were so much satisfied with its appearance, that they formed a resolution of attempting to make a settlement in the country; induced, doubtless, by a desire to withdraw from the continual wars and revolutions which then harassed the north of Europe, and to escape from the thraldom which the incipient monarchies of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, were then imposing upon the independent chiefs or vikingr of the Normans. In pursuance of this determination, Ingolf transported some people to Iceland, about the year 878, with several cattle, and all kinds of implements, to enable him to commence a colony. At this period his friend Lief was absent in the English wars; but went soon afterwards into Iceland, to which he carried the booty which he had acquired in England.

The first discoverers of Iceland are said to have found some Irish books, bells, and croziers on the coast; whence it has been imagined, that some people from Ireland had resided there previous to its discovery and settlement by the Normans. But it seems a more probable supposition, to account for these articles having been seen, that a party of Norman pirates or vikingr, who had previously landed in Ireland, or perhaps on Icolmkil, and had carried away the plunder of some abbey or monastery, had been driven to Iceland by a storm, and wrecked upon the coast, where these articles might have been washed on shore: Or they may have attributed the storm, by which they were driven so far beyond their knowledge, to the anger of the God of the Christians, for their sacrilegious robbery of a holy institution, and may have left these articles behind, in hopes of propitiating a more favourable termination to their voyage. The first settlers found extensive forests in the valleys of Iceland; and we know, from authentic documents, that corn was formerly cultivated with decent success in that northern region; whereas, in the present day, not a tree is to be found in the whole island, except some stunted birches, and very low bushes or underwood, in the most sheltered situations, and no corn will now ripen, even in the most favourable years. But the roots and stumps of large firs are still to be seen in various parts; and the injurious alteration of its climate is known to have been occasioned by the straits between old Greenland and Iceland having been many years choked up with ice, which the short summers of that high latitude are not sufficiently powerful to dissolve.

About the present period, Harold Harfagr, or the fair-haired, one of the petty sovereigns or vikingr of Norway, began to subjugate the other chieftains of the country under his paramount authority, and was so successful as to establish the Norwegian monarchy in 875. Gorm, likewise, about the same time, united the petty states of Jutland and the Danish islands into one kingdom, as Ingiald Illrode had done long before in Sweden. Such independent spirits as found themselves dissatisfied with this new order of affairs, found a sure asylum in Iceland; and the emigrations to this new country became so numerous, that Harold at length deemed it expedient to impose a tax of half a mark of silver, equal to five pounds of our modern money, on every one of his subjects who were desirous of going to settle in that island.


Voyages of Ohthere to the White Sea and the Baltic, in the Ninth Century.[1]

[1] Anglo-Saxon Version of Orosius, by Alfred the Great, translated by Daines Barrington, p. 9.--Langebeck, Script. Dan. II. 106-118.-- Forster, Voy. and Disc. in the North, p. 53.

Some of the Norwegian chieftains, who were dissatisfied with the usurpation of supreme authority by Harold, took refuge in England, where Alfred had recently settled many of the vanquished Danes and Nordmen in the northern part of his dominions, which had been almost entirely depopulated and laid waste, by their long-continued and destructive ravages. Among these was one Ohthere, who had made himself famous by his voyages to unknown parts of the north, and who was invited to court by Alfred, to give an account of the discoveries and observations he had made during his unusual expeditions. This person had been a chief of some note in his own country, and dwelt at a place which he called Halgoland, supposed by some to have been in Numadalen, while others say in Nordland, the most northerly p province of Norway proper. In the succeeding paragraph, he is said to have dwelt opposite to the West Sea, and as Alfred only uses the word sea to denote a confined expanse or narrow channel, while he calls the ocean Garsecg, it seems highly probable, that, by the West Sea, the west ford was intended,--a channel or strait which divides the Luffoden islands from the coast of Nordland, which would clearly place the residence of Ohthere in this northern province. The account which he gave of his voyages to his royal patron, is as follows.

Ohthere told his lord King Alfred, that lie lived to the north of all the Nordmen or Norwegians; and that he dwelt in that land to the northward, opposite to the west sea; and that all the land to the north of that sea is waste and uninhabited except in a few places, to which the Finans[2] or Fins repair in winter for hunting and fowling, and for fishing in the summer. Being desirous to ascertain how far this country extended towards the north, and whether there were any inhabitants beyond these wastes, he proceeded by sea due north from his own habitation, leaving the desert land all the way on the starboard or right-hand, and the wide sea on the larboard or left-hand of his course. After three days sail, he was as far north as the whale-hunters ever go[3]; and then proceeded in his course due north for other three days, when he found the land, instead of stretching due north, as hitherto[4], to trend from thence towards the east. Whether the sea there lies within the land, he knew not[5], as he only waited for a west wind, and then sailed near that land eastwards, as far as he could, in four days; as he found the direction of the coast then to change to due south, he waited for a north wind, and then sailed due south as far as be could in five days.

[2] Ohthere here calls the inhabitants of the desert Fins, and it would appear that the Laplanders are actually Fins, or Finlanders; the name of Laps or Laplanders being of modern origin, and the Danes and Norwegians still call this country Finmark.--Forst
[3] In former translations of Alfred, this passage is rendered as follows: "He was within three days sail of being as far north as the whale-hunters ever go." This expression is vague and ambiguous, and rather means that the residence from whence he set out was within three days sail, &c.; whereas the next member of the same sentence distinctly indicates a preceding three days sail, as in the adopted translation.--E.
[4] This is not quite accurate, as the coast of Norway, in the course of Ohthere, stretches N.N.E. He was now arrived at the North Cape, whence the coast towards the White Sea trends E. and by N.--E.
[5] This doubt, of whether the sea lies within the land or not, probably refers to the numerous inlets or fiords along the whole coast of Norway and Finmark, and may mean, that he did not examine whether the land might not be parcelled out into innumerable islands.--E.

In this land he found a large river, at the mouth of which he lay to, as he could not proceed much farther, on account of the inhabitants being hostile. All the land on one side of this river was inhabited, and tolerably well cultivated, but he had not met with any inhabitants till now, since he left his own country; the whole land on his right being a desert, and without inhabitants, except the fishers, fowlers, and hunters, before-mentioned, who were all Fins; and the open sea lay on his left hand during his whole voyage. The Beormas [6], indeed, had well peopled their country, for which reason he did not venture to enter upon it; and the land of the Terfenna [7], which he had passed hitherto, was all a desert, with the exception of the hunters and fishers already mentioned.

[6] The Beormas are the Biarmians or Permians of the northern writers; and Perm or Permia is still mentioned among the numerous titles of the emperors of Russia.--Forat.
[7] The Terfennas are mentioned as different from the Scrite-fennas. These were distinguished by Guido, the geographer of Ravenna, in the seventh century, into Rerefinni and Scritifinni. The latter lived entirely by hunting, and wore snow-shoes in winter, called Schrit. The former subsisted on their herds of rein-deer, and perhaps ought to have been therefore called Rene-finni. The name in the text ought perhaps to have been Rhane-fenna, as he tells us they had rein-deer, and employed decoy deer to catch the wild. Perhaps Fer-fenna, from their travelling in sledges; from farra, to travel in a carriage.--Forst.

The Beormas told him many particulars about their land, and of the neighbouring countries; but he could not rely on their accounts, as he had no opportunity of seeing with his own eyes, but it seemed to him that the Beormas and Fins spoke the same language [8]. Ohthere stated, that his motive for this expedition, besides some little curiosity to explore these countries, which were unknown to his countrymen, was principally in pursuit of horse-whales [9], which are valuable, because their tusks are excellent ivory, some of which he brought to the king, and because their hides serve for making into ropes for ships. This species of the whale is much smaller than the other kind, being seldom more than seven ells in length; while the other species is often forty-eight ells long, and sometimes even fifty. In this country was the best whale-fishing that Ohthere had ever seen, the whales being so numerous, that he was one of six who killed threescore in three days[10].

[8] It is highly probable, from this remark, in which Ohthere could not be mistaken, as it will appear in the sequel that he must have been perfectly well acquainted with the Fins, that the Biarmians were a branch of the great Finnish stock. The principal difference seems to have been, that the Fins continued to be wandering hunters and herdsmen, while the Beormas or Biarmians had advanced to the state of fixed cultivators of the soil. They had likewise an idol called Jomala, which is still the name of one of the deities of the Finlanders.--Forst.
[9] The morse is here named horse-whale by king Alfred, with infinitely greater propriety than the appellation of sea-horse, which long prevailed in our language. The tusks of this animal are still considered as excellent ivory, and are peculiarly valuable for the construction of false teeth; and leather made from the hide is still used in Russia for coach-harness, but stretches more when wet than any other leather.--Forst.
[10] It would appear, from the vast number killed, that this successful fishing must refer to the morse or horse-whale, not to the ordinary large whale.--E.

Ohthere was a very rich man in those things which are considered as valuable in his country, and possessed, at the time when he came to the king, six hundred tame deer, none of which he had bought; besides which, he had six decoy deer, which are much in request among the Fins, as by means of them, they are enabled to catch wild deer. Yet, though one of the richest men in these parts, he had only twenty head of cattle, twenty sheep, and twenty swine; and what little land he had in tillage was ploughed by horses. The principal wealth of the Norman chiefs in that country consisted in tribute exacted from the Fins; being paid in skins of wild beasts, feathers, whalebone, cables and ropes for ships, made from the hides of whales or seals. Every one pays in proportion to his substance: the wealthiest paying the skins of fifteen martins, five rein-deer skins, and one bear-skin, a coat or cloak made of bear-skin or otters skins, and two cables or ship ropes of sixty ells long each, one of which is made of whale hide, and the other from the skins of seals.

According to the description given to the king by Ohthere, Northmanna-land, or Norway, is very long and narrow, all the land which is fit for pasture or tillage being on the seacoast, which is very rocky in some places. To the east of this, and parallel to the cultivated land, there are wild and huge mountains and moors, which are inhabited by the Fins. The cultivated land is broadest in the south[11], where it is sixty miles broad, and in some places more; about the middle of the country, it is perhaps thirty miles broad, or somewhat more; and where it is narrowest in the north, it is hardly more than three miles from the sea to the moors. In some places, the moors are so extensive that a man can hardly travel across them in a fortnight, and in other places perhaps in six days.

[11] In the original, the broad and comparatively fertile part of Norway is said to be in the east: the correction adopted in the text is obvious and necessary.--E.

Opposite to the south part of this country is Sueoland[12], or Sweden, on the other side of the moors, and opposite to its northern part is Cwenland. The Cwens sometimes pass the moors and mountains to invade and plunder the country of the Normans; who likewise sometimes retaliate, by crossing over to spoil their land. In these moors, there are some very large meres or lakes of fresh water, and the Cwenas[13] sometimes carry their small light ships over land into these lakes, and employ them to facilitate their depredations on the Nordmen. Ohthere says, that the shire or district which he inhabited is called Halgoland, and that there were no inhabitants beyond him to the north. There is likewise a port in the southern land, which is called Sciringes-heal[14], which no one could reach in a month's sailing, even with a fair wind, at least if he lay to at night. During this voyage, the navigator must sail near the land, or make a coasting voyage along the coast of Norway towards the south, having Iraland[15], and the islands which are between that country and Norway, on his right hand; for this country continues all the way on the left hand of the navigator, from Halgoland to Sciringes-heal. As he proceeds again to the northward, a great sea to the south of Sciringes-heal runs up into this land, and that sea is so wide, that a person cannot see across it. Gotland[16] is opposite on the other side, or right-hand; and afterwards the sea of Sillende[17] lies many miles up in that country.

[12] In former translations, this passage is: "opposite to this land, to the south, is Sueoland." The alteration in the text removes the ambiguity--E.
[13] Cwenland and the Cwenas appear to refer to Lapmark, and its inhabitants, the Finlanders.--Forst.
[14] See Sect. iii. p. 12, in which this place is supposed by Mr J. R. Forster to have been where Stockholm now is.
[15] Iraland obviously here means Scotland, with the Faro, Shetland, and Orkney islands.--E.
[16] This is plainly the isle of Gothland.--E.
[17] Apparently the Baltic proper is here called the sea of Sillende, and may have been named from the isle of Zeeland. Yet in this passage it seems to refer to the gulf of Bothnia, as running far up into the country.--E.

Ohthere farther says, that he sailed in five days from Sciringes-heal to that port which is called Haethum [18], which lies between Winedum, Seaxun, and Anglen, and makes part of Dene. When he sailed to this place from Sciringes-heal, Dene, or Denmark, was on his left, and on his right was a wide sea for three days; as were also on his right, two days before he came to Haethum, Gotland, Sillende, and many other islands, which were inhabited by the Angles before they came to Britain; and during these two days, the islands belonging to Denmark were on his left hand.

[18] See Sect. iii. p. 14, in which Forster endeavours to fix this place at Aarhuus in Jutland.


Remarks by J. M. Forster, respecting the situation of Sciringes-heal and Haethum[1].

[1] Forst. Voy. and Disc. 67.

The name of this place, Sciringes-heal, has given a great deal of trouble to former commentators on Alfred; viz. Sir John Spelman, Bussaeus, Somner, John Philip Murray, and Langebeck, who have all chosen spots totally different, in which to place Sciringes-heal. Spelman, and others, look for this place near Dantzic, where, in their opinion, the Scyres formerly resided. But, first, the spot where the Scyres lived, is by no means satisfactorily determined; and, next, it is evident that Ohthere went continually along the coast from Halgoland to Sciringes-heal, and that this coast was on his left-hand during the whole course of his navigation. The late Mr Murray placed Sciringes-heal at Skanor, in the southern extremity of Sweden; but I cannot think that this place could be five days sail from Haethum in Jutland, as it is expressly declared to have been by Ohthere. Langebeck is for carrying Sciringes-heal to Konga-hella, on the Guatelf, near Marstrand; and insists, that the name, in Alfred's account of the voyage, ought to have been written Cyninges-heal instead of Sciringes-heal. If the word had only once occurred, I might have allowed Langebeck to be right; but we meet with it five times in the space of a few lines, and always without the slightest variation in orthography. 2dly, The voyage from Halgoland to Konga-hella is not of sufficient extent to have employed a month in the passage. 3dly, Konga-hella is too near Jutland to have required five days for the voyage between it and Haethum.

Having demonstrated the insufficiency of these conjectures, we shall now endeavour to point out where Sciringes-heal was really situated. Paul Warenfried, in his Historia Longobardorum, Lib. i, cap. 7. and 10. makes mention of a district, named Scorunga, in which the Winili, or Lombards resided, for some time before they removed to Mairinga and from thence, farther on to Gotland, Anthabet, Bethaib, and Purgendaid. This Scorunga was not far from Gotland, and consequently in Sweden; and seems to have been the district in which Sciringes-heal was situated. Add to this, that Ohthere, after having described Sueoland, or Sweden, as being to the southwards of his habitation, immediately says, "there is a port in this southern land which is called Sciringes-heal." By this, he seems plainly to indicate, that this place certainly was in Sweden; and all this will appear, still more evidently, if we carefully follow the course of the voyage which he describes. First of all, he has Scotland, called Iraland, evidently by mistake, and the Orkney and Shetland islands, which lie between Scotland and Halgoland, on his right hand; and the continent is continually on his left hand, all the way, until he arrive at Sciringes- heal. But farther, a large bay stretches to the northward, deep into the country, along the coast of which he had been continually sailing; and this bay commences quite to the southward of Sciringes-heal, and is so broad that a man cannot see across, and Gotland is directly opposite to this bay[2]. But the sea, which extended from Zeeland to this spot, goes many hundred miles up into the country to the eastwards.

[2] It appears to me, that the description given by Ohthere, implies, that Gotland was directly opposite to Sciringes-heal, or to the east. --E.

From Sciringes-heal, Ohthere could sail in five days to Haethum, which lies between the Wends Saxons and Angles. Now, by this voyage, we are enabled to determine, with still greater exactness, the situation of this place which we are searching for. In order to get to Haethum, he left Gotland on the right[3], and soon afterwards Zeeland likewise, together with the other islands which had been the habitation of the Angles before they went to England, while those which belonged to Denmark were on his left for two days. Sciringes-heal, therefore, is consequently in Sweden, at the entrance of the Gulf of Bothnia, which runs up into the land northwards, just on that spot where the Baltic, after having passed Zeeland, spreads into a wide gulf, extending several hundred miles into the land. Just in this place I find the Svia-Sciaeren, or Swedish Scares, a cluster of little islands, surrounded by rocks. Heal, in the northern languages, signifies a port, as in such places a ship might be kept in safety. Sciringes-heal, therefore, was "the harbour of the Scares," and was probably at the entrance of the gulf of Bothnia, and consequently where Stockholm now is; and the tract of land where these Scares lay, towards the sea, was the Scarunga of Paul Warenfried.

[3] Not surely on going southwards, but after he had again turned to the northwards, after doubling the southern point of Sweden.--E.

The port of Hasthum has occasioned much difficulty to the commentators, as well as that of Sciringes-heal; but all have agreed that it must be Sleswic, as this latter is called Haitha by Ethelwerd the Anglo-Saxon. A Norwegian poet gives it the name of Heythabae, others call it Heydaboe, and Adam of Bremen Heidaba; and this, in their opinion, is precisely the same with Haethum. It appears to me, however, that the difference between the words Haethaby and Hasthum, are by no means so inconsiderable. And I think the situation of Sleswic does not at all accord with the descriptions which are given of Haethum by Ohthere and Wulfstan. Indeed, if Sleswic be Haethum, I must confess, that I cannot in the least comprehend the course of the voyages of these ancient navigators. Ohthere tells us, that in sailing from Sciringes-heal to Haethum, he had Denmark to the left, and the open sea, for the space of three days, to the right; but that, for two days before he reached Haethum, he had Gotland and Zeeland to the right, and the islands which belong to Denmark to the left. If he had gone to Sleswic, he must have found all the Danish islands on his right hand, and not one besides Femeren on his left. This being considered, I ask how it is possible, consistent with his own description of the voyage, that the situation of Sleswic can be made to correspond with Haethum? As, in the district of Aarhuus in Jutland, there is an extensive track of land called Alheide, which is in fact a heath, I shall take the liberty to suppose, that the town, in the ninth century, lay higher up towards Al-heide, or All-heath; for the town of Aar-huus is new, and its name signifies in English Oar-house. The old town, therefore, may have been called Al-haethum, or Haethum; so, that if Ohthere set out from Stockholm for this place, Gotland was on his right hand[4], and so was Zealand. And as he sailed between Zealand and Funen, or Fyen, all the Danish islands were on his left hand, and he had the wide sea, that is, the Schager-rack, and Cattegat to the right. Farther, when Wulfsten went from Haethum, or Aarhuus to Truso, he had Weonothland, that is Funen, Fionia, or Fyen to his right; and to the left were, Langeland, Laeland, Falster, and Sconeg; together with Bornholm, Bleking, Moehre, Oeland, and Gotland. But Wendenland remained on his right, all the way to the mouth of the Vistula.

[4] This is certainly true during the latter part of his voyage, after turning round the south end of Sweden, and standing again to the northward, between Zealand and Fyen; but in coasting down the shore of Sweden to the south, he must have left Gotland to the left,--E.


Voyage of Wulfstan in the Baltic as related to Alfred[1].

[1] Alfred's Orosius, by Barrington, p. 16. Langebeck, Scrip. Dan. II. 118- 123. Wulfstan appears to have been a Dane, who had probably become acquainted with Ohthere, during his maritime expeditions, and had gone with him to reside in England.--Forst.

Wulfstan said that he sailed from Haethum to Truso[2] in seven days and nights, the ship being under sail all the time. Weonothland[3] was on his right; but Langaland, Laeland, Falster, and Sconeg, were on the left, all of which belong to Dene-mearkan[4]. Burgendaland[5] also, which has a king of its own, was on the left. After leaving Burgendaland, the islands of Becinga-eg, Meore, Eowland, and Gotland, were on the left, all of which belong to Sueon[6], and Weonodland[7] was all the way on the right to the mouth of the Wisle[8]. This is a very large river, and near it Witland[9], and Weonodland are situated; the former of which belongs to Estum, and the Wisle does not run through Weonodland, but through Estmere[10], which lake is fifteen miles broad. Then runs the Ilfing[11] from the eastwards into Est-mere, on the banks of which is Truso. The Ilfing flows from Est-land into the Est-mere from the east, and the Wisle through Weonodland from the south. The Ilfing, having joined the Wisle, takes its name, and runs to the west of Estmere, and northward into the sea, where it is called Wisle-mouth[12].

[2] There is a lake still called Truso or Drausen, between Elbing and Prussian Holland, from which, probably, the town here mentioned, which stood on the Frisch-haf, took its name.--Forst.
[3] It is necessary to distinguish accurately between Weonothland, which is probably Fuehnen, Funen, or Fionio, now called Fyen; and Weonodland or Winodland, afterwards Wendenland.--Forst.
[4] Denmark obviously, called simply Dene, in the voyages of Ohthere.--E.
[5] Probably Bornholm.--E.
[6] Called Sueoland in the voyages of Ohthere, is assuredly Sweden, to which all these islands belong. Becinga-eg, is certainly Bleking; the l being omitted in transcription, called an island by mistake. Meore is indisputably the upper and lower Moehre in Smoland; Eowland is Oeland; and Gotland is doubtless the modern isle of that name. --Forst.
[7] Weonodland, or Winodland, extends to the mouth of the Vistula; and is obviously a peculiar and independent country, totally different from Weonothland, belonging to Denmark.--Forst.
[8] Wisle, or Wisla, is the Sclavonian orthography for the Vistula, called Weichsel by the Germans, and Weissel by the Prussians.--Forst.
[9] Witland is a district of Samland in Prussia. It had this name of Witland at the time of the crusades of the Germans against Prussia. The word Wit-land, is a translation of the native term Baltikka, or the white land, now applied to the Baltic Sea.--Forst.
[10] Est-mere, a lake of fresh water, into which the Elbing and Vistula empty themselves; now called Frisch-haf, or the fresh water sea. --Forst.
[11] This is undoubtedly the Elbing which flows from lake Drausen, or Truso, and joins, by one of its branches, that arm of the Vistula which is called Neugat or Nogat.--Forst.
[12] The Ilfing, or Elbing, comes out of Esthonia, yet not from the east, as here said by Alfred, but from the south; except, indeed, he mean that arm of the Elbing which runs into the Nogat, or eastern arm of the Vistula. But the Vistula comes out of Wendenland, called Weonodland in the text, from the south; and the two rivers discharge themselves into the Frisch-haf, which stretches from west to north, or in a north-east direction; and at Pilau, goes northwards into the sea. It is certainly possible that this entrance may have been formerly called Wisle-mund, or the mouth of the Vistula, as well as the western mouth of that river.--Forst.

This concession is not necessary to the truth of Wulfstan and Alfred. There is a cross branch from Elbing, which joins the Nogat and Vistula proper; and which is probably meant in the text, where the Ilfing and Wisle, united, are said to run to the west of Est-mere, or the haf, and then north, into the sea at Wisle-mund.--E.

Est-land is a large track of country, having many towns, in each of which there is a king. It produces a great quantity of honey, and has abundance of fish. The kings, and other rich men, drink mares milk, while the poor people and slaves use only mead[13]. They have many contests among themselves; and the people of Estum brew no ale, as they have mead in profusion[14]. There is also a particular custom observed by this nation; that, when any one dies, the body remains unburnt, with the relations and friends, for a month or two; and the bodies of kings and nobles remain longer, according to their respective wealth, sometimes for half a year, during all which time it is kept in the house, and drinking and sports continue until the body is consumed[15]. When the body is carried to the funeral pile, the substance of the deceased, which yet remains, after the sports and drinking bouts, is divided into five or six heaps, or more, according to its value. These heaps are placed at the distance of a mile from each other; the largest heap at the greatest distance from the town, and the lesser heaps gradually diminishing, so that the smallest heap is nearest to the town where the dead body lies. Then all are summoned who have fleet horses, within the distance of five or six miles around, and they all strive for the substance of the dead person. He who has the swiftest horse, gains the most distant and largest heap, and the others, in just proportion, till the whole is won; then every one takes away his share, as his own property: and owing to this custom, swift horses are in great request, and extremely dear. When the wealth of the deceased has been thus exhausted, the body is taken from the house and burnt, together with the dead man's weapons and clothes; and generally, they expend the whole wealth of the deceased, by keeping the body so long in the house before it is burnt, and by these heaps which are carried off by strangers. It is the custom with the Estum to burn the bodies of all the inhabitants; and if any one can find a single bone unconsumed, it is a cause of great offence. These people, also, have the means of producing a very severe cold; by which, the dead body continues so long above ground without putrefying; and by means of which, if any one sets a vessel of ale or water in the place, they contrive that the liquor shall be frozen either in winter or summer[16].

[13] This circumstance is singular; yet may be explained from the custom of the Tartars. The mares milk, drank by the kings and rich men, was certainly prepared into cosmos, or kumyss, the favourite beverage of the great; while mead, a much inferior liquor in their estimation, was left to the lower orders.--E.
[14] Mead was called Medo in Anglo-Saxon, in Lithuanian Middus, in Polish Miod, in Russian Méd, in German Meth, in old English Metheglin: perhaps all these are from the Greek verb [Greek: methuo], to intoxicate. Alfred naturally observes, that these drinking-bouts produced many frays; and notices the reason of the Estum or Esthonians brewing no ale, because they had abundance of mead.--Forst.
[15] In a treaty between the Teutonic knights, and the newly converted Prussians, the latter engaged never to burn their dead, nor to bury them with their horses, arms, clothes, and valuables.--Forst.
[16] This power of producing cold in summer, so much admired by Wulfstan and Alfred, was probably the effect of a good ice-cellar, which every Prussian of condition had in, or near his house.--Forst.


Voyage of Sighelm and Athelstan to India, in the reign of Alfred King of England, in 883[1].

[1] Harris, I. 873. Hakluyt, V. II. 38.

Though containing no important information, it were unpardonable in an English collection of voyages and travels, to omit the scanty notice which remains on record, respecting a voyage by two Englishmen to India, at so early a period. All that is said of this singular incident in the Saxon Chronicle, is[2], "In the year 883, Alfred sent Sighelm and Athelstan to Rome, and likewise to the shrine of Saints Thomas and Bartholomew, in India, with the alms which he had vowed." [Bartholomew was the messenger of Christ in India, the extremity of the whole earth.]--The words printed in Italics are added in translating, by the present editor, to complete the obvious sense. Those within brackets, are contained in one MS. Codex of the Saxon Chronicle, in addition to what was considered the most authentic text by Bishop Gibson, and are obviously a note or commentary, afterwards adopted into the text in transcription.

[2] Chron. Sax. Ed. Gibson, p. 86.

This short, yet clear declaration, of the actual voyage, has been extended by succeeding writers, who attribute the whole merit to Sighelm, omitting all mention of Athelstan, his co-adjutor in the holy mission. The first member of the subsequent paraphrase of the Saxon Chronicle, by Harris, though unauthorized, is yet necessarily true, as Alfred could not have sent messengers to a shrine, of which he did not know the existence. For the success of the voyage, the safe return, the promotion of Sighelm, and his bequest, the original record gives no authority, although that is the obvious foundation of the story, to which Aserus has no allusion in his life of Alfred.

"In the year 883, Alfred, King of England, hearing that there existed a Christian church in the Indies, dedicated to the memory of St Thomas and St Bartholomew, dispatched one Sighelm, or Sithelm, a favourite ecclesiastic of his court, to carry his royal alms to that distant shrine. Sighelm successfully executed the honourable commission with which he had been entrusted, and returned in safety into England. After his return, he was promoted to the bishoprick of Sherburn, or Shireburn, in Dorsetshire; and it is recorded, that he left at his decease, in the treasury of that church, sundry spices and jewels, which he had brought with him from the Indies."

Of this voyage, William of Malmsbury makes twice mention; once in the fourth chapter of his second book, De Gestis Regum Anglorum; and secondly, in the second book of his work; entitled, De Gestis Pontificum Anglorum; and in the chapter devoted to the Bishops of Shireburn, Salisbury, and Winchester, both of which are here added, although the only authority for the story is contained in what has been already given from the Saxon Chronicle[3].

[3] Hakluyt, II. 88.

"King Alfred being addicted to giving of alms, confirmed the privileges which his father had granted to the churches, and sent many gifts beyond seas, to Rome, and to St Thomas in India. His messenger in this business was Sighelm, bishop of Sherburn, who, with great prosperity, which is much to be wondered at in this age, penetrated into India; whence he brought on his return, splendid exotic gems, and aromatic liquors, of which the soil of that region is prolific."

"Sighelm having gone beyond seas, charged with alms from the king, even penetrated, with wonderful prosperity, to Saint Thomas in India, a thing much to be admired in this age; and brought thence, on his return, certain foreign kinds of precious stones which abound in that region; some of which are yet to be seen in the monuments of his church."

In the foregoing accounts of the voyage of Sighelm, from the first notice in the Saxon Chronicle, through the additions of Malmsbury, and the amplified paraphrase by Harris, we have an instance of the manner in which ingenious men permit themselves to blend their own imaginations with original record, superadding utterly groundless circumstances, and fancied conceptions, to the plain historical facts. Thus a motely rhetorical tissue of real incident and downright fable is imposed upon the world, which each successive author continually improves into deeper falsehood. We have here likewise an instance of the way in which ancient manuscripts, first illustrated by commentaries, became interpolated, by successive transcribers adopting those illustrations into the text; and how many fabricators of story, first misled by these additaments, and afterwards misleading the public through a vain desire of producing a morsel of eloquence, although continually quoting original and contemporary authorities, have acquired the undeserved fame of excellent historians, while a multitude of the incidents, which they relate, have no foundations whatever in the truth of record. He only, who has diligently and faithfully laboured through original records, and contemporary writers, honestly endeavouring to compose the authentic history of an interesting period, and has carefully compared, in his progress, the flippant worse than inaccuracies of writers he has been taught to consider as masterly historians, can form an adequate estimate of the enormity and frequency of this tendency to romance. The immediate subject of these observations is slight and trivial; but the evil itself is wide-spread and important, and deserves severe reprehension, as many portions of our national history have been strangely disfigured by such indefensible practices.


Travels of John Erigena to Athens, in the Ninth Century[1].

[1] Hakluyt, II. 38.

John Erigena, of the British Nation, descended from noble progenitors, and born in the town of St. Davids in Wales; while the English were oppressed by the cruel wars and ravages of the Danes, and the whole land was in confusion, undertook a long journey to Athens, and there spent many years in the study of the Grecian, Chaldean, and Arabian literature. He there frequented all the places and schools of the philosophers, and even visited the oracle of the sun, which Esculapius had constructed for himself. Having accomplished the object of his travels, he returned through Italy and France; where, for his extraordinary learning, he was much favoured by Charles the Bald, and afterwards by Lewis the Stammerer. He translated into Latin, in 858, the books of Dionysius the Areopagite, concerning the Heavenly Hierarchy, then sent from Constantinople. Going afterwards into Britain, he became preceptor to Alfred, King of England, and his children; and, at the request of that prince, he employed his leisure in translating the Morals of Aristotle, and his book called the Secret of Secrets, or of the Right Government of Princes, into Chaldaic, Arabic, and Latin; certainly a most exquisite undertaking. At last, being in the abbey of Malmsbury, where he had gone for his recreation, in the year 884, and reading to certain evil-disposed disciples, they put him to death.


Geography of the Known World, in the Ninth Century as described by King Alfred[1].

[1] Anglo-Saxon version from Orosius, by AElfred the Great, with an English translation, by Daines Barrington, 8vo. London, 1773. Discoveries in the North, 54.


Though not strictly conformable to our plan, as being neither a journey or voyage, it yet seemed incumbent to present our readers with this curious British production of the great Alfred King of England, which gives a singular record of the geographical knowledge of the world in the ninth century. It was originally written by Orosius, a Spanish Christian, who flourished in the end of the fourth and beginning of the fifth century, and who published a kind of History of the World, down to A. D. 416, which remained in good repute among the learned till about an hundred years ago, but is now much neglected. Near a thousand years ago, the work of Orosius was translated into Anglo-Saxon, by Alfred King of England, but, with great freedom and much licence, often using his author merely as a foundation for a paraphrase; omitting most of the introductory chapters to each book, sometimes leaving out considerable passages, and often inserting new matter. This is peculiarly the case with the first chapter of the first book, containing the whole of the geography, and which is all that has any reference to the nature of our work.

The Honourable Daines Barrington, who published the Anglo-Saxon version, with an English translation, informs us that the original MS. is in the Cotton Library, Tiberius I., and is supposed to have been written in the ninth or tenth century; but that, in making his translation, he used a transcript, made by Mr Elstob, occasionally collated with the Cotton MS. and with some other transcripts. But, before publishing a work of such curiosity and interest, he ought to have made sure of possessing a perfect copy, by the most scrupulous comparison of his transcript with the original MS.

In the following republication of the geographical chapter, much care has been taken to correct errors, chiefly in regard to direction, as east, west, north, and south, are often used interchangeably in the translation by Mr Barrington. Most of the notes are from that edition, or from J.R. Forster, who reprinted so much of this chapter as referred to northern geography, and who appears to have studied that part of the subject with great care.

As a specimen of the Anglo-Saxon, or the language of England near a thousand years ago, we have given the first sentence of this geographical chapter in the ordinary Roman letters, with a literal translation.


Ure yldran calne thysne ymbhwyrft thyses middangeardes, cwaeth Orosius, swa swa Oceanus ymbligeth utan, wone man garsecg hatath, on threo todaeldon.

Literal Translation

Our elders have divided all of this middle-earth, quoth Orosius, which Oceanus surrounds, which men calleth garsecg into three deals.

Geography of Alfred.

§ 1. According to Orosius, our ancestors divided the whole world which is surrounded by the ocean, which we call garsecg[2], into three parts, and they named these divisions Asia, Europe, and Africa; though some authors only admit of two parts, Asia and Europe. Asia is bounded to the southward, northward, and eastward by the ocean, and thus divides all our part of this earth from that which is to the east. On the north, Europe and Asia are separated by the Tanais or Don; and in the south, after passing the Mediterranean[3] sea, Asia and Africa join to the westward of Alexandria[4].

[2] This word is always employed by Alfred to denote the ocean, while smaller portions are uniformly called sae in the singular, saes in the plural.--Barr
[3] Called Wenadel sea in the Anglo-Saxon original; probably because it had been crossed by the Vandals or Wends, in going from Spain to the conquest of Africa.--E.
[4] In the translation by Barrington, this sentence is quite unintelligible. "All to the northward is Asia, and to the southward Europe and Asia are separated by the Tanais; then south of this same river (along the Mediterranean, and west of Alexandria) Europe and Asia join."--E.

§ 2. Europe begins, as I have said before, at the Tanais, which has its source in the northern parts of the Riphean mountains[5], which are near the Sarmatic[6] ocean; and this river then runs directly south, on the west side of Alexander's temples, to the nation of the Russians[7], where it runs into the fen called Maeotis, and thence it issues eastwards with a great stream, near the town called Theodosia, into the Euxine. Then becoming narrow for a considerable track, it passes by Constantinople, and thence into the Wendel sea, or Mediterranean. The south-west end of Europe is in Ispania or Spain, where it is bounded by the ocean; but the Mediterranean almost closes at the islands called Gades, where stand the pillars of Hercules. To the westward of this same Mediterranean is Scotland[8].

[5] Riffing, in the Anglo-Saxon.--E.
[6] Sermondisc in the Anglo-Saxon, Sarmaticus in Orosius.--E.
[7] Rochouasco in Anglo-Saxon, Roxolani in Orosius.--E.
[8] Certainly here put for Ireland.--E.

§ 3. Asia and Africa are divided by Alexandria, a city of Egypt; and that country is bounded on the west by the river Nile, and then by Ethiopia to the south, which reaches quite to the southern ocean. The northern boundary of Africa is the Mediterranean sea all the way westwards, to where it is divided from the ocean by the pillars of Hercules; and the true western boundaries of Africa are the mountains called Atlas and the Fortunate Islands. Having thus shortly mentioned the three divisions of this earth, I shall now state how those are bounded by land and water.

§ 4. Opposite to the middle of the eastern part of Asia, the river Ganges empties itself into the sea, whilst the Indian ocean is to the southwards, in which is the port of Caligardamana. To the south-east of that port is the island of Deprobane[9]. To the north of the mouths of the Ganges, where mount Caucasus ends, is the port of Samera; and to the north of this port are the mouths of the river called Corogorre, in the ocean called Sericus. Now, these are the boundaries of India: Mount Caucasus is to the north, the river Indus to the west, the Red Sea[10] to the south, and the ocean to the east. In this land of India there are forty-four nations, besides the island of Taprobana or Ceylon, in which there are ten boroughs; and also many others which are situated on the banks of the Indus, and lie all to the westward of India. Betwixt this river Indus, and another to the west called Tigris, both of which empty themselves into the Red Sea[11], are the countries of Orocassia, Parthia, Asilia, Pasitha, and Media, though some writers call the whole of this land Media or Assyria[12]. The fields are much parched by the sun[13], and the roads are very hard and stony. The northern boundary of this land is Mount Caucasus, and the southern is the Red Sea. In this land there are two great rivers, the Hystaspes and Arbis, and twenty-two nations, though the whole has the general name of Parthia. To the westwards, Babilonia, Chaldea, and Mesopotamia are between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. Within this country there are twenty-eight nations, the northern boundary being Mount Caucasus, and the Red Sea to the south. Along the Red Sea, and at its northern angle, are Arabia, Sabaea, and Eudomane, or Idumea. Beyond the river Euphrates, quite westward to the Mediterranean, and northward to Mount Taurus, even into Armenia, and southward to near Egypt, are many countries, namely Comagene, Phenicia, Damascena, Coelle, Moab, Ammon, Idumea, Judea, Palestine, and Sarracene, all of which are comprehended under the general name of Syria. To the north of Syria are the hills called Taurus, and to the north of these are Capadocia and Armenia, the former being to the westward of the latter; and to the westward of Capadocia is the country called the lesser Asia. To the north of Capadocia is the plain called Temisere, and betwixt Capadocia and lesser Asia are Cilicia and Isauria. Lesser Asia is entirely surrounded by salt water, except to the eastward; having the Euxine on the north, the Propontis and Hellespont on the west, and the Mediterranean on the south. In it is the high mountain of Olympus.

[9] Taprobana, Serendib, or Ceylon.--E.
[10] By the Red Sea must be here meant that which extends between the peninsula of India and Africa, called the Erithrean Sea in the Periplus of Nearchus.--E.
[11] The Persian gulf is here assumed as a part of the Red Sea.--E.
[12] He is here obviously enumerating the divisions of the latter Persian empire. Orocassia is certainly the Arachosia of the ancients; Asilia and Pasitha may be Assyria and proper Persia.--E.
[13] The Saxon word is beorhta or bright, which I have ventured to translate parched by the sun, as this signification agrees well with the context.--Barr.

§ 5. To the northward of hither Egypt is Palestine, to the eastwards the land of the Sarracens, to the west is Libia, and to the south the mountain called Climax. The head of the Nile is near the cliffs of the Red Sea, though some say it is in the western part of Africa, near Mount Atlas, whence it flows over a large track of land, till it sinks; after which, it proceeds in its course, till it becomes a great sea, or wide river[14]. The spot where the river takes its rise is called by some Nuchal, and by others Dara. Hence, for some distance from the wider part, before[l5] it rises from the sand, it runs westward to Ethiopia, where it is called Jon, till it reaches the eastern part, where it becomes a wide river[16], and then it sinks again into the earth; after which it appears again opposite to the cliffs of the Red Sea, as I mentioned before, and from this place it is called the Nile. Then running from thence westwards, it divides its stream round an island called Meroe[17]; then running to the northward, it empties itself into the Mediterranean. There, in the winter season, the current at its mouth is opposed by the north winds, so that the river is spread all over the land of Egypt;[l8] and by the rich earth which it deposits, it fertilizes the whole country. The farther Egypt lies along the southern part of the Red Sea, and to the east is the ocean. To the west is the hither Egypt, and in the two Egypts there are twenty-four nations.

[14] The true Niger, running from the westwards till it loses itself in the sands of Wangara, seems here alluded to; and the Bahr el Abiad, or Western Nile, is supposed to be its continuation, rising again out of the sand.--E.
[15] This ought certainly to be after, and seems to allude to the Bahr el Abiad.--E.
[16] Literally a great sea.--Barr.
[17] This is a mistake, as it only takes a wide turn to the west in Dongola, around what has been falsely called the Isle of Meroe. The cliffs of the Red Sea seem to imply the mountains of Nubia, and the wide sea may be the lake of Dembea.--E.
[18] A strange attempt to account for the regular overflow of the Nile.--E.

§ 6. Having before given an account of the north part of Asia, I shall now speak of its southern parts. I have before mentioned that Mount Caucasus is to the north of India, beginning eastwards on the ocean, and running due west, till it join the Armenian mountains, which the inhabitants call Parcoatrae, from which the Euphrates takes its rise; and from the Parcoatrian mountains mount Taurus runs due west, quite to Cilicia. To the north of these mountains, quite to the ocean which environs the north east end of the earth, where the river Bore empties itself into the ocean, and from thence westwards to the Caspian sea, which extends to Mount Caucasus, all the land is called Old Scythia, or Hircania. In this country there are forty-three nations, all situate at great distances from each other, on account of the barrenness of the soil[19]. Then to the westward of the Caspian unto the Tanais or Don, and the Palus Maeotis, thence south to Mount Taurus[20], and north to the ocean, is all Scythia, and is divided among thirty-two nations. The country on the east side of the Tanais is inhabited by a nation called the Alboari in the Latin tongue, which we now call Liobene. Thus have I shortly stated the boundaries of Asia, and shall now state those of Europe, as far as we are informed concerning them.

[19] This account of the boundaries of Old Scythia is extremely vague. It seems to imply an eastern boundary by an imaginary river Bore, that the Caspian is the western, the northern ocean on the north, and Mount Caucasus on the south.--E.
[20] In the translation by Barrington, this portion of Scythia is strangely said to extend south to the Mediterranean; the interpolation surely of some ignorant transcriber, who perhaps changed the Euxine or Caspian sea into the Mediterranean.--E.

§ 7. From the Tanais westwards to the Rhine, which takes its rise in the Alps, and runs northward, till it falls into that branch of the ocean which surrounds Bryttannia, and southward from the Tanais to the Donua or Danube, whose source is near that of the Rhine, and which runs to the northward of Greece, till it empties itself into the Euxine[21], and north even to that part of the ocean which is called the Cwen sea[22], there are many nations; and the whole of this extensive country is called Germany. Hence to the north of the source of the Danube, and to the east of the Rhine are the people called eastern Franks[23]. To the south of them are the Swaepas[24]. On the opposite banks of the Danube, and to the south and east, are the people called Baegth-ware[25], in that part which is called Regnes-burh[26]. Due east from them are the Beme[27]. To the north-east the Thyringas[28]. To the north of these are the Old Seaxan[29]. To the north-west of these are the Frysan[30]; and to the west of Old Saxony is the mouth of the Aelfe or Elbe, as also Frysan or Friesland. Prom hence to the north-west is that land which is called Angle, with Sellinde, and some other parts of Dene[31]. To the north is Apdrede[32], and to the north-east the Wolds[33], which are called AEfeldan[34]. From hence eastwards is Wineda-land[35], otherwise called Sysyle[36]. To the south-west, at some distance, is the Macroaro[37], and these have to the west the Thyringas and Behemas, as also part of the Baegthware, all of whom have been already mentioned. And to the south, on the other side of the Donua or Danube, is the country called Carendrae[38].

[21] Called by mistake, or erroneous transcription, Wendel sea, or Mediterranean in the text and translation.--E.
[22] The Cwen sea is the White sea, or sea of Archangel. The Kwen or Cwen nation, was that now called Finlanders, from whom that sea received this ancient appellation.--Forst.
[23] East Francan in the original. The eastern Franks dwelt in that part of Germany between the Rhine and the Sala, in the north reaching to the Ruhre and Cassel, and in the south, almost to the Necker; according to Eginhard, inhabiting from Saxony to the Danube. They were called east Franks to distinguish them from that other part of the nation which inhabited ancient Gaul, and Franconia continues to preserve their name.--Forst.
[24] Swaepas, or Suevae, who formed part of the Allemanic confederacy, and afterwards gave their name of Swabes to an extensive nation, in whose bounds modern Swabia is still situated.--Forst.
[25] The Bavarians, who were the remnant of the Boii or Baeghten, who escaped from the exterminating sword of the Suevi.--Forst.
[26] This may have been the province in which Regens-bergh or Ratisbon is still situated.--Forst.
[27] These were undoubtedly the Bohemians, called afterwards Behemas by our royal geographer. They had their appellation from Boier-heim, or the dwelling place of the Boii, who were exterminated by the Suevi. --Forst.
[28] The Thuringians, at one time so powerful, that their king was able to engage in war against the king of the Franks. Thuringia is still a well known district in Germany.--Forst.
[29] The Old Saxons inhabited the country still called Old Sassen, or Old Saxony, Halsatia in Latin, which has degenerated into Holstein. --Forst.
[30] These Frysae were afterwards confined by Charlemain to the country between the Weser and Elbe, to which they gave the name of Friesland. --Forst.
[31] That is to the north-east of Old Saxony, where the Angles, confederates of the Saxon conquerors of Britain, and who gave their name to the English nation, and England or Angle-land, formerly resided. But they likewise appear to have occupied some of the islands in the Baltic. Sillend is certainly the Danish island of Zeeland. Dene is Denmark in its most limited sense.--Forst.
[32] These are the Obotrites, a Venedic nation, settled in Mecklenburgh, who are called, a little farther on, the Afdrede. They were not, however, to the north-east of Old Saxony, but rather to the eastwards. Perhaps the copyist inserted north instead of east, or rather we ought to read thus: "To the north-east is Apdrede, and to the north the Wolds."--Forst.
[33] The word here translated Wolds on the authority of Daines Barrington, is in the original, Wylte; but whether it refers to the wild or barren state of the country, or the name of a people, it is difficult to say. There were a people named Wilzi in those parts, but J. R. Forster is disposed to believe, that Alfred refers here to the Wends or Vandals, who lived on the Havel, and were called Hevelli. But if they are meant, we must correct the text from north-east to south-east, for such is the situation of Havel-land, with respect to Old Saxony.--Forst.
[34] AEfeldan are, as King Alfred calls them, Wolds or Wilds; as there still are in the middle of Jutland, large high moors, covered only with heath.--Forst.
[35] Wineda-land, the land of the Wends, Vandals, or Wendian Scalvi in Mecklenburg and Pomerania; so called from Wanda or Woda, signifying the sea or water. They were likewise called Pomeranians for the same reason, from po moriu, or the people by the sea side. --Forst.
[36] In this Alfred seems to have committed a mistake, or to have made too great a leap. There is a Syssel, however, in the country of the Wends, on the Baltic, which connects them with the Moravians, or rather with the Delamensan, of whom mention is made afterwards.--Forst.
[37] The Moravians, so called from the river Morava, at that time a powerful kingdom, governed by Swatopluk, and of much greater extent than modern Moravia.--Forst.
[38] Carendre must be Carinthia, or the country of the Carenders or Centani, which then included Austria and Styria.--Forst.

§ 8. Southwards, towards and along the mountains which are called the Alps, are the boundaries of the Baegthware and of the Swaefas already mentioned; and then to the eastwards of the Carendrae country, and beyond the Waste[39], is Pulgara-land or Bulgaria[40]. To the east is Greca-land[41] or Greece; and to the east of the Moroaro or Moravians, is Wisle-land[42]; and to the east of that is Datia, though it formerly belonged to the Gottan[43] or Goths. To the north-east of the Moroara or Moravians, are the Delamensen[44]. East of the Delamensen are the Horithi[45]; and north of the Delamensen are the Surpe[46]; to the west also are the Syssele[47]. To the north of the Horithi is Maegtha-land[48], and north of Maegtha-land is Sermende[49], quite to the Riffin[50], or the Riphean mountains.

[39] Barrington has erroneously translated this, "to the eastward of Carendre country, and beyond the west part is Bulgaria." But in the original Anglo-Saxon, it is beyond the wastes, or desert, which had been occasioned by the devastations of Charlemain in the country of the Avari.--Forst.
[40] This is the extensive kingdom of Bulgaria of these times, comprising modern Bulgaria and Wallachia, with part of Moldavia and Bessarabia. The Bulgarians were probably a Turkish tribe, dwelling beyond the Wolga, in the country now called Casan, deriving their name from Bolgar, their capital.--Forst.
Forster ought to have added, that the latter country was long called greater Bulgaria, and the former, or the Pulgara-land of the text, lesser Bulgaria.--E.
[41] The Greek empire of Constantinople.--E.
[42] The country on the Wisle or Vistula, being great and little Poland. --Forst.
[43] These for some time inhabited Dacia, and, being famous in history, Alfred was willing at least to mention one of their residences. --Forst.
[44] The Delamensen, or Daleminzen of the middle age writers, sometimes called Dalmatians by mistake, or to shew their erudition, were situated near Lommatsch, or around Meissen or Misnia, on both sides of the Elbe.--Forst.
[45] These must have been a Scalvonian people or tribe, now unknown, and perhaps inhabited near Gorlitz, or near Quarlitz, not far from great Glogau--Forst.
[46] The Sorbi, Sirbi, and Serbii, of old writers, are the Sorbian Sclavons; and the modern Wends or Vandals of Lusatia, still call themselves Sserbs or Ssorbs.--Forst.
[47] These must have been another tribe of Sclavons about Seuselig, to the westward of the Sorbs of lower Lusatia.--Forst.
[48] Perhaps the duchy of Mazovia, called Magaw or Mazaw-land in ancient writers. Or perhaps it is wrong spelt for Wastaland or the Waste.--Forst.
[49] Sermende is the mutilated and disguised name of Sarmatia, which did not exist under that name in the time of Alfred, but which he inserted on the authority of his original author Orosius.--Forst.
[50] A mere corruption of the montes Riphaei or Riphean mountains of Orosius; and Alfred seems here to have got beyond his knowledge, copying merely from Orosius.--Forst.

§ 9. To the south-west of Dene or Denmark, formerly mentioned, is that arm of the ocean which surrounds Brittania, and to the north is that arm which is called the Ostsea[51] or East sea; to the east and north are the north Dene[52], or North Danes, both on the continent and on the islands. To the east are the Afdrede[53]. To the south is the mouth of the AElfe or Elbe, and some part of Old Seaxna[54] or Old Saxony. The North Dene have to the north that arm of the sea which is called the East sea, and to the east is the nation of the Osti[55], and the Afdrede, or Obotrites, to the south. The Osti have to the north of them that same arm of the sea, or the Baltic, and so have the Winedas and the Burgendas[56]. Still more to the south is Haefeldan[57]. The Burgendas have this same arm of the sea to the west, and the Sweon[58] to the north. To the east are the Sermende, to the south the Surfe[59]. The Sweons have to the south the arm of the sea called Ost, and to the north, over the wastes, is Cwenland[60], to the north-west are the Scride-finnas[61], and the North-men[62] are to the west[63].

[51] The Ost sea of Alfred comprehends what are now called the Scaggerrack, Catte-gatt, the Sound, the two Belts, and the Baltic, which our mariners still call the East Sea.--Forst.
[52] That is, both inhabiting North Jutland and the islands of Funen, Zeeland, Langland, Laland, and Falster.--Forst.
[53] Formerly called Apdrede, and explained to be the Obotrites.--E.
[54] Alluding, doubtless, to the country from whence the Saxons who inhabited England had come of old.--E.
[55] This is the same nation called Estum in the voyage of Wulfstan, who lived east of the mouth of the Wisle or Vistula, along the Baltic, and who are mentioned by Tacitus under the name of Estii. When the Hanseatic league existed, they were called Osterlings or Easterlings, or Ost-men, and their country Est-land, Ostland, or Eastland, which still adheres to the northernmost part of Livonia, now called Est-land.--Forst.
[56] The Burgendas certainly inhabited the island of Born-holm, called from them Borgenda-holm, or island of the Borgendas, gradually corrupted to Borgend-holm, Bergen-holm, Born-holm. In the voyage of Wulfstan they are plainly described as occupying this situation.--Forst.
[57] Called formerly AEfelden, a nation who lived on the Havel, and were, therefore, named Hevelli or Haeveldi, and were a Wendick or Vandal tribe.--Forst.
[58] These are the Sviones of Tacitus. Jornandes calls them Swethans, and they are certainly the ancestors of the Swedes.--Forst.
[59] This short passage in the original Anglo-Saxon is entirely omitted by Barrington. Though Forster has inserted these Surfe in his map, somewhere about the duchy of Magdeburg, he gives no explanation or illustration of them in his numerous and learned notes on our royal geographer.--E.
[60] Already explained to be Finland on the White sea.--E.
[61] This is the same nation with the Finnas or Laplanders, mentioned in the voyage of Ohthere, so named because using scriden, schreiten, or snowshoes. The Finnas or Laplanders were distinguished by the geographer of Ravenna into Scerde-fenos, and Rede-fenos, the Scride-finnas, and Ter-finnas of Alfred. So late as 1556, Richard Johnson, Hakluyt, ed. 1809. I. 316. mentions the Scrick-finnes as a wild people near Wardhus.--E.
[62] The North-men or Normans, are the Norwegians or inhabitants of Nor-land, Nord-land, or North-mana-land.--E.
[63] At this place Alfred introduces the voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan, already given separately, in Sect. ii. and iii, of this chapter.--E.

§ 10. We shall now speak of Greca-land or Greece, which lies south of the Danube. The Proponditis, or sea called Propontis, is eastward of Constantinople; to the north of that city, an arm of the sea issues from the Euxine, and flows westwards; to the north-west the mouths of the Danube empty themselves into the south-east part of the Euxine[64]. To the south and west of these mouths are the Maesi, a Greek nation; to the west are the Traci or Thracians, and to the east the Macedonians. To the south, on the southern arm of the Egean sea, are Athens and Corinth, and to the south-west of Corinth is Achaia, near the Mediterranean. All these countries are inhabited by the Greeks. To the west of Achaia is Dalmatia, along the Mediterranean; and on the north side of that sea, to the north of Dalmatia, is Bulgaria and Istria. To the south of Istria is the Adriatic, to the west the Alps, and to the north, that desert which is between Carendan[65] and Bulgaria.

[64] Either the original or the translation is here erroneous; it ought to run thus: "The Propontis is westward of Constantinople; to the north-east of that city, the arm of the sea issues from the Euxine, and flows south-west; to the north the mouths of the Danube empty themselves into the north-west parts of the Euxine."--E.
[65] Carinthia. The desert has been formerly mentioned as occasioned by the almost utter extirpation of the Avari by Charlemain, and was afterwards occupied by the Madschiari or Magiars, the ancestors of the present Hungarians.--Forst.

§ 11. Italy is of a great length from the north-west to the south-east and is surrounded by the Mediterranean on every side, except the north-west. At that end of it are the Alps, which begin from the Mediterranean, in the Narbonese country, and end in Dalmatia, to the east of the Adriatic sea. Opposite to the Alps, on the north, is Gallia-belgica, near which is the river Rhine, which discharges itself into the Britanisca sea, and to the north, on the other side of this sea, is Brittannia[66]. The land to the west of Ligore, Liguria, is AEquitania; to the south of which is some part of Narbonense, to the south-west is Spain. To the south of Narbonense is the Mediterranean, where the Rhone empties itself into that sea, to the north of the Profent[67] sea. Opposite to the wastes is the nearer[68] part of Spain, to the northwest Aquitania, and the Wascan[69] to the north. The Profent[67] sea hath to the north the Alps, to the south the Mediterranean, to the north-east the Burgundians, and to the West the Wascans or Gascons.

[66] Very considerable freedoms have been taken with this sentence; as in Barrington's translation it is quite unintelligible.--E.
[67] Profent and Profent sea, from the Provincia Gallica, now Provence. --Forst.
[68] Probably in relation to Rome, the residence of Orosius.--E.
[69] Gascony, called Wascan in the Teutonic or Saxon orthography and pronunciation. Thus the Saxons changed Gauls to Wales, and the Gauls changed War-men into Guer-men, hence our modern English, Germans. --Forst.

§ 12. Spain is triangular, being surrounded by the sea on three sides. The boundary to the south-west is opposite to the island of Gades, Cadiz; that to the east is opposite to the Narbonense, and the third, to the north- west, is opposite to Brigantia, a town of Gallia, as also to Scotland[70], over an arm of the sea, and opposite to the mouth of the Scene or Seine. As for that division of Spain which is farthest[71] from us, it has to the west the ocean, and the Mediterranean to the north, the south, and the east. This division of Spain has to the north Aquitania, to the north-east Narbonense, and to the south the Mediterranean.

[70] Scotland is here assuredly used to denote Ireland.--E.
[71] Probably in relation to Rome, the residence of Orosius.--E.

§ 13. The island of Brittannia extends 800 miles in length to the north-east, and is 200 miles broad. To the south of it, on the other side of an arm of the sea, is Gallia-belgica. To the west of it, on the other side of another arm of the sea, is Ibernia or Ireland, and to the north Orcadus[72]. Igbernia, Ibernia, Hibernia, or Ireland, which we call Scotland, is surrounded on every side by the ocean; and because it is nearer the setting sun, the weather is milder than it is in Britain. To the north-west of Igbernia is the utmost land called Thila[73], which is known to few, on account of its very great distance.

[72] Alfred includes the whole island, now called Great Britain, under one denomination of Brittannia, taking no notice whatever of any of its divisions. Orcadus is unquestionably Orcades, or the islands of Orkney and Shetland.--E.
[73] The Thila or Thule of Alfred, from its direction in respect of Ireland, and its great distance, is obviously Iceland.--E.

§ 14. Having mentioned the boundaries of Europe, I now proceed to state those of Africa. Our ancestors considered this as a third part of the world; not indeed that it contains so much land as the others, because the Mediterranean cuts it, as it were, in two, breaking in more upon the south part than on the north[74]. And because the heat is more intense in the south, than the cold in the north, and because every wight thrives better in cold than in heat, therefore is Africa inferior to Europe, both in the number of its people, and in the extent of its land[75]. The eastern part of Africa, as I said before, begins in the west of Egypt, at the river Nile, and the most eastern country of this continent is Lybia. Ciramacia[76] is to the west of lower Egypt, having the Mediterranean on the north, Libia Ethiopica to the south, and Syrtes Major to the west. To the east of Libia Ethiopica is the farther Egypt, and the sea called Ethiopicum[77]. To the west of Rogathitus[78] is the nation called Tribulitania[79], and the nation called Syrtes Minores, to the north of whom is that part of the Mediterranean called the Hadriatic. To the west again of Bizantium, quite to the salt mere of the Arzuges[80]; this nation has to the east the Syrtes Majores, with the land of Rogathite; and to the south the Natabres, Geothulas, and Garamantes[81], quite to the sea of Bizantium. The sea ports of these nations are Adrumetis and Zuges, and their largest town is Catharina. The country of Numidia has to the east the Syrtes Minores and the salt mere formerly mentioned, to the north the Mediterranean, to the west Mauritania, and to the south the hills of Uzera, and the mountains which extend to Ethiopia, one way, and the Mauritanian sea on the other side. To the east is Numidia, to the north the Mediterranean, to the west the river Malvarius, to the south Astryx, near the mountains which divide the fruitful country from the wild and barren sands which lie southwards towards the Mauritanian sea, by others called the Tingitanean. To the east is the river Malon[82], to the north the hills of Abbenas and Calpri. Another mountain also closes the end of the Mediterranean sea, between the two hills to the west, where stand the pillars of Ercoles or Hercules. To the west again is Mount Atlas, quite to the sea; to the south the hills called AEsperos, and to the south again the nation called Ausolum[83], which inhabits quite to the sea.

[74] This seems to have some obscure reference to an idea, that the sea had disjoined Europe and Africa. But the sense is extremely perplexed and even unintelligible.--E.
[75] It must be noticed, that Alfred was unacquainted with any more of Africa than its northern coast, along the Mediterranean, which explains this erroneous idea of its size being inferior to Europe.--E.
[76] Syrenaica.--E.
[77] The Red Sea, or Ethiopic Gulf. In this part of the geography of Alfred, his translator has left the sense often obscure or contradictory, especially in the directions, which, in this version, have been attempted to be corrected. This may have been owing to errors in the Anglo-Saxon MS. which Barrington professes to have translated literally, and he disclaims any responsibility for the errors of his author.--E.
[78] Probably some corruption of Syrtes Majores, or of Syrenaica.--E.
[79] Tripolitana, now Tripoli.--E.
[80] I can make nothing of this salt lake of the Arzuges, unless it be the lake of Lawdeah, between Tunis and Tripoli. The Getulians and Garamantes are well known ancient inhabitants of the interior of northern Africa; the Natabres are unknown.--E.
[81] The Garamantes are a well known people of the interior of Africa, in ancient geography; of the Natabres I can make nothing; the Geothulas are evidently the Getulians.--E.
[82] Probably the same called just before the Malvarius, and now the Malul. But the geographical description of Africa by Alfred, is so desultory and unarranged as to defy criticism.--E.
[83] Alfred may possibly have heard of the Monselmines who inhabit the north-western extremity of the Sahara, or great African desert, and extend to the Atlantic.--E.

§ 15. Having thus stated the boundaries of Africa, we shall now speak of the islands in the Mediterranean: Cyprus lies opposite to Cilicia, and Isauria on that arm of the sea called Mesicos, being 170 miles long, and 122 miles broad. The island of Crete is opposite to the sea called Artatium, northwest is the sea of Crete, and west is the Sicilian or Adriatic sea. It is 100 miles long, and 150 miles broad. There are fifty-three of the islands called the Cyclades. To the east of them is the Risca Sea, to the south the Cretisca or Cretan, to the north the Egisca or Egean, and to the west the Adriatic. The island of Sicily is triangular, and at each end there are towns. The northern is Petores[84], near which is the town of Messina; the south angle is Lilitem[85], near which is a town of the same name. The island is 157 miles long from east to west, and 70 broad to the eastward. To the north-east is that part of the Mediterranean called the Adriatic, to the south the Apiscan sea, to the west the Tyrrhene sea, and to the north the [86] sea, all of which are narrow and liable to storms. Opposite to Italy, a small arm of the sea divides Sardinia from Corsica, which strait is twenty-two miles broad. To the east of it is that part of the Mediterranean called the Tyrrhenian sea, into which the river Tiber empties itself. To the south is the sea which lies opposite to Numidia. To the west the Balearic islands, and to the north Corsica. The island of Corsica lies directly west from the city of Rome. To the south of Corsica is Sardinia, and Tuscany is to the north. It is sixteen miles long, and nine broad[87]. Africa is to the south of the Balearic islands, Gades to the west, and Spain to the north. Thus I have shortly described the situation of the islands in the Mediterranean.

[84] Faro.
[85] Lillibeum.
[86] The name of this sea is omitted in the MS.--Barr.
[87] These measures are incorrigibly erroneous, or must have been transposed from some other place, having no possible reference to Corsica.--E.

Note.--The subsequent sections of this chapter, although not of much importance in themselves, and some of them possessing rather doubtful authenticity, are inserted in this place on the authority of Hakluyt. In an English general collection of voyages and travels, it would have been improper to have omitted these early specimens, some of which are considerably interesting and curious. In some measure these sections do not strictly belong to the present chapter, as limited to the reign of Alfred, and the ninth century; but as they contain isolated circumstances, which do not otherwise properly arrange themselves into the order of our plan, they may be considered as forming a kind of appendix to the era of Alfred. The number of these might have been considerably increased from different sources, chiefly from Hakluyt, who collected them from the ancient historians; but as they contain hardly any information, except historical, which does not enter into our plan, the selection here given has been deemed quite sufficient for this work.


The Travels of Andrew Leucander, or Whiteman, in the Eleventh Century[1].

[1] Hakluyt, II. 39.

Andrew Leucander, or Whiteman, as his Latinized name is explained by Leland the antiquary, was an English monk, and third abbot of the monastery of Ramsay, who was much addicted to the study of the liberal sciences, devoting incredible exertions, both by day and night, to their cultivation, in which he profited exceedingly. Having a most ardent desire to visit those places where Christ our Saviour had perfected all the mysteries of our redemption, of which he only knew the names in the course of studying the Scriptures, he went from England to the holy city of Jerusalem, where he visited all the places which had been illustrated by the miracles, preaching, and passion of Christ; and on his return to the monastery he was elected abbot. He flourished in the year of our redemption, 1020, under Canute the Dane.


The Voyage of Swanus to Jerusalem in 1052[1].

Swanus or Sweno, one of the sons of Earl Godwin, being of a perverse disposition, and faithless to the king, often quarrelled with his father and his brother Harold; and, becoming a pirate, he disgraced the virtues of his ancestors, by his robberies on the seas. At length, being guilty of the murder of his kinsman Bruno, and, as some report, of his own brother, he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; and on his return towards England, he was intercepted by the Saracens, by whom he was slain.

[1] Hakluyt, II. 39. Malmsb. Lib. II. ch. xiii.


A Voyage of three Ambassadors from England to Constantinople and the East, about the year 1056[2].

[2] Hakluyt, II, 40. Malmsb II. xiii.

Upon the holy festival of Easter, King Edward the Confessor, wearing his royal crown, sat at dinner in his palace of Westminster, surrounded by many of his nobles. While others, after the long abstinence of the lent season, refreshed themselves with dainty viands, on which they fed with much earnestness, he, raising his mind above earthly enjoyments, and meditating on divine things, broke out into excessive laughter, to the great astonishment of his guests. But no one presuming to inquire into the cause of his mirth, all kept silence till dinner was ended. After dinner, when the king had retired to his bed-chamber, to divest himself of his robes, three of his nobles, Earl Harold, an abbot, and a bishop, who were more familiar with him than any of the other courtiers, followed him into the chamber, and boldly asked the reason of his mirth, as it had appeared strange to the whole court that his majesty should break out into unseemly laughter on so solemn a day, while all others were silent. "I saw," said he, "most wonderful things, and therefore did I not laugh without cause." And they, as is customary with all men, became therefore the more anxious to learn the occasion of his mirth, and humbly beseeched him to impart the reason to them. After musing for some time, he at length informed them, that seven sleepers had rested during two hundred years on Mount Ceelius, lying always hitherto on their right sides; but that, in the very moment of his laughter, they had turned themselves over to their left sides, in which posture they should continue asleep for other seventy-four years, being a dire omen of future misery to mankind. For all those things which our Saviour had foretold to his disciples, that were to be fulfilled about the end of the world, should come to pass within those seventy-four years. That nation should rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there would be in many places earthquakes, pestilence, and famine, and terrible apparitions in the heavens, and great signs, with great alterations of dominion; wars of the infidels against the Christians, and victories gained by the Christians over the unbelievers. And, as they wondered at these things, the king explained to them the passion of the seven sleepers, with the shape and proportion of each of their bodies, which wonderful things no man had hitherto committed to writing; and all this in so plain and distinct a manner, as if he had always dwelt along with them.

In consequence of this discourse, the earl sent a knight, the bishop a clerk, and the abbot a monk, as ambassadors to Maniches the emperor of Constantinople, carrying letters and presents from the king. The emperor received them very graciously; and after a friendly entertainment, sent them to the bishop of Ephesus with letters, which they name sacred, commanding him to admit the English ambassadors to see the seven sleepers. And it came to pass, that the prophetic vision of King Edward was approved by all the Greeks, who protested that they were assured by their fathers, that the seven sleepers had always before that time reposed on their right sides; but, upon the entry of the Englishmen into the cave where they lay, their bodies confirmed the truth of the foreign vision and prophecy to their countrymen. Neither were the calamities long delayed, which had been foretold by the king. For the Agareni, Arabians, and Turks, enemies of the people of Christ, invading the country of the Christians, spoiled and destroyed many cities of Syria, Lycia, and the lesser and greater Asias, and, among the rest, depopulated Ephesus, and even the holy city of Jerusalem.


Pilgrimage of Alured, Bishop of Worcester, to Jerusalem, in 1058[1].

In the year of our Lord 1058, Alured, bishop of Worcester, dedicated, with much solemnity, to the honour of St Peter, the prince of the apostles, a church which he had built and endowed in the city of Gloucester; and afterwards having received the royal licence, he ordained Wolstan, a monk of Worcester, to be abbot of this new church. He then left the bishoprick which had been committed to his government, resigning the same to Herman, and, crossing the seas, travelled in pilgrimage through Hungary and other countries, to Jerusalem.

[1] Hakluyt, II. 41. R. Hoveden, fo, 255. line l5.


Pilgrimage of Ingulphus Abbot of Croyland, to Jerusalem, in 1064[1].

[1] Hakluyt, II. 41. Ingulph. Ab. Croyl. apud finem.

I, Ingulphus, an humble minister of St Guthlae, in his monastery of Croyland, born of English parents, in the most beautiful city of London, was, in, my early youth, placed for my education first at Westminster, and afterwards prosecuted my studies at Oxford. Having excelled many of my fellow students in learning Aristotle, I entered upon the study of the first and second rhetoric of Tully. As I grew up towards manhood, I disdained the low estate of my parents, and quitting the dwelling of my father, I much affected to visit the courts of kings, delighting in fine garments and costly attire, And behold William, now our renewed sovereign, then only Earl of Normandy, came, with a splendid retinue to London, to confer with King Edward his kinsman. Intruding myself into his company, I proffered my services for the performance of any speedy or important affairs; and accordingly having executed many commissions with good success, I became known to and much beloved by the illustrious earl, and sailed with him to Normandy. Being there appointed his secretary, I governed his court at my pleasure, though envied by several, abasing whom I thought fit, and preferring others at my will. But, prompted by youthful pride, I began even to be wearied of this place, in which I was advanced so far beyond my birth; and, with an inconstant and over-ambitious mind, I vehemently aspired, on all occasions, to climb to higher elevation.

About this time there spread a report through Normandy, that several archbishops of the empire, and some even of the secular princes, were desirous, for the salvation of their souls, to go in pilgrimage to Jerusalem, there to pay their devotions at the Holy Sepulchre. Upon this, several of us, who were of the household of our lord, the earl, both gentlemen and clerks, of whom I was the principal person, having received permission from the earl, addressed ourselves for the voyage; and, being together thirty horsemen or more, in company, we went into Germany, and joined ourselves to the Archbishop of Mentz. The whole being assembled, the company of this archbishop amounted to seven thousand persons, all properly provided for the expedition; and we travelled prosperously through many provinces, arriving at length at the city of Constantinople. We there did reverence to the Emperor Alexius, visited the church, of Sancta Sophia, and devoutly kissed many sacred relics.

Departing from Constantinople, we travelled through Lycia, where we fell into the hands of Arabian thieves; and after we had been robbed of infinite sums of money, and had lost many of our people, we escaped with extreme peril of our lives, and at length entered joyfully into the most anxiously wished-for city of Jerusalem. We were there received by the most reverend, aged, and holy patriarch Sophronius, with a great melody of cymbals by torch-light, and were conveyed in solemn procession, by a great company of Syrians and Latins, to the church of the Most Holy Sepulchre of our blessed Saviour. Here, how many prayers we uttered, what abundance of tears we shed, what deep sighs we breathed forth, is only known to our Lord Jesus Christ. From the most glorious sepulchre of Christ, we were conducted to visit the other sacred monuments of the holy city; and saw, with weeping eyes, a great number of holy churches and oratories, which Achius the Soldan of Egypt had lately destroyed. And, having deeply bewailed all the ruins of that most holy city, both within and without its walls, and having bestowed money for the re-edifying of some of these, we expressed the most ardent desire to go forth into the country, that we might wash ourselves in the sacred river Jordan, and that we might visit and kiss all the holy footsteps of the blessed Redeemer. But the Arabian robbers, who lurked in every part of the country, would not suffer us to travel far from the city, on account of their numbers and savage manners.

About the spring of the year, there arrived a fleet of ships from, Genoa, at the port of Joppa; and when the Christian merchants had exchanged all their commodities in the towns upon the coast, and had likewise visited the holy places, we all embarked. After being tossed about upon the seas by many storms and tempests, we landed at Brundusium; whence, with a prosperous journey, we travelled through Apulia to Rome, where we visited the habitations of the holy apostles St Peter and St Paul, and performed our devotions at various monuments of the holy, martyrs in different parts of the city. From thence, the archbishops and other princes of the empire Journeyed towards the right hand for Germany, while we declined to the left hand into France, taking our leaves of each other with indescribable courtesey and kindly greeting. And at length, of thirty horsemen of us who went from Normandy fat and lusty, scarce twenty poor pilgrims returned, all on foot, and reduced almost to skeletons with fatigue and hardships.


Original Discovery of Greenland by the Icelanders.[1]

[1] Forster, Voy. and Disc. 79.

Although the discoveries contained in this and the next subsequent chapter were certainty preceded, in point of time, by the voyages of the two Mahomedans, in Chap. IV. and the insertion of these two chapters, II. and III. in this place may therefore be considered as a deviation from the chronological order of our plan; it seemed proper and even necessary, that they should be both introduced here, as presenting an unbroken series of the discoveries of the Norwegians, and as fully authorized by the geographical principles of our arrangement.

Among the many petty sovereigns, vikingr or chieftans of Norway, who had been reduced to subjection by Harold Harfagr, or the fair-haired, was one named Thorer. Thorwald, the relative of this person, had lived at the court of Earl Hayne, whence he had been obliged to fly, on account of having committed a murder, and went to Iceland, where he settled a considerable track of country with a new colony. Eric-raude, or red-head, the son of Thorwald, was long persecuted by a powerful neighbour named Eyolf Saur, because Eric had killed some of Eyolf's servants; and at length Eric killed Eyolf likewise. For this and other crimes he was condemned to go into banishment for three years; and knowing that a man named Gunbiorn had previously discovered certain banks to the west of Iceland, named from him Gunbiorn's Schieran, or Gunbar banks, and likewise a country of considerable extent still farther to the westwards, he determined on making a voyage of discovery to that country. Setting sail therefore from Iceland, he soon fell in with a point of land called Hirjalfs-ness; and continuing his voyage to the south-west he entered a large inlet, to which he gave the name of Erics-sound, and passed the winter on a pleasant island in that neighbourhood. In the following year he explored the continent; and returning to Iceland in the third year, he represented his new discovery in the fairest light, bestowing lavish praises on the rich meadows, fine woods, and plentiful fisheries of the country, which he called Greenland, that he might induce a considerable number of people to join with him in colonizing this new country. Accordingly, there set out for this place twenty-five vessels, carrying people of both sexes, household furniture, implements of all kinds, and cattle for breeding, of which only fourteen vessels arrived in safety. These first colonists were soon followed by many more, both from Iceland and Norway; and in a few years their number is said to have increased so much, as to occupy both the eastern and western coasts of Greenland.

This is the ordinary and best authenticated account of the discovery and settlement of Old Greenland, which rests on the credit of the great northern historian, Snorro Sturleson, judge of Iceland, who wrote in the year 1215. Yet others assert that Greenland had been known long before, and ground their assertion on letters-patent from the Emperor Lewis the Pious in 834, and a bull of Gregory IV. in 835, in which permission is given to Archbishop Ansgar to convert the Sueones, Danes, Sclavonians; and it is added, the Norwaehers, Farriers, Greenlanders, Halsingalanders, Icelanders, and Scridevinds. Even allowing both charter and bull to be genuine, it is probable that the copy which has come down to our time is interpolated, and that for Gronlandon and Islandon, we ought to read Quenlandon and Hitlandon, meaning the Finlanders and Hitlanders: Quenland being the old name of Finland, and Hitland or Hialtaland the Norwegian name of the Shetland islands. It is even not improbable that all the names in these ancient deeds after the Sueones, Danes, and Sclavonians, had been interpolated in a later period; as St Rembert, the immediate successor of Ansgar, and who wrote his life, only mentions the Sueones, Danes, and Sclavonians, together with other nations in the north; and even Adam of Bremen only mentions these three, and other neighbouring and surrounding nations[2]. Hence the authority of St Rembert and Snorro Sturleson remains firm and unshaken, in spite of these falsified copies of the papal bull and imperial patent; and we may rest assured that Iceland was not discovered before 861, nor inhabited before 874; and that Greenland could hardly have been discovered previous to 982, or 983, and was not inhabited before 985 or 986.-->Forst.

[2] Vit. S. Anscharii, ap. Langeb. Script. Dan. I. 451. Ad. Brem. Hist. Eccles. Lib. I. cap. 17.


Early Discovery of Winland by the Icelanders, about A.D. 1001.[1]

[1] Forster, Hist. of Disc. in the North, 82.

The passion which the Nordmen or Normans had always manifested for maritime expeditions, still prevailed among them in the cold and inhospitable regions of Iceland and Greenland. An Icelander, named Herjolf, was accustomed to make a trading voyage every year to different countries, in which latterly he was accompanied by his son, Biorn. About the year 1001, their ships were separated by a storm, and Biorn learned on his arrival in Norway that his father had sailed for Greenland, to which place he resolved to follow his father; but another storm drove him a great way to the south-west of his intended course, and he fell in with an extensive flat country covered all over with thick woods; and just as he set out on his return, he discovered an island on the coast. He made no stay at either of these places; but the wind being now fallen, he made all the haste he could to return by a north-east course to Greenland, where he reported the discovery which he had made.

Lief, the son of Eric-raude, who inherited from his father an inordinate desire of distinguishing himself by making discoveries and planting colonies, immediately fitted out a vessel carrying thirty-five men; and taking Biorn along with him, set sail in quest of this newly discovered country. The first land discovered in this voyage was barren and rocky, on which account Lief gave it the name of Helleland, or Rockland. Proceeding farther, they came to a low coast having a sandy soil, which was overgrown with wood, for which reason it was called Mark-land, or the Woody-land. Two days after this they again saw land, having an island lying opposite to its northern coast; and on the mainland they discovered the mouth of a river, up which they sailed. The bushes on the banks of this river bore sweet berries; the temperature of the air was mild, the soil fertile[2], and the river abounded in fish, particularly in excellent salmon. Continuing to sail up the river, they came to a lake, out of which the river took its rise; and here they passed the winter. In the shortest day of winter, the sun remained eight hours above the horizon; and consequently the longest day, exclusive of the dawn and twilight, must have been sixteen hours. From this circumstance it follows, that the place in which they were was in about 49° of north latitude; and as they arrived by a south-westerly course from Old Greenland, after having cleared Cape Farewell, it must either have been the river Gander or the Bay of Exploits, in the island now called Newfoundland. It could not be on the northern coast of the Gulf of St Lawrence; as in that case, they must have navigated through the straits of Belleisle, which could not have escaped their notice. In this place they erected several huts for their accommodation during winter; and they one day found in the thickets a German named Tyrker, one of their own people, who had wandered among the woods and been missing for some time. While absent, he had subsisted upon wild grapes, from which he told them that in his country they used to make wine; and from this circumstance Lief called the country Winland det gode, or Wine-land the good[3].

[2] Every quality must be judged of by comparison; and, contrasted with the inhospitable regions of Iceland and Greenland, in lat. 65°, this country, which was as far south as even beyond the south of England, must have appeared admirable.--E.
[3] It is true that grapes grow wild in Canada which are very good to eat, yet no one has ever been able to make good wine from their juice. Whether these wild grapes are found in Newfoundland I know not. The species of vines which grow in North America, are named by Linnaeus, Vitis labrusca, vulpina, and arborea.--Forst.

The propriety of the names imposed by the Norwegians on their new discoveries is admirable. Iceland, Greenland, Helleland, Markland, Winland, and many others; which are perfectly philosophical, excellently systematic, and infinitely preferable to the modern clumsy appellations, New Britain, New France, New England, New Holland, Sandwich Islands, Society islands, and a multitude of much worse names.--E.

In the following spring they returned to Greenland; and Thorwald, Lief's maternal grandfather, made a trip with the same crew that had attended his grandson, in order to make farther advances in this new discovery; and it is not at all to be wondered at, if people of every rank were eager to discover a better habitation than the miserable coast of Greenland, and the little less dreary island of Iceland. In this voyage the coast of the newly discovered land was examined towards the west, or rather the north-west. Next summer Lief sailed again to Winland, and explored the coast to the east or south-east. The coast was so much covered with wood and beset with islands, that they could not perceive a human creature, or animals of any kind. In the third summer they examined the islands on the coast of Winland, and so damaged their ship that they found it necessary to build a new one, laying up their old vessel on a promontory, to which they gave the name of Kiaeler-ness. In their new vessel they proceeded to examine the eastern or south-eastern shore of Winland, and in their progress they fell in with three boats covered with hides, having three men in each. These they seized, but one man found means to escape from them, and they wantonly butchered all the rest. Soon after this they were attacked by a great number of the natives, armed with bows and arrows, from which they screened themselves in their ship with a fence of planks; and they defended themselves with so much spirit that their enemies were forced to retire, after giving them battle for an hour. Thorwald received a severe wound from an arrow in this skirmish, of which he died; and over his grave, on a cape or promontory, two crosses were erected at his request; from which the cape was called Krossa-ness, or Cross Point.

To the natives of Winland, the Icelanders gave the name of Skraellinger, signifying cuttings or dwarfs, on account of their being of very low stature. These were probably the ancestors of the present Eskimaux, who are the same people with the Greenlanders, and are called Eskimantsik in the language of the Abenaki, on account of their eating raw fish; in the same manner as the Russians, in their official state papers, call the Samojeds Sirojed'zi, because they also eat raw and frozen fish and flesh.

In the same year Thorstein, the third son of Eric-raude, set sail for Winland, taking with him his wife, Gudridthe daughter of Thorbern, with his children and servants, amounting in all to twenty-five persons; but they were forced by a storm on the western coast of Greenland, where they were obliged to spend the winter, and where Thorstein died, with a large proportion of his retinue, probably of the scurvy. Next spring Gudrid took the dead body of her husband home; and Thorfin, surnamed Kallsefner, an Icelander of some consequence, descended from King Regner-Lodbrok, married the widow of Thorstein, from which he considered himself entitled to the possession of the newly discovered country. He accordingly sailed for Winland with a vast quantity of household furniture, implements of all kinds, and several cattle, and accompanied by sixty-five men and five women, with whom he began to establish a regular colony. He was immediately visited by the Skraellingers, who bartered with him, giving the most valuable furs for such wares as the Icelanders had to give in exchange. The natives would willingly have purchased the weapons of the Icelanders, but this was expressly and judiciously forbidden by Thorfin. Yet one of them found means to steal a battle-ax, of which he immediately made a trial on one of his countrymen, whom he killed with one blow; on which a third person seized the mischievous weapon and threw it into the sea. During a stay of three years, Thorfin acquired a large stock of rich furs and other merchandize, with which he returned to Greenland; and at length removing to Iceland, he purchased an estate in the northern part of Syssel, and built a very elegant house which he called Glaumba. After his death, his widow Gudrid made a pilgrimage to Rome, whence she returned, and ended her days in a nunnery in Iceland, which was built for her by her son Snorro, who was born in Winland.

Sometime afterwards, Finbog and Helgo, two Icelanders, fitted out two ships, carrying thirty men, with which they made a voyage to Winland. In this expedition they were accompanied by Freidis, the daughter of Eric-raude; but by the turbulence of her disposition, she occasioned many divisions and quarrels in the infant colony, in one of which Finbog and Helgo were both killed, together with thirty of their followers. Upon this Freidis returned to Greenland, where she lived for some time universally detested and despised, and died in the utmost misery. The remaining colonists were dispersed, and nothing farther that can be depended on remains on record concerning them. Even the Icelandic colony in Greenland has disappeared, and the eastern coast, on which especially it was settled, has become long inaccessible, in consequence of the immense accumulation of ice in the straits between it and Iceland. To this it may be added, that, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, a prodigious number of people were carried off in Norway and Iceland by a disease or pestilence called the Black Death; probably the scurvy in its worst state, occasioned by a succession of inclement seasons and extreme scarcity, impelling the famished people to satisfy the craving of hunger upon unwholesome food. Deprived of all assistance from Iceland and Norway, the colonists of Greenland and Winland were in all probability extirpated by the continual hostilities of the Skraellingers, or Eskimaux; and the fabulous idea of any remnant of those in Winland having still an existence in the interior of Newfoundland, is entirely unworthy of any consideration.


Travels of two Mahomedans in India and China, in the Ninth Century.[1]

[1] Translation from Renaudot, 8vo. Lond. 1733. See likewise Harris, I. 522.


This curious remnant of antiquity was translated from the Arabic, and published in 1718, by Eusebius Renaudot, a learned Member of the French Academy, and of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres. It is not known by whom the travels were actually performed, neither can their exact date be ascertained, as the commencement of the MS. which was translated by Renaudot was imperfect; but it appears to have been written in the 237th year of the Hegira, or in the year 851 of the Christian era. Though entitled the travels of two Mahomedans, the travels seem to have been mostly performed by one person only; the latter portion being chiefly a commentary upon the former, and appears to have been the work of one Abu Zeid al Hasan of Siraf, and to have been written about the 803d year of the Hegira, or A.D. 915. In this commentary, indeed, some report is given of the travels of another Mahomedan into China. The MS. employed by Renaudot belonged to the library of the Count de Seignelay, and appears to have been written in the year 619 of the Hegira, or A.D. 1173. The great value of this work is, that it contains the very earliest account of China, penned above four hundred years earlier than the travels of Marco Polo, who was esteemed the first author on the subject before this publication appeared.

There are many curious and remarkable passages in these travels, which convey information respecting customs and events that are nowhere else to be found; and though some of these carry a fabulous appearance, the greatest part of them have been confirmed and justified by the best writers in succeeding ages. The first portion, or the actual narrative, begins abruptly, on account of some portion of the original manuscript being lost, which would probably have given the name and country of the author, and the date and occasion of his voyage.

In the accompanying commentary by Abu Zeid, we are informed that the date of the narrative was of the Hegira 237, A.D. 851, which circumstance was probably contained in the missing part of the manuscript; but though written then, it is probable that the first journey of the author was undertaken at least twenty years before that date, or in 831, as he observes, that he made a second journey into the same countries sixteen years afterwards, and we may allow four years for the time spent in the two journies, and the intervening space, besides the delay of composition after his last return. Though not mentioned, it is probable his travels were undertaken for the purpose of trade, as we can hardly suppose him to have twice visited those distant countries merely for the satisfaction of curiosity.

With regard to the second treatise or commentary, it seems probable, that when the affairs of China became better known, some prince or person of distinction had desired Abu Zeid to examine the former relation, and to inform him how far the facts of the original work were confirmed by succeeding accounts. The date of the commentary is not certainly ascertainable; yet it appears, that Eben Wahab travelled into China A.H. 285. A.D. 898, and that Abu Zeid had conversed with this man after his return, and had received from him the facts which are inserted in his discourse, which therefore is probably only sixty or seventy years posterior to the actual treatise of the nameless traveller.


Original Account of India and China, by a Mahomedan Traveller of the Ninth Century.

The third of the seas we have to mention is that of Herkend[1]. Between this sea and that of Delarowi there are many islands, said to be in number 1900, which divide those two seas from each other[2], and are governed by a queen[3]. Among these islands they find ambergris in lumps of extraordinary bigness, and also in smaller pieces, which resemble plants torn up. This amber is produced at the bottom of the sea, in the same manner as plants are produced upon the earth; and when the sea is tempestuous, it is torn up from the bottom by the violence of the waves, and washed to the shore in the form of a mushroom or truffle. These islands are full of that species of palm tree which bears the cocoa nuts, and they are from one to four leagues distant from each other, all inhabited. The wealth of the inhabitants consists in shells, of which even the royal treasury is full. The workmen in these islands are exceedingly expert, and make shirts and vests, or tunics, all of one piece, of the fibres of the cocoa nut. Of the same tree they build ships and houses, and they are skilful in all other workmanships. Their shells they have from the sea at certain times, when they rise up to the surface, and the inhabitants throw branches of the cocoa nut tree into the water, to which the shells stick. These shells they call Kaptaje.

[1] This is probably the sea about the Maldives, which, according to the eastern geographers, divides that part of the Indian Ocean from the sea of Delarowi, or the Magnus Sinus of the ancients. The eastern writers often speak of the Seven Seas, which seems rather a proverbial phrase, than a geographical definition. These are the seas of China, India, Persia, Kolzoum, or the Red Sea, of Rum or Greece, which is the Mediterranean, Alehozar or the Caspian, Pont or the Euxine. The sea of India is often called the Green Sea, and the Persian Gulf the sea of Bassora. The Ocean is called Bahr Mahit.--Harris.
[2] Male-dive signifies, in the Malabar language, a thousand isles.--E.
[3] The subsequent accounts of these islands do not justify this particular sentence, if the author meant that they were always governed by a queen. It might be so in this time by accident, and one queen might have succeeded another, as Queen Elizabeth did Queen Mary.--Harris.

Beyond these islands, and in the sea of Herkend, is Serendib[4] or Ceylon, the chief of all these islands, which are called Dobijat. It is entirely surrounded by the sea, and on its coast they fish for pearls. In this country there is a mountain called Rahun, to the top of which Adam is said to have ascended, where he left the print of his foot, seventy cubits long, on a rock, and they say his other foot stood in the sea at the same time. About this mountain there are mines of rubies, opals, and amethysts. This island is of great extent, and has two kings; and it produces aloes wood, gold, precious stones, and pearls, which last are fished for on the coast; and there are also found a kind of large shells, which are used for trumpets, and much esteemed. In the same sea, towards Serendib, there are other islands, not so many in number as those formerly mentioned, but of vast extent, and unknown. One of these is called Ramni, which is divided among a number of princes, and in it is found plenty of gold. The inhabitants have cocoa nut trees, which supply them with food, and with which also they paint their bodies, and oil themselves. The custom of the country is, that no man can marry till he has killed an enemy, and brought off his head. If he has killed two he claims two wives, and if he has slain fifty he may have fifty wives. This custom proceeds from the number of enemies with which they are surrounded, so that he who kills the greatest number is the most considered. These islands of Ramni abound with elephants, red-wood, and trees called Chairzan, and the inhabitants eat human flesh.

[4] This is the Taprobana of the ancients, and has received many names. In Cosmas Indicopleustes, it is called Sielendiba, which is merely a Grecian corruption of Sielea-dive, or Sielen island; whence the modern name of Ceylon.--E.

These islands separate the sea of Herkend from the sea of Shelabet, and beyond them are others called Najabalus, which are pretty well peopled, both men and women going naked, except that the women wear aprons made of leaves. When shipping goes among these islands, the inhabitants come off in boats, bringing with them ambergris and cocoa nuts, which they barter for iron; for, being free from the inconveniencies either of extreme heat or cold they want no clothing. Beyond these two islands is the sea of Andaman. The people on this coast eat human flesh quite raw; their complexion is black, with frizzled hair, their countenance and eyes frightful, their feet very large, almost a cubit in length, and they go quite naked. They have no sort of barks or other vessels, or they would seize and devour all the passengers they could lay their hands upon. When ships have been kept back by contrary winds, and are obliged to anchor on this barbarous coast, for procuring water, they commonly lose some of their men.

Beyond this there is an inhabited mountainous island, which is said to contain mines of silver; but as it does not lie in the usual track of shipping, many have searched for it in vain, though remarkable for a very lofty mountain called Kashenai. A ship, sailing in its latitude, once got sight of this mountain, and steered for the coast, where some people were sent on shore to cut wood: The men kindled a fire, from which there ran out some melted silver, on which they concluded that there must have been a silver mine in the place, and they shipped a considerable quantity of the earth or ore; but they encountered a terrible storm on their voyage back, and were forced to throw all their ore overboard to lighten the vessel. Since that time the mountain has been several times carefully sought for, but no one has ever been able to find it again. There are many such islands in those seas, more in number than can be reckoned; some inaccessible by seamen, and some unknown to them.

It often happens in these seas that a whitish cloud suddenly appears over-head, which lets down a long thin tongue or spout, quite to the surface of the water, which is then turned swiftly round as if by a whirlwind, and if a vessel happens to be in the way, she is immediately swallowed up in the vortex. At length this cloud mounts up again and discharges itself in prodigious rain; but it is not known whether this water is sucked up by the cloud, or how this phenomenon comes to pass. All these seas are subject to prodigious storms, which make them boil up like water over a fire; at which times the waves dash the ships against the islands with unspeakable violence, to their utter destruction; and even fish; of all sizes are thrown dead on shore, against the rocks, by the extreme agitation of the sea. The wind which commonly blows upon the sea of Herkend is from a different quarter, or from the N.W.; but this sea is likewise subject to as violent agitations as those just mentioned, and there ambergris is torn up from the bottom, particularly where it is very deep; and the deeper the sea so much the more valuable is the ambergris which it produces. It is likewise observed, that when this sea is tossed by tempestuous winds it sparkles like fire; and it is infested with a certain kind of fish called Lockham, which frequently preys upon men[5].

