The Fardle of Facions, by Johannes Boemus

The. vi. Chapitre.

Of Parthia, and the maner of the Parthians.

A Certeine nombre of Outlawes and Banisshed menne, called Parthie, gaue name to this Countrie: Aftre suche time as by train, and stealth thei had gotten it. On the Southe it hath Carmania, on the North Hircanum, on the Weast The Meades, and on the Easte the country of Arabia. The countrie is hilly, and full of woddes, and of a barreine soyle. And a people which in the time of the Assiriens, and Medes, were scante known and litle estiemed. In so moche that when that highe gouernaunce of the whole (whiche the Grekes call the Monarchie) was yelde into the handes of the Persians: thei ware made a butin, as a nombre of raskalles without name. Laste of all thei ware slaues to the Macedonies. But afterward in processe of time, suche was the valeauntenes of this people and suche successe had thei: that thei became lordes, not ouer their neighbours onely rounde about theim, but also helde the Romaines (the conquerours of the worlde) suche tacke, that in sondrie warres they gaue them great ouerthrowes, and notablye endamaged their power. Pliny reherseth xiiii. kingdomes of the Parthians. Trogus calleth them Emperors of the East part of the worlde, Asthoughe they, and the Romaines holding the Weste, had deuided the whole betwixte them.

Aftre the decay of the Monarchie of the Macedonians, this people was ruled by kinges. Whome generally by the name of the first king, thei termed Arsaces. Nexte vnto the kinges maiestie, the communaltie bare the swaye. Oute of whome they chase bothe their Capteignes for the warres, and their gouernours for the peace time. Their language is a speache mixte of the Scithians and Medes. Their appareil at the firste, was aftre their facion vnlike to all other. But when thei grewe vnto power, louse and large, and so thinne: that a man mighte see thoroughe it, aftre the facion of the Medes. Their maner of weapon, and armour, was the same that the Scithians vsed. But their armies ware altogether almoste of slaues and bondemen, contrary to the maner of other peoples. And for that no manne hath aucthoritie amonge them to giue fredome vnto anye of this bonde ofspring: The nombre of them by continuance, came vnto a greate multitude. These do thei bringe vp, and make of as deerly, as thei do of their owne children: teachinge them to ride, to shote, to throwe the darte, and suche like feates, with great diligence and handsomenes. Eche communer ther, acording to his substaunce, findeth a greate nombre of these to serve the kinge on horsebacke, in all warres. So that at what time Anthonie the Romaine made warre vpon the Parthians, wher thei mette him with fyftie thousande horsemen: there ware of the whole nombre but eyghte hundred fre borne. They are not skylfull to fighte it oute at hande stripes, ne yeat in the maner of besieging or assaulting: but all together aftre the maner of skirmisshe as they spie their aduantage. Thei vse no trompet for their warninges or onsettes but a dromme: neither are thei able to endure long in their fighte. For yf they ware so good in continuaunce, as thei be violente at a brunte: ther ware no multitude able to susteine their force. For the moste parte thei breake of, when the skirmishe is euen at the whottest. And within a while aftre thei feigne a flight, wher with thei beginne againe a newe onsette. So when thou thinckest thy selfe mooste sure of the honour of the fielde, then arte thou at the poinct of the hardest hazarde. Their horsmen vse armour of mayle entrelaced with fethers: bothe for their owne defence, and the defence also of their horses. In times passed thei occupied no golde ne siluer, but only in their armour. Vpon regarde of chaunge in their luste, thei mary echeone many wiues, and yet punishe thei none offence so greuously as adultery. For the auoyding whereof thei doe not onely forbidde their women by generall restrainte from all feastes, and banckettinges of men: but also from the sighte of them. Some neuerthelesse do wrighte, amonge the whiche Strabo is one, that thei vse to giue their wiues sometime to their friendes, as in the waye of mariage, that thei maye so haue issue. Thei eate none other fleshe but suche as thei kylle at the chace. Thei be euer on horsebacke, whether thei go to the fielde or the banket, to bye, to selle, to commune of aughte with their friende, or to do any thing that is to be done. Yea thei dispatche al commune and priuate affaires, sittinge on horsebacke. And this is to be vnderstonden of the fre borne: for the slaues are alwaies on foote. Their buriall for all menne (sauinge the kinge) is the dogges bealy, and the kytes. But when thei or suche like haue eaten of, the fleshe, then couer thei the bare bones with earth. Thei haue great regarde vnto their goddes, and the worship due vnto them. Thei are men of a proude nature, busie medlers, and sedicious, craftie, deceiptfull, malaparte, and vnshamefaced: for thei holde opinion that it becometh the man as well to be Sterne, as the woman to be milde. Thei be euer in some stirre, either with their neighbours, or elles amonge themselues. Men of fewe wordes, and readier to doe, then to saye. And therefore whether it go with them or against them, thei lappe it vp in scilence. Thei obey not their superiours for any reuerence, but for feare. Altogether giuen to lechery, and yet skante in fiedinge. No farther trewe of worde or promesse, then semeth them expediente for their owne behoue.

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