[5] This is probably the shark, which is common on all the coasts of India. There was a portion of the MS. wanting at this place; wherein the author treated of the trade to China as it was carried on in his time, and of the causes which had brought it into a declining condition. --Renaud.

Among other circumstances, the fires which frequently happen at Canfu are not the least remarkable. Canfu is the port of all the ships of the Arabs who trade to China, and fires are there very frequent, because all the houses are of wood or of split canes; besides, ships are often lost in going and coming, or they are plundered, or obliged to make too long a stay in harbours, or to sell their goods out of the country subject to the Arabs, and there to make up their cargoes. In short, ships are under a necessity of wasting much time in refitting, and many other causes of delay. Soliman[6] the merchant, writes, that at Canfu, which is a principal staple of merchants, there is a Mahomedan judge appointed by the emperor of China, who is authorized to judge in every cause which arises among the Mahomedans who resort to these parts. Upon festival days he performs the public services of religion to the Mahomedans, and pronounces the usual sermon or Kotbat, which he concludes with the usual form of prayers for the sultan of the Moslems. The merchants of Irak or Persia, who trade to Canfu, are no way dissatisfied with the conduct of this judge in the administration of his office, because his decisions are just and equitable, and conformable to the Koran.

[6] Perhaps some account of this Soliman might be contained in the lost pages: But the circumstance of a Mahomedan judge or consul at Canfu is a circumstance worthy of notice, and shews that the Mahomedans had carried on a regular and settled trade with China for a considerable time, and were in high estimation in that country.--Renaud.

Respecting the places whence ships depart and those they touch at, many persons affirm that the navigation is performed in the following order: Most of the Chinese ships take in their cargoes at Siraff[7], where also they ship their goods which come from Basra, Oman, and other ports; and this is done because there are frequent storms and many shallows in those seas. From Basra to Siraff is an hundred and twenty leagues; and when ships have loaded at this latter place they take in water there also. From thence they sail to a place called Mascat, in the extremity of the province of Oman, which is about two hundred leagues from Siraff. On the east coast of this sea, between Siraff and Mascat, is a place called Nasir Bani al Sasack, and an island called Ebn Kahowan, and in this sea there are rocks called Oman, and a narrow strait called Dordur between two rocks, through which ships often venture to pass, but the Chinese snips dare not. There are also two rocks called Kossir and Howare, which scarce appear above the water's edge. After they are clear of these rocks, they steer to a place called Shitu Oman, and take in water at Muscat, which is drawn up from wells, and are here also supplied with cattle from the province of Oman. From Mascat the ships take their departure for India, and first touch at Kaucammali, which is a month's sail from Mascat with a fair wind. This is a frontier place, and the chief arsenal in the province of that name; and here the Chinese ships put in and are in safety, and procure fresh water. The Chinese ships pay here a thousand drams for duties, whereas others pay only from one dinar to ten. From thence they begin to enter the sea of Herkend, and having sailed through it, they touch at a place called Lajabalus, where the inhabitants do not understand Arabic, or any other language in use among merchants. They wear no clothes, are white, and weak in their feet. It is said their women are not to be seen, and that the men leave the island in canoes, hollowed out of one piece, to go in quest of them, and carry them cocoa nuts, mousa, and palm wine. This last liquor is white, and when drank fresh is sweet like honey, and has the taste of cocoa nut milk; if kept some time, it becomes as strong as wine, but after some days changes to vinegar. These people give this wine, and the small quantities of amber which is thrown up on their coasts, for bits of iron, the bargains being made by signs; but they are extremely alert, and are very apt to carry off iron from the merchants without making any return.

[7] It is difficult at this distance of time to ascertain the rout laid down by this author, on account of the changes of names. This mart of Siraff is not to be met with in any of our maps; but it is said by the Arabian geographers to have been in the gulf of Persia, about sixty leagues from Shiraz; and that on its decay, the trade was transferred to Ormuz.--Renaud.

From Lajabalus the ships steer for Calabar, the name of a kingdom on the right hand beyond the Indies, which depends on the kingdom of Zabage, bar signifying a coast in the language of the country. The inhabitants are dressed in those sorts of striped garments which the Arabs call Fauta, and they commonly wear only one at a time, which fashion is common to people of all ranks. At this place they take in water, which is drawn from wells that are fed by springs, and which is preferred to that which is procured from cisterns or tanks. Calabar is about a month's voyage from a place called Kaukam, which is almost upon the skirts of the sea of Herkend. In ten days after this, ships reach Betuma, from whence, in ten days more, they come to Kadrange. In all the islands and peninsulas of the Indies, water is to be found by digging. In this last mentioned place there is a very lofty mountain, which is entirely inhabited by slaves and fugitives. From thence, in ten days, they arrive at Senef, where is fresh water, and from whence comes the aromatic wood which we call Hud al Senefi. Here is a king; the inhabitants are black, and they wear two striped garments. Having watered at this place, it is ten days passage to Sanderfulat, an island which has fresh water. They then steer through the sea of Sanji, and so to the gates of China; for so they call certain rocks and shallows which form a narrow strait in that sea, through which the ships are obliged to pass. It requires a month to sail from Sanderfulat to China, and it takes eight whole days to steer through among the rocks and shoals.

When a ship has got through the before mentioned gates, she goes with the flood tide into a fresh water gulf, and drops anchor in the chief port of China, which is called Canfu[8], where they have fresh water, both from springs and rivers, as also in most of the other cities of China. The city is adorned with large squares, and is supplied with every thing necessary for defence against an enemy, and in most of the other provinces of the empire there are cities of strength similarly fortified. In this port the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours; but, whereas from Basra to the island of Bani Kahouan it flows when the moon is at full, and ebbs when she rises and when she sets; from near Bani Kahouan quite to the coast of China it is flood tide when the moon rises, and ebb when she is at her height; and so on the contrary, when she sets, it is flowing water, and when she is quite hidden under the horizon, the tide falls.

[8] It is probable, or rather certain, that Canton is here meant.--E.

They say, that in the island of Muljan, between Serendib and Cala, on the eastern shore of the Indies, there are negroes who go quite naked; and when they meet a stranger they hang him up by the heels and slice him into pieces, which they eat quite raw. These negroes, who have no king, feed chiefly on fish, mousa, cocoa nuts, and sugar canes. It is reported, that in some parts of this sea, there is a small kind of fish which flies above the water, and is called the sea locust; that in another part, there is a fish which, leaving the sea, gets up into the cocoa nut trees, and having drained them of their juices, returns to the sea; and it is added, that there is a fish like a lobster or crab, which petrifies as soon as it is taken out of its element, and that when pulverized it is a good remedy for several diseases of the eyes. They say also, that near Zabage there is a volcanic mountain which cannot be approached, which sends forth a thick smoke by day, and throws out flames at night; at the foot of which are two springs of fresh water, one hot and the other cold.

The Chinese are dressed in silk garments, both in summer and winter, and this dress is common both to the prince and peasant. In winter, they wear drawers of a particular make, which reach to their feet, and of these, they put on two, three, four, five, or more, one over the other, if they can afford it; and are very careful to be covered quite down to their feet, because of the damps, which are very great, and of which they are extremely apprehensive. In summer they only wear a single garment of silk, or some such light dress, but they have no turbans. Their common food is rice, which they eat frequently with a broth made of meat or fish, like that used by the Arabs, and which they pour upon the rice. Their kings eat wheaten bread, and the flesh of all kinds of animals, not excepting swine, and some others not used by us. They have several sorts of fruits, as apples, lemons, quinces, moulats, sugar canes, citruls, figs, grapes, cucumbers of two sorts, trees, which produce a substance like meal, walnuts, almonds, filberts, pistachios, plumbs, apricots, services, and cocoa nuts, but no store of palms, of which they have only a few about private houses. Their drink is a kind of wine made of rice, having no other wine in the country, neither is any other imported by them. They do not even know what wine is, nor will they drink of it. They have vinegar also, and a kind of comfit, like that called Natef by the Arabs and some others.

The Chinese are by no means nice in point of cleanliness, not washing with water when they ease nature but only wiping with paper. They do not scruple to eat of animals which have died, and they practise many other things like the Magians[9]; and in truth, the two religions are much similar. Their women appear uncovered, and adorn their heads with many small ivory combs, of which they wear sometimes a score at one time. The heads of the men are covered by a cap, of a particular make. Thieves are put to death as soon as caught.

[9] Meaning the Parsees or Guebres, the fire-worshippers of Persia.--E.

The Indians and Chinese agree that there are four great or principal kings in the world, all of them allowing that the king of the Arabs is the first and most powerful of kings, the most wealthy, and the most excellent every way, because he is the prince and head of a great religion, and because no other surpasses him. The Emperor of China reckons himself next after the king of the Arabs, after him the king of the Greeks, and lastly the Balhara[10], or king of the Moharmi al Adon, or people who have their ears bored. The Balhara is the most illustrious sovereign in all the Indies, and though all the other kings in India are masters and independent each in their own dominions, they thus so far acknowledge his preeminence, that when he sends ambassadors to the other princes, they are received with extraordinary honours. This king makes magnificent presents after the manner of the Arabs, and has vast numbers of horses and elephants, and great treasures in money. His silver coin is what we call Thartarian drams, being equal to one and a half of the Arabian dram. They are coined with the die of the prince, and bear the year of his reign, counting from the last year of the reign of his predecessor. They compute not their years from the era of Mahomed, like the Arabs, but only by the years of their successive kings. Most of these princes live a long time, many of them having reigned above fifty years; and those of the country believe that the length of their lives and reigns is granted in recompence of their kindness to the Arabs; for there are no princes more heartily affectionate to the Arabs, and their subjects profess the same kindness for us. Balhara is not a proper name, but an appellative, common to all those kings, like Cosroes and some others. The country under the dominion of the prince begins on the coast of the province called Kamcam, and reaches by land to the confines of China. He is surrounded by the dominions of many kings, who are at war with him, yet he never marches against them.

[10] It is probable that this Balhara, or king of the people with bored ears, which plainly means the Indians, was the Zamorin or Emperor of Calicut; who, according to the reports of the most ancient Portuguese writers concerning India, was acknowledged as a kind of emperor in the Indies, six hundred years before they discovered the route to India by the Cape of Good Hope.--Harris.

The original editor of this voyage in English, Harris, is certainly mistaken in this point. The Balhara was the sovereign of Southern Seindetic India; of which dominion Guzerat was the principal province.--E.

One of these is the king of Harez, who has very numerous forces, and is stronger in cavalry than all the other princes of the Indies. He is an enemy to the Arabs, neither is there any prince in India who has a greater aversion to the Mahomedans; though he confesses their king to be the greatest of princes. His dominions are on a promontory, where are much riches, many camels, and abundance of other cattle. The inhabitants traffic for silver, and they say there are mines of that metal on the continent. There are no robbers in this country, nor in the rest of the Indies. On one side of this country is that of Tafek, which is not of very great extent. This king has the finest white women in all the Indies; but he is awed by the kings about him, as his army is very small. He has a great affection for the Arabs as well as the Balhara. These kingdoms border upon the lands of a king called Rami, who is at war with the king of Harez, and with the Balhara likewise. This prince is not much considered, either for the dignity of his birth or the antiquity of his kingdom; but his forces are more numerous than those of the Balhara, and even than those of the kings of Harez and Tafek. It is said that he appears in the field at the head of fifty thousand elephants, and commonly marches in the rainy season, because his elephants cannot move at any other time, as they are unable to bear thirst. His army is said commonly to contain from ten to fifteen thousand tents. In this country they make cotton garments of such extraordinary fineness and perfection, as is to be seen nowhere else. These garments are mostly round, and are wove so extremely fine, that they may be drawn through a moderately sized ring. Shells are current in this country as small money; and they have abundance of gold and silver, aloes wood, and sable skins, of which they make their horse-furniture.

In this country is the famous Karkandan, that is the rhinoceros, or unicorn, which has but one horn on his forehead, on which there is a round spot with the representation of a man; the whole horn being black, except the spot in the middle which is white. The rhinoceros is much smaller than the elephant, and resembles the buffalo from the neck downwards, and excels all other creatures in extraordinary strength. His leg is all one thickness, from the shoulder to the foot, and the hoof is not cloven. The elephant flies from the rhinoceros, whose lowing is like that of an ox, with something of the cry of the camel. His flesh is not forbidden, and we have eaten of it; There are great numbers of this creature in the fens of this country, as also in all the other provinces of India; but the horns of these are most esteemed, having generally upon them the figures of men, peacocks, fishes and other resemblances. The Chinese adorn their girdles with these sorts of figures, so that some of their girdles are worth two or three thousand pieces of gold in China, and sometimes more, the price augmenting with the beauty of the figures. All these things are to be purchased in the kingdom of Rahmi, for shells, which are the current money of the country.

After this country, there is an inland state distant from the coast, and called Kaschbin, of which the inhabitants are white, and bore their ears. They have camels, and their country is for the most part desert, and full of mountains. Farther on the coast, there is a small kingdom called Hitrange, which is very poor; but in its bay, the sea throws up great quantities of ambergris, and they have elephants teeth and pepper; but the inhabitants eat this last green, because of the small quantity they gather. Beyond these, there are other kingdoms, but their numbers and names are unknown. Among these is one named Mujet, the inhabitants of which are white and dress after the Chinese manner; their country is full of mountains, having white tops, and of very great extent, in which there are great quantities of musk; esteemed the most exquisite of any in the world. They have continual war with all the surrounding kingdoms; The kingdom of Mabet is beyond that of Mujet, wherein are many cities, and the inhabitants have even a greater resemblance to the Chinese than those of Mujet; for they have officers or eunuchs like those who govern the cities among the Chinese. The country of Mabet borders upon China, and is at peace with the emperor, but not subject to him. The king of Mabet sends ambassadors every year with presents to the emperor of China, who in return sends ambassadors and presents to Mabet. But when the ambassadors of Mabet enter China, they are very carefully watched, lest they should survey the country, and form designs of conquest; which would be no difficult matter, as their country is very extensive, and extremely populous, and as they are only divided from China by rocks and mountains.

It is said that, in the country of China, there are above two hundred cities having jurisdiction over others, each of which has a governor and an eunuch or lieutenant. Canfu is one of these cities, being the port for all shipping, and has jurisdiction over twenty towns. A town is raised, to the dignity of a city, by the grant of certain large trumpets. These are three or four cubits in length, and as large about as can be grasped by both hands, growing smaller towards the end which is fitted to the mouth. On the outside, they are adorned with Chinese ink, and may be heard at the distance of a mile. Each city has four gates, at each of which five of these trumpets are stationed, which are sounded at certain hours of the day and night. There are also ten drums in each city, which are beaten at the same times; and this is done as a public token of obedience to the emperor, and to point out the hours of the day and night to the inhabitants; and for ascertaining the time; they have sun dials, and clocks with weights[11].

[11] This is a very early notice of the construction and use of clocks, or machinery to indicate divisions of time, by means of weights.--E.

In China they use a great quantity of copper money, like that named falus by the Arabians, which is the only sort of small money, and is current all over the country, and is indeed the only current coin. Yet their emperor has treasures like other kings, containing abundance of gold and silver, with jewels, pearls, silk, and vast quantities of rich stuffs of all kinds, which are only considered as moveables or merchandize; and from foreign commerce they derive ivory, frankincense, copper in bars, tortoise shell, and unicorns horns, with which they adorn their girdles. Of animals they have abundance, particularly of beasts of burden; such as oxen, horses, asses, and camels; but they have no Arabian horses. They have an excellent kind of earth, of which they make a species of ware equal in fineness to glass, and almost equally transparent. When merchants arrive at Canfu, the Chinese seize their cargoes, which they convey to warehouses, where the goods are detained six months, until the last merchant ship of the season has arrived; they then detain three parts in ten of every species of commodity, or thirty per cent as duty, and return the rest to the merchants. Besides which, if the emperor has a mind for any particular article, his officers have a right of taking it in preference to any other person, paying for it, however, to the utmost value; and they dispatch this business with great expedition, and without the least injustice. They commonly take the whole importation of camphor, on the account of the emperor, and pay for it at the rate of fifty fakuges per man, each fakuge being worth a thousand falus, or pieces of copper coin. When it happens that the emperor does not take the camphor, it sells for half as much again.

The Chinese do not bury their dead till the day twelve months after their decease; but keep them all this time in coffins in some part of their houses, having previously dried them by means of quicklime. The bodies of their kings are embalmed with aloes and camphor. They mourn during three whole years, and whoever transgresses this law is punished with the bamboo, a chastisement to which both men and women are subjected, and are at the same time reproached for not shewing concern for the death of their parents. They bury their dead in deep pits, much like those in use among the Arabs. During all the time that the dead body is preserved in the house, meat and drink are regularly set before it every evening; and if they find these gone in the morning, they imagine that the dead have consumed all; and all this time they cease not from bewailing their loss, insomuch, that their expences upon these occasions, in paying the last duties to their deceased relations, are exorbitant, and often consume their wealth and estates, to the utter ruin of the living. In former times, they buried very rich apparel, and those expensive girdles already mentioned, with the bodies of their kings, and others of the blood royal; but this custom is now discontinued, because it has happened that the bodies have been dug up from their graves by thieves, for the sake of what was buried with them. The whole nation, great and small, rich and poor, are taught to read and write. The titles of their viceroys or governors, are varied according to the dignity and rank of the cities under their government. Those of the smaller cities are called Tusing, which signifies the governor of a town. Those of the greater cities, such as Canfu, are stiled Difu, and the eunuch or lieutenant is stiled Tukam. These lieutenants are selected from among the inhabitants of the cities. There is also a supreme judge called Lakshima-makvan, and they have other names for other officers, which we do not know how properly to express.

A person is never raised to the dignity of a prince, or governor of a city, until he has attained to his fortieth year; for then they say he has acquired experience. When one of these princes or viceroys holds his court, in the city of his residence, he is seated on a tribunal, in great state, and receives the petitions or complaints of the people; having an officer called Lieu, who stands behind the tribunal, and indorses an answer upon the petition, according to the order of the viceroy; for they null no applications but what are in writing, and give all their decisions in the same manner. Before parties can present their petitions to the viceroy, they must be submitted to the proper officer for examination, who sends them back if he discovers any error; and no person may draw up any of those writings which are to be presented to the viceroy, except a clerk versant in business, who must mark at the bottom that it is written by such a man, the son of such a man: And if the clerk is guilty of any error or mistake, he is punished with the bamboo. The viceroy never seats himself on his tribunal until he has eaten and drank, lest he should be mistaken in some things; and he receives his subsistence from the public treasury of the city over which he presides. The emperor, who is above all these princes or petty kings, never appears in public but once in ten months, under the idea that the people would lose their veneration for him if he shewed himself oftener; for they hold it as a maxim, that government can only subsist by means of force, as the people are ignorant of the principles of justice, and that constraint and violence are necessary to maintain among them the majesty of empire.

There are no taxes imposed upon the lands, but all the men of the country are subject to a poll-tax in proportion to their substance. When any failure of crops makes necessaries dear, the king opens his store-houses to the people, and soils all sorts of necessaries at much cheaper rates than they can be had in the markets; by which means famine is prevented, and no dearth is of any long continuance. The sums that are gathered by this capitation tax are laid up in the public treasury, and I believe, that from this tax, fifty thousand dinars are paid every day into the null of Canfu alone, although that city is not one of the largest. The emperor reserves to himself the revenues which arise from the salt mines, and those which are derived from impositions upon a certain herb called Tcha, which they drink with hot water, and of which vast quantities are sold in all the cities in China. This is produced from a shrub more bushy than the pomegranate tree, and of a more pleasant smell, but having a kind of a bitterish taste. The way of using this herb is to pour boiling water upon the leaves, and the infusion cures all diseases. Whatever sums come into the public treasury arise from the capitation tax, the duties upon salt, and the tax upon this leaf.

In every city there is a small bell hung to the wall, immediately over the head of the viceroy or governor, which may be rung by a string which reaches about three miles, and crosses the high way, on purpose that all the people may have access to it; und whenever the string is pulled, and the bell strikes, the person who thus demands justice is immediately commanded to be brought into the presence, where he sets forth his case in person. If any person inclines to travel from one part of the country to another, he must have two passes along with him, one from the governor, and the other from the lieutenant. The governor's pass permits him to set out on his journey, and specifies the name of the traveller, and of all that are in his company, with their names and ages; for every person in China, whether native, Arab, or other foreigner, is obliged to make a full declaration of every thing he knows about himself. The lieutenant's pass specifies the exact quantities of goods and money which the traveller and his company take along with them, and this is done for the information of the frontier places, where both passes are regularly examined; for whenever a person arrives at any of these places, it is entered in the register that such a one, the son of such a one, of such a family, passed through the place, in such a month, day, and year, and in such company. By this means they prevent any one from carrying off the money or effects of others, or the loss of their own goods in case of accident; so that if any thing has been taken away unjustly, or if the traveller should die on the road, it may be immediately known where the things are to be found, that they may be restored to the claimants, or to the heirs of the deceased.

The Chinese administer justice with great strictness, in all their tribunals. When any person commences a suit against another, he sets down his claim in writing, and the defendant writes down his defence, which he signs, and holds between his fingers. These two writings are delivered in at the same time; and being examined, sentence is pronounced in writing, each of the parties having his papers returned to him, the defendant having his delivered first. When one party denies what the other affirms, he is ordered to return his writing; and if the defendant thinks he may do it safely, and delivers in his papers a second time, those of the plaintiff are likewise called for; and he who denies the affirmation of the other, is warned, that if he does not make out what he denies, he shall undergo twenty strokes of the bamboo on his buttocks, and shall pay a fine of twenty fakuges, which amount to about two hundred dinars. And the punishment of the bamboo is so severe, that the criminal can hardly survive, and no person in all China is permitted to inflict it upon another by his own authority, on pain of death, and confiscation of his goods; so that no one is ever so hardy as to expose himself to such certain danger, by which means justice is well administered to all. No witnesses are required, neither do they put the parties upon oath.

When any person becomes bankrupt, he is immediately committed to prison in the governor's palace, and is called upon for a declaration of his effects. After he has remained a month in prison, he is liberated by the governor's order, and a proclamation is made, that such a person, the son of such a one, has consumed the goods of such a one, and that if any person possesses any effects, whatever belonging to the bankrupt, a full discovery must be made within one month. If any discovery is made of effects belonging to the bankrupt, which he had omitted to declare, he suffers the punishment of the bamboo, and is upbraided with having remained a month in prison, eating and drinking, although he has wherewithal to satisfy his creditors. He is reproached for having fraudulently procured and embezzled the property of others, and is chastised for stripping other people of their substance. But if, after every inquiry, the debtor does not appear to have been guilty of any fraud, and if it is proved to the satisfaction of the magistrate, that he has nothing in the world, the creditors are called in, and receive a part of their claims from the treasury of the Bagbun. This is the ordinary title of the emperor of China, and signifies the Son of Heaven, which we ordinarily pronounce Magbun. After this, it is publickly forbidden to buy of or sell to the bankrupt, that he may not again have an opportunity of defrauding his creditors, by concealing their money or effects. If it be discovered that the bankrupt has any money or effects in the hands of another, and that person makes no disclosure within the time limited, the person guilty of this concealment is bambooed to death, and the value discovered is divided among the creditors; but the debtor or bankrupt must never more concern himself with trade.

Upon a stone ten cubits high, erected in the public squares of all the cities, the names of all sorts of medicines, with the exact prices of each, are engraven; and when the poor stand in need of relief from physic, they receive, at the treasury, the price that each medicine is rated at. In China there is no tax upon land, but every male subject pays a rateable capitation in proportion to his wealth and possessions. When a male child is born, his name is immediately entered in a public register, and when he has attained his eighteenth year he begins to pay the poll-tax; but when once a man has reached his eightieth year, he not only ceases to contribute, but even receives a pension from the treasury, as a provision for old age, and in acknowledgment of what he paid during his youth. There are schools, maintained at the public charge, in every town, where the children of the poor are taught to read and write. The women wear nothing on their heads besides their hair, but the men are covered. In China there is a certain town called Tayu, having a castle, advantageously situated on a hill, and all the fortresses in the kingdom are called by the same name. The Chinese are generally handsome, of comely stature, and of fair complexions, and by no means addicted to excess in wine. Their hair is blacker than that of any other nation in the world, and the Chinese women wear it curled.

In the Indies, when one man accuses another of a capital crime, it is usual to ask the accused if he is willing to undergo the trial by fire, and if he consents, the ceremony is conducted in the following manner: A piece of iron is heated red hot, and the accused is desired to stretch out his hand, on which they put seven leaves of a certain tree, and above these the red hot iron is placed. In this condition he walks backwards and forwards for some time, and then throws off the iron. Immediately after this his hand is covered with a leathern bag, which is sealed with the prince's signet; and if at the end of three days he appears and declares that he has suffered no hurt, they order him to take out his hand, and if no sign of fire is visible, he is declared innocent of the crime laid to his charge, and the accuser is condemned to pay a fine of a man of gold to the prince. Sometimes they boil water in a caldron, till it is so hot that no one can touch it; they then throw in an iron ring, and the accused is commanded to thrust down his hand to bring up the ring. I saw one who did this and received no manner of harm. In this case, likewise, if the accused remain unhurt, the accuser pays a fine of a man of gold.

When a king dies in the island of Serendib, which is the last of the islands of the Indies, his body is laid in an open chariot, in such a posture, that his head hangs backward, almost touching the ground, with his hair trailing on the earth; and the chariot is followed by a woman, who sweeps the dust on the face of the deceased, while she proclaims with a loud voice: "O man! behold your king! He was yesterday your master, but now the dominion which he exercised over you is at an end. He is reduced to the state you now see, having left the world; and the arbiter of life and death hath withdrawn his soul. Count not, therefore, O man! upon the uncertain hopes of this life." This or a similar proclamation is continued for three days; after which the body is embalmed with sandal wood, camphor, and saffron, and is then burned, and the ashes are scattered to the winds. When they burn the body of a king, it is usual for his wives to jump into the fire and burn along with him; but this they are not constrained to do. The same custom of burning the bodies of the dead prevails over all the Indies.

In the Indies there are men who devote themselves to live in the woods and mountains, professing to despise what other men most value, abstaining from every thing but such wild herbs and fruits as are to be found in the woods, and they affix an iron buckle to their genitals in such a manner as to interdict all commerce with woman. Some of these go quite naked, or have only the skin of a leopard thrown over them, and keep perpetually standing with their faces to the sun. I formerly saw one in that posture; and on my return to the Indies, sixteen years afterwards, I found him in the very same attitude, it being astonishing that he had not lost his sight by the heat and glare of the sun. In all these kingdoms the sovereign power resides in the royal family, without ever departing from it, and the heirs of the family follow each other in regular succession. In like manner, there are families of learned men, of physicians, and of all the artificers concerned in the various arts; and none of these are ever mixed with the family of a different profession. The several states of the Indies are not subject to one king, but each province has its own; though the Balhara is considered in the Indies as king of kings. The Chinese are fond of gaming and all manner of diversions; but the Indians condemn them, and have no pleasure in such employments. They drink no wine, neither do they use vinegar, because it is made from wine; although this abstinence does not proceed from any religious duty: but they allege that a king given to wine is not worthy of being a king; for how should a drunkard be able to manage the affairs of a kingdom, especially as wars are so frequent between the neighbouring states? Their wars are not usually undertaken to possess themselves of the dominions of others, and I never heard of any except the people bordering on the pepper country that seized the dominions of their neighbours after victory. When a prince masters the dominions of a neighbour, he confers the sovereignty upon some person of the royal family of the conquered country, and thus retains it in dependence upon himself, under the conviction that the natives would never submit to be otherwise governed.

When any one of the princes or governors of cities in China is guilty of a crime, he is put to death and eaten; and in general, it may be said that the Chinese eat all those who are put to death. When the Indians and Chinese are about to marry and the parties are agreed, presents are interchanged, and the marriage ceremony is solemnized amidst the noise of drums and various sorts of instruments. The presents consist in money, and all the relatives and friends contribute as much as they can afford. If any man in the Indies runs away with a woman and abuses her, both are put to death; unless it is proved that force has been used against the woman, in which case the man only is punished. Theft is always punished capitally, both in India and China, whether the theft be considerable or trifling; but more particularly so in the Indies, where, if a thief have stolen even the value of a small piece of money, he is impaled alive. The Chinese are much addicted to the abominable vice of pederasty, which they even number among the strange acts they perform in honour of their idols. The Chinese buildings are of wood, with stone and plaster, or bricks and mortar. The Chinese and Indians are not satisfied with one wife, but both nations marry as many as they please, or can maintain. Rice is the common food of the Indians, who eat no wheat; but the Chinese use both indifferently. Circumcision is not practised either by the Chinese or Indians. The Chinese worship idols, before whom, they fall down and make prayers, and they have books which explain the articles of their religion. The Indians suffer their beards to grow, but have no whiskers, and I have seen one with a beard three cubits long; but the Chinese, for the most part, wear no beards. Upon the death of a relation, the Indians shave both head and face. When any man in the Indies is thrown into prison, he is allowed neither victuals nor drink for seven days together; and this with them answers the end of other tortures for extorting from the criminal a confession of his guilt. The Chinese and Indians have judges besides the governors, who decide in causes between the subjects. Both in India and China there are leopards and wolves, but no lions. Highway robbers are punished with death. Both the Indians and Chinese imagine that the idols which they worship speak to them, and give them answers. Neither of them kill their meat by cutting the throat, as is done by the Mahomedans, but by beating them on the head till they die. They wash not with well water, and the Chinese wipe themselves with paper, whereas the Indians wash every day before eating. The Indians wash not only the mouth, but the whole body before they eat, but this is not done by the Chinese. The Indies is larger in extent by a half than China, and has a great many more kingdoms, but China is more populous. It is not usual to see palm trees either in the Indies or in China, but they have many other sorts of trees and fruits which we have not. The Indians have no grapes, and the Chinese have not many, but both abound in other fruits, though the pomegranate thrives better in India than in China.

The Chinese have no sciences, and their religion and most of their laws are derived from the Indians. They even believe that the Indians taught them their worship of idols. Both nations believe the Metempsycosis, though they differ in many of the precepts and ceremonies of their religion. Physic and philosophy are cultivated among the Indians, and the Chinese have some skill in medicine; but that almost entirely consists in the art of applying hot irons or cauteries. They have some smattering of astronomy; but in this likewise the Indians surpass the Chinese. I know not that even so much as one man of either nation has embraced Mahomedism, or has learned to speak the Arabic language. The Indians have few horses, and there are more in China; but the Chinese have no elephants, and cannot endure to have them in their country. The Indian dominions furnish a great number of soldiers, who are not paid by their kings, but, when called out to war, have to take the field and serve entirely at their own expense; but the Chinese allow their soldiers much the same pay as is done by the Arabs.

China is a pleasant and fruitful country, having numerous extensive and well fortified cities, with a more wholesome climate and less fenny country than India, in which most of the provinces have no cities. The air in China likewise is much better than in India, and there are scarcely any blind persons, or who are subject to diseases of the eyes; and similar advantages are enjoyed by several of the provinces of India. The rivers of both countries are large, and surpass our greatest rivers, and much rain falls in both countries. In the ladies there are many desert tracks, but China is inhabited and cultivated through its whole extent. The Chinese are handsomer than the Indians, and come nearer to the Arabs in countenance and dress, in their manners, in the way of riding, and in their ceremonies, wearing long garments and girdles in the manner of belts; while the Indians wear two short vests, and both men and women wear golden bracelets, adorned with precious stones.

Beyond the kingdom of China, there is a country called Tagazgaz, taking its name from a nation of Turks by which it is inhabited, and also the country of Kakhan which borders on the Turks. The islands of Sila are inhabited by white people, who send presents to the Emperor of China, and who are persuaded that if they were to neglect this the rain of heaven would not fall upon their country. In that country there are white falcons; but none of our people have been there to give us any particular information concerning them.


Commentary upon the foregoing Account, by Abu Zeid al Hasan of Siraff.

Having very carefully examined the book I was desired to peruse, that I might confirm what the author relates so far as he agrees with what I have learnt concerning the affairs of navigation, the kingdoms on the coast, and the state of the countries of which he treats, and that I might add what I have elsewhere collected concerning these matters: I find that this book was composed in the year of the Hegira 237, and that the accounts given by the author are conformable with what I have heard from merchants who have sailed from Irak or Persia, through these seas. I find also all that the author has written to be agreeable to truth, except some few passages, in which he has been misinformed. Speaking of the custom, of the Chinese in setting meat before their dead, and believing that the dead had eaten, we had been told the same thing, and once believed it; but have since learnt, from a person of undoubted credit, that this notion is entirely groundless, as well as that the idolaters believe their idols speak to them. From that creditable person we have likewise been informed, that the affairs of China wear quite a different aspect since those days: and since much has been related to explain why our voyages to China have been interrupted, and how the country has been ruined, many customs abolished, and the empire divided, I shall here declare what I know of that revolution.

The great troubles which have embroiled the affairs of this empire, putting a stop to the justice and righteousness there formerly practised, and interrupting the ordinary navigation from Siraff to China, was occasioned by the revolt of an officer named Baichu, in high employment, though not of the royal family. He began by gathering together a number of vagabonds, and disorderly people, whom he won to his party by his liberalities, and formed into a considerable body of troops. With these he committed hostilities in many parts of the country, to the great loss of the inhabitants; and having greatly increased his army, and put himself into a condition to attempt greater things, he began to entertain a design of subduing the whole empire, and marched direct for Canfu, one of the most noted cities in China, and at that time the great port for our Arabian commerce. This city stands upon a great river, some days sail from the sea, so that the water there is fresh. The citizens shut their gates against him, and he was obliged to besiege it a great while; but at length he became master of the city, and put all the inhabitants to the sword. There are persons fully acquainted with the affairs of China, who assure us, that besides the Chinese who were massacred upon this occasion, there perished one hundred and twenty thousand Mahomedans, Jews, Christians, and Parsees, who were there on account of traffic; and as the Chinese are exceedingly nice in the registers they keep of foreigners dwelling among them, this number may be considered as authentic. This took place in the year of the hegira 264, or of Christ 877. He also cut down the mulberry trees, which are carefully cultivated by the Chinese for their leaves, on which the silk worms are fed; and owing to this, the trade of silk has tailed, and that manufacture, which used to be much prosecuted in all the countries under the Arabian government, is quite at a stand.

Having sacked and destroyed Canfu, he possessed himself of many other cities, which he demolished, having first slain most of the inhabitants, in the hope that he might involve all the members of the royal family in this general massacre, that no one might remain to dispute with him for the empire. He then advanced to Cumdan[1], the capital city, whence the emperor was obliged to make a precipitate retreat to the city of Hamdu, on the frontiers towards Thibet. Puffed up with these great successes, Baichu made himself master of almost the whole country, there being no one able to dispute his authority. At length the emperor wrote to the king of the Tagazgaz in Turkestan, with whom he was in some degree allied by marriage, imploring his assistance to subdue the rebellion. The king of the Tagazgaz dispatched his son, at the head of a very numerous army, into China, and after a long and arduous contest, and many battles, Baichu was utterly defeated, and it was never known afterwards what became of him; some believing that he fell in the last battle, while others supposed that he ended his days in a different manner. The emperor of China now returned to his capital, much weakened and dispirited in consequence of the embezzlement of his treasures, and the loss of the best of his officers and troops, and the horrible devastations, calamities, and losses which his empire had sustained; yet he made himself master of all the provinces which had revolted from his authority. He would not, however, lay his hands upon the goods of his subjects, notwithstanding the exhausted state of his finances, but satisfied himself with what was still left in his coffers, and the small remains of the public money that was to be found, requiring nothing from his subjects, but what they were willing to give, and only demanding obedience to the laws and to his authority, considering that they had been already severely oppressed in consequence of the rebellion. Thus, China became like the empire of Alexander, after the defeat and death of Darius, when he divided the provinces among his chiefs, who became so many kings. For now, each of the Chinese princes, or viceroys, joined themselves into petty alliances, making wars among themselves without the authority of the emperor; and when the stronger had subdued the weaker, and acquired possession of his province, the subjects of the vanquished prince were unmercifully wasted and plundered, and even barbarously devoured: a cruel practice allowed by the laws of their religion, which even permit human flesh to be exposed to public sale in the markets. There arose from all these confusions many unjust dealings with the merchants; and there was no grievance so intolerable, or treatment so bad, but what was exercised upon the Arab merchants, and captains of ships, extorting from them what was altogether uncustomary, seizing upon their effects, and behaving towards them quite contrary to all the ancient usages; so that our merchants were forced to return in crowds to Siraff and Oman[2].

[1] From the description of this place afterwards, in the travels of Ebn Wahab, in this article, it appears to have been Nankin.--E.
[2] The chronology of the Chinese history is attended with extreme difficulty. According to Du Halde: In the reign of the emperor Hi Tseng, the 18th of the Tsong dynasty, the empire fell into great confusion, in consequence of heavy taxations, and a great famine occasioned by the inundation of the rivers, and the ravages of locusts. These things caused many insurrections, and a rebel, named Hoan Tsia put himself at the head of the malcontents, and drove the emperor from the imperial city. But he was afterwards defeated, and the emperor restored. It must be owned that there are about twenty years difference between the time of the rebellion mentioned in the text, and the date of the great revolt, as assigned by Du Halde; but whether the mistake lies in the Arabian manuscript, or in the difficulties of Chinese chronology, I cannot take upon me to determine; yet both stories probably relate to the same event. --Harris.

The punishment of married persons, convicted of adultery, as well as for the crimes of homicide and theft, is as follows: The hands are bound fast together, and forced backwards over the head, till they rest on the neck. The right foot is then fastened to the right hand, and the left foot to the left hand, and all drawn tight together behind the back, so that the criminal is incapable to stir; and by this torture the neck is dislocated, the joints of the arms start from their sockets, and the thigh bones are disjointed;--in short, the tortured wretch would soon expire without any farther process; yet, in that state, he is beaten by bamboos till at the last gasp, and is then abandoned to the people, who devour the body.

There are women in China who refuse to marry, and prefer to live a dissolute life of perpetual debauchery. A woman who has made this election, presents herself in full audience before the commanding officer of a city, declares her aversion to marriage, and desires to be enrolled among the public women. Her name is then inserted in the register, with the name of her family, the place of her abode, the number and description of her jewels, and the particulars of her dress. She has then a string put round her neck, to which is appended a copper ring, marked with the king's signet, and she receives a writing, certifying that she is received into the list of prostitutes, and by which she is entitled to a pension from the public treasury of so many falus yearly, and in which the punishment of death is denounced against any man who should take her to wife. Every year, regulations are published respecting these women, and such as have grown old in the service are struck off the list. In the evening, these women walk abroad in dresses of different colours, unveiled, and prostitute themselves to all strangers who love debauchery; but the Chinese themselves send for them to their houses, whence they do not depart till next morning.

The Chinese coin no money, except the small pieces of copper like those we falus, nor will they allow gold and silver to be coined into specie, like our dinars and drams; for they allege that a thief may carry off ten thousand pieces of gold from the house of an Arab, and almost as many of silver, without being much burthened, and so ruin the man who suffers the loss; but in the house of a Chinese, he can only carry off ten thousand falus at the most, which do not make above ten meticals or gold dinars in value. These pieces of copper are alloyed with some other metal, and are about the size of a dram, or the piece of silver called bagli, having a large hole in the middle to string them by. A thousand of them are worth a metical or gold dinar; and they string them by thousands, with a knot distinguishing the hundreds. All their payments, whether for land, furniture, merchandize, or any thing else, are made in this money, of which there are some pieces at Siraff, inscribed with Chinese characters. The city of Canfu is built of wood and canes interwoven, just like our lattice-work of split canes, the whole washed over with a kind of varnish made of hempseed, which becomes as white as milk, having a wonderfully fine gloss. There are no stairs in their houses, which are all of one storey, and all their valuables are placed in chests upon wheels, which in case of fire can easily be drawn from place to place, without any hinderance from stairs.

The inferior officers of the cities, and those commonly who have the direction of the customs and of the treasury, are almost all eunuchs, some of whom have been captured on the frontiers and made so, while others are so treated by their fathers, and sent as presents to the emperors. These officers are at the head of the principal affairs of state, and have the management of the emperor's private affairs, and of the treasury; and those, particularly, who are sent to Canfu, are selected from this class. It is customary for them, and for the viceroys or governors of the cities, to appear abroad from time to time in solemn procession. On these occasions, they are preceded by men who carry great pieces of wood, like those used in the Levant instead of bells by the Christians, on which they make a noise which is heard at a great distance, upon which every person gets out of the way of the prince or eunuch. Even if a man is at his door, he goes in, and keeps his door shut till the great personage has gone by. Thus, not a soul is in the way, and this is enjoined that they may strike a dread into the people, and be held in veneration; and the people are not allowed to see them often, lest they should grow so familiar as to speak to them.. All these officers wear very magnificent dresses of silk, so fine that none such is brought into the country of the Arabs, as the Chinese hold it at a very high price. One of our chief merchants, a man of perfect credibility, waited upon an eunuch who had been sent to Canfu, to purchase some goods from the country of the Arabs. The eunuch had upon his breast a short and beautiful silk vest, which was under another silk vest, and seemed to have two other vests over that again; and perceiving that the Arab eyed him very steadfastly, he asked him the cause; and being told that he admired the beauty of the little vest under his other garments, the eunuch laughed, and holding out his sleeve to him, desired him to count how many vests he had above that which he so much admired. He did so, and found five, one over the other, and the little rich vest undermost. These garments are all wove of raw silk, which has never been washed or fulled; and those worn by the princes or governors are still richer, and more exquisitely, wrought.

The Chinese surpass all nations in all arts, and particularly in painting, and they perform such perfect work, as others can but faintly imitate. When an artificer has finished a piece, he carries it to the prince's palace to demand the reward which he thinks he deserves, for the beauty of his performance; and the custom is for the prince to order the work to be left at the gate of the palace for a whole year, and if in that time no person finds a just fault in the piece, the artificer is rewarded, and admitted into the body of artists; but if any fault is discovered, the piece is rejected, and the workman sent off without reward. It happened once, that one of these artists painted an ear of corn, with a bird perched upon it, and his performance was very much admired. This piece, stood exposed to public view as usual, and one day a crooked fellow going past, found fault with the picture, and was immediately conducted to the prince or governor, who sent for the painter that he might hear his piece criticized. Being asked what fault he had to find, he answered, that every one knew that a bird never settles on an ear of corn, but it must bend under the weight; whereas this painter had represented the ear of corn bolt upright, though loaded with a bird. The objection was held just, and the painter was dismissed without reward. By such means, they excite their workmen to aim at perfection, and to be exceedingly nice and circumspect in what they undertake, and to apply their whole genius to any thing that has to go through their hands.

There dwelt at Basra one Ebn Wahab, of the tribe of Koreish, descended from Hebar, the son of Al Asud, who quitted Basra when it was sacked, and came to Siraff, where he saw a ship preparing to sail for China[3]. The humour took him to embark in this ship for China, and he had the curiosity to visit the emperor's court. Leaving Canfu, he went to Cumdan, after a journey of two months, and remained a long while at the court, where he presented several petitions to the emperor, setting forth, that he was of the family of the prophet of the Arabs. After a considerable interval, the emperor ordered him to be lodged in a house appointed for the purpose, and to be supplied with every thing he might need. The emperor then wrote to the governor of Canfu, to inquire carefully among the Arabian merchants respecting this man's pretensions; and receiving a full confirmation of his extraction, received him to an audience, and made him rich presents, with which he returned to Irak.

[3] According to Abulpharagius, one Abu Said revolted against the Khaliff Al Mohated, in the year of the hegira, 285, A.D. 893, and laid waste Bassora. This date agrees with the story of Ebn Wahab in the text. --Harris.

When, we saw him, this man was much advanced in years, but had his senses perfectly. He told us that the emperor asked him many questions respecting the Arabs, and particularly how they had destroyed the kingdom of the Persians. Ebn Wahab answered, that they had done it by the assistance of God, and because the Persians were immersed in idolatry, adoring the sun, moon, and stars, instead of the Almighty. The emperor said, that they had conquered the most illustrious kingdom of the earth, the best cultivated, the most populous, the most pregnant of fine wits, and of the highest fame. The emperor then asked Ebn Wahab what account the Arabs made of the other kings of the earth; to which he answered that he knew them not. Then the emperor caused the interpreter to say, we admit but five great kings. He who is master of Irak has the kingdom of widest extent, which is surrounded by the territories of other kings, and we find him called King of Kings. After him is the emperor of China, who is styled King of Mankind, for no king has more absolute authority over his subjects, and no people can be more dutiful and submissive than his subjects. Next is the king of the Turks, whose kingdom borders on China, and who is styled the King of Lions. Next is the king of the Elephants, who is king of the Indies, whom we call King of Wisdom. Last of all is the King of Greece, whom we call King of Men, as there are no men of better manners, or comlier appearance, on the face of the earth, than his subjects.

Ebn Wahab was then asked if he knew his lord and master the prophet Mohammed, and if he had seen him? How could that be, said Wahab, seeing that he is with God? Being then asked what manner of person he was; he answered that he was very handsome. Then a great box was brought, out of which another box was taken, and the interpreter was desired to shew him his lord and master. Ebn Wahab, upon looking in, saw the images of the prophets and the emperor observing him to move his lips, desired him to be asked the reason; on which he said he was praying inwardly in honour of the prophets. Being asked how he knew them, he said by the representation of their histories; as for instance, one was Noah and his ark, who were saved from the flood with those who were with them. The emperor laughed, and said he was right in regard to Noah, but denied the universal deluge; which, though it had covered part of the earth, did not reach China or the Indies. On Wahab observing that the next was Moses, with his rod, and the children of Israel; the emperor agreed that their country was of small extent, and that Moses had extirpated the ancient inhabitants. Wahab then pointed out Jesus upon the ass, accompanied by his apostles. To this the emperor said, that he had been a short time upon earth, all his transactions having very little exceeded the space of thirty months. On seeing the image of Mohammed riding on a camel, and his companions about him, with Arabian shoes and leathern girdles, Wahab wept; and being asked the reason, he answered, it was on seeing his prophet and lord, who was his cousin also. The emperor then asked concerning the age of the world; and Wahab answered, that opinions varied on the subject, as some reckoned it to be six thousand years old, while some would not allow so many, and others extended it to a greater antiquity. Being asked why he had deserted his own king, to whom he was so near in blood; he gave information of the revolutions which had happened at Basra, which had forced him to fly to Siraff; where, hearing of the glory of the emperor of China, and the abundance of every thing in his empire, he had been impelled by curiosity to visit it; but that he intended soon to return to the kingdom of his cousin, where he should make a faithful report of the magnificence of China, the vast extent of its provinces, and of the kind usage he had met with. This seemed to please the emperor, who made him rich presents, and ordered him to be conducted to Canfu on post horses[4]. He wrote also to the governor of that city, commanding him to be treated with honour; and to the governors of the provinces through which he had to pass, to shew him every civility. He was treated handsomely during the remainder of his stay in China, plentifully supplied with all necessaries, and honoured with many presents[5].

[4] From this circumstance, it appears probable that the great canal of China was not then constructed.--E.
[5] Some circumstances in this very interesting detail have been a little curtailed. If Abu Zaid had been a man of talents, he might surely have acquired and transmitted more useful information from this traveller; who indeed seems to have been a poor drivelling zelot.--E.

From the information of Ebn Wahab, we learn that Cumdan, where the emperor of China keeps his court, is a very large and extremely populous city, divided into two parts by a very long and broad street. That the emperor, his chief ministers, the supreme judge, the eunuchs, the soldiery, and all belonging to the imperial household, dwelt in that part of the city which is on the right hand eastward; and that the people were not admitted into that part of the city, which is watered by canals from different rivers, the borders of which are, planted with trees, and adorned by magnificent palaces. That portion of the city on the left hand, westwards from the great street, is inhabited by the ordinary kind of people, and the merchants, where also are great squares and markets for all the necessaries of life. At day-break every morning, the officers of the royal household, with the inferior servants, purveyors, and the domestics of the grandees of the court, come into that division of the city, some on horseback, and others on foot, to the public markets, and the shops of those who deal in all sorts of goods, where they buy whatever they want, and do not return again till their occasions call them back next morning. The city is very pleasantly situate in the midst of a most fertile soil, watered by several rivers, and hardly deficient in any thing except palm trees, which grow not there.

In our time a discovery has been made, of a circumstance quite new and unknown to our ancestors. No one ever imagined that the great sea which extends from the Indies to China had any communication with the sea of Syria. Yet we have heard, that in the sea of Rum, or the Mediterranean, there was found the wreck of an Arabian ship, which had been shattered by a tempest, in which all her men had perished. Her remains were driven by the wind and weather into the sea of the Chozars, and thence by the canal of the Mediterranean sea, and were at last thrown upon the coast of Syria. Hence it is evident, that the sea surrounds all the country of China and Sila or Cila, the uttermost parts of Turkestan, and the country of the Chozars, and that it communicates by the strait with that which washes the coast of Syria. This is proved by the structure of the wreck; of which the planks were not nailed or bolted, like all those built in the Mediterranean, or on the coast of Syria, but joined together in an extraordinary manner, as if sewed, and none but the ships of Siraff are so fastened. We have also heard it reported, that ambergris has been found on the coast of Syria, which seems hard to believe, and was unknown to former times. If this be true, it is impossible that amber should have been thrown up on the sea of Syria, but by the sea of Aden and Kolsum, which has communication with the seas where amber is found. And as God has put a separation between these seas, it must have necessarily been, that this amber was driven from the Indian Seas into the others, in the same direction with the vessel of Siraff[6].

[6] There is a vast deal of error in this long paragraph. It certainly was impossible to ascertain the route or voyage of the wreck, which was said to have been cast away on the coast of Syria. If it could have been ascertained to have come from the sea of the Chozars, or the Euxine, by the canal of Constantinople, and the Egean, into the gulf of Syria, and actually was utterly different from the build of the Mediterranean, it may or must have been Russian. If it certainly was built at Siraff, some adventurous Arabian crew must have doubled the south of Africa from the east, and perished when they had well nigh immortalized their fame, by opening up the passage by sea from Europe to India: And as the Arabian Moslems very soon navigated to Zanguebar, Hinzuan, and Madagascar, where their colonies still remain, this list is not impossible, though very unlikely. The ambergris may have proceeded from a sick cachalot that had wandered into the Mediterranean.

The north-east passage around the north of Asia and Europe, which is adduced by the commentator, in Harris's Collection, is now thoroughly known to be impracticable.--E.

The province of Zapage is opposite to China, and distant from thence a month's sail or less, if the wind be fair. The king of this country is styled Mehrage, and his dominions are said to be 900 leagues in circumference, besides which, he commands over many islands which lie around; so that, altogether, this kingdom is above 1000 leagues in extent. One of these islands is called Serbeza, which is said to be 400 leagues in compass; another is called Rhami, which is 800 leagues round, and produces red-wood, camphor, and many other commodities. In the same kingdom is the island of Cala, which is the mid passage between China and the country of the Arabs. This island is 80 leagues in circumference, and to it they bring all sorts of merchandize, as aloes wood of several kinds, camphor, sandal wood, ivory, the wood called cabahi, ebony, red-wood, all sorts of spice, and many others; and at present the trade is carried on between this island and that of Oman. The Mehrage is sovereign over all these islands; and that of Zapage, in which he resides, is extremely fertile, and so populous, that the towns almost touch each other, no part of the land being uncultivated. The palace of the king or Mehrage, stands on a river as broad as the Tigris at Bagdat or Bassora; but the sea intercepts its course, and drives its waters back with the tide; yet during the ebb the fresh water flows out a good way into the sea. The river water is let into a small pond, close to the king's palace, and every morning the master of the household brings an ingot of gold, wrought in a particular manner, and throws it into the pond, in presence of the king. When the king dies, his successor causes all these ingots, which have been accumulating during the reign of his predecessor, to be taken out; and the sums arising from this great quantity of gold are distributed among the royal household, in certain proportions, according to their respective ranks, and the surplus is given to the poor.

Komar is the country whence the aloes wood, which we call Hud al Komari, is brought; and it is a very populous kingdom, of which the inhabitants are very courageous. In this country, the boundless commerce with women is forbidden, and indeed it has no wine. The kingdoms of Zapage and Komar are about ten or twenty days easy sail from each other, and the kingdoms were in peace with other when the following event is said, in their ancient histories, to have occurred. The young and high-spirited king of Komar was one day in his palace, which looks upon a river much like the Euphrates, at the entrance, and is only a day's journey from the sea. One day, in a discourse with his prime minister, the conversation turned upon the glory and population of the kingdom of the Mehrage, and the multitude of its dependent islands, when the king of Komar expressed a wish to see the head of the Mehrage of Zapage on a dish before him. The minister endeavoured to dissuade him from so unjust and rash an attempt; but the king afterwards proposed the same exploit to the other officers of his court. Intelligence of this project was conveyed to the Mehrage, who was a wise and active prince, of consummate experience, and in the flower of his age; and who immediately ordered a thousand small ships to be fitted out, with all necessary arms and provisions, and manned with as many of his best troops as they were able to transport; carefully concealing the purpose of this armament, but giving out that he meant to visit the different islands under his authority, and even caused letters to be written to the tributary kings of these islands to prepare for his reception. When every thing was in readiness, he sailed over to the kingdom of Komar, the king of which, and all his courtiers, were a set of effeminate creatures, who did nothing all day long but view their faces in mirrors, and pick their teeth. The Mehrage landed his troops without delay, and immediately invested the palace, in which the king was made prisoner, all his attendants having fled without fighting. Then the Mehrage caused proclamation to be made, granting entire security of life and property to all the inhabitants of the country; and seating himself on the throne, caused the captive king and the prime minister to be brought into his presence. Addressing himself to the fallen monarch, he demanded his reasons for entertaining a project so unjust, and beyond his power to execute, and what were his ultimate intentions if he had succeeded. To this the king of Komar made no answer; and the Mehrage ordered his head to be struck off. To the minister, the Mehrage made many compliments, for the good advice he had given his master, and ordered him to place the person who best deserved to succeed upon the vacant throne; and then departed to his own dominions, without doing the smallest violence or injury to the kingdom of Komar. The news of this action being reported to the kings of China and the Indies, added greatly to their respect for the Mehrage; and from that time, it has been the custom for the kings of Komar to prostrate themselves every morning towards the country of Zapage, in honour of the Mehrage[7].

[7] It is difficult to say anything certain of the countries to which this story relates; which may have been some of the islands now called Philipines, or perhaps some of the islands in the straits of Sunda. --Harris.

Such is the opinion of the editor of Harris's Collection. But I am disposed, especially from the rivers mentioned, to consider Zapage as Pegu; and that Malacca, Sumatra, and Java, were the dependent islands; and particularly, that Malacca, as the great mart of early trade, though actually no island, was the Cala of Abu Zeid. Siam, or Cambodia may have been the kingdom of Komar.--E.

All the kings of China and the Indies believe in the metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, as an article of their religion, of which the following story, related by a person of credibility, is a singular instance. One of these princes having viewed himself in a mirror, after recovering from the small-pox, and noticing how dreadfully his face was disfigured, observed, that no person had ever remained in his body after such a change, and as the soul passes instantly into another body, he was determined to separate Ha soul from its present frightful body, that he might pass into another. Wherefore he commanded his nephew to mount the throne, and calling for a sharp and keen scymitar, ordered his own head to be cut off, that his soul might be set free, to inhabit a new body. His orders were complied with, and his body was burnt, according to the custom of the country.

Until the late revolution had reduced them to their present state of anarchy, the Chinese were wonderfully regular and exact in every thing relative to government; of which the following incident affords a striking example. A merchant of Chorassan, who had dealt largely in Irak, and who embarked from thence for China, with a quantity of goods, had a dispute at Canfu with an eunuch, who was sent to purchase some ivory, and other goods for the emperor, and at length the dispute ran so high, that the merchant refused to sell him his goods. This eunuch was keeper of the imperial treasury, and presumed so much on the favour and confidence which he enjoyed with his master, that he took his choice of all the goods he wanted from the merchant by force, regardless of every thing that the merchant could say. The merchant went privately from Canfu to Cumdan, the residence of the emperor, which is two months journey; and immediately went to the string of the bell, mentioned in the former section, which he pulled. According to the custom of the country, he was conveyed to a place at the distance of ten days journey, where he was committed to prison for two months; after which he was brought before the viceroy of the province, who represented to him, that he had involved himself in a situation which would tend to his utter ruin, and even the loss of his life, if he did not speak out the real truth: Because there were ministers and governors appointed to distribute justice to all strangers, who were ready to see him righted; and if the nature of the wrongs, which he had to represent, did not appear such as to entitle him to this application to the emperor, he would assuredly be put to death, as a warning to others not to follow his example. The viceroy, therefore, advised him to withdraw his appeal, and to return immediately to Canfu. The rule on such occasions was, that, if the party should endeavour to recede after this exhortation, he would have received fifty blows of a bamboo, and have been immediately sent out of the country: but if he persisted in his appeal, he was immediately admitted to an audience of the emperor. The merchant strenuously persisted in his demand for justice, and was at length admitted to the presence of the emperor, to whom he related the injustice of the eunuch, in taking away his goods by force. Upon this, the merchant was thrown, into prison, and the emperor ordered his prime minister to write to the governor of Canfu, to make strict inquiry into the complaints which he had exhibited against the eunuch, and to make a faithful report of all the circumstances; and he, at the same time, gave similar orders to three other principal officers, to make the same inquiry, all separate and unknown to each other.

These officers, who are called of the right, of the left, and of the centre, according to their ranks, have the command of the imperial forces, under the prime minister; they are entrusted with the guard of the emperors person: and when, he takes the field, on any military enterprise, or on any other account, these officers are stationed near him, each according to his rank. All of these made accordingly the strictest inquiries into the allegations of the merchant, and all separately gave in their reports, assuring the emperor that these complaints were just and well-founded: and these were followed and confirmed by many other informations. The eunuch was in consequence deprived of his office of treasurer, find all his effects were confiscated; on which occasion the emperor addressed him as follows; "Death ought to have been your doom, for giving occasion of complaint against me to this man, who hath come from Chorassan, which is on the borders of my empire. He hath been in the country of the, Arabs, whence he came into the kingdoms of the Indies, and thence into my empire, seeking his advantage by trade; and you would have occasioned him to return across all these regions, saying to all the people in his way, that he had been abused and stripped of his substance in China. In consideration of your former services, and the rank you have held in my household, I grant your life; but as you have not discharged your duty in regard to the living, I will confer upon you the charge of the dead." The eunuch was accordingly sent to take the custody of the imperial tombs, and to remain there for the remainder of his life.

Before the late commotions, the good order observed in the administration of justice, and the majesty of their tribunals, were very admirable. To fill these, the Chinese chose men who were perfectly versant in the laws; men of sincerity, and zealous in the cause of justice, who were not to be biassed by the interference of the great, and who always administered the laws with impartiality, neither oppressing the poor, nor accepting bribes from the rich. When any one was to be promoted to the office of principal judge, he was previously sent to all the chief cities of the empire, to remain a month or two in each, inquiring minutely into the various customs and affairs of the people, and informing himself of all such persons as were worthy of being credited in their testimony, that his judgment might be regulated in the future discharge of his high office by this preliminary knowledge. After going through all the cities in this manner, and making some stay in those which are most considerable, he repaired to the imperial court, and was invested with the dignity of supreme judge. To him the nomination of all the other judges was confided, after acquainting the emperor with the names of all who, in his estimation, were most worthy of exercising jurisdiction in the various cities and provinces. Every day, the supreme judge causes proclamation to be made, that of any man has been wronged by the viceroy or governor, or by any of his relations or officers, or any other person, he shall receive ample justice. A viceroy or governor is never degraded, except by letters issued from the council, or divan of kings, and this is done only for some flagrant malversation, or for the refusal or delay of justice. The posts of judicature being conferred upon none but men of probity and justice, good order is efectually maintained.

The province of Chorassan is almost on the borders of China. From China to Sogd is about two months journey, through impracticable deserts of sand, where there is no water; for which reason the Chorassanians can make no irruptions into China. The most westerly province of China is Medu, which borders on Thibet, and the two nations are often at war. A person who had been in China, informed us, that he had seen a man at Canfu, who had traveled from Samare, all the way on foot, through all the cities in China, with a vessel of musk on his back for sale; which he might easily do, as the part of Thibet, which produces musk, is contiguous to China. The Chinese carry off as many of the animals which produce musk as they can procure; but the musk of Thibet is far better than that of China, because the animal feeds on aromatic plants in the mountains of Thibet, while in China it has to subsist upon the ordinary pastures; and because the inhabitants of Thibet preserve their cods of musk in its natural state of purity, while the Chinese adulterate all that gets into their hands; for which reason the musk of Thibet is in great request among the Arabs. The most exquisite of all the sorts of musk, is that which the musk animals leave behind them, in rubbing themselves on the rocks of their native mountains. The humour whence the musk is generated, falls down towards the navel of the animal, where it gathers into tumors like grumous blood; and when this tumor is ripe, it produces a painful itching, on which the animal rubs himself against rocks or stones till he bursts the tumor, and the contents run out and coagulate on the stone; after which, the wound heals, and the humour gathers again as before. There are men in Thibet who make it their business to collect this species of musk, which they preserve in bladders, and which, having ripened, naturally surpasses all others in goodness, just as ripe fruit exceeds in flavour that which is pulled green. There is another way of procuring musk, either by ensnaring the animals, or shooting them with arrows; but the hunters often cut out the bags before the musk is ripe or fully elaborated, in which case, the musk at first has a bad scent, till the humour thickens, after which it turns to good musk, though this sometimes takes a long while. The musk animal is like our roebuck, his skin and colour the same, with slender legs, and smooth slightly bent horns; having on each side two small white teeth, about half a finger-length, which rise about his muzzle, not much unlike the form of the teeth of the elephant, and by which he is distinguished from other roebucks.

The letters from the emperor of China, to the viceroys, governors, eunuchs, and lieutenants, are conveyed on post-horses, which are distinguished by cut tails, and these are disposed at regular stations, all over the empire, almost like the posts among the Arabs. In China, every man, from the emperor to the meanest of the people, makes water standing [8]; and for this purpose, persons of dignity have gilded hollow canes, a cubit long, to convey their water to a distance. They are of opinion, that pains in the kidneys, strangury, and even the stone, are occasioned by urining in a sitting posture, as the reins cannot free themselves absolutely from evil humours, except by evacuating in an erect position. They do not mould the heads of new born infants into a round form as we do, as they allege that this practice injures the brain, and impairs the senses. They suffer their hair to grow, which is carefully combed. The nation is divided into tribes, like those of the Arabs and some others, and no man ever marries in his own tribe: just as the children of Thummim among the Arabs never take a wife from that tribe. Or, for example, a man of the tribe of Robayat marries a daughter of the tribe Modzar, and a Modzar marries a Robayat; and they are of opinion, that such alliances add to the dignity and power of their children.

[8] This alludes to the custom of the Arabs, and other orientals, to squat upon this occasion.--E.

In the kingdom of the Balhara, and all the other kingdoms of the Indies, there are men who burn themselves in consequence of their belief in the doctrine of transmigration. When a man has come to this resolution, he asks leave of the king, which being obtained, he goes in procession round all the public squares of the city, and proceeds to the place appointed, where a pile of dry wood is ready for the purpose, having many persons all round to feed the fire, which blazes prodigiously. At last the person comes forward, preceded by a number of instruments, and moves round the pile in the midst of his friends and relations. During this ceremony, some person places on his head a garland of straw, or dry herbs, filled with burning coals, on which they pour sandrach, which takes fire as strongly as naphtha; notwithstanding of which, he continues his progress without betraying any sense of pain, or change of countenance, though the crown of his head be all on fire, and the stench of his burning flesh is felt all round. At length, he comes up to the pile, and throws himself in, where he is soon reduced to ashes. A credible person says, he once saw an Indian burn himself; and when he came near the pile, he drew out a cangiar, or sharp knife, with which he ripped himself open, and pulling out the lap of his liver with his left hand, cut off a piece of it with his cangiar, and gave it to one of his brothers, talking all the time with the most invincible contempt of death and torture, and at length leaped into the fire, in his passage to hell.

At the accession of some kings of the Indies, the following ceremony is observed: A large quantity of rice is dressed and spread out upon leaves of mousa, in presence of the king. Then three or four hundred persons come, of their own accord, without any constraint whatever; and after the king has eaten of the rice, he gives some of it to all that come forwards in succession, which they eat in his presence; and by this ceremony, they engage to burn themselves on the day when this king dies or is slain, and they punctually fulfil their promise.

In the mountainous parts of India, there are tribes who differ little from those we call Kanisians and Jelidians and who are addicted to all manner of superstition and vice; between whom, and the inhabitants of the people on the coast, there subsists great emulation, each daring the others to imitate them in the performance of strange superstitious tortures. There once came a man from the mountains on this errand, who gathered a multitude of the inhabitants of the coast to the following strange exhibition, daring them to imitate him, or otherwise to acknowledge themselves overcome. He sat down in a place planted with canes, and caused a strong one to be forcibly bent down, to which he strongly fastened the hairs of his head. "Now," said he, "I am going to cut off my own head with this cangiar; and as soon as it is severed from my body, let go the cane, and when my head flies up into the air, I will laugh, and you shall hear me." But the people of the coast had not courage to imitate him[9]. The person who related this, did it without emotion or wonder; and in our times, these facts are generally known, as this part of the Indies is in the neighbourhood of the country of the Arabs, and we hear from thence every day.

[9] It is presumable, that this was a mere bravado, in the full confidence that no one would be found sufficiently foolhardy to engage to follow the example. It is needless to say, that the promise of laughing aloud could not have been performed; so that any one might have safely accepted the challenge, conditioning for the full performance of the vaunt.--E.

In the Indies, they burn their dead; and it is customary for men and women to desire their families to throw them into the fire or to drown them, when they are grown old, or perceive themselves to sink under the pressure of disease, firmly believing that they are to return into other bodies. It has often happened, in the isle of Serendib, where there is a mine of precious stones in a mountain, a pearl-fishery, and other extraordinary things, that an Indian would come into the bazar or market-place, armed with a kris, and seize upon the most wealthy merchant there present, leading him out of the market, through a throng of people, holding the kris to his throat, while no one dared to attempt his rescue, as the Indian was sure, in such a case, to kill the merchant, and make away with himself; and when he had got the merchant out of the city, the Indian obliged him to redeem his life with a sum of money. To put an end to such outrages, an order was issued to seize such trespassers; but on attempting to execute this order, several merchants were killed, both Arabs and Indians, and the order was obliged to be repealed. In the mountains of Serendib, precious stones are found of various colours, red, green, and yellow[10], most of which are washed from caverns or crevices, by rains and torrents. In these places, the king has officers to watch over the people who gather the precious stones. In some places, these are dug out of mines, like the ores of metals, and the rock has often to be broken to come at the precious stones which it contains. The king of Serendib makes laws concerning the religion and government of the country; and there are assemblies held of doctors and learned men, like those of Hadithis among the Arabs, to which the Indians repair, and write down what they hear of the lives of their prophets, and the expositions of their laws. In this island, there are temples in which great sums of money are expended on incense; and in one of these temples, there is a great idol all of pure gold, but concerning the weight of which travellers are not agreed. In the same island, there are great numbers of Jews, and persons of many other sects, even Tanouis, and Manichees, the kings permitting the free exercise of every religion. At the end of the island are vallies of great extent, extending quite to the sea, called Gab Serendib, of extreme beauty, and chequered with groves and plains, water and meads, and blessed with a wholesome air. A sheep may be there bought for half a dram, and for the same as much of their drink, made of palm-honey, boiled and prepared with tari, or toddi, as will suffice for many persons. The inhabitants are much addicted to gaming, particularly draughts. Their other principal diversion is cock-fighting, their cocks being very large, and better provided with spurs than ordinary; and besides this, the Indians arm them with blades of iron, in the form of cangiars or daggers. On these combats, they bet gold and silver, lands or farms; and they game with such fury, that debauchees, and desperate people, often stake the ends of their fingers, when their other property is exhausted. While at play for this extraordinary stake, they have a fire by them, on which a small pot of walnut oil, or oil of sesamum, is kept boiling; and when one has won a game, he chops off the end of the loser's finger, who immediately dips the stump into the boiling oil, to stem the blood; and some will persist so obstinately, as to have all their fingers thus mutilated. Some even will take a burning wick, and apply it to some member, till the scent of the burnt flesh is felt all around, while the stoic continues to play, without betraying the least sense of pain. Both men and women are so exceedingly addicted to debauchery, that a foreign merchant has been known to send even for a king's daughter, to attend him at the fishing grounds, in quality of mistress; wherefore the Mahomedan doctors at Siraff, strictly warn young people not to go there.

[10] Rubies, emeralds, and topazes.--E.

In the Indies there are heavy rains, called jasara, which last incessantly day and night, for three months every year. The Indians prepare against these to the best of their power, as they shut themselves up in their houses during the whole time, all work being then performed within doors; and during this time, they are subject to ulcers in the soles of their feet, occasioned by the damps. Yet, these rains are of indispensable necessity; as, when they fail, the Indians are reduced to the utmost want, as their rice fields are watered only by the rains. It never rains during summer. The Indians have doctors, or devout men, named Bramins. They have poets also, who compose poems filled with the grossest flattery to their kings and great men. They have also astrologers, philosophers, soothsayers, men who observe the flight of birds, and others who pretend to the calculation of nativities, particularly at Kaduge, a great city in the kingdom of Gozar[11]. There are certain men called Bicar, who go all their lives naked, and suffer their hair to grow till it hides their hinder parts. They also allow their nails to grow, till they become pointed and sharp like swords. Each has a string round his neck, to which hangs an earthen dish, and when hungry, they go to any house, whence the inhabitants cheerfully supply them with boiled rice. They have many laws and religious precepts, by which they imagine that they please God. Part of their devotion consists in building kans, or inns, on the highways, for the accommodation of travellers; where also certain pedlars, or small dealers, are established, from whom the passengers may purchase what they stand in need of. There are also public women, who expose themselves to travellers. Some of these are called women of the idol, the origin of which institution is this: When a woman has laid herself under a vow, that she may have children, if she happens to produce a handsome daughter, she carries her child to the bod[12], so the idol is called. When this girl has attained the proper age, she takes an apartment in the temple, and waits the arrival of strangers, to whom she prostitutes herself for a certain hire, and delivers her gains to the priest for the support of the temple. All these things they reckon among their meritorious deeds. Praised be God who hath freed us from the sins which defile the people involved in unbelief!

[11] Obviously Canoge, in Bengal.--E.
[12] Buddah, the principal god of an extensive sect, now chiefly confined to Ceylon, and India beyond the Ganges.--E.

Not very far from Almansur there is a famous idol called Multan, to which the Indians resort in pilgrimage, from the remotest parts. Some of the pilgrims bring the odoriferous wood called Hud ul Camruni, so called from Camrun, where there is excellent aloes-wood. Some of this is worth 200 dinars the mawn, and is commonly marked with a seal, to distinguish it from another kind of less value. This the devotees give to the priests, that it may be burnt before the idol, but merchants often buy it from these priests. There are some Indians, making profession of piety, who go in search of unknown islands, or those newly discovered, on purpose to plant cocoa nut trees, and to sink wells for the use of ships. There are people at Oman who cross to these islands that produce the cocoa nut trees, of planks made from which they build ships, sewing the planks with yarns made from the bark of the tree. The mast is made of the same wood, the sails are formed from the leaves, and the bark is worked up into cordage: and having thus completed their vessel, they load her with cocoa nuts, which they bring to Oman for sale.

The country of the Zinges, or Negroes, is of vast extent[13]. These people commonly sow millet, which is the chief food of the negroes. They have also sugar-canes and other trees, but their sugar is very black. The negroes are divided among a great number of kings, who are eternally at war with each other. Their kings are attended by certain men called Moharamin, each of whom has a ring in his nose, and a chain round his neck. When about to join battle with the enemy, each of the Moharamin takes the end of his neighbour's chain and passes it through the ring in his own nose, by which the whole are chained together, so that no one can possibly run away. Deputies are then sent to endeavour to make peace, and if that is done, the chains are unfastened, and they retire without fighting. But otherwise, when once the sword is unsheathed, every one of these men must conquer or die on the spot[14].

[13] The author makes here an abrupt transition to the eastern coast of Africa, and calls it the country of the Zinges; congeneric with the country of Zanguebar, and including Azania, Ajen, and Adel, on the north; and Inhambane, Sabia, Sofala, Mocaranga, Mozambique, and Querimba, to the south; all known to, and frequented by the Arabs.--E.
[14] This incredible story may have originated from an ill-told account of the war bulls of the Caffres, exaggerated into fable, after the usual manner of the Arabs, always fond of the marvellous.--E.

These people have a profound veneration for the Arabs; and when they meet any one, they fall down before him, saying, "This man comes from the land of dates," of which they are very fond. They have preachers among them, who harangue with wonderful ability and perseverance. Some of these profess a religious life, and are covered with the skins of leopards or apes. One of these men will gather a multitude of people, to whom he will preach all day long concerning God, or about the actions of their ancestors. From this country they bring the leopards skins, called Zingiet, which are very large and broad, and ornamented with red and black spots.

In this sea is the island of Socotra, whence come the best aloes. This island is near the land of the Zinges, or Negroes, and is likewise near Arabia; and most of its inhabitants are Christians, which is thus accounted for: When Alexander had subdued the empire of Persia, his preceptor, Aristotle, desired him to search out the island of Socotra, which afforded aloes, and without which the famous medicine Hiera[15] could not be compounded; desiring him likewise to remove the natives and to plant there a colony of Greeks, who might supply Syria, Greece, and Egypt with aloes. This was done accordingly; and when God sent Jesus Christ into the world, the Greeks of this isle embraced the Christian faith, like the rest of their nation, and have persevered in it to this day, like all the other inhabitants of the islands[16].

[15] It is somewhat singular to find this ancient Arabian author mentioning the first word of the famous Hiera Picra, or Holy Powder; a compound stomachic purge of aloes and spices, probably combined by the ancients with many other ingredients, as it is by the moderns with rhubarb, though now only given in tincture or solution with wine or spirits. The story of Alexander rests only on its own Arabian basis.--E.
[16] Meaning, doubtless, the isles of the Mediterranean.--E.

In the first book, no mention is made of the sea which stretches away to the right, as ships depart from Oman and the coast of Arabia, to launch out into the great sea: and the author describes only the sea on the left hand, in which are comprehended the seas of India and China. In this sea, to the right as you leave Oman, is the country of Sihar or Shihr, where frankincense grows, and other countries possessed by the nations of Ad, Hamyar, Jorham, and Thabatcha, who have the Sonna, in Arabic of very ancient date, but differing in many things from what is in the hands of the Arabs, and containing many traditions unknown to us. They have no villages, and live a very hard and miserably wandering life; but their country extends almost as far as Aden and Judda on the coast of Yaman, or Arabia the happy. From Judda, it stretches up into the continent, as far as the coast of Syria, and ends at Kolzum. The sea at this place is divided by a slip of land, which God hath fixed as a line of separation between the two seas[17]. From Kolzum the sea stretches along the coast of the Barbarians, to the west coast, which is opposite to Yaman, and then along the coast of Ethiopia, from whence we have the leopard skins of Barbary[18], which are the best of all, and the most skilfully dressed; and lastly, along the coast of Zeilah, whence come excellent amber and tortoiseshell.

[17] Referring, obviously, to the Isthmus of Suez.--E.
[18] This does not refer to the coast of Barbary in the Mediterranean, but must mean the coast of the barbarian Arabs or Bedouins.--E.

When the Siraff ships arrive in the Red Sea, they go no farther than Judda, whence their cargo is transported to Cairo, or Kahira by ships of Kolsum, the pilots of which are acquainted with the navigation of the upper end of this sea, which is full of rocks up to the water's edge; because, also, along the coast there are no kings[19], and scarcely any inhabitants; and because, every night ships are obliged to put into some place for safety, for fear of striking on the rocks, or must ride all night at anchor, sailing only in the day-time. This sea is likewise subject to very thick fogs, and to violent gales of wind, and is therefore of very dangerous navigation, and devoid of any safe or pleasant anchorage. It is not, like the seas of India and China, whose bottom is rich with pearls and ambergris; whose mountains are stored with gold, precious stones, and ivory; whose coasts produce ebony, redwood, aloes, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, sandal, and all other spices and aromatics; where parrots and peacocks are birds of the forest, and in which musk and civet are collected in abundance: so productive, in short, are these shores of articles of infinite variety, and inestimable value, that it were vain to endeavour to make any enumeration.

[19] This singular expression probably signifies that the inhabitants are without law or regular government.--E.

Ambergris is thrown upon this coast by the flux of the sea, but its origin is unknown. It is found on the coast of the Indies, but the best, which is of a bluish white, and in round lumps, is got upon the Barbarian coast: or on the confines of the land of the Negroes, towards Sihar and that neighbourhood. The inhabitants of that country have camels trained for the purpose, on which they ride along the shore in moonshine nights, and when the camels perceive a piece of amber, he bends his knees, on which the rider dismounts, and secures his prize. There is another kind which swims on the surface of the sea in great lumps, sometimes as big as the body of an ox, or somewhat less. When a certain fish, named Tal, of the whale tribe, sees these floating lumps, he swallows them, and is thereby killed; and when the people, who are accustomed to this fishery, see a whale floating on the surface, they know that this whale has swallowed ambergris, and going out in their boats, they dart their harpoons into its body, and tow it on shore, and split the animal down the back, to get out the ambergris. What is found about the belly of the whale is commonly spoiled by the wet, and has an unpleasant scent; but the ambergris which is not contaminated by the ordure in the belly of the whale, is perfectly good[20].

[20] This curious account of the origin of ambergris, was revived again about twenty-five years ago, and published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, as a new discovery. The only difference in the modern account of the matter is, that the ambergris originates within the alimentary canal of the whale, in consequence, probably, of some disease; and that the lumps which are found afloat, or cast on shore, had been extruded by these animals.--E.

It is not unusual to employ the vertebrae of this species of whale as stools; and it is said, there are many houses in the village of Tain, ten leagues from Siraff, in which the lintels of the doors are made of whale ribs. An eye-witness told me that he went to see a whale which had been cast ashore, near Siraff, and found the people mounting on its back by means of ladders; that they dug pits in different parts of his body, and when the sun had melted the grease into oil, they collected this, and sold it to the masters of ships, who mixed it up with some other matter, used by seamen for the purpose of serving the bottoms of their vessels, and securing the seams of the planks, to prevent or to stop leaks. This whale-oil sells for a great deal of money; and the bones of the whale are sold by the druggists of Bagdat and Bassora.

The pearl oyster is at first a small thin tender substance, resembling the leaves of the plant called Anjedana, and swims on the surface of the sea, where it sticks to the sides of ships under water. It there hardens, grows larger, and becomes covered by a shell; after which, it becomes heavy, and falls to the bottom of the sea, where it subsists, and grows in a way of which we are ignorant. The included animal resembles a piece of red flesh, or like the tongue of an animal towards the root, having no bones, veins, or sinews. One opinion of the production of pearls in this shell-fish is, that the oyster rises to the surface when it rains, and, by gaping, catches the drops of rain, which harden into pearls. The more likely opinion is, that the pearls are generated within the body of the oyster, for most of them are fixed, and not moveable. Such as are loose are called seed pearls.

An Arab came once to Bassora with a pearl of great value, which he shewed to a merchant, and was astonished when he got so large a sum for it as an hundred drams of silver; with which he purchased corn to carry back to his own country. But the merchant carried his acquisition to Bagdad, where he sold it for a large sum of money, by which he was afterwards enabled to extend his dealings to a great amount. The Arab gave the following account of the way in which he had found this large pearl: Going one day along the shore, near Saman, in the district of Bahrein[21], he saw a fox lying dead, with something hanging at his muzzle, which held him fast, which he discovered to be a white lucid shell, in which he found this pearl. He concluded that the oyster had been thrown ashore by a tempest, and lay with its shell open on the beach, when the fox, attracted by the smell, had thrust in his muzzle to get at the meat, on which the oyster closed its shell, and held him fast till he died: for it is a property of the oyster never to let go its hold, except forcibly opened, by thrusting in an iron instrument between the shells, carefully guarding its included pearl, as a mother preserves her child.

[21] Bahrein is an island in the Persian gulf, on the Arabian shore, still celebrated for its pearl fishery.--E.

The kings of the Indies wear ear-rings of gold, set with precious stones, and they wear collars of great value, adorned with gems of various colours, chiefly green and red; yet pearls are most esteemed, and their value surpasses that of all other jewels, and these they hoard up in their treasuries, with their most precious things. The grandees of their courts, their great officers, and the military commanders, wear similar jewels in their collars. Their dress is a kind of half vest, and they carry parasols made of peacocks feathers to shade them from the sun, and are surrounded by great trains of servants.

Among the Indians, there are certain people who never eat two out of the same dish or even at the same table, on account of some religious opinion. When these come to Siraf, and are invited by our considerable merchants, were there a hundred of them more or less, they must each have a separate dish, without the least communication with the rest. Their kings and principal persons have fresh tables made for them every day, with little dishes and plates wove of the cocoa nut leaf, out of which they eat their victuals. And when their meal is over, the table dishes and plates are all thrown into the water, together with the fragments of their food; so that they must have a fresh service for every meal.

To the Indies the merchants used formerly to carry the dinars, called sindiat, or gold coins of the Sind, which passed there for three of our dinars, or even more. Thither also were carried emeralds from Egypt, which were much used for setting in rings.


Travels of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, through Europe, Asia, and Africa, from Spain to China, between A.D. 1160 and 1173[1].

[1] Harris, I. 545. Forster, 91.

This Spanish Jew was the son of Rabbi Jonas, of Tudela, a small town in Navarre. According to the testimony of Rabbi Abraham Zuka, a celebrated professor of astronomy at Salamanca, it is supposed that Rabbi Benjamin travelled from 1160 to 1173. Young Barratier, a prodigy of early literary genius, asserts that Benjamin never made the journey at all, but patched up the whole work from contemporary writers. There is no doubt that his work is full of incredible tales, yet many of the anomalies it contains, may have proceeded from mistakes of copyists; exaggeration was the taste of the times, and other travellers who are believed actually to have travelled, are not behind him in the marvellous. These often relate the miracles of pretended Christian saints, while he details the wonders performed by Jewish Rabbis. He contains however, many curious pieces of information, not to be found anywhere else, and it seems necessary and proper to give a full abstract of his travels in this place.

Travelling by land to Marseilles, Benjamin embarked for Genoa, and proceeded to Rome, from whence he went through the kingdom of Naples to Otranto, where he crossed over to Corfu and Butrinto, and journeyed by land through Greece to Constantinople, having previously visited the country of Wallachia. All this takes up the four first chapters, which are omitted in Harris. In the fifth, he gives an account of the city and Court of Constantinople, as follows: Constantinople is an exceedingly great city, the capital of the Javanites[2], or the nation called Greeks, and the principal seat of the emperor Emanuel[3], whose commands are obeyed by twelve kings, for every one of whom there are several palaces in Constantinople, and they have fortresses and governments in other places of the empire, and to them the whole land is subject. The principal of these is the Apripus, Praepositus, or prime minister; the second, Mega Dumastukitz, [Greek: Mezas Domestichos], or great chamberlain; the third Dominot, Dominos, or lord: but his peculiar office or department does not appear; the fourth Mackducus, [Greek: Mezas Dochas], great duke or high Admiral; the fifth Iknomus Megli, [Greek: Oichonomos mezas], or lord high steward of the household; and the rest have names like unto these[4]. Constantinople is eighteen miles in circuit, half of it being on the sea, and the other half towards the continent; it stands on two arms of the sea, into one of which the sea flows from Russia, and into the other from Spain; and its port is frequented by many traders, from the countries and provinces of Babylon, Senaar, Media, Persia, Egypt, Canaan, Russia, Hungary, Psianki[5], Buria, Lombardy, and Spain.

[2] So named as descended from Javan: the Jewish writers affecting to employ scripture names for modern countries and nations.--E.
[3] Manuel Comnenes, who reigned from 1143 to 1180.--E.
[4] These names are corrupt orthographies of the Greek titles in the Hebrew. Manuel being an emperor, Benjamin names all his great officers kings.--E.
[5] Psianki may, perhaps, be Poland, and Buria Bavaria.--E.

The city is extremely populous, and hath none to compare with it, except Bagdat, the mighty city of the Ismaelites[6]. In it is the magnificent temple of St Sophia, where dwells the patriarch of the Greeks, who do not agree in doctrine with the pope of Rome. This temple contains as many altars as there are days in the year, and it has a revenue beyond all estimation great, from the offerings and riches brought continually from divers countries, islands, forts, castles, and places, so that the wealth of no other temple on earth can be compared to the riches which it contains. In the middle of this temple there are pillars of gold and silver, huge candlesticks, lanterns, lamps, and other ornaments of these precious metals, more than can be reckoned. Close to this temple there is a place set apart for the diversion of the emperor, called the Hippodrome, where great spectacles are represented yearly, on the birth-day of Jesus of Nazareth, in which men in the habits of all the various people of the earth, appear before the emperor and empress, with lions, bears, leopards, and wild asses, which are made to fight together; and in no country on earth are such princely sports to be seen.

[6] The Arabs, so called from their supposed ancestor, Ismael.--E.

Besides the palace left him by his ancestors, Manuel has built one for himself, called Bilbernae[7], the pillars and walls of which are overlaid with beaten gold and silver, on which all the wars of his ancestors are represented. In this palace there is a throne of gold and precious stones, over which a golden crown, enriched with precious stones and pearls, is suspended on high, the value of which is beyond computation, and its lustre so great, that it shines, and may be seen in the night. There are other things in this palace of such value and profusion as are quite incredible, and immense tributes are brought yearly into it, by which the towers are filled with scarlet and purple garments and gold, so that the like example of sumptuous buildings, and enormous riches, can nowhere else be found in the world.

[7] Perhaps Blachernae.--E.

It is affirmed, that the revenue of the city only, from its markets, harbour, and tribute of merchants, amount to 20,000 crowns daily. The Greek inhabitants of this city and country are exceedingly rich in gold and jewels, and are sumptuously dressed in crimson garments, intermingled with gold, or splendidly embroidered, and are all carried on horses, as if they were the children of kings. The country itself is very extensive, and abounds with all sorts of fruits, and has great plenty of corn, wine, and cattle of all kinds, and a finer country is nowhere to be found. The people are learned also, and skilful in the philosophy of the Greeks: but giving themselves up entirely to luxury, they eat and drink every man under his own vine, and under his own fig-tree. They have mercenary soldiers, hired from all nations, whom they call Barbarians, to fight against the soldan, king of the children of Togorma, who are commonly called Turks; for the Grecians themselves, through sloth and luxury, have become quite effeminate and unfit for wars, and entirely devoted to pleasure.

No Jews are permitted to dwell in the city, but are obliged to reside in Pera, on the other side of the sea of Sophia, and are not even allowed to come to the city, except in boats, for the sake of commerce. In Pera there are about 2000 Jewish Rabbinists, disciples of the wise men; among whom are Abtalion the Great, Rabbi Abdias, Aaron Cuspus, Joseph Starginus, and Eliakim the governor, who have the chief authority. Besides these, there are 500 Karaites[8], who are separated from the Rabbinists by a wall. Among the Jews there are some manufacturers of silken garments, and many very rich merchants. No Jew is permitted to ride on horseback, except Solomon, the Egyptian, who is physician to the Emperor, and through whose interest the Jews are comforted and eased in their captivity, which is very grievous; for they are much hated by the Grecians, who make no distinction between the good and the evil among them, and insult and beat them in the streets. They are worst used by the tanners, who pour out the filthy water in which they have dressed their skins into the streets before their doors. Yet, among the Jews there are some very rich men, as I have said before; good and merciful men, who observe the commandments, and who patiently endure the miseries of the captivity.

[8] The Karaites were a sect among the Jews, who confined their observances and religious belief to the precepts of Moses, while the Rabbinists followed all the wild fancies of the Talmud. An excellent account of these sects is to be found in the Lettres Juives, or Jewish Spy, by the Marquis d'Argens.--E.

From Constantinople, Benjamin continued his journey to Tyre, Jerusalem, and the Holy Land, and thence to Damascus, Balbeck, and Palmyra, which he calls Tadmor, and in which, he says, there then were 2000 Jews. He next gives an account of Bagdat, the court of the caliph, and the condition of the Jews there. He afterwards gives an account of a country which he calls Thema, where he places a whole nation of Jews, which some have deemed an entire forgery[9]. He next proceeds to Botzra, Balsora or Bassora, on the Tigris, and thence to Persia, of which he gives the following account.

[9] Perhaps only an exaggerated account of some Jewish independent tribe in Arabia, of which there were once a considerable number, as particularly mentioned in the History of Mahomet.--E.

The river Samoura[10] is esteemed the limits of the kingdom of Persia, and near it stands the city of the same name, in which there are 1500 Jews. Here is the sepulchre of Esdras, the scribe and priest, who died in this place on his return from Jerusalem to the court of Artaxerxes. Our people have built a great synagogue beside his tomb, and the Ismaelites, Arabians, or Mahometans, have built a mosque close by, as they have a great respect for Esdras and the Jews. It is four miles from hence to Chuzestan, which is the same with the ancient city of Elam, now almost ruined and uninhabited. At one end, surrounded by ruins, is the castle of Susa, formerly the palace of Ahasuerus, of which there are still some remains. In this place there are 7000 Jews and fourteen synagogues, before one of which stands the tomb of Daniel. The river Tigris[11] runs through this city, over which there is a bridge. All the Jews on one side of the river are very rich, having well filled shops, and carry on great trade, while those on the other side are very poor, having neither market, shops, gardens, or orchards. This caused them once to make an insurrection, from a notion that the glory and riches of those on the other side of the river was occasioned by their having the sepulchre of the prophet Daniel on their side. The insurgents, therefore, demanded to have his tomb transferred to their side, which was vehemently opposed by the others, and war ensued between them: But both parties growing weary of the war, it was agreed that the coffin of Daniel should remain one year on one side of the river, and next year on the other. This treaty was observed for some time, but was cancelled in the sequel by Sanigar-Shah, son to the great shah of Persia, who rules over forty-five princes. This great king is called in Arabic Sultan Phars Al-Chabir. His empire extends from the river Samoura to Samarcand, the river Gozan, the province of Gisbor, including the cities of the Medes, the mountains of Haphton, and to the province of Thibet, in the forests of which country are found the animals which produce musk; and the empire is four months and four days journey in length.

[10] Probably the Ahwaz, as he seems to have gone from Bassora.--E.
[11] This must be an error in the author, as the Tigris does not come near that city.--E.

Sangiar being at Elam, saw the elders of the people transporting the coffin of Daniel from one side of the river to the other, attended by an immense crowd of Jews and Ismaelites; and, being informed of the cause, gave orders that the coffin should be suspended in a glass case, by chains of iron, from the middle of the bridge, and that a spacious synagogue should be erected in the same place, open to all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who might incline to pray there; and he commanded, from reverence for Daniel, that no fish should be taken in the river for a mile above or below the bridge.

From Elam to Robat-bar are three days journey, where dwell 20,000 Israelites, among whom are many disciples of the wise men, some of them being very rich; but they live under the authority of a strange prince. In two days journey more is the river Vanth, near which dwell 4000 Jews. Four days journey farther is the country of Molhat, full of strong mountains, the inhabitants of which obey an elder who resides in the country of Alchesisin, and they do not believe the doctrine of Mahomet. Among this people there are four colleges of Jews, who go forth to war with the inhabitants, invading the neighbouring countries, and drive away great spoil; for they are not under the dominion of the king of Persia. The Jews in this country are disciples of the wise men, and obey the head of the captivity of Babylon. In five days journey you reach Omaria, where are 25,000 Israelites, and here begin the synagogues of the mountains of Haphton, which exceed one hundred in number, and in this place the country of Media begins. These Jews are of the first captivity, carried away by Salmanazar; but they speak the Chaldean language, and among them are the disciples of the wise men. The chief city is Omaria, and all this country is under the dominion of Persia, to which the inhabitants pay tribute. The tribute for males above fifteen years old, in all the country of the Ismaelites, is one gold amir, or half-a-crown of our money.

About twelve years ago there arose, in the city of Omaria, a man named David Elroi, who was the disciple of Chafdai, the head of the captivity, and of Jacob the chief of the Levites at Bagdat. David was very learned in the law of Moses, and in the books of doctrine, and in all wisdom, even in the languages of the Ismaelites, and in the books of the Magi and the enchanters; and he took it into his head to gather together the Jews who dwelt in the mountains of Haphton, and to make war against the king of Persia, and to go to Jerusalem and win it by assault. For this purpose he endeavoured to draw the Jews to his party by many deceitful signs, affirming that he was sent from God to free them from the yoke of the nations, and to restore them to the holy city; and he succeeded in persuading many that he was the Messiah[12].

[12] This story is told by other Jewish writers, but with some unimportant variations; and there have been many such pretended Messiahs, who persuaded the Jews of the east into revolts, for which consult Basnage, Histoire des Juifs.--Harris.

Hearing of this insurrection, the king of Persia sent for David, who went to him without fear, and even avowed himself to be king of the Jews, on which he was thrown into prison in the city of Dabrestan, near the great river Gozan. After this the king held a great council of his princes and ministers, to consult how to put an end to this insurrection of the Jews, and David made his appearance there, unseen of any but the king. The king asked, "Who hath delivered thee from prison and brought thee here?" To whom David answered, "Mine own wisdom, for I fear not thee or any of thy servants." Then the king commanded his servants to seize him; but they said the voice was heard by all, but they saw not David. Then David cried out with a loud voice, "Lo! I go my way." And he walked out, and the king followed him, and all his servants followed the king, but they saw no one. Coming to the bank of the river, David spread his handkerchief on the waters, and he passed over dry, and then he was seen of all who were present; and they endeavoured to pursue him in boats, but all in vain; and every one marvelled, and said that no enchanter could be compared to this man.

David during that day travelled a ten days journey, and, coming to Omaria, related all that had befallen him; and when the people were amazed, he attributed all that had befallen him to his knowledge of the ineffable name of Jehovah[13]. The king sent messengers to inform the caliph of Bagdat of what had happened, requesting that he would get David restrained from his seditious practices, by order from the head of the captivity, and the chief rulers of the assembly of the Jews; otherwise threatening total destruction to all the Jews in his dominions. All the synagogues in Persia, being in great fear, wrote to the head of the captivity, and the assembly of elders at Bagdat, to the same purpose; and they wrote to David, commanding him to desist from his enterprize, under pain of being excommunicated and cut off from among the people of Israel. But all was in vain, for David persisted in his wicked course; till at length Zinaldin, a king of the Togarmim, or Turks, in subjection to the king of Persia, persuaded the father-in-law of David, by a bribe of ten thousand pieces of gold, to kill him privately, and he thrust David through with a sword in his bed, while asleep. Yet was not the anger of the king of Persia pacified towards the Jews of the mountains, until the head of the captivity went and appeased him with mild and wise speeches, and by the gift of an hundred talents of gold; since which time there has been peace and quiet in the land.

[13] The whole secret of this miracle may be easily explained. David escaped from prison, and told all the rest of the story to the ignorant and credulous Jews of Omaria, from whom the fable has been handed down to Benjamin and other believing relaters.--E.

From these mountains it is twelve days journey to Hamadan, the chief city of Media, in which there are 50,000 Jews, and near one of their synagogues are the sepulchres of Mordecai and Esther. Dabrestan, near the river Gozan, is four days journey from Hamadan, and 4000 Jews dwell there. From thence it is seven days journey to Ispahan, which is a very great city and the capital of the whole country, being twelve miles in circumference. In this city there are about 12,000 Jews, over whom, and all the rest of our nation who dwell in the kingdom of Persia, Shallum is appointed to rule by the head of the captivity. Four days journey from Ispahan is Siaphaz[14], the most ancient city of this country, formerly Persidis, whence the whole province is named, in which there are almost 10,000 Jews. From Siaphaz you come, in seven days journey, to the city of Ginah, near the river Gozan, where there are about 8000 Jews, and to this place merchants resort of all nations and languages. Five days journey from Ginah is the famous Samarcand, the farthest city of this kingdom, where there are 50,000 Israelites, many of whom are wise and rich men, and over whom Obedias is ruler. Four days journey from thence is the city of Thibet[15], the capital of the province of that name, in the forests of which the animals are found that produce musk.

[14] Shiraz, about forty miles from which are the ruins of Persepolis.--E.
[15] The distance here is extremely corrupt, and perhaps four months are meant.--E.

The mountains of Nisbor, which are situated near the river Gozan, are about twenty-eight days journey from Thibet; and some of the Jews in Persia affirm, that the four tribes of Israel, carried away in the first captivity by Salmanazar, still inhabit the cities of Nisbor. Their country extends twenty days journey in length, all full of mountains, and having the river Gozan running on one side, with many inhabited cities, towns, and castles; and the inhabitants are entirely free, being governed by Joseph Amrael, a Levite, and among them are many disciples of the wise men. They sow and reap, and are at war with the children of Chus, who dwell in the deserts[16]. These Jews are in league with the Copheral Turks, a people who dwell in the deserts, and eat no bread, neither do they drink any wine, but feed on the raw or dried flesh of beasts, clean or unclean, devouring them newly killed, while yet trembling with the warm life-blood, and uncooked; yea, even feed on the limbs torn from beasts yet alive. This last people seem to want noses, having only as it were two holes in their faces through which they breathe[17].

[16] The ridiculous impressing of ancient scriptural names for the geographical features of the country, and the nations which inhabited it in his time, and his rambling itinerary, by days journeys, without pointing out the precise direction of the routs, render it next to impossible to investigate the real objects of his observations with any decent chance of success.--E.
[17] This description suits the Calmuks.--E.

These Copheral Turks invaded Persia about fifteen years ago, about 1145, with a great army, and destroyed the metropolitan city of Rei[18], and carried off vast spoil into the desert. Enraged at this insult, the king of Persia endeavoured to pursue them with a powerful army, that he might extirpate these destroyers from the earth, and procured a guide who undertook to conduct him to their dwellings, and recommended to him to take bread and water for fifteen days along with the army, as it would occupy that time to pass the deserts. After marching these fifteen days, the army was without subsistence for man and beast, and no signs could be perceived of any habitation of mankind. On being interrogated, the guide pretended to have lost his way, and was put to death as a traitor. After marching for thirteen days more, in prodigious distress, during which they had to eat up all the beasts that carried their baggage, they arrived at the mountains of Nisbor, inhabited by the Jews, and incamped among gardens and orchards, watered by canals drawn from the river Gozan; and being then the season of ripe fruits, they eat what they pleased, no one appearing to oppose them. At a distance among the mountains, they observed some hamlets and forts, and two scouts were sent to discover what manner of people inhabited the mountains. After proceeding a short way, they found a well built bridge, with a strong barrier, and a very large city at the farther end of the bridge. They here learned, by an interpreter, that the city belonged to an independent nation of Jews, who had a prince of their own, and were in alliance with the Copheral Turks.

[18] Once a great city in the N.W. of Irac-agemi, not far from Cashbin. See Chardin's Travels in Persia, to be found afterwards in this collection.--E.

The scouts returned to the camp with this intelligence, and the Jews, having collected their forces, offered battle on the day following to the Persians, The king declined this, declaring that his only object was against the Copheral Turks, and that if the Jews attacked him he would revenge himself by putting all their brethren in Persia to the sword; but he demanded free passage for his army, and to be supplied with provisions for ready money. Out of regard for their brethren in Persia, the Jews agreed to this proposal, and the Persian army remained fifteen days in the country of the Jews, where they were honourably entertained. In the mean time the Jews sent intelligence of the situation of the Persians to their confederates, and the Turks, gathering their forces, assailed the Persians at certain passes in the mountains, and gave them a terrible overthrow; so that the king escaped with great difficulty into Persia, with a small remnant of his host. On this occasion, one of the Persian horsemen seduced a Jew, named Moses, to accompany him into Persia, and then made him a slave. On a public exhibition of archery in the king's presence, this man appeared to be the most expert archer in all Persia, and being called before the king, declared how he had been trepanned and made a slave. The king restored him to liberty; clothed him in purple and silken garments, and enriched him with liberal gifts; offering him great riches, and the government of the royal household, if he would embrace the religion of the country; and when he courteously declined this, he was placed by the king with Rabbi Shallum, the prince of the synagogue at Ispahan, whose daughter he afterwards married; and this Moses related to me the whole story I have here related.

Departing from these countries, I returned to Khosistan, through which the Tigris runs into Hodu, the Indian sea, or Persian Gulf, and in its passage encompasses the island of Nekrokis[19] near its mouth, which is six days journey in extent. There is only one canal of fresh water in this island, and they have no other water to drink but what is gathered during rain, and preserved, in cisterns, for which reason the land is not cultivated. Yet it is famous for commerce with India, and the islands of the Indian sea; and merchants from Sennar, Arabia, and Persia, bring thither all sorts of silk and purple manufactures, hemp, cotton, flax, and Indian cloth, with plenty of wheat, barley, millet, and rice. The Indian merchants bring also great quantities of spices, and the natives act as factors and interpreters, by which they make great gains; but in that place there are not above 500 Jews. Sailing thence with a favourable wind, I arrived, in ten days, at Kathipha[20], where are 5000 Jews. In these places pearls are found, made by a wonderful artifice of nature; for on the 24th of the month Nisan[21] a certain dew falls into the waters, which, being sucked in by the oysters, they sink immediately to the bottom of the sea, and afterwards, about the middle of the month Tisri, men dive to the bottom, and bring up great quantities of the oysters by means of cords, from which they take out the pearls.

[19] This island has much puzzled commentators, some of whom have wandered to Ormus in quest of its situation. It is probably the flat country of Assyria, between the Tigris and Euphrates, below Bagdat, which he may have mistaken for an island; or it may refer to the Delta of the Tigris and Ahwas. The extent mentioned in the text does not say whether it is to be understood as the length or circumference of the island.--E.
[20] This must be at or near Bahrein, in the Persian Gulf, famous for its pearl-fishery.--E.
[21] Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year, contains the latter half of our March and former half of April; Tisri is equivalent to half of September and half of October.--E.

In seven days journey from thence I came to Oulam[22], which is the entrance of the kingdom of these people, who worship the sun, and are prone to astrology, being of the children of Chus. They are men of a dark complexion, sincere and faithful in all their dealings. When any strangers arrive in their haven, their names are all set down by three secretaries, who carry their lists to the king; afterwards they introduce the merchants to him, and he receives all their goods under his protection, causing them to be landed at a place where they may remain in safety, even without a watch. There is a particular magistrate to whom all things that happen to be lost, or casually removed, are brought, and who returns them to the owners, on giving the marks or description of their property; and this strict fidelity and honest dealing is universal over all this kingdom. In this country, from the passover to the beginning of the succeeding year, the sun shines with such insufferable heat, that the people remain shut up in their houses from the third hour of the day until evening; and then lamps are lighted up in all the streets and markets, and the people labour at their respective callings all night. In this country pepper grows on trees, planted in the fields belonging to every city, all the inhabitants having their proper gardens particularly assigned and known. The shrub is small, and produces a white seed or berry, which, after being gathered, is first steeped in hot water, and then dried in the sun, when it becomes black. Cinnamon and ginger are likewise found here, and many other kinds of spices.

[22] From the circumstance of pepper being plenty in this place it is probable that some part of Malabar is meant, where he may have found a colony of Parsees. Astronomy is often called astrology by old writers.--E.

In this country the bodies of the dead are embalmed with divers drugs and spices, and set up in niches in regular order, covered over with nets; they there dry up completely without corruption, and every one knows his ancestors for many generations back. They worship the sun, said have many large altars erected along the coast, about half a mile without the city, to pay their devotions. On these altars there are consecrated spheres, made by magic art, resembling the circle of the sun; and when the sun rises, these orbs seem to be inflamed, and whirl round with a great noise[23]. In their orisons, every person carries a censer, in which he burns incense in honour of the sun. But among these people there are about a thousand families of Jews, as black as the rest of the natives, yet good honest men, and strict observers of the law of Moses, and not entirely ignorant of the doctrines of the Talmud.

[23] This must have been some secret mechanical contrivance, all wonders unknown to the ignorant being attributed by them to magic art.--E.

From this country I sailed, in twenty-two days, to the islands of Cinrog, the inhabitants of which are called Dogbiim, and are worshippers of fire, among whom 23,000 Jews are settled. The Dogbiim have many priests to officiate in their temples, who are the most skilful sorcerers and enchanters in the world. Before every temple there is a large pit, in which a great fire is kindled every day, called Alhuta, through which their children are made to pass as a purification; into it likewise they cast the bodies of their dead, and even some of their nobles occasionally are so superstitious as to devote themselves to be consumed alive in honour of the deity, in which they are encouraged by their relations, as ensuring their eternal welfare. On the day appointed for the performance of this vow, the devoted person first gives an entertainment, and is then carried to the appointed spot; if rich, on horseback, but on foot if poor, accompanied by a multitude of his friends and others, and immediately leaps into the midst of the burning pit, all his friends and kindred celebrating the festival with music and dancing, until he is entirely consumed. Three days afterwards two of the priests go to the house of the devoted person, and command his family to prepare for a visit from the deceased on the same day. The priests then take certain persons along with them, as witness of the transaction, and carry with them, to the house, a figure resembling the deceased, which they affirm to be himself. The widow and children, as instructed by the priests, then demand how it fares with him in the other world: to which he answers, "I came to my companions, who will not receive me until I have discharged my duty to my friends and kindred." He then makes a distribution of his effects among his children, orders all his debts to be paid, and whatever is owing to him to be demanded. The witnesses set down all this in writing, and then he vanishes. By these arts of juggling and collusion, the priests govern every thing as they please.

In the space of forty days, one may travel to the frontiers of Tzin, which is the very extremity of the east. Some hold that this country is washed by the Nikpha, or coagulated sea, which is liable to prodigious storms; by which, when mariners are surprised, they are reduced to such extremity, that, not being able to get out, they are miserably starved to death, after expending all their provisions[24].

[24] Tzin is obviously China. By the Nikpha, or coagulated sea, the sea of Tartar may be intended; concerning which, some ill-told stories may have reached Benjamin, of mariners having been frozen up. The situation of Cinrog it is impossible to ascertain; but it must have been some part of India, where voluntarily burning alive is still practised, but only by the widows of the higher casts.--E.

From Cinrog, it is three days journey to Gingala, where there are above a thousand Jews. From thence, in seven days, one may sail to Coulan, where there are none of our nation. It is twelve days journey to Zabid, where there are some Jews; and in eight days more, you get to the opposite coast, where there are very high mountains, inhabited by multitudes of Israelites, who are not under the yoke of the Gentiles, but have great cities and strong fortresses of their own.

They descend from thence in parties into the flat countries of Abyssinia, whence they return with their plunder into the mountains, where they are secure against pursuit. Many of these Jews travel for the purposes of trade into Persia and Egypt[25].

[25] Benjamin here obviously speaks of the Jews in the mountains of Abyssinia, still known there under the name of Falassa. It would appear, that the previously indicated courses led across the peninsula of Arabia and the Red Sea; but his names of places are unintelligible.--E.

From thence, it is twenty days journey to Asvan[26], through the deserts of Saba, on the Phison, which river comes from the country of Chus, in the dominions of Shah-Abasch, or the king of Abyssinia. Part of the inhabitants of this country live like beasts, going entirely naked, and feeding only on the grass and herbs that grow by the river side, and propagate with their sisters and nearest relations, without shame or scruple. When the people of Asvan make expeditions into these parts for the sake of plunder, they constantly take with them bread, rice, raisins, and figs, which they throw among the half-famished negroes, and while they scramble for the provisions, like a parcel of dogs, the Asvanians seize them, and carry them as prisoners into Egypt, where they are sold as slaves. It is twelve days journey from Asvan to Chelvan, in which there are about three hundred Jews. From Chelvan they go, in fifty days journey, through the desert Al Tsachra, or Zara, to Zuila or Havilah, in the land of Gana[27]. In these deserts, there are vast mountains of sand, which, being sometimes carried by the force of violent winds, overwhelm whole caravans. The merchants who escape this perilous journey, bring with them from that country, iron, copper, salt, and all sorts of fruits and pulse, and likewise gold and precious stones. This country is part of the land of Chus, and is to the west of Abyssinia.

[26] Perhaps Asowan in upper Egypt, which is rendered probable by the journey through the desert.--E.
[27] Harris considered Gana to mean Guinea; but it is probably Nigritia, or the inland country of Africa, on the Niger or Joliba.--E.

It is thirteen days journey from Chelvan to the city of Kous, which is the first in the land of Egypt, and where 30,000 Jews are settled. At the distance of five days journey is Phium, anciently Pithom, in the neighbourhood of which city the ruins of the structures built by our ancestors, during their captivity in Egypt, are still to be seen[28].

[28] Perhaps Memphis, as he evidently alludes to the pyramids.--E.

Four days journey from thence is the great city of Misraim[29], on the banks of the Nile, in which above 2000 Jews are settled. These have two fair synagogues, one of which belongs to the Jews of Palestine and Syria, and the other to those of Babylon; the only difference between which sects is in the way of dividing the law into portions. The Babylonians, every week, read one Parascha, after the manner usual in Spain, so as to go through the whole law once in every year; but the others divide each parascha into three sedarim, or smaller sections, so that they read over the whole law only once in three years. Yet both of these join in their solemn prayers twice every year. Over the whole Nathaniel presides, being head of the Sanhedrim, and ruler of all the synagogues in Egypt, to which he appoints masters and elders. He is likewise minister of the great king, who resides in the palace of Zoan, a city in Egypt, where Ali, the son of Abitaleb, was once commander of the faithful, and whose subjects are considered as rebels by the other Arabs, because they refuse obedience to the Abassidian khaliff of Bagdat.

[29] Kahira, or Cairo, called also Messir.--E.

The royal city is surrounded with walls, but Misraim is entirely open, having the river Nile on one side. This is a very large city, having many large markets and public buildings, and contains many rich Jews. The country is never troubled with rain, ice, or snow, but is often afflicted with insufferable heat. It is watered by the Nile, which begins to swell every year in the month Elul, and continues swelling during that month and Tisri[30], making the earth fruitful. The old Egyptians erected a fine marble pillar of excellent workmanship in an island at this place, rising twelve cubits above the ordinary surface of the river; and when the water overflows that column, the inhabitants are satisfied that their whole country is overspread for fifteen days journey. If the water rise only half the height of the pillar, they then conclude that only half the country is overflowed. A person is stationed by the pillar, who proclaims the height of the water every day at noon. When the water rises to a sufficient height, it indicates a year of fertility and plenty in Egypt; but when it does not overflow, nothing is sown, and sterility and famine are the consequences. The people of the country have trenches dug in their grounds, in which great numbers of fish are caught when the river recedes, which they either use in their families, or salt them for sale. These fish are very fat, and supply oil for lamps. It is an old question, on which there is great diversity of opinion, as to the cause of the overflow of the Nile; but the Egyptians suppose, that it proceeds from the falling of heavy rains in the land of Habash, which we call Havilah or Abyssinia. The fields are usually sowed in the month of September, as the Nile has then retired into its channel. Barley is reaped in February, and wheat in March; and in that month, grapes, cherries, and almonds are ripe; and encumbers, gourds, pease, beans, and lentils; and various pot-herbs, as purslain, asparagus, lettuce, corianders, succory, coleworts, &c. The gardens and orchards are watered by means of trenches filled from the Nile.

[30] Elul contains from the middle of August to the middle of September and Tisri from that to the middle of October. But the Nile begins to rise in the middle of June, and returns to its usual level in October.--E.

After passing Cairo, this great river divides into four branches, one of which runs by Damietta, sometimes called Caphtor. The second runs near the city of Rosir or Rosetta, not far from Alexandria. The third passes by Asmon, a very large city on the eastern borders of Egypt. Near these great branches, there are many cities, castles, and towns, to which people travel partly by land, and partly by water. No country in the world can be compared to this for the multitude of inhabitants; and the whole land is plain, fruitful, and stored with good things. Old Misraim is two league distant from New Misraim, or Cairo; but the old city is now desolate, having many ruins of walls and houses, and not a few remains of the granaries and storehouses, built by Joseph, are still to be seen. In the same place, there is an artificial pillar, built by art of magic, the like of which is not in all the land. On the outside of the city, there are the remains of an ancient synagogue, which bears the name of our teacher Moses, and to preserve its ruins, an old minister of the disciples of the wise men [31], is maintained at this place, who is styled Schech Albounetzar, or father of the watch. The ruins of Old Misraim extend about four miles.

[31] Of the Rabbinists or Talmudists.--E.

The land of Goshen is eight leagues from Old Misraim, and in it is Bolsir- salbis, a great city, in which there are 3000 Jews. From hence you travel, in half a day's journey, to Iskaal-Lein-Al-sames, anciently called Rameses, now in ruins; where are to be seen many works of our fathers, and among these certain huge edifices like towers, bulk of bricks. From thence, in one day's journey, you come to Al-Bugg, where are 200 Jews; and in another half days journey, to Manziptha, where there are 200 Jews; Ramira is four leagues distant, having 700 Jews; and thence, in five days journey, you come to Lamkhala, where there are 500 Jews. In two days journey more, you arrive at Alexandria, which was sumptuously built, and strongly fortified, at the command of Alexander the Macedonian. On the outside of the city, there is still to be seen a great and beautiful edifice, which is said to have been the college of Aristotle, the tutor of Alexander, wherein were twenty schools, frequented in former times by the learned men of the whole world, who assembled to learn the philosophy of Aristotle, and this academy was adorned with stately marble porticos. The city itself is excellently built, and well paved, having many vaults and arches underneath, some of which are a whole mile in length, leading from the gate of Rosetta to the gate leading to the sea. The haven extends a whole mile in length, and at this place, a very high tower was built, called Hemegarah by the inhabitants, and Magar-Iscander by the Arabs, which signifies the Pharos of Alexander. It is reported that Alexander fixed a curious mirror on the top of this tower, by means of which, all warlike ships sailing from Greece, or out of the west into Egypt, might be seen at the distance of five hundred leagues. But a Greek captain, who had great knowledge of the sciences, came thither with his ship, and ingratiated himself in the favour of the king, by presents of gold and silver and rich silks. He likewise took great pains to acquire the friendship of the officer who had charge of the mirror and watch-tower, by frequently entertaining him in his ship, and at length was permitted to go into, and stay in the tower, as often, and as long as he pleased. One day, he gave a magnificent entertainment to the keeper of the tower and his men, and dosed them so plentifully with wine, that they all fell fast asleep; on which he broke the mirror to pieces, and then sailed away in the night. Since then, the Christians have infested the coasts of Egypt with their ships of war, and have taken the two large islands of Crete and Cyprus, which remain at this day under the power of the Greeks. The Pharos is still used as a beacon for the service of ships bound to Alexandria, and can be discerned by day or night, from the distance of an hundred miles, as a vast fire is kept burning there all night for the purpose.

Egypt enjoys a large share of trade, and is frequented by almost all nations; and the port of Alexandria swarms with vessels from every part of Christendom, as from Valencia, Tuscany, Lombardy, Apulia, Malfi, and Sicily. Others come from the most northern parts of Europe, and even from inland places; as from Cracow, Cordova, Spain, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, England, Flanders, Artois, Normandy, France, Poitou, Angiers, Gascony, Arragon, and Navarre. There come many also from the western empire of the Ishmaelites or Arabs, as from Andalusia, Algarve, Africa, and even Arabia, besides what come by the Indian ocean from Havilah or Abyssinia, and the rest of Ethiopia, not omitting the Greeks and Turks. To this, country likewise are brought the richest merchandizes of the Indies, and all sorts of perfumes and spices, which are bought by the Christian merchants. The city is extremely populous, on account of its extensive commerce; and for the greater conveniency in the carrying on of their dealings, every nation has its separate factory. There is, near the sea side, a marble tomb, on which are engraven the figures of all sorts of birds and beasts, with an inscription in such old characters, that no one can now read them; whence it is believed that it had belonged to some king who governed that country before the deluge. The length of this sepulchre is fifteen spans, and it is six spans broad[32]. To conclude, there are about 3000 Jews in Alexandria.

[32] This may possibly have been the Sarcophagus brought lately from Alexandria, and deposited in the British museum, under the strange idea of having been the tomb of Alexander. Benjamin seems to have known nothing about the hieroglyphics, with which his tomb was obviously covered.--E.

Leaving Egypt, Benjamin made an expedition from Damietta to Mount Sinai, and returned to Damietta, whence he sailed to Messina in Sicily, and travelled to Palermo. Crossing into Italy, he went by land to Rome and Lucca. He afterwards crossed the Alps, and passed through a great part of Germany, mentioning, in his remarks, the great multitudes of Jews who were settled in the numerous cities of that extensive empire, insisting at large on their wealth, and generosity, and hospitality to their distressed brethren, and gives a particular detail of the manner in which they were received. He informs us, that at the entertainments of the Jews they encourage each other to persist in hoping for the coming of their Messiah, when the tribes of Israel shall be gathered under his command, and conducted back into their own country. Until this long expected event shall arrive, they hold it their duty to persevere in their obedience to the law of Moses, to lament with tears the destruction of Jerusalem and Zion, and to beseech the Almighty to pity them in their affliction, and restore them at his appointed time. He asserts that his countrymen are not only settled in all the provinces and cities of the German empire, but through all the countries of the north, to the very extremities of Russia; and describes that country as so cold in winter that the inhabitants could not stir out of doors. He tells us that France, which the Rabbins call Tzorphat, is full of the disciples of the wise men, who study the law day and night, and are extremely charitable to their distressed brethren; and concludes with an earnest prayer to God, to remember his promise to the children of Israel, to return unto them, and to reassemble them from among all the nations, through which, in his wrath, he has dispersed them.

Towards the end of his travels[33], Benjamin mentions that Prague in Bohemia is the beginning of Sclavonia. In speaking of the Russian empire, he says it extends from the gates of Prague to the gates of [Hebrew] Phin, a large town at the beginning of the kingdom. In that country the animals called [Hebrew] Wairegres, and [Hebrew] Neblinatz are found. Interpreters disagree about the meaning of these words. But it clearly appears that Phin is no other than Kiow, then the capital of the Russian empire; and we should therefore read [Hebrew:] Chiw: and indeed the interpreters might easily have supposed that the word was wrong written, from its wanting the final nun. Russia has always been famous for its gray foxes or gray squirrels, which, in the Russian language, are called [Hebrew] in the Hebrew text, therefore, of Benjamin, we should read [Hebrew] Waiwerges, which as nearly resembles the Russian word, as a Spanish Jew could possibly write it. The name of the other animal should be written [Hebrew] Zeblinatz, by which are meant Sables. Jordanis had before this called these skins Sapphilinias pelles.--Forst.

[33] This short commentary upon three words in that part of the travels of Benjamin, which has been omitted in Harris, is extracted from Forster, Hist of Voy. and Disc. in the North, p. 92, and shews the extreme difficulty of any attempt to give an accurate edition of the whole work, if that should be thought of, as it would require critical skill not only in Hebrew, but in the languages of the different countries to which the travels refer.--E.


Travels of an Englishman into Tartary, and thence into Poland, Hungary, and Germany, in 1243.[1]

[1] Hakluyt, I, 22.

This earliest remaining direct account of the Tartars, or Mongols receiving that name, which is extremely short and inconclusive, is recorded by Matthew Paris, in a letter from Yvo de Narbonne to the archbishop of Bourdeaux, and is here given as a literary curiosity.

Provoked by the sins of the Christians, the Lord hath become as it were a destroying enemy, and a dreadful avenger; having sent among us a prodigiously numerous, most barbarous, and inhuman people, whose law is lawless, and whose wrath is furious, even as the rod of God's anger, overrunning and utterly ruining infinite countries, and cruelly destroying every thing where they come with fire and sword. This present summer, that nation which is called Tartars, leaving Hungary, which they had surprised by treason, laid siege, with many thousand soldiers, to the town of Newstadt, in which I then dwelt, in which there were not above fifty men at arms, and twenty cross-bow-men, left in garrison. All these observing from certain high places the vast army of the enemy, and abhorring the beastly cruelty of the accomplices of Antichrist, signified to the governor the hideous lamentations of his Christian subjects, who, in all the adjoining provinces, were surprised and cruelly destroyed, without any respect of rank, fortune, age, or sex. The Tartarian chieftains, and their brutishly savage followers, glutted themselves with the carcasses of the inhabitants, leaving nothing for the vultures but the bare bones; and strange to tell, the greedy and ravenous vultures disclaimed to prey on the remains left by the Tartars. Old and deformed women they gave for daily sustenance to their cannibals: The young and beautiful they devoured hot, but smothered them shrieking and lamenting under their forced and unnatural ravishments; and cutting off the breasts of tender virgins to present as dainties to their leaders, they fed themselves upon their bodies.

Their spies having descried from the top of a high mountain the Duke of Austria, the King of Bohemia, the Patriarch of Aquileia, the Duke of Carindiia, and as some say, the Earl of Baden, approaching with a mighty power towards them, the accursed crew immediately retired into the distressed and vanquished land of Hungary, departing as suddenly as they had invaded, and astonishing all men by the celerity of their motions. The prince of Dalmatia took eight of the fugitives, one of whom was recognized, by the Duke of Austria as an Englishman, who had been perpetually banished from England for certain crimes. This man had been sent twice as a messenger and interpreter from the most tyrannical king of the Tartars to the king of Hungary, menacing and fortelling those mischiefs which afterwards happened, unless he would submit himself and his kingdom to the yoke of the Tartars. Being urged by our princes to confess, the truth, this man made such oaths and protestations, as I think might have served to make even the devil be trusted.

He reported of himself, that presently after his banishment, being then about thirty years of age, and having lost all he possessed at dice in the city of Acon[2] he set off from thence, in the middle of winter, wearing nothing but a shirt of sacking, a pair of shoes, and a hairy cap; and, being shaven like a fool, he uttered an uncouth noise, as if he had been dumb, and wandered about through many countries in search of food. At length, through fatigue, and change of air and diet, he fell grievously sick in Chaldea, insomuch that he was weary of his life. Being compelled to remain there a long time to recover his strength, and having some learning, he began to write down the words he heard spoken, and in a short time made himself so much master of the language, as to be reputed a native; and in this manner he attained expertness in many languages. The Tartars got notice of this man by means of their spies, and drew him by force among them; and, having been admonished by an oracle or vision to extend their dominion over the whole earth, they allured him by many offers of reward, to serve them as an interpreter. He gave the following account of the manners and superstitions of the Tartars, of the disposition and stature of their bodies, and of their country and manner of fighting.

[2] Acre, in Palestine--E.

The Tartars are covetous, irascible, deceitful, and merciless, beyond all men; yet, through the rigour of discipline which is exercised by their superiors, they are restrained from brawls and mutual strife. They esteem the ancient founders and fathers of their tribes as Gods, in whose honour they celebrate solemn feasts at certain fixed times; and these deities are very numerous, though only four are considered as general gods of the nation. They consider all things as created for their sole use, and do not therefore think themselves cruel or unjust in wasting and destroying the surrounding nations, whom they esteem rebels against their legitimate authority. Their bodies, though lean, are hardy and strong, with broad chests, and square high shoulders, strong, well knit joints and firm sinews, thick and large thighs, with short legs, so that, being equal to us in stature, what they want in their legs is supplied in the upper part of their bodies. Their faces are pale, with short flat noses, their eyes black and inconstant, having large eyebrows, extending down to the nose; long sharp chins, their upper jaws low and declining, their teeth long and thin, their countenances distorted, fierce and terrible.

In ancient times their country, which is situated far beyond Chaldea, was utterly waste and barren, from whence they have expelled the lions, bears, and other wild beasts. Of the tanned hides of beasts they make for themselves light but impenetrable armour, and their backs are only slightly armed, that they may not flee in battle. They use small but strong horses, which are maintained with little provender. In fight they use javelins, maces, battle-axes, and swords, but are particularly expert in the use of bows and arrows. When engaged in battle they never retire till they see the chief standard of their general give back. When vanquished they ask no quarter, and in victory they shew no compassion; and though many millions in number, they all persist as one man, in resolving to subdue the whole world under their dominion. They have 60,000 couriers who are sent before upon light horses to prepare a place for the army to encamp, and these will gallop in one night as far as our troops can march in three days. When they invade a country, they suddenly diffuse themselves over the whole land, surprising the people unarmed, unprovided, and dispersed, and make such horrible slaughter and devastation, that the king or prince of the invaded land cannot collect a sufficient force to give them battle.

Sometimes they say, they intend to go to Cologne to bring home the three wise kings into their own country; sometimes they propose to punish the avarice and pride of the Romans, who formerly oppressed them; sometimes to conquer the barbarous nations of the north; sometimes to moderate the fury of the Germans with their own mildness; sometimes in derision they say that they intend going in pilgrimage to the shrine of St James in Galicia. By means of these pretences, some indiscreet governors of provinces have entered into league with them, and have, granted them free passage through their territories; but which leagues they have ever violated, to the certain ruin and destruction of these princes and their unhappy countries.


Sketch of the Revolutions in Tartary.

Our limits do not admit of any detailed account of the history of those numerous and warlike pastoral nations, which in all ages have occupied the vast bounds of that region, which has been usually denominated Scythia by the ancients, and Tartary by the moderns: yet it seems necessary to give in this place, a comprehensive sketch of the revolutions which have so strikingly characterized that storehouse of devastating conquerors, to elucidate the various travels into Tartary which are contained in this first book of our work; and in this division of our plan, we have been chiefly guided by the masterly delineations on the same subject, of the eloquent historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire[1].

[1] Gibbon, Dec. and Fall, IV. 355.

In their navigation of the Euxine, and by planting colonies on its coasts, the Greeks became acquainted with Western Scythia, extending from the Danube, along the northern frontiers of Thrace, to mount Caucasus. The great extent of the ancient Persian Empire, which reached at one period from the Danube to the Indus, exposed its whole northern frontier to the Scythian nations, as far to the east as the mountains of Imaus or Caf, now called the Belur-tag. The still more eastern parts of Scythia or Tartary were known of old to the Chinese, and stretch to the utmost north-eastern bounds of Asia. Thus from the Danube and Carpathian mountains, in long. 26°. E, to the promontory of Tschuts-koi-nos, or the East Cape of Asia, in long. 190°. E. this vast region extends in length 160 degrees of longitude, or not less than 8000 miles. Its southern boundaries are more difficultly ascertainable: but, except where they are pressed northwards by the anciently civilized empire of China, these may be assumed at a medium on the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude; from, whence Scythia or Tartary extends in breadth to the extremity of the frozen north.

Next to the nomadic nations of Western Scythia, who encountered and baffled the arms of Darius, King of Persia, under the general name of Scythians, who were perhaps congeneric, or the same with those afterwards known by the name of Goths, the dreaded name of the Huns became known to the declining Roman Empire. But our object does not require us to attempt to trace the history of these nations, under their various appellations of Huns, Topa, Geougen, Turks, Chozars, and others, till the establishment of the vast empire of Zingis connected the history and devastating conquests of the Tartars with the affairs of modern Europe[2].

[2] Decl. and Fall, XI. 402.

In the beginning of the thirteenth century, Temugin, the son of a Mogul chief, laid the foundations of a vast empire in the north east of Tartary or Mongolia. His father had reigned over thirteen hordes or tribes of the Moguls, Moals, or Monguls: and as it was not customary for these warlike tribes to submit to be ruled over by a boy, Temugen, who at the death of his father was only thirteen years of age, had to contend with his revolted, subjects, and had to obey a conqueror of his own nation. In a new attempt to recover the command over the subjects of his, father, he was more successful: and under the new appellation of Zingis, which signifies most great, he became the conqueror of an empire of prodigious extent. In person, or by means of his lieutenants, he successfully reduced the nations, tribes, or hordes of Tartary or Scythia, from China to the Volga, and established his undisputed authority over the whole pastoral world. He afterwards subjugated the five northern provinces of China, which were long imperfectly known under the name of Kathay; and successively reduced Carisme or Transoxiana, now great Bucharia, Chorassan, and Persia: and he died in 1227, after having exhorted and instructed his sons to persevere in the career of conquest, and more particularly to complete the conquest of China.

The vast empire established by Zingis, was apportioned among his four principal sons, Toushi, Zagatai, Octai, and Tuli, who had been respectively his great huntsman, chief judge, prime minister, and grand general. Firmly united among themselves, and faithful to their own and the public interest, three of these brothers, and their families and descendants, were satisfied with subordinate command; and Octai, by general consent of the maols, or nobles, was proclaimed Khan, or emperor of the Moguls and Tartars. Octai was succeeded by his son Gayuk; after whose death, the empire devolved successively on his cousins Mangou or Mangu, and Cublai, the sons of Tuli, and the grandsons of Zingis. During the sixty-eight years of the reigns of these four successors of Zingis, the Moguls subdued almost all Asia, and a considerable portion of Europe. The great Khan at first established his royal court at Kara-kum in the desert, and followed the Tarter custom of moving about with the golden horde, attended by numerous flocks and herds, according to the changes of the season: but Mangu-Khan, and Cublai-Khan, established their principal seat of empire in the new city of Pe-king, or Khan-balu, and perfected the conquest of China, reducing Corea, Tonkin, Cochin-china, Pegu, Bengal, and Thibet, to different degrees of subjection, or tribute, under the direct influence of the great Khan, and his peculiar lieutenants.

The conquest of Persia was completed by Holagu, the son of Tuli and grandson of Zingis, who of course was' brother to the two successive emperors, Mangu and Cublai. From Persia, the Moguls spread their ravages and conquests over Syria, Armenia, and Anatolia, or what is now called Turkey in Asia; but Arabia was protected by its burning deserts, and Egypt was successfully defended by the arms of the Mamalukes, who even repelled the Moguls from Syria.

Batu, another son of Tuli, conquered Turkestan and Kipzak[3], Astracan and Cazan, and reduced Georgia and Circassia to dependence. Advancing from the Black Sea to Livonia on the Baltic, Moscow and Kiow were reduced to ashes, and Russia submitted to pay tribute. Their victorious arms penetrated into Poland, in which they destroyed the cities of Lublin and Cracow; and they even defeated the confederate army of the dukes of Silesia, the Polish palatines, and the great master of the Teutonic knights, at Lignitz, the, most western extremity of their destructive march. From Lignitz they turned aside into Hungary, and reduced the whole of that country to the north of the Danube. During the winter, they crossed the Danube on the ice. Gran, the capital of Hungary, was taken by storm, and Bela, the unfortunate king of Hungary, had to take shelter in one of the islands at the head of the Adriatic. So terrible was the alarm in Europe, that the inhabitants of Sweden and the north of Germany neglected, in 1238, to send their ships, as usual, to the herring-fishery on the coast of England; and, as observed by Gibbon, it is whimsical enough to learn, that the price of herrings in the English market was lowered in consequence of the orders of a barbarous Mogul khan, who resided on the borders of China[4]. The tide of ruin was stemmed at Newstadt in Austria, by the bravery of fifty knights and twenty cross-bow-men; and the Tartars, awed by the fame of the valour and arms of the Franks, or inhabitants of western Europe, raised the siege on the approach of a German army, commanded by the emperor Frederic the Second. After laying waste the kingdoms of Servia, Bosnia, and Bulgaria, the adventurous Batu slowly retreated from the Danube to the Volga, and established his seat of command in the city and palace of Serai, both of which he had caused to be built upon the eastern arm of that noble river. Another of the sons of Tuli, Shaibani-khan, led a horde of 15,000 Tartar families into the wilds of Siberia; and his descendants reigned above three centuries at Tobolsk, in that secluded region, and even reduced the miserable Samoyedes in the neighbourhood of the polar circle.

[3] Dashte Kipzak, or the plain of Kipzak, extended on both sides of the Volga, towards the Jaik or Ural, and the Borysthenes or Dnieper, and is supposed to have given name to the Cosacs.--Gibb.
[4] As reported by Gibbon, from Matthew Paris, p. 396, forty or fifty herrings were sold for a shilling. This must be an error, perhaps for 40 or 50 thousand; as a shilling of these days was worth at least from fifteen to twenty modern shillings in effective value; and within memory herrings have often sold, in a very plentiful fishery, for a shilling the cart-load, when salt could not be had in sufficient quantity.--E.

Such was the establishment and extent of the first Tartar or Mogul empire. The descendants of Cublai gave themselves up to luxury in the palace of Peking, amidst a mischievous crowd of eunuchs, concubines, and astrologers, and their Mogul army, dissolved and dispersed in a vast and populous country, forgot the discipline and bravery of their ancestors. The secondary Mogul sovereigns of the west, assumed entire independence; and the great khan was satisfied with the empire of China and eastern Mongalia, In 1367, one hundred and forty years after the death of Zingis, roused to rebellion by a dreadful famine, in which thirteen millions of the inhabitants of China perished, the native Chinese expelled their degenerate Mogul oppressors, and the great khan became a wanderer in the desert. The vast empire established by Zingis and his immediate successors was now broken down into four vast fragments, each a powerful empire, Mongalia, Kipzak, Zagtai or Transoxiana, and Persia; and these four khans often contended with each other. On their ruins in lesser Asia, arose the formidable, more permanent, and still subsisting empire of the Ottoman Turks, whose youthful energies threatened the subversion of the last remains of the Greek empire, which they at last effected, and might perhaps have conquered the whole of Western Europe, if their progress had not been arrested by the power of a new Mogul dynasty.

In the distribution of the vast empire of Zingis, we have already seen that Zagathai, one of his sons, received the subordinate rule of Transoxiana, or the rich country on the rivers Jihon or Amu, and the Sir or Sihon, the Oxus and Jaxartes of the ancients. This extensive and fertile country, now called Western Turkestan, Great Bucharia, Kharism, Chorassan, and Balk, with some other smaller territories, is bounded on the west by the Caspian, on the east by the Belur-tag or Imaus, on the north by the deserts of western Tartary, and on the south by the mountains of the Hindoo-koh, and the desert of Margiana. The descendants of Zagatai were long considered as the khans or sovereigns of this fair empire, which fell into civil war and anarchy, through the divisions and subdivisions of the hordes, the uncertain laws of succession, and the ambition of the ministers of state, who reduced their degenerate masters to mere state puppets, and elevated or deposed successive khans at their pleasure; and the divided and distracted country was subjected or oppressed by the invasions of the khans of Kashgar, who ruled over the Calmucks or Getes in eastern Turkestan, or little Bucharia, on the cast of Imaus or the Belur-tag.

In this state of misery and depression, a new hero arose, in 1361, to vindicate and re-establish the fame and empire of the Moguls[5]. Timour, usually called Tamerlane, was the son of the hereditary chief of Cash, a small but fruitful territory about forty miles to the south of Samarcand. He was the fifth in descent from Carashar-Nevian, who had been vizir or prime minister to Zagathai, of which sovereign Timour was descended in the female line. After various fortunes, he in 1370, rendered himself absolute sovereign of Transoxiana, then called Zagatai, after its first Mogul ruler; but for some time, he affected to govern as prime minister, or general, to a nominal khan of the house of Zingis, who served as a private officer at the head of his family horde in the army of his servant. After establishing his authority in Zagatai, and conquering Kharism, and Candahar, he turned his arms against Persia or Iran, which had fallen into disorganization by the extinction of the descendants of the great Holacou, and which country he reduced under subjection. He successively reduced Cashgar, or eastern Turkestan, and Kipzak or western Tartary, and invaded Syria and Anatolia. In this invasion, in 1402, was fought the great battle of Angora, in which Bajazet, the great sultan of the Turks, was defeated and taken prisoner. By this great victory, the progress of the Turkish arms was checked for a time, and perhaps Europe was saved on that day from being subjected to the law of Mahomet. Yet the vast empire which Timour established, fell into fragments after his death, in 1405, and his descendants have sunk into oblivion; while the race of Othman and Bajazet still rule over a large empire in Europe and Asia, nearly commensurate with the eastern Roman empire, still called Rumi in the east.

[5] Decl. and Fall. XII. I.

Having thus traced an outline of the revolutions of empire in Tartary, down to what may be considered as modern history, it is only necessary farther to mention, that all eastern Tartary and Mongalia is now subject to China, and Kipzac and all the northern to Russia. Hardly any part of it now remains independent, except Zagatai; or Transoxiana, Kharism, Candabar, and the deserts of Western Tartary: the former of which is subject to the Usbeks, and the latter to the Kirguses.


The Travels of John de Plano Carpini and other Friars, sent about the year 1246, as ambassadors from Pope Innocent IV, to the great Khan of the Moguls or Tartars.[1]

[1] Hakluyt. I. 24. and 42. for the Latin of the two relations; and p. 59. for the old English translation of the second.


In the collection of early Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries, by Hakluyt, published originally in 1599, and reprinted at London in 1809 with additions, there are two separate relations of these travels. The first, in p. 24, is the journal of John de Plano Carpini, an Italian minorite, who, accompanied by friar Benedict, a Polander, went in 1246 by the north of the Caspian sea, to the residence of Batu-khan, and thence to Kajuk- khan, whom he calls Cuyne, the chief or Emperor of all the Mongols. The second in p. 42, is a relation taken from the Speculum Historiale of Vincentius Beluacensis, lib. xxxii. ch. 2. of the mission of certain friars, predicants and minorites in the same year, 1246, to the same country; and in p. 59. of the same collection, there is a translation by Hakluyt into antiquated English of this second account. From this second narrative it appears, that Vincentius had received an account of the journey of the second mission from Simon de St Quintin, a minorite friar belonging to the party; and that he had worked up along with this, the whole of the narrative which had been separately published by Carpini of his journey; which indeed forms by far the larger and more interesting portion of the work published by Vincentius. This latter edition, therefore has been considered as sufficient for the present collection, because to have given both would have been an unnecessary repetition; and it is here translated from the Latin of Hakluyt, I. 42.

The object of this mission or embassy seems to have been as follows: A prodigious alarm was excited in Europe, by the victorious and destructive progress of the Mongals or Tartars; who, under the command of Tuschi-khan, and of Batu-khan, the son of Tuschi, advancing through Kipzhak, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, all of which they had most horribly ravaged and laid waste, had penetrated even into Silesia; while by the eastern side or the Caspian, penetrating through Transoxiana and Persia, under the command of Zagatai-khan, likewise a son of Zingus, and Holagu-khan, a nephew of Zagatai, they had made their appearance on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. In this alarming conjuncture, it was thought advisable by Pope Innocent IV. in a convocation of the clergy at Lyons, in 1245, to send ambassadors to these formidable conquerors, to endeavour to pacify them, and induce them to turn the destructive tide of their conquests in some other direction, and perhaps partly in the hope of endeavouring, if possible, to convert them to the Christian faith, and inducing them to direct their arms against the Turks and Saracens, who oppressed the Holy Land. For this purpose, six monks were selected from the new and severe orders of predicants and minorites. John de Plano Carpini and Benedict, travelled through Bohemia and Poland to Kiow in Russia, and thence by the mouth of the Dnieper to the camp of Korrensa, or Corrensa, a general of the Mongals; whence, crossing the Don and Wolga or Volga, they came to the encampment of Bata-khan, called also Baty and Baatu, who sent them to Kajuk-khan, the emperor of the Mongals, whom they call Cuyne. The other ambassadors were Asceline, with Friars Alexander, Albert, and Simon de St Quintin: who went by the south of the Caspian, through Syria, Persia, and Chorassan, to the court of Baiju-Nojan, or as they call him Bajothnoy: but of the particulars of this journey very little has been preserved by Vincentius, so that in fact, the travels here published belong almost exclusively to Carpini.

The full title given by Hakluyt to this relation is worth preserving as a literary curiosity, and is as follows:

"The long and wonderful voyage of Friar John de Plano Carpini, sent ambassador, by Pope Innocent IV. A.D. 1246, to the great Can of Tartacia; wherein he passed through Bohemia, Polonia, Russia, and so to the city of Kiow upon Boristhenes, and from thence rode continually post for the space of sixe moneths through Comania, over the mighty and famous rivers, Tanais, Volga, and Jaie, and through the countries of the people called Kangittae, Bisermini, Karakitay, Naimani, and so to the native country of the Mongols or Tartars, situate in the extreme north-eastern partes of all Asia; and thence back again the same Way to Russia, and Polonia, and so to Rome; spending in the whole voyage among the sayd Tartars, one whole year, and above four moneths: Taken out of the 32 booke of Vincentius Beluacensis his Speculum Historiale."


Introductory Epistle by John de Plano Carpini.

To all the faithful in Christ, to whom this writing may come, I friar John de Plano Carpini, of the order of minorites, legate and messenger from the Apostolic see to the Tartars and other nations of the east, wish the Grace of God in this life, and glory in the next, and perpetual triumph over all the enemies of the Lord. Having learnt the will of our lord the Pope, and the venerable Cardinals, and received the commands of the holy see, that we should go to the Tartars and other nations of the east, we determined to go in the first place to the Tartars; because we dreaded that the most imminent and nearest danger to the Church of God arose from them. And although we personally dreaded from these Tartars and other nations, that we might be skin or reduced to perpetual slavery, or should suffer hunger and thirst, the extremes of heat and cold, reproach, and excessive fatigue beyond our strength, all of which; except death and captivity, we have endured, even beyond our first fears, yet did we not spare ourselves, that we might obey the will of God, according to the orders of our lord the Pope, that we might be useful in any thing to the Christians, or at least, that the will and intention of these people might be assuredly known, and made manifest to Christendom, lest suddenly invading us, they might find us unprepared, and might make incredible slaughter of the Christian people. Hence, what we now write is for your advantage, that you may be on your guard, and more secure; being what we saw with our own eyes, while we sojourned with and among these people, during more than a year and four months, or which we have learnt from Christian captives residing among them, and whom we believe to, be worthy of credit. We were likewise enjoined by the supreme pontiff, that we should examine and inquire into every thing very diligently; all of which, both myself and friar Benedict of the same order, my companion in affliction and interpreter, have carefully performed.


Of the first Mission of Friars Predicants and Minorites to the Tartars.

At the same period, Pope Innocent IV. sent Friar Asceline of the order of friars predicants, with three other friars from different convents, with apostolical letters to the army of the Tartars, exhorting them to desist from slaughtering mankind, and to adopt the true Christian faith; and from one of these lately returned, Friar Simon de St Quintin, of the minorite order, I have received the relations concerning the transactions of the Tartars, which are here set down. At the same period, Friar, John de Plano Carpini of the order of minorites, with some others, was sent to the Tartars, and remained travelling among them for sixteen months. This Friar John hath written a little history, which is come to our hands, of what he saw among the Tartars, or learnt from divers persons living in captivity. From which I have inserted such things, in the following relation, as were wanting in the accounts given me by Friar Simon.


Of the Situation and Quality of the Land of the Tartars, from Carpini.

The land of Mongolia or Tartary is in the east part of the world, where the east and north are believed to unite[1]; haying the country of Kathay, and the people called Solangi on the east; on the south the country of the Saracens; the land of the Huini on the south-east; on the west the province of Naimani, and the ocean on the north. In some parts it is full of mountains, in other parts quite plain; but everywhere interspersed with sandy barrens, not an hundredth part of the whole being fertile, as it cannot be cultivated except where it is watered with rivers, which are very rare. Hence there are no towns or cities, except one named Cracurim[2], which is said to be tolerably good. We did not see that place, although within half a day's journey, when we were at the horde of Syra, the court of their great emperor. Although otherwise infertile, this land is well adapted for the pasture of cattle. In some places there are woods of small extent, but the land is mostly destitute of trees; insomuch, that even the emperor and princes, and all others, warm themselves and cook their victuals with fires of horse and cow dung. The climate is very intemperate, as in the middle of summer there are terrible storms of thunder and lightning, by which many people are killed, and even then there are great falls of snow, and there blow such tempests of cold winds, that sometimes people can hardly sit on horseback. In one of these, when near the Syra Horde, by which name they signify the station of the emperor, or of any of their princes, we had to throw ourselves prostrate on the ground, and could not see by reason of the prodigious dust. It never rains in winter, but frequently in summer, yet so gently as scarcely to lay the dust, or to moisten the roots of the grass. But there are often prodigious showers of hail; insomuch, that by the sudden melting of one of these, at the time when the emperor elect was about to be placed on his throne, at which time we were at the imperial court, above an hundred and sixty persons were drowned, and many habitations and much valuable things were swept away. In summer there are often sudden and intolerable heats, quickly followed by extreme cold.

[1] This strange personification of the East and North, as if they were stationary geographical terms, not merely, relative, only means that Mongalia lay in the most north-easterly part of the then known world. --E.
[2] Called likewise Karakum, or Caracorum, and said to signify the Black Sand.--E.


Of the Appearance, Dress, and Manner of Living of the Tartars.

The appearance of the Mongols or Tartars is quite different from all other nations, being much wider between the eyes and cheeks, and their cheeks are very prominent, with small flat noses, and small eyes, having the upper lids opened up to the eyebrows, and their crowns are shaven like priests on each side, leaving some long hair in the middle, the remainder being allowed to grow long like women, which they twist into two tails or locks, and bind behind their ears. The garments of the men and women are alike, using neither cloaks, hats, nor caps, but they wear strange tunics made of bucram, purple, or baldequin. Their gowns are made of skins, dressed in the hair, and open behind. They never wash their clothes, neither do they allow others to wash, especially in time of thunder, till that be over. Their houses are round, and artificially made like tents, of rods and twigs interwoven, having a round hole in the middle of the roof for the admission of light and the passage of smoke, the whole being covered with felt, of which likewise the doors are made. Some of these are easily taken to pieces or put together, and are carried on sumpter-cattle; while others are not capable of being taken to pieces, and are carried on carts. Wherever they go, whether to war, or only travelling to fresh pastures, these are carried with them. They have vast numbers of camels, oxen, sheep, and goats, and such prodigious multitudes of horses and mares, as are not to be found in all the rest of the world; but they have no swine. Their emperor, dukes, and other nobles, are extremely rich in gold and silver, silks, and gems. They eat of every thing that is eatable, and we have even seen them eat vermin. They drink milk in great quantity, and particularly prefer that of mares. But as in winter, none but the rich can have mares milk, they make a drink of millet boiled in water; every one drinking one or two cups in the morning, and sometimes having no other food all day; but in the evening, every one has a small quantity of flesh, and they drink the broth in which it was boiled. In summer, when they have abundance of mares milk, they eat little flesh, unless it is given them, or when they catch venison or birds.


Of their Good and Bad Customs.

(Illustration: Map of the Western part of Tartary & Adjacent Countries)

Some of their customs are commendable, and others execrable. They are more obedient to their lords than any other people, giving them vast reverence, and never deceiving them in word or action. They seldom quarrel; and brawls, wounds, or manslaughter hardly ever occur. Thieves and robbers are nowhere found, so that their houses and carts, in which all their treasure is kept, are never locked or barred. If any animal go astray, the finder either leaves it, or drives it to those who are appointed to seek for strays, and the owner gets it back without difficulty. They are very courteous, and though victuals are scarce among them, they communicate freely to each other. They are very patient under privations, and though they may have fasted for a day or two, will sing and make merry as if they were well satisfied. In journeying, they bear cold, or heat with great fortitude. They never fall out, and though often drunk, never quarrel in their cups. No one despises another, but every one assists his neighbour to the utmost. Their women are chaste, yet their conversation is frequently immodest. Towards other people they are exceedingly proud and overbearing, looking upon all other men with contempt, however noble. For we saw, in the emperor's court, the great duke of Russia, the son of the king of Georgia, and many sultans and other great men, who received no honour or respect; so that even the Tartars appointed to attend them, however low their condition, always went before them, and took the upper places, and even often obliged them to sit behind their backs. They are irritable and disdainful to other men, and beyond belief deceitful; speaking always fair at first, but afterwards stinging like scorpions. They are crafty and fraudulent, and cheat all men if they can. Whatever mischief they intend they carefully conceal, that no one may provide or find a remedy for their wickedness. They are filthy in their meat and drink, and in all their actions. Drunkenness is honourable among them; so that, when one has drank to excess and throws up, he begins again to drink. They are most importunate beggars, and covetous possessors, and most niggardly givers; and they consider the slaughter of other people as nothing.


Of the Laws and Customs of the Tartars.

Men and women guilty of adultery, or even of fornication, are punished with death. Those detected in robbery or theft are likewise slain. If any one divulges their councils, especially with regard to an intended war, he receives an hundred blows on his buttocks with a great cudgel, as hard as a strong man can lay on. When any of the meaner sort commit offences, they are severely punished by their superiors. In marriage, they pay no attention to nearness of kindred, except their mothers, daughters, or sisters by the same mother; for they will even marry their sisters from other mothers, and their fathers wives after his death. The younger brother also, or some other of the kindred, is bound to marry the wives of a deceased brother.

While I remained in the country, a Russian duke, named Andrew[1], being accused before duke Baatu, of conveying Tartar horses out of the country and selling them to other nations, was put to death, although the fact was not proved against him. After this, the widow and younger brother of Andrew came to Baatu, supplicating that they might not be deprived of the dukedom, upon which Baatu commanded them to be married according to the Tartar custom; and though both refused, as contrary to the religion and laws of Russia, they were compelled to this incestuous union. After the death of their husbands, the Tartar widows seldom marry, unless when a man chooses to wed his brother's wife or his stepmother. They make no difference between the son of a wife or of a concubine, of which the following is a memorable example. The late king of Georgia left two sons, Melich and David, of whom the former was lawful, and the other born in adultery; but he left part of his dominions to his bastard. Melich appealed to the Tartar emperor for justice, and David went likewise to the court, carrying large gifts; and the emperor confirmed the will of their father, even appointing David to have the superior authority, because eldest born. When a Tartar has more than one wife, each has her own house and establishment, and the husband eats, drinks, and sleeps, sometimes with one and sometimes with another. One is considered as principal wife, and with her he resides oftener than with the others; and though they are sometimes numerous, they very seldom quarrel among themselves.

[1] In the previous account of the travels of Carpini, Hakl. I. 27. this Andrew is said to have been duke of Sarvogle, or Seirvogle, perhaps meaning Yeroslave.--E.


Of their Superstitious Traditions.

In consequence of certain traditions, they consider many indifferent actions as criminal. One is, to thrust a knife into the fire, or any way to touch a fire with a knife, to take meat from the pot with a knife, or even to hew any thing with an axe near a fire; as they consider all these things as taking away the force of the fire. Another is, to lean upon a whip, for they use no spurs, or to touch arrows with their whip, to strike their horse with their bridle, to take or kill young birds, or to break one bone upon another. Likewise, to spill milk, or any drink, or food, on the ground, or to make water in a house; for the last offence, if intentional, a man is slain, or he must pay a heavy fine to the soothsayers to be purified; in which case, the house, and all that it contains, has to pass between two fires, before which ceremony no person must enter the house, nor must any thing be removed from it. If any one takes a bit of meat that he cannot swallow and spits it out, a hole is made in the floor of the house, through which he is dragged and put to death. If any one treads on the threshold of a house belonging to one of their dukes, he is put to death. Many such things they account high offences.

But to slay men, to invade the territories of others, to take away the goods of other people, and to act contrary to the commands of God, is no crime among them; and they know nothing of the life to come, or of eternal damnation. But they believe in a future life, in which they shall tend flocks, eat and drink, and do those very things which they do in this life. At new moon, or when the moon is full, they begin any new enterprise; they call the moon the great emperor, and they worship that luminary on their knees. All who dwell in their houses must undergo purification by fire, which is performed in this manner. Having kindled two fires at a convenient distance, they fix two spears in the earth, one near each fire, stretching a cord between the tops of these spears, and about the cord they hang some rags of buckram, under which cord, and between, which fires, all the men, and beasts, and houses must pass; and all the while, a woman stands on each side, sprinkling water on the passengers, and reciting certain verses. If any one is killed by lightning, all that dwell in the same house with the dead person must be thus purified; otherwise, the house, beds, carts, felts, garments, and every thing else would be abandoned as unclean. When any messengers, princes, or other persons arrive, they and their gifts must pass between two fires for purification, lest they should bring witchcraft, poison, or any other mischief.


Of the Beginning of their Empire.

The land of Mongolia was formerly divided among four different tribes or nations. One of these was the Yeka-Mongal, or the great Mongols. The second Su-Mongal, or the Water Mongols, who called themselves Tartars, from a river of that name in their territories. The third was named Merkat, and the fourth Metrit. All these tribes resembled each other in form, and complexion, and spoke the same language, though they were divided into distinct provinces, under separate princes. In the land of the Yeka-Mongal, lived one named Zingis, a great hunter, who used to rob and take much prey, going into the neighbouring districts, where he seized all that came in his way, and associated many under his command, till at length the people of his nation attached themselves to him, and followed him as their leader to do evil. After some time, Zingis went to war with the Su-Mongal or Tartars, slew their duke, and subjugated the nation; and he successively reduced the Merkats and Metrites to his growing dominion. The Naymani, to whom all the surrounding tribes then paid tribute, were much indignant at the elevation of Zingis; but their great emperor had lately died, leaving the authority divided among his sons, who were young and foolish, and knew not how to rule the people; yet they invaded the territories of the Mongals, slaying the inhabitants and carrying off much prey. On this Zingis collected the whole strength of his subjects, and the Naymani, united with the Cara-Cathayans, gathered a mighty army in a certain narrow valley to oppose him, in which a great battle was fought, and the Mongals obtained the victory, the confederates being mostly slain, and those who escaped were reduced to subjection. Zingis established his son Occoday, Ug dai, or Octai-Khan, in the land of the Kara-Kitayans, where he built a town called Omyl or Chamyl[1]; near which, and to the south, there is a vast desert, in which there are said to be certain wild men, who do not speak, and have no joints in their legs, yet have sufficient art to make felt of camels wool for garments, to protect them from the weather.

[1] Called Chamil or Hami in the maps, in lat. 43° N. and long. 92° E It stands in a province of the same name, on the north side of the great desert of Cobi, and to the N.E. of the land of the Kalmuks, or little Bucharia.--E.


Of the Mutual Victories of the Mongals and Cathayans.

After their return from conquering the Naymani and Cara-Cathayans, the Mongals prepared to go to war with the Kythaos, or Cathayans[1]; but the Mongals were defeated in a great battle, and all their nobles were slain except seven. Zingis and the rest who had escaped from this defeat, soon afterwards attacked and conquered the people called Huyri[2], who were Nestorian Christians, from whom they learned the art of writing. After this they conquered the land of Sarugur, and the country of the Karanites, and the land of Hudirat, and returning into their own country, took a short respite from war. Again assembling a great army, they invaded Cathay, and after a long struggle, they conquered the greater part of that country, and besieged the emperor in his greatest city. The siege lasted so long, that the army of the Mongals came to be in want of provisions, and Zingis is said to have commanded that every tenth man of his own army should be slain as food for the rest. At length, by great exertions, the Mongals dug a mine underneath the walls of the city, through which a party entered and opened the gates for the rest of the army, so that the city was carried, and the emperor and many of the citizens put to the sword. Having appointed deputies to rule over his conquests, Zingis returned into Mongalia with immense quantities of gold and silver and other precious spoil. But the southern parts of this empire, as it lies within the sea, has not been conquered by the Mongals to this day[3].

[1] The inhabitants of Northern China, then a separate kingdom from Mangi, or Southern China.--E.
[2] The Huirs or Uigurs.--E.
[3] This probably alludes to the difficulty experienced by the Mongals in forcing a passage across the great rivers Hoang-ho and Kian-ku--E.

The people of Cathay are Pagans, having a peculiar kind of writing of their own, in which they are reported to possess the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. They have also lives of the fathers, and houses in which they pray at stated times, built like churches; they are even said to have saints, to worship one God, to venerate the Lord Jesus Christ, and to believe eternal life; but they are not baptised[4]. They have no beards, and they partly resemble the Mongals in their features. Their country is exceeding fruitful in corn, and abounds in gold and silver, wine and silk, and all manner of rich commodities, and the whole world has not more expert artificers in all kinds of works and manufactures.

[4] These absurd notions must have been picked up by the credulous papal messengers, from ignorant or designing Nestorians in Mongolia.--E.


Of the Wars of the Mongals against the Greater and Lesser India.

When Zingis and his people had rested some time after their conquest of Cathay, he divided his army, and sent one of his sons, named Thosut- khan[1], against the Comaniam, whom he vanquished in many battles, and then returned into his own country. Another of his sons was sent with an army against the Indians, who subdued the lesser India. These Indians are the Black Saracens, who are also named Ethiopians. From thence the Mongal army marched to fight against the Christians dwelling in the greater India, and the king of that country, known by the name of Prester John, came forth with his army against them. This prince caused a number of hollow copper figures to be made, resembling men, which were stuffed with combustibles, and set upon horses, each having a man behind on the horse, with a pair of bellows to stir up the fire. When approaching to give battle, these mounted images were first sent forwards against the enemy, and the men who rode behind set fire by some means to the combustibles, and blew strongly with their bellows; and the Mongal men and horses were burnt with wildfire, and the air was darkened with smoke. Then the Indians charged the Mongals, many of whom were wounded and slain, and they were expelled from the country in great confusion, and we have not heard that they ever ventured to return[2].

[1] Probably Tuschi-Khan.--E.
[2] It is needless to remark upon the confused and ignorant geography, and the idle tale of a Christian empire in India in this section. The strangely ill-told story of the copper images, by which the Mongals were scorched with wild-fire, may refer to the actual employment either of cannon or rockets against the Mongals in this invasion.--E.


Of Monstrous Men like Dogs, and of the Conquest of Burithabeth.

In returning through the desert, we were told by some Russian priests at the emperor's court, that the Mongals found certain women, who, being asked where their men were, said that all the women of that country had human shapes, but that the males had the shape of great dogs. After some time, they met the dogs on the other side of a river. It being in winter, the dogs plunged into the water, and then rolled themselves in the dust on the land, till the dust and water was frozen on their backs; and having done this repeatedly till the ice was thick and strong, they attacked the Mongals with great fury; but when the Mongals threw their darts, or shot their arrows at them, they rebounded as if they had fallen on stones, neither could their weapons in any way hurt them. But the dogs killed some of the Tartars, and wounded many with their teeth, and finally drove them out of the country[1].

[1] It is surely unnecessary to remark on this ridiculous story of the canine men, which no commentary could reduce to sense.--E.

On their return home, the Mongals came into the country of Burithabeth, of which the inhabitants are pagans, and conquered the people in battle. These people have a strange custom of eating their kindred when they die. They have no beard, for we saw some of them going about with certain iron instruments in their hands, with which they pluck out any hairs they find on their faces[2].

[2] These people may possibly have been the Burats. The same practice of eradicating the beard is still followed by the native tribes of America.--E.


How the Mongals were repulsed at the Caspian Mountains, by Men dwelling in Caves.

When Zingis sent the before-mentioned armies into the east, he marched personally into the land of the Kergis[1], which, however, he did not now conquer. In this expedition the Mongals are said to have penetrated to the Caspian mountains, which being of adamant, attracted their arrows and other weapons of iron[2].

[1] The Kirguses, inhabiting Western Turkestan, between Lake Balkash and the Caspian.--E.
[2] The remainder of this short section is so ridiculously fabulous as not to merit translation, and is therefore omitted.--E.


Of the death of Zingis, and concerning his Sons, and the Tartar Dukes or Princes.

Zingis is said to have been killed by lightning. He had four sons, the first was called Occoday, or Oktai, the second Thosut, Tuzi, or Tuschi, the third Thiaday, or Zagathai, and the name of the fourth I could not learn. From these four all the dukes of the Mongals are descended[1]. Cuyne, or Kajuk, the eldest son of Occoday, or Oktai, is now emperor; and he has two brothers Cocten, and Chyrinen. Bathy, or Baatu, Ordu, Siba, and Boru are the sons of Thosut-khan. Baatu is richer and mightier than all the rest, being next in power to the emperor; but Ordu is the superior of all the dukes. The sons of Thiaday are Hurin and Cadan. The sons of the son of Zingis whose name I could not learn, are Mengu, Bithat, and several others. The mother of Mengu was Seroctan, the greatest lady among the Tartars, and the most honoured except the emperor's mother, and more powerful than any subject except Bathy. The following is a list of their dukes: Ordu, Bathy, Huryn, Cadan, Syban, and Ouygat, who were all in Hungary; Cyrpodan, who remains beyond the sea[2], making war against certain soldans of the Saracens, and other transmarine nations. Mengu, Chyrinen, Hubilai, Sinocur, Cara, Gay, Sybedey, Bora, Berca, and Corensa, all remain in Tartary. But there are many other dukes whose names I could not learn.

[1] Other authors give a different account of the family of Zingis. According to Harris, I. 556, Zuzi, or Tuschi, was his eldest son, who died six months before his father, and his son Baatu got a great part of Tartary for his share. Zagathai, a son of Zingis, got Transoxiana, or the country of the Kirguses. Tuli, another son, had Chorassan, Persia, and western India. Octai had Mongalia and Cathay, or Northern China. Carpini, or rather Vincentius, has sadly confounded all authentic history, by his rambling colloquial collections from ignorant relators, and has miserably corrupted the orthography of names of nations, places, and persons.--E.
[2] Probably meaning in Persia, beyond the Caspian Sea.--E


Of the Power of the Emperors, and of his Dukes..

The Tartar emperor enjoys incontrollable power over all his subjects, insomuch, that no man dare abide in any other place than he has assigned; and he even appoints the residences of all the dukes. The dukes appoint the residence of the millenaries, or commanders of a thousand men; the millenaries do the same with the centurions, or captains of hundreds; and the centurions direct in what place the decurions or commanders of tens are to dwell. Whatsoever order any of these officers receive from their immediate superiors must be instantly and implicitly obeyed. If the emperor demands the virgin daughter or sister of any one, she is instantly delivered up; nay, he often collects the virgins from all the Tartar dominions, and retains such as he pleases for himself, giving away others among his followers. All his messengers must be everywhere provided with horses and necessaries without delay: and all messengers coming to him with tribute or otherwise, must be provided on their way with horses, carriages, and all necessaries; yet messengers from strange countries, suffer great distresses and much want of provisions and clothing, especially when sent to any of the princes, and when they have to make any stay; as they often allot for ten men, what would hardly suffice for two, and if they suffer any injury it is even dangerous to complain. Many gifts are demanded of them, both by the princes and others, and if these are refused they are contemned. Owing to this, we were constrained to expend in presents, a large portion of what had been bestowed upon us by well disposed persons to defray our expences. In fine, every thing whatever belongs to the emperor, so that no one dare to say that any thing is his own; and the dukes and princes exercise an equally incontrollable dominion upon all below them.


Of the Election of the Emperor Occoday, and of the Expedition of Duke Bathy.

On the death of Zingis-chan, the dukes assembled and elected his son Occoday, Ugadai, or Oktai-khan, emperor in his place; who immediately, in a council of the nobles, divided the army, and sent Bathy, or Baatu-khan, who was next in authority, against the land of Altissodan and the country of the Bissermini[1], who were Saracens, though they spoke the language of the Comanians. Bathy defeated these people in battle; but the city of Barchin, which was surrounded with strong walls, resisted for a long while, until the Tartars filled up the ditches and won the place, which they destroyed. Sargat surrendered without resistance, for which the city was not destroyed, but many of the citizens were slain and made captives, and much spoil was taken, and the city was filled with new inhabitants. The Tartars marched next against the rich and populous city of Orna, in which were many Christian Gassarians, Russians, and Alanians, and many Saracens, the lord of the city being of that nation. This town stands on a large river, and is a kind of port, exercising great trade. Being unable to reduce this place by force, the Tartars dammed up the river, and drowned the whole city, with the inhabitants and their goods. Hence they invaded Russia, and besieged Kiow a long while, which they at length took, and massacred the inhabitants. This was a large and populous city, but is now reduced to nothing, and scarcely has two hundred houses: and when we passed through Russia, we found immense numbers of human skulls and bones scattered about. From Russia and Comania they proceeded against the Hungarians and Polonians, where many of them were slain: and had the Hungarians withstood them manfully, the Tartars had been utterly defeated. In their return from thence, they invaded and defeated the pagan Morduans: whence they marched against the Byleri of greater Bulgaria, which they almost entirely destroyed. Thence they proceeded to the north against the Bastarci of greater Hungary, whom they conquered; and going farther north, they came to the Parossitae, and thence to the Samogetae, reaching even to the ocean; and from thence returned into Comania.

[1] The Busurmen, Musurmen, or Mahometan inhabitants of Turkestan.--E.


Of the Expedition of Duke Cyrpodan.

At the same time Occoday-khan sent duke Cyrpodan with an army to the south, against the pagan Kergis, who have no beards, whom he subdued. After which he marched against the Armenians, whom he conquered, and likewise subdued a part of Georgia. The other part of that country is likewise under subjection, and pays an yearly tribute of 20,000 yperperas. He thence marched into the dominions of the great and powerful soldan of the Deuri, whom he defeated; and proceeded to the country of the soldan of Aleppo, which he subdued; and afterwards reduced the caliph of Baldach or Bagdat to subjection, who is forced to pay a daily tribute of 400 byzants, besides baldekins[1] and other gifts. Every year the Tartar emperor sends messengers to require the presence of the caliph; who sends back great gifts besides the regular tribute, to prevail on the emperor to excuse his absence.

[1] This is probably a manufacture of Bagdat or Baldach, from whence its name; and may have been flowered silk or cloth of gold.--E.

Duke Cyrpodan and his army still propose to invade more distant countries, and have not yet returned into Tartary.


Of the Military conduct of the Tartars.

Zingis-khan divided the Tartars into companies or divisions of ten, of, an hundred, and of a thousand each, every one of which had its appropriate officer. Over every ten millenaries he placed one general; and over an army of several bodies of ten thousand men, two or three dukes, one of whom had the superior command. When they join battle against their enemies, unless the whole army retreat by common consent, all who fly are put to death. If one, two, or more of a decury proceed bravely to battle, and the rest do not follow, the cowards are slain. If one, two, or more of the decury are made prisoners and the rest do not rescue them, they are put to death. Every man must have two bows, or at least one good bow, three quivers full of arrows, an axe, and certain ropes to draw the military machines. The rich or officers have sharp-pointed swords, somewhat curved and sharp on one edge. They wear helmets, coats of mail, and cuisses, and their horses even are armed. Some have their own armour and that of their horses made of leather, ingeniously doubled and even tripled. The upper parts of their helmets are of iron or steel, but the hood which protects their neck and throat is of leather. Some have all their defensive armour composed of many small plates of iron, a hand-breadth long and an inch broad, perforated with eight small holes, by which they are tied with small leather thongs to strong thongs of leather underneath, so that the plates overlap each other in regular series, and are firmly knit together. The armour both of men and horses is often made in this fashion, and is kept finely burnished. Some carry lances having hooks, to pull their enemies from horseback. Their arrow-heads are exceedingly sharp on both edges, and every man carries a file to sharpen them. Their targets are made of wicker, but they are hardly ever carried, except by the night guards, especially those in attendance upon the emperor and the princes.

The Tartars are exceedingly crafty in war, in which they have been continually engaged for the last forty-two years against all the surrounding nations. When they have to pass rivers, the principal people secure their garments in bags of thin leather, drawn together like purses, and closely tied. They fix these to their saddles, along with their other baggage, and tie the whole to their horse's tail, sitting upon the whole bundle as a kind of boat or float; and the man who guides the horse is made to swim in a similar manner, sometimes having two oars to assist in rowing, as it were, across the river. The horse is then forced into the river, and all the other horses follow, and in this manner they pass across deep and rapid rivers[1]. The poorer people have each a purse or bag of leather well sewed, into which they pack up all their things, well tied up at the mouth, which they hang to the tails of their horses, and thus swim across.

[1] This mode of passing over rivers, though carefully translated, is by no means obviously described. I am apt to suppose that the leathern bags, besides holding the apparel and other valuables, were large enough to be blown up with air so as to serve as floats, like those used by the ancient Macedonians; a practice which they may have learnt from the Scythians. The Latin of Vincentius Beluacensis appears to have been translated from the French original of Carpini, from the following circumstance: What is here translated their other baggage is, in the Latin, alias res duriores; almost with certainty mistakenly rendered from the French leurs autres hardes.--E.


How the Tartars ought to be resisted.

No single kingdom or province can resist the Tartars, as they gather men for war from every land that is subjected to their dominion; and if any neighbouring province refuses to join them, they invade and lay it waste, slaughtering the inhabitants or carrying them into captivity, and then proceed against another nation. They place their captives in the front of battle, and if they do not fight courageously they are put to the sword. Wherefore, if the princes and rulers of Christendom mean to resist their progress, it is requisite that they should make common cause, and oppose them with united councils. They ought likewise to have many soldiers armed with strong bows and plenty of cross-bows[1], of which the Tartars are much afraid. Besides these, there ought to be men armed with good iron maces, or with axes having long handles. The steel arrow-heads should be tempered in the Tartar manner, by being plunged, while hot, into water mixed with salt, that they may the better be able to penetrate the armour of the Tartars. Our men ought likewise to have good swords, and lances with hooks to drag them from their saddles, which is an easy matter; and ought to have good helmets and armour of proof for themselves and horses: And those who are not so armed ought to keep in the rear of those who are, to discharge their arrows and quarrels over the heads of their companions.

[1] The word here used in the Latin, balistais, is probably corrupted in transcription for balistariis; and may either mean cross-bow-men, or men for working balistae, the ancient artillery, if the expression be allowable. Arcubalistarii is the appropriate middle age Latin for men armed with cross-bows.--E.

Our armies ought to be marshalled after the order of the Tartars, already described, and under the same rigorous laws of war. Whoever betakes himself to plunder before victory is perfectly ascertained, should suffer death. The field of battle ought to be chosen, if possible, in a plain, where every thing may be seen around. The army should by no means be drawn up in one body, but in many divisions, not too distant. One band ought to be dispatched against those who first advance, while another remains prepared to assist in time of need. Scouts ought to be sent out on every side, to give notice of the approach of the enemy; that band may always be sent to meet band as they come on, as the Tartars are always anxious to surround their enemies. Each band ought however to be cautious not to pursue too far when their enemies fly, lest they fall into a snare or ambush, as the Tartars fight more by stratagem than by main force; and this the rather, that our people may not fatigue their horses, in which we do not abound, while the Tartars always have such numbers that they seldom remount one horse, till after three or four days rest. Should even the Tartars retire towards their own country, our army ought by no means to retreat or separate; as they often practise this stratagem to delude their enemies and induce them to divide, and then return suddenly to destroy the country at their pleasure. Our generals ought to keep their troops day and night on the alert, and always armed, ready for battle; as the Tartars are always vigilant like the devils, and are ever devising how to commit mischief. Finally, when a Tartar falls from his horse in battle, he ought immediately to be taken or slain; as when on foot even they are excellent archers, and destructive to men and horses[2].

[2] Our good minorite seems in this chapter to have studied the old proverb, fas est ab hoste doceri; but except in the leading political advice of the section, he might have been better employed in following the adage of ne sutor ultra crepidam.--E.


Of the Journey of Friar John de Plano Carpini, to the First Guard of the Tartars[1].

[1] The journal of Carpini begins here, that of Asceline never appears.--E.

Setting out, by command from the apostolic See, upon our journey to the Tartars, lest there might arise danger from their proximity to the church of God, we came first to the king of Bohemia, with whom we were acquainted, and who advised us to travel through Poland and Russia, because he had kinsmen in Poland, through whose assistance we might be enabled to travel in Russia; and he supplied us with recommendatory letters and passports, giving us free passage as his charges through his dominions, whence we proceeded to the court of Boleslaus, duke of Silesia, his nephew, who was likewise known and friendly to us. He treated us in the same hospitable manner, and transmitted us free of expense to Conrad, duke of Lautiscia, or Masovia, where, by God's grace, Wasilico[2], duke of Russia, then was, from whom we fully learned the arts of the Tartars, as he had sent messengers to them who were already returned. Learning that it was necessary for us to make presents, we caused some skins of beavers and other animals to be purchased with part of the money which had been given us in charity to defray our expences; and we received more of the same skins from duke Conrad, from Grimislava, duchess of Cracow, from the bishop, and from certain nobles of that place. And at the request of the duke, bishop, and nobles of Cracow, Wasilico conducted us into his country, and entertained us there for some days at his expense. Likewise he convened his bishops at our request, to whom we read the Pope's letters, admonishing them to return into the unity of the church, adding our own exhortation to the same purpose. But because duke Daniel, the brother of Wasilico was absent at the court of Baatu, they could not then give a satisfactory answer.

[2] At this period Jeroslaw, or Jeroslaus, was grand duke of Wolodimir or Wladimire, then considered as the sovereigns of Russia, who was succeeded by Alexander.--Playf. Syst. of Chronol. Wasilico, therefore, or Wasile, must have been a subordinate duke, or a junior member of the reigning family.--E.

After this Wasilico sent us forward to Kiow, the chief city of Russia, under the conduct of one of his servants; in which journey we were in great danger of our lives from the Lithuanians, who often invaded the borders of Russia in the very places through which we had to pass; but by means of this servant we were secured against any injury from the Russians, of whom indeed the greater part had been slain, or carried into captivity by the Tartars. In this journey we had almost perished of cold at Danilou[3], through the prodigious depth of the snow, although we travelled in a wagon. On our arrival at Kiow, and consulting with the millenary[4], and other nobles, respecting our farther journey, we were advised not to carry the horses we then had into Tartary, as they would all certainly die by the way, as they were not used to dig under the snow in search of grass like the Tartar horses, and no food could be procured for them, as the Tartars make no provision of hay or straw, or any other provender, against winter. We determined therefore to leave them behind, under the care of two servants, till our return, and by means of presents, we prevailed on the millenary to allow us post-horses and a guide. We began our journey on the second day after the Purification[5], and arrived at Canow, which was under the immediate dominion of the Tartars. The governor allowed us horses, and a guide to another town, of which one Micheas, a most malicious person, was governor; who, gained by our presents, conducted us to the first station of the Tartars.

[3] There is a town named Danilovska, near the S. E. frontiers of European Russia.--E.
[4] From this circumstance, it may be presumed that Kiow was then occupied by a guard of Tartars, under a commander of a thousand men.--E.
[5] This was the 4th February, probably of 1247.--E.


Of his first Reception by the Tartars.

On the first Saturday after Ash-Wednesday, while we were taking up our quarters for the night, near sunset, a number of armed Tartars came suddenly upon us, in a threatening manner, demanding who we were. Having told them that we were messengers from the Pope, and giving them some victuals, they immediately went away. When we proceeded on our journey next morning, the chiefs of this guard met us, and demanded to know the purpose of our journey. We answered "That we were messengers from our Lord the Pope, the father and lord of the Christians, going to their emperor and princes, and the whole Tartar nation, to desire peace and friendship between the Tartars and the Christians: And as the Pope wished the Tartars to become great, and to acquire the favour of God, he admonished them by us, and by his letters, to embrace the faith of Christ, without which they could not be saved: That the Pope was astonished to hear of their monstrous slaughter of mankind, more especially of the Hungarians, Mountaineers, and Polanders, who were his subjects, and who had neither injured, or attempted to injure the Tartars; and as God is sore offended by such proceedings, the Pope admonished them to refrain in future, and to repent of what they had done, and requested an answer as to their future intentions." On which they promised us horses and a guide to Corrensa, but for which favour they demanded presents. Some of them rode swiftly on before, to inform Corrensa of our message, and we followed. This Corrensa is general or duke of all the Tartars who are placed as a guard against the people of the West, lest some enemy might suddenly invade them; and is said to have 60,000 men under his command.


His Reception at the Court of Corrensa.

On our arrival at the residence of Corrensa, our tent was ordered to be pitched at a considerable distance, and his agents came to demand what gifts we would offer in paying our obeisance to him. We answered that our lord the Pope had sent no gifts, as he was uncertain if we should ever arrive at their country, considering the dangerous places we had to pass through; but that we should honour him with part of those things which had been given us to defray the charges of our journey. Having received our gifts, we were conducted to the orda or tent of the duke Corrensa, and instructed to bow our left knee thrice before his door, taking great care not to set our feet on the threshold; and when entered, we were to repeat on our knees the words which we had said before. This done, we presented the letters of the Pope; but the interpreter whom we had hired at Kiow, was not able to explain them sufficiently, nor could any one be found equal to the task.

From this place post-horses were appointed to conduct us with all speed to duke Baatu, under the guidance of three Tartars. This Baatu is the most powerful prince among them, next to their emperor. We began our journey to his court on the first Tuesday in Lent, and riding as fast as we could trot, though we changed our horses twice or thrice every day, and often travelled in the night, it was Maunday Thursday before we accomplished our journey. The whole of this journey was through the land of Comania, which is all an uniform plain, watered by four large rivers. The first of these is the Dnieper or Boristhenes; on the Russian side of which the dukes Corrensa and Montij march up and down, the latter, who marches on the other side of the plains, being the more powerful of the two[1]. The second river is the Don, or Tanais of the ancients, on the banks of which a certain prince, named Tirbon, sojourns, who is married to the daughter of Baatu. The third and largest is the Volga or Rha, on which Baatu resides. The fourth is the Jaik or Rhymnus, on each bank of which a millenary commands. All these descend southwards in winter to the sea, and travel in summer up these rivers, towards the northern mountains. All these rivers, especially the Volga, abound in fish, and run into the great sea, from which the arm of St George extends past Constantinople[2]. While on the Dnieper, we travelled many days upon the ice; and on the shore of the sea we found the ice three leagues broad. Before our arrival at the residence of Baatu, two of our Tartars rode on before, to give him an account of what we had said to Corrensa.

[1] It is difficult to understand the ambiguity here used, unless we suppose that the station of Montij was on the right bank of the Dnieper; while certainly that of Corrensa was on the left or north-east bank.--E.
[2] The Euxine and Caspian are here confounded as one sea. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that the Dnieper and Don run into the Euxine, while the Volga and Jaik, or Ural, are discharged into the Caspian. --E.


The Reception of Carpini at the Court of Baatu.

When we arrived at the residence of Baatu, in the land of Comania, we were ordered to pitch our tent a full league from his station, and when we were to be introduced at his court, we were informed that it was previously necessary for us to pass between two fires. We refused this at first, but were told there was no danger, and that it was only precautionary, in case we intended any mischief to their lord, or should have brought poison along with us, as the fire would remove all evil. On which we complied, that we might remove all suspicion of any such sinister intentions. After this, when we came to the orda, we were questioned by Eldegay, the agent of the prince, respecting the gifts we meant to offer; and making the same reply we had given at the court of Corrensa, our gifts were offered and accepted; and having declared the object of our journey, we were introduced into the presence, making our obeisances, and were admonished respecting the threshold, as formerly mentioned. We then rehearsed our former oration on our knees, and produced our letters, and requested the aid of interpreters to translate them. These were sent us on Good Friday, and, with their assistance, our letters were carefully translated into the Russian, Tartarian, and Saracen languages, and presented to Baatu, who read them with attention. We were then conducted back to our lodging, but no food was given us, except a little millet in a dish, on the first evening of our arrival.

Baatu carries himself with great magnificence, having porters, and all other officers, after the manner of the emperor, and sits in an elevated place, like a throne, along with one of his wives. Some of his brothers, and sons, and nobles, sit below him, on benches, and all others on the ground, behind the rest, the men being on his right, and the women on his left. He uses some beautiful and large linen tents, which formerly belonged to the king of Hungary; and no person, however great, presumes to enter his tent without leave, except his own family. At this interview we were seated on his left hand, but on our return from the emperor, we were placed on the right. A table stands near the door of the tent or house, on which there is abundance of drink, in golden and silver vessels. Neither Baatu, nor any of the Tartar princes, drink in public, without having singers and harpers playing before them. When he rides, there is a small tent, canopy, or umbrella, carried over his head, on the point of a spear; and the same is done to all the Tartar princes and their wives. Baatu is extremely courteous to his people, yet is held in great awe; he is exceedingly sagacious, crafty in war, and inexorably cruel in battle, and has been long experienced in the conduct of warlike enterprises.


The Journey through the Land of Comania, and of the Kangittae.

On Easter eve we were again called to the court, and Eldegay, whom we have mentioned before as the agent of Baatu, came out to us from the tent, saying that we must go forwards to the court of their emperor: but they detained a part of our company, under pretence of sending them back to the Pope. We accordingly gave letters to these persons, reciting all that had hitherto occurred; but they got no farther than the residence of duke Montij, where we joined them on our return homewards. Next day, being Easter, after prayers and a slight breakfast, we departed from the court of Baatu in much dejection of spirits, accompanied by two guides. We were so feeble that we could hardly support the fatigue of riding, our only food during Lent having been millet boiled with water, and our only drink melted snow. Passing eastwards through Comania, we travelled continually with great expedition, changing our horses five times a day, and sometimes oftener; except when we had to pass through deserts, on which occasions we had stronger horses allowed, that were able to undergo the whole labour. In this manner we travelled, almost without ceasing, from the beginning of Lent, until eight days after Easter, including our journey to the court of Baatu.

On the north of Comania, immediately beyond Russia, lie the people called Morduyni-Byleri[1] in great Bulgaria, and the Bastarci in great Hungary; beyond the Bastarci are the Parositae and Samogetae; and beyond these, on the desert shores of the ocean, a people who are said to have dogs faces. On the south, Comania has the Alani, Circassians, Gazarians, Greece, and Constantinople, the land of the Iberians, the Cattes, the Brutaches, who are said to be Jews, who shave the whole of their heads, and the lands of the Scythians, Georgians, Armenians, and Turks. On the west are Hungary and Russia. Comania is a country of great length and breadth, the inhabitants of which were mostly extirpated by the Tartars, though many of them were reduced to bondage and some fled, but the fugitives have in general returned, and now serve the Tartars. We next entered the land of the Kangittae, which has few inhabitants, owing to a great scarcity of water. From this circumstance, several of the servants of Jeroslaus, duke of Russia, perished in the desert, when travelling to join him in the land of the Tartars. Both here and in Comania, we found many human bones and skulls in large heaps[2]. The Comanians and Kangittae, were pagans who dwelt in tents, and lived entirely on the produce of their flocks and herds, without practising any tillage whatever. On their conquest, a great part of the Kangittae were rooted out by the Tartars, and the remnant reduced to bondage.

[1] The Morduyni, Morduas, or Merdas, were probably the same people with those now called Tscheremisses, who call themselves Mari-murt, or the people of Mari.--E.
[2] Probably Tartar trophies of victory. Even Timour, the great Mongol conqueror after Zingis, so much vaunted by many writers for his virtues and humanity, used to order the erection of immense pyramids of recent human heads, in memory of victory.--E.


The arrival of Carpini at the first Station of the new Emperor.

From the land of the Kangittae we entered the country of the Bisermini, who speak the Comanian language and observe the law of Mahomet. In this country we saw innumerable ruined cities and castles, and many towns left desolate. The former sovereign of this country, which is full of high mountains, was called Alti Soldan, who, with all his lineage, was destroyed by the Tartars. On the south side lie Jerusalem and Baldach, or Bagdat; and on its nearest borders dwell two Tartar dukes, Burin and Cadan, sons of Thiaday the son of Zingis-chan. To the north is the land of the black Kitayans and the ocean[1]. Syban, the brother of Baatu, dwells in the land of the Bisermini. We travelled in this country from Ascension-day until eight days before the feast of St John the Baptist, 16th June, when we entered the land of the black Kitayans, in which the emperor has built a house, where we were invited to drink, and the resident there for the emperor, caused the principal people of the city, and even his own two sons, to dance before us[2]. Going from thence we came to a certain sea, having a small mountain on its banks, in which there is said to be a hole, whence such vehement tempests of wind issue in winter, that travellers can hardly pass without imminent danger. In summer the noise of the wind is heard proceeding from this hole, but it is then quite gentle. We travelled along the shore of this sea for several days, leaving it upon our left; and though this sea is not of very large dimensions, it contains a considerable number of islands[3]. Ordu, whom we have already mentioned as the senior of all the Tartar dukes, dwells in this country, in the orda or court of his father, where one of his wives bears rule. For, according to the Tartar customs, the courts of princes and nobles are never dissolved at their deaths, but are kept up under the government of one of his wives, to whom the gifts are continued which used to be given to their lords. In this place, therefore, we arrived at the first court under the immediate jurisdiction of the emperor, in which one of his wives dwelt; but as we had not yet been presented to the emperor, we were not invited, or even permitted to enter the station, but were exceedingly well entertained in our tent, after the Tartar fashion, and were allowed to remain there one day for rest and refreshment.

[1] The confused geographical notices of this traveller are so uninstructive, as not to merit any commentary. A good account of the present state of these immense regions will be found in Pinkerton's Modern Geography, articles Independent Tartary, Chinese Tartary, and Asiatic Russia. The ancient and perpetually changing distribution of nations in Scythia or Tartary, in its most extended sense, almost elude research, and would require lengthened dissertations instead of illustrative notes.--E.
[2] From the subsequent travels of Rubruquis, it will appear, that this ceremony was in honour of the Tartar messengers going from Baatu to the emperor, not from respect to the papal envoys.--E.
[3] This sea is obviously the lake Balkash, or Palkati-nor, at the south end of which our maps represent a group of islands.--E.


The Arrival of Carpini at the Court of the Emperor elect.

Leaving this place on the eve of St Peter and Paul, 28th June, we entered the country of the pagan Naymani[1], and next day was excessively cold, attended by a great fall of snow. Indeed this country is very mountainous and excessively cold, and has very little plain ground, wherefore these nations had no tillage, but dwelt in tents, which were destroyed by the Tartars. We travelled through this country for many days, and at length entered the land of the Mongals, whom we call Tartars. Through this latter country we continued our journey for about three weeks, continually riding with great expedition, and at length arrived at the residence of the emperor elect, on the feast of Mary Magdalen, 22d July. In the whole of this journey we used extraordinary exertion, as our Tartar guides were ordered to bring us with all expedition to attend the solemn court which had been long appointed for the election of the emperor: on which account we always travelled from early morning till night, without stopping to take food; and we often came to our quarters so late, as not to get any food that night, but were forced to eat in the morning what we ought to have had for supper. We changed horses frequently every day, and travelled constantly as hard as our horses could trot.

[1] The Soongaria of modern Geography.--E.


Of the Reception of the papal Nuncios at the court of Kujak, or Cuyne-Khan.

On our arrival at the court of Cuyne, he ordered us to be provided with a tent, and all necessary expences, after the Tartar customs, and his people treated us with more attention and respect than they shewed to any other messengers. We were not admitted into his presence, as he had not been formally elected and invested in the empire; but the translation of the Pope's letters, and of our speech, had been transmitted to him by Baatu. After remaining in this place for five or six days, we were sent to his mother, who kept a solemn court. In this place we beheld an immense tent, so vast, in our opinion, that it could have contained two thousand men; around which there was an enclosure of planks, painted with various figures. All the Tartar dukes were assembled in this neighbourhood, with their attendants, and amused themselves in riding about the hills and vallies. The first day these were all clothed in white robes. The second day, on which Cuyne came to the great tent, they were dressed in scarlet. The third day they were dressed in blue, and on the fourth in rich robes of Baldakin[1]. In the wall of boards, encircling the great tent, there were two gates, through one of which the emperor alone was allowed to enter; and though it stood continually open, there were no guards, as no one dared to enter or come out by that way. All who were admitted entered by the other gate, at which there were guards, armed with bows, arrows, and swords. If any one presumed to approach the tent beyond the assigned limits, he was severely beaten, if caught; or if he attempted to run away, he was shot at with arrows. Many of the people whom we saw here, had upon their saddles, bridles, and other trappings of their horses, to the value of twenty marks in pure gold, according to our estimation.[2]

[1] This term probably signifies the manufacture of Baldach or Bagdat, and may refer to silken stuffs damasced, or woven with gold flowers.--E.
[2] Taking the mark of gold at 84 oz. and valuing the ounce at 4£ 17s, 6d, the sum of 20 marks amounts to L. 780 Sterling.--E.

The dukes assembled in the great tent, and consulted together, as we thought, about the election of the emperor. The rest of the people were collected all round the wooden walls, and at a considerable distance; and in this manner they continued till almost noon. Then they began to drink mares milk, or cosmos, and continued to drink amazing quantities till evening. We were invited among them, and they treated us with ale, as we did not drink cosmos. They intended this as a great honour, but they made us drink so much, in comparison with our ordinary diet, as we were not able to endure; but on making them understand that it was hurtful to us, they desisted from insisting on our compliance. On the outside of the door stood Jeroslaus, duke of Susdal in Russia, a great many dukes of the Kithayans and Solangi, the two sons of the king of Georgia, the envoy of the caliph of Bagdat, himself a sultan, and more than ten other Saracen sultans. We were informed by the agents, that there were above four thousand messengers present, partly from those who paid tribute or sent presents, and from other sultans and dukes who came to make their submission, or who had been sent for, and from the various governors of countries and places under their authority. All these were placed on the outside of the wooden wall of the great tent, and were supplied with drink; and they almost all gave to us and the duke Jeroslaus the place of honour, when in their company.


Of the Exaltation of Cuyne as Emperor.

We remained in this place, called Syra Orda, about four weeks. In our opinion the election was made here, though it was not published, because always when Cuyne came out of the tent he was greeted with a noise of music, and was saluted with beautiful rods tipt with scarlet wool, which was not done to any of the other dukes. Leaving this place, we all rode three or four miles to a fine plain, near a river among the mountains, where we found another tent erected, called the Golden Orda, in which Cuyne was to have been installed in the imperial seat on the festival of the Assumption, 15th August; but on account of a vast fall of hail, formerly mentioned, the ceremony was deferred. This tent was erected upon pillars, covered over with plates of gold, and other beams were fixed to the pillars by gold nails. The whole was superbly covered over with Baldakin, having other cloth on the outside. We remained here till the feast of St Bartholomew, 24th August; on which day an immense multitude convened, standing with their faces to the south. Certain persons, at about a stone's throw distance from the rest, were continually employed in making prayers and genuflexions, always proceeding slowly to the south. We did not know whether they were making incantations, or whether they bowed their knees to God or otherwise, and we therefore made no genuflexions. When this ceremony had continued a long while, the whole company returned to the tent, and Cuyne was placed upon the imperial throne. On which all the dukes knelt before him, and the same was done by all the people, except by us, who were not his subjects.


Of the Age and Demeanour of Cuyne, and of his Seal.

When exalted to the imperial dignity, Cuyne seemed to be about forty or forty-five years old. He was of middle stature, exceedingly prudent, politic, serious, and grave in his demeanour, and was hardly ever seen to laugh or to behave lightly in any respect, as was reported to us by certain Christians who were continually about him. These Christians of his family assured us likewise, that he would certainly become a Christian, because he always kept some Christian priests about his person, and had at all times a chapel of Christians established near his great tent, in which the clergy sang their devotions publickly and openly, and struck the regular hours on bells, according to the custom of the Greek church, whatever number of Tartars or others might be in the presence; while no other of the Tartar dukes did any thing like this.

It is the custom of this emperor never to converse himself with any stranger, however high his rank, but always to hear, as it were, and to answer through an intermediate person: Whoever proposes any matter to his consideration, or listens to his reply, however great his quality, must remain on his knees the whole time; and no one must presume to speak on any subject after the determination of the emperor is expressed. For the dispatch of affairs, both public and private, he has agents, secretaries, scribes, and officers of all kinds, excepting pleaders; as every thing is concluded according to his will and pleasure, without strife or judicial noise: and the other princes of the Tartars act exactly in the same manner.

While we remained at his court, the emperor and all his princes erected a standard of defiance against the church of God, the Roman empire, and all the Christian kingdoms and nations of the west, unless they should become obedient to his commands. Their avowed intention is to subdue the whole earth under their authority, as they were commanded by Zingis-khan, and they have only abstained from this intention of late, on account of the death of Occaday-khan, the emperor's father, who was poisoned. Of all the nations under heaven, they are in some fear of the Christians only, and on this account they are now preparing to make war on us. In all his letters their emperor styles himself the Power of God and the Emperor of Mankind; and the seal of the present emperor is thus inscribed:



Of the Admission of the Papal and other Envoys to the Emperor.

We were called into the presence of the emperor, in the same place where he had been inaugurated; and Chingay, his chief secretary, having written down our names, and the names of those who sent us, and the name of the duke of Solangi and others, he read over all these names in a loud voice to the emperor and the assembled dukes. Then everyone of us bowed the knee four times before him, and having warned us to beware of touching the threshold, we were carefully searched lest we might have any concealed weapons; after which, we entered within the precinct of the imperial tent at the east gate; not even the Tartar dukes dare presume to enter at the west gate, which is reserved for the emperor alone; yet the lower people do not pay much regard to this ceremonious injunction. At this time, likewise, all the other envoys now at the imperial residence were presented, but very few of them were admitted within the tent. On this occasion, infinite quantities of rich gifts of all kinds were presented to the emperor, by the various envoys and messengers, in samites, purple robes, baldakins, silken girdles wrought with gold, rich furs, and other things innumerable. Among these there was a splendid umbrella, or small canopy, to be carried over the head of the emperor, all covered over with gems. The governor of one of the provinces brought a great number of camels, having housings of baldakin, and carrying richly ornamented saddles, on which were placed certain machines, within each of which a man might sit. Many horses and mules likewise were presented to him, richly caparisoned and armed, some with leather, and some with iron. We were likewise questioned as to what gifts we had to offer, but we were unable to present any thing, as almost our whole substance was already consumed. At a considerable distance from the court, there stood in sight on a hill, above five hundred carts all filled with gold and silver and silken garments. All these things were divided between the emperor and his dukes, and the dukes divided their portions among their followers, each according to his pleasure.


Of the Separation between the Emperor and his Mother, and of the Death of Jeroslaus Duke of Russia.

Leaving this place we came to another, where a wonderfully grand tent, all of red cloth, was pitched, the gift of the Cathayans. At this place likewise, we were introduced into the presence; and always on these occasions we were offered beer and wine to drink, and boiled flesh to eat when we were inclined. In this tent there was a lofty gallery made of boards, on which the imperial throne was placed, most exquisitely carved in ivory, and richly decorated with gold and precious stones; and, if we rightly remember, there were several steps by which to ascend the throne. This throne was round above. There were benches all around, where the ladies sat on the left hand, upon stools, and no one sat aloft on the right hand, but the dukes sat below on benches, in the middle of the tent. Others sat behind them, and every day there came great numbers of ladies to the court. These three tents which we have mentioned, were of wonderful magnitude; and the wives of the emperor had other tents, sufficiently large and beautiful, made of white felt. At this place, the emperor took leave of his mother, who went to one part of the land, and he to another, to distribute justice. About this time, a concubine belonging to the emperor was detected, who had poisoned his father, at the time when the Tartar army was in Hungary, and owing to which incident, they had been ordered to return. She, and a considerable number of her accomplices, were tried and put to death. Soon afterwards, Jeroslaus, the great duke of Soldal[1] in Russia, being invited, as if to do him honour, by the emperor's mother, to receive meat and drink from her hand, grew sick immediately after returning to his lodging, and died in seven days illness, his whole body becoming strangely of a blue colour; and it was currently reported that he had been poisoned, that the Tartars might freely and totally possess his land.

[1] Called Susdal in a former passage.--E.


How the Friars, in the presence of the Emperor, interchanged Letters

Soon afterwards, the emperor sent us to his mother, as he intended to set up a flag of defiance against all the nations of the west, as has been mentioned before; and he was desirous to keep this circumstance from our knowledge. Having remained some days with his mother, we returned to his court, where we continued a whole month, in such extreme distress for victuals and drink, that we could hardly keep ourselves alive; for the provisions allowed us for four days, were scarcely sufficient to serve us for one day, neither could we go to purchase at the public market, as it was too far from us. But God sent to our aid a Russian goldsmith, named Cosmas, who was considerably favoured by the emperor, and who procured us some food. This man shewed us the imperial throne and seal, both of which he had been employed to make.

After some time, the emperor sent for us, and intimated, by Chingay, his secretary, that we should write down our messages and affairs, and deliver them to him, which we did accordingly. Many days afterwards, we were again called to the presence, and were asked if there were any persons about the Pope who understood the Russian, Arabic, or Tartarian languages. To this we answered that we were ignorant of these languages, and though there were Saracens in our land, they inhabited at a great distance from our lord the Pope; and we proposed, that when they had written in the Tartar language, they might explain the meaning to us, which we would carefully write down in our language, and would then deliver both the originals and the translation to his holiness. On this they went from us to the emperor. We were again called upon at Martinmas, when Kadac, the chief minister of the empire, with Chingay and Bala, and several scribes, came to us and explained the emperor's letter, word for word; and when we had written it in Latin, they made us interpret every sentence to them, to see if we had any way erred. And when both letters were written, they made us read them over twice more, lest any thing were mistaken: Saying, "Take heed that every thing be well understood, as great inconvenience might arise from wrong conception." They gave us likewise a copy of the emperor's letters in Arabic, in case any one might be found who could explain them in our country.


The Papal Envoys receive a Licence to depart.

These Tartar ministers informed us, that the emperor proposed to send envoys along with us; and it seemed to us, that they wished we should ask this from the emperor, and one of the principal among them advised us to make that request. But this did not appear at all convenient, and we answered, that it did not become us to make any such petition; but if it were the pleasure of the emperor to send envoys, we should use our utmost endeavour, with God's assistance, to conduct them in safety. We were averse from this measure, for the following reasons: Lest, seeing the wars and dissensions which subsisted among the Christians, they should be the more encouraged to make war upon us: We were afraid that the messengers were meant to act as spies, to examine the approaches to our land: We dreaded that they might be slain by the way: for when the servants which attended us, by desire of the cardinal legate of Germany, were on their return to him, they were well nigh stoned to death by the Germans, and forced to put off that hateful dress: And it is the custom of the Tartars, never to make peace with those who have slain their messengers, till they have taken a severe revenge. Fourthly, we feared their messengers might be taken from us by main force. And lastly, because no good could arise from them, as they were to have no other commission or authority, except merely to deliver the letter of the emperor to the pope and princes of Christendom, which letter we already had.

The third day after this, being the feast of St Brice, 13th November, we received our passport, and a letter sealed with the emperor's own seal; and going to the emperor's mother, she gave each of us a gown made of fox-skins, having the hair outwards, and a linen robe; from every one of which our Tartar attendants stole a yard, and from those that were given to our servants, they stole a full half. We were perfectly aware of this knavery, but did not think it convenient to take any notice.


The return of the Papal Envoys to Europe.

At length we took our departure, and travelled the whole winter through the desert, often sleeping all night on the snow, unless when we cleared a piece of ground with our feet, and frequently in the morning we found ourselves entirely covered by the snow, which had drifted over us during the night. On Ascension day, we arrived at the court of Baatu, of whom we inquired what message we should deliver in his name to the Pope? To this he answered, that he had no message to give us in charge, but only that we should carefully deliver what we had received from the emperor. Having received additional passports from him, we continued our journey, and arrived at the station of Montij on the Sabbath after the Whitson week, where our companions and servants, who had been kept so long from us, were returned at our desire. From thence we travelled to the station of Corrensa, who again required presents from us, but we now had none to give. He however appointed two Comanians, of the lowest order of the Tartar subjects, to accompany us to Kiow in Russia; but our Tartar guide did not quit us till we were beyond the Tartar bounds; after which the Comanians, who had been ordered by Corrensa to attend us, brought us in six days from the last guard of the Tartars, to the city of Kiow, where we arrived fifteen days before the festival of John the Baptist, 9th June 1248. On receiving notice of our approach, the whole inhabitants of Kiow came out joyfully to receive us, congratulating us as men returned from death to life; and we were received in a similar manner in our whole progress through Russia, Poland, and Bohemia. Daniel, and his brother Wasilico, feasted us splendidly, and detained us, contrary to our desire, for eight days. In the meantime, they and their bishops and nobles, having consulted on those matters, which we had propounded to them, when on our journey towards the Tartars, made an unanimous declaration, that they would henceforwards hold the Pope as their special lord and holy father, and would adhere to the Roman church as their lady and mistress, confirming all things which they had previously sent on this subject, by their own abbot, to the Pope before our return; and in ratification of all this, they sent envoys and letters along with us to the Pope[1].

[1] In Section XIX. of this journey, Wasilico, or Wasiley, is mentioned as duke of Russia; but who must only have been duke of some subordinate province. This submission of Russia, or of his particular dukedom, produced no fruit to the Romish see, as the Russian empire still remains what are called Greek schismatics.--E.


Travels of William de Rubruquis into Tartary, about the year 1253.[1]

[1] Hakluyt, I. 80. for the Latin, and I.101. for the English. See likewise Harris, I. 556.


These travels were undertaken by order of Louis IX. of France, usually called St Louis. In the original, or at least in the printed copies which have come down to our times, Rubruquis is said to have commenced his journey in the year 1253; but this date is attended with some difficulties, as we are certain that king Louis was a prisoner from 1249 to 1254. It is possible, indeed, that he may have dispatched this mission while a prisoner; yet it is more probable, that the date may have been vitiated in transcription. The real name of this early traveller, who was a friar of the minorite order, is said to have been Van Ruysbroek[2], from a village of that name near Brussels, Latinized, or Frenchified rather, into De Rubruquis. By Hakluyt he is named Rubruk. The version here offered to the public, is a translation from the Latin copy in Hakluyt, as addressed by the adventurous traveller to his royal master, after his return from traversing the whole extent of Tartary; the English translation, by that early and meritorious collector, being far too antiquated for modern readers.

[2] Pinkerton, Mod. Geogr. II. xvi.

Dedication by the Author

To the Most Excellent and Most Christian Lord Louis, by the Grace of GOD the illustrious King of the French; Friar William de Rubruquís, the meanest of the Minorite Order, wisheth health and continual triumph in CHRIST JESUS.

It is written in the book of Ecclesiasticus, "That the truly wise man shall travel through strange countries; for he hath tried the good and evil among men." All this, Sire, I have performed; and I wish I may have done so as a wise man, and not as a fool. For many do foolishly those things which have been done by wise men, and I fear I may be reckoned among that number. But as you were pleased to command me at my departure, that I should write down every thing I saw among the Tartars, and should not fear to write long letters, I now therefore obey your orders, yet with awe and reverence, as wanting fit language in which to address so great a king.


Commencement of the Journey.

Be it known, therefore, to your sacred majesty, that in the year 1253, on the 7th of May, we entered into the sea of Pontus, which the Bulgarians call the Great Sea[1]; which I was informed, by certain merchants, is 1008 miles in length, and is in a manner divided, about its middle, into two parts, by means of two provinces which project into it, one on the north, and the other on the south. That which is on the south is called Synope, and contains the castle and port of the Sultan of the Turks. The northern province is called Gasaria by the Latins[2], and Cassaria by the Greek inhabitants of its coast, which is the same with Caesaria; and from thence certain headlands extend southwards into the sea, towards Synope, from the nearest part of which they are 300 miles distant; so that the distance from these points to Constantinople is 700 miles in length and breadth, and 700 miles to Hiberia in the east, which is a province of Georgia.

[1] The Euxine or Black Sea. Though not expressed in the text, he probably took his departure from Constantinople.--E.
[2] By the Latins are here obviously meant the inhabitants of western Europe. The province here mentioned is the Crimea; the Taurica Chersonesus of the ancients, or the modern Taurida.--E.

We arrived in the province of Gasaria, or Casaria, which is of a triangular form, having a city named Kersova on its western extremity, in which St Clement suffered martyrdom. While sailing past that city, we saw an island containing a church, which is said to have been built by the angels. In the middle of this province, and on a cape to the south, stands the city of Soldaia, directly facing Synope. And here all merchants land who come from Turkey, in their way to the north, and embark here again on their return from Russia and the north for Turkey; these latter bring ermines and martins, and other valuable furs, and the former carry cloths made of cotton, or bombasins, and silk webs, and aromatic spices. On the east of this province is the city of Matriga[3], where the Tanais flows into the Pontus, by a mouth of twelve miles wide[4]. Before this river enters the Euxine, it forms itself into a sea towards the north, of seven hundred miles in length and breadth, but in no place above six paces deep, so that it is not navigable for large vessels: For which reason, the merchants of Constantinople, when they arrive at the city of Matriga, send their barks to the Tanais, where they purchase dried fish, sturgeons, thosas, barbels, and many other sorts of fish.

[3] At the mouth of one of the branches of the Kuban is the town of Temruck, formerly called Tmutrakhan by the Russians, and Tamatarcha by the Greeks; this has been corrupted to Tamaterca, Materca, and Matriga.--Forst.
[4] This obviously refers to the canal of communication between the sea of Azoph and the Euxine.--E.

This province of Casaria has the sea on three sides; on the west, where stands Kersova, or the city of St Clement; on the south, where is the city of Soldaia, at which we landed; and on the east, where Matriga is situated at the mouth of the Tanais. To the east of that mouth is the city of Zikia, and the countries of the Suevi and Hiberi still further east, all of which are not under the dominion of the Tartars. To the south is Trebisond, which has its own prince, named Guido, who, although of the imperial race of Constantinople, is under the Tartar dominion; and next to it is Synope, which belongs to the sultan of the Turks, who is likewise subjected to the Tartars. Beyond this is the country of Vastacius, whose son is named Astar, after his maternal grandfather, and this country is not under the dominion of the Tartars. From the mouth of the Tanais to the Danube, and even beyond the Danube towards Constantinople, including Walachia, which is the country of Assanus, and the lesser Bulgaria as far as Solonia, pay tribute to the Tartars, who of late years have exacted an axe from each family, and all the corn which they find in heaps, in addition to the regular tribute.

We landed at Soldaia[5] on the 21st of May, where certain merchants of Constantinople had previously arrived, who reported that ambassadors from the Holy Land were coming thither, on their way to Sartach; although I had publickly declared on palm Sunday, in the church of St Sophia, that I was no ambassador from you or any one, and only travelled to these infidels, in conformity with the rule of our order. On our arrival, these merchants advised me to be cautious of what I said; for, as they had already reported that I was an ambassador, if I should now say the contrary, I should be refused a free passage. Upon this, I addressed myself to the lieutenants of the city, because the captains had gone with the tribute to Baatu, and were not yet returned: saying, "We have heard in the Holy Land, that your lord Sartach[6] had become a Christian, which hath greatly rejoiced all the Christians, and especially the most Christian King of the French, who is there in pilgrimage, fighting against the Saracens, that he may redeem the Holy Land out of their hands: Wherefore, I desire to go to Sartach, that I may carry him letters from the king my master, in which he gives him intelligence of importance to all Christendom." They received us graciously, and entertained us hospitably in the cathedral church; The bishop had been at the court of Sartach, and told me many good things concerning him, which I did not find afterwards to be true. They then gave us our choice, either to have carts drawn by oxen, for carrying our baggage, or sumpter horses; and the Constantinopolitan merchants advised me to purchase covered carts, like those in which the Russians carry their peltry, in which I should put every thing which was wanted for daily use; because, if I were to take packhorses, I should be constrained to pack and unpack at every baiting place, and that besides, I should ride more easily in the carts than on horseback. By following their evil advice, I was two months in travelling to Sartach, which I might have accomplished in one on horseback. I had brought with me from Constantinople fruits of various kinds, muscadel wine, and delicate biscuits, to present to the captains, that I might obtain free passage, having been advised by the merchants, that these persons gave a very cold reception to such as applied to them empty handed. The governors or captains being absent, I caused all these things to be packed up in one of the carts, being informed that they would be acceptable presents to Sartach.

[5] Called likewise Soldeya, Soldadia and Sogdat, now Sudak.--E.
[6] Sartach was the son of Baatu-khan.--E.

We began our journey about the beginning of June, having four covered carts of our own, and two others which they furnished to us, in which we carried our bedding, and we were allowed five riding horses for ourselves, our company consisting of five persons; viz. myself and my companion, Friar Bartholomew of Cremona, Goset, the bearer of these letters, the man of God Turgeman[7], and a servant or slave, named Nicholas, whom I had purchased at Constantinople, out of the alms we had received. The people of Soldaia likewise allowed us two men to drive our carts, and to take care of our horses and oxen.

[7] This name is probably meant to imply the Trucheman, Dragoman, or interpreter; and from the strange appellative, Man of God, he may have been a monk from Constantinople, with a Greek name, having that signification: perhaps Theander--E.

There are several lofty promontories on the shore of Casaria, between Kersova[8] and the mouth of the Tanais; and there are forty castles between Kersova and Soldaia, at almost each of which a distinct language is spoken; and among these are many Goths who speak the Teutonic language[9]. Beyond these mountains, towards the north, extends a most beautiful wood, in a plain, which is full of springs and rivulets; and beyond this wood is an extensive plain, continuing for five days journey to the northern extremity of this province, where it contracts into a narrow space, having the sea on the east and west, and a great ditch is drawn between these two seas. In this plain the Comani dwelt before the coming of the Tartars, and compelled the before-mentioned cities and castles to pay tribute; and upon the coming of the Tartars, so vast a multitude of the Comani took refuge in this province, flying to the sea shore, that the living were forced to feed upon the dying, as I was assured by a merchant, an eye-witness, who declared, that the survivors tore in pieces with their teeth, and devoured the raw flesh of the dead as dogs do carrion. Towards the extremity of this province, there are many large lakes, having salt springs on their banks, and when the water of these springs reaches the lake, it coagulates into hard salt like ice. From these salt springs, Sartach and Baatu draw large revenues; as people come from all parts of Russia to procure salt, and for each cart-load, they pay two webs of cotton cloth, equal in value to half an yperpera. Many vessels come likewise by sea for salt, all of which pay tribute, in proportion to the quantities which they carry away. On the third day after leaving Soldaia, we fell in with the Tartars, on joining whom, I thought myself entered into a new world; wherefore, I shall use my best endeavours to describe their manners and way of life,

[8] Cherson or Kersona, called likewise Scherson, Schursi, and Gurzi.--E.
[9] These castles of the Goths, first mentioned by Rubruquis, were afterwards noticed by Josaphat Barbaro, a Venetian, in 1436; and Busbeck conversed with some of these Goths from the Crimea at Constantinople in 1562, and gives a vocabulary of their language. From the authority of Rubruquis misunderstood, some ancient map makers have inserted the Castella Judeorum instead of Gothorum in the Crimea, and even Danville placed them in his maps under the name of Chateaux des Juifs, castles of the Jews.--Forst.


Of the Tartars and their Houses.

They have no permanent city, and they are ignorant of the future. They divide all Scythia among them; and each leader, according to the number of his followers, knows the boundaries of his pastures, and where he ought to feed his flocks in winter and summer, and in spring and autumn. In winter they descend into the warmer regions of the south, and in summer they travel towards the colder countries of the north. Such pastures as have no water, are reserved for winter use, when there is snow on the ground, as the snow there serves instead of water.

The houses in which they sleep are founded on a round structure of wattled rods, and the roof is formed of wickers, meeting above in a small roundel, from which arises a neck like a chimney, all of which they cover with white felt; and they often cover over the felt with lime, or white earth and powdered bones to make it bright: sometimes their houses are black; and the felt about the neck of the dome is decorated with a variety of pictures. Before the door, likewise, they hang a felt, ornamented with painting; and they employ much coloured felt, painted with vines, trees, birds, and beasts, for decorating their dwellings. Some of these houses are so large as to measure thirty feet in breadth. I once measured the distance between the wheel ruts of one of their waggons to be twenty feet, and when the house was upon the waggon, it spread beyond the wheels at least five feet on each side. I have counted twenty-two bullocks dragging one waggon, surmounted by a house; eleven in one row, according to the breadth or the waggon, and other eleven before these. The axle of this waggon was very large, like the mast of a ship; and one man stood in the door of the house, upon the waggon, urging on the oxen. They likewise make quadrangular structures of small split wicker, like large chests, and frame for them an arched lid or cover of similar twigs, having a small door at the front end; and they cover this chest or small house with black felt, smeared over with suet or sheeps' milk[1], to prevent the rain from penetrating; and these are likewise decorated with paintings or feathers. In these they put all their household goods and treasure; and they bind these upon higher carts, drawn by camels, that they may be able to cross rivers without injuring their contents. These chests are never taken down from the carts to which they belong. When their dwelling-houses are unloaded from the waggons, their doors are always turned to the south; and the carts, with the chests which belong to each house, are drawn up in two rows, one on each side of the dwelling, at about the distance of a stone's throw.

[1] The butter from ewe-milk is probably here meant.--E.

The married women get most beautiful carts made for themselves, which I am unable to describe without the aid of painting, and which I would have drawn for your majesty, if I had possessed sufficient talents. One rich Moal, or Tartar, will have from a hundred to two hundred such carts with chests. Baatu has sixteen wives, each of whom has one large house, besides several small ones, serving as chambers for her female attendants, and which are placed behind the large house; and to the large house of each wife there belong two hundred chest-carts. When the camp is formed, the house of the first wife is placed on the west, and all the rest extend in one line eastwards, so that the last wife is on the east, or left of all. And between the station of each wife there is the distance of a stone's throw, so that the court of a rich Moal appears like a large city, but in which there are very few men. One girl is able to lead twenty or thirty carts; for the ground being quite plain, they fasten the carts, whether drawn by camels or oxen, behind each other, and the girl sits on the front of the foremost cart of the string, directing the cattle, while all the rest follow with an equable motion. If they come to any difficult passage, the carts are untied from each other, and conducted across singly; and they travel at a very slow pace, only so fast as an ox or a lamb can easily walk.


Of their Beds and Drinking-cups.

After having placed the house on the ground, with its door turned to the south, the bed of the master is placed to the north, opposite the door. The place of the women is always on the east, or on the masters left hand, where he sits on his bed with his face to the south, and the place of the men on his right hand, to the west; and when any men enter into the house, they never hang up their quivers on the womens side. Over the head of the lord there is placed an image or puppet of felt, which is called the masters brother, and a similar image over the head of the mistress, which is called her brother; and a little higher between these, there is one very small and thin, which is, as it were, the keeper of the house. The mistress places at the foot of her bed, on the right hand, in a conspicuous place, the skin of a kid, stuffed with wool, or some such material, and beside that a small puppet looking towards the maidens and women. Near the door, on the womens side of the house, there is another image, with a cows udder, as the guardian of the women who milk the kine. On the masters side of the door is another image, having the udder of a mare, being the tutelary deity of the men who milk the mares. When they meet together for drinking, they, in the first place, sprinkle the master's idol with some of the liquor, and then all the rest in their order; after which a servant goes out of the house with a cup of drink, and sprinkles thrice towards the south, making a genuflexion between each, in honour of the fire, then towards the east, in honour of the air, next towards the west, in honour of the water, and lastly, towards the north, for the dead. When the lord takes the cup in his hand to drink, he first pours a part on the ground; and if he is to drink on horseback, he first spills a portion on the neck and mane of his horse. After the servant has made his libations to the four quarters of the world, he returns into the house, and two other servants are ready with two other cups and salvers, to carry drink to the lord and his wife, who sit together on a bed. When he has more than one wife, she with whom he slept the night before sits beside him that day, and all the other wives must come to her house that day to drink; and all the gifts which the lord receives that day are deposited in her chests. Upon a bench there stands vessels of milk and other drinks, and drinking cups.


Of their Kinds of Drink, and Fashion of Drinking.

In winter they make excellent drink of rice, millet, and honey, which is clear like wine; and they have wine brought to them from distant countries. In summer they care not for any drink except cosmos, which always stands within the door, and beside it is a minstrel with his instrument of music. I saw no citerns, lutes, and viols, such as ours, but they have many other instruments which we have not. When the lord begins to drink, one of his servants exclaims aloud Ha! and the minstrel begins to play. When they make a great feast, all the guests clap their hands and dance to the music, the men before the lord, and the women before the lady of the house. When the lord hath drank, the servant calls out as before, and the minstrel ceases; then all drink round in their turns, both men and women, and they sometimes carouse on hearing the news of a victory, to a shameful and beastly degree. When they desire to provoke one to drink, they seize him by the ears, dragging them strongly, as if to widen his throat, clapping their hands, and dancing before him. When they mean to do great honour to any person, one takes a full cup, having one on his right hand, and another on his left, and these three advance towards him who is to receive the cup, singing and dancing before him; but when he reaches out his hand to receive the cup, they suddenly draw back, and come forwards again in the same manner, and they thus delude him three or four times, till he seems very eager, when they give him the cup, and keep dancing, singing, and stamping with their feet, till he has finished his draught.


Of their Food.

They eat indifferently of all dead animals, even such as have died of disease; and among such numbers of cattle and flocks, many animals must die almost continually. Bat in summer, when they have plenty of cosmos, or mares milk, they care little for any other food. When an ox or horse happens to die, they cut its flesh into thin slices, which they dry in the sun and air, which preserves it from corruption, and free from all bad smell. From the intestines of their horses they make sausages, better than those which are made of pork, and which they eat when newly made, but the rest of the flesh is reserved for winter use. Of the hides of oxen they form large bags, which they dry in a wonderful manner in the smoke. Of the hinder part of their horse skins they fabricate excellent sandals. They will make a meal for fifty, or even an hundred men, of the carcase of one ram. This they mince in a bowl, mixed with salt and water, which is their only seasoning, and then, with the point of a knife, or a little fork made on purpose, like those with which we eat pears and apples stewed in wine, they reach to every one of the company a morsel or two, according to the number; the master of the house having first served himself to his mind, before any of the rest, and if he gives a particular portion to any one, that person must eat it up, without giving any of it to another, or if he is unable to eat the whole, he takes it home with him, or gives it to his servant to take care of, if he has one, otherwise he puts it into his own saptargat, or square leather bag, which they carry always with them for such purposes, or for preserving any bones which they have not time to pick thoroughly, that they may clean them well afterwards, and that nothing may be lost.


How they make the Drink called Cosmos.

Cosmos is made from mares milk, in the following manner: They fasten a long line between two posts fixed in the ground, and to it they tie the young foals of the mares which are to be milked, by which means the mares are induced to stand quietly beside their foals, and allow themselves to be milked. If any mare happens to be unruly, her foal is brought, and allowed to suck a little, after which the milker again succeeds. Having thus procured a quantity of new drawn milk, it is poured into a large skin bag, which is immediately agitated by blows with a wooden club, having its lower end hollow, and as large as a man's head. After some time the milk begins to ferment like new wine, and to acquire a degree of sourness. The agitation is continued in the same manner until the butter comes; after which it is fit for drinking, and has a pungent yet pleasant taste, like raspberry wine, leaving a flavour on the palate like almond milk. This liquor is exceedingly pleasant, and of a diuretic quality; is exhilarating to the spirits, and even intoxicating to weak heads.

Cara-cosmos, which means black cosmos, is made for the great lords, in the following manner: The agitation, as before described, is continued until all the lees or coagulated portion of the milk subsides to the bottom, like the lees of wine, and the thin parts remain above like whey, or clear must of wine. The white lees are given to the servants, and have a strong soporific quality. The clear supernatent liquor is called cara-cosmos, and is an exceedingly pleasant and wholesome beverage[1]. Baatu has thirty farms around his dwelling-place, at about a day's journey distant, each of which supplies him daily with the caracosmos from the milk of an hundred mares, so that he receives the daily produce of three thousand mares, besides white cosmos which the rest of his subjects contribute: For, as the inhabitants of Syria pay the third part of their productions to their lords, so the Tartars pay their mares milk every third day.

[1] Under the name of Kumyss, this liquor is much used by the Russian gentry, as a restorative for constitutions weakened by disease or debauchery: and for procuring it they travel to the Tartar districts of the empire.--E.

From the milk of their cows they make butter, which they do not salt for preservation, but boil and clarify it, after which it is poured into bags made of sheep-skin, and preserved for winter use. The residue of the milk is kept till it becomes quite sour, after which it is boiled, and the coagula or curds, which form, are dried in the sun till quite hard, and are preserved in bags for winter provision. This sour curd, which they call gryut, when wanted for use in winter when they have no milk, is put into a bag with hot water, and by dilligent beating and agitation, is dissolved into a sour white liquor, which they drink instead of milk; for they have a great aversion to drink water by itself.


Of the Beasts they eat, of their Garments, and of their Hunting parties.

The great lords have farms in the southern parts of their dominions, from whence millet and flour are brought them for winter provisions; and the meaner people procure these in exchange for sheep and skins. The slaves content themselves with thick water[2]. They do not eat either long tailed or short tailed mice. There are many marmots in their country, which they call Sogur, which gather during winter, in companies of twenty or thirty together, in burrows, where they sleep for six months; these they catch in great numbers and use as food. There are likewise a kind of rabbits, with long tails like cats, having black and white hairs at the extremity of their tails. They have many other small animals fit for eating, with which they are well acquainted. I have seen no deer, and very few hares, but many antelopes. I saw vast numbers of wild asses, which resemble mules. Likewise an animal resembling a ram, called artak, with crooked horns of such amazing size, that I was hardly able to lift a pair of them with one hand. Of these horns they make large drinking-cups. They have falcons, gyrfalcons, and other hawks in great abundance, all of which they carry on their right hands. Every hawk has a small thong of leather fastened round his neck, the ends of which hang down to the middle of his breast; and before casting off after game, they bow down the hawk's head towards his breast, by means of this thong, with their left hand, lest he be tossed by the wind, or should soar too high [3]. The Tartars are most expert hunters, and procure a great part of their sustenance by the chase.

[2] Whether the author here means the dissolved sour curd, mentioned at the close of the former Section, or gruel made from meal and water, does not appear.--E.
[3] Our falconers use the left hand for carrying their hawks. I leave the inexplicable use of the thongs to be understood by professional falconers.--Hakluyt, ad loc.

When the Tartars intend to hunt wild beasts, a vast multitude of people is collected together, by whom the country is surrounded to a large extent in a great circle; and by gradually contracting this circle towards its centre, they at length collect all the included game into a small space, into which the sportsmen enter and dispatch the game with their arrows.

From Cataya, and other regions of the east, and from Persia, and other countries of the south they procure silk stuffs, cloth of gold, and cotton cloth, of which they make their summer garments. From Russia, Moxel, Greater Bulgaria, Pascatir, which is the greater Hungary, and Kersis, all of which are northern countries and full of woods, and from other countries towards the north which are subject to their authority, they procure valuable furs of many kinds, which I have not seen in our parts. With these they make their winter garments; and they have always at least two fur gowns, one of which has the fur inwards, and the other has the fur outwards to the wind and snow; which outer garments are usually made of the skins of wolves, foxes, or bears. But while they sit within doors, they have gowns of finer and more costly materials. The garments of the meaner sort are made of the skins of dogs and goats.

They likewise have breeches made of skins. The rich often line their garments with silk shag, which is exceedingly soft, light, and warm. The poor line theirs with cotton cloth, wadded with the finest wool which they can sort out from their fleeces; and of the coarser wool they make felts for covering their houses and chests, and for sleeping upon. Their ropes are likewise made of wool, mixed with a third part of horse hair. Of felt they also make cloths to lay under their saddles, and caps to defend their heads from rain. In all these things they use vast quantities of wool. Your majesty has seen the habits of these people[4].

[4] Probably this concluding sentence means, that as the king of France had seen some Tartars in Syria, the author did not deem it necessary to describe their form and fashions.--E.


Of the Fashion of their Hair, and the Ornaments of their Women.

The men have a square tonsure on their crowns, from the two front corners of which they shave two seams down to their temples. The temples also, and hinder part of the head, to the nape of the neck, are shaved, and the forehead, except one small lock which falls down to the eyes. On each angle of the hind head, they leave a long lock of hair, which they braid and knot together under each ear. The dress of unmarried women differs little from that of the men, except in being somewhat longer. But on the day after marriage, the head is shaved, from the middle down to the forehead, and the woman puts on a wide gown, like that of a monk, but wider and longer. This opens before, and is tied under the right side. In this the Tartars and Turks differ, as the Turks tie their garments always on the left side. They have an ornament for their heads which they call Botta, which is made of the bark of a tree or any other very light substance, made in a round form, so thick as may be grasped with both hands, becoming square at the upper extremity, and in all about two feet long, somewhat resembling the capital of a pillar. This cap is hollow within, and is covered over with rich silk. On the top of this they erect a bunch of quills, or slender rods, about a cubit long, or even more, which they ornament with peacocks feathers on the top, and all around with the feathers of a wild drake, and even with precious stones. The rich ladies wear this ornament on the top of their heads, binding it on strongly with a kind of hat or coif, which has a hole in its crown adapted for this purpose, and under this they collect their hair from the back of the head, lapped up in a kind of knot or bundle within the botta; and the whole is fixed on by means of a ligature under their throat. Hence, when a number of these ladies are seen together on horseback, they appear at a distance like soldiers armed with helmets and lances. The women all sit astride on horseback like men, binding their mantles round their waists with silken scarfs of a sky-blue colour, and they bind another scarf round their breasts. They likewise have a white veil tied on just below their eyes, which reaches down to their breasts. The women are amazingly fat, and the smaller their noses, they are esteemed the more beautiful. They daub over their faces most nastily with grease; and they never keep their beds on account of child-bearing.


Of the Duties and Labours of the Women, and of their Nuptials.

The employments of the women are, to lead the waggons, to load and unload the horses, to milk the cows, to make butter and gryut, to dress skins, and to sew them together, which they generally do with sinews finely split and twisted into long threads. They likewise make sandals, and socks, and other garments, and felts for covering their houses. They never wash their garments, alleging that it would offend God, and that hanging them up to dry would occasion thunder; and they even beat any person who pretends to wash their garments, and take their clothes from them. They are astonishingly afraid of thunder, during which they turn all strangers from their dwellings, and wrapping themselves in black felt, remain covered up till it is over. They never wash their bowls or dishes; or if they do wash the platters into which the boiled meat is to be put, they do it merely with the scalding broth, which they throw back into the pot.

The men make bows and arrows, saddles, bridles, and stirrups, construct houses and carts, takes care of the horses, and milk the mares, agitate the cosmos or mares milk, make leather sacks, in which these are kept, take care of, and load the camels, tend the cows, sheep, and goats, and these are sometimes milked by the men, sometimes by the women. They dress hides with sheeps milk, thickened and salted. When they mean to wash their head and hands, they fill their mouths with water, which they squirt out gradually on their hands, and moisten their hair or wash their heads.

No man can have a wife unless by purchase; so that many maids are rather old before marriage, as their parents always keep them till they can get a good market. They keep the first and second degrees of consanguinity inviolate, but pay no regard to affinity, as one man may have either at once, or successively two sisters. Widows never marry, as their belief is, that all who have served a man in this life, shall do so in the next; so that widows believe that they shall return after death to their husbands. Hence arises an abominable custom among them, that the son sometimes marries all his father's wives except his own mother; for the court or household of the father and mother always devolves to the younger son, and he has to provide for all his father's wives, which fall to his share along with the inheritance; and he considers, that if he takes his father's wives, it will be no injury or disgrace to him though they went to his father in the next world. When any one has made a bargain with another for his daughter, the father of the maid gives a feast to the bridegroom, and the bride runs away and hides herself in the house of one of her relations. Then the father says to the bridegroom, "My daughter is now yours, take her wherever you can find her." On which he seeks for her, with the assistance of his friends, till he discovers her concealment, and then leads her as if by violence to his house.


Of their Laws and Judgments, and of their Death and Burial.

When two men fight, no one must interfere to part them, neither may a father presume to aid his own son; but he who considers himself injured must appeal to the court of his lord, and whoever shall offer him any violence after this appeal is put to death. He who is appealed against, must go without delay, and the appellant leads him as a prisoner. No one is punished capitally, unless taken in the act, or unless he confesses; but when witnessed against by many, he is severely tortured to extort confession. Homicide, adultery, and fornication, are punished with death; but a man may use his own slave as he pleases. Great thefts are punished capitally; but for small ones, as for stealing a sheep, when the party is not caught in the fact, but otherwise detected, the thief is cruelly beaten. And when an hundred strokes are to be given by order of the court, an hundred separate rods are required, one for each blow. Pretended messengers are punished with death, as are likewise sacrilegious persons, whom they esteem witches, of which more will be said hereafter.

When any one dies, he is mourned for with violent howlings, and the mourners are free from tribute during a whole year. Any one who happens to enter a house, in which a grown up person lies dead, must not enter the house of Mangu-khan during a whole year; if the dead person is a child, he is only debarred for one lunation. One house is always left near the grave of the deceased; but the burial place of any of the princes of the race of Jenghis-khan is always kept secret; yet there is always a family left in charge of the sepulchres of their nobles, though I do not find that they deposit any treasure in these tombs. The Comanians raise a large barrow or tomb over their dead, and erect a statue of the person, with his face turned towards the east, holding a drinking cup in his hand; they erect likewise, over the tombs of the rich, certain pyramids or sharp pinnacles. In some places, I observed large towers built of burnt bricks, and others of stone, though no stones were to be found about the place. I saw the grave of a person newly buried, in honour of whom there were hung up sixteen horses hides, four of which towards each quarter of the world, between high poles; and beside the grave they had set cosmos, that the deceased might drink, and flesh for him to eat, although the person was said to have been baptized. Farther east, I saw other kinds of sepulchres, consisting of large areas, paved with stone, some round and others square, having four large stones placed upright around the pavement, and fronting the four cardinal points. When any one lies sick in bed, a mark is affixed to the house, that no one may enter, as no one ever visits the sick, except his own servant; and when any one belonging to the great courts is sick, watchmen are placed at a great distance, all round, that no one may enter the precincts; as they dread lest evil spirits, or bad winds, might enter along with visitors. They consider their soothsayers, or people who practise divination, as priests.


Of our first Entering among the Tartars, and of their Ingratitude.

When we first entered among these Tartars, after having made us wait for them a long time, under the shade of certain black carts, a considerable number of them on horseback surrounded us. Their first question was, whether we had ever before been among them; and being answered in the negative, they began impudently to beg some of our victuals; and we gave them some of the biscuits and wine, which we had brought with us from Constantinople. Having drank one flaggon of our wine they demanded more, saying, that a man does not enter a house with one foot only. But we excused ourselves, as not being well provided. They next inquired, whence we came, and whither we were going? To this I answered, that hearing Sartach was become a Christian, we wished to go to him, that we might present your majestys letters to him. They then asked if we came of our own accord, or were sent upon this errand. To this I said, that no one had compelled me, and that I had come voluntarily, and by the desire of my superiors; being cautious not to say that I was the ambassador from your majesty. They then required to know if our carts contained gold and silver, or precious vestments, as presents for Sartach. To which I answered, that Sartach should see what we carried when we came to his presence, and that they had nothing to do with such questions, but ought to conduct me to their captain; that he, if he thought proper, might direct me to be carried to Sartach, otherwise I should return. There then was in this province one Scacatai, or Zagathai, related to Baatu, to whom the emperor of Constantinople had written requisitorial letters, that I might be permitted to proceed on my journey. On being informed of this, they supplied us with horses and oxen, and appointed two men to conduct us on our journey, and those which we had brought with us from Soldaia returned. Yet they made us wait a long while, continually begging our bread to give to their children; and they admired and coveted every thing they saw about our servants, as their knives, gloves, purses, and points. But when we excused ourselves from their importunity, alleging that we had a long journey before us, and must not give away those things which were necessary for ourselves, they reviled me as a niggard; and though they took nothing by force, they were exceedingly impudent, and importunate in begging, to have every thing they saw. If a man gives them any thing, it may be considered as thrown away, for they have no gratitude; and as they look upon themselves as the lords of the world, they think that nothing should be refused to them by any one; yet, if one gives them nothing, and afterwards stands in need of their assistance, they will not help him. They gave us some of their butter milk, called Apram, which is extremely sour. After this we left them, thinking that we had escaped out of the hands of the demons, and the next day we arrived at the quarters of their captain. From the tune when we left Soldaia, till we got to Sartach, which took us two months, we never lay under a house or a tent, but always in the open air, or under our carts; neither did we see any town, or the vestiges of any buildings where a village had been; though we saw vast numbers of the tombs of the Comanians. On the same evening, our conductor gave us some cosmos, which was very pleasant to drink, but not having been accustomed to that liquor, it occasioned me to sweat most profusely.


Of the Court of Zagathai, and how the Christians drink no Cosmos.

Next morning, we met the carts of Zagathai, laden with houses, and I thought that a great city was travelling towards us. I was astonished at the prodigious droves of oxen and horses, and the immense flocks of sheep, though I saw very few men to guide them; which made me inquire how many men he had under his command, and I was told he had not above 500 in all, half of whom we had already passed at another station. Then the servant who conducted us, informed me that it was requisite for us to make a present to Zagathai, and desired us to stop while he went forwards, to announce our arrival. It was then past three o'clock, and the Tartars unladed their houses near a certain water. After this, the interpreter of Zagathai came to us, and learning that we had not been before among them, he demanded some of our victuals, which we gave him; he also required to have some garments, as a reward for his trouble in interpreting for us to his master; but we excused ourselves on account of our poverty. He then asked us what we intended to present to his lord, when we shewed him a flaggon of wine, and filled a basket with biscuit, and a platter with apples and other fruits; but he was not satisfied, as we had not bought him some rich stuffs. However, we entered into the presence of Zagathai with fear and bashfulness; he was sitting on a bed, having a small citern or lute in his hand, and his wife sat beside him, who, I really believe, had amputated her nose, between the eyes, that it might be the flatter, for she had no nose in that part of her face, which was smeared over with black ointment, as were also her eyebrows, which seemed very filthy in our eyes. I then repeated to him the exact same words which I had used before, respecting the object of our journey, as we had been admonished by some who had been among them formerly, never to vary in our words. I requested that he would deign to accept our small gift; for, being monks, it was contrary to the rules of our order to possess gold or silver or rich garments; on which account, we had no such things to offer, and hoped he would accept some portion of our victuals as a blessing. He received those things, and immediately distributed them among his men, who were met in his house to drink. I likewise presented to him the letters from the emperor of Constantinople. He then sent these to Soldaia to be translated, because, being in Greek, there was no person about him who understood that language. He asked if we would drink cosmos? For the Russian, Greek, and Alanian Christians, who happen to, be among the Tartars, and conform strictly to their own laws, do not drink that liquor, and even think they are not Christians who do so; and their priests, after such conduct, formally reconcile them again to the church, as if they had thereby renounced the Christian faith. I answered that we had still a sufficiency of our own drink, but when that was done, we should be under the necessity of using what might be given us. He next asked us, what the letters contained which we carried to Sartach? I answered that these were sealed, and contained only the words of friendship and good will. He asked what I meant to say to Sartach? To this I answered, that I should speak to him the words of the Christian faith. He asked what these were, as he would willingly hear them? I then expounded to him the apostles creed, as well as I was able, by means of our interpreter, who was by no means clever or eloquent. On hearing this he shook his head, but made no reply. He then appointed oxen and horses for our use, and two men to attend upon us; but he desired us to abide with him, until the messenger should return with the translation of the emperors letters from Soldaia. We arrived at the horde of Zagathai, in the Ascension week, and we remained with him until the day after Pentecost, or Whitsun Tuesday, being ten days in all.


How some Alanians visited them on the Eve of Pentecost.

On the eve of Pentecost or Whitsunday, there came to us certain Alanians, called there Acias or Akas, who are Christians after the Greek form, using Greek books, and having Grecian priests, but they are not schismatics like the Greeks as they honour all Christians without exception. These men brought us some sodden flesh, which they offered us to eat, and requested us to pray for one of their company who had died. But I explained to them the solemnity of the festival, and that we could eat no flesh at this time. They were much pleased with our exposition, as they were ignorant of every thing relative to the Christian rites, the name of Christ alone excepted. They and many other Christians, both Russians and Hungarians, demanded of us if they might be saved, having been constrained to drink cosmos, and to eat the flesh of animals that had been slain by the Saracens and other infidels; which the Greek and Russian priests consider as things strangled or offered to idols. They were likewise ignorant of the times of fasting, neither could they have observed these in this region, even if they had known their times and seasons. I then instructed them as well as I could, and strengthened them in the faith. We reserved the flesh which they had brought us until the feast day, for there was nothing to be bought among the Tartars for gold and silver, but only for cloth and garments, which we had not to dispose of. When our servants offered any of the coin which they call yperpera [1], they rubbed it with their fingers, and smelt it, to see whether it were copper. All the food they supplied us with was sour, and filthy cows milk; and the water was so foul and muddy, by reason of their numerous horses, that we could not drink it. If it had not been for the grace of God, and the biscuit we brought with us, we had surely perished.

[1] Or hyperpyron, a coin said to be of the value of two German dollars, or six and eightpence Sterling.--E.


Of a Saracen who desired to be Baptized, and of men who seemed Lepers.

Upon the day of Pentecost, a Saracen came to visit us, to whom we explained the articles of the Christian faith; particularly the salvation of sinners, through the incarnation of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, and judgment to come, and how through baptism all sin was washed out. He seemed much affected with these doctrines, and even expressed a desire to be baptized; but when we were preparing for that ceremony, he suddenly mounted on horseback, saying that he must first consult his wife; and he returned next day, declining to receive baptism, because he would not then be allowed to drink cosmos, without which, he could not live in that country. From this opinion, I could not move him by any arguments; so that these people are much estranged from becoming Christians, by the assertion of that opinion by the Russians, and other Christians, who come among them in great numbers.

On the same day, which was the morrow of the feast of Pentecost, Zagathai gave us one man to conduct us to Sartach, and two others to guide us to the next station, which was at the distance of five days journey for our oxen. We were presented also with a goat to serve us as food, and a great many skin bags of cows milk, but they gave us very little cosmos, as that liquor is in great estimation among themselves.

From the station of Zagathai we travelled directly north, and our attendants began to pilfer largely from us, because we took too little heed of our property, but experience at length taught us wisdom. At length we reached the bounds of this province, which is fortified by a deep ditch, from sea to sea[1]. Immediately beyond this ditch, we came to the station to which our conductors belonged, where all the inhabitants seemed to be infected with leprosy; and certain base people are placed here to receive the tribute from all who come for salt from the salt pits formerly mentioned. We were told that we should have to travel fifteen days farther before meeting with any other inhabitants. With these people we drank cosmos, and we presented them in return with a basket of fruits and biscuit; and they gave us eight oxen and a goat, and a vast number of bladders full of milk, to serve as provision during our long journey. But by changing our oxen, we were enabled in ten days to attain the next station, and through the whole way we only found water in some ditches, dug on purpose, in the vallies, and in two small rivers. From leaving the province of Casaria, we traveled directly eastwards, having the sea of Azoph on our right hand, and a vast desert on the north, which, in some places, is twenty days journey in breadth, without mountain, tree, or even stone; but it is all excellent pasture. In this waste the Comani, called Capchat[2], used to feed their cattle. The Germans called these people Valani, and the province Valania; but Isidore terms the whole country, from the Tanais, along the Paulus Maeotis, Alania. This great extent would require a journey of two months, from one end to the other, even if a man were to travel post as fast as the Tartars usually ride, and was entirely inhabited by the Capchat Comanians; who likewise possessed the country between the Tanais, which divides Europe from Asia, and the river Edil or Volga, which is a long ten days journey. To the north of this province of Comania Russia is situate, which is all over full of wood, and reaches from the north of Poland and Hungary, all the way to the Tanais or Don. This country has been all wasted by the Tartars, and is even yet often plundered by them.

[1] From this circumstance it is obvious, that the journey had been hitherto confined to Casaria, or the Crimea, and that he had now reached the lines or isthmus of Precop.--E.
[2] In the English translation of Hakluyt, this word is changed to Capthak, and in the collection of Harris to Capthai; it is probably the Kiptschak of the Russians.--E.

The Tartars prefer the Saracens to the Russians, because the latter are Christians: and when the Russians are unable to satisfy their demands for gold and silver, they drive them and their children in multitudes into the desert, where they constrain them to tend their flocks and herds. Beyond Russia is the country of Prussia, which the Teutonic knights have lately subdued, and they might easily win Russia likewise, if they so inclined; for if the Tartars were to learn that the sovereign Pontiff had proclaimed a crusade against them, they would all flee into their solitudes.


Of our Distresses, and of the Comanian funerals.

In our journey eastwards we saw nothing but the earth and sky, having sometimes the sea of Tanais within sight on our right hand, and sometimes we saw the sepulchres in which the Comanians used to bury their dead, at the distance of a league or two from the line of our journey. So long as we travelled in the desert, matters were tolerably well with us, but I cannot sufficiently express the irksome and tedious plagues and troubles we had to encounter in the dwellings of the Tartars; for our guide insisted upon us making presents to every one of the Tartar captains, which we were utterly unable to afford, and we were eight persons in all, continually using our provisions, as the three Tartars who accompanied us insisted that we should feed them; and the flesh which had been given us was by no means sufficient, and we could not get any to buy. While we sat under the shadow of our carts to shelter us from the extreme heat of the sun, they would intrude into our company, and even tread upon us, that they might see what we had; and when they had to ease nature, would hardly withdraw a few yards distance, shamelessly talking to us the whole lime. What distressed me most of all, was when I wished to address them upon religious subjects, my foolish interpreter used to say, "You shall not make me a preacher, and I neither will nor can rehearse these words." Nay, after I began to acquire some little knowledge of their language, I found, when I spoke one thing, he would say quite differently, whatever chanced to come uppermost in his senseless mind. Thus, seeing the danger I might incur in speaking by so faithless an interpreter, I resolved rather to be silent.

We thus journeyed on from station to station, till at length a few days before the festival of Mary Magdalen, 22d July, we arrived on the banks of the mighty river Tanais or Don, which divides Europe from Asia. At this place Baatu and Sartach had established a station of Russians on the eastern bank of the river, on purpose to transport merchants and messengers across. They ferried us over in the first place, and then our carts; and their boats were so small that they were obliged to use two boats tied together for one cart, putting a wheel into each. In this place our guides acted most foolishly; for believing that the Russians would provide us with horses and oxen, they sent back those we had from the western side of the river, to their masters. But when relays were demanded from the Russians, they alleged that they had a privilege from Baatu, exempting them from all services except those belonging to the ferry, and for which they were even accustomed to receive considerable rewards from such merchants as passed that way. We were, therefore, constrained to remain three days in this place. The first day they gave us a large fresh fish[1]. The second day the magistrate of the village gathered from every house for us, and presented us with rye-bread and some flesh. And the third day they gave us dried fish, of which they have great abundance.

[1] In the Latin this fish is named Barbatus, which both Hakluyt and Harris have translated Turbot, a fish never found in rivers. It was more probably a Barbel, in Latin called Barbus; or it might be of the Sturgeon tribe, which likewise has beard-like appendages, and is found in the Don.--E.

The river Tanais, at this place, is as broad as the Seine at Paris; and before arriving on its banks, we had passed many goodly waters full of fish: but the rude Tartars know not now to catch them, neither do they hold fish in any estimation, unless large enough to feed a company. This river is the eastern limit of Russia, and arises from certain marshes which extend to the northern ocean; and it discharges itself in the south, into a large sea of 700 miles extent, before falling into the Euxine; and all the rivers we had passed ran with a full stream in the same direction. Beyond this place the Tartars advance no farther to the north, and they were now, about the first of August, beginning to return into the south; and they have another village somewhat lower down the river, where passengers are ferried over in winter. At this time the people were reaping their rye. Wheat does not succeed in their soil, but they have abundance of millet. The Russian women attire their heads like those in our country; and they ornament their gowns with furs of different kinds, from about the knees downwards. The men wear a dress like the Germans, having high crowned conical hats made of felt, like sugar loaves, with sharp points.

At length, after representing that our journey was intended for the common benefit of all Christians, they provided us with oxen and men to proceed upon our journey; but as we got no horses, we were ourselves under the necessity of travelling on foot. In this manner we journied for three days, without meeting any people; and when both our oxen and ourselves were weary and faint with fatigue, two horses came running towards us, to our great joy: Our guide and interpreter mounted upon these, and set out to see if they could fall in with any inhabitants. At length, on the fourth day, having found some people, we rejoiced like seafaring men, who had escaped from a tempest into a safe harbour. Then getting fresh horses and oxen, we passed on from station to station, till we at length reached the habitation of duke Sartach on the second of the kalends of August[2].

[2] This, according to the Roman method of reckoning, ought to be the last day of July. Yet Rubruquis had previously mentioned the 1st of August a considerable time before.--E.


Of the Dominions and Subjects of Sartach.

The region beyond the Tanais is very beautiful, especially towards the north, where there are fine rivers and extensive forests. In these dwell two different nations. One of these, named the Moxel, are ignorant pagans, without any laws, who dwell in cottages among the woods, and have no cities. Their lord, and the greater part of the nation were carried to the confines of Germany by the Tartars, and were there slain by the Germans, who are held in great estimation by the nations who are subject to the Tartars, as they hope, through their means, to be freed from the Tartar yoke. When a merchant comes among these people, the first person with whom he stops is obliged to provide him with all necessaries during his stay in the district; and they are so little jealous of their wives, that husbands pay little regard to their infidelity, unless directly under their eyes. These people have abundance of swine, honey, and wax, precious furs, and falcons. Beyond these dwell the Merdas[1] or Merdui, who are Saracens or Mahometans. Beyond them is the Etilia or Volga, the largest river I ever beheld, which comes out of the north, from the country of the Greater Bulgaria and runs southwards, into a vast lake of four months journey in circuit, of which I shall speak afterwards. In the northern region, by which we travelled, the Tanais and Volga are not above ten days journey asunder, but towards the south they are at a much farther distance; the Tanais falling into the Euxine, and the Volga into the before mentioned sea or lake, which likewise receives many rivers from Persia. In the course of our journey, we left to the south certain great mountains, on whose sides, towards the desert, dwell the Cergis and the Alani or Acas, who are Christians, and still carry on war with the Tartars. Beyond these, near the sea or lake of Etilia, or the Caspian, are certain Mahometans named Lesgis, who are subjected to the Tartars. Beyond these again are the Irongates, which were constructed by Alexander, to exclude the barbarians from Persia, of which I shall speak hereafter, as I passed that way in my return. In the country through which we travelled between these great rivers, the Comanians dwelt before it was occupied by the Tarters.

[1] In the English of Hakluyt and Harris, these people are called Merdas and Mardui.--E.


Of the Magnificence of the Court of Sartach.

WE found Sartach encamped within three days journey of the river Volga or Etilia, and his court or horda appeared to us very large and magnificent; as he had six wives, and his eldest son three, and each of these ladies had a great house, like those already described, besides that each had several smaller houses, and 200 of the chest-carts already mentioned. Our guide went immediately to a certain Nestorian named Coiat, who has great influence at the court of Sartach; and this man carried us in the evening a considerable distance, to an officer called, in the Tartar language, the Lords Gate, to whom belongs the duty of receiving messengers or ambassadors. Our guide inquired what we had ready to present to this person, and seemed much offended when he found we had nothing to offer. When we came into his presence, he sat majestically, having music and dancing performed before him. I then spoke to him the words formerly mentioned, giving an account of the cause of our mission, and requesting that he would bring us and our letters into the presence of his lord. I excused myself also, that as I was a monk, neither giving, receiving, or using any gold, silver, or other costly things, except our books, and the vestments in which we served God, that I could bring no present to him or his lord; and having abandoned my own goods, I could not transport such things for other men. He courteously answered, that being a monk, I acted well in observing my vow: and that he stood in no need of any of our things, but on the contrary, was ready to give us what we might need. He then caused us to sit down and drink of his milk, and afterwards desired that we should recite a benediction for him, which we did. He inquired who was the greatest sovereign among the Francs? To which I answered the emperor, if he could enjoy his dominions in peace. "Not so, said he, but the king of France." For he had heard of your majesty from the Lord Baldwin of Hainault. I found also at this court, one of the Knight Templars, who had been at Cyprus, and had made a report of all that he had seen there concerning your majesty. We then returned to our lodgings, whence we sent a flaggon of our Muscadel wine, which had kept well during the journey, and a box of our biscuit to this officer, who received the present very graciously, and retained our servants all night in his dwelling.

In the morning he ordered us to come to court, and to bring the kings letters, and our books and vestments along with us, as his lord desired to see these things. This we did accordingly, lading one cart with our books and vestments, and another with wine, biscuit, and fruits. Then he caused all our books and vestments to be spread out, and asked if we meant to bestow all these things upon his lord. A multitude of Tartars, Christians, and Mahometans were around us, on horseback, at this time, and I was sore grieved and afraid at this question; but dissembling as well as I could, I said, "That we humbly requested his lord and master to accept our bread, wine, and fruits, not as a present, for it was too mean, but as a benevolence, lest we should appear to come empty handed. That his lord would see the letters of the king my master, which would explain the reason of our journey; after which we, and all we had, would remain at his command: But that our vestments were holy, and were unlawful to be touched or used by any except priests." We were then commanded to array ourselves in our sacred vestments, that we might appear in them before his lord. Then putting on our most precious ornaments, I took a rich cushion in my arms, together with the bible I had from your majesty, and the beautiful psalter, ornamented with fine paintings, which the queen bestowed upon me. My companion carried the missal and a crucifix; and the clerk, clothed in his surplice, carried a censer in his hand. In this order we presented ourselves, and the felt hanging before the lords door being withdrawn, we appeared, in his presence. Then the clerk and interpreter were ordered to make three genuflexions, from which humiliation we were exempted; and they admonished us to be exceedingly careful, in going in and out of the lords dwelling, not to touch the threshold of his door, and we were desired to sing a benediction or prayer for their lord; and we accordingly entered in singing the salve regina.

Immediately within the door there stood a bench planted with cosmos and drinking cups. All Sartachs wives were assembled in the house; and the Moals, or rich Tartars, pressing in along with us, incommoded us exceedingly. Then Coiat carried the censer with incense to Sartach, who took it in his hand, examining it narrowly. He next carried him the psalter, which he and the wife who sat next him minutely inspected. After which the bible was carried to him, on which he asked if it contained our Gospel? To which I answered, that it contained that, and all our other Holy Scriptures. I next delivered to him your majestys letter, with its translation into the Arabian and Syriac languages, which I had procured to be done at Acon[1]; and there happened to be present certain Armenian priests, who were skilful in the Turkish and Arabian languages, and likewise the before mentioned templar had knowledge of both these and the Syriac. We then went out of the house and put off our vestments, and we were followed by Coiat, accompanied by certain scribes, by whom our letters were interpreted; and when Sartach had heard these read, he graciously accepted our bread, wine, and fruits, and permitted us to carry our books and vestments to our own lodgings. All this happened on the festival of St Peter ad Vincula.

[1] Now called St Jean d'Acre.--E.


They are ordered to proceed to Baatu, the Father of Sartach.

Next morning early a certain priest, who was the brother of Coiat, came to our lodging, and desired to have our box of chrism to carry, as he said, to Sartach. About evening Coat sent for us, and said that the king our master had written acceptably to his lord and master Sartach; but there were certain difficult matters, respecting which he did not dare to determine without the orders and advice of his father, and that it was, therefore, necessary that we should go to his father, leaving the two carts behind us in which we brought the books and vestments, because his lord was desirous to examine these things more carefully. Suspecting the evil that might arise from this man's covetousness, I immediately said that we would not only leave these carts, but the other two also under his custody. You shall not, said he, leave these two carts behind, but as for the other two, we will satisfy your desire. But I insisted upon leaving them all. He then desired to know whether we intended to remain in the country? To which I answered, that if he had thoroughly understood the letters of my lord and master, he would have seen that we were so inclined. And he then exhorted us to demean ourselves with patience, and humility; after which we parted for that evening.

Next day Coiat sent a Nestorian priest for the carts, to whom we caused all the four to be delivered. After whom the brother of Coiat came to our lodging, and took possession of all the books and vestments which we had shewn the day before at the court; although we remonstrated against this procedure, saying that Coiat had ordered us to carry those things along with us, that we might appear in them before Baatu; but he took them from us by violence, saying, "you brought all these things to Sartach, and would you carry them to Baatu?" And when I would have reasoned with him against this conduct, he desired me not to be too talkative, but to go my way. There was no remedy but patience, as we could not have access to Sartach, and we could not expect to procure justice from any other person. I was even afraid to employ our interpreter on this occasion, lest he might have represented matters in a quite different sense from what I should direct, as he seemed much inclined for us to give away all we had. My only comfort was, that I had secretly removed the bible and some other books, on which I set a great store, when I first discovered their covetous intentions; but I did not venture to abstract the psalter, because it was so particularly distinguished by its beautifully gilded illuminations. When the person came who was appointed to be our guide to the court of Baatu, I represented to him the necessity of leaving our other carts behind, as we were to travel post; and on this being reported to Coiat, he consented to take charge of these, and of our servant. Before leaving the residence of Sartach, Coiat and other scribes desired that we should by no means represent their lord to Baatu as a Christian, but as a Moal: for though they believe some things concerning Christ, they are very unwilling to be called Christians, which they consider as a national appellation; and they look upon their own name of Moal as worthy to be exalted above all others. Neither do they allow themselves to be called Tartars: as that is the name of another nation, according to the information I received at this place. Leaving the station of Sartach, we travelled directly eastwards for three days, on the last of which we came to the Etilia or Volga, and I wondered much from what regions of the north such mighty streams should descend.


Of the Reverence shewn by Sartach, Mangu-khan, and Ken-chan, to the Christians.

At the time when the Francs took Antioch from the Saracens[1], a prince named Con-can, or Khen-khan, held dominion over all the northern regions of Tartary. Con is a proper name, and can or khan is a title of dignity, signifying a diviner or soothsayer, and is applied to all princes in these countries, because the government of the people belongs to them through divination. To this prince the Turks of Antioch sent for assistance against the Francs, as the whole nation of the Turks came originally from the regions of Tartary. Con-khan was of the nation called Kara-Catay, or the black Catay; which is used to distinguish them from the other nation of Catayans, who inhabit to the eastwards upon the ocean, of whom I shall speak afterwards. These Kara-Catayans dwelt upon certain high mountains through which I travelled; and in a certain plain country within these mountains, there dwelt a Nestorian shepherd, who was supreme governor over the people called Yayman or Nayman, who were Christians of the Nestorian sect. After the death of Con-khan, this Nestorian prince exalted himself to the kingdom, and was called King John, or Prester John; of whom ten times more is reported than is true, according to the usual custom of the Nestorians, for they are apt to raise great stories on no foundations. Thus they gave out, that Sartach was a Christian, and they propagated similar stories of Mangu-khan, and even of Con-khan, merely because these princes shewed great respect to the Christians. The story of King John had no better foundation; for when I travelled through his territories, no one there knew any thing at all about him, except only a few Nestorians. In these regions likewise dwelt Con-khan, formerly mentioned, at whose court Friar Andrew once was; and I passed through that region in my return. This John had a brother, a powerful prince and a shepherd like himself, who was named Vut-khan, or Unc-khan, who dwelt beyond the mountains of Kara-Kitay, at the distance of three weeks journey from the residence of John. This Vut-khan was lord of a small village named Caracarum, and his subjects were called Crit or Merkit, being Christians of the Nestorian sect. But Vut-khan abandoned the Christian worship and followed idolatry, retaining priests to his idols, who are all sorcerers and worshippers of the devils.

[1] About the year 1097.

Ten or fifteen days journey beyond the territory of Vut-khan, lay the pastures of the Moal, a poor nation without laws or government, except that they were much given to sorcery and divinations; and near them was another poor nation called Tartars. On the death of John, the khan of the Cara- Kitayans, without male issue, his brother Vut succeeded to all his great riches, and got himself to be proclaimed khan. The flocks and herds of this Vut-khan pastured to the borders of the Moal, among whom was one Zingis, a blacksmith, who used to steal as many cattle as he possibly could from the flock of Vut-Khan. At length the herds complained to their lord of the reiterated robberies which were committed by Zingis, and Vut-khan went with an army to seize him. But Zingis fled and hid himself among the Tartars, and the troops of Vut-khan returned to their own country, after having made considerable spoil both from the Moal and the Tartars. Then Zingis remonstrated with the Moal and Tartars, upon their want of a supreme ruler to defend them from the oppressions of their neighbours, and they were induced by his suggestions to appoint him to be their khan or ruler. Immediately after his elevation, Zingis gathered an army secretly together, and made a sudden invasion of the territories belonging to Vut, whom he defeated in battle, and forced to fly for refuge into Katay. During this invasion, one of the daughters of Vut was made prisoner, whom Zingis gave in marriage to one of his sons, and to whom she bore Mangu-khan, the presently reigning great khan of the Moal and Tartars. In all his subsequent wars, Zingis used continually to send the Tartars before him in the van of his army: by which means their name came to be spread abroad in the world, as, wherever they made their appearance, the astonished people were in use to run away, crying out, the Tartars! the Tartars! In consequence of almost continual war, this nation of the Tartars is now almost utterly extirpated, yet the name remains; although the Moals use every effort to abolish that name and to exalt their own. The country where these Tartars formerly inhabited, and where the court of Zingis still remains, is now called Mancherule; and as this was the centre of all their conquests, they still esteem it as their royal residence, and there the great khan is for the most part elected.


Of the Russians, Hungarians, Alanians, and of the Caspian.

I know not whether Sartach really believes in Christ, but am certain that he refuses to be called a Christian, and I rather think that he scoffs at Christianity. His residence lies in the way through which the Russians, Walachians, Bulgarians of the lesser Bulgaria, the Soldaians, or Christians of Casaria, the Kerkis, Alanians, and other Christians have to pass in their way with gifts or tribute to the court of his father Baatu-khan; and by this means Sartach is more connected with the Christians than any of the rest, yet when the Saracens or Mahometans bring their gifts, they are sooner dispatched. Sartach has always about him some Nestorian priests, who count their beads and sing their devotions.

There is another commander under Baatu-khan, called Berta or Berca, who pastures his flocks towards the Iron-gate, or Derbent, through which lies the passage of all the Saracens or Mahometans who come from Persia and Turkey, to pay their gifts and tributes to Baatu, and who make presents to Berta in their way. This person professes himself to be of the Mahometan faith, and will not permit swines flesh to be eaten in his dominions. But it appearing to Baatu, that his affairs suffered detriment by this intercourse with the Mahometans, we learnt on our return, that he had commanded Berta to remove from the Iron-gate to the east side of the Volga.

For the space of four days which we spent in the court of Sartach, we had no victuals allowed us, except once a little cosmos; and during our journey to the residence of his father Baatu, we travelled in great fear, on account of certain Russian, Hungarian, and Alanian servants of the Tartars, who often assemble secretly in the night, in troops of twenty or thirty together, and being armed with bows and arrows, murder and rob whoever they meet with, hiding themselves during the day. These men are always on horseback, and when their horses tire, they steal others from the ordinary pastures of the Tartars, and each man has generally one or two spare horses to serve as food in case of need. Our guide therefore was in great fear lest we might fall in with some of these stragglers. Besides this danger, we must have perished during this journey, if we had not fortunately carried some of our biscuit along with us. We at length reached the great river Etilia or Volga, which is four times the size of the Seine, and of great depth. This river rises in the north of Greater Bulgaria, and discharges itself into the Hircanian Sea, called the Caspian by Isidore, having the Caspian mountains and the land of Persia on the south, the mountains of Musihet, or of the Assassins on the east, which join the Caspian mountains, and on the north is the great desert now occupied by the Tartars, where formerly there dwelt certain people called Canglae, or Cangitae, and on that side it receives the Etilia, or Volga, which overflows in summer like the Nile in Egypt. On the west side of this sea are the mountains of the Alani and Lesgis, the Iron-gate or Derbent, and the mountains of Georgia. This sea, therefore, is environed on three sides by mountains, but by plain ground on the north. Friar Andrew, in his journey, travelled along its south and east sides; and I passed its north side both in going and returning between Baatu and Mangu-khan, and along its western side in my way from Baatu into Syria. One may travel entirely round it in four months; and it is by no means true, as reported by Isidore, that it is a bay of the ocean, with which it nowhere joins, but is environed on all sides by the land.

At the region from the west shore of the Caspian, where the Iron-gate of Alexander is situated, now called Derbent, and from the mountains of the Alani, and along the Palus Moeotis, or sea of Azoph, into which the Tanais falls, to the northern ocean, was anciently called Albania; in which Isidore says, that there were dogs of such strength and fierceness, as to fight with bulls, and even to overcome lions, which I have been assured by several persons to be true; and even, that towards the northern ocean, they have dogs of such size and strength, that the inhabitants make them draw carts like oxen[1].

[1] It is astonishing how easily a small exaggeration converts truth to fable. Here the ill-told story of the light sledges of the Tshutki, drawn by dogs of a very ordinary size, is innocently magnified into carts dragged by gigantic mastiffs.--E.


Of the Court of Baatu, and our Entertainment there.

On that part of the Volga where we arrived, they have lately built a new village, in which there is a mixed population of Russians and Tartars, established for the service of the ferry, that they may transport messengers going to and from the court of Baatu, as he always remains on the east side of the Volga. Neither does he ever travel any farther north, in summer, than to the place where we arrived on that river, and was even then descending towards the south. From January till August, he and all the other Tartars ascend by the banks of rivers towards the cold regions of the north, and in August they begin again to return. From the place where we came to the Volga, is a journey of five days northward to the first villages of the Greater Bulgaria, and I am astonished to think how the Mahometan religion should have travelled thither; as from Derbent, on the extreme borders of Persia, it is thirty days journey to pass the desert and ascend along the Volga into Bulgaria, and in the whole track there are no towns, and only a few villages where the Volga falls into the Caspian; yet these Bulgarians[1] are the most bigotedly attached to the religion of Mahomet, of any of the nations that have been perverted to that diabolical superstition.

[1] The Greater Bulgaria of our author seems to comprehend the provinces of Astracan and Casan in Russia.--E.

The court of Baatu having already gone towards the south, we passed down the stream of the Volga in a bark from the before mentioned village, to where his court then was; and we were astonished at the magnificent appearance of his encampment, as his houses and tents were so numerous, as to appear like some large city, stretching out to a vast length; and there were great numbers of people ranging about the country, to three or four leagues all around. Even as the children of Israel knew every one on which side of the Tabernacle to pitch his tent, so every Tartar knows on to what side of the court of his prince he ought to place his house, when he unlades it from his cart. The princes court is called in their language Horda, which signifies the middle, because the chieftain or ruler always dwells in the midst of his people; only that no subject or inferior person must place his dwelling towards the south, as the court gates are always open to that quarter. But they extend themselves to the right and left, according as they find it convenient. On our arrival we were conducted to a Mahometan, who did not provide us with any provisions; and we were brought next day to the court, where Baatu had caused a large tent to be erected, as his house was two small to contain the multitude of men and women who were assembled at this place. We were admonished by our guide, not to speak until we should receive orders from Baatu to that purpose, and that then we should be brief in our discourse. Baatu asked if your majesty had sent us as ambassadors to him? I answered, that your majesty had formerly sent ambassadors to Ken-khan; and would not have sent any on the present occasion, or any letters to Sartach, had it not been that you had been advised they were become Christians; on which account only I had been sent in congratulation and not through any fear. We were then led into the pavilion, being strictly charged not to touch any of the tent ropes, which they consider as equivalent to the threshold of a house, which must not be touched. We entered the tent barefooted and with our heads uncovered, forming a strange spectacle in their eyes; for though Friar John de Plano Carpini had been there before me, yet being a messenger from the Pope, he had changed his habit that he might not be despised. We were brought forward into the middle of the tent, without being required to bow the knee, as is the case with other messengers. Baatu was seated upon a long broad couch like a bed, all over gilt, and raised three steps from the ground, having one of his ladies beside him. The men of note were all assembled in the tent, and were seated about in a scattered manner, some on the right and some on the left hand; and those places which were not filled up by Baatus wives, were occupied by some of the men. At the entrance of the tent there stood a bench well furnished with cosmos, and with many superb cups of gold and silver, richly set with precious stones. Baatu surveyed us earnestly for some time, and we him; he was of a fresh ruddy colour, and in my opinion had a strong resemblance to the late Lord John de Beaumont.

After standing in the midst of the tent for so long as one might have rehearsed the Miserere, during which an universal silence prevailed, we were commanded to speak, and our guide directed us to bow our knees before we spoke. On this I bowed one knee as to a man; but he desired me to kneel on both knees, and being unwilling to contend about such ceremonies, I complied; and being again commanded to speak, I bethought me of prayer to God on account of my posture, and began in the following manner: "Sir, we beseech God, the giver of all good, who hath bestowed upon you these earthly benefits, that he would grant you hereafter the blessings of Heaven, seeing that the former are vain without the latter. Be it known to you therefore, of a certainty, that you cannot attain to the joys of heaven unless you become a Christian; for God hath said, whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned." At this he modestly smiled, but the other Moals clapped their hands in derision; and my interpreter, who ought to have comforted me, was quite abashed. After silence was restored, I proceeded thus: "Having heard that your son was become a Christian, I came to him with letters from my master the king of the Francs, and your son sent me hither; for what reason it behoves you to know." He then desired me to rise, and inquired the name of your majesty, and my name, and the names of my companion and interpreter, all of which he caused to be set down in writing. After which, he asked who it was that your majesty made war against, as he had heard that you had departed from your own country with an army. To which I answered, that you warred against the Saracens, because they had violated the house of God at Jerusalem. He then asked if your majesty had ever before sent ambassadors to him. And I said never to him. He then desired us to be seated, and gave us to drink; and it is accounted a great favour when any one is admitted to drink cosmos in his house. While I sat looking down upon the ground, he desired me to look up; either wishing to observe me more distinctly, or out of some superstitious fancy: for these people look upon it as a sign of ill-fortune, when any one sits in their presence holding down his head in a melancholy posture, and more especially when he leans his cheek or chin upon his hand.

We then departed from the tent of audience, and immediately afterwards our guide came and told us, that, as our king had desired that we might remain in this country, Baatu could not consent to this without the knowledge and authority of Mangu-khan; and it was necessary, therefore, that I should go with the interpreter to Mangu, while my companion and the clerk should return to the court of Sartach, and remain there till my return. On this the interpreter began to lament himself as a dead man; and my companion declared, that rather as separate from me, he would allow them to take off his head. I added, that I could not possibly go without my interpreter, and that we should need two servants, that we might be sure of one in case of the other being sick. Upon this the guide returned into the presence and reported to Baatu what we had said, who now gave orders that the two priests and the interpreter should go forwards to Mangu, but that the clerk must immediately return to Sartach; and with this answer the guide came to us. When I now endeavoured to plead for the company of our clerk, he desired me to be silent; for as Baatu had already given the orders, they must be obeyed, and he dared not go again into the court. Goset, our clerk, still had twenty-six yperperas remaining of the alms we had formerly received, ten of which he retained for himself and the servant, and gave us the remaining sixteen. We then sorrowfully parted, the clerk returning to the court of Sartach, while we remained following the court of Baatu. On Assumption eve, 14th August, our clerk arrived at the court of Sartach, and the next day the Nestorian priests were seen adorned in the vestments of which they had deprived us.


The Journey to the Court of Mangu-khan.

From the audience we were conducted to the dwelling of a person who was ordered to provide us in lodging, food, and horses; but as we had no presents to give, he treated us with great neglect. We travelled along with Baatu, down the banks of the Volga for five weeks, and were often so much in want of provisions, that my companion was sometimes so extremely hungry as even to weep. For though there is always a fair or market following the court, it was so far from us, that we, who were forced to travel on foot, were unable to reach it. At length, some Hungarians, who had for some time been looked upon as priests, found out, and relieved our distresses. One of these was able to sing with a loud voice, and being considered by his countrymen as a kind of priest, was employed at their funerals; the other had been decently instructed in the Latin grammar, so that he understood whatever we spoke to him deliberately, but was unable to make answer. These men were a great consolation to us, as they supplied us with flesh and cosmos. They requested some books from us, and it grieved me much that we could not comply, having only one bible and a breviary. But I made them bring some ink and paper, and I copied out for them the Hours of the blessed Virgin, and the Office for the Dead. It happened one day that a Comanian passing by saluted us in Latin, saying Salvete domini. Surprized at this unusual salutation, I questioned him how he had learnt it, and he told me he had been baptized in Hungary by our priests, who had taught him. He said, likewise, that Baatu had inquired many things at him respecting us, and that he had given him an account of the nature and rules of our order. I afterwards saw Baatu riding with his company, who were the whole of his subjects that were householders or masters of families, and in my estimation they did not exceed 500 men.[1]

[1] This, however, is only to be understood of what may be termed the pretorian or royal horde, in a time of profound peace, travelling in their usual and perpetual round in quest of forage; the almost boundless space of the desert must have been interspersed with numerous subordinate hordes, and though the usual guard of Baatu might not have exceeded 500 heads of families, the military force of his dominions, though subordinate to Mangu-khan, certainly exceeded 200,000 fighting men.--E.

At length, about the Holyrood, 14th September, or festival of the exaltation of the Holy Cross, there came to us a certain rich Moal, whose father was a millenary or captain of a thousand horse, who informed us that he had been appointed to conduct us. He informed us that the journey would take us four months, and that the cold was so extreme in winter, as even to tear asunder trees and stones with its force. "Advise well with yourselves, therefore," said he, "whether you be able to endure it, for otherwise I shall forsake you by the way." To this I answered, that I hoped we should be able, with the help of God, to endure hardships like other men; but as we were sent by his lord under his charge, and did not go on any business of our own, he ought not to forsake us. He then said that all should be well, and having examined our garments, he directed us what we should leave behind in the custody of our host, as not useful for the journey; and next day he sent each of us a furred gown, made of sheep skins, with the wool on, and breeches of the same, likewise shoes or footsocks made of felt, and boots of their fashion, and hoods of skins. The second day after the holy cross day, 16th September, we began our journey, attended by three guides, and we rode continually eastwards during forty-six days, till the feast of All-Saints, 1st November. The whole of that region, and even beyond it, is inhabited by the people named Changle or Kangittae, who are descended from the Romans. Upon the north side we had the country of the Greater Bulgaria, and to the south the Caspian sea.


Of the River Jaic or Ural, and of sundry Regions and Nations.

At the end of twelve days journey from the Etilia or Volga, we came to a great river named the Jagag (Jaic or Ural); which, issuing from the land of Pascatir (of Zibier or of the Baschirs, now Siberia), falls into the Caspian. The language of the Baschirs and of the Hungarians is the same, and they are all shepherds, having no cities; and their land is bounded on the west by the Greater Bulgaria; from which country eastwards, in these northern parts, there are no cities whatsoever, so that the Greater Bulgaria is the last country which possesses towns and cities. From this country of Pascatir the Huns went, who were afterwards called Hungarians. Isidore writes, that with swift horses they passed the walls of Alexander, and the rocks of Caucasus, which opposed the barbarians, and even exacted tribute from Egypt, and laid waste the whole of Europe as far as France, being even more warlike in their day than the Tartars are now. With them the Blacians or Walachians, the Bulgarians, and the Vandals united. These Bulgarians came from the Greater Bulgaria, The people named Ilac or Vlac, who inhabit beyond the Danube from Constantinople, not far from Pascatir, are the same people, being properly named Blac or Blacians, but as the Tartars cannot pronounce the letter B, they are called Ilac, Vlac, or Wallachians. From them, likewise, the inhabitants of the land of the Assani are descended, both having the same name in the Russian, Polish, and Bohemian languages. The Sclavonians and the Vandals speak the same language; and all of these joined themselves formerly with the Huns, as they now do with the Tartars. All this that I have written concerning the land of Pascatir, I was informed by certain friars predicants, who had travelled there before the irruption of the Tartars; and as they had been subdued by their neighbours the Bulgarians, who were Mahometans, many of them adopted that faith. Other matters respecting these people may be known from various chronicles. But it is obvious, that those provinces beyond Constantinople, which are now called Bulgaria, Wallachia, and Sclavonia [1], formerly belonged to the Greek empire; and Hungary was formerly named Pannonia.

[1] Probably intended for what is now called Servia--E.

We continued riding through the land of the Changles or Kangittae, as before mentioned, from Holy Cross-day till All-Saints, travelling every day, as well as I could guess, about as far as from Paris to Orleans, and sometimes farther [2], according as we happened to be provided with relays; for sometimes we would change horses two or three times a-day, and then we travelled quicker; while sometimes we had to travel two or three days without finding any inhabitants to supply us, and then we were forced to travel more deliberately. Out of thirty or forty horses, we were always sure to have the worst, being strangers, as every one took their choice before it came to our turn. They always, however, provided me with a strong horse, because I was corpulent and heavy; but whether his pace happened to be hard or gentle, was all one to them, and I dared not to make any complaints. Our horses often tired before we could fall in with any of the inhabitants, and we were then obliged to beat and whip them up, being obliged to lay our garments upon spare horses, and sometimes two of us obliged to ride on one horse.

[2] This may be taken at a medium of thirty miles a day which, in forty-six days, would amount to 1380 miles; no doubt a very fatiguing journey for a corpulent heavy man as he describes himself--E.


Of the Hunger, Thirst, and other Miseries we endured.

There was no end of hunger and thirst, and cold and weariness. In the morning they gave us something to drink, or some boiled millet; but afterwards we had nothing to eat until the evening, when they bestowed some flesh upon us, being generally the shoulder and breast of a ram, and every one was allowed a proportion of the broth to drink; and we considered ourselves fortunate when we had enough of broth, as it was exceedingly refreshing, pleasant, and nutritive. Sometimes we were constrained to eat our meat half boiled, or even almost raw, for want of fuel, especially when we were benighted and obliged to pass the night in the fields, because we could not conveniently gather horse or cow-dung to make a fire, and we seldom found any other fuel, except a few thorns here and there, and a few rare woods on the banks of some rivers. Every Saturday I remained fasting until night, and was then constrained, to my great grief, to eat flesh, as I could not procure any other food in the desert. In the beginning of our journey our guide disdained us exceedingly, and seemed quite indignant at being obliged to take charge of such base fellows as he seemed to esteem us; but he afterwards behaved better, and often took us purposely to the courts of rich Moals, who requested us to pray for them; and if I had been so fortunate as to have a good interpreter, I might have been able to do some good among these ignorant people.

Zingis, the first great khan or emperor of the Tartars, left four sons, from whom descended many grandsons, who are daily multiplying and dispersing over that immense waste desert, which is boundless like the ocean. These Moals whom we visited and prayed for, were astonished when we refused their proffered gifts of gold and silver and fine garments. They often enquired whether the great Pope was actually 500 years old, as they had heard from report. They likewise enquired into the nature and productions of our country, especially whether we had abundance of cattle, sheep, and horses. When we spoke to them about the ocean, they could form no adequate conception of its immense expanse, without banks or limits.

On the feast of All-Saints, 1st November, as the people had now descended very much to the southwards, we now discontinued our eastern route, and journied directly south for eight days, along certain high mountains. In the desert we saw many wild asses resembling mules, called colan or coulan by the Tartars, which our guide and his companions often chased with great eagerness, but without success, owing to the great swiftness of these animals. Upon the seventh day of our southern route, we saw directly before us some exceedingly high mountains, and we entered upon a fine cultivated plain, which was irrigated like a garden. Next day, 7th November, we arrived at a town belonging to the Mahometans named Kenchat, the governor of which came out to meet our guide with ale and other refreshments; for it is the custom of all the subjected cities, to welcome the messengers of Baatu and Mangu with meat and drink on their arrival. At this season, the ice was fully bearing, and we found frost in the desert before the feast of St Michael, 29th September. I inquired the name of the province, but being in a strange land they could not inform me, and could only tell me the name of this city, which is very small. Into this district a large river descends from the mountains, which the inhabitants lead off to water or irrigate the whole region; so that this river does not discharge itself into any sea, but after forming many pools or marshes, is absorbed into the earth. In this region we saw vines growing, and drank twice of their wines.


Of the Execution of Ban, and concerning the residence of certain Germans.

The next day we came to another village nearer to the mountains, which, I understood, were called Caucasus, and that they reached from the eastern to the western sea, even passing the Caspian to the west. I likewise inquired concerning the town of Talas, in which, according to Friar Andrew [1], there were certain Germans in the service of one Buri and I had formerly made inquiries concerning them at the courts of Sartach and Baatu[2]. But I could only learn, that their master, Ban, had been put to death on the following occasion. This Ban happened to have his appointed residence in inferior pastures, and one day when drunk, he said to his people, that being of the race of Zingis as well as Baatu, whose brother or nephew he was, he thought himself entitled to feed his flocks on the fine plains of the Volga as freely as Baatu himself. These speeches were reported to Baatu, who immediately wrote to the servants of Ban to bring their lord bound before him. Then Baatu demanded whether he had spoken the words, which were reported, and Ban acknowledged them, but pled that he was drunk at the time, and it is usual among the Tartars to forgive the words and actions of drunk men. But Baatu reproached him for daring to use his name in his cups, and ordered his head to be immediately struck off.

[1] The person here alluded to was a monk named Andrew Luciumel, who had been sent ambassador, by the pope, to the emperor of the Mongals, in 1247 or 1248, with the same views as in the missions of Carpini and Asceline at the same period; but of his journey we have no account remaining.--E.
[2] It is exceedingly difficult, or rather impossible, to trace the steps of the travels of Rubruquis, for want of latitudes, longitudes, and distances, and names of places. After passing the Volga and Ural or Jaik, he seems to have travelled east in the country of the Kirguses, somewhere about the latitude of 50°. N. to between the longitudes of 65°. and 70°. E. then to have struck to the south across the Kisik-tag into Western Turkestan, in which the cultivated vale may have been on the Tshui or the Talas rivers.--E.

On my arrival at the court of Mangu-khan, I learnt, that the before mentioned Germans had been removed from the jurisdiction of Baatu to a place named Bolac, a months journey to the east of Talus, where they were employed to dig for gold, and to fabricate arms. In the before mentioned town we learnt that Talas was near the mountains behind us, at the distance of six days journey. From the before mentioned village near the mountains[3], we went directly eastwards, coasting these mountains; and from that time we travelled among the immediate subjects of Mangu-khan, who in all places sang and danced in honour of our guide, because he was the messenger of Baatu; it being the custom for the subjects of Mangu-khan to receive the messengers of Baatu in this manner, and reciprocally, the subjects of Baatu shew like honour to the messengers of Mnngu; yet the subjects of Baatu are more independently spirited, and do not evince so much courtesy. A few days afterwards, we entered upon the mountains where the Cara-Catayans used to dwell, where we found a large river which we had to pass in boats. We afterwards came to a cultivated valley, in which were the ruins of a castle, which had been surrounded by walls of mud or earth. After this we came to a large village called Equius, inhabited by Mahometans, who spoke Persian, although so far removed from Persia. On the day following, having passed those Alps which descend from the high mountains towards the south, we entered a most beautiful plain, having high mountains upon our right hand, and a sea or lake on our left, which is fifteen days journey in circumference[4]. This plain is watered or irrigated at will, by means of streams descending from these mountains, all of which fall into the before mentioned lake. In the subsequent summer we returned by the north side of this lake, where likewise there are great mountains[5]. In this plain there used to be many towns; but most of these have been destroyed by the Tartars, that the excellent lands around them might be converted into pastures for their cattle. We still found one large town named Cailac, in which was a market frequented by many merchants; and we remained fifteen days at this place, waiting for one of Baatu's scribes, who was to assist our guide in the management of certain affairs at the court of Mangu. This country used to be called Organum[6], and the people Organa, as I was told, because the people were excellent performers on the organ[7] or lute; and they had a distinct language and peculiar manner of writing. It was now entirely inhabited by the Contomanni, whose language and writing are used by the Nestorians of these parts. I here first saw idolaters, of whom there are many sects in the east.

[3] Probably near the north side of the Arguin or Alak mountains.--E.
[4] This position of Rubruquis is sufficiently distinct: Having ferried over the river Tshui, and crossed the Jimbai mountains, the route now lay between the Alak mountain on his right, or to the south, and the lake of Balkash or Palkati Nor, to the left or north.--E.
[5] The Kisik-tag, which he had before passed in descending into Western Turkestan.--E.
[6] This absurd derivation of the name of the country and people, is unworthy of credit. Organum was probably the country called Irgonekan or Irganakon by Abulgari; and the word signifies a valley surrounded by steep mountains, exactly correspondent with the description in the text.--Forst.
[7] The Contomanni or Kontomanians, were probably a Mongal tribe, originally inhabiting the banks of the Konta or Khonda, who had afterwards settled on the banks of the river Ili and lake of Balkash. --Forst.


How the Nestorians and Mahometans are mixed with Idolaters.

In the first place arc the Jugurs, whose country borders upon the land of Organum among the mountains towards the east, and in all their towns Nestorians and Mahometans are mixed among the natives. And they are diffused likewise in all the towns of the Mahometans towards Persia. In the city of Cailac, or Cealac, there are three idol temples, two of which I went into to observe their folly. In one of these I found a person having a cross marked with ink upon his hand, whence I supposed him a Christian, and to all my questions he answered like a Christian. I asked him wherefore he had not the cross and image of Christ, and he answered, that it was not their custom; wherefore I concluded the people were actually Christians, but omitted these things for want of instruction. Behind a certain chest, which served for an altar, and on which they placed candles and oblations, I saw an image with wings like that of St Michael; and other images holding out their fingers, as if blessing the spectators. That evening I could make no farther discovery; for though the Saracens invite one into their temples, they will not speak of their religion[1]; insomuch, that when I inquired at them about their ceremonies, they were much offended.

[1] The Saracens are here much abused by the mistake of our traveller; as, however erroneous their religious opinions, they worship the true God only, and abhor even the least semblance of idolatry.--E.

Next day being the Kalends, 1st December, was the passover of the Saracens, and I changed my lodging to the neighbourhood of another temple of idols; for the people of this place shew hospitality to all messengers, every one according to his abilities. In this other temple I found the priests of the idols, who open and adorn the temples at the Kalends, and the people make offerings of bread and fruits. I shall first describe the general rites of idolatry, and then those of the Jugurs, who are a kind of sect different from the others. They all worship towards the north, with joined hands, prostrating themselves upon their knees to the earth, and resting their foreheads on their hands. For which reason the Nestorians never join their hands in prayer, but spread their hands on their breasts. Their temples are built from east to west, having a chamber or vestry for the priests on the north; or if the building is square, they have a similar chamber on the middle of the north side in place of a choir, and before it is placed a long broad chest like a table, behind which, facing the south, stands the principal idol. That which I saw at Caracarum was as large as the picture of St Christopher. A Nestorian priest, who came from Catay, told me there was an idol in that country so large, that it could be seen at the distance of two days journey[2]. Other idols are placed around the principal one, and all are beautifully gilt; All the gates of their temples open to the south, contrary to the customs of the Mahometans; and they have large bells, as is the case with us, wherefore the oriental Christians will not use them, though they are customary among the Russians and the Greeks in Casaria.

[2] The Nestorian probably said an idol-house; meaning one of the high towers usually erected near Chinese temples: and even this must have stood upon a very elevated situation, in an extensive plain, to be seen from so great a distance, perhaps of sixty miles.--E.


Of their Temples and Idols, and the Worship of their Gods.

All their priests shave their heads and beards, and are clothed in yellow; and they live in companies of one or two hundred together, observing strict celibacy. On holy days, they sit in the temple on long benches, placed directly opposite each other, holding books in their hands, which they sometimes lay on the benches; and all the time they remain in the temples, they have their heads bare, and they read to themselves, keeping profound silence: Insomuch, that when I went into the temple, and endeavoured all I could to provoke them to speak, I could not succeed. Wherever they go, they carry a string with an hundred or two hundred nut-shells, like our rosaries, and they are continually uttering the words, Ou mam Hactani, which was explained to me as signifying, O God! thou knowest. And as often as they pronounce these words in remembrance of God, they expect a proportional reward[1]. Round the temple, there is always a handsome court, environed by a high wall, on the south side of which is a large portal, in which they sit to confer together; and over this portal they erect a long pole, rising if possible above the whole city, that every one may know where to find the temple. These things are common to all the idolaters.

[1] The following more complete account of this superstition, has been deemed worthy of insertion.

On going to visit this temple, I found the priests sitting under the outer portal; and those whom I saw, appeared, by their shaven beards, like French friars. They wore conical caps of paper on their heads; and all the priests of the Jugurs wear this cap continually, and yellow strait tunics fastened down the middle like those in France; besides which, they wear a cloak on their left shoulder, flowing loosely before and behind, but leaving the right arm free, somewhat like a deacon carrying the pix in Lent. Their mode of writing is adopted by the Tartars. They begin to write at the top of the page, and extend their lines downwards, reading and writing from left to right. They make great use of written papers in their magical incantations, and their temples are hung round with short written sentences. The letters sent by Mangu-khan to your majesty, are written in these characters, and in the language of the Moal. These people burn their dead in the manner of the ancients, and deposit the ashes on the top of certain pyramids. After sitting for some time beside these priests, and having entered their temple to look at their many images, some large and others small, I asked what was their belief concerning God? To which they answered, that they believed in one God only. On asking them whether he was a spirit or of a corporeal nature, they said he was a spirit. Being asked if God had ever assumed the human mature, they answered never. Since, then, said I, you believe God to be a spirit, wherefore do yow make so many images of him; and as you believe that he never took upon him the human form, wherefore do you represent him under the image of a man, rather than of any other creature? To this they answered, we do not make images of God; but when any of our rich men die, or their wives or children, or dear friends, they cause images to be made of the deceased, which are placed in the temple, which we venerate in respect to their memory. Then, said I, you do these things in flattery of men: but they insisted it was only in remembrance. They then asked me, as if in derision, where is God? To this I answered by another question, where is your soul? and they said, in our bodies. Then, said I, is it not in every part of your body, ruling over the whole, yet cannot be seen. Even in the same manner God is everywhere, ruling all things, yet is invisible, being intelligence and wisdom. I would willingly have proceeded in this conference, but my interpreter became weary and unable to express my meaning, so that I was obliged to desist.

The Moals and Tartars follow the same religion, in so far that they believe in one only God; but they make images in felt of their departed friends, which they cover with fine costly garments. These they carry about with them in one or two appropriate carts, which no person must touch, except their priests or soothsayers who have the care of them. This is to be understood only of the great men who are of the race of Zingis, for the poor or meaner people have none such. These soothsayers constantly attend upon the court of Mangu and other great personages; and when the court moves, these men precede the march, like the pillar of cloud before the children of Israel. They determine on the site of the new encampment, and unload their houses first, after which they are imitated by the whole court. On days of festival, such as the kalends or commencements of their months, these images are placed in order around their idol houses, and the Moals enter in and bow themselves before these images, to do them reverence. Strangers are never permitted to enter, so that once endeavouring to go into one of these tabernacles, I was sore chidden for my presumption.

"These supposed Nestorian Christians were undoubtedly professors of the religion of the Dalai-Lama, who had several usages and ceremonies resembling corrupt Christianity. Like the Roman catholics, they had rosaries, containing 108 beads, and their prayer is, Hom-Mani-Pema- Hum. This does not signify, as asserted by Rubruquis, God! thou knowest it; nor, as supposed by Messerschmid, God have mercy on us. But its true import is, that Mani, who holds the flowers of the Lotus, and is the beginning and end of the higher Magic, may hear their prayers, be propitious to them, and render them happy.

"They have rolls or cylinders inscribed with their prayers, which they twirl round on an axis, continually pronouncing these mystic words, and they believe that all the prayers on these rolls are virtually pronounced at each turn of the roll; The religion of the Dalai-Lama, is a branch of the Shamanian and Braminical superstitions, and has for its foundation the Manichaean doctrine of the two principles, which Manes attempted to incorporate into the Christian religion, so that it is no wonder the practices of the followers of the Dalai-Lama should resemble those of the Manichaean and Nestorian Christians."--Forst. Voy. and Disc. 105.


Of sundry Nations, and of certain People who used to eat their Parents.

I am convinced that these Jugurs, who are mixed with Christians and Mahometans, have arrived at the knowledge and belief of one God, by frequent disputations with them. This nation dwells in cities, which were brought under subjection to Zingis, who gave his daughter in marriage to their king. Even Caracarum is in a manner in their territories. The whole country of Prester John and of Vut or Unc, his brother, lay round the territories of the Jugurs, only that the subjects of the former inhabited the pasture lands on the north, while the Jugurs dwelt among the mountains to the south. As the Moals have adopted the writing of the Jugurs, these latter are the chief Scribes among the Tartars, and almost all the Nestorians are acquainted with their letters.

Next to the Jugurs, among the mountains to the east, are the Tanguts, a powerful people who once made Zingis prisoner in battle; but having concluded peace, he was set at liberty, and afterwards subdued them. Among the Tanguts, there are oxen of great strength, having flowing tails like horses, and their backs and bellies covered with long hair. These are shorter legged than other oxen, but much fiercer, having long, slender, straight, and very sharp pointed horns, and they are much used for drawing the great houses of the Moals; but the cows will not allow themselves to be yoked unless they are sung to at the same time. These animals are of the nature of the buffalo, for when they see a person clothed in red, they run furiously upon him to put him to death.

Beyond these are the people of Tebet, who were wont to eat the dead bodies of their parents, from a motive of piety, considering that to be the most honourable sepulchre; but they have discontinued this custom, which was looked upon as abominable by all other nations. They still, however, continue to make handsome drinking cups of the skulls of their parents, that they may call them to remembrance even in their mirth. I received this information from an eye-witness. In their country there is much gold, so that any one who is in want, digs till he finds enough for his necessities, and leaves the rest behind for another occasion; for they have an opinion, that God would conceal all other gold from them in the earth, if they were to hoard any in their houses. I saw some of these people, who are much deformed. The people of Tangut are tall lusty men of a brown complexion. The Jugurs are of middle stature like ourselves, and their language is the root or origin of the Turkish and Comanian languages.

Beyond Tebet, are the people of Langa and Solanga[1], whose messengers I saw in the court of Mangu-khan, who had along with them more than ten great carts, each drawn by six oxen. These are little brown men like the Spaniards, and are dressed in tunics or jackets, like our deacons, with straiter sleeves. They wear a kind of caps like the mitres of our bishops; but the fore part is less than the hinder part, and ends square, instead of being pointed. These are made of straw, stiffened by great heat, and so well polished, that they glister in the sun like a mirror or well polished helmet. Round their temples, they have long bands of the same material, fixed to their caps, which stream to the wind like two long horns from their temples. When too much tossed by the wind, they fold these over the top of their caps. When the principal messenger entered the court, he held in his hand a smooth ivory tablet about a foot long and a palm broad; and when spoken to by the khan, or any other great man, he always looked on his tablet as if he had seen there what was spoken, never looking to the right or the left, or to the person who spoke to him. Even in coming into the presence and in retiring, he looked perpetually at his tablet.

[1] Forster conjectures that the original words of Rubruquis are here corrupted, and that this passage ought to have been "beyond Tangut," instead of beyond Tebet or Thibet; in which case, the countries of Langa and Solanga, may refer to that of the Lamuts and Solonians, the ancestors of the Mantschus or Mundschurians.--Voy. and Disc. 108.

Beyond these people, as I have been told for truth, there is a nation called Muc, inhabiting towns, in whose country there are numerous flocks and herds which are never tended, as no person appropriates any of these exclusively; but when any one is in need of a beast, he ascends a hill and gives a loud cry, on which all the cattle within hearing flock around him and suffer themselves to be taken, as if they were domesticated. When a messenger or any stranger goes into that country, he is immediately shut up in a house, where all necessaries are provided for him, till his business is concluded; for they affirm, that if any stranger were to travel about their country, the animals would flee away from his scent, and become wild.

Beyond the country of these people, lies Great Cathaya, whose inhabitants I believe to have been the Seres[2] of the ancients, as from thence came the most excellent silken stuffs; and these people were called Seres after the name of one of their towns. I have been told, that in that country there is a town having walls of silver and towers of gold. In that land there are many provinces, the greater part of which are not yet subjected to the Moals, and the sea is interposed between them and India. These Kathayans are men of small stature, with small eyes, and speak much through the nose. They are excellent workmen in all kinds of handicraft; their physicians judge exactly of diseases by the pulse, and are very skilful in the use of herbs, but have no knowledge in regard to the urine of sick persons. Some of these people I saw at Caracarum, where there are always considerable numbers; and the children are always brought up to the same employments with their fathers. They pay to the Moals or Mongals, a tribute of 1500 cassinos or jascots every day[3], besides large quantities of silks and provisions, and they perform many other services. All the nations between mount Caucasus, and from the north of these mountains to the east sea, and in all the south of Scythia, which is inhabited by the Moal shepherds, are tributary, and are all addicted to idolatry. The Nestorians and Saracens are intermixed with them as strangers, as far as Kathay, in which country the Nestorians inhabit fifteen cities, and have a bishop in a city called Segan[4]. These Nestorians are very ignorant, for they say their service in the Syrian tongue, in which all their holy books are written, and of which language they are entirely ignorant, and sing their service as our monks do who have not learnt Latin. They are great usurers and drunkards, and some of them who live among the Tartars, have adopted their customs, and even have many wives. When they enter the churches, they wash their lower parts like the Saracens, eat no flesh on Fridays, and hold their festivals on the same days with them. Their bishops come seldom into the country, perhaps only once in fifty years, and then cause all the little children to be made priests, some even in the cradle; so that almost every Nestorian man is a priest, yet all have wives, which is contrary to the decrees of the fathers. They are even bigamists, for their priests, when their wives die, marry again. They are all Simonists, as they give no holy thing without pay. They are careful of their wives and children, applying themselves to gain, and not to propagating the faith. Hence, though some of them are employed to educate the children of the Mongal nobility, and even teach them the articles of the Christian faith, yet by their evil lives they drive them from Christianity, as the moral conduct of the Mongals and Tuinians[5], who are downright idolaters, is far more upright than theirs.

[2] In this supposition Rubruquis was certainly mistaken, as the Seres of the ancients appear to have lived in Turkestan, Gete, and Uigur, and to have then ruled over a great track of eastern central Asia, and may have extended their commerce to northern China. Hence the original name of silk was certainly either adopted from or applied to the intermediate nation, through whom that precious commodity was transmitted to the western nations.--Forst.
[3] A jascot is described as a piece of silver weighing ten marks, so that the tribute is 15,000 marks daily, or about 5 1/2 millions of marks yearly, and is equal in weight of silver, to L. 8,650,000 Sterling; perhaps equal, in real efficacious value, to ten times that sum, and probably superior to the yearly revenue of all the sovereigns then in Europe.--E.
[4] Singan, or Singan-fu in the province of Shensee. In the year 1625, a stone was found here, inscribed with Chinese characters and a Syrian inscription round the borders, implying, that in the year 636, the Nestorians had sent Olopuen into China to propagate the gospel; and that the emperor Tai-sum-ven had approved this step, and allowed the Christian religion to be propagated through all China, with many other particulars relative to the history of Christianity in China. This stone bore to have been erected in 782 by Mar Isdabuzzid, priest, and Chorepiscopus of Cumdan, the royal city of the east, now Nankin. See a dissertation on this monument, following Renaudet's translation of the two Mahometan travellers, London, 1788, p. 76.--E.
[5] Mani or Manes is named Thenaoui by the oriental Christians, and the sect of Manicheans they call Al-Thenaouib, or those who hold the doctrines of the two principles. These Tuinians, therefore, of Rubruquis, are probably the Manicheans.--Forst.


Of Cailac, and the Country of the Naymans.

We departed from the city of Cailac on St Andrew's day, 30th of November, and in three leagues we found a village of Nestorians, where we went into their church, and sang salve regina, and other hymns, with great joy. In three days after we came to the entrance of that province, not far from the before mentioned sea, which seemed as tempestuous as the ocean, and in which we saw a large island. The water was slightly salt, yet might be drank. Opposite to it was a valley with another salt sea, from which a river ran into this one. There was so strong a wind that the passage was dangerous, as we much feared to be blown into the lake; wherefore we went north into the hilly country, covered with deep snow, and on St Nicholas day, 6th December, we hastened our journey, as we found no inhabitants except the Jani, or men appointed to conduct the messengers from one day's journey to another. On the 7th of December we passed between two terrible rocks, when the guide sent entreating me to pray to God: we sang accordingly with a loud voice, the credo and other hymns, and by the grace of God we got through in safety.

After this the Tartars entreated me to write papers for them; but I offered to teach them words to carry in their hearts, whereby their souls should be saved. Yet wanting an interpreter for this, I wrote them the creed and the Lord's prayer, desiring them to believe what was written in the one, and that the other contained a prayer to God for all that is necessary to man, and that though they could not understand these, I hoped God would save them.


Description of the Country of the Naymans, with an Account of the Death of Ken-khan and of his Wife and Eldest Son.

After this we entered into the country where the court of Ken-khan used to be held, which was formerly called the country of the Naymans, who were the peculiar subjects of Prester John. Though I did not see that court till my return, I shall briefly mention what befel his son and wives. Ken-khan being dead, Baatu desired that Mangu should be khan, but I could not learn exactly the manner of Ken-khan's death. Friar Andrew says he died of the effects of a medicine, which Baatu was suspected of having procured to be given him. I heard, on the other hand, that he summoned Baatu to do him homage, who accordingly began his journey with much external pomp, but with great inward apprehensions, sending forward his brother Stichin; who, when he came to Keu-khan, and ought to have presented him with the cup, high words arose between them, and they slew one another. The widow of Stichin kept us a whole day at her house, that we might pray for her and bless her. When Ken was dead, and Mangu chosen emperor by the consent of Baatu, which was when friar Andrew was there, Siremon, the brother of Ken, at the instigation of the wife and peculiar vassals of Ken, went with a great train, as if to do homage to Mangu, but with the intention of putting him and all his court to death. When within a few days journey of the court of Mangu, one of his waggons broke down, and a servant of Mangu happened to assist the waggoner in repairing it. This man was very inquisitive into the objects of the journey, and the waggoner revealed the whole plot to him. Pretending to make very light of the matter, he went privately and took a good horse from the herd, and rode with great speed with the intelligence to the court of Mangu; who quickly assembled his forces, and placing a strong guard around his court; sent the rest against Siremon, and brought him and all his followers prisoners to court. He confessed his intentions, and he and his eldest son, with 300 noble Tartars of their party, were put to death. The ladies were also sent for who were concerned in the plot, and being beaten with burning fire-brands till they confessed, were slain likewise. Kon, the youngest son of Siremon, who was incapable of entering into the conspiracy, from his youth, was permitted to enjoy the inheritance of his father; but our guide durst not enter the house either in going or returning.


Arrival at the Court of Mangu-khan.

We still travelled in the high countries, trending towards the north; and on St Stephen's day, 26th December, we came to a great plain, on which not the smallest inequality was to be seen, and the next day we arrived at the court of the great Khan. While at the distance of five days, our host wanted us to have gone so far about as would have taken us fifteen day's journey, and our guide had much difficulty in being allowed to take the direct road. My opinion of this procedure in our host, was, that we might have gone by Onam and Cherule, the original residence of Zingis[1]. On the way, the secretary told me that Baatu, in his letters to Mangu, said that we wanted the assistance of a Tartar army against the Saracens; by which I was much astonished, as I knew the letters from your majesty required no army, and only advised the khan to be a friend to all Christians, to exalt the cross, and to be an enemy to all the enemies of the cross of Christ. And as all the interpreters were from the Greater Armenia, who greatly hated the Saracens, I feared they might have interpreted falsely to serve their own purposes. I therefore held my peace, fearing to gainsay the words of Baatu.

[1] The country on the Onon and Kerlon, in Daouria, or the land of the Tunguses.--Forst.

On our arrival at court, our guide had a large house appointed for him, and only a small cottage was given to us three, which would hardly contain our baggage, our beds, and a small fire. Many came to our guide with drink made of rice, in long necked bottles, which had no difference from the best wine, except that it smelt otherwise. We were called soon after, and examined upon our business. I answered, "That hearing Sartach had become a Christian, the king our master had sent us to him with a letter; that he had sent us to Baatu, who had sent us hither, and that he therefore ought to have assigned the cause of our being here." They then demanded if we would make peace with them. To this I answered, "That having done them no wrong, they had no cause of going to war with your majesty; that your majesty, as a just king, if you had done any wrong, would make reparation, and desire peace; but if warred against without cause, we trusted in the help of a just God." At this they seemed all astonished, constantly exclaiming, "Did you not come to make peace?" For they are so puffed up with pride, that they think the whole world should make peace with them; but if I might be suffered, I would preach war against them to the utmost of my power. I dared not deliver the true cause of my journey, lest, in so doing, I might contradict what had been written by Baatu, and therefore always said we came because he sent us.

The day following I went to the court barefooted, at which the people stared; but a Hungarian boy, who was among diem, knew our order, and told them the reason; on which a Nestorian, who was chief secretary, asked many questions at the Hungarian, and we went back to our lodgings. On our return, at the end of the court, towards the east, I saw a small house, with a little cross at top, at which I greatly rejoiced, supposing there might be some Christians there. I went in boldly, and found an altar well furnished, having a golden cloth, adorned with images of Christ, the Virgin, St John the Baptist, and two angels; the lines of their body and garments being formed with small pearls. On the altar was a large silver cross, ornamented with precious stones, and many other embroiderings; and a lamp with eight lights burned before the altar. Sitting beside the altar I saw an Armenian monk, somewhat black and lean, clad in a rough hairy coat to the middle of his leg, above which was a coarse black cloak, furred with spotted skins, and he was girded with iron under his haircloth. Before saluting the monk, we fell flat on the earth, singing Ave regina and other hymns, and the monk joined in our prayers. These being finished, we sat down beside the monk, who had a small fire before him in a pan. He told us that he had come a month before us, being a hermit in the territories of Jerusalem, who had been warned by God in a vision, to go to the prince of the Tartars. After some conversation, we went to our lodgings. Having eaten nothing that day, we made a little broth of flesh and millet for our supper. Our guide and his companions were made drunk at the court, and very little care was taken of us. Next morning the ends of my toes were so frostbit by the extreme cold of the country, that I could no longer go barefooted. From the time when the frost begins, it never ceases till May, and even then it freezes every night and morning, but thaws with the heat of the sun during the day. If they had much wind in that country during winter, as we have, nothing could live there; but they have always mild weather till April, and then the winds rise; and at that season, while we were there, the cold rising with the wind, killed multitudes of animals. In the winter little snow fell there; but about Easter, which was that year in the latter end of April, there fell so great a snow, that the streets of Caracarum were so full, it had to be carried out in carts.


The Introduction of Rubruquis to Mangu-khan.

The people brought us from the court ram-skin coats, and breeches of the same, with shoes, which my companion and interpreter accepted, but I thought the fur garment which I brought from Baatu was sufficient for me. On the 5th of January, we were brought to the court, and some Nestorian priests, whom I did not know to be Christians, came and asked me which way we worshipped; to which I said, that we worshipped to the east. The reason of their making this demand was, that we had shaven our heads by the advice of our guide, that we might appear before the khan after the fashion of our country, which made the Nestorians take us for Tuinians or idolaters. On being demanded what reverence we would pay to the khan, I said, that though as priests, dedicated to God, the highest in our country did not suffer us to bow the knee, yet we were willing to humble ourselves to all men for the sake of the Lord. That we came from a far country, and with permission, would first sing praises to God, who had brought us hither in safety, and should afterwards do whatever might please the khan; providing he commanded nothing that was derogatory to the worship and honour of God. Then they went into the presence, and reported what we had said, and they brought us before the entrance of the hall, lifting up the felt which hung before the decor, and we sung A solis ortus cardine, &c.

When we had sung this hymn, they searched our bosoms, to see that we had no concealed weapons, and they made our interpreter leave his girdle and knife with one of the doorkeepers. When we came in, our interpreter was made to stand at a sideboard, which was well supplied with cosmos, and we were placed on a form before the ladies. The whole house was hung with cloth of gold, and on a hearth, in the middle, there was a fire of thorns, wormwood- roots, and cowdung. The khan sat upon a couch covered with a bright and shining spotted fur, like seal's skin. He was a flat-nosed man, of middle stature, about forty-five years of age, and one of his wives, a pretty little young woman, sat beside him; likewise one of his daughters, named Cerina, a hard-favoured young woman, with some younger children, sat on another couch next to them. The house had belonged to the mother of Cerina, who was a Christian, and the daughter was mistress of this court, which had belonged to her deceased mother, We were asked whether we would drink wine of caracina, which is a drink made of rice, or caracosmos, or ball, which is mead made of honey; for they use these four kinds of liquor in winter. I answered, that we had no pleasure in drink, and would be contented with what he pleased to order; on which we were served with caracina, which was clear and well flavoured like white wine, of which I tasted a little out of respect. After a long interval, during which the khan amused himself with some falcons and other birds, we were commended to speak, and had to bow the knee. The khan had his interpreter, a Nestorian; but our interpreter had received so much liquor from the butlers at the sideboard, that he was quite drunk; I addressed the khan in the following terms:

"We give thanks and praise to God, who hath brought us from such remote parts of the world, to the presence of Mangu-khan, on whom he hath bestowed such great power; and we beseech our God to grant him a long and prosperous reign. Having heard that Sartach was become a Christian, the Christians of the west, especially the King of the French, were much rejoiced, and sent us onto him with letters, testifying that we were servants of the Lord, and entreating him to permit us to abide in his country, as it is our office to teach men the law of God. Sartach sent us forwards to his father Baatu, and he hath sent us to you, to whom God hath given great dominions upon the earth; we therefore entreat your highness to permit us to continue in your country, that we may pray to God for you, your wives, and children. We have neither gold nor silver, nor precious jewels to offer, but we present ourselves to do you service, and to pray to God for you. At least, be pleased to permit us to remain till the cold be past, as my companion is so weak, that he cannot travel on horseback without danger of Ms life." His answer was to this effect: "Even as sun sheds his beams everywhere, so our power, and that of Baata, extend everywhere around, so that we have no need of your gold or silver." I entreated his highness not to be displeased at me for mentioning gold and silver, as I spoke in that manner only to evince our desire to do him honour, and to serve him in heavenly things. Hitherto, I had understood our interpreter, but he was now drunk and could not make out any perfect sentence, and it appeared to me that the khan was drunk likewise; wherefore I held my peace. Then he made us rise and sit down again, and after a few words of compliment, we withdrew from the presence. One of the secretaries, and the interpreter, who had the charge of educating one of his daughters, went with us, and were very inquisitive about the kingdom of France, particularly inquiring whether it had plenty of sheep, cattle, and horses, as if they meant to make it all their own; and I had often to bridle my indignation and anger at their presumptuous boastings.

They appointed one to take care of us, and we went to the monk; and when we were about to return to; our lodging, the interpreter came to us, saying, that Mangu-khan gave us two months to stay, till the extreme cold were past; and we might either go ten day's journey from thence to the city of Caracarum, or might remain with the court. Then I answered, "God preserve Mangu-khan, and grant him a long and happy life: We have found this monk, whom we think a holy man, and we would willingly remain, and pray along with him for the prosperity of the khan." We then went to our dwelling, which we found very cold, as we had no fuel, and we were yet fasting, though it was then night; but he who had the care of us provided us some fuel and a little food; and our guide, who was now to return to Baatu, begged a carpet from us which we had left in that court, which we gave him, and he departed in peace.


Of a Woman of Lorain, and a Goldsmith of Paris, and several other Christians, whom they found at the Court of Mangu-kkan.

We had the good fortune to meet with a woman, named Pascha, from Metz in Lorain, who belonged to the court of Cerina, who told us of the strange poverty she had endured before she came to this court, but who now lived well, as she had a young Russian husband, who was a skilful builder, and much esteemed among them, by whom she had three fine children, and this woman contributed all in her power to our comfort. She told us, that there was a goldsmith at Caracarura, one William Bouchier from Paris, the son of Lawrence Bouchier, and who had a brother, Roger Bouchier, yet living upon the Great Bridge. She told me likewise, that he had a son who was an excellent interpreter; but that Manga-khan had delivered to the goldsmith 300 jascots of silver, equal to 3000 marks, and fifty workmen, to make a certain piece of work, so that she feared he would not then be able to spare his son to interpret for us. I wrote to this goldsmith, requesting him to send his son to me; he said in answer, that he could not at the time, but would send him next moon, when his work would be finished. At the court of Baatu no intercourse could be had with other ambassadors, as each was under the charge of a particular Jani; but in that of Mangu, all were under one Jani, and might see and converse with each other. We found here a certain Christian from Damascus, who said that he came from the sultan of Mons Regalis and Crax, who desired to become the ally and tributary of the great khan.

The year before I came thither, there was a certain clerk of Aeon or Ptolemais in Syria, who called himself Raimund, but his true name was Theodolus. This man went with friar Andrew from Cyprus into Persia, and procured certain instruments from Amoricus, who remained in Persia after Andrew returned. Theodolus went forwards with these instruments to the khan, pretending that a certain bishop had received letters from heaven in gold characters, saying that the khan should be king of the whole earth, but that his horse had fled from him among woods and mountains, so that he had lost all. And Theodolus engaged to conduct ambassadors from the khan to the Pope and the king of France. Then Mangu caused an exceedingly strong bow to be made, which two men could hardly bend, and two arrows made of silver, full of holes in their heads, which whistled when they were shot; and he chose a Moal to accompany Theodolus as his ambassador, ordering him to present these things to the king of France, and to say, if he would have peace with the Tartars, they would conquer the country of the Saracens, and would grant him ail the other countries of the west. But if the king refused, the Moal was to bring back the bow and arrows, and to inform the king that the Tartars shot far and sharp with such bows. The khan then caused Theodolus to go out, and the son of William Bouchier, who acted as interpreter for Theodolus, heard the khan order the Moal, who was to accompany him, to mark well all the ways, and the castles, and the people, and the mountains, in the course of his journey. And the young man blamed Theodolus for engaging to conduct the Tartar messengers, as they went only to spy the land. But Theodolus said he would take them by sea, so that they should not know the way. Mangu gave to his Moal a golden bull or tablet of an hand breadth, and half a cubit long, inscribed with his orders; and whoever bears this, may everywhere command what he pleases. On their journey through the dominions of Vestacius, whence Theodolus meant to pass over to the Pope, that he might deceive him as he had done Mangu. Vestacius demanded of him whether he had letters for the Pope; but having none to show, Vestacius concluded he was an impostor, and cast him into prison. The Moal fell sick and died there, and Vestacius sent back the golden tablet by the servants of the Moal, whom I met at Assron, in the entrance into Turkey, and from them I learnt all that happened to Theodolus.


Of a Grand Feast given by Mangu-khan and of the Ceremonies of the Nestorians.

Epiphany was now at hand, and the Armenian monk, Sergins, told me, that he was to baptize Mangu-khan on that day. I entreated him to use his utmost endeavours that I might be present on the occasion, which he faithfully promised. When the day came, the monk did not call me, but I was sent for to court at six o'clock, and I met the monk returning with his cross, and the Nestorian priests with their censers, and the gospel of the day. It is the custom of Mangu to make a feast on such days as are pointed out by his soothsayers, or the Nestorian priests; and on these days the Christians came first to court and pray for him, and bless his cup, after which the Saracen priests do the same, and after them the idolatrous priests. The monk pretended that he only believed the Christians, yet would have all to pray for him; but in this Sergius lied, for he believes none, but all follow his court as flies do honey. He gives to all, and all think they are his familiars, and all prophecy prosperity to him. Then we sat down before the court, and they brought us flesh to eat, which I refused, saying, that if they would provide for us, it ought to be at our house. They then desired us to go home, as we were only sent for that we might eat. On my return I called on the monk, who was ashamed of the lie he had told me, and would not, therefore, say any more of the matter; yet some of the Nestorians affirmed, that the khan had been baptized, but I said that I would neither believe it, nor report it to others, as I had not been present.

We came to our old empty house, where they provided us in bedding and coverlids, and gave us some fuel They gave us the carcase of a small lean sheep, as food for us three in six days, and lent us a pot and trivet to boil our flesh, and gave us a platter of millet every day. We boiled our meat first in water, and afterwards boiled our millet in the broth; and that was our whole allowance, which would have sufficed if we had been suffered to eat in peace, but there were many starved fellows about the court that thrust themselves in among us, and insisted to partake. The cold became very severe, and Mangu-khan sent us three fur coats, with the hair outwards, which we thankfully received; but we represented that we had not a house in which we could pray for the khan, our cottage being so small that we could scarcely stand up in it, neither could we open our books on account of smoke, after the fire was lighted. On this the khan sent to ask the monk if he would be pleased with our company, who gladly received us; and after this we had a better house before the court, where none lodged but we and the soothsayers, they in front of the first lady, and we at the farthest end, towards the east, before the palace of the last lady. We made this alteration on the 13th of January.

Next morning all the Nestorian priests collected at the chapel, and smote on a board, instead of ringing a bell. They then sang matins very reverently, put on all their ornaments, and prepared the censer and incense. After waiting some time, Cotata Caten[1], the principal wife of the khan, came into the chapel, attended by many ladies, and having with her Baltu, her eldest son, and several other children. All these prostrated themselves, ducking after the manner of the Nestorians; they then touched all the images and kissed their hands, and afterwards gave the right hand of fellowship to all who stood beside them, which is the custom among the Nestorians. The priest sang many hymns, and gave the lady some incense in her hand, which she threw into the fire, and then the priests perfumed her. After this she began to put off the ornaments of her head, called Bacca, and I saw her bareheaded; but as we were now commanded to leave the chapel, I know not what followed. As I was going out I saw a silver basin brought, but I am ignorant if she was then baptized, but rather think not; because at Easter I saw a fount consecrated with great solemnity, and some persons baptized, but no such ceremony was seen on the present occasion, and I know they do not celebrate the mass in a tent, but only in a standing church.

[1] Caten signifies lady and Cotata was her particular name.--Harris.

During our absence, Mangu-khan himself came to the chapel, into which a golden bed was brought, on which he sat with his queen, opposite the altar. We were then sent for, and a door-keeper searched us for concealed weapons. On going in with a bible, and breviary in my bosom, I first bowed down before the altar, and then made an obeisance to Mangu-khan, who caused our books to be brought to him, and enquired the signification of the images or pictures with which they were ornamented, to which the Nestorians answered as they thought proper, because we had not our interpreter. Being desired to sing a psalm after our manner, we chanted Veni sancte Spiritus. Then the khan departed, but the lady remained, and distributed gifts to all the Christians present. She gave the monk Sergius a jascot, and another to the archdeacon of the Nestorians, and she caused a nassic or large cloth like a coverlet, and a buckram, to be spread out before us; and as I declined the offer, she sent them to our interpreter, who sold the nassic at Cyprus, for eighteen gold sultanies, though it was much the worse for the carriage. Then red wine, like that of Rochelle, and caracina and cosmos were brought, and the lady holding a cupful in her hand, desired a blessing on her knees, and she drank it up, we and all the priests singing with a loud voice.

Another time, when they were mostly all drunk, the carcass of a sheep was brought in and presently devoured, and then some large fishes, resembling our carp, which they eat without bread or salt. And when the lady was drunk, she took her chariot and went away, the priests singing all the while. Next Sunday, the son of the khan, by a Christian mother, came to the chapel and acted in a similar manner, but not with so much solemnity, and only gave the priests to drink, and some parched millet to eat. Before the first Sunday in Lent, the Nestorians fast three days, which they call the fast of Jonas; and the Armenians fast five days in honour of St Lorkis, their tutelary saint. The Nestorians begin their fast on Tuesday and end it on Thursday, and on Friday they bless the flesh, as if it were the Paschal Lamb. The monk sent to Mangu to fast that week, which he did; and on the Armenian Easter, he went in procession to the house of Mangu, accompanied by us and the Nestorian priests. While we went in, some servants met us carrying out some shoulder-blades of sheep, burnt as black as coals; and on enquiring, I learnt that the khan performs a divination, before undertaking any important matter, in this manner. He causes three of these bones to be brought to him unburnt, which are sought for all over the Leskar or Tartar camp for this purpose; and these bones are burnt in a particular fire, and then brought to him again. If the bones are cracked across, or round pieces fly out of them in burning, it is considered an evil omen; but if they crack lengthways, even one of the three, he then proceeds in his design.

When we went in before Mangu, the Nestorian priests gave him incense, which he put upon the censer, with which they perfumed him. Then they sung and blessed his cup, which was done next by the monk, and lastly by us. After he had drunk, the attendants gave drink to the priests, but we went out; and my companion staying last, turned round near the door to make his obeisance to the khan, and hastily turning again to follow us, stumbled on the threshold, for which he was seized and carried before the Bulgai, who is the chancellor or chief secretary of the court, and judges those who are arraigned on matters of life and death. But I knew not of all this, as missing him on looking back, I thought he had been detained to receive thinner apparel, for he was very weak, and could hardly walk under his load of garments. He was sent home in the evening, and the monk sharply rebuked him for having touched the threshold. Next day, the Bulgai came to me, and demanded to know if any one had warned us against touching the threshold; to which I answered, that as we had not our interpreter along with us, we should not have understood them if the caution had been given. On this my companion was pardoned, but was never allowed, afterwards to come into any of the houses of Mangu-khan.

From the house of the khan, we went to that of his eldest son, who had two wives, and lodged next on the right from his father. As soon as he saw us approach, he leapt from his bed and prostrated himself before the cross, striking the ground with his forehead, then rising and kissing the cross, he caused it to be placed on a new cloth, in a high place, very reverently. He has a tutor, named David, to instruct him, who is a Nestorian priest and a great drunkard. The prince gave drink to the priests, and he drank himself, after the priests had blessed his cup. From him we went to the court of Cota, the khans second lady, who is an idolater, and whom we found very sick; yet the Armenian monk made her rise from bed and adore the cross on her knees, with many ceremonies. We then went to the third court, in which a Christian lady formerly resided; but on her death, she was succeeded by a young woman, who, with the khans daughter, joyfully received us, and worshipped the cross with great reverence. We went then into the house of the young lady Cerina, behind the third court, which had formerly belonged to her mother, who likewise worshipped the cross with great devotion. We next went into the court of the fourth and last lady, whose house was very old, but the khan gave her a new house and new chariots after Easter. This lady was an idolater, yet she worshipped the cross, according to the directions of the monk and priests. From that place we returned to our oratory, the monks accompanying us with great howlings and outcries in their drunkenness, as they had been plentifully supplied with drink at every visit; but this is not considered as blameable or unseemly, either in man or woman in these parts.


Of a great Cure performed by the Armenian monk Sergius, on one of the Wives of Mangu-khan.

Sometime after the lady Cota was sick almost to death, and the divination by lot of the idolaters did her no good. Mangu-khan then sent for the monk, who indiscreetly engaged to cure her on the forfeiture of his head. On this, the monk sent for us, and entreated us, with tears, to watch and pray all night along with him, which we did. He took of a certain root called rhubarb, which he beat to powder and put among water, along with a little crucifix, and he used to give of that water to all sick persons, which griped them by reason of its bitterness, and which they attributed to a miracle. I proposed to prepare some holy water, according to the rites of the church of Rome, which hath great power to cast out devils, as I understood the lady was vexed of a devil[1]. At his request, I consecrated some holy water, which he mingled with the rhubarb, and left his crucifix all night in the mixture.

[1] From the whole of this story, it would appear that the lady Cota was hysterical from constipation; and that Sergius had the good fortune to remove the cause by a few doses of rhubarb.--E.

Next morning I and the monk and two Nestorian priests went to the lady, who was then in a small house behind her great one. She sat up in her bed and worshipped the cross, laying it honourably by her upon a silken cloth; she drank of the holy water mixed with rhubarb, and washed her breast, and, at the desire of the monk, I read the passion of our Lord according to St John, over her. At length she felt herself relieved, and ordered four jascots to be brought, which she first laid at the foot of the cross, and gave three to the monk, offering one to me, which I refused; then the monk took this likewise, and gave one to each of the priests, keeping two to himself, so that she gave away forty marks in all at this time.[2] She then ordered wine, which she gave to the priests, and made me drink thrice from her hand in honour of the holy trinity. She likewise began to teach me the language, jesting with me, because I was silent for want of an interpreter.

[2] About L. 30, perhaps equal in efficacy to L. 300 of modern days; no bad fee for administering a dose of rhubarb.--E.

Next day Mangu-khan, hearing that we were passing, and having learned that the lady Cota was somewhat better, made us come in, and took the cross into his hand, asking several questions, which I did not understand, but I did not see that he worshipped it. The monk, by my suggestion, craved leave to carry the cross aloft on a lance, and Manga gave permission that it might be carried in any way we thought fit. Then paying our obeisance to the khan, we went to the lady Cota, whom we found strong and cheerful. She still drank the holy water, and we read the passion over her; but those miserable priests never taught her the articles of our holy faith, neither advised her to be baptized, nor did they find fault with any kind of sorcery. For I saw four swords half drawn out of their sheaths, one at the head of her bed, one at the foot, and one on either side of her door. I observed likewise one of our silver chalices, probably taken from some church in Hungary, which hung against the wall, full of ashes, on the top of which lay a black stone; but these priests not only do not teach them that such things are evil, but even practice similar things. We continued our visits for three days, by which time she was restored to perfect health. During these visits, she continued to rally me on my silence, and endeavoured to teach me their language.

I honoured the monk Sergius as my bishop, because he could speak the language, though he was totally uneducated; and I afterwards learnt, when I came to his own country on my return, that he was no priest, but merely an adventurous weaver. In many things he acted in a way that much displeased me, for he caused to be made for himself a folding chair such as bishops use, and gloves, and a cap of peacocks feathers, with a small gold cross; but I was well pleased with the cross. He had scabbed feet, which he endeavoured to palliate with ointments[3]; was very presumptuous in speech, was present at many of the vain and idolatrous rites of the Nestorians, and had many other vanities with which I was much displeased. Yet we joined his society for die honour of the cross, as he got a banner full of crosses on a cane as long as a lance, and we carried the cross aloft through among all the tents of the Tartars, singing Vexilla regis prodeant, &c. to the great regret of the Mahometans, who were envious of our favour.

[3] This surely was a sinless infirmity, and needed not to have been recorded to his dishonour. He was probably afflicted with chilblains, in consequence of the severity of the Tartarian climate.--E.

I was informed of a certain Armenian who came, as he said, from Jerusalem along with the monk Sergius, carrying a silver cross of about four marks weight, adorned with precious stones, which he presented to Mangu-khan, who asked what was his petition. He represented himself to be the son of an Armenian priest, whose church had been destroyed by the Saracens, and craved his help for rebuilding that church. Being asked how much that might cost, he said two hundred jascots, or two thousand marks; and the khan ordered letters to be given him, ordering those who received the tribute of Persia and the Greater Armenia, to pay him that sum in silver[4]. The monk continued to carry this cross about with him wherever he went, and the Nestorian priests became envious of the profit which he derived from its use.

[4] L. 1500 in weight, equal at least to L. 15,000 of our modern money; a most magnificent present to an itinerant beggar.--E.


Account of the Country under the Dominion of the Great Khan of the Manners and Customs of his Subjects; of a Wonderful Piece of Mechanism, constructed by a French Goldsmith; and of the Palace of the Khan at Caracarum.

From the time of our arrival at the court of Mangu-khan, the leskar or camp made only two days journey towards the south; and it then began its progress northwards, in the direction of Caracarum. In the whole of my journey I was convinced of the truth of what I had been informed by Baldwin de Hainault at Constantinople, that the whole way eastwards was by a continual ascent, as all the rivers run from the east towards the west, sometimes deviating towards the north or south, more or less directly, but never running east, but this was farther confirmed to me by the priests who came from Kathay[1]. From the place where I found Mangukhan, it is twenty days journey south-east to Kathay, and ten days journey right east to Oman Kerule, the original country of the Moal and of Zingis[2]. In those parts there are no cities, but the country is inhabited by a people called Su-Moall, or Mongols of the waters, who live upon fish and hunting, and have neither flocks nor herds. Farther north, likewise, there is no city, but a poor people of herdsmen, who are called Kerkis. The Orangin are there also, who bind smooth bones under their feet, and thrust themselves with such velocity over the ice and snow, as to overtake beasts in the chase. There are many other poor nations in those parts, inhabiting as far to the north as the cold will permit, who join on the west with the country of Pascatir, or the Greater Hungary, of which I have made mention before[3]. In the north the mountains are perpetually covered with snow, and the bounds are unknown by reason of the extreme cold. All these nations are poor; yet they must all betake themselves to some employment, as Zingis established a law that none was to be free from service till so old as to be unable for work.

[1] So for as was travelled by Rubruquis, and in the route which he pursued on the north of the Alak mountains, this observation is quite correct to longitude 100° E. But what he here adds respecting Kathay, is directly contradictory to the fact; as all the rivers beyond Caracarum run in an easterly direction. The great central plain of Tangut, then traversed by the imperial horde of the Mongals, and now by the Eluts and Kalkas, must be prodigiously elevated above the level of the ocean.--E.
[2] The information here seems corrupted, or at least is quite incorrect. Kathay or northern China is due east, or east south-east from the great plain to the south of Karakum. Daouria, the original residence of the Mongols of Zingis, between the rivers Onon and Kerlon, is to the north-east.--E.
[3] The Kerkis must fee the Kirguses, a tribe of whom once dwelt to the south-west of lake Baikal. The Orangin or Orangey, inhabited on the east side of that lake. Pascatir is the country of the Bashkirs, Baschkirians, or Pascatirians in Great Bulgaria, called Great Hungary in the text, between the Volga and the Ural.--E.

I was inquisitive about the monstrous men of whom Isidore and Solinus make mention; but no one had ever seen any such, and I therefore doubt whether it be true. Once a priest of Kathay sat by me, clothed in red, of whom I asked how that colour was procured. He told me that on certain high; craggy rocks in the east of Kathay there dwelt certain creatures like men, not above a cubit long, and all hairy, who leapt rather than walked, and dwelt in inaccessible caves. That those who go to hunt them carry strong drink, which they leave in holes of the rocks, and then hide themselves. These little creatures come out from their holes, and having tasted the drink, call out chin-chin, on which multitudes gather together, and drink till they are drunk, and fall asleep. Then the hunters come and bind them, after which they draw a few drops of blood from the veins of the neck of each of these creatures, and let them go free; and this blood is the most precious purple dye. He told me, likewise, that there is a province beyond Kathay, into which, if a man enters, he always continues of the same age at which he entered; but this I do not believe[4].

[4] Rubruquis properly rejects the stories of monstrous men, related by the ancients, yet seems to swallow the absurd story of the purple dye, engrafted by the Kathayan priest on a very natural invention for catching apes. He disbelieves the last information of the priest, which must have been an enigmatical representation of the province of death, or of the tombs.--E.

Kathay is on the ocean, and I was told by the French goldsmith at Caracarum, that there is a people or nation called Tante and Manse, inhabiting certain islands, the sea around which is frozen in winter, so that the Tartars might invade them; but they sent messengers to the great khan, offering a tribute of 2000 tuemen or jascots yearly, to permit them to live in peace[5]. A tuemen, toman, or jascot, is a piece of money equal to ten marks.

[5] It is difficult to guess as to these people and their islands; which may possibly refer to Japan, or even Corea, which is no island. Such tribute could not have been offered by the rude inhabitants of Saghalien or Yesso.--E.

The ordinary money of Kathay is of paper made like pasteboard, the breadth and length of a hand, on which lines are printed, like the seal of Mangu. They write with a pencil like that used by our painters, and in one figure they comprehend many letters, forming one word[6]. The people of Thibet write as we do, and their characters are very like our own. Those of Tangut write from right to left, like the Arabs, and multiply their lines ascending; while the Jugurs write in descending columns. The common money of the Rutenians or Russians, consists in spotted or grizzled furs.

[6] This evidently but obscurely describes the Chinese characters; the most ingenious device ever contrived for the monopoly of knowledge and office to the learned class, and for arresting the progress of knowledge and science at a fixed boundary.--E.

When our Quinquagesima came, which is the Lent time of all the people of the east, the lady Cota fasted all that week, and came every day to our oratory, giving meat to the priests and other Christians, of whom a great company came daily to attend the service. But the porters of the court, seeing such multitudes come daily to our chapel, which was within the precincts of the court, sent one to tell the monk, that they would not allow such multitudes to come within their bounds; to this the monk made a sharp reply, and threatened to accuse them to the khan; but they prevented him, and lodged a complaint before Mangu, that the monk was too full of words, and gathered too great a multitude to hear him speak. On this he was called before the khan, who reproved him severely, saying, that as a holy man, he should employ himself in prayers to God, and not in speeches to men. But he was afterwards reconciled, by promising to go to the Pope, and to induce all the nations of the west to yield obedience to the khan. On his return to the oratory, the monk asked me if I thought he might gain admission to the Pope as the messenger of Mangu; and whether the Pope would supply him with horses to go to St James in Galicia; and whether your majesty would send your son to the court of Mangu. But I counselled him, to beware of making false promises to Mangu, and that God needed not the service of lies or deceitful speaking. About this time a dispute arose between the monk and one of the Nestorian priests, more learned than the rest, as the monk asserted that man was created before paradise, which the other denied; on reference to me, I said that paradise was created on the second day, when the other trees were made, whereas man was made on the sixth. Then the monk said, that the devil brought clay on die first day, from all the corners of the earth, of which he made the body of man, which God inspired with a soul. On this I sharply reproved him for his heretical ignorance, and he scorned me for my ignorance of the language: I departed, therefore, from him to our own house. But when he and the priests went afterwards in procession to the court without calling me, Mangu earnestly enquired the reason of my absence; and the priests being afraid, excused themselves as well as they could, and reported to me the words of the khan, murmuring at the monk. After this the monk was reconciled to me, and I entreated him to aid me in acquiring the language, promising to help him to the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.

After the first week of fasting, the lady ceased from coming to the oratory, and to give meat and drink, so that we had nothing but brown bread, and paste boiled in melted snow or ice, which was exceedingly bad. My companion was much grieved at this diet, on which I acquainted David, the teacher of the khans eldest son, with our necessities, who made a report to the khan, and we were then supplied, with wine, flour, and oil. The Nestorians and Armenians eat no fish in Lent; but the monk had a chest under the altar, with almonds, and raisins, and dried prunes, and other fruits, on which he fed when alone.

About the middle of Lent, the goldsmiths son came from Caracarum, bringing a silver cross made in the French fashion, with an image of Christ, as a present for Bulgai, the chief secretary of the court; and the young man informed Mangu, that the great work he had commanded to be made by his father, was completed. In the neighbourhood of Caracarum, Mangu has a large court, inclosed with a brick wall like our priories. Within that court is a great palace, in which the khan holds feasts twice a-year, once in Easter, and the other in summer; but the latter is the greater, as all the nobles meet then at the court, when the khan distributes garments among them, and displays all his magnificence. Beside the palace there are many great buildings like our barns, in which the victuals and treasures belonging to the khan are stored. Because it was indecent to have flaggons going about the hall of the palace, as in a tavern, William, the goldsmith, constructed a great silver tree, just without the middle entrance of the great hall, at the root of which were four silver lions, having pipes discharging pure cows milk. Four pipes were conveyed up the body of the tree to its top, which spread out into four great boughs, hanging downwards; on each of these boughs was a golden serpent, all their tails twining about the body of the tree, and each of these formed a pipe, one discharging wine, a second caracosmos, a third ball, or mead made of honey, and the fourth teracina or drink made of rice; each particular drink having a vessel at the foot of the tree to receive it. On the top, between the four pipes, there stood an image of an angel with a trumpet. Under the tree there was a vault, in which a man was hidden, and from him a pipe ascended to the angel; and when the butler commands to sound the trumpet, the man below blows strongly, and the trumpet emits a shrill sound. In a chamber without the palace, the liquors are stored, and servants who are waiting, pour the liquors each in its proper pipe, at the signal, when they are conveyed by concealed pipes up the body of the tree, and discharged into, their appropriate vessels, whence they are distributed by the under butlers to the visitors. The tree is all ornamented with silver boughs, and leaves and fruit all of silver. The palace is like a church, having a middle aisle and two side ones, beyond two rows of pillars, and has three gates to the south, and before the middle gate stands the silver tree. The khan sits at the north wall, on a high place, that he may be seen of all, and there are two flights of steps ascending to him, by one of which his cup-bearer goes up, and comes down by the other. The middle space between the throne and the silver tree is left vacant for the cup-bearers and the messengers who bring presents; on the right side of the khan the men sit, and the women on the left. One woman only sits beside him, but not so high as he.

About Passion Sunday, the khan went before with his small houses only, leaving the great ones behind, and the monk and we followed. On the journey we had to pass through a hilly country[7] where we encountered high winds, extreme cold, and much snow. About midnight the khan sent to the monk and us, requesting us to pray to God to mitigate the severity of the weather, as the beasts in his train were in great jeopardy, being mostly with young, and about to bring forth. Then the monk sent him incense, desiring him to put it on the coals, as an offering to God: Whether he did this or no, I know not, but the tempest ceased, which had lasted two days. On Palm Sunday we were near Caracarum, and at dawn of day we blessed the willow boughs, on which, as yet, there were no buds. About nine o'clock we entered the city of Caracarum, carrying the cross aloft with the banner, and passing through the street of the Saracens, in which the market is held, we proceeded to the church, where the Nestorians met; us in procession. We found them prepared to celebrate the mass, and they all communicated; but I declined this, having already drank, and the sacrament should always be received lasting. After mass, being now evening, William Bouchier, the goldsmith, brought us to sup at his lodging. He had a wife, born in Hungary, of Mahometan parents, who spoke French, and the language of the Comanians. We found here also one Basilicus, the son of an Englishman, likewise born in Hungary, who was likewise skilled in these languages. After supper we retired to our cottage, which, with the oratory of the monk, were placed near the Nestorian church; which is of considerable size, and very handsomely built, and all the ceiling is covered with silk, wrought with gold.

[7] From this circumstance, it would appear that Rubruquis had found the court of the khan in the country of the Eluts, to the south of the Changai mountains, perhaps about latitude 44° N. and longitude 103° E, the meridian of the supposed site of Karakum on the Orchon. And it may be presumed, that the imperial suite was now crossing the Changai chain towards the north.--E.

I much deliberated with myself, whether I should continue in communion with the monk and the Nestorians, because I saw their actions full of idolatry and sorcery; but I feared to give offence to the khan in separating from the other Christians, as I saw that my presence pleased him, for which reason I always accompanied them to court; but when there I did not join in their mummeries, praying always in a loud voice for the church, and that God would direct the khan in the right way of salvation. On one occasion the khan promised to come to the church next day; but he departed on his journey to the northward, desiring the priests to excuse him, because he had learnt that the dead were carried thither. But we remained behind, that we might celebrate the festival of Easter. There were a vast multitude of Hungarians, Alans, Rutenians or Russians, Georgians, and Armenians, who had not received the sacrament since they were taken prisoners, as the Nestorians would not admit them into their church unless they were rebaptized; yet they offered their sacrament freely to us, and allowed me to see their manner of consecration; on the vigil of Easter I saw their ceremony of baptism. They pretend to have the ointment with which Mary Magdalen anointed the feet of Jesus, and they put in so much of that oil in kneading their sacramental bread; for all the people of the east use butter, or oil, or fat from a sheeps tail, in their bread, instead of leaven. They pretend also to have of the flour of which the bread was made which was consecrated by our Lord at his Last Supper, as they always keep a small piece of dough from each baking, to mix up with the new, which they consecrate with great reverence. In administering this to the people, they divide the consecrated loaf first into twelve portions, after the number of the apostles, which they afterwards break down into smaller pieces, in proportion to the number of communicants, giving the body of Christ into the hand of every one, who takes it from his own palm with much reverence, and afterwards lays his hand on the top of his head.

I was much at a loss how to act, as the Nestorians entreated me to celebrate the festival, and I had neither vestments, chalice, nor altar. But the goldsmith furnished me with vestments, and made an oratory on a chariot, decently painted with scripture histories; he made also a silver box or pix for the host, and an image of the blessed Virgin, and caused an iron instrument to be made for us to make hosts in our way. Then I made the before mentioned Christians to confess to me, as well as I could, by means of an interpreter, explaining to them the ten commandments, the seven deadly sins, and other matters, exhorting them to confession and penitence: But all of them publickly excused themselves respecting theft, saying that they could not otherwise live, as their masters neither provided them with food or raiment; and I said they might lawfully take necessaries from their masters, especially as they had forcibly deprived them of their subsistence and liberty. Some who were soldiers excused themselves from having gone to the wars, as otherwise they would be slain; these I forbid to go against Christians, declaring, that if slain for their refusal, God would account them as martyrs. After this I gave the holy communion to these people on Easter day, and I hope, with the blessing of God to many, being assisted by the Nestorians, who lent me their chalice and paten. They baptized above threescore persons on Easter eve with great solemnity, to the great joy of all the Christians.

Soon after this William Bouchier was grievously sick, and when recovering, the monk Sergius visited him, and gave him so great a doze of rhubarb as had almost killed him. On this I expostulated with the monk, that he ought either to go about as an apostle, doing miracles by the virtue of prayer and the Holy Ghost, or as a physician, according to the rules of the medical aid, and not to administer strong potions to people who were not prepared. About this time the principal priest of the Nestorians, who was a kind of archdeacon over the rest, became sick $ and when I endeavoured, at the request of his family, to prevail upon the monk to visit him, he said, "Let him alone for he and three others intend to procure an order from Mangu-khan to expel you and I." And I learnt afterwards, that there was a dispute between them, as Mangu-khan had sent four jascots on Easter eve to the monk, to distribute among the priests; and Sergius, keeping one to himself, had given three to the priests, one being a counterfeit, and the priests thought Sergius had kept too great a share to himself. Finding the archdeacon in a dying way, I administered to him the Eucharist and extreme unction, which he received with great humility and devotion; but, by the advice of the monk, I quitted him before he died, as otherwise I could not have entered the court of Mangu-khan for a whole year. When he was dead, the monk said to me, "Never mind it: This man only, among the Nestorians, had any learning, and opposed us; henceforwards Mangu-khan and all the rest will crouch at our feet." He even pretended that he had killed him by his prayers. I afterwards learnt that the monk practised divination, with the aid of a Russian deacon, though, when I challenged him, he pretended to excuse himself, and to deny the truth of what had been reported to me: But I could not leave him, having been placed there by command of the khan, so that I dared not to remove without his special command.

Exclusive of the palace of the khan, Caracarum is not so good as the town of St Denis, and the monastery of St Dennis is worth more than ten times the value of the palace itself. It contains two principal streets: that of the Saracens in which the fairs are held, and to which many merchants resort, as the court is always near; the other is the street of the Kathayans, which is full of artificers. Besides these streets, there are many palaces, in which are the courts of the secretaries of the khan. There are twelve idol temples belonging to different nations, two Mahometan mosques, and one Nestorian church at the end of the town. The town itself is inclosed with a mud wall, and has four gates. On the east side, there is a market for millet and other grain, but which is ill supplied; on the west, sheep and goats are sold; on the north side, oxen and waggons; and on the south side, horses.

Mangu-khan has eight brothers, three by the mother and five by the father. One of these on the mothers side he sent into the country of the Assassines, called Mulibet by the Tartars, with orders to kill them all. Another was sent into Persia, who is supposed to have orders to send armies into Turkey, and from thence against Bagdat and Vestacius. One of his other brothers has been sent into Kathay, to reduce certain rebels. His youngest maternal brother, named Arabucha, lives with him, and keeps up his mothers court, who was a Christian.

About this time, on account of a violent quarrel between the monk and certain Mahometans, and because a rumour was propagated of four hundred assassins having gone forth in divers habits, with an intention to murder the khan, we were ordered to depart from our accustomed place before the court, and to remove to the place where other messengers dwelt. Hitherto I had always hoped for the arrival of the king of Armenia[8], and had not therefore made any application for leave to depart; but hearing no news of the king, or a certain German priest who was likewise expected, and fearing lest we should return in the winter, the severity of which I had already experienced, I sent to demand the pleasure of the khan, whether we were to remain with him or to return, and representing that it would be easier for us to return in summer than in winter. The khan sent to desire that I should not go far off, as he meant to speak with me next day; to which I answered, requesting him to send for the son of the goldsmith to interpret between us, as my interpreter was very incompetent.

[8] Haitho, of whom some account will be found in the succeeding chapter of this work.--E.


Of certain disputes between Rubruquis and the Saracens and Idolaters, at the Court of Mangu-khan, respecting Religion.

Next day I was brought to the court, and some of the chief secretaries of the khan came to me, one of whom was a Moal, who is cup-bearer to the khan, and the rest were Saracens. These men demanded on the part of the khan, wherefore I had come there? To this I answered, as I had done before, that I came to Sartach, who sent me to Baatu, and he had ordered me to the khan, to whom I had nothing to say on the part of any man, unless I should speak the words of God if he would hear them, for the khan should know best what Baatu had written. Then they demanded what words of God I would speak to the khan, thinking I meant to prophecy prosperous things as others had done. To this I answered, "If ye would that I speak the words of God unto the khan, get me an interpreter." They said they had sent for him, but urged me to speak by the present one, as they would understand me perfectly. I therefore said, "This is the word of God, to whom much is given, much will be required at his hands; and to whom much is forgiven, he ought the more to love God. To Manga I would say, that God hath given much; for the power and riches which he enjoys, come not from the idols of the Tuinians, but from the omnipotent God who hath made heaven and earth, in whose hands are all kingdoms and dominions, and who transferreth them from nation to nation for the sins of men; wherefore if he love God, it will go well with him, but if otherwise, God will require all things at his hands, even to the utmost farthing." Then they asked if I had been in Heaven, that I should know the commandments of God? I said no, but that God hath given them from Heaven to holy men, and had at length descended from Heaven to earth to teach us, and that we had those things in the Scriptures, and could judge from their works whether men kept the commandments of God or disobeyed them. They then asked if I meant to say that Mangu-khan did not keep the commandments of God? To this I answered, "When I shall have a proper interpreter and am permitted, I shall then recite the commandments of God before Mangu, and he shall be his own judge, whether he hath kept or disobeyed them." Upon this, they went and told Mangu, that I said he was an idolater and Tuinian, and kept not the commandments of God. Next day Mangu sent one of his secretaries, saying, "Ye are here Christians, Mahometans, and Tuinians, wherefore the khan desires that ye will all come together and make comparison of your opinions, that he may know the truth." To this I answered, "Blessed be God that hath put this in the heart of the khan; but our Scriptures command the servants of God not to be contentious, but meek unto all. Wherefore I am ready, without strife or contention, to render a true account of the faith and hope of the Christians to every one who may require to be informed." They wrote down my words and brought them to the khan.

Next day, another message came from the khan, desiring again to know on what account I had come to his court; to which I answered, that this might be known from the letters of Bantu. But they said that these letters were lost, and the khan had forgotten their contents, and would know of me. Somewhat emboldened by this, I said, "The duty and office of our religion is to preach the gospel unto all. Wherefore, having heard of the fame of, the Mongals, I desired to come to them; and hearing that Sartach had become a Christian, I directed my journey to him, and my sovereign the king of the French sent him letters containing good words of friendship, testifying what men we were, and requesting we might be permitted to remain with the people of Moal That Sartach had sent us to Baatu, and he had ordered us to Mangu-khan, whom we had entreated and still do entreat to suffer us to stay." They wrote all this, and made a report of it to the khan. On the morrow he sent again that he knew we had no message for him, but came to pray for him as other priests did, but desired to know if any of our ambassadors had ever been in their country, or any of theirs in our parts. Then I declared unto them all I knew respecting David and Friar Andrew, all of which was put down in writing and laid before Mangu. They came back, saying, "Our lord the khan thinks you have staid long here, and his pleasure is that you return into your own country; but he desires to know whether you would conduct his ambassadors along with you." To this I answered, that I dared not to carry his ambassadors beyond his own dominions, as a warlike nation dwelt between their country and ours, between the sea and the mountains, and being only a poor monk, I could not take upon me to be their guide. This they likewise set down in writing and carried to the khan.

The Nestorians were commanded to set down in writing all that they would speak in favour of the Christian religion; and they wrote out a chronicle from the creation of the world to the passion of Christ; and passing over the passion, they spake of the resurrection of the dead, and of the day of judgment. Finding many things wrong, I pointed them out, and we wrote out the creed or symbol. Asking them how they meant to proceed in the conference, they said they meant to begin with the Saracens; but I dissuaded them from that, because, as they agreed with us in the belief of one only God, they would assist against the Tuinians. I then pointed out to them the original of idolatry in the world; and they desired me to explain these things before Mangu, and then to let them speak, because I should find it difficult and tedious to speak by an interpreter. I then proposed to try them, by taking the side of the Tuinians, while they should defend the opinions of the Christians; but they knew not how to prove any thing, except merely by quoting their Scriptures. To this I said, that these men believed not in our Scriptures, and would oppose them by advancing contrary opinions and positions from those books which they accounted holy. Then I desired that they would allow me to speak first; since if I were overcome they would be permitted to speak, whereas if they were confuted, I would be refused a hearing, and to this they consented.

All things being arranged, we convened at our oratory, and Mangu-khan sent three of his secretaries, a Christian, a Saracen, and a Tuinian, to be judges of the controversy. It was first proclaimed, "This is the order of Mangu-khan, and none dare say that the commandment of God is otherwise. Let none speak contentiously, or use injurious words to one another, or make any tumult whereby this business may be hindered, upon pain of death." There was a great assembly, as every party had convened the wisest of their sect, and many others came flocking around to listen; but all were silent. The Christians set me in the middle, willing that I should contend with the Tuinians; who murmured against Mangu, as no khan had ever thus endeavoured to search into their secrets. Yet they opposed one from Kathay to me, who had his interpreter, while I had the son of the goldsmith to interpret my words. The Kathayan said to me, "Friend! if you be put to a nonplus, who must seek a wiser than thou art?" To this I made no reply. Then he demanded whether I would dispute as to how the world was made, or as to what became of the souls after death? For they were desirous to begin with these questions, as they held them for the strongest in their doctrines, all the Tuinians following the heresy of the Manicheans, believing in a good and a bad principle, and they all believe that souls pass from body to body. In confirmation of this, the goldsmith told me they had brought a person from Kathay, who, by the size of his body, appeared to be only three years old, yet was capable of reasoning, and knew how to write, and who affirmed that he had passed through three several bodies. Even one of the wisest of the Nestorians demanded of me whether the souls of brutes could fly to any place after death where they should not be compelled to labour.

To the before-mentioned question of the Kathayan, I answered: "Friend, this ought hot to be the commencement of our conference. All things are of God, who is the fountain and head of us all; and therefore we ought first to speak concerning God, of whom you think otherwise than you ought, and Mangu desires to know which of us hath the better belief." The arbitrators allowed this to be reasonable, and I proceeded: "We firmly believe that there is but one God in perfect unity; what believe you?" He said, "Fools say there is but one God, but wise men say there are many. There are great lords in your country, and here is still a greater, even Mangu-khan. So it is of the Gods, as in divers countries there are divers gods." To this I answered: "You make a bad comparison between God and men; for in this way every mighty man might be called a God in his own country." And when I meant to have dissolved the similitude, he prevented me, by asking, "What manner of God is yours, who you say is but one?" I answered: "Our God, beside whom there is no other, is omnipotent, and therefore needeth not the help of any other; whereas all have need of his help. It is not so with men, as no man can do all things; wherefore there must be many lords on earthy as no one can support all. God is omniscient, or knoweth all things; and therefore hath no need of any counsellor, for all wisdom is from him. God is perfectly good; and needs not therefore any good from us. In God we live and move and have our being. Such is our God, and you must not hold that there is any other." "It is not so," said he; "for there is one highest in heaven, whose origin or generation we know not, and there are ten under him, and on earth they are infinite in number." To this he would have added other fables. I asked him respecting the highest God, of whom he had spoken, whether he were omnipotent, or if any of the inferior Gods were so? And fearing to answer this, he demanded, "Why, since our God was perfectly good, he had made the half of all things evil?" To this I answered, that this was false; for whosoever maketh any evil is no God, and all things whatsoever are good. At this all the Tuiuians were astonished, and set it down in writing as false or impossible. He then asked me, "Whence cometh evil?" "You ask amiss," said I, "for you ought first to inquire what evil is, before you ask whence it comes: But let us return to the first question, whether do you believe that any God is omnipotent? and when that is discussed, I will answer whatever you may demand." On this he sat a long time without speaking, and the judges appointed by the khan commanded him to make answer. At length he said, that no God was omnipotent; on which all the Saracens broke out into great laughter. When silence was restored, I said, "None of your gods, therefore, can save you in all dangers, since chances may happen in which they have no power. Besides, no man can serve two masters; how, therefore, can you serve so many Gods in heaven and in earth?" The auditory decreed that he should make answer to this, but he held his peace.

When I was about to have propounded reasons to prove the truth of the divine essence, and to have explained the doctrine of the Trinity, the Nestorians alleged that I had said quite enough, and that now they meant to speak; so I gave place to them. When, therefore, they would have disputed with the Saracens, these men said that they agreed to the truth of the law and the gospel of the Christian, and would not dispute with them in any thing, and even confessed that they beg from God in their prayers that they may die the death of the Christians. There was among the idolaters a priest of the sect of the Jugurs, who believe in one God, and yet make idols. With this man the Nestorians talked much, shewing all things till the coming of Christ to judgment, and explaining the Trinity to him and the Saracens by similitudes. All of them hearkened to their harangue without attempting to make any contradiction; yet none of them said that they believed and would become Christians. The conference was now broken up. The Nestorians and Saracens sang together with a loud voice, and the Tuinians held their peace; and afterwards they all drank together most plentifully.


The last audience of Rubruquis with Mangu-khan, and the letter he received for the King of France.

On Whitsunday I was called into the presence of the khan, and before I went in, the goldsmiths son, who was my interpreter, informed me that it was determined I was to return to my own country, and advised me to say nothing against it. When I came before the khan I kneeled, and he asked me whether I said to his secretaries that he was a Tuinian. To this I answered, "My lord, I said not so; but if it please your highness I will repeat what I then said;" and I recited what I had spoken, as mentioned before, and he answered: "I thought well you said not so, for it was a word you ought not to have spoken; but your interpreter hath ill rendered your words." Then, reaching forth the staff on which, he leaned towards me, he said, "be not afraid." To which I answered smiling, that if I had feared I should not have come hither. He then said, as if confessing his faith: "We Moals believe that there is but one God, and we have an upright heart towards him." "Then," said I, "may God grant you this mind, for without his gift it cannot be." He then added, "God hath given to the hand divers fingers, and hath given many ways to man. He hath given the Scriptures to you, yet you keep them not. You certainly find not in the Scriptures that one of you should dispraise another?" "No," said I; "and I signified unto your highness from the beginning, that I would not contend with any one." "I speak not," said he, "respecting you. In like manner, you find not in your Scriptures, that a man ought to swerve from justice for the sake of money?" To this I answered, "That our Scriptures taught no such evil doctrine, neither had I come into, these parts to get money, having even refused that which was freely offered to me." And one of the secretaries, then present, certified, that I had refused a jascot and a piece of silk. "I speak not of that," said the khan; "God hath given you the Scriptures and you keep them not; but he hath given to us soothsayers, and we do what they bid us, and live in peace." He drank four times, as I think, before he disclosed these things; and, while I waited attentively in expectation that he might disclose any thing farther respecting his faith, he began another subject, saying: "You have stayed a long time here, and it is my pleasure that you return. You have said that you dared not to carry my ambassadors with you; will you carry my messenger, or my letters?" To this I answered, "If he would make me understand his words, and that they were put in writing, I would willingly carry them, to the best of my power." He then asked if I would have gold or silver, or costly garments? I answered, that we received no such things; but not having wherewith to bear our expences, we could not get out of his country without his help. He then said, that he would provide us in all necessaries through his country, and demanded how far we would be brought. I said it were sufficient if he gave us a pass into Armenia. To this he answered: "I will cause you to be carried thither, after which look to yourself. There are two eyes in one head, yet they both look to one object. You came here from Baatu, and therefore you must return by him." Having requested and obtained leave to speak, I addressed him thus: "Sir! we are not men of war, and desire that they who would most justly govern according to the will of God may have dominion in the world. Our office is to teach men to live according to the law of God: For this, purpose we came into these parts, and would willingly have remained here if it had been your pleasure; but since you are pleased that we should return, I shall carry your letters according to my power, in obedience to your commands. I request of your magnificence, that, when I have delivered your letters, it may be lawful for me to come back into your dominions; chiefly because you have servants of our nation at Balac, who want a priest to teach them and their children the law of our religion, and I would willingly stay with them." He then asked whether I knew that our lords would send me back to him? To this. I answered, "I know not what may be the purpose of my sovereign; but I have licence to go wherever I will, where it is needful to preach the word of God, and it seems to me necessary in these parts; wherefore, whether my lords send ambassadors or not, if it is your pleasure, I will return." Then, after a long pause, as if musing, he said, "You have a lone way to go, make yourself strong with food, that you may be enabled to endure the journey." So he ordered them to give me drink, and I departed from his presence, and returned not again. From that time I could have no time nor place to expound to him the catholic faith; for a man must not speak before him, unless what he pleaseth to order or allow, except he were an ambassador, who may speak what he will, and they always demand of such whether he has any thing more to say.

The soothsayers are the priests of the Mongals, and whatever they command to be done is performed without delay. I shall describe their office, as I learnt it from the goldsmith and others. Of these soothsayers there are great numbers, under the direction of a chief priest, whose house is always about a stone's throw in front of the great house of Mangu-khan, and under his charge are all the chariots which carry idols. The other soothsayers dwell behind the court, in places appointed for them; and such as have confidence in their art come to consult them from various distant parts. Some of them are skilful in astronomy, especially their chief, and they foretel eclipses of the sun and moon. When these are to happen, all the people prepare their food, that they may not be under the necessity of going out of doors, and during the eclipse they play on various instruments of music, and set up loud shouts: when it is over, they indulge in feasting and carousing, to express their joy.

These soothsayers pretend to foretell lucky and unlucky days for all affairs; and the Tartars never levy an army, or undertake a war without their approbation. They had long since resumed their attack on Hungary, but that the soothsayers have always opposed it. They make every thing which is sent to court pass between two fires, as a purification, likewise, all the household stuff belonging to a dead person must be purged in the same manner; and, if any living creature drop down, or any thing whatever fall to the ground during the ceremony, it becomes the property of the soothsayers, who, besides, have a certain proportion of every thing which they purify as their due. There was, therefore, a twofold reason why Friar Andrew Carpini was made to pass between the fires; both because he brought presents, and because Con-khan, for whom these had been brought, was dead: But as I brought nothing, this was not required of me.

Once on a time, some very costly furs were presented at the court of the Christian lady, whom Pascha, the good woman of Metz served, and the soothsayers, in passing them between the fires, took more than was their due. Another woman, who had the custody of the treasures belonging to that lady, accused them of the fraud to her mistress, who reproved them severely for their conduct. Sometime afterwards the lady fell sick, and the soothsayers accused the servant, who had detected their fraud, of having bewitched her. She received the bastinado for seven days successively, and other tortures, to make her confess; and on hearing of her mistress's death, begged to be killed that she might follow her, for that, in truth, she had never done her the smallest injury. But, as she confessed nothing, Mangu-khan commanded that she should live. After this the soothsayers accused the daughters nurse of the deceased lady, which nurse was a Christian, and wife to the chief of the Nestorian priests. She and her servant-maid were tortured to make a confession, and the maid answered, that the nurse had sent her to receive responses from a certain horse. The nurse also confessed that she had used some spells to procure the love of her lady, but had never done any thing to hurt her. On being demanded to say whether her husband knew of her incantations, she excused him, saying that he had burnt the characters which she had made. Then she was put to death, and the husband was sent to be judged by his bishop in Kathay.

It happened that the principal wife of Mangu brought forth a son, and the soothsayers were brought to foretell the destiny of the infant, when they prophesied that he should live long and prosperously, and become a great lord; but he died in a few days. On being reproached for their falsehood, they said that the nurse of Cerina, who had been lately put to death, had killed the boy, and pretended to have seen her carrying him away. There were then in the camp a son and daughter of the nurse, whom the lady immediately sent for in a rage, and ordered them to be put to death. Some time afterwards this came to the ears of Mangu-khan, who was much enraged at the conduct of his wife. He caused the man to be beheaded who had slain the nurses son, and made his head to be hung round the neck of the woman who had killed her daughter, ordering her to be cudgelled with burning fire-brands, through among all the tents, and then put to death. He would also have put his wife to death if it had not been for the sake of the children he had by her; but he commanded her to be shut up for seven days without food, and went out from his court for a whole, moon.

After the feast of Pentecost, they began to prepare their letters for your Majesty, and, in the mean time, the khan returned to Caracarum, and held a great feast on the 15th of June, at which all the ambassadors were desired to be present, but I went to church to baptize the three children of a poor German. William the goldsmith was chief butler at this feast, as he had the charge of the silver tree which poured out the drink. On this occasion the khan gave, during four successive days, a complete suit of apparel each day to all his courtiers, every day a new colour; and he made them a speech, saying, "I have sent my brothers afar into dangers among foreign nations; it shall be seen how you will conduct yourselves when I send you to extend the boundaries of our empire."

At this time there was an ambassador at the court from the khans of Bagdat, of whom it was reported, when Mangu declared he would not grant them peace unless they would destroy all their warlike ammunition, that he answered, "We will do this when you pluck off all the hoofs from your horses." I saw there, also, the ambassadors from a soldan of India, who brought with him eight leopards and ten hare-hounds who were taught to sit on a horses croup in hunting, like the leopards. When I asked of them, the way to India, they pointed to the west, and they travelled with me, on our return, always westwards, for nearly three weeks. I also saw there the ambassador of the sultan of Turkey, who brought rich presents to the khan. At length the letters being ready for your majesty, they called for me and explained them, and the following is their substance, so far as I could understand them by my interpreter:

"The commandment of the Eternal GOD is this: As there is but one Eternal GOD in heaven, so upon earth let there be but one Lord, Zingis-khan, son of God, and Mangu-tinij[1]. This is the word which is spoken to you; whether Moals, Namans, Markets, or Musselmen; wherever man may hear or horse may go, cause it to be heard and understood, that such as have heard my commands and do not obey, or would levy an army against me, shall be as having eyes and not seeing, as having hands and unable to hold any thing, and as having feet, yet unable to walk.

[1] Explained as signifying the sound of iron, probably in allusion to his martial power.--E.

"This is the commandment of the Eternal GOD, and by the virtue of the Eternal GOD, the commandment of Mangu-khan, the great emperor of the Moals, is given to Lodowick the French King, and to all other lords and priests, and to the great world of the Franks, that they understand my words and the commandments of the Eternal GOD, made to Zingis-khan; neither but from Zingis-khan ever came this commandment unto you[2].

[2] The obscurity of this passage is inexplicable.--E.

"A certain man, named David, came unto you as an ambassador from the Moals, but he was a liar; and with him you sent your ambassador to Khen-khan. After Khen-khan was dead, your ambassador came to this court, and Charmis his wife sent you a nassick cloth. But how could that wicked woman, more vile than a dog, know matters appertaining to war and peace, and to settle the great world in quiet?

"Those two monks who came from you to Sartach, were sent by Sartach to Baatu; but as Mangu-khan is the greatest over the world of the Moals, Baatu sent them unto us. And now that the great world of the Franks, and the priests, and monks, may live in peace and enjoy their goods, and that the commandment of GOD might be heard among you, we would have sent certain Moals as our ambassadors to you by your priests; but your messenger answered, that betwixt us and you there was a warlike nation, with many bad men and troublesome ways, so that they were afraid they could not bring our ambassadors in safety to you; but if we would deliver them our letters, containing our commandments to King Lodowick, they engaged to carry them. For this cause we have not sent our ambassadors along with them; but we have sent you this, the commandment of the Eternal GOD, by your priests. And this is the commandment of the Eternal GOD, which we have given you to understand, and when you shall hear and believe it, if you will obey, send your ambassadors unto us, so that we may be satisfied whether you will have peace or war. When, by the power of the Eternal GOD, the whole world shall be in unity, peace, and joy, from the rising of the sun to where it sets, then shall it appear what we will do. But if ye shall see and hear the commandment of the Eternal GOD, and will not hearken to or believe it, saying, our country is far off, our hills are strong, our sea is great; and in this confidence shall lead an army against us to know what we can do; he that made what is hard easy, and that which is far off near, the Eternal GOD himself knows that alone."

While these things were going forwards, my companion heard that we were to return by the wilderness to Baatu, under the guidance of a Moal, on which he ran to Bulgai, the chief secretary, signifying to him, by signs, that he should certainly die if he went that way. On the day when we were to receive our pass, which was a fortnight after the feast of St John, 8th July, the secretary said to him; it is the pleasure of Mangu, that your companion shall return by Baatu, and as you are sick, you may remain and shall be provided in necessaries till some ambassador come, with whom you may return more easily by a way where there are villages. The friar answered "God grant the khan a long and prosperous life, I will remain." Then they brought us three garments, saying, that as we refused gold or silver, and had stayed long here, praying for the khan, he entreats that each would accept a single garment, that you may not depart empty handed.


The departure of Rubruquis from the Court of Mangu-khan, and his journey by Saray and other places, to Tripoly in Syria.

Leaving the Leskar or moving camp of Mangu-khan, we came to Caracarum, and while we remained in the house of William Bouchier the goldsmith, my guide brought ten jascots, five of which he delivered to William, commanding him, from the khan, to expend these for the use of the friar while he remained there, and he left the other five with my interpreter for my subsistence by the way; for William had given them such instructions without my knowledge. I immediately changed one of the jascots into small money, which I distributed among the poor Christians of Caracarum. Another was spent in providing garments and other necessaries for our journey. With the third my interpreter bought several articles, of which he afterwards made some profit. The other two we expended on the road, as, after we came into Persia, sufficient necessaries were nowhere given us. William, your majestys citizen and subject, sends you a girdle set with a precious stone, which is worn in those parts as a defence against thunder and lightning, and most humbly salutes you, always commending you to God in his prayers.

My companion and I parted with tears, he remaining with master William, while I, with my interpreter, the guide, and one servant, returned to the court of Baatu, our guide having authority to take a sheep once in four days, for the sustenance of all four. From Caracarum to the court of Baatu our journey continued four months and ten days, during all which time we never saw a town, or even the appearance of a single house, except one village, in which we did not even eat bread; nor in all that time did we ever rest, except one day, when we could not get horses. We returned, for the most part, by the same kind of people through whom we had passed in going, and yet through other countries, for we went in the winter, and returned in the summer, by the higher parts of the north, except that for fifteen days journey we had to travel along a certain river among the mountains, where there was no lodging, except by the river side[1]. Sometimes we had to go two, or even three days, with no other food than cosmos; and at one time we were in great danger, not being able to fall in with any people, our provisions all exhausted, and our horses quite tired.

[1] The reason of the change was, probably, that they might fall in with the travelling Tartar camps, who went northwards in the summer, that they might procure food and change of horses. In going to Mangu, he appears to have travelled through Soongaria, and, in returning, through the country of the Kalmaks. The river here mentioned may have been the Borotala.--E.

When we had travelled twenty days, I heard that the king of Armenia had passed by on his journey to the court of Mangu. In the end of August I met with Sartach, who went to Mangu, accompanied by his wives and children, and with flocks and herds; yet the bulk of the families over whom he ruled, remained between the Tanais and Etilia, or Volga. I sent my duty to him, saying that I would willingly have remained in his country, but that Mangu had ordered me to return and carry his letters. His answer was, that I must obey the will of Mangu-khan.

I then asked Coiac to return our clothes and books. "What," said he, "did you not bring them to Sartach?" I said that I had certainly brought them to Sartach, but had not given them, and put him in mind of what I had said on that former occasion. To this he answered "You say truth, and none can resist the truth. I left your goods with my father, who dwells in Saray, a new town, which Baatu has built on the eastern shore of the Volga, but our priests have some of your vestments." "If any thing please you," said I, "keep it, so that you restore my books." I requested letters from him to his father to restore my things; but he was in haste to be gone, and said that we should alight at the train of the ladies, which was near at hand, and he should send me Sartachs answer. Though I was fearful he might deceive me, yet I dared not to contend with him. Late in the evening his messenger came with two coats, seemingly all of silk, saying that Sartach had sent me these, one for myself, and that I might present the other to my king on his behalf. I answered, that I wore no such garments, but should present both to my king, in honour of his lord; and I now send both by the bearer of these letters. He delivered me also a letter for the father of Coiac, to restore all that belonged to me.

We returned to the court of Baatu on the same day on which I had departed thence the year before, being the second day after the invention of the Holy Cross, 16th September 1254; and I found our young men in health, though much afflicted with poverty. Gosset told me, they had perished for want, if the king of Armenia had not comforted them, and recommended them to Sartach, for the Tartars believed I was dead, and even asked them if they could keep oxen and milk mares; for if I had not returned, they had certainly been reduced to servitude. After this Baatu called me before him, and made the letters which Mangu-khan sends you to be interpreted to me. He likewise demanded what way I would go, whether by sea or land? I said the sea would be frozen, as whiter was approaching, and I must, therefore, go by land; and believing your majesty was still in Syria, I directed my journey to Persia, for if I had known you were in France, I would have gone through Hungary. We had to travel a month with Baatu before we could obtain a guide. At length they appointed a Jugur, who understanding I would give him nothing, and that I wished to go by Armenia, caused our letters to be made for conducting me to the soldan of Turkey, hoping he might there receive gifts. We left the moving court of Baatu fifteen days before All Saints, 16th October, and went direct southwards for Sarai, always keeping near the Volga, and there the Volga divides into three branches or arms, each almost twice as large as the branch of the Nile at Damieta. Besides these, it divides into four lesser arms, so that we had to pass seven branches of the river in boats: Upon the middle branch, is a village called Sumerkant[2], without any wall, but which was besieged by the Tartars for eight years before they could gain possession, and had formerly cost the Saracens and Alani nine years; for though not fortified, it is surrounded by water. We there found a German and his wife, with whom Gosset had lived all the preceding winter, by the order of Baatu. On the east side of this river Baatu always travels, and Sartach on the west, never going farther south than this place, as there is very good grass in great abundance. Coiacs father, on receiving the letters of Sartach, restored my vestments, except a surplice, an albs, an almic trimmed with fine silk, a stole, a girdle, and a tualia adorned with gold embroidery. He gave me back, likewise, my silver plate, except the censer, and a small box for holding chrism, all of which were with the priest who attended Sartach; and he returned my books, except our ladys psalter, which he kept with my leave, as I could not deny him, for he said Sartach took great delight in it. A bible also, and an Arabian book worth thirty sultanies, were retained, and many other things which I never recovered. Sarai, and the palace of Baatu are on the east side of the river, and the valley through which the arms of the river spread abroad, is more than seven leagues in breadth.

[2] Sarni, Saray, or Sarey, seems to have been built on the Achtuba, or eastern branch of the Volga, near Zarewpod, where many traces of a large town, still exist. Sumerkent is unknown, but may have been near Astrachan, formerly named Hadschi-Aidar-Khan. But there are ruins of a town still existing on both sides of the Volga, which are now used for the purpose of making saltpetre.--Forst.

After leaving Sarai, on the feast of All Saints, 1st November, we travelled south till the feast of St Martin, 11th November, when we came to the mountains of the Alani. In fifteen days travel we found no people, except at one little village, where one of the sons of Sartach resided, accompanied by many falconers, and falcons. For the first five days we did not meet a single man, and were a whole day and night in great danger of perishing for want of water. The Alani in some of the mountains, still hold out against the Tartars, so that two of every ten of the subjects of Sartach are obliged to guard certain passes in the mountains of Dagistan, lest the Alanians carry away the cattle in the plain. There are likewise certain Mahometans called Lesghis in these mountains who are not subjugated, so that the Tartars had to give us a guard of twenty men to see us safe beyond the Iron-gate. I was glad of this circumstance, as I had never seen the Tartars armed; and yet, of all those twenty, only two had habergions, which they said they had procured from the Alani, who are excellent smiths and armourers. In my opinion, the Tartars have small store of armour, except bows and arrows, and leather jackets; some have iron plates, and skull cups from Persia, and I saw two at the court of Mangu armed with clumsy and unwieldy coats of rough hog-skin. We found one castle of the Alanians, which had been subdued by the Tartars, about which there were many vineyards, and there we drank wine for the first time. On the following day we reached Derbent or the Iron-gate, built by Alexander the Macedonian, on a small plain between the sea and the mountains, one end of the city reaching to the shore, while the other extends a mile in length to the top of the mountain, on which is a strong castle. But the breadth of the city scarcely exceeds a stones throw. It has very strong walls, and turrets of large polished stones, with no trenches; but the Tartars have demolished the tops of the turrets, and the bulwarks of the walls.

Two days journey from Derbent we came to a city named Samaron[3], in which there were many Jews; near which we saw walls descending from the mountains to the sea; and leaving the way by the sea, because it turns to the east, we went up into the high countries, towards the south. Next day we passed through a valley, in which we could perceive the foundations of walls, stretching quite across between two mountains, which were themselves quite impassable. All these walls were erected of old by Alexander, for restraining the fierce nations of Scythian shepherds, inhabiting the wilderness, from invading the plains and cities of the southern countries of Persia and Asia Minor. There were also other walls and inclosures inhabited by Jews. Next day we came to a great city called Samach[4]; and after this we entered the great plain of Moan, through which runs the river Cur or Cyrus, from which the Curgi or Curdi have their name, whom we call Georgians, and which river passes through the middle of Tefflis, their capital. The Cur comes directly from the west, running east into the Caspian, and in it are excellent salmon[5]. In the plains of Moan or Mogan we again met with Tartars; and through this plain flows the Araxes, which comes from Armenia the Greater, called likewise the land of Ararat. To the west of that plain is Curgia[6], and in this plain the Crosmini, Krosmians or Korasmiens[7], formerly dwelt. Ganges or Kanja, a great city in the entrance of the mountains towards Georgia, was their capital, and prevented the Georgians from coming down to plunder the plain country. We next came to a bridge of boats fastened together with great iron chains, for crossing the united stream of the Kur and Araxes.

[3] Schabran, or Schabiran.--E.
[4] Shamaki, in Shirvan.--E.
[5] The Karai, on which Tefflis or Tiblis stands, runs from the north-west; the Demur, Araz or Araxes from the west; and both united form the Kur, which runs directly south into the Caspian.--E.
[6] Georgia or Gurgistan is to the north-west of the plain of Mogan.--E.
[7] These were the ancestors of the present Turks, who laid the foundation of the Osmanian or Othoman empire. Kanja, called Ganges or Ganghe in the text, was their capital.--Frost.

We proceeded thence, travelling up the river called pontem inidignatus Araxes, leaving Persia and the Caspian mountains on our left hand, towards the south, Curgia and the great sea on our right hand, towards the west[8]. Going all the way southwards[9], we passed through the meadows of Bacchu- khan, the general of the Tartar army on the Araxes, who has likewise subjugated the Curgi, the Turks, and the Persians. There is another Tartar governor of Persia at Tauris, named Argon, who presides over the tribute. But Mangu-khan has recalled both of these generals to make way for one of his brothers, as I formerly mentioned, who is to have the command in Persia. I was in the house of Bacchu, who gave me wine, while he drank cosmos; and, although it was the best new wine, I would rather have had cosmos, if he had offered it, being more restorative for such a half starved wretch as I then was. We ascended the Araxes to its head, and beyond the mountains, where it rises, is the good city of Arsorum [10], which belongs to the Soldan of Turkey [11]. When we departed from Bacchu, my guide went to Tauris to speak with Argon, and took my interpreter with him; but Bacchu caused me to be carried to Naxuam [12], formerly the capital of a great kingdom, and the greatest and fairest city in those parts, but the Tartars have now made it a wilderness. There were formerly eight hundred churches [13] of the Armenians here, which are now reduced to two very small ones, in one of which I held my Christmas as well as I could, with our clerk Gosset. Next day the priest of this church died, and a bishop with twelve monks came from the mountains to his funeral, for all the bishops of the Armenians are monks, and likewise most of those belonging to the Greeks [14].

[8] This passage is erroneous or corrupted. In travelling westwards up the Araxes or Araz, he had Persia on his left, to the south, Georgia on his right, to the north, and the Caspian sea and mountains of the Iron-gate were left behind him, to the east and north-east.--E.
[9] Westwards.--E.
[10] Arz-roum on the Frat or Euphrates, perhaps a corruption of Arx- romanorum; as the Turks give the name of Roum to a part of Lesser Asia; and all the eastern nations call the Constantinopolitan empire Roum to this day.--E.
[11] Turkey, in these travels of Rubruquis, is always, to be understood as referring to the Turkish dominion in Asia Minor, of which Konieh or Iconium was the capital.--E.
[12] Nak-sivan, or Nag-jowan.--E.
[13] This must be an error for eighty.--E.
[14] Rubruquis here tells a long story of an Armenian prophecy, from which they expected to be freed from the iron yoke of the Tartars, by St Louis, not worth inserting.--E.

In the city of Naxuam I met a Catalan friar, of the order of Predicants, named Barnard, who lives with a friar of the Holy Sepulchre, resident in Georgia, and possessing extensive lands there. We were detained in Naxuam by the snow, till the 6th January 1255, and came in four days to the country of Sabensa, a Curdish prince, heretofore powerful, but now tributary to the Tartars, who destroyed all his warlike stores. Zacharias, the father of Sabensa, possessed himself of all the country of the Armenians, from whence he drove out the Saracens. In this country there are many fine villages of true Christians, having churches like those of Europe; and every Armenian has in his house, in an honourable place, a wooden hand holding a cross, before which a lamp continually burns; and that which we do by holy water, they do with frankincense, which they burn every evening through every corner of the house, to drive away evil spirits. I eat with Sabensa, and both he and his wife did me great reverence. His son Zachary, a wise and comely young man, asked me if your majesty would, entertain him; for though he has plenty of all things, he is so uneasy under the Tartar dominion, that he would rather retire to a strange country, than endure their violent exactions. These people say they are true sons of the church, and if the Pope would send them aid, they would bring all the neighbouring nations under subjection to the church of Rome.

From Naxuam we travelled in fifteen days into the country of the soldan of Turkey, to a castle called Marseugen, inhabited by Armenians, Curgians, and Greeks, the Turks only having the dominion. From that place, where we arrived on the first Sunday of Lent, till I got to Cyprus, eight days before the feast of St John the Baptist, I was forced to buy all our provisions. He who was my guide procured horses for us, and took my money for the victuals, which he put into his own pocket; for when in the fields, he took a sheep from any flock he saw by the way, without leave or ceremony. In the Feast of the Purification, 2d February, I was in a city named Ayni, belonging to Sabensa, in a strong situation, having an hundred Armenian churches, and two mosques, and in it a Tartar officer resides.

At this place I met five preaching friars, four of whom came from Provence, and the fifth joined them in Syria. They had but one sickly boy who could speak Turkish and a little French, and they had the Popes letters of request to Sartach, Baatu, and Mangu-khan, that they might be suffered to continue in the country to preach the word of God. But when I had told them what I had seen, and how I was sent back, they directed their journey to Tefflis, where there were friars of their order, to consult what they should do. I said that they might pass into Tartary with these letters, but they might lay their account with much labour, and would have to give an account of the motives of their journey; for having no other object but preaching, they would be little cared for particularly as they had no ambassador. I never heard what they did afterwards.

On the second Sunday in Lent we came to the head of the Araxes, and passing the mountains, we came to the Euphrates, by which we descended eight days journey, going to the west, till we came to a castle named Camath or Kemac, where the Euphrates trends to the south, towards Halapia, or Aleppo. We here passed to the north-west side of the river, and went over very high mountains, and through deep snow, to the west. There was so great an earthquake that year in this country, that in one city called Arsingan, ten thousand persons are said to have perished. During three days journey we saw frequent gaps in the earth, which had been cleft by the convulsion, and great heaps of earth which had tumbled down from the mountains into the vallies. We passed through the valley where the soldan of the Turks was vanquished by the Tartars, and a servant belonging to my guide, who was in the Tartar army, said the Tartars did not exceed 10,000 men, whereas the soldan had 200,000 horse. In that plain there broke out a great lake at the time of the earthquake, and it came into my mind, that the earth opened her mouth to receive yet more blood of the Saracens.

We remained in Sebasta, Siwas, or Sivas, a town of the Lesser Armenia, in the Easter week, and on the succeeding Sunday we came to Caesaria of Capadocia, now called Kaisarea. In about fifteen days, making short journeys, we came to Konieh or Iconium. This delay arose in part from the difficulty of procuring horses, but chiefly because the guide chose to stop, often for three days together in one place, to negotiate his own affairs; and though much dissatisfied, I durst not complain, as he might have slain me and our servants, or sold us for slaves, and there was none to hinder it. I found many Franks at Iconium, and among these a merchant called Nicholas de Sancto Syrio, and his partner Boniface de Molandino, who had a monopoly of all the alum of Turkey from the soldan, and by this means they had raised the price so much, that what used to sell for fifteen byzants, is now sold for forty. My guide presented me to the soldan, who said he would willingly get me conveyed to the sea of Armenia or Cilicia; but the above merchants knowing that the Turks made little account of me, and that I was much distressed with my guide, caused me to be conveyed to Curruma[15], a port in the dominions of the king of Armenia. Having remained here from before the Ascension till after Pentecost, or near a fortnight, I heard there were messengers arrived from the king to his father, and I went to the kings father to learn the news. I found him surrounded by all his sons, except Barum Usin, who resided in a certain castle; and he told me that his son was on his return, and that Mangu-khan had much eased his tribute, granting him a privilege that no ambassador should come into his country. On this the old man and all his sons made a banquet; and he caused me to be conveyed by sea to the haven called Aijax[16], whence I passed over into Cyprus, and at Nicosia I found our provincial, who, the same day, carried me with him to Antiochia [17], which is in a very weak state; we were there on the feast of St Peter, and St Paul, 29th June; and from thence we went to Tripolis in Syria, where the chapter of our order was held, on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, 15th August 1255.

[15] Kurke or Kurch.--E.
[16] Aias-cala, in the gulf of Aiasso, or Scanderoon.--E.
[17] Antioch or Antakia.--E.

Our provincial is determined that I shall reside at Acon [18], and will not suffer me to come to your majesty, but commands me to write what I will by the bearer of these presents. I would willingly see your highness, and some spiritual friends in your kingdom; and beseech your majesty to write our provincial to allow me to go to you, and to return shortly again into the Holy Land.

[18] Ptolomais, or St John d'Acre.--E.

I would have your majesty to understand, that in Turkey, every tenth man is not a Mahometan; they are all Armenians and Greeks, and are ruled over by children. The soldan, who was conquered by the Tartars, had a lawful wife of Iberia, by whom he had one feeble son, whom he directed to succeed him as soldan. He had another son by a Greek concubine, whom he committed to the guardianship of a certain great admiral. The third he had by a Turkish woman, to whom many Turks and Turkomans having gathered, they proposed to have slain all the soldans sons by Christian mothers, and if successful, to have destroyed all the churches, and to compel all to become Mahometans on pain of death. But he was overcome in battle, and many of his men slain. He recruited his army, and ventured a second battle, in which he was defeated and taken prisoner, and still remains confined. Pacester, the son of the Greek concubine, was soon afterwards made soldan, as the other was weak, whom they have sent to the Tartars; the kindred by the mothers side, of this son, such as the Iberians and Curds, are much dissatisfied at his being deprived; so that at this time a child ruleth in Turkey, having no treasure, few soldiers, and many enemies. The son of Vestacius is weak, and at war with the son of Assan, who is likewise a child, and worn out with the servitude of the Tartars. If, therefore, an army of the church were now to come to the Holy Land, it were easy to subdue all these countries, or to pass through them. The king of Hungary hath not above 30,000 soldiers. From Cologne to Constantinople are not above sixty days journey by waggons; and from Constantinople not so many to the country of the king of Armenia. In old times, valiant men passed through all these countries and prospered; yet they had to contend with most valiant opponents, whom God hath now destroyed out of the earth. In this way we need fear no dangers of the sea, or the mercy of sailors, and the price of freight would defray the expences by land. I say confidently, if our countrymen would go as the king of the Tartars does, and would be contented with such victuals, they might conquer the whole world.

It does not seem to me expedient, that any more friars should be sent to the Tartars, in the way I went, or as the predicant friars go. But if our lord the Pope were to send a bishop in an honourable style, capable to answer their follies, he might speak unto them as he pleased; for they will hear whatever an ambassador chooses to speak, and always demand if he will say any more. But he ought to have many good interpreters, and ought to be at large expences.

I have thus written to your highness, according to my weak power and understanding, craving pardon from your clemency, for my superfluities or wants, or for any thing that may be indiscreetly or foolishly written, as from a man of little understanding, not accustomed to write long histories. The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, preserve your heart and fortify your mind.


Travels of Haitho, Prince of Armenia, in Tartary, in 1254. [1]

[1] Forst. Hist. of Voy. and Disc. in the North, p. 113.



Haitho, or Hatto, was the son of Livon, or Leon II., nephew of Haitho I., king of Armenia Minor, in Lesser Asia. At the demise of his father, he refused to accept of the crown, which he resigned in favour of his brother Thores or Theodore; but assisted him and his son and successor, Leon III., in all the wars and troubles in which they were engaged during many years. During the reign of his father in 1254, accompanied by his wife and child, he travelled to the court of Mangu-khan, the great sovereign of the Tartars or Mongals, for the purpose of obtaining an abatement of the tribute which had been imposed by these conquerors upon his country, and appears to have been successful in his negotiations. His journey into the east took place in the same year in which Rubruquis was on his return; and while at the court or leskar of Sartach, he was of material service to two of the attendants of Rubruquis, who had been left at that station; and who but for his interference must have perished by famine, or would have been reduced to slavery. Forster asserts that Haitho met with Rubruquis, who was then on his return home; but we have already seen, in the account of the travels of Rubruquis, that the two travellers did not meet.

In the year 1305, when he must have become very old, Haitho became a monk of the Praemonstratensian order at Episcopia in Cyprus. He afterwards went to Poitou in France, where he dictated in French to Nicholas Salconi, a history of the events which had occurred in the east from the first commencement of the conquests of the Tartars or Mongals, including the reigns of Zingis-khan and his successors, to Mangu-khan inclusively; and a particular narrative of the history of his own country, Armenia Minor, from the reign of Haitho I. to that of Leon II. both inclusive. This account Salconi translated into Latin in 1307, by order of the reigning Pope.

The travels of Haitho being perfectly contemporary with those of Rubruquis, are not sufficiently interesting to be here inserted; and the historical part of his relations have no connection with the plan of this work, which it would swell beyond due bounds: But the following brief account of his geographical description of the east, as it existed in the thirteenth century, and as abstracted by J. R. Forster, in his Voyages and Discoveries in the North, have been deemed worthy of insertion, together with the observations or commentaries of that ingenious author.


Geographical Notices of the East in the Thirteenth Century, by Haitho.

§ 1. The empire of Kathay is one of the most extensive, most opulent, and most populous in the world, and is entirely situated on the sea coast. The inhabitants have a very high notion of their own superior intelligence, which they express by saying, that they only of all the people on earth have two eyes; to the Latins they allow one, and consider all other nations as blind. The Kathayans have small eyes and no beards. Their money consists of small square pieces of paper, impressed with the seal of their emperor. To the west, this empire is bounded by that of the Tarsae; to the north by the desert of Belgian; and to the south by the sea, in which there are innumerable islands. The inhabitants of Kathay are exceedingly skilful and ingenious in all works of art and in manufactures, but are of a very timorous disposition. In the foregoing description, and in the traits of character, the empire and inhabitants of northern China are distinctly indicated.--Forst.

§ 2. The empire of Tarsa is divided into three provinces, each of which has a sovereign who assumes the title of King. The inhabitants are called Jogur, the Jugur or Uigur of other authors. They are divided into many tribes, ten of whom are Christians, and the rest heathens. They abstain from every article of food which has ever had life, and drink no wine, but raise abundance of corn. Their towns are very pleasant, and contain great numbers of idol temples. They are not inclined to war, but learn all arts and sciences with great facility, and have a particular manner of writing, which is adopted by all the neighbouring nations. To the east, this country is bounded by Kathay, to the west by Turkestan, to the north by an extensive desert, and to the south by a very rich province, named Sym or Peim, in which diamonds are found, and which, is situated between Kathay and India. It appears, that Haitho here describes the country of the Uigurs in conjunction with that of the Gete: but how it came to receive the name of Tarsae I know not--Forst.

§ 3. Turkestan is bounded on the east by the empire of Tarsae, to the west by Khorasmin or Khuaresm, and to the south it extends to the desert which forms the northern frontier of India. In this country there are few good towns; but many extensive plains, which afford excellent pasturage to cattle, and the inhabitants are almost universally shepherds and tenders of cattle. They dwell mostly in tents, and in huts which can be transported from place to place. They cultivate only a small quantity of corn, and have no wine. Their drink is beer and milk, and they subsist upon meat with rice and millet. The people are known by the name of Turks, and are of the Mahometan religion. Such of them as live in towns use the Arabian letters. Ocerra or Otrar is the capital of this country.

§ 4. Khorasmin or Khuaresm, is a populous, pleasant, and fertile country, containing many good and strong towns, the capital being Khorasme. The country produces abundance of corn, and very little wine. This empire borders on a desert of an hundred days journey in extent. To the west is the Caspian sea, to the north Kumania, and to the east Turkestan. The inhabitants are heathens, without letters or laws. The Soldini are the most intrepid of warriors; have a particular language of their own, for which they employ the Greek characters in writing; and they follow the usages and rites of the Greek church, being subject in spirituals to the Patriarch of Antioch.

According to Ulug-Beg, who was himself prince of this country, the capital of Khuaresm is the city of Korkang, and no author except Haitho has ever mentioned a place called Khorasme. The Soldini, whom he mentions as Christians of the Greek church, are unknown; perhaps they may have been the Sogdians.--Forst.

§ 5. Kumania is of vast extent; but, owing to the inclemency of its climate, is very thinly inhabited. In some parts, the cold is so intense in winter, that neither man nor beast can remain in them; and in other parts the heat is so extreme, and they are so infested with swarms of flies, as to be quite intolerable. The whole country is flat and level, and without woods, except some orchards near the towns. The inhabitants live in tents, and use the dung of their cattle as fuel. It is bounded on the east by a desert towards Khorasmia; to the west is the great sea, or Euxine, and the sea of Tenue, Tanna, or Azof; to the north, is the empire of Kaffia or Kiow; and to the south it extends to the great river Etile or Wolga, which passes the capital. This river is frozen over every year, and men and beasts walk upon the ice as on dry land; along the banks of the river are many small trees; and on the other side of the river, the country is inhabited by a people, who, though not Kumanians, are subject to the Khan. Some live towards the high mountains of Cocas or Caucasus, in which there are white kites. This range of mountains extends between the Black Sea or Euxine on the west, and the Caspian on the east; this latter has no connection with the ocean, but is a vast lake called a sea, on account of its extent, being the largest lake in the world, and contains a great quantity of excellent fish. It divides Asia into two parts; that to the east being called Lower Asia, and that to the west Greater Asia. In the Caspian mountains, abundance of buffalos and many other wild beasts are found. In this sea there are many islands, to which numerous birds resort to breed; particularly the falcons called Pegrim[1], Esmetliones[2], and Bousacei[3], and many other birds not to be found elsewhere. The largest town of Kumania is Sara or Saray, which was large and of great renown, but has been ravaged, and almost entirely destroyed by the Tartars, who took it by storm.

[1] Faucon Pelerin, the Pilgrim Falcon,--Forst.
[2] Esmerliones, or Merlins.--Forst.
[3] The Bondree and Sacre, or the Honey-buzzard and Sacre.--Forst.

It is obvious, that Haitho here describes that part of the empire of the Mongals which was subject to Baatu-khan. The Euxine or Black Sea, he calls the Great Sea. The sea of Tenue is that of Tanna or Azof, the town at the mouth of the Tanais or Don having been known by both of these names, the former evidently derived from the ancient name of the river, or the river from the town, and of which the modern name Don is a mere corruption. The empire of Kaffia is obviously that of Kiow, Kiovia, or Kiavia, long the capital of the Russian empire, and the residence of the czars or great dukes.--Forst.

§ 6. Beyond the great mountain of Belgian or Bilkhan, the Tartars lived formerly without religion, or the knowledge of letters, being chiefly employed in tending their flocks; and were so far from warlike, that they readily submitted to pay tribute to any neighbouring prince who made the demand. All the tribes of the Tartars were known by the name of Mogles, Moguls or Mongals; and in process of time they increased so much, as to form seven populous independent nations. The first was called Tartar, after a province of that name, which was their original habitation; the second Tangot, Tangut, or Tongusians; the third Kunat; the fourth Jalair or Thalair; the fifth Sonich; the sixth Monghi; and the seventh Tabeth. Prompted by a vision and a command from God, the chiefs of these nations chose Changi or Zinghis to be their sovereign ruler or Great Khan; and we are told that when he came down from the mountains of Belgian, the sea withdrew nine feet, and made a way for him where there was none before.

This seems to be the same history with that of Irganekon, which is also related by Abulgasi. The mountain Belgian must be looked for in the environs of lake Balehas, in the country of Organum or Irganekon. According to the Nighiaristan, a collection of oriental history, the Turkomanni likewise came from a place called Belgian or Bilkhan.--Forst.


Travels of Marco Polo, through Tartary, China, the Islands of India, and most of Asia, from A. D. 1260 to 1295 .[1]

[1] Harris, I, 593. Forst. Voy. and Disc. p. 117. Modern Geogr. II. xvi.

Nicolo Polo, the father of this intelligent early traveller, and Maffei Polo his uncle, were Venetian gentlemen engaged in commerce; and appear to have gone into the east, in the prosecution of their trade, in the year 1260. They resided far some time at the court of Kublai-khan, the great emperor of the Mongals or Tartars; and, returning to Venice in 1269, they found that the wife of Nicolo had died during their absence, leaving a son Marco, the author of the following travels, of whom she was pregnant at the time of their departure. These circumstances are detailed in the first section of this chapter, but the date which has been usually assigned for the commencement of this first journey, 1250, is evidently corrupted, as will appear from the following considerations, derived from a comparison of the chronology of the kings and princes, who are mentioned in the travels as reigning at the time. The high probability is, that the obvious mistake, of assuming the year 1250 as the era of the first journey, arose from a careless substitution of the figure 5 for 6 in transcription.

Assuming the corrected date of 1260 as the commencement of the first journey of Nicolo and Maffei Polo, this will appear to be consonant with the chronology of the princes with whose reigns their travels were connected; while the date of 1250, adopted by Ramusio and Muller, is totally irreconcilable with the truth of history. They remained one year at the leskar or camp of Bereke-khan, whence they travelled into Bochara, where they tarried three years. From thence they spent one year on their journey to the court of Kublai-khan, and were three years on their journey back to Venice. But as they remained some time at the residence of Kublai-khan, one year may be allowed for that circumstance; and this first journey may therefore be allowed to have occupied nine years in all.

Kublai-khan reigned supreme emperor of the Mongals from 1259 to 1294, in which last year he died at eighty years of age. If, therefore, Nicolo and Maffei had set out upon their first journey in 1250, they must have arrived at the imperial residence of Cambalu, or Pekin, in 1255, at the latest, or four years before Kublai-khan ascended the throne. Their first journey commenced while Baldwin II. was emperor of Constantinople, who reigned from 1234 to 1261. The khan of Kiptschak, or the western division of the vast empire of the Mongals, at the time of this journey, was Bereke, who ruled from 1256 to 1266. Holagu-khan, who was then at war with Bereke, did not begin to reign till 1258. Hence it follows, that they could not have commenced their first journey at the very earliest before 1258, or 1259 rather; as it is not to be supposed that Holagu would enter upon a dangerous war in the first year of his reign. Upon the whole, therefore, the date of 1260, for the commencement of the first journey, as already observed, is perfectly consistent with the chronology of history.

The year of their return to Venice, 1269, is agreed upon on all hands; and as Marco was born in the first year of their absence, he would then be about nine years of age. Ramusio, who dates the commencement of the first journey in 1250, supposes Marco to have been fifteen years of age at the return of his father and uncle, which is absurd; as, if the era assumed by Ramusio were possibly true, he must then have been in his nineteenth year.

According to the opinion of Mr J. R. Forster, the commencement of the second journey in which Marco was engaged, must have been in 1271; and he founds this opinion on the circumstance, that Gregory IX. had then been elected pope, from whom they carried letters for Kublai-khan. But it will appear from the travels themselves, that the three Polos had commenced their journey previously to the election of that sovereign pontiff, and that they were detained some time in Armenia, in consequence of an express sent after them for the purpose, that they might there wait for his final instructions. They may, therefore, have commenced this second journey in 1270. We only know, however, that they set out from Venice for a second journey into Tartary, soon after their return from the first, in 1269; and that they carried young Marco along with them. On his appearance at the court of Cambalu, Kublai-khan took a fancy to the young Venetian, and caused him to be instructed in four of the principal languages which were spoken in the extensive dominions of the Mongals. Marco was afterwards employed by the khan, for a considerable number of years, in several important affairs, as will appear in the relation of his travels.

At length, the three Polos returned to Venice, in 1295, after an absence of twenty-five or twenty-six years, during which long period they had never been heard of by their friends and countrymen, seventeen years of which Marco had been employed in the service of the great khan. On their return to their own house in Venice, they were entirely forgotten by their relations and former acquaintances, and had considerable difficulty to establish their identity, and to get themselves recognized by their family, and were obliged to use extraordinary means to recover the respect which was their due, and an acknowledgement of their name, family, and rank, the particulars of which will be found in the travels themselves.

About three years after the return of these adventurous travellers, hostilities arose between the republics of Genoa and Venice. The Genoese admiral, Lampa Doria, came to the island of Curzola with a fleet of seventy gallies, to oppose whom, the Venetians fitted out a great naval force under Andrea Dandolo, under whom Marco Polo had the command of a galley. The Venetians were totally defeated in a great naval engagement, with the loss of their admiral and eighty-five ships, and Marco Polo had the misfortune to be among the number of the prisoners.

Harris alleges that he remained a prisoner during several years, in spite of every offer of ransom that was made for his liberation. But in this he must have mistaken, or been misled by the authorities which he trusted to, as peace was concluded in 1299, the year immediately subsequent to the naval engagement in which he was made prisoner. While in prison at Genoa, many of the young nobility are said to have resorted to Marco, to listen to the recital of his wonderful travels and surprizing adventures; and they are said to have prevailed upon him to send to Venice for the notes which he had drawn up during his peregrinations, by means of which the following relation is said to have been written in Latin from has dictation. From the original Latin, the account of his travels was afterwards translated into Italian; and from this again, abridgements were afterwards made in Latin and diffused over Europe.

According to Baretti[2], the travels of Marco Polo were dictated by him in 1299, while in the prison of Genoa, to one Rustigielo, an inhabitant of Pisa, who was his fellow prisoner. They were afterwards published in Italian, and subsequently translated into Latin by Pessuri, a Dominican monk of Bologna. Copies of the original manuscript, though written in the Venetian dialect, which is extremely different from the Tuscan or pure Italian, were multiplied with great rapidity in all parts of Italy, and even made their way into France and Germany. From one or more of these, corrupted by the carelessness or ignorance of transcribers, some of whom may have abridged the work, or may even have interpolated it from other sources, a thing quite common before the invention of printing, the Latin translations may have been made and circulated over Europe. Ramusio, an early editor of voyages and travels, published these travels in an Italian translation from the Latin, which he erroneously supposed to have been the original dictation of Marco to Rustigielo; and many other editions have been published in the various languages of Europe, but all from one or other of these corrupted transcripts or translations.

[2] Ital Libr. p. iv.

A manuscript of the travels of Marco polo, in the Venetian dialect, was long preserved by the Soranza family at Venice, but whether this now exists, or has ever been published, is unknown. Mr Pinkerton informs us [3], that a genuine edition of these travels, probably from the original MS. either of Marco himself, after his return from Genoa, or from that of his amanuensis Rustigielo, was published at Trevigi in 1590, in the dialect of Venice, which has hitherto escaped the attention of all editors and commentators. This curious publication is often worded in the names of all the three travellers, father, uncle, and son; but when the peculiar travels of Marco are indicated, his name only is employed. In the former case, the language runs thus, "We, Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco, have heard, seen, and know, &c.:" In the latter, "I Marco was in that place, and saw, &c." In this Venetian edition, the names of places and persons are often widely different from those in the other editions, and probably more genuine and correct. But that publication being at present inaccessible, we are under the necessity of being contented with the edition of Harris, in which he professes to have carefully collated the edition of Ramusio with most of the other translations, and with an original MS. in the royal library of Prussia. This latter labour, however, he seems to have taken entirely upon trust from Muller, a German editor and translator, probably through the intermediation of Bergeron, an early French editor of voyages and travels. The only freedom which has been assumed in the present edition is, by dividing it into sections for more ready consultation and reference, and by the addition of explanatory notes from various sources.

[3] Mod. Geogr. II. xvi.

Marco Polo is the chief of all the early modern discoverers; having been the first who communicated to Europe any distinct ideas of the immense regions of Asia, from the Euxine eastwards, through the vast extent of Tartary to China and Japan; and the very first author who has made any mention of that distant insular sovereignty. Even Columbus is supposed, with some considerable probability, to have been prompted to his enterprize, which ended in the discovery of America, by the study of these travels; believing, that by a western course through the unexplored Atlantic, he should find a comparatively short passage to those eastern regions of the Indies, which Polo had visited, described, or indicated. In this view he was, however, so far misled in his estimation of the distance, by the erroneously spread-out longitudes of Ptolomy, bringing these regions much farther towards the east, and consequently nearer by the west, than their actual situation; and was stopped in his western course, by the important and unexpected discovery of many islands, and a vast interposed continent; which, from preconceived theory, he named the West Indies.

Such is the account of these travels which has been handed down to us from various sources, and which their importance and intrinsic merit have induced us to record at some length. Of these adventurous travellers, some notices yet remain, which may be worthy of being preserved. Signior Maffio Polo, the uncle of Marco, became a magistrate of Venice, and lived for some time in much respect among his countrymen. Nicolo Polo, the father of Marco, is said to have married during the captivity of his son at Genoa, and to have left three children by this second marriage. Marco himself married after his return to Venice from Genoa, and left two daughters, Moretta and Fantina, but had no male issue. He is said to have received among his countrymen the name of Marco Millioni, because he and his family had acquired a fortune of a million of ducats in the east. He died as he had lived, universally beloved and respected by all who knew him; for, with the advantages of birth and fortune, he was humble and beneficent and employed his great riches, and the interest he possessed in the state, only to do good.


Introductory General Account of the whole Travels, from the commencement of the first Journey of Nicolo and Maffei Polo, in 1260, to their final return along with Marco to Venice, in 1295.

(Illustration: MAP OF THE Eastern part of Tartary & ADJACENT COUNTRIES)

In the year 1260, when Baldwin was emperor of Continople, two brothers of an illustrious family at Venice, Nicolo and Maffei Polo, embarked in a vessel which was laden with a various assortment of merchandize on their own account; and, after traversing the Mediterranean and Bosphoros with a fair wind, they arrived in safety at Constantinople. Having remained for some time in the imperial city, they crossed the Great Sea to Soldadia[1], from thence they went to the court of a Tartar prince, named Barha[2], who lived in the towns of Bolgara and Alsara[3]. To this prince they shewed the fine jewels which they had brought for sale, and presented him with some of the most valuable. He was far from ungrateful for their presents, which he kindly accepted, and for which he made them returns of greater value. Having remained a whole year at his court, they were desirous of returning to Venice; but before they had any opportunity of departing, a war broke out between Barha and another Tartar prince named Arau[4]; the armies of these rivals came to a battle, in which Barha was defeated, and obliged to fly. By this unfortunate incident, the roads to the westwards became quite unsafe for the journey of the Polos, and they were advised to make a large circuit round the north and east frontiers of the dominions of Barha; and by which route they made their escape from the seat of war to Guthacam, a town on the Tygris[5]. A little farther on, they crossed the Gihon, one of the four rivers of Paradise, and travelled afterwards for seventeen days in the desert, in which they saw neither town, castle, nor village, and only a few Tartars dwelling in huts or tents. Leaving the desert, they came to a considerable city, named Bochara, on the frontiers of Persia, then the residence of a prince called Barach[6], who gave them a good reception; and being unable to proceed any farther, on account of the great wars which then raged among the Tartars, they remained there for three years.

[1] The Black-Sea, or Euxine, is here called the Great Sea. Soldadia, Soldaia, or Sudak, was a city in the Crimea, a little to the west of Caffa.--Forst.
[2] Barha or Barcha, more properly Bereke-khan, who reigned from 1256 to 1266.--E.
[3] Bolgara is the town of Bolgari, the capital of Bulgaria, which subsisted from 1161 to 1578. Alsara is Al-seray, which was built by Baatu-khan, on the Achtuba, a branch of the Volga.--Forst.
[4] Probably Holagu-khan, to whom all Persia was in subjection, quite to Syria.--Forst.
[5] Ukakah, Grikhata, Khorkang, or Urghenz on the Gihon.--Forst.
[6] Bereke-khan.--Forst.

At that time there came to Bochara a person of distinction, who was going as ambassador from Holagu to Kublai-khan, the great emperor of all the Tartars, who resided in the remotest countries of the earth, betwixt the north-east and the east. Meeting with the brothers, who had now become well versed in the Tartarian language, he was much taken with their conversation, and persuaded them to accompany him to the court of the great khan, knowing that he should gratify him in this circumstance, and promised them that they should be received with great honour, and gratified with large rewards. They were well aware that it was utterly impossible for them to return home at this period, without the most imminent danger, and agreed to this proposal, taking with them some Christian servants whom they had brought from Venice; and travelling toward the north-east, they employed a whole year on the journey, being often obliged to wait the melting of the snow, and the decreasing of the floods, which obstructed their passage.

At length they arrived at the residence of the great khan, and being brought into his presence, were most courteously received, and treated with great distinction. He interrogated them much concerning many things relative to the countries of the west; particularly respecting the Roman emperor[7], and the other kings and princes of Europe; the forms of their different governments, the nature, number and discipline of their military force; how peace, justice and concord were established and maintained among them; of the manners and customs of the different European nations; and concerning the pope, the discipline of the church, and the tenets of the Christian faith. To all this Nicolo and Maffei made proper and suitable replies, as prudent and wise men, declaring the truth, and speaking orderly in the Tartarian language; with which the emperor was well satisfied, as he acquired a knowledge of the affairs of the Europeans; insomuch that he often commanded them to be brought into his presence.

[7] This probably refers to the Constantinopolitan or Greek emperor; his dominions being called Roum in the east to the present day.--E.

After some time, Kublai-khan having consulted with his great lords, informed them, that he was desirous to send them as his ambassadors to the pope of the Romans, accompanied by one of his lords named Chogatal[8], requesting that he would send an hundred men, learned in the Christian religion, to his courts, that they might instruct his wise men, that the faith of the Christians was preferable to all other sects, being the only way of salvation; that the gods of the Tartars were devils, and that they and other people of the east were deceived in the worship of these gods. He likewise commanded them, on their return from Jerusalem, to bring him some of the oil from the lamp which burns before the sepulchre of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the emperor had great devotion, believing him to be the true God. Yielding due reverence to the great khan, they promised faithfully to execute the charge which he had committed to them, and to present to the pope the letters in the Tartarian language, which he gave them for that purpose. According to the custom of the empire, the great khan caused to be given them a golden tablet, engraven and signed with the mark or signet of the khan, in virtue of which, instead of a passport, the bearers were entitled to be everywhere conveyed in safety through dangerous places, by the governors of provinces and cities, throughout the whole empire, having their expences everywhere defrayed, and should be furnished with whatever was needful for them and their attendants in all places, and for as long as they might have occasion to stay.

[8] In different editions this name is corruptly written Gogoka, Gogatal, Cogatal, and Chogatal.--E.

Taking their leave of the great khan, they set out upon the journey into the west, carrying with them the letters to the pope, and the golden tablet. After travelling twenty days, the Tartar lord, who was associated in their embassy to the pope, fell grievously sick; on which, having consulted upon what was best to be done, they resolved to leave him, and to continue their journey, They were everywhere courteously received, through the authority of the imperial tablet; yet they were often compelled to wait, by the overflowing of the rivers, in the course of their journey, so that they spent three years before they reached the port in the country of the Armenians, called Giazza [9]. From thence they proceeded to Acre [10], where they arrived in the month of April 1269. On their arrival at Acre, they were informed of the death of Pope Clement IV., by Tibaldo Visconti of Placentia, the papal legate who then resided in that place. They related to him what had befallen them, and declared what commission they had received from the great khan to the pope, and he advised to wait the creation of a new pope, to whom they might deliver their letters. Upon this they took shipping for Venice, by the way of Negropont, intending to visit their friends and relations, and to remain there until a new pope should be elected. On their arrival, Nicolo found that his wife was dead, whom he had left pregnant at his departure; but that she had left a son, now nineteen [11] years of age, who is this very Marco, the author of this book, in which he will make manifest all those things which he has seen in his travels.

[9] Otherwise called Glaza and Galza, but more properly Al-Ajassa, on the south-east extremity of the Euxine or Black-sea.--Forst.
[10] Acon, or more properly Akko. It is not easy to conceive what should have taken them so much out of their way as Acre; unless they could not procure shipping at Giazza, and travelled therefore by land through Asia Minor and Syria; or that they intended here to procure the holy oil for the khan.--E.
[11] This is an error in transcription, and it has been already noticed in the introduction to these travels, that Marco could not then have exceeded the ninth year of his age.--E.

The election of the pope was deferred two years, and the Polos became afraid least the great khan might be displeased at their delay. They went therefore back to Acre, carrying Marco along with them; and having gone to Jerusalem for the holy oil requested by Kublai, they received letters from the legate, testifying their fidelity to the great khan, and that a pope was not yet chosen. They then set out on their journey, and went to Giazza, in Armenia. In the mean time letters came from the Cardinals to the legate Visconti, declaring that he was elected pope, and he assumed the name of Gregory. On this the new pope sent messengers to the Polos to call them back, or to delay their departure from Armenia until he might prepare other letters for them, to present to the khan in his name, and to inform them, that he meant to join two friars predicants in commission with them, Nicolo of Vicenza and Guelmo of Tripoli, men of learning and discretion. The Polos accordingly remained at Giazza, where these two monks arrived with letters and presents of great value for the khan, and furnished with ample powers and privileges, and authority to ordain priests and bishops, and to grant absolution in all cases, as fully as if the pope were present. But learning that the sultan of Babylon, Bentiochdas[12], was leading a great army to invade Armenia, and where he committed the most cruel ravages, the two friars became afraid of themselves, and delivered the letters and presents of the pope to Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco; and to avoid the fatigues of the ways and the dangers of war, they remained with the master of the temple, then at Giazza, and returned with him to Acre.

[12] Bibars el Bentochdari, sultan of Kahira or Cairo, in Egypt, often called Babylon.--Forst.

But the three Venetians proceeded boldly through many dangers and difficulties, and at length, after a journey of three years and a half, they arrived at the great city of Clemenisu[13]. In this lengthened journey they had often long stoppages, on account of the deep snow and extreme cold, and on occasion of floods and inundations. When the khan heard of their approach, though yet at a great distance, he sent messengers forty days journey to meet them, that they might be conducted with all honour, and to provide them with every accommodation during the remainder of their journey. On their arrival at the court, and being introduced into the presence, they prostrated themselves before the khan on their faces, according to the customary form of reverence; and being commanded to rise, were most graciously received. The khan then demanded an account of the many dangers through which they had passed by the way, and of their proceedings with the pope of the Romans. All this they distinctly related, and delivered to him the letters and presents from the pope, with which the khan was well pleased, and gave them great commendations for their care and fidelity. They presented to him also the oil which they had brought from the holy sepulchre of the Lord at Jerusalem, which he reverently received, and gave orders that it should be honourably preserved. The khan inquired who Marco was? On which Nicolo replied, "He is your majesty's servant, and my son." The khan graciously received him with a friendly countenance and had him taught to write among his honourable courtiers; whereupon he was much respected by all the court, and in a little time made himself familiar with the customs of the Tartars, and learned to read and write four different languages. After some time the great khan, to make experience of his capacity, sent Marco upon a mission or embassy, to a great city called Carachan or Zarazan, at such a distance as he could scarcely travel in six months. He executed the commission with which he had been entrusted with judgment and discretion, and perfectly to the satisfaction of the khan: And knowing that the khan would be delighted with an account of all the novelties in the places through which he had to pass, he diligently inquired into the manners and customs of the people, the conditions of the countries, and every thing worthy of being remarked, making a memorial of all he knew or saw, which he presented to the great khan for his information and amusement. By this means he got so much into the favour of the khan, that during the twenty-six years which he continued in his service, he was continually sent through all his realms and dependencies, chiefly on affairs of government, but sometimes on his own private matters, by the khan's orders; and this is the true reason that he should have seen and learnt so many particulars relating to the east, as he has declared in these his memoirs.

[13] Chambalu, or Khan-balu, or the city of the Khan, now Peking.--Forst.

After staying many years in the court of the great khan, and having become very rich in jewels of great value, and considering that if the khan, who was now grown very old, should happen to die, they should never be able to return home; the Venetians became exceedingly anxious to be permitted to return to their own country. Wherefore, one day that he found the khan in extraordinary good humour, Nicolo begged permission to return home with his family. At this the Khan was much displeased, and asked what could induce them to undertake so long and dangerous a journey; adding, that if they were in want of riches, he would gratify their utmost wishes, by bestowing upon them twice as much as they possessed; but out of pure affection, he refused to give them leave to depart.

It happened, however, not long after this, that a king of the Indies named Argon, sent three of his counsellors, named Ulatai, Apusca, and Coza, as ambassadors to Kublai-khan on the following occasion. Bolgana, the wife of Argon, was lately dead, and on her death-bed had requested of her husband that he should choose a wife from among her relations in Kathay. Kubla yielded to this request, and chose a fair young maiden of seventeen years of age, named Cogalin[14], who was of the family of the late queen Bolgana, and determined to send her to Argon. The ambassadors departed with their charge, and journeyed eight months the same way they had come to the court of Kublai; but found bloody wars raging among the Tartars, insomuch, that they were constrained to return and to acquaint the great khan with the impossibility of their proceeding home in that road. In the mean time, Marco had returned from the Indies, where he had been employed with certain ships in the service of the khan, to whom he had reported the singularities of the places which he had visited, and the facility of intercourse by sea between Kathay and the Indies. This came to the knowledge of the ambassadors, who conferred with the Venetians on the subject; and it was agreed, that the ambassadors and the young queen should go to the great khan, and beg permission to return by sea, and should request to have the three Europeans, who were skilful in sea affairs, to accompany and conduct them to the dominions of king Argon. The great khan was much dissatisfied with this proposal, yet, at the earnest entreaty of the ambassadors, he at length gave his consent; and calling Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco into his presence, after much demonstration of his favour and affection, he made them promise to return to him after they had spent some time in Christendom among their relations; and he caused a tablet of gold to be given them, on which his commands were engraven for their liberty, security, and free passage throughout all his dominions, and that all the expences of them and their attendants should be defrayed, providing them everywhere with guides and escorts, where necessary. He authorized them also to act as his ambassadors to the pope, and the kings of France and Spain, and all other Christian princes.

[14] Called likewise; Kogatin, Gogatin, and Gogongin, in the different transcripts of these travels.--E.

The khan ordered fourteen ships to be prepared for the voyage, each having four masts, and carrying nine sails. Four or five of these were so large as to have from 250 to 260 mariners in each, but the rest were smaller. In this fleet the queen and the ambassadors embarked, accompanied by Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco; having first taken leave of the great khan, who presented them, at parting, with many rubies and other precious stones, and a sum or money sufficient to defray all their expences for two years. Setting sail from Kathay or China, they arrived in three months at an island called Java, and sailing from thence they arrived in eighteen months in the dominions of king Argon. Six hundred of the mariners and others died during the voyage, and but one woman; and only Coza of the three ambassadors survived. On arriving at the dominions of Argon, he was found to be dead, and a person named Ghiacato or Akata, governed the kingdom for his son Casan; who was under age. On making the regent acquainted with their business, he desired them to carry the young queen to Casan, who was then on the confines of Persia, towards Arbor Secco[15] with an army of 60,000 men, guarding certain passes of the frontiers against the enterprises of their enemies; Having executed this order, Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco, returned to the residence of Chiacato, and staid there for nine months.

[15] From the circumstance of this kingdom of Argon being near Arbor Secco it would appear to have been one of the eight kingdoms of Persia mentioned in the sequel; and from the sea voyage, it probably was Mekran, which, reaches to the sea and the Indies,--E.

At the end of this period they took leave of Chiacato, who gave them four tablets of gold, each a cubit long and five fingers broad, and weighing three or four marks[16]. On these were engraven to the following purport: "In the power of the eternal God, the name of the great khan shall be honoured and praised for many years; and whosoever disobeyeth, shall he put to death, and all his goods confiscated." Besides this preamble, they farther commanded, that all due honour should be shown to the three ambassadors of the khan, and service performed to them in all the countries and districts subject to his authority, as to himself in person; that all necessary relays of horses and escorts, and their expences, and every thing needful should be supplied to them freely and gratuitously. All this was duly executed, so that sometimes they had 200 horse for their safeguard. During their journey, they were informed that the great emperor of the Tartars, Kublai-khan was dead, by which they considered themselves absolved from all obligations of the promise they had made to return to his court. They continued their journey to Trebisond, on the south side of the Euxine; whence they proceeded by the way of Constantinople and Negropont to Venice, where they arrived in safety, and with great riches, in the year 1295.

[16] These were most princely letters-patent; equal in weight to 400 guineas, perhaps equal in efficacious value to 4000 in our times.--E.

On their arrival at their own house, in the street of St Chrysostom in Venice, they found themselves entirely forgotten by all their old acquaintances and countrymen, and even their relations were unable to recognize them, owing to their long absence, now thirty-five years from setting, out on their first journey into the east; besides being much altered by age they had become altogether resembling Tartars in their speech, dress and manners, and were obliged to use some extraordinary expedients to satisfy their family and countrymen of their identity, and to recover the respect which was their due, by a public acknowledgment of their name, family, and rank. For this purpose, they invited all their relations arid connections to a magnificent entertainment, at which all the three travellers made their appearance in rich eastern habits of crimson satin. After the guests were seated, and before the Polos sat down, they put off their upper garments which they gave to the attendants, appearing still magnificently dressed in habits of crimson damask. These they threw off at the appearance of the last course or service of the entertainment, and bestowed likewise on the attendants; while they themselves still appeared clad in magnificent dresses of crimson velvet. When dinner was over, and all the servants had withdrawn, Marco Polo produced to the company the coats of Tartarian cloth or felt, which he, and his father and uncle had ordinarily worn during their travels, from the folds of which he took out an incredible quantity of rich jewels; among which were some that were well known to those who were present at the entertainment, and by which the three travellers incontestibly proved themselves members of the Polo family, and the identical persons they represented themselves.


Description of Armenia the Lesser, of the country of the Turks of Greater Armenia, Zorzania, the kingdom of Mosul, of the cities of Bagdat and Tauris, and account of a strange Miracle[1].

[1] Marco Polo having spent much the largest portion of his life among the Tartars, necessarily used their names for the countries, places, and people which he described, and these names have been subsequently much disfigured in transcription. This has occasioned great perplexity to commentators in endeavouring to explain his geography conformably with modern maps, and which even is often impossible to be done with any tolerable certainty. The arrangement, likewise, of his descriptions is altogether arbitrary, so that the sequence does not serve to remove the difficulty; and the sections appear to have been drawn up in a desultory manner just as they occurred to his recollection, or as circumstances in the conversation or inquiry of others occasioned him to commit his knowledge to paper.--E.

There are two Armenias, the Greater and the Lesser. In the Lesser Armenia the king resides in a city called Sebaste; and in all this country justice and good government are strictly enforced. This kingdom has many cities, fortresses, and castles; the soil is fertile, and the country abounds with game and wildfowl, and every necessary article of provisions, but the air is not very good. Formerly the Armenian gentlemen were brave men and good soldiers, but are now become effeminate, and addicted to drinking and debauchery. The city of Giazza, on the Black Sea, has an excellent harbour, to which merchants resort from divers countries, even from Venice and Genoa, for several sorts of merchandize, especially for the different kinds of spices, and various other valuable goods, which are brought here from India, as this place is the settled market for the commodities of the east.

Turcomania is inhabited by three different nations, Turcomans, Greeks, and Armenians. The Turcomans, who are Mahometans, are a rude, illiterate, and savage people, inhabiting the mountains and inaccessible places, where they can procure pasture, as they subsist only on the produce of their flocks and herds. In their country there are excellent horses, called Turkish horses, and their mules are in great estimation. The Greeks and Armenians possess the cities and towns, and employ themselves in manufactures and merchandize, making, especially, the best carpets in the world. Their chief cities are Cogno or Iconium, Caesarea, and Sebaste, where St Basil suffered martyrdom. This country is under subjection to one of the khans of the Tartars.

The Greater Armenia is a large province, subject to the Tartars, which has many cities and towns, the principal of which is Arsugia, in which the best buckram in the world is made. In this neighbourhood there are excellent hot springs, which are celebrated as salutary baths in many diseases. The cities next in consequence are Argiron and Darziz. In the summer season many Tartars resort to this country on account of the richness of the pastures, and retire again in winter, because of the abundance of snow. The ark of Noah rested on Arrarat, one of the mountains of Armenia.

This country has the province of Mosul and Meridin on the east, or Diarbekir; and on the north is Zorzania[2], where there is a fountain that discharges a liquid resembling oil; which, though it cannot be used as a seasoning for meat, is yet useful for burning in lamps, and for many other purposes; and it is found in sufficient quantities to load camels, and to form a material object of commerce. In Zorzania is a prince named David Melic or King David; one part of the province being subject to him, while the other part pays tribute to a Tartar khan. The woods are mostly of box-trees. Zorzania extends between the Euxine and Caspian seas; which latter is likewise called the sea of Baccu, and is 2800 miles in circumference: but is like a lake, as it has no communication with any other sea. In it there are many islands, cities, and castles, some of which are inhabited by the people who fled from the Tartars out of Persia.

[2] Gurgistan, usually called Georgia.--E.

The people of Zorzania are Christians, observing the same rites with others, and wear their hair short like the western clergy. There are many cities, and the country abounds in silk, of which they make many fine manufactures. Moxul or Mosul, is a province containing many sorts of people; some are called Arahi, who are Mahometans; others are Christians of various sects, as Nestorians, Jacobites, and Armenians; and they have a patriarch stiled Jacolet, who ordains archbishops, bishops, and abbots, whom he sends all over India, and to Cairo, and Bagdat, and wherever there are Christians, in the same manner as is done by the pope of Rome. All the stuffs of gold and silk, called musleims, are wrought in Moxul[3]. In the mountains of this country of Diarbekir, dwelt the people called Curds, some off whom are Nestorians or Jacobites, and other Mahometans. They are a lawless people, who rob the merchants that travel through their country. Near to them is another province called Mus, Meridin, or Mardin, higher up the Tigris than Mosul, wherein grows great quantities of cotton, of which they make buckrams[4] and other manufactures. This province is likewise subject to the Tartars. Baldach, or Bagdat, is a great city in which the supreme caliph formerly resided, who was pope of all the Saracens. From this city it is counted seventeen days journey to the sea; but the river Tigris runs past, on which people sail to Balsora, where the best dates in the world grow, but in the passage between these; two cities there lies another named Chisi. In Bagdat are many manufactures of gold and silk, and damasks and velvets with figures of various creatures; in that city there is a university, where the law of Mahoment, physic, astronomy, and geomancy are taught; and from it come all the pearls in Christendom.

[3] This manufacture from Mosul or Moxul, on the Tigris, must be carefully distinguished from the muslins of India, which need not be described.--E.
[4] These buckrams seem to have been some coarse species of cotton cloth, in ordinary wear among the eastern nations. The word occurs frequently, in these early travels in Tartary, but its proper meaning is unknown--E.

When the Tartars began to extend their conquests, there were four brothers who possessed the chief rule; of whom Mangu, the eldest, reigned in Sedia[5]. These brethren proposed to themselves to subdue the whole world, for which purpose one went to the east, another to the north, a third to the west, and Ulau or Houlagu went to the south in 1250, with an army of an hundred thousand horse, besides foot. Employing stratagem, he hid a great part of his force in ambush, and advancing with an inconsiderable number, enticed the caliph to follow him by a pretended flight; by this means he took the caliph prisoner, and made himself master of the city, in which he found such infinite store of treasure, that he was quite amazed. Sending for the caliph into his presence, he sharply reproved him, that, possessing such riches, he had not employed them in providing soldiers to defend his dominions; and commanded him to be shut up in the tower where his treasure was placed, without any sustenance.

[5] This word is inexplicable, unless by supposing it some corruption of Syra Horda, the golden court or imperial residence, which was usually in Tangut or Mongalia, on the Orchen or Onguin. But in the days of Marco, the khans had betaken themselves to the luxurious ease of fixed residences and he might have misunderstood the information he received of the residence of Mangu.--E.

This seemed a just judgment from our Lord Jesus Christ upon the caliph; for, in the year 1225, seeking to convert the Christians to the Mahometan superstition, and taking advantage of that passage in the gospel which says, "He that hath faith as a grain of mustard seed, shall be able to remove mountains," he summoned all the Christians, Nestorians, and Jacobites, and gave them their choice, "In ten days to remove a certain mountain, to turn Mahometans or to be slain;" alleging that there was not one among them who had the least grain of faith. The astonished and dismayed Christians continued ten days in prayer; when, by a revelation to a certain bishop, a certain shoemaker was chosen to perform this compulsatory miracle. This shoemaker was once tempted to lust in fitting a shoe to a young woman, and had literally and zealously performed the injunction of the gospel by putting out his right eye. On the day appointed by the caliph, he and all the Christians of the city followed the cross towards the mountain; then, lifting up his hands, he prayed to God to have mercy on his afflicted people, and, in a loud voice, commanded the mountain, in the name of the holy and ever blessed Trinity to remove: which it presently did, to the great astonishment and terror of the caliph and all his people, The anniversary of this day, and the evening before, is ever since kept holy by fasting and prayer[6].

[6] Marco Polo is no more answerable for the truth of this ridiculous legend of the 13th century, than the archbishop of Paris of the 19th is for many, equally absurd, that are narrated in the French national Catechism. Both were good catholics, and rehearsed what they had heard, and what neither of them pretended to have seen.--E.


Of the Country of Persia, the Cities of Jasdi, Cermam and Camandu, and the Province of Reobarle.

Tauris is a great city in the province of Hircania[1], and is a very populous place. The inhabitants live by the exercise of manufacture and trade, fabricating, especially, stuffs of silk and gold. The foreign merchants who reside there make very great gains, but the inhabitants are generally poor. They are a mixed people, of Nestorians, Armenians, Jacobites, Georgians, Persians, and Mahometans. These last are perfidious and treacherous people, who think all well got which they can filch or steal from those of other religions; and this wickedness of the Saracens has induced many of the Tartars to join their religion; and if a Saracen be killed by a Christian, even while engaged in the act of robbery, he is esteemed to have died a martyr. It is twelve days journey from Tauris to Persia[2]. In the confines stands the monastery of St Barasam, of which the monks resemble Carmelites: they make girdles, which they lay on the altars and give to their friends, who esteem them as holy. Persia is divided into eight kingdoms, viz. Casbin, Curdistan[3], Laristan, Susistan or Chorassan, Spahan, Ispahan or Fars, Shiras[4], Soncara[5], and lastly Timochaim, which is near Arboreseco, towards the north[6]. Persia breeds excellent horses, which are sold to the Indies; also very good asses, which are sold for a higher price than the horses, because they eat little, carry much, and travel far. They have camels also, which, though not swift, are necessary in these countries, which, sometimes for a long way, yield no grass or water.

[1] Now Tebriz in Corcan.--E.
[2] This must refer to Fars, or Persia proper; as Tebriz is in Persia.--E.
[3] Perhaps Iracagemi?--E.
[4] Perhaps Kerman?--E.
[5] Inexplicably corrupt.--E.
[6] Timochaim and Arboresecco are inexplicable, perhaps from corrupt transcription. But Timochaim appears to nave been Mekran on the coast of the Indian sea, and perhaps reached to the Indus, as observed in a former note; and it may have included Sigistan.--E.

The people in these countries are very wicked and covetous, thieves and murderers, killing the merchants unless they travel in caravans, yet they profess to follow the law of Mahomet. In the cities there are excellent artificers in gold, silk, and embroidery; and the country abounds with silk-worms, wheat, barley, millet, and other kinds of grain, with plenty of fruits and wine; and though wine is forbidden by the Mahometan law, they have a gloss to correct or corrupt the text, saying, that when boiled, it changes its taste and name, and may be then drank.

Jasdi is a great city on the confines of Persia, which carries on a great trade, and has many manufactures of silk. Chiaman[7] is a kingdom on the frontiers of Persia to the east, which is subject to the Tartars. In the veins of the mountains, the stones commonly called turquoises are found, and other valuable jewels. They here make all sorts of warlike weapons; and the women work admirably with the needle in silken embroidery, on which they pourtray the figures of various animals in a most beautiful manner. They have the best falcons in the world, which are red breasted, of very swift flight and more easily trained than those of other countries. Proceeding from Chiaman or Crerina, for eight days journey through a great plain, in which are many towns and castles, and many habitations, with abundance of game, you come to a great descent, in which there are abundance of fruit trees, but no habitations, except those of a few shepherds, though, in ancient times, it was well inhabited. From the city of Crerina to this descent, the cold, in winter, is quite insupportable. After descending for two days journey, you come to a wide plain, at the beginning of which is a city called Adgamad or Camandu, which, in ancient times, was large and populous, but is now destroyed by the Tartars. This plain is very warm, and the province is called Reobarle[8], in which grow pomegranates, quinces, peaches, dates, apples of paradise, pistachios, and other fruits. The oxen are large, white, and thin haired, with thick short blunt horns, and having a hunch like a camel between the shoulders about two spans round. They are accustomed to bear great burthens, and when they are to be loaded, they are taught to bow their knees like camels, and rise again when loaded. The sheep of this country are as large as small asses, having such long and broad tails, that some of these weigh thirty pounds, and this part is most delicate and extremely rich food. In this plain there are many cities and towns, having high and thick ramparts of earth to defend them against the Caraons, who are a mixed race between Tartar fathers and Indian mothers, ten thousand of whom are commanded by one Nugodar, the nephew of Zagathai, who once ruled in Turkestan. This Nugodar having heard of the weakness of the Malabars subject to soldan Asiden, went, without his uncles knowledge, and took Dely and other cities, in which he erected a new sovereignty[9]; and his Tartar soldiers, by mixing with the women, of the country, produced this spurious breed called Caraons, who go up and down, committing depredations in Reobarle, and other neighbouring districts.

[7] Jasdi is almost certainly Yezd in Fars. Pinkerton considers Chiaman to be Crerina, which is impossible, as that place is afterwards named: Perhaps it may be the province named Timochaim, mentioned in the immediately preceding note.--E.
[8] As the route may be considered as nearly in a straight line south from Yesd, Crerina may possibly be the city of Kerrnan, and the cold elevated plain, a table land between the top of the Ajuduk mountains and a nameless range to the south, towards Gambroon or Ormus. Adgamad being destroyed, cannot now be ascertained, but it must have stood on the fine plain above described, and at the bottom of these southern mountains. Reobarle is not to be found In our maps, but must have been a name for the province of Ormus.--E.
[9] There is a series of corruptions or absurdities here: a Malabar government under a Sultan Asiden, or Asi-o-din, situated at Dely, conquered by a secret expedition from Turkestan, requires a more correct edition of the original of Marco Polo to render intelligible. We can suppose a tribe of Indians or Blacks not far from Gombroon, to have been under the rule of a mussel man Sultan, and conquered or subverted by a Tartar expedition from Touran, or the north of Persia: But this remains a mere hypothetical explanation.--E.

When these people wish to commit robberies, by means of incantations addressed to the demons, they have the means of obscuring the air as if it were midnight darkness, that they may not be seen from any distance. This obscurity, when once raised, lasts for seven days; and they are perfectly acquainted with all the passes of the mountains, in which they march one after another in single file, so that no one can possibly escape them, but all who fall in their way, must encounter death or captivity, the old being slain, and the young sold for slaves. I Marco, who write this book, was once very near falling into their hands, and in the utmost danger, of being either killed or taken prisoner by them in midst of this darkness, if I had not been so fortunate as to make my escape in to a castle, called Ganosulmi, while many of my companions in the journey were either taken or slain[10].

[10] For this paragraph, the editor is indebted to Mr Pinkerton, Mod. Geog. II. xxii. who has had the good fortune to procure what he thinks an original edition from the MS. of Marco Polo.--E.

After travelling in this plain for five days, towards the south, the road again begins, by little and little, to descend for twenty miles together, the road itself being very bad, and not without danger from thieves. At the bottom of this declivity there is another plain of great beauty and fertility, which extend for two days journey in breadth. This fine country, which is called Cormos or Ormus[11], abounds in streams of water, and plantations of date palms, and there are abundance of birds of various kinds, particularly of popinjays, which are not like those of Europe.

[11] By some singular negligence in translating, Mr Pinkerton, in the passage quoted in the preceding note, has ridiculously called this country the plain of Formosa, mistaking the mere epithet, descriptive of its beauty in the Italian language, for its name. The district was obviously a distinct small kingdom, named Ormus from its capital city; which, from its insular situation, and great trade with India, long maintained a splendid independence.--E.
[12] The two Mahometan travellers of the ninth century, give precisely the same account of the ships of Siraf, in the same gulf of Persia.--E.

After two days journey across this plain country, we arrive at the sea, in which is the island and city of Ormus, which is the capital of the kingdom, and a great emporium of commerce, to which many merchants resort, bringing spices, pearls, precious stones, cloth of gold and silver, and all the other rich commodities of India, The king is called Ruchinad Ben Achomach, having many cities and castles under his authority, and he makes himself the heir of all merchants who happen to die in that placed; yet he is himself tributary to the king of Chermain or Kerman. In summer the heat of this country is quite outrageous, and the inhabitants betake themselves to their summer houses, which are built in the waters. From nine o'clock in the morning till noon, there blows a wind, with such extreme heat, from the sands, that it is quite stifling and insufferable, and during this time the people sit in the water. The king of Kerman once sent an array of 5000 foot and 1600 horse against the king of Ormus, to compel the payment of tribute, when the whole army was stifled by that wind. The inhabitants of Ormus eat no flesh, or bread made of corn; but live upon dates, salt fish, and onions. The ships of this country are not very stout, as they do not fasten them with iron nails, because the timber is too brittle, and would split in driving these home; but they are fastened with wooden pins, and sewed with twine made from the husks of certain Indian nuts, prepared in a peculiar manner; this twine or thread is very strong, and is able to endure the force and violence of the waters, and is not easily corrupted[12]. These ships have only one mast, one beam or yard, and one deck, and are not payed with pitch, but with the oil and fat of fishes; and when they cross the sea to India, carrying horses or other cargoes, they lose many ships, because they are not strengthened with iron. The people of this country are black, and have embraced the religion of Mahomet. It is the custom of this country, when the master of a family dies, that the widow shall mourn for him publickly once every day, for four years; but there are women who profess the practice of mourning, and are hired to mourn daily for the dead.

[11] By some singular negligence in translating, Mr Pinkerton, in the passage quoted in the preceding note, has ridiculously called this country the plain of Formosa, mistaking the mere epithet, descriptive of its beauty in the Italian language, for its name. The district was obviously a distinct small kingdom, named Ormus from its capital city; which, from its insular situation, and great trade with India, long maintained a splendid independence.--E.
[12] The two Mahometan travellers of the ninth century, give precisely the same account of the ships of Siraf, in the same gulf of Persia.--E.

In returning from Ormus to Kerman, you pass through a fertile plain, but the bread made there cannot be eaten, except by those who are accustomed to it, it is so exceedingly bitter, on account of the water with which it is made. In this country there are excellent hot baths, which cure many diseases.


Account of several other Countries, and their Principal Curiosities.

From Kerman[1], in three days riding, you come to a desert which extends to Cobin-ham[2], seven days journey across, the desert. In the first three days you have no water, except a few salt, bitter ponds, of a green colour, like the juice of herbs; and whoever drinks even a small quantity of this water, cannot escape a dysentery, and even beasts that are compelled to drink of it, do not escape without a scouring. It is therefore necessary for travellers to carry water along with them, that they may avoid the inconvenience and danger of thirst. In the fourth day you find a subterranean river of fresh water[3]. The three last days of this desert are like the first three. Cobin-ham is a great city, where great mirrors of steel are made[4]. Tutia also, which is a cure for sore eyes, and spodio are made here in the following manner: From the mines of this country they dig a certain earth, which is thrown into furnaces, from which the vapours, forced downwards, through an iron grate, condense below into tutia of tutty[5], and the grosser matter remaining in the furnace is called spodio.

[1] Marco here probably means the town or city of Kerm-shir, as that lies in the course of his present route from Ormus to the north-east of Persia.--E.
[2] This name is inexplicable; yet from the circumstance of its mines, and the direction of the journey, it may have been situated near the Gebelabad mountains; and some German editor may have changed abad, into the precisely similar significant termination ham. The original probably had Cobin-abad.--E.
[3] In confirmation of the idea entertained of the present route of Marco, from Ormus by Kerm-shir, to the north-east of Persia, there is, in the maps, a short river in the desert between Diden and Mastih, which has no outlet, but loses itself in the sands, on which account he may have called it subterraneous, as sinking into the earth.--E.
[4] More probably of copper, whitened by some admixture of zinc, and other metals, of the existence of which in this district there are sufficient indications in the sequel. These mirrors may have been similar to telescope metal.--E.
[5] What is here called Tutty, is probably the sublimed floculent white oxid, or flowers of zinc.--E.

Leaving Cobin-ham, you meet with another desert of eight days journey in extent, and terribly barren, having neither trees or water, except what is extremely bitter, insomuch, that beasts refuse to drink of it, except when mixed with meal, and travellers are therefore obliged to carry water along with them. After passing this desert, you come to the kingdom of Timochaim[6], in the north confines of Persia, in which there are many cities and strong castles. In this country there is an extensive plain, in which one great tree grows, which is called the Tree of the Sun, and by Christians Arbore-secco[7], or the dry tree. This tree is very thick, the leaves being green on one side, and white on the other, and it produces prickly and husky shells, like those of chesnuts, but nothing in them. The wood is strong and solid, and of a yellow colour like box. There are no other trees within an hundred miles, except on one side, where there are trees at the distance of ten miles. In this place, the inhabitants say that Alexander fought a battle against Darius[8]. The cities of this place are plentifully furnished with good things; the air is temperate, and the people handsome, especially the women, who are in my opinion the handsomest in the world.

[6] Timochaim seems obviously Segistan, to which Mechran appears to have been then joined, from the circumstance before related of the Polos having gone from China by sea to this kingdom. The strange application of Timochaim is probably corrupt, and may perhaps be explicable on the republication of the Trevigi edition of these travels; till then, we must rest satisfied with probable conjecture.--E.
[7] The native name of this tree, and of the plain in which it grew, appears obviously to have been translated by Marco into Italian.--E.
[8] It is possible that this Arbore-secco may have some reference to Arbela.--E.


History of the Assassins, and the manner in which their Prince was killed: With the description of several other Countries.

Mulchet[1], in the Saracen language, signifies the place of Heretics, and the people of the place are called Hulehetici, or heretics in regard to the Mahometan law. The prince of this country is called the old man of the mountain, concerning whom I Marco heard much from many persons during my travels. His name was Aloadin, and he was a Mahometan. In a lovely valley between two high and inaccessible mountains, he caused a pleasant garden to be laid out, furnished with the best trees and fruits that could be procured, and adorned with many palaces and banqueting houses, beautified with gilded bowers, pictures, and silken tapestries. Through this place, by means of pipes, wine, milk, honey, and water were distributed in profusion; and it was provided with beautiful damsels, skilled in music, singing and dancing, and in all imaginable sports and diversions. These damsels were dressed in silk and gold, and were seen continually sporting in the garden and its palaces. He made this garden with all its palaces and pleasures, in imitation of that sensual paradise, which Mahomet had promised to his followers. No man could enter into this garden, as the mouth of the valley was closed up by a strong castle, from which there was a secret entrance into the garden, which was called the Terrestrial Paradise.

[1] Called likewise Mulete or Alamut; Marco makes here a sudden return to the north-west of Persia; and from the abruptness of the transition, it has been probably disarranged in transcription. This country has been likewise called the land of the Assassins; it is near Cashbin in Dilem, on the borders of Mazenderan.--E.

Aloadin had certain youths from twelve to twenty years of age, chosen among such as seemed of a bold and dauntless character, who were initiated in all the pleasures and delights of this paradise, and whom he employed to entice others to join the select company of young enthusiasts, by representing the joys and pleasures of the paradise of Aloadin. When he thought proper, he caused ten or twelve of these youths to be cast into a deep sleep, by means of a potion, and then had them conveyed severally into different chambers of the garden palaces; where they were attended upon at their awaking by the beautiful damsels, and supplied with all kind of delicious meats and fruits and excellent wines, and in whose company they enjoyed all manner of luxurious delights, so that they imagined that they were actually transported into paradise. When they had revelled in delights for a few days, they were again cast into a deep sleep, and removed from the garden of pleasure; and being brought into the presence of Aloadin, were questioned by him where they had been. The old man then represented that it was the command of the prophet, that whoever was faithful and obedient to his lord, should enjoy the delights of paradise; and that if they would faithfully obey all his commands, they should be admitted to reside continually among the joys of which they had been permitted to participate for a short time. Having thus roused their passions for pleasure, they thought themselves happy to execute whatever commands they might receive, even at the utmost hazard of their lives, being assured, whether living or dead, that their obedience would secure them the eternal enjoyment of paradise and all its delights. By these means Aloadin used to procure the murder of other lords who were his enemies, by these his assassins, who despised all dangers, and contemned their lives when employed in his service. By this procedure he was esteemed a tyrant, and greatly dreaded by all around; and he had two vicars or deputies, one in the neighbourhood of Damascus, and another in Curdistan, who had similarly instructed young men under their orders. Besides this, he used to rob all passengers who went past his borders. At length, in the year 1262, Ulau, or Houlagu-khan, sent an armed force against him, which besieged his castle for three years, and at length made themselves masters of it, partly by famine, and partly by undermining the walls[2].

[2] The last of these princes was named Moadin, who, as mentioned in the text, was made prisoner, and put to death by Houlagu-khan. In the sequel of this work, there will be found other and more full accounts of this old man of the mountain, or prince of the assassins. --E.

Departing from thence[3], you come to a pleasant enough country, diversified by hills and plains with excellent pasture, and abundance of fruits, the soil being very fertile[4]. This continues for six days journey, and then you enter a desert of forty or fifty miles without water; after which you come to the city of Sassurgan[5], where there are plenty of provisions, and particularly the best melons in the world, which are as sweet as honey. Passing from thence, we come to a certain city named Batach, Balach, or Balk, which was formerly large and famous, having sumptuous marble palaces, but is now overthrown by the Tartars. In this city it is reported that Alexander married the daughter of Darius. The eastern and north-eastern frontiers of Persia reach to this city; but in proceeding between the east and north-east from this place, We found no habitations for two days journey, the inhabitants having endured so many grievances from thieves, that they were compelled to fly to the mountains for safety. There are many rivers in this country, and much game, and lions are also to be met with. As travellers can find no food in this part of their journey, they must carry enough with them for two days. At the end of two days journey, we came to a castle called Thaican, Thalkan, or Thakan, where we saw pleasant fields and abundance of corn. The mountains to the south of this place are high, some of which contain white salt, so extremely hard that it has to be dug out and broken with iron tools; and the inhabitants, from thirty days journey all around, come here to procure salt, which is of most excellent quality, and is in such amazing quantities, that the whole world might be supplied from these mines. The other mountains produce abundance of almonds and pistachio nuts.

[3] The transition seems here again abrupt, and unconnected; at least the intermediate country of Mazerderan and Chorassan to the desert, probably of Margiana, is very slightly passed over.--E.
[4] In this section, Marco seems to trace his journey along with his father and uncle from Giazza towards Tartary; but the regular connection appears to have been thrown into confusion, by ignorant transcribers and editors.--E.
[5] Probably Satugar of the modern maps, on the western border of Balk.--E.

Going between the east and north-east from hence, the country is fruitful, but the inhabitants are perfidious Mahometans, murderers, thieves, and drunkards. Their wine is boiled, and truly excellent. They go bareheaded, except that the men bind a string or fillet, ten handbreadths long, about their heads. They make breeches and shoes of the skins of wild beasts, and use no other garments. After three days journey is the town of Scasom[6], seated in a plain, through the middle of which there flows a great river; and there are many castles in the surrounding mountains[7]. There are many porcupines in this country, which are hunted by dogs; and these animals, contracting themselves with great fury, cast their sharp quills at the men and dogs, and often wound them. The nation has a peculiar language, and the shepherds dwell in caves in the mountains. We went three days journey from thence, without meeting any inhabitants, to the province of Balaxiam, Balascia or Balasagan, which is inhabited by Mahometans, who have a peculiar language. Their kings, who succeed each other hereditarily, pretend to derive their lineage from Alexander and the daughter of Darius, and are called Dulcarlen, which signifies Alexandrians. In this country the famous Ballas rubies are found, and other precious stones of great value, particularly in the mountains of Sicinam. No person dares either to dig for these stones, or to send them out of the country, without the consent and licence of the king, on pain of death; and he only sends them to such as he thinks fit, either as presents, or in payment of tribute; he likewise exchanges many of them for gold and silver, lest they should become too cheap and common. In other mountains of the same province, the best lapis lazuli in the world is found, from which azure or ultramarine is made. There are mines also of silver, copper, and lead. The climate is very cold, yet it produces abundance of large, strong, and swift horses, which have such hard and tough hoofs, that they do not require iron shoes, although they have to run among rocks. It is said, that not many years ago, the king's uncle was in the exclusive possession of a breed of horses descended from the famous Bucephalus, and marked on the forehead exactly as he was; and refusing to let the king have any of his stud, he was put to death, on which his widow, in revenge, destroyed the whole race. The mountains of this country produce the sacre falcon, the lanner, the goshawk, and the sparrowhawk, all excellent in their kind, and much used by the inhabitants in the chase, as they are all much addicted to hunting. The soil of this country produces excellent wheat, and barley without husks, and oil made of nuts and mustard, which resembles the oil from lintseed, but is more savoury than other oil. The men of the country are excellent archers and keen hunters, and are mostly clothed in the skins of beasts; while the women contrive to put sixty or eighty yards of cotton cloth into the skirts of their garments, as the bulkier they look they are esteemed the handsomer. The plains of this country are large, and well watered with fine rivers, but the hills are high and steep, and the passes very difficult of access, by which the inhabitants are secured against invasions; and in these mountains there are flocks of from four hundred to six hundred wild sheep, which are very difficult to catch. If any one contracts an ague by living in the moist plains, he is sure to recover his health by a few days residence in the mountains, which I Marco experienced in my own person after a whole years sickness.

[6] Forster considers this place to be Scasse or Al-shash, on the river Sirr or Sihon, perhaps the Tashkund of modern maps, in the province of Shash. The distances given by Marco must be strangely corrupted by transcribers and editors, or Marco must have forgot when he wrote his travels, perhaps twenty-six years after he passed this country, when only a boy. The distance between Balk, on one of the branches of the Sihon or Oxus, and Shash on the Jihon or Sirr, is at least 350 miles in a straight line; which he appears to have travelled in five days, but which would more probably occupy fifteen.--E.
[7] This river is probably the Sirr or Sihon; and the mountains of Karatan and Arjun pervade the district, the two chains being separated by the river.--E.

The province Bascia, or Vash, on a river of that name which falls into the Gihon, is ten days journey to the south of Balaxiam, and the country is very hot, on which account the people are of a brown colour. They have a language of their own, and wear gold and silver ear-rings, artificially ornamented with pearls and other precious stones; they eat flesh and rice, and are crafty and cruel idolaters.

The province of Chesmur, Khesimus, Khaschimir, or Cashmere, is seven days journey from Bascia. The inhabitants have also a peculiar language of their own, and are given to idolatry beyond all others, and addicted to enchantment, forcing their idols to speak, and darkening the day. The people of this country are not wholly black, but of a brown complexion, the air being temperate. They are extremely lean, although they use abundance of flesh and rice; yet the natives will shed no blood, and employ the Saracens who live among them to slaughter their cattle. They have many strong cities and towns, and being surrounded by deserts and rugged mountains, they are in no danger of any foreign enemies, so that the king of this country yields tribute to none. Coral is held in great estimation in this country, and sells dearer than in any other part of the world. There are certain hermits in this province, who live with great abstinence in cells and monasteries, devoting their whole lives to the service of their idols, and observing the strictest chastity; Many of these men are reputed as saints and are held in high estimation among the people. From this province you may go to the Indies and the ocean; but I shall not now follow out the course to India, but returning to Balaxiam, shall trace the way to Kathay, betwixt the east and north-east.

Beyond Balaxium is a certain river, on which there are many castles and villages, belonging to the brother of the king of Balaxium; and after three days journey, we came to Vachan[8], which extends three days journey in length, and as much is breadth, The inhabitants of this country have a peculiar language, and are Mahometans; they are brave Warriors, and good huntsmen, as their country abounds in wild beasts. Departing from thence, in a direction between the east and north-east, we ascended for three whole days journey, until we came to an exceeding high mountain, than which there is none said to be higher in the world. In this place, between two mountains, is a plain, in which is a great lake, and a fine river runs through the plain, on the banks of which are such excellent pastures, that a lean horse or ox will become quite fat in ten days. It contains also great quantities of wild beasts, and particularly very large wild sheep, having horns six spans long, out of which they make various kinds of vessels. This plain continues twelve days journey in length, and is called Pamer, in which there are no habitations, so that travellers must carry all their provisions along with them. This plain is so high and cold that no birds are to be found; and it is even said, that fires do not burn so bright in this place, and do not so effectually boil or dress victuals as in other places[9]. From hence, the way to Kathay leads, for forty days journey, between the east and the north-east, through mountains, hills, and vallies, in which there are many rivers, but no villages, neither any verdure, except that some huts and cottages are to be seen among the mountains; but the inhabitants are savage and wicked idolaters, who live by hunting, and are clothed in the skins of wild beasts; the country is called Palow[10]. After this you come to the province of Caschar[11], which is inhabited by Mahometans, who are tributary to the great khan of the Mongals or Tartars. The soil is fertile, and the country is full of pleasant fields, gardens, and orchards, producing vines, fruit trees, cotton, hemp, and flax, and extends five days journey. The inhabitants have a particular language, and have many merchants, manufacturers, and artizans, but they are so covetous, that they do not allow themselves either good meat or drink. Among them there are some Nestorian Christians, who also have some churches,

[8] Vochan, Vocham or Vakhan, on the river Vash.--Forst.
[9] This observation was made on the mountains of Savoy and Switzerland, not many years ago, by M. de Luc, and published as a new discovery. The phenomena must be owing to the diminished pressure of the atmosphere at this great elevation, by which water boils at a much lower temperature than is requisite for effective cookery: A digester would effectually remove this evil, by enabling the water to become sufficiently hot, without being dissipated.--E.
[10] Beloro, Belor, or Belur, according to Forster. This immense extent of forty days journey through deserts, seems to include the deserts of Sultus, Cobi, and Shamo, and to reach to the frontiers of Kathay, or Northern China.--E.
[11] Cascar, Chascar, Cassar, Kaschgar, or Hasicar, according to Forster. Cashgar is at the western end of the great desert, instead of the eastern, as expressed in the text; indeed this route is most confusedly, and almost unintelligibly laid down, probably from corrupted transcription. The series ought to have been, the high table land of Pamer, the province of Cashgar, and lastly, the desert of Pelow or Belur. But care must be taken to distinguish this from the chain of Belur-tag, which runs north and south, between Great and Little Bucharia.--E.


Of the city of Samarcand, the town of Lop, the Great Desert in its Neighbourhood, and other remarkable Passages.

Samarcand[1] is a great and famous city, in a fertile plain, and surrounded by fine gardens. It is subject to the nephew of the great khan, and is inhabited by a mixed population of Christians and Mahometans, among whom there is little agreement; and in one of their disputes, the following miracle is said to have happened, about an hundred years ago. Zagathai, the brother of the great khan, then governed this country, and was persuaded to become a Christian; and the Christians, through his favour, built a church in honour of St John the Baptist, which was constructed with such skill, that the whole roof seemed to depend for support upon one central pillar, which was founded upon a large stone, which, by the permission of Zagathai, had been taken from a building belonging to the Mahometans. After the death of Zagathai, he was succeeded by a son who was not of the Christian faith, and from him the Mahometans obtained an order, by which the Christians were compelled to restore that stone; and though they offered a sum of money as a compensation, the Mahometans absolutely insisted to have the stone itself, hoping, by that means, to reduce the Christian church to ruins: But the pillar lifted itself up, that the Mahometans, might remove the contested stone, and still continues suspended in the air.

[1] The text is here obviously transposed. While the editor endeavours to illustrate and explain the descriptions of the author, he does not consider himself at liberty to alter the text, even in the most obviously faulty places.--E.

Departing from this city, we came into the province of Charahan[2], which is about five days journey in length, and has plenty of provisions. The inhabitants are mostly Mahometans, intermixed with some Nestorian Christians, and are subject to the nephew of the great khan. They are diligent artificers in various manufactures, but are much subject to thick legs, and the goitres or large wens on their throats, occasioned by the bad quality of the waters of the country. The province of Cotam follows between the east and the north-east[3]. It is subject to the nephew of the great khan, and has many cities and towns, the chief city being called Cotam. This province extends eight days journey in length, and possesses every thing necessary for life, in sufficient abundance; particularly cotton, flax, hemp, corn, and wine. The people are Mahometans, and not warlike, but are skilful in various articles of manufacture.

[2] Charchan, Charcham, Carcam, Hiarkand, Jarkun, Jerket, Jerken, Urkend; such are the varieties in the editions of these travels, for the Yarkand of modern maps. This paragraph ought obviously to have followed the account of Cashgar.--E.
[3] Cotan, Cotam, Hotum, Khoten, Khotan, from which the useful material of manufacture, cotton, takes its name. But instead of being between the east and north-east direction from Yarkand, as in the text, or E.N.E. it is actually E.S.E.--E.

Proceeding through the same country, we come to the province of Peim, extending four days journey in length, and containing many towns and castles, the city of Peim being the chief, near which there is a river in which jaspers and chalcedonies and other valuable stones are found. The inhabitants, who are Mahometans, are expert manufacturers, and are subject to the great khan. There is a custom in this province, that when any married man goes to a distance from home, and remains absent for twenty days, it is lawful for his wife to marry another husband; and reciprocally, if the wife absents herself for twenty days, the husband may take another wife.

The next province, Ciascian[4], of which the chief city is named Sartan, is subject to the Tartars, and has many cities and castles. In its rivers abundance of jaspers, chalcedonies, and other fine stones are found, which are carried by merchants all the way to Ouchach or Kathay, and sold there with great profit From Peim to Sartem, and quite through this latter province, the soil is very sandy, having very little water, and that generally bad. When an army passes through this province, all the inhabitants take their wives and children, with all their cattle and valuables, two days journey into the sands, to places where they know that good water is to be found, and remain there till the army has quitted the country; after harvest also, they uniformly take all their corn into the desert, and hide it in pits, and the wind soon obliterates all traces of their footsteps, so that their enemies are unable to discover where they have deposited these precious hoards. After travelling for five days through the sands from this province, we arrive at the great city of Lop, which is at the entrance of a great desert called the Wilderness of Lop[5]. The inhabitants of this place are Mahometans, and are subject to the great khan. All the before-mentioned provinces, Cashgar, Yarkand, Koten, Peim, Sartem, and Lop, are in the bounds of Turkestan.

[4] Called likewise Ciarciam, Ciartiam, and Sartam, in different editions. --E.
[5] The journey from Sartem to Lop is obviously retrograde, and this course must have been pursued by the Polos for commercial purposes; perhaps for collecting those valuable stones which are mentioned by Marco as giving so much profit when sold in China.--E.

It requires a months journey to cross this desert from south to north, but to go through it lengthways would take up a whole year. Those who intend to cross the desert remain for some time in Lop, on purpose to prepare all necessaries for the journey, as no provisions are to be met with for a whole month. These, with their merchandize, are loaded on asses and camels, and if provisions fall short in the desert, the unfortunate travellers are reduced to the necessity of killing their beasts of burden for sustenance, preferring the asses for this purpose, as the camels can carry much heavier burdens, and are satisfied with less food. This journey is entirely through sands and barren mountains, in which water is found every day; yet at some of the resting places it is so scanty as hardly to suffice for a caravan of fifty of an hundred persons and their cattle. In three or four places the water is salt and bitter, but in all the rest of the journey it is very good. In the whole of this journey there are no beasts or birds to be seen. It is reported, that many evil spirits reside in the wilderness, which occasion wonderful illusions to travellers who happen unfortunately to lag behind their companions calling them even by their names, and causing them to stray farther from the right course, so that they lose their way and perish in the sands. In the night time also they hear noises as of their friends, and sometimes the sound of music is heard in the air, and people imagine that they hear the din of drums, as if armies were marching past. To avoid the danger of separation, the travellers in the desert keep close together, and hang bells about the necks of their beasts; and if any one stays behind, they set up marks in the route, that they may know how to follow.

Having crossed the desert of Lop, we come to the city of Sachion[6] or Sachiou, which is subject to the great khan, and is situated in the great country of Tangut. The inhabitants of this city are mostly idolaters, who have a peculiar language, mixed with a good many Mahometans, and some Nestorian Christians; this people are little addicted to merchandize or manufacture, and live on the products of their soil. In this city there are many temples, consecrated to various idols, with monasteries of priests devoted to the service of these false deities, to which numerous sacrifices are offered with great reverence. When a son is born to any person, he is immediately consecrated to the protection of some particular idol, and the father nourishes a sheep in his house for a year with great care; and on the anniversary day of that idol, he presents his son and the sheep as a sacrifice, with great reverence and many ceremonies, before the shrine of this tutelary deity. The flesh of the sheep is boiled and set before the idol during the continuance of the prayers and invocations, as an offering for the preservation and protection of the boy, and the idol is supposed to inhale the savour of the meat. After the religious ceremonies are finished, the meat is carried home to the father's dwelling, where all the kindred of the family are convened, and feasted with great joy and devotion; but the bones are religiously kept in certain appropriated vessels. The priests receive the head, feet, skin, and intrails, with a portion of the flesh for their share.

[6] Schatscheu, Tschat-scheu, or Chat-chou, on the Polonkir, which runs into the Hara lake.--E.

When a person of any estimation dies, his funerals are celebrated with much ceremony. An astrologer is sent for by the kindred, and informed of the year, month, day, and hour when the deceased was born, when he calculates the aspect of the constellation, and assigns the day when the burial is to take place, sometimes at the distance of seven days, or perhaps the planet may not have a favourable aspect for six months, during all which time the body is kept in the house. For this purpose a fit chest or coffin is provided, which is so artificially jointed that no noisome smell can escape, and in this the body is placed, having been previously embalmed with spices. The coffin is ornamented with painting, and is covered over with an embroidered cloth. Every day, while the body remains unburied, a table is spread near the coffin, and set out with meat, bread, and wine, which remains for as long a time as a living person would require to eat and drink, and the soul of the deceased is supposed to feed upon the savour. The astrologers sometimes forbid the body to be carried out for interment at the principal door of the house, pretending to be regulated in this by the stars, and order it to be carried out by some other way; or will even command a passage to be broken out in the opposite wall of the house, to propitiate the adverse planet. And if any one object to this, they allege that the spirit of the dead would be offended, and would occasion injury to the family. When the body is carried through the city to be buried, wooden cottages are built at certain distances by the way, having porches covered with silk, in which the coffin is set down, with a table spread out with bread and wine and delicate viands, that the spirit of the dead may be refreshed with the savour. When the body is carried to the place of the funeral, a number of pieces of paper, made of the bark of trees, curiously painted with figures of men and women servants, horses, camels, money, and garments of all kinds are carried in procession, all the instruments of music in the city sounding as the cavalcade moves along; and all these pieces of painted paper are burned in the same funeral pile with the body, under the idea that the deceased will have as many servants, cattle, and garments in the next world, and as much money, as there were pictures of these things burnt along with his body, and shall live perpetually hereafter in the enjoyment of all these things[7].

[7] It is highly probable that this emblematical representation had been substituted by some humane legislator or conqueror, in place of the actual sacrifice of the servants, cattle, and goods themselves, which we are well assured was once the practice among many rude nations, in honour of their deceased great men.--E.


Of the Province of Chamil and several other Countries on the road from thence to the City of Ezina; and of another great Desert.

The province of Chamil, which abounds in all the necessaries of life, is situated in the wide country of Tangut, and is subject to the great khan. This province, of which the city of Chamil or Hami is the capital[1], is bounded by two deserts; the great desert of Lop already mentioned, and another which is only three days journey across[2]. The inhabitants are idolaters, have a peculiar language, and appear to live only for amusement, devoting their whole time to singing, dancing, and sports, playing upon instruments of music, and reading and writing after their fashion. When any traveller goes into a house for entertainment and lodging, the master of the family receives him with great joy, and commands his wife and family to obey the stranger in all things so long as he may choose to remain, and even departs immediately from his own house, that he may not be any restraint upon his guest. And while the traveller remains, he may choose a female bed fellow every night, either the wife, daughter, or servant of the polite host, as he feels inclined. The women of the country are very beautiful, and are perfectly ready to obey these singular commands; and the husbands believe that this strange hospitality is conducive to their own honour and glory, and is an acceptable service to their idols, from whose favour it secures prosperity and abundance to themselves and their country. Mangu-khan having received notice of this detestable custom, issued a peremptory order for its discontinuance, and it was accordingly laid aside for three years; but as these years happened to be unusually barren, and the inhabitants were vexed with some disasters in their domestic concerns, they sent ambassadors to the khan, earnestly entreating him to revoke so grievous a mandate, and to permit them to continue a custom which had been handed down by their ancestors. To this the khan answered, "Since you glory in your shame, you may go and act according to your customs." The messengers who brought back this favourable answer, were received with great rejoicings by the nation; and the above custom continued when I Marco was among them.

[1] Called also Kamul, Chamul, Khami, and Came-xu.--Forst.
[2] The desert of Noman-Cobi; or Tzokurin of modern maps.--E.

After leaving the province of Chamil, we enter into that of Chinchintalas[3], subject to the great khan, which is bounded by the desert on the north, and is sixteen days journey in length. It has large cities and many castles, the inhabitants being divided into three sects or religions: The greater number are idolaters, a considerable number are Mahometans, and a small proportion are Nestorian Christians. In this province there are mountains containing mines of steel, and andanicum or audanicum, and also a mineral substance called salamander or asbestos, from the wool of which an incombustible cloth is manufactured, which, if cast into the fire does not burn. This cloth is actually made of stone in the following manner, as I was informed by a Turk named Curifar, an intelligent industrious person of my acquaintance, who had the superintendence of the mines in this province. A certain mineral is found in these mountains, which yields fibres resembling wool: After being thoroughly dried in the sun, this substance is pounded in a brass mortar, and then washed to remove all earthy impurities; and the clean fibrous matter is spun in the same manner as wool, and woven into cloth. When this cloth requires to be cleaned or whitened, it is thrown into the fire for an hour, and is then taken out unhurt, and as white as snow. It is said, there is a napkin at Rome of this salamander wool, in which the handkerchief of the Lord Jesus is kept wrapped up, which a certain king of the Tartars sent as a present to the Pope. But as for the salamander or serpent, which is reported to live in the fire, I could hear of no such creature in all the eastern countries.

[3] Called likewise Cinchincalas, Sanghin-talgin, Sankin-talai, and Chitalas-dalai.--Forst. This appears to be the district stretching to the S.E. of the Bogdo mountains, between the Changai ridge on the north, and the Ungandag on the south, now occupied by a tribe of Eluts, and in which there do not appear to be any towns.--E.

Leaving this province, we travel for ten days between the east and north-east, during which there are few habitations or things worthy of remark; after which we come to the province of Succir[4], in which there are many towns and villages, the chief city being called Succir. In this province, which is subject to the great khan, there are a few Christians among a great number of idolaters. The best rhubarb[5] is found in great quantities in this province, and is carried thence by merchants to various parts of the world. Strangers dare not go to the mountains where the rhubarb grows, on account of certain poisonous plants, which occasion any beasts that feed upon them to cast their hoofs; but the beasts of the country know this plant, and avoid feeding upon it Campion[6] is a great city, and is the chief place in all Tangut. In it, besides idolaters and Mahometans, there are a good many Christians, who have three fair churches. The idolaters have many temples and monasteries dedicated to their idols. These idols are very numerous, and are made of stone, wood, or clay, some of them curiously inlaid with gold, and very artificially made: Some are very large, almost ten paces high, standing upright, and having many smaller idols placed around, which seem to give reverence to the great one. The priests of these idols appear to live more regularly, and are less addicted to voluptuousness than other idolaters. Yet wantonness is not looked upon in this country as any great sin; for they say if a woman invites a man, there is no harm in compliance, but if the man solicits the woman, it is quite otherwise.

[4] Suchur, Succuir, Souk, or Suck, on the river Suck, which empties itself into the river of Pegu to the north of Thibet.--Forst.

This I suspect to be Chioming of our modern maps, on a river which runs north into the Soukouk lake.--E.

[5] The country of the genuine rhubarb has been described by the great Russian traveller Palas, as situated on the river Selingol, not far from the town of Selinga, which falls into the Chattungol, Hoang-ho, Choango, or Karamuren.--Forst.

The travels of Palas will be found in an after portion of this work; and it need only be remarked in this place, that there are at least two kinds of true rhubarb, the China and Russia; and that two species of the genus, the R. Palmatum and R. Undulatum, certainly produce the drug nearly of the same quality, and are probably to be found in various parts of central Asia or Tartary,--E.

[6] Kampion, Kampition, Kampiciou, Kantscheu, or Kan-tcheou, in the Chinese province of Shensi, on the Etzine-moren, or Etchine river, which joins the Souk.--Forst.

In this country they divide the year by lunations, and in every moon they keep certain days as holy, in some five, or four, or three days, in which they kill no beast or bird, and abstain from animal food. The people of this country marry twenty or thirty wives, or as many as they are able to maintain, but the first wife always has the precedence over the others. The husband receives no portion with his wife, but on the contrary has to assign her a dower in cattle, servants, and money, according to his ability. If any of the wives does not live in harmony with the rest, or if she becomes disliked by her husband, it is lawful for him to put her away. They marry their own near relations, and even the wives of their deceased father, excepting always their own mothers. In the manners and customs of this country, I Marco was sufficiently experienced, having dwelt a whole year in this place, along with my father and uncle, for the dispatch of certain affairs of business.

In twelve days journey from Campion, we come to the city of Ezina[7], which borders on a sandy desert towards the north. All the provinces and cities before mentioned, viz. Sachion, Camul, Chinchintalas, Succair, Campion, and Ezina, are comprehended in the great country of Tangut. The inhabitants of Ezina are idolaters, who live by agriculture, and on the produce of their flocks and herds, having great quantities of camels and other cattle, but carry on no trade. In this country there are forests of pine trees, in which there are wild asses, and many other wild beasts; there are likewise abundance of falcons, particularly the lanner and sacre, which are reckoned excellent. Such travellers as intend to pass through the great desert of Shamo, which is forty days journey in extent, must provide all their provisions in this place, as they afterwards meet with no habitations, except a few straggling people here and there on the mountains and valleys.

[7] Eziva, or Etzine, on a river of the same name, which runs into the Suck or Souhouk.--Forst.


Of the City of Caracarum and of the Tartars, with some account of their History, Monarchs, and Manners.

Having passed over the before mentioned desert of forty days, travelling always to the northward, we come to the large city of Charachoran, or Caracarum[1] which is three miles in circumference, and strongly fortified with an earthen rampart, as there is no stone in these parts. Near the city there is a great castle with an elegant palace, in which the governor usually resides. Near this place the Tartars used to assemble in old times, and here therefore I shall explain the original of their empire.

[1] Caracarum, Caracorum, Taracoram, Korakarum, Karakarin, Karakum, called Holin by the Chinese. This city was laid down by Danville, with acknowledged uncertainty, on the Onguin-pira river, in Lat. 44°. 50'. N. Long. 107°. E.; while others assign its situation on the Orchon, in Lat. 46°. 30. N. Long. 108-1/2 E: about 150 miles to the N.W.--E.

They dwelt at first in the northern parts called Curza and Bargu[2], where there are many vast plains without cities and towns, but abounding in pastures, lakes, and rivers. They had no prince of their own nation, but paid tribute to a certain great king, named, as I have been told, in their language, Umcan, and which some people believe to signify, in the languages of Europe, Prester-John[3]; and to whom the Tartars gave yearly a tenth part of the increase of their flocks and herds, and of their horses. In process of time, the Tartars so increased in numbers, that Umcan became afraid of them, and endeavoured to disperse them into several parts of his empire; and when any of them rebelled, he used to send parties into their territories to reduce them to obedience; for which purpose, he even frequently deputed some of their own nobles. At length it became obvious to the whole nation, that their ruin was intended; and being unwilling to be separated from each other, they retired into the northern deserts, where they might be safe from the power of Umcan, to whom they refused the accustomed tribute. After continuing in the north for some time, they chose a king among themselves, named Zingis-khan, who was a wise and valiant man, and reigned with such justice, that he was beloved and feared of all as a god rather than as a prince, so that by his fame and prowess, he soon reduced all the Tartars in these parts under his authority. Seeing himself at the head of so many valiant men, he determined to leave the northern deserts; and commanding his people to provide themselves with bows and other weapons, he began to reduce the neighbouring cities and provinces under his dominion, in which conquests he placed such just governors, that the people were perfectly reconciled to his authority. In all his conquests he carried the chief persons along with him, bestowing upon them provisions and other gifts, and by that means attached them to his person, and continually augmented his power. After sometime, finding himself advanced to power and glory, he sent ambassadors to Umcan, to entreat that he would bestow his daughter upon him for a wife. Umcan received this message with the utmost indignation, saying to the messengers; "Does my servant presume to demand my daughter? Begone, and tell your master, that if ever he dare to repeat so insolent a proposal, I will make him die a miserable death."

[2] The original residence of the Moals or Monguis, whom Marco always calls Tartars, appears to have been limited by the Selinga and lake Baikal on the west, or perhaps reaching to the Bogdo Altai and Sayanak mountains; the Soilki mountains on the east dividing them from the Mandshurs, and the Ungar-daga mountains on the south, dividing them from the great empire of Tangut, which they overthrew. Bargu may have been on the Baikal, near which there still is a place called Barsuzin. Of Cursa no trace is to be found in our maps.--E.
[3] Prester-John, Presbyter or Priest, or, as called by the Germans, Priester Johann, from which our English denomination, was prince of the Naymanni or Karaites, a tribe residing on tke river Kallassui or Karasibi, which, discharges itself into the Jenisei. His original name is said to have been Togrul, and for some services to the Chinese in their wars, he was honoured with the title of 0ng, Uang, or Wang; from whence arose his Tartarian style of Ung-khan, likewise erroneously written Aunaek, or Avenaek-khan. Perhaps this prince may have been converted by the Nestorian Christians, and may even have received priests orders.--Forst.

It is more probable that he may have belonged to the Dalai-lama religion, which some ignorant traveller, from resemblance in dress, and the use of rosaries in prayer, may have supposed a Christian sect residing in eastern Scythia.--E.

Zingis seems only to have wanted a reasonable pretence to justify him in the estimation of his nobles for entering into war against Umcan; he therefore immediately levied a great army, with which he marched boldly against Umcan, and encamped in a great plain named Tanduc[4], sending a message to Umcan to defend himself. Upon this Umcan collected a vast army, with which he advanced into the plains, and pitched his camp within ten miles of that of the Tartars. Zingis commanded his astrologers to shew him what was to be the event of the approaching battle; on which they split a reed into two pieces, on one of which they wrote the name of Zingis, and the name of Umcan on the other, and struck them separately into the ground, saying to Zingis: "While we read in our holy books, it shall come to pass through the power of the idol, that these two pieces of reed shall fight together, and whose part shall get the better, to that king shall the victory be given." The astrologers began to mumble their prayers and incantations, while the multitude stood around to observe the result; and after some time, the two pieces of reed seemed spontaneously to fight together, and the portion inscribed with the name of Zingis got the mastery over that of Umcan; and the Tartars being encouraged by this prodigy, went into the battle fully assured of victory, which they actually obtained. By this battle, in which Umcan was slain, the sovereignty of all Tangut was transferred to Zingis, who took to wife the daughter of Umcan. Zingis reigned six years after this, and conquered many provinces: But at last, while he endeavoured to take a certain castle called Thaigin, he approached too near the walls, and was wounded in the knee by an arrow, of which wound he died, and was buried in the mountain of Altai. Zingis was the first king of the Tartars; the second was Khen-khan, the third Bathyn-khan, the fourth Esu-khan, the fifth Mangu-khan, the sixth Kublai-khan, whose power is greater than that of all his predecessors, as, besides having inherited all their acquisitions, he has added almost the whole world to his empire, during a long and prosperous reign of sixty years[5]. All the great khans and princes of the blood of Zingis, are carried for burial to the mountains of Altai, even from the distance of an hundred days journey; and those who attend the body, kill all whom they meet by the way, ordering them to go and serve their lord in the other world, and a great number of fine horses are slain on the same occasion and pretence. It is said that the soldiers, who accompanied the body of Mangu-khan to the mountain of Altai, slew above ten thousand men during their journey.

[4] Tenduc, Tenduch, Teuduch.--Forst.
[5] According to the genealogical history of the Tartars by Abulgasi Bayadur-khan, Ugadai-khan succeeded Zingis in 1230. In 1245 he was succeeded by his son Kajuk-khan, called Khen-khan by Marco in the text. To him Mangu-khan succeeded in 1247, who held the empire till 1257; when he was succeeded by Koplai or Kublai-khan, who reigned thirty-five years, and died in 1292.--Harris.

Marco probably dated the reign of Kublai-khan, which he extends to sixty years, from his having received a great delegated government, a long time before he became great khan, or emperor of the Tartars.--E.

The Tartar women are remarkably faithful to their husbands, considering adultery as the greatest and most unpardonable of crimes; yet it is accounted lawful and honest for the men to have as many wives as they can maintain, but the first married is always accounted the principal and most honourable. These wives live all in one house, in the utmost harmony and most admirable concord; in which they carry on various manufactures, buy and sell, and procure all things necessary for their husbands and families, the men employing themselves only in hunting and hawking, and in martial affairs. They have the best falcons in the world, and great numbers of excellent dogs, and they live upon flesh and milk, and what they procure by hunting. They eat the flesh of horses and camels, and even of dogs, if fat; and their chief drink is cosmos, made of mares milk in a particular manner, and very much resembling white wine. When the father of a family dies, the son may marry all his fathers wives, except only his own mother, neither do they marry their sisters; and on the death of a brother, the surviving brother may marry the widow of the deceased. The husbands receive no portions with their wives, but must assign sufficient dowries to their wives and mothers. As the Tartars have many wives, they often have great numbers of children; neither is the multitude of their wives very burthensome, as they gain much by their labour, and they are exceedingly careful in the management of family concerns, in the preparation of food, and in all other household duties.

The Tartars feed many herds of cattle, and numerous flocks of sheep, and great numbers of camels and horses. They remain with these during the summer in the pastures of the mountains and colder regions of the north, where they find abundance of grass and wood; but in winter they remove into the warmer regions of the south, in search of pasture, and they generally travel forwards for two or three months together. Their houses are made of slender rods covered with felt, mostly of a round form, and are carried along with them in carts or waggons with four wheels, and the doors of these moveable houses are always placed fronting the south. They have also very neat carts on two wheels, covered so closely with felt, that the rain cannot penetrate, in which their wives and children and household goods are conveyed from place to place. All these are drawn by oxen or camels.

The rich Tartars are clothed in sables and ermines, and other rich furs, and in cloth of gold, and all their apparel and furniture is very costly. Their arms are bows, swords, battle-axes, and some have lances; but they are most expert in the use of the bow, in which they are trained from their infancy. They are hardy, active, and brave, yet somewhat cruel; are exceedingly patient and obedient to their lords, and will often remain two days and nights armed on horseback without rest. They believe in one supreme God of heaven, to whom they daily offer incense, praying to him for health and prosperity. But every person has a little image covered with felt, or something else, in his house, called Natigay; and to this household god they make a wife, which is placed on his left hand, and children, which are set before his face. This image or idol is considered as the god of earthly things, to whom they recommend the protection of their wives and children, their cattle, corn, and other valuables. This god is held in great reverence, and before eating any thing themselves, they anoint the mouth of the idol with the fat of their boiled meat, and they cast some broth out of doors in honour of other spirits; after which they eat and drink their fill, saying, that now their god and his family have had their due portion.

If the son of one Tartar, and the daughter of another die unmarried, the parents meet together and celebrate a marriage between their deceased children. On this occasion they draw up a written contract, and paint representations of men and women for servants, of horses, camels, cattle, and sheep, of clothes of all kinds, and of paper money; and all these things are burned along with the contract, conceiving that these will all follow their children substantially to the other world to serve them, and that they will be there united in affinity, as if they had been actually married while living.

When the Tartars go to war, the prince usually leads an army of not less than an hundred thousand men, all cavalry; each man having usually eight or more horses or mares. Their troops are regularly distributed into bands of tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten thousands; a troop of an hundred is called a Tuc, and a body of ten thousand is called a Toman. They carry them felt houses along with them, for shelter in bad weather. When necessity requires, they will ride for ten days together without victuals, subsisting upon the blood of their horses, by cutting a vein and sucking the blood. But they likewise prepare dried milk, for taking with them in their expeditions, in the following manner: After taking off the cream, which is made into butter, they boil the milk and dry it in the sun into a kind of hard curd, of which every man in the army carries about ten pounds along with him. Every morning they take about half a pound of this curd, which they put into a leathern bottle with a quantity of water, and as he rides along, the motion of the horse shakes and mixes these together, and this mess suffices for the food of one day. When they approach towards the enemy, they send out numerous scouts on all sides, that they may not be assaulted unawares, and to bring intelligence of the numbers, motions, and posture of the enemy. When they come to battle, they ride about in apparent disorder, shooting with their arrows; and sometimes make a show of precipitate flight, discharging their arrows backwards as they fly; and when by these means they have broken or dispersed the enemy, they suddenly rally their forces, and make an unexpected assault, which generally decides the victory, their horses being all so thoroughly under command, as to turn any way merely by a signal.

If any Tartar steals a thing of small value, he is not put to death, but receives a certain number of blows with a cudgel, according to the measure of the offence; either seven, or seventeen, or twenty-seven, thirty-seven, or forty-seven; though some die through the severity of this cudgelling. But if any one steal a horse or other thing of great value, for which he deserves to die according to their laws, he is cut asunder with a sword, unless he redeem his life by restoring the theft nine fold. Such as have horses, oxen, or camels, brand them with their particular marks, and send them to feed in the pastures without a keeper.

Leaving the city of Caracarum, and the mountain Altai, we enter the champaign country of Bargu[6], which extends northwards for about fifty days journey. The inhabitants of this country are called Medites[7], and are subject to the great, khan, and resemble the Tartars in their manners. They have no corn or wine, and employ themselves chiefly, during summer, in the chase of wild beasts, and in catching birds, on the flesh of which they subsist in winter; and they have great abundance of a kind of stags, which they render so tame that they allow themselves to be ridden. In the winter this country is so excessively cold, that fowls, and all other living things, remove to warmer regions. After forty days journey we arrive at the ocean, near which is a mountain frequented by storks, and fine falcons, as a breeding place, and from whence falcons are brought for the amusement of the great khan.

[6] Bargu-fin, or Bargouin, is the name of a river on the east side of lake Baikal, on which is a town or village named Barguzin, or Barguzinskoy Ostrog, signifying the town of the Burguzians. But by the description in the text, Marco appears to have comprehended the whole north-east of Tartary, to the north of the Changai mountains, under the general name of Bargu, in which he now includes Curza, mentioned separately at the commencement of the preceding Section, and where the situation of Bargu has been already more particularly described in a note.--E.
[7] Metrites, Meclites, or Markaets.--Forst. No such appellation is to be found in modern geography; but the discontinuance of the designations, of temporary and continually changing associations of the wandering tribes of the desert, is not to be wondered at, and even if their records were preserved, they would be altogether unimportant.--E.


Of the vast Countries to the North of Tartary, and many other curious Particulars.

We now return to Campion, or Kantcheou, on the river Etziné. Proceeding thence five days journey towards the east, we come to the country of Erginul[1] in the province of Tangut, which is subject to the great khan. In this kingdom there are many idolaters, with some Nestorians and Turks. It contains many cities and castles, the chief place being of the same name with the province.

[1] Erigrinul, Eriginul, Erdschi-nur; and this ought to be read fifty days south-west, instead of five days east.--Forst. This may probably be some district in the country of the Eluts of Kokonor, not mentioned in our modern maps.--E.

Going south-east from this place towards Kathay, we come to the famous city of Cinguy[2], situated in a province of the same name, which is tributary to the great khan, and is contained in the kingdom of Tangut. Some of the people are Christians, some of them Mahometans, and others are idolaters. In this country there are certain wild cattle, nearly as large as elephants, with black and white hair, which is short all over the body, except on the shoulders, where it is three spans long, exceedingly fine, pure white, and in many respects more beautiful than silk. I brought some of this hair to Venice as a rarity. Many of these oxen are tamed and broke in for labour, for which they are better adapted, by their strength, than any other creatures, as they bear very heavy burdens, and when yoked in the plough will do twice the work of others. The best musk in the world is found in this province, and is procured from a beautiful animal, the size of a goat, having hair like a stag, the feet and tail resembling an antelope, but has no horns; it has two teeth in the upper jaw, above three inches long, as white as the finest ivory[3]. When the moon is at the full, a tumor, or imposthume, grows on the belly of this animal, resembling a bladder filled with blood, and at this time people go to hunt this animal for the sake of this bag or swelling, which they dry in the sun, and sell at a high price, as it is the best of musk. The flesh also of the animal is good for eating. I, Marco, brought the head and feet of one of these animals to Venice.

[2] Singui, Sigan, or Singan-fou, in the Chinese province of Shensee. --Forst.
[3] In the edition of Harris, it is said likewise to have two similar tusks in the lower jaw, but this error must have been put in by some ignorant editor.--E.

The people of this country of Singui live by trade and manufacture, and they have abundance of corn. They are idolaters, having fat bodies, small noses, black hair, and no beard, except a few scattered hairs on their chins. The women are exceedingly fair, and the men rather make choice of their wives by their beauty than by their nobility or riches; so, that when a great nobleman marries a poor but beautiful wife, he has often to assign a large dowery to obtain the consent of the mother. This province extends twenty-five days journey in length, and is very fertile. In it there are exceedingly large pheasants, with tails eight or ten handbreadths long, and many other kinds of birds, some of which have very beautiful and finely variegated plumage.

After eight days farther travel to the east, we come to the district of Egrigaia[4], which is still in the kingdom of Tangut, and subject to the great khan; it contains many cities and castles, Calacia being the principal city, which is inhabited by idolaters, though the Nestorian Christians have three churches. In this city, excellent camblets are manufactured from, white wool, and the hair of camels[5] which are exported by the merchants to all parts of the world, and particularly to Kathay.

[4] According to Forster, this passage is corrupted, and ought to be thus read: "After eight days journey west from Ergimul or Erdschi-nur, we come to Erigaia, Eggaya Organum, or Irganekon." And he names the chief town Calacia, Cailac, Gailak, or Golka.--Forst.
[5] Perhaps, the chamois are here meant, and copied camels by mistake. --Forst.

East from this province of Egrigaia is that of Tandach[6], in which there are many cities and castles. The king of this nation is called George, who is a Christian and a priest[7], and most of the people also are Christians; he is descended of Prester John, formerly mentioned under the name of Umcan, from whom he is the fourth in descent, and he pays tribute to the great khan; and ever since the battle in which Umcan was slain by Zingis, the great khans have given their daughters in marriage to the kings of this country, who do not possess all the dominions which were formerly subject to Prester John. There is a mixed race in this country, called Argons, descended of idolaters and Mahometans, who are the handsomest people in these parts, and are most ingenious manufacturers and cunning merchants. This province was the chief residence of Prester John, and there are two neighbouring districts, called Ung and Mongol by the natives, which the people of Europe call Gog and Magog.

[6] Tenduc, Tenduch, Teuduch.--Forst
[7] This foolish story of Prester John has been explained in a former note.--E.

Travelling eastwards for seven days towards Kathay, there are many cities, inhabited by idolaters, Mahometans, and Nestorians, who live by commerce and manufactures, and who make stuffs wrought with gold and flowers, and other silken stuffs of all kinds, and colours like those made among us, and also woollen cloths of various kinds. One of these towns is Sindicin, or Sindacui, where very excellent arms of all kinds fit for war are manufactured. In the mountains of this province, called Idifa, or Ydifu, there are great mines of silver.

Three days journey from Sindicin stands another city, named Iangamur[8], which signifies the White Lake. Near this place, the khan has a palace, in which he takes great delight, as he has fine gardens, with many lakes and rivers, and multitudes of swans, and the adjacent plains abound in cranes, pheasants, partridges, and other game. There are five sorts of cranes here, some of which have black wings, others are white and bright; their feathers being ornamented with eyes like those of a peacock, but of a golden colour, with beautiful black and white necks; a third kind is not unlike our own, in size and appearance; the fourth kind is very small and beautiful, variegated with red and blue; the fifth is very large, and of a grey colour, with black and red heads. In a valley near this city, there are astonishing numbers of quails and partridges, for the maintenance of which the khan causes millet and other seeds to be sown, that they may have plenty of food; and a number of people are appointed to take care that no person may catch any of these birds, which are so tame, that they will flock around their keepers at a whistle, to receive food from their hands. There are also a great number of small huts built, in different parts of the valley, for shelter to these birds, during the severity of winter, where they are regularly fed by the keepers. By these means, when the emperor chooses to come to this part of the country, he is certain to find abundance of game; and during winter, he has great quantities sent to him on camels, or other beasts of burden.

[8] Cianga-nor, Cianganior, Cyangamor, or Tsahan-nor, in lat. 45°. 30. N. long. 117°. E. Marco, in these accounts of the different districts of Tangut, seems to have followed no regular order, but goes from one to another, as fancy or memory served.--Forst.

Three days journey south-west from Iangamur is the city of Ciandu[9], which was built by the great emperor Kublai-khan, and in which he had a palace erected, of marvellous art and beauty, ornamented with marble and other rare stones. One side of this palace extends to the middle of the city, and the other reaches to the city wall. On this side there is a great inclosed park, extending sixteen miles in circuit, into which none can enter but by the palace. In this inclosure there are pleasant meadows, groves, and rivers, and it is well stocked with red and fallow deer, and other animals. The khan has here a mew of about two hundred ger-falcons, which he goes to see once a-week, and he causes them to be fed with the flesh of fawns. When he rides out into this park, he often causes some leopards to be carried on horseback, by people appointed for this purpose, and when he gives command, a leopard is let loose, which immediately seizes a stag or deer; and he takes great delight in this sport.

[9] Cyandi, Xandu, or Tshangtu.--Forst.

In the middle of a fine wood, the khan has a very elegant house built all of wood, on pillars, richly gilt and varnished; on every one of the pillars there is a dragon gilt all over, the tail being wound around the pillar, while the head supports the roof, and the wings are expanded on each side. The roof is composed of large canes, three hand breadths in diameter, and ten yards long, split down the middle, all gilt and varnished, and so artificially laid on that no rain can penetrate. The whole of this house can be easily pulled down and taken to pieces, like a tent, and readily set up again, as it is all built of cane, and very light; and when it is erected, it is fastened by two hundred silken ropes, after the manner of tent cords, to prevent it from being thrown down by the winds. Every thing is arranged in this place for the pleasure and convenience of the khan, who spends three months here annually, in June, July, and August; but on the twenty-eighth day of August he always leaves this, to go to some other place, for the performance of a solemn sacrifice. Always on the twentieth day of August, he is directed by the astrologers and sorcerers, to sprinkle a quantity of white mares milk, with his own hands, as a sacrifice to the gods and spirits of the air and the earth, in order that his subjects, wives, children, cattle, and corn, and all that he possesses, may flourish and prosper. The khan has a stud of horses and mares all pure white, nearly ten thousand in number; of the milk of which none are permitted to drink, unless those who are descended from Zingis-khan, excepting one family, named Boriat, to whom this privilege was granted by Zingis, on account of their valour. These white horses are held in such reverence, that no one dare go before them, or disturb them in their pastures.

There are two sects of idolatrous priests, called Chebeth and Chesmu, who ascend the roof of the palace in the midst of storms, and persuade the people they are so holy, that they can prevent any rain from falling on the roof. These people go about in a very filthy condition, as they never wash or comb themselves. They have also an abominable custom of eating the bodies of malefactors who are condemned to death, but they do not feed on any who die naturally. These are likewise called Bachsi, which is the name of their order, as our friars are named predicants, minors, and the like. These fellows are great sorcerers, and seem to be able to do any thing they please by magic art. When the great khan sits in his hall at a table, which is raised several feet above the others[10], there is a great sideboard of plate at some distance in the midst of the hall, and from thence these sorcerers cause wine or milk to fill the goblets on the khans table, whenever he commands. These Bachsi also, when they have a mind to make feasts in honour of their idols, send word to the khan, through certain officers deputed for the purpose, that if their idols are not honoured with the accustomed sacrifices, they will send blights on the fruits of the ground, and murrains among the beasts, and entreat, therefore, that he will order a certain number of black-headed sheep, with incense, and aloes-wood, to be delivered to them, for the due and honourable performance of the regular sacrifices.

[10] In Harris, the elevation is said to be eighty feet, perhaps a typographical error for eight, as, in a subsequent passage, the table of the khan is merely said to be higher than those of the rest who have the honour to dine along with him; the particular height, therefore, is left indeterminate in the text.--E.

These priests have vast monasteries, some of which are as large as small cities, and several of them contain about two thousand monks, or persons devoted to the service of the idols, all of whom shave their beards and heads, and wear particular garments, to denote that they are set apart from the laity, for the service of their gods; yet some of them may marry. In their solemnities, these men sing the praises of their idols, and carry lights in their processions. Some of them, called Sensim, or Santoms, lead an austere life, eating nothing but meal mingled with water, and when all the flour is expended, they content themselves with the bran, without any savoury addition. These men worship the fire, and those who follow other rules, allege that these austere Santoms are heretics against the religious law, because they refuse to worship idols, and never marry. These Santoms shave their heads and beards, wear coarse hempen garments of a black, or bright yellow colour, sleep on coarse thick mats, and live the severest life imaginable, amid every conceivable deprivation and austerity[11].

[11] In all ages of the world, except the social, yet irrational ancient superstitions of Greece and Rome, mankind have vainly thought to propitiate the Almighty beneficence, by ridiculous acts of austere self-torment; and even the ignorant or designing followers of the pure and rational religion of Jesus, have copied all the monstrous mummery, and abominable practices of the heathen, which they have engrafted upon his law of love and harmony.--E.


Of the great power of Kublai-khan and various circumstances respecting his Family, Government, and Dominions.

I now propose to relate the great and marvellous acts of Kublai-khan, the great emperor of the Tartars. His name, expressed in our language, signifies lord of lords, and he certainly is the greatest prince in cities, people, and treasures, that ever reigned in the world. He is lineally descended from Zingis-khan, the first prince of the Tartars, being the sixth emperor of that race, and began to reign in 1256, being then twenty-seven years of age[1] and he has long ruled this immense empire, with great gravity and wisdom. He is a very valiant man, strong of body and well exercised in arms, and evinced himself such, in many actions, before he attained to empire, which he effected by his superior wisdom and management, contrary to the will of his brethren. Before his accession, he shewed himself a more valiant soldier, and a wiser general than ever the Tartars had before his time. Yet, since he has swayed the empire, he has always deputed his sons and other generals upon military expeditions, and has only since then gone into the field on the following occasion.

[1] In a former note, it has been mentioned, on the authority of Abulgazi- khan, himself a descendant of Zingis, and prince, of Khuaresm, that Kublai-khan was only the fifth emperor of the Tartars, and that he ascended the throne in 1257. The difference of date in this latter circumstance is quite unimportant, and may have proceeded, either from a different way of reckoning, or the delay of intelligence from so vast a distance. But Kublai died in 1292, after reigning thirty-five years, according to Abulgazi, and is said to have been then eighty years of age. He must therefore have been forty-five years old at his accession, instead of twenty-seven. Harris indeed mentions in, a note, that the age of Kublai in the MSS. and even in many of the printed editions, was left blank.--E.

In the year 1257, or 1258, his uncle[2] named Naiam, being then thirty years of age, who had the command of so many countries and nations, that he could easily have mustered 400,000 horse, became puffed up with youthful vanity, determined to take away the empire from his lord, and drew into his schemes another great Tartar prince, named Caydu, who was nephew to Kublai, and commanded on the borders of great Turkey, and who engaged to bring an 100,000 men into the field, in aid of the ambitious project of Naiam. Both of these confederates began to gather forces; but this could not be done so secretly as not to come to the knowledge of the great khan, who immediately set guards on all the roads into the desert, and assembled all the forces which lay within ten days journey of Cumbalu[3], the imperial residence. In twenty days, he had collected an army, amounting to 360,000 horse and 100,000 foot, a large part of which vast force was composed of huntsmen and falconers, and persons belonging to the imperial household. With this army, Kublai marched with all expedition into the province occupied by Naiam, where he arrived at the end of twenty-five days march altogether unexpectedly, and before Naiam had completed his preparations, or had been joined by his confederate Caydu. After giving his troops two days rest, and having encouraged his men in the confident expectation of victory, by means of his astrologers and soothsayers, he advanced towards the encampment of Naiam, and appeared with his whole army on a hill, over against the camp of the rebels, who had not even sent out any scouts to procure intelligence.

[2] In Harris, this date is 1286; but as, in a note, this war is said to have occurred on occasion of the election of Kublai to the imperial dignity in 1257, I have ventured to restore what seems to be the true date. Besides Naiam, in 1286, thirty years of age, could not possibly have been the uncle of Kublai.--E.
[3] The new city of Pekin, of which hereafter.--E.

Kublai-khan was seated on the top of a wooden castle, carried by four elephants, and filled with archers and cross-bow men, from which the royal standard was displayed, on which the pictures of the sun and moon were pourtrayed. Dividing his army into three bodies, he kept one as a reserve on the hill beside himself, and sent the two wings to attack the army of Naiam, who resolved to stand the issue of a battle. To every ten thousand horse in the army of Kublai, five hundred light armed footmen with lances were assigned, who had been taught to leap up behind the horsemen on any occasion when flight or retreat became necessary, and were instructed to alight, and kill the horses of the enemy during battle. The two armies joined in a well contested battle, which lasted from morning till mid-day, when Naiam was made prisoner, and all his followers submitted themselves to the clemency of the victor; and having renewed their oaths of allegiance, were pardoned and dismissed, having a new governor set over them, in whose fidelity the great khan could confide[4].

[4] The followers of Naiam in this rebellion are said to have consisted of four nations, or tribes of Tartars, named Ciazza, Cadi, Barscol, and Sitinqui, but of whom no other information or notice remains.--E.

Naiam was ordered to be sewed up between two carpets, and tossed up and down till he died, to avoid shedding the blood of any one belonging to the imperial house of Zingis.

Naiam is said to have been secretly baptized, and to have professed himself a Christian, having his principal ensign marked with the sign of the cross, and to have had a great number of Christians in his army who were all slain. On this occasion, the Jews and Mahometans, who served in the army of Kublai, upbraided his Christian soldiers with the disaster which had happened to the cross in this battle. The Christians complained to Kublai of this injurious conduct, who sharply reproved the Jews and Mahometans for their behaviour; then turning to the Christians, he addressed them as follows: "Surely your God and his cross would not give aid to Naiam. Be not you therefore ashamed of what has happened; seeing that God, who is good and just, did not defend iniquity and injustice. Naiam was a traitor and a rebel, and sought the aid of your God in his mischievous purpose: But your good and upright God would not favour his bad designs." Kublai-khan returned after this great victory to Cambalu; and on Easter day he called the Christians into his presence, and kissed their gospel with great reverence, making all his great officers and barons do the same. And he acts in a similar manner on the great festivals of the Mahometans, Jews [5], and heathens; that Segomamber-khan, the great god of the idol, Mahomet, Moses, and Jesus, or whosoever is greatest in heaven, may be favourable to him; yet he made the best shew of liking to the Christian faith, but alleged that the ignorance of the Nestorian priests, and the great interest of the sorcerers among the people, hindered him from making a profession of Christianity.

[5] This is the only notice of the Jews in the east by Marco Polo, and serves considerably to confirm the authenticity of Rabbi Banjamin; who, as a Jew, felt more interest in attending to his countrymen.--E.

For the better rewarding his brave and faithful soldiers, the khan has a military council, composed of twelve Tartar barons, who give him notice of the meritorious services of all commanders, that they may be promoted to higher stations, giving to one the command of an hundred, to another the command of a thousand, and to a third the command of ten thousand, and so on. The captain of an hundred men has a badge or tablet of silver; the captain of a thousand has a tablet of gold or silver gilt; and the commander of ten thousand has a tablet of gold, ornamented with the head of a lion. These tablets differ in size and weight, according to the dignity of the wearers. On each tablet there is an inscription of the following import: "By the strength and power of the Almighty God, and by the grace which He hath given to our empire: Let the name of the great khan be blessed, and let all die or be destroyed who will not obey his commands." Besides these badges of distinction all officers have commissions in writing, in which all their duties, privileges, and authorities are recited. When the generals appear in public, they have a cloth or canopy carried over their heads, and they give audience sitting on chairs of silver. The badge or tablet of a general, weighs three hundred sagi, or fifty ounces of gold, laving images of the sun and moon; and such as have the representation of a ger-falcon, may take with them a whole army for their guard.

Kublai-khan is a comely handsome man of middle stature, with a fresh complexion, bright black eyes, a well formed nose, and every way well proportioned. He has four lawful wives, every one of whom has the title of empress, and the eldest born son of these wives is to succeed him in the empire. Each of these empresses has her own magnificent palace and peculiar court, and is attended by three hundred women, besides many eunuchs, and the suite of each extends at least to ten thousand persons. The great Khan has also many concubines; and every second year he sends messengers to a remarkably fair tribe among the Tartars named Virgut, to make search for die fairest young women among them for his use. These messengers usually bring with them four or five hundred young women, more or less as they see cause. Examiners are appointed to take a view of all their beauties, who fix values upon them in proportion to their various merits, at sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, or more carats; and only those are brought to court whose values reach to a certain appointed rate. On their arrival at Cambalu, other examiners again view them, and choose out twenty or thirty of the handsomest for the chambers of the khan. Those who are thus selected, are placed for some time under the care of some of the wives of the great barons about the court, who are directed to report whether they do not snore in their sleep, and if they are not offensive in smell or behaviour. Such as are finally approved, are divided into parties of five; and one such party attends in the chamber of the khan for three days and nights in their turn, while another party waits in an adjoining chamber to prepare whatever the others may command them. Those who are less prized in the course of these rigid examinations of their qualities, are employed in cookery or other offices about the palace, or are bestowed by the khan on his favoured officers, with large portions. The men of the country from whence these young women are brought, deem it a great honour when their daughters are found worthy of the khans regard, and esteem themselves unfortunate when they are rejected at court.

Kublai had twenty-two sons by his four legitimate wives, and the first born of his first wife, named Zingis, would have succeeded him in the empire if he had not died before his father. Zingis left a son named Timur, who is a wise and valiant prince of great military experience, and who is destined to succeed his grandfather on the imperial throne, instead of his deceased father. By his concubines he has twenty-five sons, all of whom are daily exercised in martial employments, and are all promoted to high military posts and governments. Seven of his sons by his lawful wives are kings of great provinces, and rule the countries committed to their charge with great prudence and discretion.


Account of the Imperial City of Cambalu, and the Court of the Great Khan, or Emperor of the Tartars.

During the three winter months of December, January, and February, Kublai-khan generally resides in Cambalu[1] which is at the north-east border of Kathay. On the north part of the new city stands the great palace of the khan. In the first place is a great wall surrounding a vast square enclosure, each side being eight miles in length; the wall is environed on the outside by a deep ditch, and has a great gate in the middle of each side. Within this outer wall, there is another exactly a mile distant, each side of the square which it forms being six miles; and in the space between these two walls the soldiers attend and perform their exercises and evolutions. This inner square has three gates on its south side, and the same number on the north; the middle gate of both these sides being greater and more magnificent than the others, and is appropriated to the sole use of the khan, the others being open to all who have a right to pass. In each corner of this second wall, and in the middle of each side, there are very large and magnificent buildings, eight in all, which are appropriated as storehouses or arsenals for keeping the warlike weapons and furniture belonging to the khan: as horse trappings of all kinds in one; bows and arrows and cross-bows in a second; helmets, cuirasses, and leather armour in a third; and so on in the rest. Within this second circuit, and at a considerable distance, there is a third wall, likewise square, each side being a mile in length; this wall being ten paces high and very thick, with white battlements, has six gates as in the second wall. Between this third wall and the former there is an extensive park, with many fine trees and large meadows, well stocked with deer and other game, and the roads are raised two cubits above the meadows, to save the grass from being trodden. All of this park is kept in the finest order imaginable. In the four angles, and in the middle of each side of this interior wall, there are eight large and magnificent buildings, in which the khans provisions, and other things belonging to the court, are stored up.

[1] The proper name of this place is Kan-balgassan, or, for shortness, Khan-balga, signifying the city of the khan. Arabian authors have changed it to Khan-balick or Khan-baligh; and the Italians to Chanbalig, Chanbalu, Cambalu, and even Gamelecco. The Chinese call this northern part of the imperial city King-tshing, which has the same meaning with the Tartar name, and may be translated Kingstown. Pe-king, the other part of the same city, signifies the northern court or residence.--Forst.

Within this last wall is the palace of the great khan, which is the largest and most magnificent of any in the world[2], extending the whole way between the north and south walls of the inner circuit, except an opening of sufficient width for the passage of the soldiers and barons attending the courts The palace hath no ceiling[3], but the roof is very high. The foundation of the pavement or floor is raised ten palms above the ground, and is surrounded by a marble wall of two paces wide, resembling a walk; and at the end of the wall without, there is a fair turret ornamented with pillars. In the walls of the halls and chambers, there are numerous figures of dragons, soldiers, birds and beasts of various kinds, and representations of battles, all finely carved and splendidly gilded, and the roof is so richly ornamented, that nothing is to be seen but splendid gold and imagery. In every square of the palace there is a great hall, capable of containing a prodigious multitude of people, and all the chambers are arranged and disposed in the best possible manner; the roofs being all richly painted red, green, azure, and all other colours. Behind the palace there are many great rooms and private storehouses, for the treasure and jewels of the khan, for the dwellings of his women, and for various other private purposes. Over against the palace of the khan, there is another, which was formerly inhabited by his deceased son Zingis, who held a court in all things resembling that of his father. Near the palace, and to the north, there is a high artificial mount, a mile in circumference, and an hundred paces high, planted with evergreen trees, which were brought from remote places, with all their roots, on the backs of elephants: This eminence is called the Green Mountain, and is extremely pleasant and beautiful. Where the earth was taken away to form this mount, there are two lakes corresponding with each other, supplied by a small river, and well stored with fish; and the passages of the water are grated in such a manner that the fish cannot escape.

[2] The description of this palace is exceedingly confused and unintelligible, most probably from erroneous transcription and mistakes in translation.--E.
[3] By this obscure expression, it seems to be implied that there are no upper rooms.--E.

The city of Cambalu is seated on a great river in the province of Kathay, or Northern China, and its name signifies the city of the prince, having been the royal residence in former times. After the conquest, understanding, from his astrologers, that the inhabitants would rebel, the great khan removed the city to the other side of the river, calling the new city Taidu, which is twenty-four miles in circumference, every side of the square being six miles, and he commanded all the Kathayans to remove from the old city into the new one. The walls are of earth, ten paces thick at the bottom, and gradually tapering to three paces thick at the top, with white battlements. Each side of the square has three principal gates, or twelve in all, having sumptuous palaces built over each; and there are pavilions in all the angles of the wall, where the arms of the garrison are kept, being 1000 men for each gate. The whole buildings of this city are exactly squared, and all the streets are laid out in straight lines; so that a free prospect is preserved from gate to gate, through the whole city; and the houses are built on each side like palaces, with courts and gardens, divided according to the heads of families. In the middle of the whole, there is a noble building, in which a great bell is suspended, after the tolling of which, at a certain hour of the night, no person must go out of his house till the dawn of next morning, except it be for some urgent cause, as for assistance to a woman in labour, and even then they must carry lights. On the outside of the walls there are twelve large suburbs, extending three or four miles in length, from each gate, and there are more inhabitants in these suburbs than within the walls. In these, foreign merchants, and other strangers live, each nation having several storehouses and bazars, in which they lodge and keep their goods. No dead body is allowed to be burnt or buried within the city; but the bodies of the idolaters are burned without the suburbs, and the bodies of all other sects are buried in the same places. On account of the vast multitude of Mahometans who inhabit here, there are above 25,000 harlots in the city and suburbs: Over every 100 and every 1000 of these, there are chiefs or captains appointed, to keep them in order, and one general inspector over the whole. When any ambassador or other person, having business with the khan, comes to Cambalu, his whole charges are defrayed from the imperial treasury, and the general inspector of the harlots provides the ambassador, and every man of his family, a change of women every night at free cost. The guards of the city carry all whom they may find walking in the streets, after the appointed hour, to prison; and it these persons cannot give a valid excuse, they are beaten with cudgels, as the Bachsi allege that it is not right to shed mens blood; yet many persons die of this beating.

There are 12,000 horse-guards, called Casitan, who attend on the person of the khan, more from state than from any suspicion of danger. These have four chief commanders, one to every 3000 men; and one commander, with his band of 3000, keeps guard over the khan for three days and nights, after which he is succeeded by another, and so on in regular order.

When the khan holds a solemn court on any particular day of festival, his table is raised higher than all the rest, and is set on the north side of the hall, having his face to the south, his first queen or principal wife being placed on his left hand, and his sons and nephews, and other princes of the blood-royal being arranged on his right; but their table is placed so much lower, that their heads are hardly so high as the khans feet. The princes and other lords of the court sit lower still on the right hand; and the ladies being all placed in similar order on the left, those of the sons and kinsmen of the khan being next to the queen, and after these, the wives of the lords and officers, each according to their several ranks, in due order. By this means the khan, as he sits at table, can see all that feast along with him in the hall. There are not tables for all who are admitted to the feast, but the greatest part of the soldiers and captains sit down on carpets, where they are served with victuals and drink. At all the doors there are two gigantic fellows with cudgels, who observe carefully if any one touches the threshold in going in; and whoever does so, forfeits his garment, or receives a certain number of blows of a cudgel. Those who serve the khan, or who sit at his table, have their mouths covered with silken veils, lest their breath should touch the meat or drink which he is to use. When he drinks, the damsel who carries the cup kneels down, and then all the barons and others present kneel likewise, and all the musicians sound their instruments, till the khan has done drinking. If I were to describe all the pomp and magnificence of these festivals, and all die dainties and delicate dishes which are served up, I should become prolix and tiresome.

The birth days of their lords are celebrated with great reverence among the Tartars. That of Kublai-khan, their great emperor, is held yearly, on the twenty-eighth day of September, and is kept with greater solemnity than any other festival, except that of the new year, which is celebrated on the first day of February, when the Tartar year commences. On his birth day the great khan is clothed in a most splendid robe of cloth of gold, and about 2000 of his barons and soldiers receive, on this occasion, silken garments of a golden, colour, and girdles wrought in gold or silver, with each a pair of shoes. Some of those who are next to the khan in dignity, wear pearls and jewels of great value. These splendid garments are only worn on thirteen solemn festivals, corresponding to the thirteen moons or lunar months, into which the Tartar year is divided, when all the great men of the court are splendidly habited, like so many kings. The birth-day of the great khan is celebrated by all the Tartars throughout his extensive dominions; and on this day, all the kings, princes, governors, and nobles, who are subject to his authority, send presents to him in honour of the day, and in token of submission. Such as are desirous of obtaining any place of dignity or office, present their petitions to a council of twelve barons, appointed for that express purpose; and their decision is considered as equivalent to an answer from the khan in person. All the people of the immense dominions who acknowledge the authority of the great khan, whether Christians, or Jews, Mahometans, Tartars, or Pagans, are bound, on this anniversary, to pray solemnly to their Gods for the life, safety, prosperity, and health of the great khan.

On the first of February, which is the commencement of the Tartar year, the great khan, and all the Tartars, wherever they may happen to be at the time, observe a very solemn feast; and all of them, both men and women, are desirous, on that occasion, to be clothed in white garments, that fortune may be favourable to them for the remainder of the year. On this occasion, the governors of provinces, and rulers of cities, and all who are in office or authority, send presents to the khan, of gold, silver, pearls, and precious stones, likewise of many white cloths of various kinds, and other white things, and many white horses. It is the custom of those who bring presents, if they can, to present nine times nine of every particular article, whether it be gold, or silver, or cloths, or horses; and on this occasion, the khan sometimes receives 100,000 horses. On this grand festival, all the elephants belonging to the great khan, about 5000, are brought into the great court of the palace, covered with splendid housings of tapestry, wrought with the figures of various kinds of birds and beasts, each of them bearing on their backs two chests filled with vessels of gold and silver; and many camels are paraded on the same occasion, covered over, with fine silken cloths, and loaded with other necessaries for the court.

On the morning of this festival of the new year, all the captains, barons, soldiers[4], physicians, astrologers, governors of provinces, generals of armies, and other officers of the great khan, assemble before the emperor, in the great hall of the palace, all placed in due order, according to their rank and dignity, and those who have no place or employment, stand without, that they may see the ceremonies. One of the heads of their priests then rises, and cries out with a loud voice, "Bow down and adore," on which all who are present bend down their foreheads to the earth. He then calls out aloud, "God preserve our khan, and grant him long life and happiness;" and all the people answer, "God grant this." Then he says, "May God increase and advance his empire, and preserve all his subjects, in peace, concord, and prosperity;" and the people say, "God grant this our prayer." All this is repeated four times. Then the chief priest goes forwards to a red table or altar, richly adorned, on which the name of the khan is written; and taking a censer, containing rich spices and perfumes, he perfumes the altar or table with great reverence, in honour of the khan, and returns to his place in the assembly. After the conclusion of this ceremony, the various gifts which have been already mentioned are presented to the khan. And then the tables are prepared, and a most solemn and splendid dinner is served up, of which all the assistants, with their wives, partake, eating and drinking with great joy, as formerly described. In the course of this solemn feast, a tame lion is led up to the khan, which lies down at his feet as gentle as a whelp, acknowledging and caressing his lord.

[4] The soldiers mentioned here and in other places, as present in the great hall upon solemn occasions, can only mean the officers of the military actually on guard over the person of the khan at the time. --E.

In those three winter months during which the khan resides in Cambalu, viz. December, January, and February, all the imperial huntsmen who are maintained in the provinces contiguous to Kathay, employ themselves continually in hunting, and bring all the larger wild beasts, such as stags, deer, roe-bucks, bears, and wild-boars, to their governors or masters of the game; and if within thirty days journey of Cambalu, all these are sent in waggons to the court, being first embowelled; but such as are at a greater distance, send only the skins, which are used in making housings and other military articles.

The khan has many leopards, wolves, and even lions, trained for hunting. These lions are larger than those which are found near Babylon, and are variegated with small spots of white, black, and red. They are bred to catch bears, boars, stags, roe-bucks, wild asses, and wild bulls, and it is wonderful to see their dexterity and fierceness in the chase. When these lions are taken out to hunt, they are carried in waggons, two together, accompanied by a dog, with which they are familiar. They are managed in this manner, because of their fierce and unruly disposition, and they must be drawn towards the game against the wind, otherwise the beast would scent them and fly away. There are also many tame eagles, so trained as to take hares, roe-bucks, deers, and foxes; and some of these will even seize upon wolves, and vex them so grievously, that the men may take them without danger. For the conduct of the imperial hunt, there are two great officers called Ciurco, or masters of the game, who are brothers, named Boyan and Mingan, each of whom have the command of 10,000 men; those who belong to one of these divisions being clothed in red, and the others in sky blue; and they keep various kinds of dogs, such as mastiffs and others, for hunting, to the number of 5000 or more. When the khan goes to hunt, one of these great companies of hunters stretches out on his right hand, and the other on his left, occupying the plain country to the breadth of a whole days journey, so that no beast can escape them; and when they have collected the game into a circle, it is delightful to see the khan going into the middle, with numbers of dogs, which hunt down the harts and bears, and other wild beasts. The masters of the game are bound by their commissions to send to court, between the beginning of October and end of March, 1000 head of beasts, besides birds of various kinds, and fish, the best they can procure.


Of the Magnificence of the Court of the Great Khan, and of the Manners and Customs of his Subjects.

In the beginning of March the great khan departs from Cambalu, and proceeds north towards the ocean[1], which is at the distance of two days journey, accompanied by 10,000 falconers, with falcons, ger-falcons, hawks, and other birds of prey, that are trained to the sport. These falconers disperse themselves in companies of 100 or 200 together, and most of the birds that are taken are brought to the khan; who, on account of the gout, which has disabled him from riding, sits in a wooden house, covered with lions skins, and hung within with cloth of gold, which is carried on the backs of two elephants. For his particular recreation, he is accompanied by twelve choice hawks, carried by twelve nobles, many other noblemen and soldiers attending him. When any cranes, or pheasants, or other birds are seen, notice is given to the falconers who are near the khan, and by these to the khan himself, who then orders his travelling house to be removed, and the hawks to be flown at the game, and he, sitting in his bed, enjoys the sport. Ten thousand men attend the khan, who disperse two and two together, to mark where the falcons fly, that they may assist them when needful, and bring back them, and their game to the khan. These men are called Tascoal, which signifies watchmen or marksmen, and have a peculiar whistle by which they call in the hawks and falcons, so that it is not necessary that the falconers who let fly the hawks should follow them, as these tascoal are busily employed in taking up the hawks, and are very careful that none of them be hurt or lost. Every hawk has a small plate of silver attached to the foot, on which is the peculiar mark of its master, that each may be restored to its right owner. But if the mark be lost, or cannot be known, the hawk is delivered to a certain baron, whose name of office is Bulangazi, to whom all lost things whatever must be brought, otherwise the finder would be punished as a thief; and to the Bulangazi all who have lost any thing make application. This man is distinguished by a peculiarly conspicuous ensign, that he may be easily found out in so numerous an assemblage.

[1] The deserts or Tartarian wastes are probably meant in this passage.--E.

While thus busily employed in hawking, the royal retinue came at length to a great plain called Carzarmodin, where the tents of the khan and all the courtiers are pitched, to the number of 10,000 or more. The grand pavilion of the khan is so large, that 10,000 men might stand within it, besides barons and noblemen. It is placed with its entrance to the south, supported upon curiously carved pillars, and is covered on the outside with the skins of lions and other wild beasts, to keep out the rain; but the whole inside is lined with sables and ermines, to an immense value. For so precious are these skins esteemed, that a sufficient number to make one garment only will sometimes cost 2000 gold sultanies, and the Tartars call the sable the queen of furs. All the cords of the imperial pavilions are of silk. Around this there are other pavilions for the sons, wives, and concubines of the khan. At a farther distance there are tents for the falcons, ger-falcons, hawks, and other birds of game; and the whole encampment seems at a distance like a great city, or the station of a large army. The khan remains all the month of March in that plain, employed in hawking; and the multitude of beasts and fowls which are taken in that time is quite incredible. From the beginning of March to the month of October, no person is permitted to hunt within five days journey of this plain of Carzarmodin in one direction, ten in another, and fifteen in a third, nor to keep any hawk or hunting dog, neither to use any device or engine whatever, for taking any stag, deer, roe-buck, hare, or other game, lest the breed should be injured; by which means the game is always in great abundance.

It is quite wonderful to behold what numbers of merchants and other people, and what astonishing quantities of merchandize and goods of all sorts are to be seen in Cambalu. The money of the great khan is not of gold or silver, or other metal, but of a species of paper, which is thus made: They take the middle Dark of the mulberry tree, which they make firm in a particular manner, and this is cut out into round pieces of various sizes, on which the seal or mark of the khan is impressed. Of this paper money, an immense quantity is fabricated in the city of Cambalu, sufficient to supply the currency of the whole empire; and no person, under pain of death, may coin or spend any other money, or refuse to accept of this, in all the kingdoms and countries which are subject to his dominions. All who come into his dominions are prohibited from using any other money, so that all merchants coming from countries however remote, must bring with them gold, silver, pearls, or precious stones, for which they receive the khans paper money in exchange: And as that money is not received in other countries, they must exchange it again in the empire of the great khan, for merchandize to carry with them on their return. The khan pays all salaries, stipends, and wages to his officers, servants, and army, in this money, and whatever is required for the service of his court and household is paid for in the same. By all these means, there is no sovereign in the world who equals the great khan in extent of treasure; as he expends none in the mint, or in any other way whatever.

The great khan has a council of war, composed of twelve barons, as formerly mentioned, who direct all martial affairs, and have the power of promoting or disgracing officers and soldiers as they think proper. Their office is called Thai, or the high court or tribunal, as no person in the empire is superior to them except the great khan. Other twelve barons are appointed as counsellors for the thirty-four provinces, into which the vast empire of the khan is divided; these have a splendid palace in Cambalu as their office, in which there is a judge for each province, and many notaries. This tribunal chooses proper persons to be appointed governors of the provinces, and presents their names to the khan for confirmation. They likewise have the charge of the collection and expenditure of the public treasure. The name of their office is Singh, or the second court, which is subordinate only to the khan, yet is considered as less noble than the Thai or military tribunal.

Many public roads lead from Cambalu to all the neighbouring provinces; and on every one of these there are inns or lodgings, called lambs, built at the distance of every twenty-five or thirty miles, which serve as post- houses, having large fair courts, and many chambers, furnished with beds and provisions, every way fit to lodge and entertain great men, and even kings. The provisions are furnished from the circumjacent country, out of the tributes. At every one of these, there are four hundred horses, two hundred of which are kept ready for use in the stables, and the other two hundred at grass, each division for a month alternately. These horses are destined for the use of ambassadors and messengers, who leave their tired horses, and get fresh ones at every stage. In mountainous places, where there were no villages, the khan has established colonies of about ten thousand people in each, in the neighbourhood of these post-houses, that they may cultivate the ground, and supply provisions. These excellent regulations extend to the utmost limits of the empire, in all directions, so that there are about ten thousand imperial inns or lambs in the whole empire; and the number of horses appointed in these, for the service of messengers, exceeds two hundred thousand[2]; by which means, intelligence is forwarded to the court without delay, from all parts of the empire. If any person should wonder how so many beasts and men can be procured and provided for, let him consider that the Mahometans and pagans have many women, and great numbers, of children, some having even so many as thirty sons, all able to follow them armed into the field. As for victuals, they sow rice, panik, and millet, which yield an hundred after one, and they allow no land that is fit to carry crops to remain uncultivated. As wheat does not thrive in this country it is little sown, and they use no bread, but feed upon the formerly mentioned grains, boiled in milk, or made into broth along with flesh. Their horses continually increase, insomuch, that every Tartar soldier carries six, eight, or more horses into the field for his own use, which he rides upon in their turns. All cities that are adjoining to rivers or lakes, are ordered to have ferry-boats in constant readiness for the posts; and those which are on the borders of deserts, must supply horses and provisions for such as have to pass through these deserts; for which service, they are allowed a reasonable compensation from the state.

[2] Instead of this number, 10,000 post-houses, at 400 horses each, would require four millions of horses. The number and proportion of horses in the text would only supply 500 inns; or would allow only 20 horses each to 10,000 inns. The text, therefore, must be here corrupted.--E.

In cases of great conscience, the messenger has a gerfalcon badge, formerly mentioned, and is so equipped, that he will ride 200, or 250 miles in a day and night, being attended in dark nights by persons who run along with him on foot, carrying lights. On approaching a post-house, the messenger sounds a horn, that a fresh horse or horses, according to his company, may be brought out, and ready to mount immediately. These speedy messengers have then bellies, loins, and heads firmly swathed, and they always travel as fast as their horses can go; and such as are able to endure this excessive riding, are held in great estimation, as nothing is more admired among the Tartars than good horsemanship.

Between the lambs, or large post-houses, there are other habitations, at three or four miles distance from each other, where foot-posts are established, every one of whom has his girdle hung round with shrill sounding bells. These are always in readiness; and when dispatched with the khans letters, they convey them with great speed to the next foot-post station, where they hear the sound of the bells from a distance, and some one is always in readiness to take the letters, and to run on to the next station: Thus, by constant change of swift runners, the letters are conveyed with great dispatch to their destinations. By this means, the khan often receives letters or new fruits in two days, from the distance often ordinary days journey: As for instance, fruits growing at Cambalu in the morning, are conveyed to Xandu by the night of the next day. All the people employed in the posts, besides being exempted from all tribute, have an ample recompense for their labour from the gatherer of the khans rents. There are inspectors employed, who examine the state and conduct of these posts every month, and are empowered to punish those who are guilty of faults.

The khan sends every year to the different provinces of his empire, to inquire whether any injuries have been sustained to the crops by tempests, locusts, worms, or any other calamity; and when any province or district has suffered damage, the tribute is remitted for that year, and he even sends corn for food and seed from the public granaries: For in years of great abundance, he purchases large quantities of grain, which is carefully preserved for three or four years, by officers appointed for the purpose; by which means, when a scarcity occurs in any province, the defect may be supplied from the granaries of the khan in another province. On these occasions, he orders his grain to be sold at a fourth part of the market price, and great care is taken to keep his granaries always well supplied. When any murrain attacks the cattle of one of the provinces, the deficiency is supplied from the tenths which he receives in the other provinces. If any beast or sheep happens to be killed by lightning in a flock or herd, he draws no tribute from that flock, however great, for three years, under an idea that God is angry with the owner of the herd.

That travellers may discern, and be able to discover the road in uninhabited places, trees are planted at convenient distances, along all the principal roads; and in the sandy and desert places, where trees will not grow, stones and pillars are erected to direct the passengers, and officers are appointed to see that all these things are performed. According to the opinion of the astrologers, the planting of trees conduces to lengthen the age of man, and therefore, the khan is the more induced to encourage their propagation by his order and example.

In the province of Cathay, the people make excellent drink of rice and certain spices, which even excels wine in flavour; and those who drink too much of it become sooner drunk than with wine[3]. Through this whole province, certain black stones are dug from the mountains, which burn like wood, and preserve fire a long time, and if kindled in the evening, will keep on fire all night[4]; and many people use these stones in preference to wood, because, though the country abounds in trees, there is a great demand for wood for other purposes.

[3] This must allude to a species of corn-spirits or brandy, distilled from rice, fermented with water, named Arrak.--E.
[4] This evidently points out the use of coal in northern China.--E.

The great khan is particularly attentive to the care of the poor in the city of Cambalu. When he hears of any honourable family that, has fallen to decay through misfortune, or of any who cannot work, and have no subsistence, he gives orders for issuing a whole years subsistence, together with garments, both for winter and summer, to the heads of those distressed families. There is an appropriate office or tribunal for this imperial bounty, to which those who have received the warrants or orders of the khan apply for relief. The khan receives the tenths of all wool, silk, and hemp, which he causes to be manufactured into stuffs of all kinds, in houses set apart for this purpose; and as all artificers of every description are bound to work for him one day in every week, he has immense quantities of every kind of useful commodity in his storehouses. By these means, likewise, there are similar imperial manufactures in every city of the empire, in which clothing is made from his tithe wool for his innumerable soldiers. According to their ancient customs, the Tartars gave no alms, and were in use to upbraid those who were in poverty, as hated of God. But the priests of the idolaters, especially those who have been formerly mentioned under the name of Bachsi, have convinced the khan that charity is a good work, and an acceptable service to God; so that in his court food and raiment are never denied to those who ask, and there is no day in which there is less than the value of 20,000 crowns distributed in acts of charily, particularly in rice, millet, and panik; by which extensive benevolence the khan is esteemed as a god among his subjects.

There are in Cambalu about five thousand astrologers and diviners, Christians, Mahometans, and Kathayans, all of whom are provided yearly by the khan in food and raiment. These have an Astrolabe, on which all the signs of the planets are marked, together with the hours, and most minute subdivisions of the whole year. By this instrument, these astrologers, each religion apart, observe the course of the year, according to every moon, noting the prognostications of the weather, yet always referring to God, to do as they predict or otherwise, according to his pleasure. They write down upon square tablets, called Tacuini, all those things which are to fall out during the year, which they sell to any who will purchase; and those who are most fortunate in their predictions are held in the highest honour. If any one intends to commence an important labour, or to undertake a distant journey, and is anxious to be certified of the event, he has recourse to the astrologers to read, as they pretend, his destiny in the heavens, for this purpose, being instructed in the precise date of birth of the person consulting them, they calculate the present aspect of the constellation which ruled at his birth, and foretel that good or evil will flow from his intentions. The Tartars compute time by cycles of twelve lunar years; calling the first of each series the year of the lion; the second of the ox; the third of the dragon; the fourth of the dog; and so on through the whole twelve, and when these are gone through, they begin the series anew. Thus, if a man is asked when he was born, he answers that it was on such a division of such an hour, day, and moon, in the year of the lion, ox, or so forth. All this their fathers set down exactly in a book.

It has been already said that the Tartars are idolaters. Each man of any consequence has a table aloft in the wall of one of his chambers, on which a name is written, to signify the great God of Heaven, whom he adores once each day, with a censer of burning incense; and lifting up his hands, and thrice gnashing his teeth, he prays to God to grant him health and understanding; this being the only petition addressed to the Almighty, of whom they pretend not to make any similitude. But they have a statue or image on the ground, called Natigai, the god of earthly things, and images of his wife and children. This is likewise worshipped with incense, gnashing of teeth, and lifting up the hands; and from this, they beg for favourable weather, productive crops, increase of children, and all manner of worldly prosperity. They believe the soul to be immortal, and that when a man dies, his soul enters into another body, better or worse, according to the merits or demerits of his former life: As that a poor man becomes a gentleman, then a prince or lord, and so higher, till at length the soul is absorbed in God. Or if he have deserved ill, it descends to animate the body of a lower and poorer man, after that the body of a dog, always descending to the lowest rank of baseness. In their manners, the language of the Tartars is comely; they salute one another with grace and cheerfulness, conducting themselves honestly, and they feed in a cleanly manner. They bear great reverence to their parents, and if any one be undutiful or regardless of their necessities, they are liable to the jurisdiction of a public tribunal, especially assigned for the punishment of ungrateful or disobedient children. Persons condemned to imprisonment for crimes, are discharged after three years confinement, when they are marked on the cheek, that they may be known as malefactors.

All barons or others, who approach within half a mile of the residence of the great khan, must be still and quiet, no noise or loud speech being permitted in his presence or neighbourhood. Every one who enters the hall of presence, must pull off his boots, lest he soil the carpets, and puts on furred buskins of white leather, giving his other boots to the charge of servants till he quits the hall; and every one carries a small covered vessel to spit in; as no one dare spit in the halls of the palace.


Some Account of the Provinces of Kathay, or Northern China, and of other neighbouring Countries subject to the Great Khan[1].

[1] Owing to the prodigious revolutions which have taken place in the East since the time of Marco, and the difference of languages, by which countries, provinces, towns, and rivers have received very dissimilar names, it is often difficult or impossible to ascertain, with any precision, the exact geography of the relations and descriptions in the text. Wherever this can be done with any tolerable probability of usefulness it shall be attempted.--E.

Ten miles from Cambalu is a great river called Pulisangan[2], which empties itself into the ocean, and by which many vessels ascend with merchandize to a certain handsome bridge, all built of serpentine stone, curiously wrought. This bridge is 300 paces in length, and eight paces broad, so that ten men may ride abreast. It is secured on each side with a wall of marble, ornamented with a row of pillars. The pillar on each side, at the summit of the bridge, has the image of a great lion on the top, and another at its base; and all the others, which are at intervals of a pace and a half, have figures of lions on their tops only. After passing this bridge, and proceeding to the westwards for thirty miles, continually passing through vineyards, and fertile fields, with numerous palaces on all sides, you come to the fair and large city of Gouza, in which there are many idol temples, and in which cloth of gold and silk, and the purest and finest cambrics or lawns, are manufactured. It contains many common inns for strangers and travellers; and the inhabitants are very industrious in trade and manufactures. A mile beyond this city, the road divides into two; that to the west leading through the province of Kathay, and that to the south-east towards the province of Mangi, from Gouza to the kingdom of Tain-fu[3]. In this journey, you ride for ten days through Kathay, always finding many fair and populous cities, well cultivated fields, and numerous vineyards, from whence all Kathay is supplied with wine; and many plantations of mulberry trees, for rearing silk worms. Tain-fu is the name of the kingdom or province, and of the chief city, which is large and handsomely built, carrying on much trade, and containing great magazines of military stores for the khans army. Seven days journey farther to the west, there is a pleasant country, having many cities and castles, and carrying on great trade. We then come to a very large city, called Pian-fu, in which there is vast abundance of silk and much trade.

[2] The Pei-ho, which runs into the gulf of Pekin, near the head of the Yellow sea.--E.
[3] Kathay, or Northern China, contained the six northern provinces, and Mangi or Southern China, the nine provinces to the south of the river Kiang, Yang-tse-Kiang or Kian-ku. Tain-fu may possibly be Ten-gan-fu: Gouza it is impossible to ascertain, unless it may be Cou-gan, a small town, about thirty miles south from Peking or Cambalu. I suspect in the present itinerary, that Marco keeps on the north of the Hoang-ho. --E.

Westwards from Pian-fu, there is a pleasantly situated castle called Thaigin, containing a spacious palace with a fine hall, in which there are portraits of all the famous kings who have reigned in this country. This castle and palace are said to have been built by a king named Dor, who was very powerful, and was only attended on by great numbers of young damsels, who used to carry him about the castle in a small light chariot. Confiding in the strength of this castle, which he believed impregnable, Dor rebelled against Umcan, to whom he was tributary. But seven of his courtiers or attendants, in whom he placed confidence, made him prisoner one day while hunting, and delivered him to Umcan, who dressed him in mean clothes, and set him under a strong guard to tend his cattle. At the end of two years, Umcan called Dor into his presence, and after a severe reproof and admonition for his future obedience, dressed him in princely robes, and sent him back to his kingdom with a powerful escort.

About twenty miles beyond the castle of Thaigin, we come to the great river Caramaran[4]; which is so broad and deep that it has no bridge between this place and the ocean. There are many cities, towns, and castles, on the banks of this river, which carry on great trade. The country abounds in ginger and silk; and fowls of all kinds, particularly pheasants, are so plentiful, that three of them may be purchased for a Venetian groat. Along the banks of this river, there grow vast quantities of great reeds or hollow canes[5], some of which, are a foot or eighteen inches round, and are applied to many useful purposes. Two days journey beyond this river is the famous city of Carianfu, in which great quantities of silks and cloth of gold are made. This country produces ginger, galuigal, spike, and many spices; and the inhabitants are idolaters. Proceeding seven days journey westwards, we pass through many cities, and towns, and fine fields, and gardens, and everywhere there are plantations of mulberries for feeding silk-worms, and abundance of wild beasts and fowls. The inhabitants are mostly idolaters, with some Christians, or Nestorians, and Saracens or Mahometans. Continuing the journey for seven days, we come to a great city called Quenzanfu, which is the capital of the kingdom of that name, in which many famous kings have reigned. At the present time Mangalu, one of the sons of the great khan, has the supreme command of this kingdom. This country yields great plenty of silk, and cloth of gold, and all things necessary for the subsistence of an army, and the maintenance of its numerous inhabitants. The people are mostly idolaters, but there are some Christians and Mahometans among them. Five miles from the city stands the palace of Mangalu, in a fine plain, watered by numerous springs and rivulets, and abounding in game. This fine palace, all painted with gold and azure, and adorned with numberless statues, stands in the middle of a fine park of five miles square, surrounded by a high wall, in which all kinds of beasts and fowls are to be found in abundance; and in this place Mangalu and his courtiers take great delight to hunt. He follows his fathers excellent example, in conducting his government with great equity and justice, and is much beloved and respected by the people.

[4] Hara-moran, or Hoang-he. Thaigin may therefore be Tan-gin, about twenty miles east from that river, in Lat. S6-1/4 N. In which case, Pian-fu may be the city of Pin-yang; and Tain-fu, Tay-uen.--E.
[5] Bamboos.--E.

Proceeding three days to the westward, from the palace of Mangalu, through a very beautiful plain, adorned with many cities and castles, which have great abundance of silk and other manufactures, we come to a mountainous district of the province of Chunchian, in the vallies of which there are many villages and hamlets; the inhabitants being idolaters and husbandmen. In these mountains they hunt lions, bears, stags, roebucks, deer, and wolves. The plain is two days over, and for twenty days journey to the west, the country is well inhabited, and finely diversified with mountains, vallies, and woods. At the end of these twenty days, there lies, towards the west, a populous province called Achbaluch Mangi, or the white city on the borders of Mangi. On entering this province, we find a plain of two days journey in extent, and containing a prodigious number of villages; beyond which the country is diversified with mountains, vallies, and woods, yet all well inhabited. In these mountains there are plenty of wild beasts, among which are the animals that produce musk. This province produces rice and other grain, and abundance of ginger. After twenty days journey through these hills, we come to a plain and a province on the confines of Mangi, called Sindinfu. The city of the same name is very large, and exceedingly rich, being twenty miles in circumference; of old, this city and province was governed by a race of rich and powerful kings. On the death of an old king, he left the succession among three sons, who divided the city into three parts, each surrounded by its own wall, yet all contained within the former wall of the city; but the great khan subjected the city and province to his dominion. Through this city and its environs there run many rivers, some half a mile over, and some an hundred paces, all very deep; and on these there are many handsome stone bridges, eight paces broad, having marble pillars on each side, supporting wooden roofs, and on every bridge there are houses and shops. After passing this city, all these rivers unite into one great river called the Quian, or Kian, which runs from hence one hundred days journey before it reaches the ocean; having many cities and castles on its banks, with innumerable trading vessels. Proceeding four days journey farther, we pass through a fine plain, containing many cities, castles, and villages, and several beautiful green lawns or pastures, in which there are many wild beasts.

Beyond this last mentioned plain is the wide country of Thebet, or Thibet, which the great khan vanquished and laid waste; and in it there are many ruined cities and castles, for the space of twenty days journey, which has become an uninhabited wilderness, full of lions and other wild beasts. Those who have to travel through this country must carry victuals along with them, and must use precautions to defend themselves against the ferocious animals of the desert. Very large canes grow all over this country, some of which are ten paces long and three palms thick, and as much between the knots or joints. When travellers take up their quarters for the night, they take large bundles of the greener reeds or canes, which they put upon the top of a large fire, and they make such a crackling noise in burning as to be heard for two miles off by which the wild beasts are terrified and fly from the place; but it has sometimes happened that the horses, and other beasts belonging to the merchants or travellers, have been frightened by this noise, and have run away from their masters: for which reason prudent travellers use the precaution of fettering or binding their feet together, to prevent them from running off.


An account of Thibet, and several other Provinces, with the Observations made by the Author in passing through them.

At the end of twenty days journey through the before mentioned depopulated country, we met with cities and many villages, inhabited by an idolatrous people, whose manners are so licentious that no man marries a wife who is a virgin. Hence when travellers and strangers from other countries come among them, the women of the country who have marriageable daughters bring them to the tents of the strangers, and entreat them to enjoy the company of their daughters so long as they remain in the neighbourhood. On these occasions the handsomest are chosen, and those who are rejected return home sorrowful and disappointed. The strangers are not permitted to carry away any of these willing damsels, but must restore them faithfully to their parents; and at parting the girl requires some toy or small present, which she may shew as a token of her condition; and she who can produce the greatest number of such favours has the greatest chance of being soon and honourably married. When a young woman dresses herself out to the best advantage, she hangs all the favours she may have received from her different lovers about her neck, and the more acceptable she may have been to many such transitory lovers, so much the more is she honoured among her countrymen. But after marriage they are never suffered to have intercourse with strangers, and the men of the country are very cautious of giving offence to each other in this matter.

The people of this country are idolaters, who live by hunting, yet cultivate the ground, and are much addicted to stealing, which they account no crime; they are clothed in the skins of wild beasts, or in coarse hempen garments, having no money, not even the paper money of the khan, but they use pieces of coral instead of money. Their language is peculiar to themselves. The country of which we now speak belongs to Thibet, which is a country of vast extent, and has been some time divided into eight kingdoms, in which are many cities and towns, with many mountains, lakes, and rivers, in some of which gold is found. The women wear coral necklaces, which they likewise hang about the necks of their idols. In this country there are very large dogs, almost as big as asses, which are employed in hunting the wild beasts, especially wild oxen called Boyamini. In this province of Thibet there are many kinds of spices which are never brought into Europe. This, like all the other provinces formerly mentioned, is subject to the great khan.

On the west of the province of Thibet lies the province of Caindu, which was formerly governed by kings of its own, but is now ruled by governors appointed by the great khan. By the west, it is not to be understood that these countries are actually in the west; but that, as we travelled to them from those parts which are situate between the east and the north-east, and consequently came thither westwards, we therefore reckon them as being in the west[1]. The people are idolaters and have many cities, of which the principal is called Caindu, after the name of the province, and is built on the frontiers. In this country there is a large salt lake, which produces such extraordinary abundance of white pearls, but not round, that no person is allowed to fish for them under pain of death, without a licence from the great khan, lest by becoming too plentiful, the price should be too much reduced. There is likewise a mountain producing turquoises, the digging for which is restrained under similar regulations. There are great numbers of the animals called gadderi in this province, which produce musk. The lake which produces pearls is likewise very abundant in fish, and the whole country is full of wild beasts of many kinds, as lions, bears, stags, deer, ounces, and roebucks, and many kinds of birds. Cloves also are found in great plenty, which are gathered from small trees, resembling the bay-tree in boughs and leaves, but somewhat longer and straighter, having white flowers. The cloves when ripe are black, or dusky, and very brittle. The country likewise produces ginger and cinnamon in great plenty, and several other spices which are not brought to Europe. It has no wine, but in place of it, the inhabitants make a most excellent drink of corn or rice, flavoured with various spices.

[1] The meaning of this sentence is obscure, unless it is intended to guard the readers against the supposition that these countries were to the west of Europe.--E.

The inhabitants of this country are so besotted to their idols, that they fancy they secure their favour by prostituting their wives, sisters, and daughters to strangers. When any stranger comes among them, all the masters of families strive to procure him as a guest, after which, they leave the stranger to be entertained by the females of the family, and will not return to their own house till after his departure; and all this is done in honour of their idols, thinking that they secure their favour by this strange procedure. The principal money in this country is gold, unstamped, and issued by weight. But their ordinary money consists in solid small loaves of salt, marked with the seal of the prince; and of this merchants make vast profits in remote places, which have abundance of gold and musk, which the inhabitants are eager to barter for salt, to use with their meat.

Leaving this province, we proceeded fifteen days journey farther, passing through many cities and villages, the inhabitants of which have the same customs with those of Caindu; and at length we came to a river called Brius, which is the boundary of the province of Caindu. In this river gold dust is found in great abundance, by washing the sand of the river in vessels, to cleanse the gold from earth and sand. On the banks of this river, which runs direct to the ocean, cinnamon grows in great plenty. Having passed the river Brius, we come westwards to the province of Caraian, which contains seven kingdoms, and is under the command of Sentamur, as viceroy for his father the great khan. This prince is young, rich, wise, and just. The country produces excellent horses, is well peopled and has a peculiar and very difficult language; the inhabitants are idolaters, who live on their cattle and the produce of the earth. After proceeding five days journey through this country, we came to the great and famous city of Jaci[2]. In this large city there are many merchants and manufacturers, and many different kinds of people, idolaters, Christians, Nestorians, and Mahometans; but the great majority are idolaters. It has abundance of corn and rice, but the inhabitants only use bread made from rice, as they esteem it more wholesome; they make a drink also from rice, mixed with several kinds of spices, which is very pleasant. They use white porcelain instead of money, and certain sea shells for ornaments[3]. Much salt is made in this country from the water of salt wells, from which the viceroy derives great profit. There is a lake in this country 100 miles in circuit, which has great quantities of fish. The people of this country eat the raw flesh of beef, mutton, buffalo, and poultry, cut into small pieces and seasoned with excellent spices, but the poorer sort are contented with garlic shred down among their meat. The men have no objections to permit the intercourse of strangers with their wives, on condition only of being previously asked for their consent.

[2] Called Lazi by Pinkerton, from the Trevigi edition of these travels, mentioned in the introduction. This place, therefore, may be Lassa, in the kingdom or province of Ou, in Middle Thibet, the residence of the Dalai Lama, situate on a branch of the Sampoo, or great Brahma-pootra, or Barampooter river, which joins the Ganges in the lower part of Bengal.--E.
[3] This sentence most probably is meant to imply the use of cowries, sometimes called porellane shells, both for money and ornament.--E.

We departed from Jaci or Lazi, and travelling westwards for ten days journey, we came to a province called Carazan after the name of its chief city, which is governed by a son of the great khan, named Cogatin[4]. The rivers in this province yield large quantities of washed gold, and, likewise in the mountains, solid gold is found in veins; and the people exchange gold against silver, at the rate of one pound of gold for six pounds of silver[5]. The ordinary currency of the country is in porcelain shells brought from India. In this country there are very large serpents, some of which are ten paces long, and ten spans in thickness, having two little feet before, near the head, with three talons or claws like lions, and very large bright eyes[6]. Their jaws have large sharp teeth, and their mouths are so wide, that they are able to swallow a man; nor is there any man, or living creature, that can behold these serpents without terror. Some of these are only eight, six, or five paces in length. In the day-time they lurk in holes to avoid the great heat, going out only in the night in search of prey, and they devour lions, wolves, or any other beasts they can find, after which they go in search of water, leaving such a track in the sands, owing to their weight, as if a piece of timber had been dragged along. Taking advantage of this circumstance, the hunters fasten great iron spikes under the sand in their usual tracks, by means of which they are often wounded and killed. The crows or vultures proclaim the serpents fate by their cries, on which the hunters come up and flea the animal, taking out his gall, which is employed as a sovereign remedy for several diseases, given to the quantity of a pennyweight in wine; particularly against the bite of a mad dog, for women in labour, for carbuncles, and other distempers. They likewise get a good price for the flesh, which is considered as very delicate.

[4] Pinkerton, from the Trevigi edition, names the country Cariam, and the governor Cocagio.--E.
[5] The ordinary European price is about fourteen for one.--E.

This province breeds many stout horses, which are carried by the merchants into India. They commonly take out a bone from the tails of their horses, to prevent them from being able to lash them from side to side, as they esteem it more seemly for the tails to hang down. The natives, who are idolaters, use long stirrups in riding, like the French; whereas the Tartars and other nations use short stirrups, because they rise up when they discharge their arrows. In their wars, they use targets and other defensive armour made of buffalo hides; and their offensive weapons are lances and crossbows, with poisoned arrows. Some of them, who are great villains, are said always to carry poison with them, that if taken prisoners, they may swallow it to procure sudden death, and to avoid torture. On which occasion, the great lords force them to swallow dogs dung that they may vomit up the poison. Before they were conquered by the great khan, when any stranger of good appearance happened to lodge with them, they used to kill him in the night; believing that the good properties of the murdered person would afterwards devolve to the inhabitants of the house; and this silly notion has occasioned the death of many persons.

Travelling still westwards from the province of Carazam, or Cariam, we came, after five days journey, to the province of Cardandan, of which the chief city is called Vociam[7]. The inhabitants, who are subject to the great khan, use porcelain shells, and gold by weight, instead of money. In that country, and many other surrounding provinces, there are no silver mines, and the people give an ounce of gold for five ounces of silver, by which exchange the merchants acquire great profits. The men and women cover their teeth with thin plates of gold, so exactly fitted, that the teeth seem as if they were actually of solid gold. The men make a kind of lists or stripes round their legs and arms, by pricking the places with needles, and rubbing in a black indelible liquid, and these marks are esteemed as great decorations. They give themselves up entirely to riding and hunting, and martial exercises, leaving all the household cares to the women, who are assisted by slaves, whom they purchase or take in their wars. Immediately after delivery, the woman leaves her bed and washes the child; after which, the husband lies down in her bed with the child, where he remains for forty days, during all which time, he receives the visits and compliments of the friends and neighbours. The wife looks after the house, carries broth to her husband in bed, and suckles the child. Their wine is made from rice and spiceries; and their ordinary food is rice and raw flesh, seasoned with spiceries or garlic, as formerly mentioned. There are no idols in this province, except that every family adores the oldest man in the house, from whom they say that they and all they have are come. The country consists mostly of wild and rugged mountains; into which strangers seldom come, because the air, especially in summer, is exceedingly noxious. They have no letters, but all their contracts and obligations are recorded by tallies of wood, one counterpart being kept by each party, and when the contract is fulfilled the tallies are destroyed.

[6] The description of this creature seems to indicate an alligator or crocodile; which probably Marco had not seen, and only describes from an imperfect account of the natives.--E.
[7] According to Pinkerton, this province is named Cariti, and its principal town Nociam, in the edition of Trevigi.--E.

There are no physicians in this province or in Caindu, Vociam, or Caraiam; but when any one is sick, the magicians or priests of the idols are assembled, to whom the sick person gives an account of his disease. Then the magicians dance to the sound of certain instruments, and bellow forth songs in honour of their idols, till at length, the devil enters into one of these who are skipping about in the dance. The dance is then discontinued, and the rest of the magicians consult with him who is possessed as to the cause of the disease, and what ought to be done for its remedy. The devil answers by this person, "because the sick person has done this or that, or has offended some particular idol." Then the magicians entreat this idol to pardon the sick person, engaging, if he recover, that he shall offer a sacrifice of his own blood. But if the devil or the priest thinks that the patient cannot recover, he says that the person has so grievously offended the idol, that he cannot be appeased by any sacrifices. If, on the other hand, he thinks the sick person may recover, he orders an offering of a certain number of rams with black heads, to be prepared by so many magicians and their wives, and offered up to appease the idol. On this the kinsmen of the sick person immediately execute the orders of the devil. The rams are killed, and their blood sprinkled in the air. The assembled magicians light up great candles, and perfume the whole house with the smoke of incense and aloes wood, and sprinkle some of the broth made from the flesh, mixed with spices, into the air, as the portion of the idols. When these things are performed, they again skip and dance in honour of the idol, singing and making a horrible noise; and then ask the possessed priest whether the idol is now satisfied. If he answer in the negative, they prepare to obey any farther commands; but if he answer that the idol is satisfied, they sit down to table, and eat the flesh which was offered to the idol and drink the liquors; after which, the magicians being paid for their trouble, every one departs to his own home. If the sick person recover through the providence of God, he attributes the restoration of his health to the idol; but if he die, it is then supposed that the idol had been defrauded, by some of the assistants having eaten of the sacrifices before all the rites were duly performed. This ceremony is only practised for rich patients, on whom the devil, or the priests in his name, impose their blind belief.

In 1272, the great khan sent an army of 12,000 veteran troops, under the command of aft experienced officer, named Nestardin, to reduce the kingdom of Vociam and Guarazan[8]. As soon as the kings of Mien[9] and Bengala heard of this invasion, they assembled an army of 60,000 horse and foot, besides a thousand elephants, carrying castles, in each of which there were from twelve to sixteen armed men. With this army, the king of Mien marched towards the city of Vociam, where the Tartar army was encamped. Nestardin, regardless of the great disparity of numbers, marched with invincible courage to fight the enemy; but when he drew near, he encamped under cover of a great wood, knowing that the elephants could not penetrate into the wood with the towers on their backs. The king of Mien drew near to fight the Tartars; but the Tartarian horses were so terrified with the sight of the elephants, who were arranged along the front of the battle, that it was impossible to bring them up to the charge. The Tartars, therefore, were compelled to alight from their horses, which they fastened to the trees, and came boldly forewards on foot against the elephants, among whom they discharged immense quantities of arrows; so that the elephants, unable to endure the smart of their wounds, became unmanageable, and fled to the nearest wood, where they broke their castles, and overturned the armed men, with which they were filled. On this, the Tartars remounted their horses, and made a furious attack on the enemy. The battle continued for some time undecided, and many men were slain on both sides. At length the army of the king of Mien was defeated and put to flight, leaving the victory to the Tartars; who now hastened into the wood, and made many prisoners, by whose assistance they seized two hundred of the elephants, which were sent to the great khan. Before this time, the Tartars were unaccustomed to the use of elephants in war; but the great khan has ever since had elephants in his army. After this victory, the great khan subjected the kingdoms of Mien and Bengala to his empire.

[8] Named previously Carazam and Caraian, afterwards Caraiam, or Carian. --E.

Departing from the province of Carian, or Caraiam, there is a great desert which continues for two days and a half, without any inhabitants, at the end of which desert there is a large plain, in which great multitudes meet for traffic three days in every week. Many people come down from the great mountains, bringing gold, which they exchange for five times its weight of silver; on which account, many merchants come here from foreign countries with silver, and carry away gold, bringing likewise large quantities of merchandize to sell to these people; for no strangers can go into the high mountains where the people dwell who gather gold, oh account of the intricacy and impassable nature of the roads. After passing this plain, and going to the south for fifteen days journey, through uninhabited and woody places, in which there are innumerable multitudes of elephants, rhinoceroses[10], and other wild beasts, we come to Mien, which borders upon India. At the end of that journey of fifteen days, we come to the great and noble city of Mien, the capital of the kingdom, which is subject to the great khan. The inhabitants are idolaters, and have a peculiar language. There was formerly a king in this city, who being on the point of death, gave orders to erect two pyramidal monuments, or towers of marble, near his sepulchre, one at the head and the other at the foot, each of them ten fathoms high, and having a round ball on the top of each. One of these he ordered to be covered with gold, and the other with silver, a fingers breadth in thickness; and round about the tops of these pyramids many little bells of gold and silver were hung, which gave a pleasing shrill sound, when agitated by the wind. The monument or sepulchre between these was likewise covered with plates of gold and silver. When the great khan undertook the conquest of this country, he sent a valiant captain at the head of a large army, mostly of cavalry, of which the Tartarian armies principally consist. After the city was won, the general would not demolish this monument without orders from the khan; who, on being informed that the former king had erected it in honour of his soul, would not permit it to be injured, as the Tartars never violate those things which belong to the dead. In the country of Mien there are many elephants and wild oxen, large stags and deer, and various other kinds of wild beasts in great abundance.

[9] In some modern maps, Mien is introduced as a large province on the river of Pegu, immediately to the south-west of Yunnan in China, and divided from Bengal by the whole country of Ava. But the distribution of eastern dominion has been always extremely fluctuating; and Mien may then have included all the north of Ava.--E.
[10] In the original text this animal is called the unicorn; a word of the same import with rhinoceros.--E.

The province of Bengala borders on India towards the south[11], and was subdued by the great khan, while I Marco Polo resided in the eastern countries. It had its own proper king, and has a peculiar language. The inhabitants are all idolaters, and have schools in which the masters teach idolatries and enchantments, which are universal among all the great men of the country. They eat flesh, rice, and milk; and have great abundance of cotton, by the manufacture of which a great trade is carried on. They abound also in spike, galingal, ginger, sugar, and various other spices; and they make many eunuchs, whom they sell to the merchants. This province continues for thirty days journey going eastwards, when we come to the province of Cangigu[12]. This country has its own king, who is tributary to the great khan. The inhabitants are idolaters, and have a peculiar language. The king has about three hundred wives. The province has much gold and many spices, but these cannot be easily transported, as it is far distant from the sea. It has also many elephants and much game. The inhabitants live on flesh, rice, and milk, having no wine, but they make an excellent drink of rice and spices. Both men and women ornament their faces, necks, hands, bellies, and legs, with the figures of lions, dragons, and birds, and these are so firmly imprinted, as to be almost indelible. There are in this country professors of this foolish art of skin embroidery, who follow no other trade but this needle work, and dying of fools skins; and the person who has the greatest number and variety of these images, is considered the finest and most gallantly ornamented.

[11] This either implies that Bengal on the borders of India is to the south of Thibet; or south is here an error for east, Bengal being the eastern frontier province of India proper.--E.
[12] The difficulty, or rather impossibility of tracing the steps of Marco Polo, may proceed from various causes. The provinces or kingdoms, mostly named from their chief cities, have suffered infinite changes from perpetual revolutions. The names he gives, besides being corrupted in the various transcriptions and editions, he probably set down orally, as given to him in the Tartar or Mogul dialect, very different from those which have been adopted into modern geography from various sources. Many of these places may have been destroyed, and new names imposed. Upon the whole, his present course appears to have been from Bengal eastwards, through the provinces of the farther India, to Mangi or southern China; and Cangigu may possibly be Chittigong. Yet Cangigu is said in the text to be an inland country. --E.

Amu or Aniu, twenty-five days journey to the east of the province of Cangigu, is subject to the great khan, and its inhabitants are idolaters who have a peculiar language. This country abounds in provisions, and has great quantities of cattle and many horses; and these last being excellent, are carried by the merchants for sale into India. The country is full of excellent pastures, and therefore abounds in buffalos and oxen. Both men and women wear bracelets of gold and silver of great value on their legs and arms, but those of the women are the most valuable.

The province of Tholoman, which is likewise subject to the great khan, is at the distance of eight days journey east from Amu; the inhabitants are idolaters, and use a peculiar language; both men and women are tall, well shaped, and of a brown complexion. This country is well inhabited, having many strong towns and castles, and the men are practised in arms, and accustomed to war. They burn their dead, after which they inclose the bones and ashes in chests, which they hide in holes of the mountains. Gold is found in great plenty, yet both here and in Cangigu and Amu, they use the cowrie shells which are brought from India.

From this province of Tholoman, the high road leads eastwards by a river, on the banks of which there are many towns and castles, and at the end of twelve days journey, we come to the great city of Cintigui, the province of the same name being subject to the great khan, and the inhabitants are idolaters. They manufacture excellent cloths from the bark of trees, of which their summer clothing is made. There are many lions in this country, so that no person dare sleep out of doors in the night, and the vessels which frequent the river, dare not be made fast to the banks at night from dread of the lions. The inhabitants have large dogs, so brave and strong, that they are not afraid even to attack the lion, and it often happens that one man armed with a bow and arrows, and assisted by two of these dogs, will kill a lion. The dogs, urged on by the man, give the onset, and the lion endeavours to take shelter beside a tree, that the dogs may not be able to get behind him, yet he scorns to run away, and holds on his stately slow space, the dogs always fastening on his hinder parts; but so cautiously and nimbly do they manage their assaults, that whenever the lion turns upon them, they are beyond his reach. Then the magnanimous beast holds on his way towards a tree, the man all the while plying him with arrows, at every opportunity, and the dogs constantly tearing him from behind, till at length, with loss of blood, he falls down and dies. This country abounds in silk, which is carried by the merchants to various provinces, by means of the river. Their money is paper, and the inhabitants are valiant in arms.

At the end of ten days journey from Cintigui, we come to the city of Sindinfu; twenty days from thence is Gingui, and four days from thence, towards the south, is Palan-fu in Kathay, returning by the other side of the province. The people are idolaters and burn their dead, but there are also some Christians who have a church. The people use paper money, and are all under the dominion of the great khan. They make cloths of gold and silk, and very fine lawns. Past this city of Palan-fu, which has many cities under its jurisdiction, there runs a fine river, which carries great store of merchandize to Cambalu, by means of many canals made on purpose. Leaving this place, and travelling three days journey towards the south of the province of Kathay, subject to the great khan, is the great city of Ciangu. They are idolaters, who burn their dead, and their money is the mulberry paper coin of the khan. The earth, in the territories of this city, abounds in salt, which is extracted in the following manner: The earth is heaped up like a hill, and large quantities of water are poured on, which extracts the salt, and runs by certain conduits into cauldrons, in which it is boiled up into fine white salt; and this manufacture produces great profit to the people and the great khan, as large quantities are exported for sale to other countries. In this neighbourhood there are large and fine flavoured peaches, one of which weighs two pounds.

Five days journey farther south from Ciangu is the city of Ciangli, likewise in Kathay, between which we pass many cities and castles, all subject to the great khan; and through the middle of this last city of Ciangli, there runs a large river, which is very convenient for the transport of merchandize. Six days journey from thence to the south is the noble kingdom and great city of Tudinfu, which was formerly subject to its own king, but was subdued by the arms of the great khan in 1272. Under its jurisdiction there are twelve famous trading cities. It is most pleasantly situated among gardens and orchards, and is rich in silks. A baron, named Lucanser, who was sent to govern this acquisition by the khan, with an army of 8000 horse, chose to rebel; but was defeated and slain by an army of 100,000 horse sent against him by the khan under two other barons, and the country again reduced to obedience. Seven days journey farther south is the famous city of Singuimatu, to which, on the south, a great river runs, which is divided by the inhabitants into two rivers, one branch of which flows by the east towards Kathay, and the other by the west towards Mangi[13]. By these rivers or canals innumerable vessels, incredible for their size and wealth, carry vast quantities of merchandize through both of these provinces; and for sixteen days journey to the south from Singuimatu, we meet with many cities and towns, which carry on immense trade. The inhabitants of all these countries are idolaters, and subject to the great khan. You then come to a great river called Caramoran[14], which is said to take its rise in the dominions formerly belonging to Umcan, or Prester John, in the north. It is very deep, and carries ships of great burden, and is well stocked with fish. Within one days journey of the sea are the two cities of Coigan-zu and Quan-zu, on opposite sides of the river, the one a great city and the other a small one, where a fleet of 15,000 vessels is kept by the great khan, each fitted for carrying fifteen horses and twenty men. These are always in readiness to carry an army to any of the islands, or to any remote region in case of rebellion[15]. On passing the great river Caramoran, or Hoang-ho, we enter into the noble kingdom of Mangi: But it must not be supposed that I have described the whole province of Kathay, as I have not spoken of the twentieth part of it; for in passing through this province, I have only mentioned the principal cities on my way, leaving those on both sides, and many intermediate ones to avoid prolixity, and not to set down in writing what I only learned from hearsay.

[13] Kathay and Mangi, as formerly mentioned, are Northern and Southern China, so that the direction of these rivers ought perhaps to have been described as north and south, instead of east and west. About seventy miles from the mouth of the Yellow river, or Hoang-ho, there is a town called Tsingo, near which a canal runs to the north, communicating with the river on which Pekin is situated, and another canal, running far south into Mangi or Southern China. Tsingo, though now an inferior town, may have been formerly Singui-matu, and a place of great importance.--E.
[14] Caramoran or Hora-moran, is the Hoang-ho, or Yellow river; and it must be allowed, that the distance which is placed in the text, between Singui-matu and this river, is quite hostile to the idea mentioned in the preceding note, of Tsingo and Singui-matu being the same place. The only other situation in all China which accords with the two canals, or rivers, communicating both with Kathay and Mangi, is Yotcheou on the Tong-ting-hou lake, which is on the Kian-ku river, and at a sufficient distance from the Hoang-ho to agree with the text. In the absence of all tolerable certainty, conjecture seems allowable. --E.
[15] There are no Chinese cities, in our maps, that, in the least appearance of sound, correspond with the names of these towns or cities near the mouth of the Hoang-ho. Hoain-gin is the only large city near its mouth, and that is not on its banks. All therefore that can be said, is, that the two cities in the text must have stood on opposite sides of the Hoang-ho in the days of Marco Polo.--E.


An account of the Kingdom of Mangi, and the manner of its Reduction under the dominion of the Great Khan; together with some Notices of its various Provinces and Cities.

The kingdom of Mangi is the richest and most famous of all that are to be found in the east. In the year 1269, this kingdom was governed by a king named Fanfur[1], who was richer and more powerful than any who had reigned there for an hundred years. Fanfur maintained justice and internal peace in his dominions, so that no one dared to offend his neighbour, or to disturb the peace, from dread of prompt, severe, and impartial justice; insomuch, that the artificers would often leave their shops, filled with valuable commodities, open in the night, yet no one would presume to enter them. Travellers and strangers travelled in safety through his whole dominions by day or night. He was merciful to the poor, and carefully provided for such as were oppressed by poverty or sickness, and every year took charge of 20,000 infants who were deserted by their mothers from poverty, all of whom he bred up till they were able to work at some trade. But in process of time, betaking himself more to pleasures than was fit, he employed his whole time in delights, in the midst of 1000 concubines. His capital was encompassed with ditches full of water; but Fanfur was entirely addicted to the arts of peace, and so beloved of his subjects for his justice and charity, that, trusting to their numbers and attachment, and to the natural strength and resources of the country, both king and people neglected the use of arms, keeping no cavalry in pay, because they feared no one, and believed themselves invincible.

[1] Called Tou-tsong by the Chinese historians, the fifteenth emperor of the nineteenth dynasty, who succeeded to the throne in the year 1264.--Harris.

Cublai-khan was of a different disposition from Fanfur, and delighted in war and conquest; and having resolved upon making a conquest of the kingdom of Mangi, he levied a great army of horse and foot for that purpose, over which he placed a general named Chinsan-Baian[2]. He accordingly marched with his army, accompanied by a fleet, into the province of Mangi, and summoned the city of Coiganzu[3] to surrender to the authority of the great khan. On this being refused, he departed without making any assault, to the second, the third, and the fourth city, all of which he summoned, and on their refusal, marched on without siege or assault. But receiving the same answer from the fifth, he assaulted it with great courage, and having taken it by storm, he massacred the whole inhabitants, without sparing any of either sex, or of any age or condition. This severe military execution so terrified the other cities, that they all immediately surrendered. On this successful commencement being reported to the khan, he sent a new army to reinforce Chinsan-Baian, whose army was now much diminished by the garrisons he had to leave in the conquered cities. With his army thus reinforced, Chinsan marched against Quinsai[4] the capital city of the kingdom of Mangi, in which Fanfur resided. He was much terrified at this formidable invasion, and having never seen any war, he fled with all his wealth on board a great fleet which he had prepared, retiring to certain impregnable islands in the ocean[5], committing the custody of his capital to his wife, whom he desired to defend it as well as she could, as being a woman, she need not fear being put to death if she were made prisoner. It may be observed, that Fanfur had been told by his diviners, that his kingdom would never be taken from him except by one who had an hundred eyes; and this being known to the queen, she was in hopes or preserving the city in all extremities, thinking it impossible for any one man to have an hundred eyes. But learning that the name of the commander of the Tartars had that signification, she sent for him and delivered up the city, believing him to be the person indicated by the astrologers, and to whom destiny had predetermined the conquest of the city and kingdom.[6] She was sent to the court of the great khan, where she was most honourably received, and entertained as became her former dignity. After the surrender of the capital, the citizens and inhabitants of the whole province yielded to the obedience of the great khan[7].

[2] The name of this general is said to have signified an hundred eyes; doubtless a Tartar title, denoting his vigilance and foresight. By the Chinese historians, this general is named Pe-yen; which may have the same signification. These historians attribute the conquest of Mangi, or Southern China, to the indolence, debauchery, and extreme love of pleasure of this emperor, whom they name Tou-Tsong.--Harris.
[3] The names of all places and provinces in the travels of Marco Polo, are either so disguised by Tartar appellations, or so corrupted, that they cannot be referred with any certainty to the Chinese names upon our maps. Coiganzu, described afterwards as the first city in the south-east of Mangi in going from Kathay, may possibly be Hoingan-fou, which answers to that situation. The termination fou is merely city; and other terminations are used by the Chinese, as tcheou and others, to denote the rank or class in which they are placed, in regard to the subordination of their governors and tribunals, which will be explained in that part of our work which is appropriated to the empire of China.--E.
[4] Or Guinsai, to be afterwards described.--E.
[5] It does not appear where these islands were, situated; whether Hainan or Formosa, properly Tai-ouan, or Tai-wan, or the islands in the bay of Canton.--E.
[6] These sagacious diviners must have been well acquainted with the military energy of the Tartar government, and the abject weakness of their own; and certainly knew, from their brethren in Kathay, the significant name of the Tartar general; on which foundation, they constructed the enigma of their prophecy, which, like many others, contributed towards its own accomplishment.--E.
[7] About a year after the surrender of his capital, Tou-Tsong died, leaving three sons, who all perished in a few years afterwards. The eldest was made prisoner, and died in captivity in Tartary. The second died of a consumption at Canton, where he had taken refuge at eleven years of age. The third, named Ti-Ping, after all the country was seized by the Tartars, was carried on board the Chinese fleet, which was pursued and brought to action by a fleet which the Tartars had fitted out for the purpose. When the Chinese lord, who had the charge of the infant emperor, saw the vessel in which he was embarked surrounded by the Tartars, he took the young prince in his arms and jumped with him into the sea. One considerable squadron of the Chinese fleet forced a passage through that of the Tartars, but was afterwards entirely destroyed in a tempest.--Harris.

I shall now speak of the cities in the kingdom of Mangi. Coiganzu is a very fair and rich city, situate towards the south-east and east, in the very entrance of the province of Mangi[8]. In this city, which is situated on the river Carama[9], there are vast numbers of ships employed in trade, and great quantities of salt are made in that neighbourhood. Proceeding from Coigan-zu, we ride one days journey to the south-east, on a stone causeway, on both sides of which are great fences with deep waters, through which people may pass with proper vessels[10], and there is no entrance into Mangi but by this causeway except by shipping. At the end of this days journey is a large and fair city called Paughin, of which the inhabitants are idolaters, and manufacturers of stuffs of silk and gold, in which they drive a considerable trade. It is plentifully supplied with all the necessaries of life, and the paper money of the khan is current in the whole province. One days journey farther south-east, is the large and famous city of Caim. The neighbouring country abounds in fish, beasts, and fowl of all kinds, especially with pheasants as large as peacocks, which are so plentiful, that three may be bought for a Venetian groat. Proceeding another days journey through a well cultivated, fertile, and well peopled country, we come to a moderate sized city called Tingui, which is much resorted to by ships and merchants, and abounds in all the necessaries of life. This place is in the south-east, on the left hand, three days journey from the ocean, and in the country, between it and the sea, there are many salt pits, in which great quantities of salt are made. After this is Cingui[11], a great city, whence the whole country is furnished with salt, of which the khan makes immense profit, almost beyond belief. The inhabitants are idolaters, and use paper money. Riding farther to the south-east is the noble city of Jangui[12], which has twenty-seven other cities dependent on its government. In this city, one of the twelve barons, who are governors of provinces, usually resides; but I, Marco, had the sole government of this place for three years, instead of one of these barons, by a special commission from the great khan. The inhabitants are idolaters, living chiefly by merchandize, and they manufacture arms and harness for war. Naughin[l3] is a province to the west[14] of Tangui, one of the greatest and noblest in all Mangi, and a place of vast trade, having abundance of beasts and fowls, wild and tame, and plenty of corn. The inhabitants are idolaters, and manufacture, stuffs of silk and gold, using only paper money. This country produces large revenues to the khan, especially in the customs which he receives from trade.

[8] This direction must be understood in reference to Kathay; as it is perfectly obvious, that the entrance here spoken of must be in the north-east of Mangi. Supposing the C aspirated, Coigan-zu and Hoaingan-fu, both certainly arbitrarily orthographized from the Chinese pronunciation, are not very dissimilar.--E.
[9] Perhaps an error in transcription for Hara-moran, or Kara-moran, the Mongul or Tartar name of the Hoang-ho, or Whang river, near, and communicating with which, Hoaingan, or Whan-gan-fou is situated.--E.
[10] This is an obscure indication of navigable canals on each side of the paved road of communication to the south.--E.
[11] Cin-gui, or in the Italian pronunciation, Chin, or Tsin-gui, may possibly be Yen-tching. Tin-gui may be Sin-Yang, or Tsin-yang, to the north-east of Yen-tching.--E.
[12] Obviously Yang-tcheou, the latter syllable being its title or designation of rank and precedency. Marco certainly mistakes, from distant recollection, the direction of his travels, which are very nearly south, with a very slight deviation towards the east. South-east would by this time have led him into the sea.--E.
[13] Though called a province, this obviously refers to the city of Nankin; the Nau-ghin of the text being probably a corruption for Nan-ghin.--E.
[14] For west, we ought certainly here to read south-west.--E.

Sian-Fu is a large and noble city in the province of Mangi, having twelve great and rich cities under its jurisdiction. This city is so strong that it was three years besieged by the army of the Tartars, and could not be vanquished at the time when the rest of the kingdom of Mangi was subdued. It was so environed with lakes and rivers, that ships came continually with plenty of provisions and it was only accessible from the north. The long resistance of this city gave much dissatisfaction to the khan; which coming to the knowledge of Nicolo and Maffei Polo, then at his court, they offered their services to construct certain engines, after the manner of those used in Europe, capable of throwing stones of three hundred weight, to kill the men, and ruin the houses in the besieged city. The khan assigned them carpenters, who were Nestorian Christians, to work under their direction, and they made three of these engines, which were tried before the khan and approved of. These were accordingly sent by shipping to the army before Sian-fu, and being planted against the city, cast great stones into it, by which some of the houses were beaten down and destroyed. The inhabitants were very much astonished and terrified by the effect of these machines, and surrendered themselves to the authority and dominion of the khan, on the same conditions with the rest of Mangi; and by this service, the Venetian brethren acquired great reputation and favour.

From this city of Sian-fu, to another called Sin-gui, it is accounted fifteen miles to the south-east. This city, though not very large, has a prodigious number of ships, as it is situate on the greatest river in the world, called Quiam [l5], being in some places ten, in others eight, and in others six miles broad. But its length extends to a distance of above an hundred days journey from its source to the sea, receiving numberless navigable rivers in its course, from various and distant regions, by which means incredible quantities of merchandize are transported upon this river. There are about two hundred cities which participate in the advantages of this river, which runs through, or past, the boundaries of sixteen provinces. The greatest commodity on this river is salt, with which all the provinces and cities which have communication with its water are supplied. I, Marco, once saw at Singui five thousand vessels, yet some other cities on the river have a greater number. All these ships are covered, having but one mast and one sail, and usually carry 4000 Venetian Canthari and upwards, some as far as 12,000. In these vessels they use no cordage of hemp; even their hawsers or towing ropes being made of canes, about fifteen paces long, which they split into thin pieces from end to end, and bind or wreath together into ropes, some of which are three hundred fathoms long, and serve for dragging their vessels up or down the river; each vessel having ten or twelve horses for that purpose. On that river there are rocky hillocks in many places, on which idol temples, with monasteries for the priests are built, and in all the course of the river we find cultivated vallies and habitations innumerable.

[15] Quiam, Kiang, Kian-ku, Kin-tchin-kian, or Yang-tsi-kiang. In modern maps, there is a town on the northern shore of this river, named Tsing-Kiang, which may possibly be the Singui of Marco, and we may perhaps look for the Sian-fu of the Polos at Yang-tcheou, at the southern extremity of a chain of lakes immediately to the north of the river Kian-ku. The subject is however full of perplexity, difficulty, and extreme uncertainty.--E.

Cayn-gui is a small city on the same river to the south, eastwards of Sin-gui, where every year great quantities of corn and rice are brought, which is carried for the most part to Cambalu. For from the Quiam or Kian-ku river, they pass to that city by means of lakes and rivers, and by one large canal, which the great khan caused to be made for a passage from one river to another; so that vessels go all the way from Mangi or Southern China to Cambalu, without ever being obliged to put to sea. This great work is beautiful and wonderful for its size and vast extent, and is of infinite profit to the cities and provinces of the empire. The khan likewise caused great causeways to be constructed along the banks of this prodigious canal, for the conveniency of travelling by land, and for towing the vessels. In the middle of the great river there is a rocky island, with a great temple and monastery for the idolatrous priests.

Cin-ghian-fu [16] is a city of the province of Mangi, which is rich in merchandize, and plentiful in game and provisions of all kinds. In 1274, the great khan sent Marsachis, a Nestorian Christian to govern this city, who built here two Christian churches. From the city of Cin-ghian-fu, in a journey of three days journey to the south-eastwards, we find many cities and castles, all inhabited by idolaters, and at length come to the great and handsome city of Tin-gui-gui, which abounds in all kinds of provisions. When Chinsan Baian conquered the kingdom of Mangi, he sent a large body of Christian Alani[17] against this city, which had a double inclosure of walls. The inhabitants retired from the outer town, within the inner wall, and the Alanians finding great store of wine, indulged themselves too freely after a severe march. In the night time, the citizens sallied out upon them, while all were drunk and asleep, and put every man of them to the sword. But Baian sent afterwards a fresh army against them, which soon mastered the city, and in severe revenge massacred the whole inhabitants. The great and excellent city of Sin-gui[18] is twenty miles in circumference, and contains a vast population, among whom are great numbers of physicians and magicians, and wise men or philosophers. It has sixteen other cities under its jurisdiction, in each of which there is much trade and many curious arts, and many sorts of silk are made in its territories. The neighbouring mountains produce rhubarb and ginger in great plenty. The name Sin-gui signifies the City of the Earth, and there is another city in the kingdom of Mangi called Quin-sai, which signifies the City of Heaven. From Singui it is one days journey to Vagiu, where also is abundance of silk, and able artisans, and many merchants, as is universally the case in all the cities of this kingdom.

[16] This must be Tchin-kian-fou; the three separate syllables in both of these oral orthographies having almost precisely similar sounds; always remembering that the soft Italian c has the power of tsh, or our hard ch as in the English word chin, and the Italian gh the sound of the hard English g.--E.
[17] This evinces the great policy of the military government of the Tartars, in employing the subjugated nations in one corner of their empire to make conquests at such enormous distances from their native countries. The Alanians came from the country between the Euxine and Caspian, in Long. 60° E. and were here fighting Long. 135° E.; above 4000 miles from home.--E.
[18] By the language in this place, either Sin-gui and Tin-gui-gui are the same place, or the transition is more than ordinarily abrupt; if the same, the situation of Sin-gui has been attempted to be explained in a former note. If different, Tin-gui-gui was probably obliterated on this occasion, as no name in the least similar appears in the map of China.--E.


Of the noble City of Quinsai, and of the vast Revenues drawn from thence by the Great Khan.

In a journey of three days from Vagiu, we find numbers of cities, castles, and villages, all well peopled and rich, the inhabitants being all idolaters and subject to the great khan. At the end of these three days journey, we come to Quinsay, or Guinsai, its name signifying the City of Heaven, to denote its excellence above all the other cities of the world, in which there are so much riches, and so many pleasures and enjoyments, that a person might conceive himself in paradise. In this great city, I, Marco, have often been, and have considered it with diligent attention, observing its whole state and circumstances, and setting down the same in my memorials, of which I shall here give a brief abstract. By common report, this city is an hundred miles in circuit[1]. The streets and lanes are very long and wide, and it has many large market places. On one side of the city there is a clear lake of fresh water, and on the other there is a great river, which enters into the city in many places, and carries away all the filth into the lake, whence it continues its course into the ocean. This abundant course of running water causes a healthful circulation of pure air, and gives commodious passage in many directions both by land and water, through those numerous canals, as by means of these and the causeways, by which they are bordered, carts and barks have free intercourse for the carriage of merchandize and provisions. It is said that there are twelve thousand bridges, great and small, in this city, and those over the principal canals are so high, that a vessel without her masts may go through underneath, while chariots and horses pass above. On the other side of the city, there is a large canal forty miles[2] long, which incloses it on that side, being deep and full of water, made by the ancient kings, both to receive the overflowings of the river, and to fortify the city, and the earth which was dug out from this canal, is laid on the inside as a rampart of defence. There are ten great market places which are square, half a mile in each side[3]. The principal street is forty paces broad, having a canal in the middle with many bridges, and every four miles [Li] there is a market place, two miles [Li] in circuit. There is also one large canal behind the great street and the market places, on the opposite bank of which there are many storehouses of stone, where the merchants from India and other places lay up their commodities, being at hand and commodious for the markets. In each of these markets, the people from the country, to the number of forty or fifty thousand, meet three days in every week, bringing beasts, game, fowls, and in short every thing that can be desired for subsistence in profusion; and so cheap, that two geese, or four ducks, may be bought for a Venetian groat. Then follow the butcher markets, in which beef, mutton, veal, kid, and lamb, are sold to the great and rich, as the poor eat of all offal and unclean beasts without scruple. All sorts of herbs and fruits are to be had continually, among which are huge pears, weighing ten pounds each, white within, and very fragrant[4], with yellow and white peaches of very delicate flavour. Grapes do not grow in this country, but raisins are brought from other places. They likewise import very good wine; but that is not in so much esteem as with us, the people being contented with their own beverage, prepared from rice and spices. Every day there are brought up from the ocean, which is at the distance of twenty-five miles, such vast quantities of fish, besides those which are caught in the lake, that one would conceive they could never be consumed, yet, in a few hours all is gone. All these market places are encompassed with high houses, underneath which are shops for all kinds of artificers, and all kinds of merchandize, as spices, pearls, and jewels, and so forth, and in some the rice wine is sold. Many streets cross each other, leading into these markets; in some of which there are many cold baths, accommodated with attendants of both sexes, who are used to this employment from their infancy. In the same bagnios, there are chambers for hot baths, for such strangers as are not accustomed to bathe in cold water. The inhabitants bathe every day, and always wash before eating.

[1] There are two Chinese measures called Li; of the greater there are 200 to a degree of latitude, and of the smaller 250. It is possible that Marco may have mistaken one or other of these measures for miles; either of which suppositions would reduce the bounds of Quinsai to some decent moderation, being thirty-four miles for the greater, and twenty-seven miles for the smaller li, yet a large city on even the latter substitution. Koan-sing, which may likewise be written Quan- sing, all Chinese names in alphabetical characters, being quite of arbitrary orthography, is the only place which can be supposed the same with Quinsai. But similarity of sounds is a very uncertain guide. From other circumstances in the text, the modern Kua-hing may have once been Quinsay.--E.
[2] Calculating by Li, this extent will be reduced to eleven or thirteen miles.--E.

In other streets, there are such numbers of mercenary prostitutes, that I dare not pretend to say how many. These are found near the market places, and in all quarters of the city, in places appointed for their residence, where they shew themselves, pompously adorned and perfumed, attended by many servants, and having their houses richly furnished. They are very skilful in sports and dalliances, and in contriving pleasures to rob men of their senses. In other streets there are physicians and astrologers, and persons who teach to read and write, and an infinity of other trades. At each end of every market place, there is a palace or tribunal where judges, appointed by the khan, are stationed for determining any disputes which may happen between merchants and others; also, to superintend the guards upon the bridges, and other matters of police, punishing all who are negligent or disorderly. Along both sides of the principal street, there are great palaces with gardens; and between these the houses of artificers; and such multitudes are perpetually going to and fro in all the streets, that one would wonder how so vast a population could be provided in food. I was informed by an officer of the customs, that it appeared, by a very accurate computation, the daily expenditure of pepper in Quinsai, was forty-three soma, each soma being 223 pounds[5]. From this some idea may be formed of the immense quantities of victuals, flesh, wine, and spices, which are expended in that place. There are twelve principal companies or corporations, each of which has a thousand shops; and in each shop or factory, there are ten, fifteen, or twenty men at work, and in some forty under one master[6].

[3] By the same reduction, these squares will be reduced to half a quarter of a mile in the sides.--E.
[4] Probably a mistaken translation or transcription for melons, pumpkins, or gourds.--E.
[5] This amounts to more than one sixth of an ounce daily for a population of a million, including infants. A thing utterly incredible, and which must arise from some corruption of the text. It exceeds 9000 tons yearly. Perhaps, instead of pepper the original had salt.--E.
[6] This alone would give a working population exceeding a million, including the women, children, and aged, belonging to these. But populous as the country certainly is, the Chinese, in all ages, from Polo down to Staunton, have imposed those ridiculously exaggerated accounts upon all inquisitive travellers. This subject will be discussed in that division of this work, which particularly relates to China.--E.

The rich tradesmen do not work themselves, although the ancient laws ordained that the sons of all should follow the trades of their fathers, but the rich are permitted not to work with their own hands, but to keep shops and factories, superintending the labour of others in their particular trades. These rich people, and especially their wives, stand in their shops, well dressed, or rather sumptuously arrayed in rich silks, and adorned with valuable jewels. Their houses are well built, and richly furnished, and adorned with pictures and other ornaments of immense price; and they exercise their trades with great integrity. The whole inhabitants are idolaters, of a very fair complexion, and mostly dressed in silken garments, as silk is produced in great abundance in their neighbourhood, or brought from other places. They dwell together in great amity, insomuch, that the inhabitants of a street seem only to compose one family, and are particularly circumspect in their behaviour to females, as it would be reputed exceedingly disgraceful to use any indecorous language to a married woman. The natives are of a most peaceable disposition, and no way addicted to strife or quarrelling, and altogether unused to arms, which they do not even keep in their houses. They are extremely hospitable to foreign merchants, whom they entertain kindly in their houses, giving them the best advice in regard to the conduct of their affairs: But they are by no means fond of the soldiers and guards of the great khan, as by their means they have been deprived of their natural kings and rulers. About the lake there are many fair buildings and palaces of the principal men, and numerous idol temples, with monasteries of idolatrous priests. There are two islands in the lake, on each of which is a palace, containing an incredible number of rooms, to which they resort on occasion of marriages and other festivals. In these palaces, abundance of plate, linens, and all other things necessary for such purposes, are kept up at the common expence, and sometimes 100 separate companies are accommodated at one time in the several apartments. In the lake also there are vast numbers of pleasure boats and barges, adorned with fair seats and tables under cover, being flat on the tops, where men stand to push the boats along with poles, as the lake is very shallow. These are all painted within, and have windows to open or shut at pleasure. Nothing in the world can be more pleasant or delightful than this lake, from its immense variety of rich objects on all sides; particularly the city ornamented with so many temples, monasteries, palaces, gardens, trees, barges, and innumerable people taking their recreations; for they ordinarily work only a part of each day, spending the remainder in parties of pleasure with their friends, or with women, either on the lake, or in driving through the city in chariots. All the streets are paved with stone, as are all the highways in the kingdom of Mangi, only a space on one side being left unpaved for the use of the foot posts. The principal street of Quinsai has a pavement of ten paces broad on each side, the middle being laid with gravel, and having channels in every place for conveying water, it is kept always perfectly clean. In this street there are innumerable long close chariots, each of which is accommodated with seats and silk cushions for six persons, who divert themselves by driving about the streets, or go to the public gardens, where they pass their time in fine walks, shady bowers, and the like, and return at night in the same chariots to the city[7].

[7] The contrast between the cleanness and splendour of Quinsay and the gloomy dirt of European cities in the thirteenth century is very striking. China then enjoyed hackney coaches, tea gardens, and hilarity; while the delights of European capitals were processions of monks among perpetual dunghills in narrow crooked lanes.--E.

When a child is born, the father notes down the exact point of time, and with this memorandum goes immediately to some astrologer, of whom there are many in every market place, to consult the destiny in regard to his future fortunes; and they use the same forms before celebrating their marriages, to ascertain the lucky times. When a person of note dies, the kindred clothe themselves in canvas or sackcloth, and accompany the body to the funeral, both men and women, people being employed to play on musical instruments, and singing all the way prayers to their idols; and being come to the place, they cast into the fire in which the body is burnt, many pieces of cotton paper, on which figures of slaves, horses, camels, stuffs of silk and gold, money, and all other things are painted, which, by this means, they believe the dead person will really possess in the next world; and they make a grand concert of music, under the idea of the joy with which the soul of their departed friend will be received by their idols in the other life which he is now to begin. As their timber houses are very liable to accidents by fire, there are stone towers in every street, to which they carry their goods for security on such occasions. On most of the bridges there are guard-houses, in which soldiers continuallv watch, five in each by day, and five by night, in case of any alarm or disturbance. In every guard-house there hangs a great bason[8], on which the warders strike the successive hours, beginning one at sunrise, and beginning a new series at sunset. These guards patrole during the night, and if they see any light or fire in a house after the appointed time, or meet any person in the streets after legal hours, they cause them to answer before the judges or magistrates of the district. When a fire happens, the guards collect from their different stations to assist in quenching it, and to carry away the goods to the stone towers, or into the islands in the lake; for during the night none of the citizens are permitted to go out, except such as are in danger from fires.

[8] Probably meaning a gong.--E.

The khan keeps always a large body of his best and most faithful soldiers for the security of the city, which is the largest and richest in the whole earth; and besides the small guard-houses on the bridges already mentioned, there are larger lodges built of wood all over the city, for the accommodation of parties of guards to preserve peace and order. On the reduction of Mangi to obedience, the khan divided it into nine great provinces, placing a viceroy in each, to administer the government, and to dispense justice. Every year each of these viceroys gives an account to the tribunals of the khan at Cambalu, of the revenues, and all other matters connected with his government; and every third year, the viceroy, and all the other officers are changed. The viceroy, who resides in Quinsai, commands over 140 other cities, all large, rich, and populous; nor is the extent of this government to be wondered at, as there are in Mangi 12,000 cities, all inhabited by rich and industrious people, in every one of which the khan maintains a garrison proportional to its greatness and importance, in some 1000 men, and even up to 10 or 20,000 men[9]. These are not all Tartars, for the Tartar soldiers are cavalry only, and are kept in places where there is conveniency for exercising their horses. The great majority of the troops in Mangi are Kathayans, and the garrisons in Kathay are composed of people from Mangi. Every third year, such a number of men fit to carry arms as are wanted, are selected for filling up the garrisons, and are sent to serve in places, at least twenty days journey from their homes; and, after serving four or five years, they are permitted to go home, and are replaced by fresh recruits. Most part of the revenues of the khan are expended in this way, and on the other necessary expences of government; and by this distribution of so powerful a military force, an army can be suddenly called together in the event of any town rebelling. In the city of Quinsai there is a constant garrison of 30,000 soldiers, and the smallest city in all Mangi contains at least 1000 regular troops. If any person is not able to work, he is carried to some hospital, of which there are many in Quinsai, founded by the ancient kings, and endowed with large revenues: But when they are well again, they must return to their labour.

[9] There must be some corruption in the text here; for even Chinese exaggeration could hardly venture upon this computation, which would extend the garrisons in Mangi alone to many millions.--E.

I come next to speak of the palace of the late king Fanfur. His predecessors caused a large park to be inclosed with high walls, ten miles in circuit[10], and divided within into three parts. That in the middle was entered by a gate leading to a range of large galleries or halls, whose roofs were sustained by pillars finely wrought and painted, and richly adorned with gold and azure. The smallest of these galleries was that nearest the gate of entrance, and they gradually became larger and fairer in succession, the most sumptuous being at the farthest end. The walls of all these apartments were elegantly painted with the portraits and histories of the former kings. Every year, on certain holidays dedicated to the idols, Fanfur used to hold open court, on which occasion he feasted his chief lords, the principal merchants, and rich artificers of Quinsai, 10,000 at a time in these halls, the feasts continuing for ten or twelve successive days, with incredible magnificence, every guest using his utmost endeavours to appear in the most pompous dresses. On one side of this magnificent range of galleries, there was a wall dividing it from a great cloistered court, having a terrace all round, set with pillars, communicating with which were the chambers of the king and queen, all curiously wrought, carved, gilded, and painted with the utmost splendour and magnificence. From this cloister, a covered gallery, six paces wide, extended a great length all the way to the lake; and on each side of this gallery there were ten courts, answering to each other like cloisters, each having fifty chambers with their gardens, and in these there were 1000 concubines for the kings service. Sometimes with the queen, and sometimes with these concubines, the king used to go in his barge for recreation on the lake, or to visit the idol temples. The rest of the great inclosure was divided into graves, lakes, and gardens, in which all sorts of beasts of chase were kept, as stags, roebucks, hares, conies, and others, and there the king used to divert himself with his damsels, in chariots, or on horseback, no man being allowed to enter there. In this place the ladies hunted with dogs, and when wearied with sport they retired into the groves, and throwing off their garments, came forth naked, and fell to swimming in the lakes in the kings presence. Sometimes he banqueted in these groves, being served by his damsels. All of these particulars I learnt from an old rich merchant of Quinsai, who had been familiar with king Fanfur, and knew all the incidents of his life and reign, and had seen the palace in its most flourishing state; and he carried me to see it. The viceroy now resides there, the first described galleries remaining, still in their original state, but the chambers of the damsels are fallen to ruin; the walls also which encompassed the woods and gardens, are all fallen down, the beasts and trees are all gone, and all the other ornaments are destroyed.

[10] If Li, from 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 miles.--E.

Twenty-five miles from Quinsai we come to the ocean, between the east and the north-east, near which is a city called Gampu[11], having an excellent port frequented by merchant ships from the Indies. While I Marco was in Quinsai, an account was taken for the great khan, of the revenues, and the number of inhabitants, and I saw that there were enrolled 160 toman of fires, reckoning for each fire a family dwelling in one house. Each toman is 10,000, which makes 1,600,000 families[12]; and for all this population there is only one Nestorian church, all the rest being idolaters. Every householder is obliged to have written over his door the names of every individual in his family, whether males or females, as also the number of horses, adding or effacing as the family increases or diminishes, and this rule is observed in all the cities of Mangi and Kathay. Those also who keep inns, must write down in a book the names of all their guests, with the day and hour of their arrival and departure; and these books are sent daily to the magistrates who preside at the market places. The revenues which accrue to the khan from Quinsai, and the other cities under its authority, are, first from salt eight tomans of gold, every toman being 80,000 sazzi, and a sazzi is more than a gold florin, which will amount to six millions, and four hundred thousand ducats. The cause of this is, that being near the sea, there are many lakes or salines of sea water, which dry up and coagulate into salt in summer, and five other provinces in Mangi are supplied from the coast of Quinsai. This province produces plenty of sugar, which pays, like all other spices, three and a third in the hundred, which is likewise paid for rice-wine. All the twelve companies, which, we said before, have twelve thousand shops, and all merchants who bring goods hither by sea, or carry any away, pay a similar rate. Those who come from India or other remote countries, pay ten per cent. All breeding cattle, and all productions of the earth, as silk, rice, corn, and the like, pay to the khan. The whole computation being made in my presence, amounted yearly, besides the above mentioned produce from salt, to two hundred and ten tomans of gold, which are equal to sixteen millions and eight hundred thousand golden ducats[13].

[11] Supposing Kua-hing to have been Quan-sai, no city appears in the direction indicated in the text for the situation of Gampu. But if we might venture to suppose north-east an error for south, the city of Hanfcheou is nearly at the distance mentioned by Marco, and stands at the bottom of a deep bay of the ocean, in a very convenient situation for trade, communicating with Kua-hing by the great canal--E.
[12] Multiplying this number of families by five, would give a population of eight millions of individuals of every age and sex. Fortunately Marco permits us to suppose that this population belonged to the viceroyalty, or province over which Quinsai presided.--E.
[13] Either this computation, or that of the duty on salt, is erroneous. If 8 tomans are 6,400,000 ducats, 210 tomans would amount to 168,000,000, instead of the sum in the text. If the latter computation be right, 16,800,000 ducats from 210 tomans; the duty on salt, or 8 tomans, ought only to have been 640,000 ducats, which appears to be the truth. The whole revenue, therefore, of the province, will be 17,440,000 ducats, equal to L. 2,911,250 Sterling, at 3s. 7d. the ducat.--E.

A days journey from Quinsai to the south-east, we pass the whole way through houses, villages, fine gardens, and abundant cultivation, and then come to a fine city called Tapin-zu. Three days hence is Uguiu, and two days farther, we still ride past castles, cities, and well cultivated fields, so near adjoining, that the whole seems, to travellers, like one continued city; in this district are great canes, fifteen paces long, and four palms thick. Two days farther is the large and handsome city of Congui, and travelling thence for four days, through places well filled with industrious people, having plenty of beeves, buffaloes, goats, and swine, but no sheep, we come to the city of Zengian, which is built on a hill in the middle of a river, which, after encompassing it, divides into two branches, one of which runs to the south-east and the other to the north-west. Three days journey thence, through a most pleasant country, exceedingly well inhabited, we come to the large city of Gieza, which is the last in the kingdom of Quinsai, After this we enter into another province of the kingdom of Mangi called Concha, the principal city of which is Fugiu, by which you travel six days journey south-east, through hills and dales, always finding inhabited places, and plenty of beasts, fowls, and game, and some strong lions are found in the mountains and forests. Ginger, galingal, and other spices, grow here in great plenty, and there is an herb, of which the fruit has the same colour, smell, and effect with saffron, which it is not, and is much used in their meats[15], The inhabitants are idolaters, and subjects of the great khan, and eat mans flesh, if the person has not died of disease, even considering it as better flavoured than any other. When they go into the fields, they shave to the ears, and paint their faces with azure. All their soldiers serve on foot, except the captains, who are on horseback, and their arms are swords and lances. They are very cruel, and when they kill an enemy, they immediately drink his blood, and afterwards eat his flesh.

[14] Besides the utter discrepancy of these names to those of any cities now in China, it appears obvious, that the direction of the itinerary in the text is erroneous or corrupted. We have been already on the ocean or bay of Nankin, the eastern boundary of China and of the land; yet the text persists continually to travel south-east, which is impossible. The direction of the itinerary must have been westwards, probably south-west.--E.
[15] This was probably Turmeric, so much used in the Eastern cookery, though it is the root which is employed.--E.

After six days journey is Quelinfu, a great city with three bridges, each of which is eight paces broad, and above an hundred paces long. The men are great merchants and manufacturers, and the women are fair and delicately shaped. The country produces plenty of ginger and galingal, and great abundance of silk and cotton. I was told, but saw them not, that they have hens without feathers, hairy like cats, which yet lay eggs, and are good to eat[16]. In this part of the country there are many lions, which make the ways very dangerous. After three days journey, we arrive in a populous country inhabited by idolaters, who make great quantities of silk stuffs. The chief city is Unguem, near which abundance of sugar is produced, and sent from thence to Cambalu. Before the reduction of this country by the great Khan, the inhabitants of this country could only manufacture a bad kind of sugar, by boiling down the juice of the cane into a black paste; but certain inhabitants from Babylonia, taught them refine it by means of the ashes of a certain tree[17]. Fifteen miles farther is the city of Cangiu, still in the province of Concha, and here the Khan has always an army in readiness for keeping the country under subjection. Through this city there runs a river of a mile broad, with handsome buildings on both sides, and the river is constantly covered with vessels carrying sugar and other goods. This river disembogues itself at the distance of five days journey south-east from Cangiu, into the sea at Zaitum all the country between being extremely pleasant, and abounding in trees and shrubs of camphor. Zaitum is a famous port, and much frequented by ships with rich cargoes from India, for the supply of Mangi and Kathay, and from this port the productions of these regions are dispersed all over India. At this port such quantities of pepper are imported, that what comes through Alexandria into our western world is not to be compared to it, being hardly an hundredth part. The concourse of merchants to this famous emporium is incredible, as it is one of the most commodious ports in the whole world, and is exceedingly productive in revenue to the great Khan, who receives ten in the hundred of all merchandize. The merchants pay likewise so high for freights, that not above a half of their cargoes remains to themselves for sale, and yet of that moiety they make immense profits. The inhabitants of Zaitum are idolaters, and much given to pleasure, and in it there are many artizans employed in embroidery and arras-work[18].

[16] Obviously what are now called Friesland, but more properly frizzled hens.--E.
[17] In the manufacture of sugar it is necessary to neutralize a certain redundant acid in the juice of the cane, by a fit proportion of some alkaline ingredient to enable the sugar to crystallize: The ordinary temper, as it is called, for this purpose, in the West Indies, is lime, but any alkali will produce nearly the same effect. This subject will be fully elucidated in that part of our work which is peculiarly appropriated to the sugar colonies in the West Indies,--E.
[18] There can hardly be a doubt that the Zaiturn of Marco is the modern Canton; yet from the causes already mentioned in several notes, it is next to an impossibility to trace the route or itinerary from Quinsai to this place.--E.

This river is large, wide, and swift, one arm of it reaching to Quinsai, and the other to Zaitum[19], and at the parting of these branches, the city of Tringui is situated, where porcelain dishes are made[20]. I was told of a certain earth which is cast up into conical heaps, and left exposed to the weather for thirty or forty years without stirring; after which, refined by time, it is made into dishes, which are painted and baked in furnaces; and so cheap is this manufacture, that eight of these dishes may be bought for one Venetian groat[21]. From this province of Concha, the great Khan derives nearly as great a revenue as he does from Quinsai. In these two provinces I travelled, but in none of die other provinces of Mangi; in all of which one language Is used, with considerable variety in dialect, and but one kind of writing.

[19] This is an obvious error, corruption, or interpolation; for on no conceivable hypothesis of the situations of Quinsai and Zaitum, can any river be found in China which answers to this description.--E.
[20] This is the only hint in Marco, of the peculiarly famous manufacture of China, from which all the best earthen ware of Europe has acquired this name as par excellence. From this circumstance, and from the fame of Nankin for this manufacture, I strongly suspect that this passage has been foisted in by some ignorant or careless editor in a wrong place.--E.
[21] It is singular that Marco should make no mention whatever of the peculiar beverage of the Chinese, tea, though particularly described both in name and use, by the Mahometan travellers in the ninth century, four hundred years earlier, as used in all the cities of China.--E.


Of the island of Zipangu, and of the unsuccessful attempts made by the Tartars for its Conquest.

I shall now leave the country of Mangi, and proceed to discourse of India the greater, the middle, and lesser; in which I have been, both in the service of the great khan, and also on our return home along with the queen, who was sent from Kathay to Argon. The ships which are built in the kingdom of Mangi are made of fir, having only one deck, on which are built twenty cabins, more or less, according to their size, each for one merchant. They have each a good rudder, and four masts, with four sails, which they raise or let down at pleasure, but some have only two masts. Some of the largest ships have thirteen divisions in the inside, made of boards let into each other, so that if, by the blow of a whale, or by touching on a rock, water should get into one of these divisions, it can go no farther, and the leak being found, is soon stopped. They are all built double, or have two courses of boards, one within the other, both of which are well caulked with oakum, and nailed with iron; but they are not pitched, as they have no pitch in Mangi, instead of which they are payed all over with the oil of a certain tree, mixed up with lime and chopped hemp which binds faster than pitch or lime. The largest of these ships have three hundred marines, others two hundred, or an hundred and fifty, according to their size; and they carry from five to six thousand bags of pepper. In ancient times they used to build larger ships than now; but owing to the great numbers of islands and shoals in some places of these seas, they now build them less[1]. Besides their sails, they use oars. occasionally to propel these ships, four men being employed to each oar. The larger ships are usually attended by two or three of a smaller size, able to carry a thousand bags of pepper, and having sixty mariners in each and these smaller ships are sometimes employed to tow the greater vessels. Each of the larger ships hare ten small boats for fishing and other services, which are fastened aloft on their sides, and let down when wanted for use. After having been employed for a year, these ships are sheathed all over, so that they then have three courses of boards: and they proceed in this manner till they sometimes hare six courses, alter which they are broken up.

[1] In this passage, in the edition of Harris, the sense seems obscurely to insinuate that this had been occasioned by the sea having broken down or overwhelmed certain lands or islands, producing numbers of smaller islands and extensive shoals.--E.

Zipangu[2] is a very large island on the east, and fifteen hundred miles distant from the shores of Mangi. The people of this island are of a white complexion and of gentle manners, and have a king of their own. They have gold in great plenty, as Jew merchants report thither, and no gold is allowed to be exported. Such as have traded to this island speak of the kings palace as being covered over with gold as our churches are with lead, and that the windows and floors are likewise of gold. It abounds in pearls, and is amazingly rich. Hearing of the vast opulence of this island, Kublai Khan sent two of his barons, Abasa and Vensaasin[3], with a fleet and a great army, to attempt the conquest. Sailing from Zaitum and Quinsai[4], they arrived safely on the island, but falling out between themselves, they were only able to take one city, all the garrison of which they beheaded, except eight persons, who could not be wounded with steel, because each had an enchanted stone inclosed between the skin and flesh of their right arms. These men were beaten to death with clubs, by order of the generals. Soon after this a violent north wind arose, which flew so hard as greatly to endanger the ships, some of which were lost, and others blown out to sea. On this, the whole army re-embarked, and sailed to an uninhabited island, at the distance of about ten miles: But the tempest continuing, many of the ships were wrecked, and about thirty thousand of the people escaped on shore, without arms or provisions; the two generals with a few of the principal persons, returning home. After this tempest ceased, the people of Zipangu sent over an army, in a fleet of ships, to seize the Tartars; but having landed without any order, the Tartars took the advantage of a rising ground in the middle of the island, under cover, of which, they wheeled suddenly round between the Zipanguers and the ships, which had been left unmanned, with ail their streamers displayed. In these ships, the Tartars sailed to a principal city of Zipangu, into which they were admitted without any suspicion, finding hardly any within its walls except women, the men being all absent on the expedition into the uninhabited island. The Zipanguers collected a new fleet and army to besiege the city, and the Tartars receiving no succour, were constrained to surrender, after a defence of six months, on terms by which their lives were spared. This happened in the year 1264[5]. For the bad conduct of the two commanders, the great khan ordered one to be beheaded, and sent the other to the desert island of Zerga, in which malefactors are punished, by sewing them up in the new flayed hide of a buffalo, which shrinks so much in drying, as to put them to exquisite torture, and brings them to a miserable death.

[2] Zipangu, Zipangri, or Cimpagu, is Japan without any doubt.--E.
[3] Named Abataa and Yonsaintin by Pinkerton, from the Trevigi edition. The latter Ven-san-sui, or Von-sain-cin, by his name seems to have been a Chinese.--E.
[4] Called Caicon, or Jaiton in the Trevigi edition. Caicon is not very far removed from the sound of Cangtong or Canton, which has already been considered to be the Zaitum of the text.--E.
[5] A.D. 1269, according to the Trevigi edition.--E.

The idols in Zipangu and the adjoining islands are strangely made, some having the head of a bull, others of a hog, or a dog, and in other most monstrous fashions. Some have heads with four faces, others three heads on one neck, while some have faces on their shoulders. Some have four arms, others ten, or even an hundred arms; and that idol is reputed the most powerful, and is held in greatest reverence, which has the greatest number. When asked the reason of making their idols in such distorted and ridiculous forms, they answer that such is the custom which has been handed down from their ancestors. It is reported of these islanders, that they eat such of their enemies as they take prisoners; esteeming human flesh a peculiar dainty. The sea in which Zipangu lies is called the sea of Chi or Chin, or the sea over against Mangi, which is called Chan or Chint, in the language of that island. This sea is so large, that mariners who have frequented it, say it contains seven thousand four hundred and forty islands, most of them inhabited; and that in ail those islands there is no tree which is not odoriferous, or does not bear fruit, or is not useful in some other respects. In them likewise there are great abundance of spices of various kinds, especially black arid white pepper, and lignum aloes[6]. The ships of Zaitum are a whole year on their voyage to and from Zipangu, going there during the winter, and returning again in summer, as there are two particular winds which regularly prevail in these seasons. Zipangu is far distant from India. But I will now leave Zipangu, because I never was there, as it is not subject to the khan, and shall now return to Zaitum and the voyage from thence to India.

[6] Marco obviously extends this sea and these islands to all those of the Chinese sea and the Indian ocean, from Sumatra in the SW. to Japan in the NE.--E.


Account of Various Countries, Provinces, Islands, and Cities in the Indies.

Sailing from Zaitum, 1500 miles to the south westwards, we pass a gulf called Cheinan[1], which extends two months sail to the northward, still confining on the south-east[2] of Mangi, and elsewhere, with Ania and Toloman, and other provinces mentioned formerly. Within it are infinite islands all in a manner inhabited [3], and in them is found abundance of gold, and they trade with each other. This gulf seems like another world; and after 1500 miles sailing, is the rich and great country of Ziambar[4]. The people are idolaters, and pay an yearly tribute to the great khan of twenty elephants, and great quantities of aloes wood. In the year 1268, hearing of the riches of this country, the khan sent one of his generals, named Segatu, to invade it, Acambute, who was then king of the country, was old, and chose to avoid the dangers and miseries of war, by agreeing to pay the before-mentioned tribute. In Ziambar there are many woods of black ebony, of great value.

[1] Probably the gulph of Siam.--E.
[2] South-west, certainly.--E.
[3] The inlands in the gulf of Siam are small, and not numerous; so that the passage is probably corrupted; and may have been in the original, "that, leaving the gulf of Cheinan on the north, they left infinite islands, &c; on the south." After all, the gulf of Cheinan may mean the whole sea of China.--E.
[4] It is difficult to say precisely what division of farther India is here meant by Ziambar. 1500 miles would carry us to the coast of Malaya; but 1500 li, or about 500 miles reach only to the coast of Cochin-China, or it may be Tsiompa. Ziambar, in the editions, is variously written Ciambau, Ciariban, and Ziambar.--E.

Sailing thence for 1500 miles, betwixt the south and southeast, we came to Java[5], which is considered by mariners to be the largest island in the world, being above 3000 miles in circumference. It is governed by a king who pays tribute to none; as, owing to the length and danger of the voyage, the great khan has made no attempt to annex it to his vast dominions. The merchants of Zaitum and Mangi, bring from thence abundance of gold and spices. South and south-westwards six hundred miles, are the islands of Sondur and Condur, both desolate, of which Sondur is the larger[6]. Fifty miles south-east from them is a rich and great province, or island, called Lochae[7]. The people are idolaters, and have both a king and language of their own. In it there grows great plenty of Brazil wood; and it has much gold, many elephants, wild beasts, and fowls, and an excellent fruit called bercias, as large as lemons. The country is mountainous and savage, and the king permits no person to come into his dominions, lest they should get acquainted with the county and attempt its conquest. It produces abundance of porcelain shells, which are transported to other places, where they serve as money.

[5] The direction of the voyage is here obviously erroneous, it must have been between the south and the south-west, or south-south-west. In the Trevigi edition, the Java of this part of our text is Lava, and according to Valentine, Lava is the name of the principal city and kingdom in Borneo; which at all events must be the island here mentioned by Marco.--E.
[6] According to the Trevigi edition, as reported by Pinkerton, these islands are only seven miles from Lava or Borneo. At about seventy miles distance to the south-west, there are two islands named Caremata and Soorooto, which may be those mentioned in the text.--E.
[7] Called Lochach in some of the editions, and said to be 200 miles from Sondor and Condur. Whether this may be Ma-lacca or Ma-laya, it is impossible to determine.--E.

Five hundred miles southward from Lochae, is the isle of Pentan[8], a savage place, which produces sweet trees in all its woods. For sixty miles of this voyage, between Lochae and Pentan, the sea in many places is only four fathoms deep Thirty miles to the south-east from Pentan, is the island and kingdom of Malaiur[9], which has a king and a peculiar language of its own, and has a great trade carried on in spices from Pentan. One hundred miles south-east is Java the less[10], which is about two thousand miles in circuit, and is divided into eight kingdoms, each having its own language. I was in six of these kingdoms, of which I shall give some account, omitting those I did not see.

[8] In the Trevigi edition only five miles, and the island is called Pentara. This may possibly be the island of Bintang in the south-eastern entrance of the straits of Malacca.--E.
[9] Most probably the kingdom of Malacca. From the Trevigi edition Pinkerton calls this Malonir, and curiously identifies Pepetam, Pentara, or Pentan, as the name of the city and kingdom of Malonir or Malaiur.--E.

One of these kingdoms is Felech or Ferlach, in which the formerly idolatrous inhabitants of the cities have been converted to the Mahometan religion, in consequence of much trade and intercourse with the Saracens; but the mountaineers are very savage, eating human flesh, and living upon every kind of unclean food, and they worship all day what they first happen to meet in the morning. The next kingdom is called Basma, which has a language peculiar to itself, the people living without law or religion like beasts: But they sometimes send hawks to the khan, who lays claim to the sovereignty of the whole island. Besides wild elephants, there are unicorns in this country, which are much less than elephants, being haired like the buffalo, but their feet are like those of die elephant. These animals have one horn in the middle of their foreheads; but they hurt no one with this weapon, using only their tongue and knee, for they trample and press any one down with their feet and knees, and their tongue is beset with long sharp prickles, with which they tear a person to pieces. The head is like that of a wild boar, which the animal, carries hanging down to the ground. They are filthy beasts that love to stand and wallow in the mire, and they do not in the least resemble those unicorns which are said to be found in some other parts of the world, which allow themselves to be taken by maids[11]. In this country, there are many apes of different kinds, some of them, being black with faces like men, which they put into boxes, preserved with spices; these they sell to merchants, who carry them to various parts of the world, and pass them for pigmies or little men. This country likewise produces large goshawks, as black as ravens, which are excellent for sport.

[10] If right in our former conjectures, the island spoken of in the text must be Sumatra not that now called Java. Indeed, the mention immediately afterwards of the islands of Nocueran and Angaman 150 miles to the north, which can only he the Nicobar and Andaman islands, establish the identity of Java-minor, here called Java the less, and Sumatra.--E.
[11] The animal here described under the name of unicorn is the Rhinoceros monoceros, or one-horned rhinoceros of naturalists; but the single horn is placed a little above the nose, not on the middle of the forehead, as here erroneously described by Marco.--E.

Samare or Samara is the next kingdom, in which I remained for five months against my will, in consequence of bad weather[12], during all which time, none of the stars in the constellation of the great-bear were seen. Being forced to remain here for five months. I landed with 2000 men, and erected fortifications to defend us against any unforeseen attack from the savage cannibals of the island, with whom we established a trade for provisions. They have excellent wine, both red and white, made from the palm tree, which is a very wholesome beverage, as it is medicinal for consumption, the dropsy, and for disorders of the spleen. They have likewise abundance of fine fish, and eat of all sorts of flesh, without making any difference. Their cocco nuts are as large as a mans head, and the middle of them is full of a pleasant liquor, better than wine.

[12] He had evidently missed the Monsoon, and had to await its return. From this kingdom or division of the island, it probably acquired the name of Sumatra, by which it is known in modern geography. From the circumstance in the text of not seeing the great bear, it is probable that Marco was stopped near the south-eastern extremity of the island. What is here translated the great bear, Pinkerton calls, from the Trevigi edition del Maistro. The polar star was invisible of course.--E.

Dragoian[13] is another of those kingdoms claimed by the khan, which has a king and a peculiar language. I was told of an abominable custom in this country; that when any one is sick, his relatives send to inquire at the sorcerers if he is to recover? If they answer no, the kindred then send for a person, whose office it is to strangle the sick person, whom they immediately cut in pieces and devour, even to the marrow of their bones, for they allege, that if any part were to remain, worms would breed in it, which would be in want of food, and would therefore die, to the great torture of the soul of the dead person. They afterwards carry away the bones, and conceal them carefully in caves in the mountains, that no beast may touch them. If they can lay their hands on any stranger, they treat him in the same barbarous manner.

[13] Called Deragola by Pinkerton, from the Trevigi edition.--E.

Lambri is the fifth kingdom of Java-minor, or Sumatra, in which is great plenty of Brazil wood, some of the seeds of which I brought to Venice, but they would not vegetate, as the climate was too cold for them. In this country there are great numbers of unicorns or rhinoceroses, and plenty of other beasts and birds. Fanfur is the sixth kingdom, having the best camphor, which Is sold weight for weight with gold. In that kingdom, they make a kind of meal from great and long trees, as thick as two men are able to fathom. Having taken off the thin bark, the wood within is only about three fingers thick, all the rest being pith, from which the meal is made. This pith is broken to pieces, and stirred among water, the light dross swimming, and being thrown away, while the finer parts settle at the bottom, and is made into paste[14]. I brought some of this to Venice, which tastes not much unlike barley bread. The wood of this tree is so heavy as to sink in water like iron, and of it they make excellent lances, but being very heavy, they are under the necessity of making them short. These are hardened in the fire, and sharpened, and when so prepared, they will pierce through armour easier than if made of iron. About 150 miles to the northward of Lambri, there are two islands, one called Nocueran and the other Angaman,[l5] in the former of which the inhabitants live like beasts, and go entirely naked, but have excellent trees, such as cloves, red and white sanders, coco-nuts, Brazil, and various spices in the other island the inhabitants are equally savage, and are said to have the heads and teeth of dogs.

[14] He here distinctly indicates the manufacture of sego.--E.
[15] Nicobar and Andaman, on the east side of the bay of Bengal; called Necunera and Namgama in the Trevigi edition.--E.


Of the Island of Ceylon, and various parts of Hither India.

Sailing from Angaman 1000 miles west, and a little to the south, we come to the island of Zelan or Ceylon, which is 2400 miles in circumference; but was anciently 3600 miles round, as appears from the former charts of the country, the north winds having occasioned the sea to destroy a great part of it. This is the finest island in the world, and its king is called Sendernaz. The men and women are idolaters, and go entirely naked, except a small cloth before them. They grow no corn except rice; and they have plenty of oil of sesame, milk, flesh, palm wine, Brazil wood, the best rubies in the world, sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems. The king of the island is said to have the finest ruby that ever was seen, as long as the hand, and as thick as a mans wrist, without spot or blemish, and glowing like a fire. Cublai-Khan once sent to purchase this ruby, offering the value of a city for it; but the king answered that he would not part with it for all the treasure in the world, because it had belonged to his ancestors. The men of this island are unfit for soldiers, and hire others when they have occasion to go to war.

There is a high mountain in Ceylon, to the top of which no one can ascend, without the assistance of iron chains, and on which the Saracens report that the sepulchre of Adam is situated; but the idolaters say that it is the body of Sogomon Burchan, the first founder of idol worship, son of a king of the island, who betook himself to a recluse life of religious contemplation on the top of this mountain, from whence no pleasures or persuasions could induce him to withdraw. After his death, his father caused an image of him to be made of solid gold, and commanded all his subjects to adore him as their god: and hence they say is the origin of idol worship. People come here in pilgrimage from remote regions, and there his fore-teeth, and a dish which he used, are solemnly exhibited as holy relics. As the Saracens pretend that these belonged to Adam, Cublai-Khan was induced, in 1281, to send ambassadors to the king of this country, who obtained the dish, two teeth, and some of the hairs of Sogomon Barchan: These the great khan caused to be received without the city with great reverence and solemnity, by the whole people of Cambalu, and brought into his presence with great honour.

Sixty miles to the west of Ceylon is Moabar[1]. This is no island, but lies on the firm continent, which may be called the greater India. In it there are four kings, the principal one of whom is Sinder Candi, in whose kingdom they fish for pearls, between Ceylon and Moabar, in a bay where the sea does not exceed ten or twelve fathoms deep. Here the divers descend to the bottom, and in bags or nets which are tied about their bodies, bring up the oysters which contain the pearls. On account of certain great fish which kill the divers, they hire bramins to charm them from doing harm, and these have the twentieth part of the pearls, the king getting the tenth part[2]; These oysters are only found from the beginning of April to the end of May in this place; but from the beginning of September to the middle of October, they are got in another place, about three hundred miles distant. The king of this country goes naked, like the rest of his subjects, except that he wears some honourable marks of distinction, as a collar of precious stones about his neck, and a thread of silk hanging down to his breast, on which are strung 104 large fine pearls, by which he counts his prayers as with a rosary. These prayers are merely the word Pacaupa, repeated 104 times over. He wears a sort of bracelets on three places of his arms and on his legs, and rings on all his fingers and toes. This king has a thousand concubines, and if any woman pleases his fancy, he takes her away from whoever she may happen to belong to. He once did this unjust deed to his own brother, in consequence of which a civil war had nearly ensued; but as their mother threatened to cut off her own breasts if they continued their enmity, they were reconciled. He has a numerous guard of horsemen, who are under a vow, when he dies, to throw themselves into the fire in which his body is consumed, that they may serve him in the next world.

[1] This Pinkerton calls Moabar on the margin, and Nachabar in the text, of his dissertation on the Trevigi edition of Marco Polo, very justly observing that it refers to Coromandel, or the Carnatic below the gauts. Harris erroneously substitutes Malabar. Moabar and Madura may have a similar origin, as may Nachabar and Nega-patnam.--E.
[2] The fish here alluded to are sharks; and the same custom of employing bramins to defend the fishermen, by conjuration, against this formidable enemy, is continued to the present day.--E.

This prince, and the other kings of Moabar, buy their horses from Ormus and other parts, as their country produces none, or if any happen to be bred there, they are ugly and useless[3]. Condemned persons often offer themselves to die in honour of a particular idol; on which the devotee puts himself to death with twelve knives, giving himself twelve deep wounds in various parts of his body, calling out aloud on the infliction of each, that he does this in honour of such or such an idol; and the last of all is through his own heart, after which his body is burned by his kindred. The women of this country voluntarily burn themselves along with the bodies of their deceased husbands, and those who neglect to do this are held in disrepute. They worship idols, and most of them hold cows in such high veneration, that they would not eat their holy flesh for any consideration on earth. A certain tribe is called Gaui, who feed upon such oxen as die of themselves, but never kill any. These Gaui are descended from the people who slew St Thomas, and dare not enter the shrine in which his body is preserved. The people of this country sit on carpets on the ground, using no chairs or stools. Their only grain is rice. They are not a martial people, and kill no animals; but when they are inclined for animal food, they get the Saracens or some other people to kill for them. Both men and women wash themselves twice a-day, and always before eating; and those who neglect this ceremony are reputed heretics. They never touch their meat with their left hands, which they only employ for wiping themselves, or other unclean purposes. Each drinks from his own pot, neither do they allow it to touch their mouths, but hold it above, and pour in the drink; and to strangers who have no pot, they pour liquor into their hands, from which they must drink, as they will not allow their pots to be touched by any other person.

[3] Mr Pinkerton, from the Trevigi edition, has this passage as follows: "The king of Vor, one of the princes of Nacbabar, purchases about 10,000 horses yearly from the country of Cormos, formerly mentioned, each horse costing five sazi of gold."--E.

Justice is severely administered for crimes; and in some cases, a creditor has a singular manner of compelling payment, by drawing a circle round his debtor, out of which he must not stir till he has satisfied his creditor, or given security for the debt, under the pain of death. I, Marco, once saw the king on horseback thus encircled, by a merchant whom he had long put off with delays; and the king would not come out of the circle, which the merchant had drawn; till he had sent for the means of paying the merchant, all the people who were present highly applauding the kings justice. They are very scrupulous of drinking wine, and those who are addicted to that practice, are held disreputable and unworthy of being admitted as witnesses; which is the case likewise with those who go to sea, as they reckon them desperate persons. They look on letchery as no sin. In the months of June, July, and August, they have no rains, and it is excessively hot, insomuch, that they could not live if it were not for the refreshing winds which blow from the sea. They have many physiognomists and soothsayers, who observe omens from birds and beasts, and other signs. These people consider one hour in every day of the week as unlucky, which they name Choiach, and which is different on all the days, all of which are carefully recorded in their books, and they are curious observers of nativities. At thirteen years of age, their boys are put out to gain their living, who go about buying and selling, by means of a small stock given them to begin with. In the pearl season, these boys will buy a few pearls, and sell them again for a small profit to the merchants, who are unable to endure the sun. What gain they get they bring to their mothers, to lay out for them, as it is not lawful for them to live at their fathers cost. Their daughters are dedicated to the service of the idols, and appointed by the priests to sing and dance in presence of the idols; and they frequently set victuals before the idols for some time, as if they would eat, singing all the while, when they fall to eat themselves, and then return home. The great men have a kind of litters, made of large canes artificially wrought, which are fixed in some high situation, to avoid being bitten by tarantulas[4], and other vermin, and for the benefit of fresh air.

[4] Tarantulas is assuredly, a mistake here for centipedes and scorpions, which are common all over India.--E.

The sepulchre of St Thomas is in a small city, not much frequented by merchants, but very much by Christians and Saracens, on account of devotion. The Saracens hold him as a great prophet or holy man, and call him Ananias. The Christians take of a red earth which is found in the place where he was slain, which they mix with water, and administer to the sick with great reverence. It happened in the year 1288, that a great prince, who had more rice than he had room to keep it in, chose to make bold with that room in St Thomas's church in which pilgrims are received, and converted it into a granary: But he was so terrified by a vision of St Thomas in the night following, that he was glad to remove it with great speed. The inhabitants are black, although not born so, but by constantly anointing themselves with the oil of jasmine they become quite black, which they esteem a great beauty, insomuch, that they paint their idols black, and represent the devil as white. The cow worshippers carry with them to battle some of the hairs of an ox, as a preservative against dangers.


Of the Kingdom of Murfili, and the Diamond Mines, and some other Countries of India.

Murfili or Monsul[1], is five hundred miles northwards from Moabar, and is inhabited by idolaters. In the mountains of this country there are diamonds, which the people search for after the great rains. They afterwards ascend these mountains in the summer, though with great labour, on account of the excessive heat, and find abundance of these precious stones among the gravel; and are on these occasions much exposed to danger from the vast numbers of serpents which shelter themselves in the holes and caverns of the rocks, in which the diamonds are found in greatest abundance. Among other methods of obtaining the diamonds, they make, use of the following artifice: There are great numbers of white eagles, which rest in the upper parts of these rocks for the sake of feeding on the serpents, which are found at the bottom of the deep vallies and precipices where the men dare not go. They therefore throw pieces of raw meat down into these deep places, which the eagles seeing, stoop for, and seize with all the little stones and gravel which adhere to them. The people afterwards search the eagles nests when they leave them, and carefully pick out all the little stones they can find, and even carefully examine the eagles dung in quest of diamonds[2]. The kings and great men of the country keep all the largest and finest diamonds that are procured from these mines, and allow the merchants to sell the rest.

[1] Muis in the Trevigi edition, according to Pinkerton, and which, he says, is 10OO miles, instead of the 500 in the text. This certainly refers to Golconda. The districts of India have been continually changing their names with changes of dominion; and one or other of these names given by Marco to the diamond country, may at one time have been the designation of some town or district at the mines--E.
[2] One would suppose we were here reading a fragment of the adventures of Sinbad the sailor, from the Arabian Nights. But on this and a few other similar occasions in the narrative of Marco, it is always proper to notice carefully what he says on his own knowledge, and what he only gives on the report of others.--E.

Lac is westwards from the shrine of St Thomas, from whence the Bramins have their original, who are the honestest merchants in the world, and will not lie on any account. They faithfully keep any thing committed to their charge, or as brokers, they will sell or barter merchandize for others, with great fidelity. They are known by a cotton thread, which they wear over their shoulders, and tied under their arms across their breast. They have but one wife, are great astrologers, of great abstinence, and live to great ages. They constantly chew a certain herb, which keeps their teeth good and helps digestion. There are certain religious persons among them called Tangui, who live with great austerity, going altogether naked; their principal worship is addressed to cows, of which they wear a small brass image on their foreheads, and they make an ointment of ox bones, with which they anoint themselves very devoutly. They neither kill nor eat any living creature, and even abstain from green herbs, or fresh roots till dried, esteeming every thing that lives to have a soul. They use no dishes, but lay their victuals on dry leaves. They ease themselves in the sands, and they disperse it, lest it should breed worms, which might die for want of food. Some of these people are said to live to 150 years of age, and when they die their bodies are burned.

Cael is a great city governed by Aster, one of the four brethren[3], who is very rich and kind to merchants. He is said to have three hundred concubines. All the people this country are continually chewing a leaf called Tembul[4], with lime and spices. Coulam[5] is 500 miles south-west from Moabar, being chiefly inhabited by idolaters, who are very much addicted to venery, and marry their near kindred, and even their own sisters. It also contains Jews and Christians, who have a peculiar language. They have pepper, Brazil, indigo, black lions, parrots of many kinds, some white as snow, some azure, and others red, peacocks very different from ours, and much larger, and their fruits are very large. In this country there are many astrologers and physicians. In Camari, there are apes so large, that they seem like men, and here we again came in sight of the north star. Delai has a king, and its inhabitants have a peculiar language[6] and are idolaters. Ships from Mangi come here for trade.

[3] This obscure expression seems to imply, that Aster was one of the four kings in Moabar, or the Carnatic.--E.
[4] Now called Betel, and still universally used in India in the same manner.--E.
[5] Coulam may possibly be Cochin or Calicut, on the Malabar coast as being south-west from Moabar or Coromandel, and having Jews and Christians; as the original trade from the Red Sea to India was on this coast.--E.
[6] Camari or Comati, and Delai or Orbai, are obviously the names of towns and districts on the Malabar coast going north from Coulain. Yet Comari may refer to the country about Cape Comorin.--E.

Malabar is a kingdom in the west, in which, and in Guzerat[7], there are many pirates, who sometimes put to sea with an hundred sail of vessels, and rob merchants. In these expeditions they take their wives and children to sea along with them, where they remain all summer. In Guzerat there is great abundance of cotton, which grows on trees six fathoms high, that last for twenty years; but after twelve years old, the cotton of these trees is not good for spinning; and is only fit for making quilts.

[7] According to Pinkerton, these are called Melibar and Gesurach in the Trevigi edition, and he is disposed to consider the last as indicating Geriach, because of the pirates. But there seems no necessity for that nicety, as all the north-western coast of India has always been addicted to maritime plunder or piracy.--E.

Canhau is a great city, having plenty of frankincense, and carrying on a great trade in horses. In Cambaia is much indigo, buckram, and cotton. Semenath or Sebeleth, is a kingdom of idolaters, who are very good people, and greatly occupied in trade. Resmacoran is a great kingdom of idolaters and Saracens, and is the last province towards the north in the Greater India. Near this there are said to be two islands, one inhabited by men and the other by women; the men visiting their wives only during the months of March, April, and May, and then returning to their own island; and it is reported, that the air of that country, admits of no other procedure. The women keep their sons till twelve years old, and then send them to their fathers. These people are Christians, having a bishop, who is subject to the archbishop of Socotora; they are good fishermen, and have great store of amber. The archbishop of Socotora[8] is not subject to the Pope, but to a prelate called Zatulia, who resides at Bagdat. The people of Socotora are said to be great enchanters, though excommunicated for the practice by their prelate, and are reported to raise contrary winds to bring back the ships of those who have wronged them, that they may obtain satisfaction.

[8] Socotora is called Scorsia or Scoria in the Trevigi edition.--E.


Of Madagascar, Ethiopia, Abyssinia, and several other Countries[1].

[1] This concluding section may be considered as a kind of appendix, in which Marco has placed several unconnected hearsay notices of countries where he never had been personally.--E.

A thousand miles south from Socotora is Magaster[2] or Madagascar, one of the largest and richest islands in the world[3], 3000 miles in circumference, which is inhabited by Saracens, and governed by four old men. The currents of the sea in those parts are of prodigious force. The people live by merchandize, and sell vast quantifies of elephants teeth [4]. Mariners report strange stories of a prodigiously large bird like an eagle, called Ruch, said to be found in this country.

[2] Mandeigascar in the Trevigi edition, and certainly meant for Madagascar.--E.
[3] Madagascar has no pretensions to riches or trade, and never had; so that Marco must have been imposed upon by some Saracen or Arab mariner. Its size, climate, and soil certainly fit it for becoming a place of vast riches and population; but it is one almost continued forest, inhabited by numerous independent and hostile tribes of barbarians. Of this island, a minute account will appear in an after part of this work.--E.
[4] There are no elephants in Madagascar, yet these teeth might have been procured from southern Africa.--E.

Zensibar or Zanguebar, is also said to be of great extent, and inhabited by a very deformed people; and the country abounds in elephants and antelopes, and a species of sheep very unlike to ours.

I have heard from mariners and skilful pilots, much versant in the Indian seas, and have seen in their writings, that these seas contain 12,700 islands, inhabited or desert.

In the Greater India, which is between Moabar or the Coromandel coast on the east, round to Chesmacoran on the north-west, there are thirteen kingdoms. India Minor is from Ziambo to Murfili[5], in which are eight kingdoms and many islands.

[5] By India Minor he obviously means what is usually called farther India, or India beyond the Ganges, from the frontiers of China to Moabar, or the north part of the Coromandel coast, including the islands.--E.

The second or Middle India is called Abascia[6], of which the chief king is a Christian, who has six other kings subject to his authority, three of whom are Christians and three of them Mahometans; there are also Jews in his dominions. St Thomas, after preaching in Nubia, came to Abascia, where he preached for some time, and then went to Moabar or Coromandel. The Abyssinians are valiant soldiers, always at war with the sultan of Aden and the people of Nubia. I was told, that in 1288, the great emperor of the Abyssinians was extremely desirous to have visited Jerusalem; but being dissuaded from the attempt, on account of the Saracen kingdoms which were in the way, he sent a pious bishop to perform his devotions for him at the holy sepulchre. On his return, the bishop was made prisoner by the sultan of Aden, and circumcised by force. On this affront, the Abyssinian monarch raised an army, with which he defeated the sultan and two other Saracen kings, and took and destroyed the city of Aden. Abyssinia is, rich in gold. Escier, subject to Aden, is forty miles distant to the south-east, and produces abundance of fine white frankincense, which is procured by making incisions in the bark of certain small trees, and is a valuable merchandize. Some of the people on that coast, from want of corn, use fish, which they have in great abundance, instead of bread, and also feed their beasts on fish. They are most abundantly taken in the months of March, April, and May.

[6] Abyssinia, here taken in the most extended sense, including all the western coast of the Red Sea, and Eastern Africa.--E.

I now return to some provinces more to the north, where many Tartars dwell, who have a king called Caidu, of the race of Zingis, but who is entirely independent. These Tartars, observant of the customs of their ancestors, dwell not in cities, castles, or fortresses, but continually roam about, along with their king, in the plains and forests, and are esteemed true Tartars. They have no corn of any kind, but have multitudes of horses, cattle, sheep, and other beasts, and live on flesh and milk, in great peace. In their country there are white bears of large size, twenty palms in length; very large wild asses, little beasts called rondes, from which we have the valuable fur called sables, and various other animals producing fine furs, which the Tartars are very skilful in taking. This country abounds in great lakes, which are frozen over, except for a few months in every year, and in summer it is hardly possible to travel, on account of marshes and waters; for which reason, the merchants who go to buy furs, and who have to travel for fourteen days through the desert, have wooden houses at the end of each days journey, where they barter with the inhabitants, and in winter they travel in sledges without wheels, quite flat at the bottom, and rising semicircularly at the top, and these are drawn by great dogs, yoked in couples, the sledgeman only with his merchant and furs, sitting within[7].

[7] This paragraph obviously alludes to the Tartar kingdom of Siberia.--E.

Beyond these Tartars is a country reaching to the extremest north, called the Obscure land, because the sun never appears during the greatest part of the winter months, and the air is perpetually thick and darkish, as is the case with us sometimes in hazy mornings. The inhabitants are pale and squat, and live like beasts, without law, religion, or king. The Tartars often rob them of their cattle during the dark months; and lest they might lose their way in these expeditions they ride on mares which have sucking foals, leaving these at the entrance of the country, under a guard; and when they have got possession of any booty, they give the reins to the mares, which make the best of their way to rejoin their foals. In their, long-continued summer[8], these northern people take many of the finest furs, some of which are carried into Russia, which is a great country near that northern land of darkness. The people in Russia have fair complexions, and are Greek Christians, paying tribute to the king of the Tartars in the west, on whom they border. In the eastern parts of Russia there is abundance of fine furs, wax, and mines of silver; and I am told the country reaches to the northern ocean, in which there are islands which abound in falcons and ger-falcons.

[8] The summer in this northern country of the Samojeds is extremely short; but the expression here used, must allude to the long-continued summer day, when, for several months, the sun never sets.--E.


Travels of Oderic of Portenau, into China and the East, in 1318.[1]

[1] Hakluyt, II. 142, for the Latin; II. 158, for the old English translation.--Forst. Voy. and Disc. 147.


Oderic of Portenau, a minorite friar, travelled into the eastern countries in the year 1318, accompanied by several other monks, and penetrated as far as China. After his return, he dictated, in 1330, the account of what he had seen during his journey to friar William de Solona, or Solangna, at Padua, but without order or arrangement, just as it occurred to his memory. This traveller has been named by different editors, Oderic, Oderisius, and Oldericus de Foro Julii, de Udina, Utinensis, or de Porto Vahonis, or rather Nahonis. Porto-Nahonis, or Portenau, is the Mutatio ad nonum, a station or stage which is mentioned in the Itinerarium Hierosolymitanum, or description of the various routes to Jerusalem, a work compiled for the use of pilgrims; and its name is apparently derived from the Kymerian language, apparently a Celtic dialect, in which port signifies a stage, station, or resting-place, and nav or naou signifies nine; Port-nav, Latinized into Portus naonis, and Frenchified into Portenau, implies, therefore, the ninth station, and is at present named Pordanone in the Friul. The account of his travels, together with his life, are to be found: in Bolandi Actis Sanctorum, 14to Januarii; in which he is honoured with the title of Saint. Oderic died at Udina in 1331. In 1737, Basilio Asquini, an Italian Barnabite of Udina, published La Vita e Viaggi del Beato Qderico da Udihe, probably an Italian translation from the Latin of Bolandi. The account of these travels in the collection of Hakluyt, is called "The Journal of Friar Odericus, concerning the strange things which he sawe among the Tartars of the East;" and was probably transcribed and translated from Bolandi, in which these travels are entitled De mirabilibus Mundi, or the Wonders of the World. They have very much the air of an ignorant compilation, fabricated in the name of Oderic, perhaps upon some slight foundation, and stuffed with ill-assorted stories and descriptions from Marco Polo, and other, writers, interspersed with a few ridiculous miracles, for the honour or disgrace of the minorite order. Mr Pinkerton asserts, that Oderic was not canonized until 1753. But the Acts of the Saints is a publication of considerable antiquity, and he is called Beatus in the work of Asquini, already mentioned as having been published in 1787.


The Commencement of the Travels of Oderic.

Many things are related by various authors, concerning the customs, fashions, and conditions of this world: Yet, as I, friar Oderic of Portenau in the Friul, have travelled among the remote nations of the unbelievers, where I saw and heard many great and wonderful things, I have thought fit to relate all these things truly. Having crossed over the great sea[1] from Pera, close by Constantinople, I came to Trebizond, in the country called Pontus by the ancients. This land is commodiously situated as a medium of intercourse for the Persians and Medes, and other nations beyond the Great Sea, with Constantinople, and the countries of the west. In this island I beheld a strange spectacle with great delight; a man, who led about with him more than 4000 partridges. This person walked on the ground, while his partridges flew about him in the air, and they followed him wherever he went; and they were so tame, that when he lay down to rest, they all came flocking about him, like so many chickens. From a certain castle called Zauena, three days journey from Trebizond, he led his partridges in this manner to the palace of the emperor in that city. And when the servants of the emperor had taken such a number of the partridges as they thought proper, he led back the rest in the same manner, to the place from whence he came.

[1] Perhaps the sea of Marmora; or it may indicate the Euxine or Black Sea.--E.

From this city of Trebizond, where the body of St Athanasius is preserved over one of the gates, I journeyed into the Greater Armenia, to a city named Azaron, which was rich and flourishing in former times, but the Tartars have nearly laid it entirely waste; yet it still has abundance of bread and flesh, and victuals of all sorts, excepting wine and fruits. This city is remarkably cold, and is said to be situated on a higher elevation that any other city of the world. It has abundance of excellent water, which seems to originate from the great river Euphrates[2], which is only at the distance of a days journey. Azaron stands in the direct road between Trebizond and Tauris. In journeying farther on, I came to a mountain named Sobissacalo; and we passed by the very mountain of Ararat, on which the ark of Noah is said to have rested. I was very desirous to have gone to the top of that mountain, but the company with which I travelled would not wait for me; and the people of the country allege that no one was ever able to ascend to its top, because, say they, it is contrary to the will of God. Continuing our journey, we came to Tauris[3], a great and royal city anciently called Susa, which is reckoned the chief city in the world for trade and merchandize; for every article whatever, both of merchandize and provision, is to be had there, in the greatest abundance, Tauris is most conveniently situated, and to it may all the nations of the earth, almost, resort for trade. The Christians in those parts report, that the emperor of Persia derives more tribute from this city alone than the king of France receives from the whole of his dominions. Near this city there is a hill of salt, from whence every one may take as much as he pleases, without paying any thing whatever to any person. Many Christians from all parts of the world are to be found in this place, over whom the Saracens have the supreme authority.

[2] The holy traveller ought rather to have said, that the springs or rivulet near Azaron flowed into the Euphrates. Azaron is obviously Erzerum, on or near one of the higher branches of the Frat or Euphrates.--E.
[3] Tebriz in Persia.--E.

From Tauris I travelled to the city called Soldania[4], where the Persian emperor resides during the summer; but in winter he changes his residence to another city upon the sea of Baku[5]. Soldania is a large city, but very cold, from its situation in the mountains, and has considerable trade, and abundance of good water. From thence I set out with a caravan of merchants, for the Upper India, and in our way, after many days journey, we came to Cassan or Casbin[6], the noble and renowned city of the three wise men, which abounds in bread and wine, and many other good things, but the Tartars have nearly destroyed it. From this city to Jerusalem, to which the three wise men we're led by miracle, the distance is fifty days journey. For the sake of brevity I omit many wonderful things which I saw in this city. Going from thence, we came to the city of Geste[7], whence the sea of sand, a most wonderful and dangerous track, is distant only one days journey. In the city of Yezd there is abundance of all kinds of victuals, especially of figs, grapes, and raisins, which are there more plentiful, in my opinion, than in any other part of the world. It is one of the principal cities in all Persia, and its Saracen inhabitants allege that no Christian can live there above a year. Continuing our journey forwards for many days, I came to a city named Comum[8], which was a great city in old times, near fifty miles in circumference, and often did much damage to the Romans. In this place there are stately palaces, now destitute of inhabitants, yet it hath abundance of provisions. Travelling from thence through many countries, I came at length into the land of Job, named Us[9], which borders on the north of Chaldea. This land is full of all kinds of provisions, and manna is here found in great abundance. Four partridges are sold here for less than an Italian groat; and the mountains have excellent pastures for cattle. In this country the men card and spin, and not the women; and the old men are very comely.

[4] Sultania or Sultanie.--E.
[5] The Caspian; so called in this place, from Baku or Baccou, a city on its banks, in the province of Shirvan.--E.
[6] Oderic must have made a mistake here, as Casbin is not above seventy or eighty miles from Sultanie, and the journey of the caravans between these cities, could not have exceeded four or five days.--E.
[7] Yezd, about 500 miles east from Ispahan.--E.
[8] This is obviously the city of Kom or Koom, above 400 miles to the north-west of Yezd, and much nearer Sultanie. Our traveller, therefore, must either have strangely forgotten his route or he came back again from Yezd, instead of journeying forwards.--E.
[9] Khus or Khosistan, the south-western province of Persia.--E.


Of the Manners of the Chaldeans, and concerning India.

From thence I travelled into Chaldea, which is a great kingdom, having a language peculiar to itself, and I passed beside the Tower of Babel. The men of this country have their hair nicely braided and trimmed, like the women of Italy, wearing turbans richly ornamented with gold and pearls, and are a fine looking people: but the women are ugly and deformed, and are clad in coarse shifts, only reaching to their knees, with long sleeves hanging down to the ground, and breeches or trowsers which likewise reach the ground, but their feet are bare. They wear no head-dresses, and their hair hangs neglected and dishevelled about their ears. There are many other strange things to be seen in this country.

From thence I travelled into the lower India, which was overrun and laid waste by the Tartars[1]. In this country the people subsist chiefly on dates, forty-two pound weight of which may be purchased for less than a Venetian groat. Travelling on for many days, I arrived at Ormus on the main ocean, which is a well fortified city, having great store of merchandize and treasure. The heat of this country is excessive, and constrains the people to make use of extraordinary expedients to preserve their lives[2]. In this place, their ships or barks are called jase, the planks of which are sewed together with hemp. Embarking in one of these vessels, in which I could find no iron whatever, I arrived in twenty-eight days sail at Thana[3], in which place four of our friars suffered martyrdom for the Christian faith. This country is well situated for trade, and has abundance of bread and wine, and of all other articles necessary for the food of man. The kingdom in ancient times was very large and populous, and was under the dominion of King Porus, who fought a great battle with Alexander the Macedonian conqueror. The inhabitants are idolaters, worshipping the fire, and likewise paying divine honours to serpents, and even to trees. The Saracens have conquered the whole of this land, and are themselves under subjection to king Daldili[4]. In this country there are great numbers of black lions; apes and monkies are also very numerous, and their bats are as large as our pigeons. They have rats also, as large as the dogs in Italy, which are hunted by means of dogs, as cats are unable to cope with them. In this country every one has a bundle of great boughs of trees, as large as a pillar, standing in a pot of water before the door; and there are many other strange and wonderful novelties, a relation of which would be exceedingly delightful.

[1] By lower India, our author seems here to indicate the southern provinces of Persia.--E.
[2] Tantus est calor, quod virilia hominum exeunt corpus, et descendant usque at mediam tibiarum: ideo faciunt unctionum, et ungunt illa, et in, quibusdam sacculis ponunt circa se cingentes, et aliter morerentur.
[3] This place seems to have been Tatta, in the Delta of the Indus.--E.
[4] This unknown king, rex Daldili, is probably an error in translating from the Venetian or Friul dialect of Oderic into Monkish Latin, and may have been originally Il Re dal Deli, or the King of Delhi.--E.


Of the Martyrdom of the Friars[l].

[1] The whole of this and the following section is omitted in the old English of Hakluyt, and is here translated from the Latin.--E.

Four of our friars, Tolentinus de Marchia, James of Padua, Demetrius, a lay brother, and Peter de Senis, suffered martyrdom in the city of Thana. These friars had engaged for their passage at Ormus to Polumbrum, but were forcibly carried to Thana, where there are fifteen houses of Christians, schismatics of the Nestorian communion, and on their arrival they were hospitably entertained in one of these houses. A strife happened to take place between the man of that house and his wife, in which the man beat his wife severely. She complained to the kadi, who interrogated her how she could prove her assertion. On which she answered that there were four priests of the Franks who were present, and could attest the bad usage she had received. On this a person of Alexandria, who was present, requested of the kadi that these men might be sent for, since they were learned men, versant in the scriptures, and it would be right to dispute with them concerning the faith. Our friars were accordingly sent for, and, leaving Peter to take charge of their goods, the other three went to the kadi; who began to dispute with them concerning our faith, saying, "That Christ was a mere man, and not God." But friar Thomas[2] shewed evidently, both from reason and by examples drawn from Scripture, that Christ was really God and man, and so confounded the kadi and the other infidels, that they were unable to produce any rational arguments in contradiction to him. On this some one exclaimed, "And what do you say concerning Mahomet?" To this friar Thomas replied; "Since I have proved to you that Christ is really God and man, who hath given the law to mankind, and since Mahomet set himself contrary thereto, and taught an opposite law, if ye are wise, you may well know what ought to be concluded respecting him." But the kadi and the other Saracens insisted that he should declare his own opinion concerning Mahomet. "You may all see," said he, "what must be my opinion; and as you insist that I should speak out plainly, I must declare that your Mahomet is the son of perdition, and is in hell with his father the devil. And not him only, but all who have held his law, which is entirely abominable and false, contrary to GOD, and adverse to the salvation of souls." On hearing this, the Saracens cried out, "Let him die! let him die! who hath thus blasphemed against the prophet."

[2] Probably he who is named above Tolentinus.--E.

Then they seized upon the friars, and exposed them to the burning sun, that they might suffer a severe death by the adust heat of the suns rays: For such is the excessive heat of the sun in that place, that any person who remains exposed to its direct influence, during the time necessary to say the mass, is sure to die. But the friars remained hale and joyful, from the third to the ninth hour of the day, praising and glorifying the Lord. The Saracens, astonished at this, came to the friars, saying, "We intend to make a large fire, and to throw you therein; and if your faith is true, as you say, the fire will not be able to burn you; but if you are burnt, it will plainly appear that your faith is false." To this the friars answered, that they were ready to endure chains and imprisonment, and even the fire, and all other torments for the faith; but should the fire consume them it was not to be inferred that it did so on account of their faith, but as a punishment for their sins: declaring that their faith was most true and perfect, and the only one by which the souls of men could possibly be saved. While they thus determined upon burning the friars, the report of this affair spread over the whole city, and all the people of both sexes, young and old, flocked to behold the spectacle. The friars were accordingly led to the most public square of the city, where a great fire was lighted up, into which friar Thomas endeavoured to throw himself; but a Saracen held him back, saying: "You shall not do so, old man, as you may have some spell or contrivance about you, for preventing the fire from hurting you, and you must allow another of your people to go into the fire." Then four of the Saracens seized upon friar James, intending to have thrown him into the fire, but he requested permission to walk in of his own accord, to shew his devotion to the faith. This, however, they refused, and threw him in headlong. The fire was so large and fierce that he could not be seen; yet his voice was heard from the midst of the flames, calling upon the name of the Glorious Virgin. When the fire was totally consumed, friar James was seen standing on the embers, unhurt and joyful, with his hands raised to heaven in form of the cross, and himself praising and glorifying GOD, who had thus manifested the greatness of his faith; and nothing whatever about his person, not even his clothes or his hair, was found in the slightest degree injured by the fire. Upon this, all the people began to cry aloud, "They are holy! they are holy! it is sinful to do them any injury, for we see now that their faith is good and holy." To this the kadi objected, saying that he was not holy, notwithstanding he remained unhurt amid the fire; but that his tunic, being fabricated from the wool of the land of Habraa, had protected him: That he ought therefore to be thrown naked into the fire, and they should then see whether or not he would be consumed.

After this, the wicked Saracens, by direction of the kadi, made a fire twice as large as the former; and, having stripped James quite naked, they washed his body, and anointed him abundantly with oil, besides pouring a great quantity of oil upon the faggots which composed the fire; and when the fire was fully kindled, they threw friar James into the midst. Friars Thomas and Demetrius, retiring from among the people, remained on their knees praying to GOD, with many tears. Friar James, however, came a second time unhurt from the fire, and the people again cried out that it was sinful to injure these holy men. Upon this the Melich, or governor of the city, called friar James to his presence, and causing him to put on his garments, said to the friars, "We see, brothers, that by the Grace of God ye have suffered no harm from us: wherefore we are convinced that ye are holy men, and that your faith is good and true; we advise you to take yourselves away out of this land as quickly as possible, as the kadi will do his utmost to destroy you, because you have confounded his arguments". At this time, likewise, the people were full of astonishment and admiration of what they had seen, and were so filled with wonder at the miracle, that they knew not what to believe, or how to conduct themselves. The melich ordered the three friars to be carried across a small arm of the sea, into a village at a moderate distance from the city, where he ordered them to be lodged in the house of an idolater.

Afterwards the kadi went to the melich, and represented to him that the law of Mahomet would be overthrown if these people were allowed to live. He observed farther, that, by the precepts of Mahomet in the alcoran, it was declared, that any one who slew a Christian, acquired as much merit by that action as by the pilgrimage to Mecca. Then said the melich unto him, "Go thy way, and do what thou wilt." Whereupon the kadi took four armed men, whom he directed to go and slay the friars. These men crossed over the water while it was night, but were then unable to find the friars. In the meantime, the melich caused all the Christians in the city to be taken up and thrown into prison. In the middle of the night, the three friars rose up to say matins, and being then discovered by the four armed Saracens, they were dragged out of the village to a place beneath a certain tree, where they thus addressed our friars: "Know ye that we are ordered by the kadi and the melich to slay you, which we are very unwilling to do, as you are good and holy men; but we dare not refuse, as we and our wives and children would be put to death." Then answered the friars, "Do ye even as you have been commanded, that by a temporal death we may gain eternal life; since, for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified and died for us, and in honour of our faith in his holy gospel, we are prepared willingly to suffer every kind of torment, and even death itself." A Christian man, who had joined company with the friars, reasoned much with the four armed Saracens, declaring, if he had a sword, he would either defend these holy men from death, or would die along with them. Then the armed men caused the friars to take off their garments, and friar Thomas, on his knees, and with his arms folded in form of the cross, had his head smitten off. Friar James had his head divided to the eyes by the first blow, and by a second, his head was severed from his body. They wounded friar Demetrius at first in the breast, and then cut off his head. In the moment of the martyrdom of these holy men, the moon shone out with unusual splendour, and the night became so exceedingly light, that all admired greatly: After which, it suddenly became excessively dark, with great thunder and lightning, and violent coruscations, so that all expected to be destroyed; and the ship, which ought to have carried away the friars, was sunk, with all on board, so that no tidings of it were ever heard afterwards.

In the morning, the kadi sent to take possession of the goods belonging to the friars, and then friar Peter de Senlis, who had been left in charge of the goods, was found, and carried before the kadi; who, together with the other Saracens, promised him great things, if he would renounce the Christian faith, and conform to the law of Mahomet. But friar Peter scorned all their offers, and derided them: Whereupon they inflicted every species of torment upon him, from morning until mid-day, which he bore with patience and constancy in the faith, continually praising God and holding out the belief in Mahomet to scorn and contempt. The Saracens then hung him up on a tree; and, seeing that he bore this unhurt from the ninth hour till evening, they cut him in two. In the morning after, when they came to look for his body, no part of it was to be found. It was afterwards revealed to a person worthy of credit, that God had hidden his body for a season, until he should be pleased to manifest the bodies of his saints, and should shew the souls of the saints, rejoicing together with GOD and his angels and the saints, in bliss.

On the night following the martyrdom of these holy friars, they appeared to the melich in a vision, glorious and resplendent like the noon-day sun, each holding a sword on high, in a menacing posture, as if about to stab or cut him in pieces. In horror at the sight, he cried out aloud, to the great terror of his family, to whom he said, that these rabbis of the Franks, whom he had ordered to be slain, had come upon him with swords to slay him. The melich likewise sent for the kadi, to whom he communicated his vision, seeking advice and consolation, as he feared to be slain by the martyrs. And the kadi advised him to give large alms to their brethren, if he would escape from the hands of those whom he had slain. Then the melich sent for the Christians, whom he had thrown into prison, from whom he begged forgiveness for what he had done, promising henceforwards to be their companion and brother; and he ordained, that if any person in future should injure a Christian, he should suffer death; and sending away the Christians unhurt, each man to his home, the melich caused four mosques or chapels to be built in honour of the four martyrs, and appointed Saracen priests to officiate in them. When the Emperor Dodsi[3] heard of the slaughter of the four friars, he ordered the melich to be brought bound before him, and questioned him why he had cruelly ordered these men to be slain. The melich endeavoured to justify himself, by representing that they had exerted themselves to subvert the laws of Mahomet, against whom they had spoken blasphemously. The emperor thus addressed him; "O! most cruel dog! when you had seen how the Almighty God had twice delivered them from the flames, how dared you thus cruelly to put them to death?" And the emperor ordered the melich, and all his family, to be cut in two; sentencing him to the same death which he had inflicted on the holy friars. On these things coming to the knowledge of the kadi, he fled out of the land, and even quitted the dominions of the emperor, and so escaped the punishment he had so justly merited.

[3] Probably the same called, at the close of the former sections, Daldili, and there conjecturally explained as the King of Delhi.--E.


Of the Miracles performed by the four Martyrs.

It is not the custom in that country to commit the bodies of their dead to the grave, but they are exposed in the fields, that they may be consumed by the heat of the sun. But after the bodies of these martyrs had remained fourteen days exposed to the sun, they remained as fresh and uncorrupted as on the day of their martyrdom. On this being seen by the Christians who inhabited the land, they buried the bodies with great reverence. When I, Oderic, heard of the circumstances attending the death of these martyrs, I went to the place and dug up their bodies; and having collected all their bodies into beautiful towallias, I carried them with me into upper India to a certain place, assisted by a companion and a servant. While we were on our way, we rested in the house of a hospitable person, and placing the bones at my head, I went to sleep. And while I was asleep, the house was suddenly set on fire by the Saracens, that I might be burnt therein. My companion and servant made their escape, leaving me and the bones in the burning house. Seeing the fire above and all around me, I took up the bones, and withdrew, with them into one of the angles of the house; whence I saw all the other three corners on fire, while I remained safe along with the bones. So long as I remained there with the bones, the fire kept itself above my head, like lucid air; but the moment that I went out with the bones, the whole of that place where I had stood was enveloped in the flames, and many other surrounding buildings were likewise burnt to the ground.

Another miracle happened as I was going by sea with the bones to the city of Polumbrum, where, pepper grows in great abundance, when the wind totally failed us. On this occasion, the idolaters began to pray to their gods for a favourable wind; but which they were unable to attain. Then the Saracens industriously made their invocations and adorations, to as little purpose. After this, I and my companion were ordered to pray to our God, and the commander of the ship said to me in the Armenian language, which the rest of the people on board did not understand, that unless we could procure a favourable wind from our God, he would throw both us and the bones into the sea. Then I and my companion wen