The Fardle of Facions, by Johannes Boemus

The ix. Chapitre.

Of Scithia and their sterne maners

Scithia (a countrie lieng by North) is said of Herodotus, to take the name of Scitha Hercules sonne. Or as Berosus Iudgeth, of an other Scitha, borne of our greate granndame Araxe, Noahes wife, that dwelt first in that countrie. This people in the beginnyng pente within narowe boundes, so in processe by litle and litle, through their valeauntnes and force enlarged their limites: that thei became lordes of many countries aboute, and grewe into a great gouernaunce and renoume. Thei nestled first vpon the floude Araxis so fewe in nombre and so base: that no manne thought theim worthie the troublyng or talkyng of. But gettyng vnto them a certain king, hardie, of great courage, and notable, experience in the warres: thei enlarged their land so, that thei made it stretche on the one parte (whiche is altogether Hille, and Mounteigne) vnto Caucasus, and ouer at the plain vnto the Occean, and vnto the greate marshe of Meotis, and Tanais the floude. From whence the countrie of Scithia now stretcheth all along toward the East. And because the mounteigne Imaus, ronnyng along as the countrie coasteth, deuides it in the middes into two haulues: the one haulfe is called Scithia within Imaus, and the other without (as ye would saie) on this side the Mounte, and beyonde. There neuer medled any power with theim, that was able to conquers theim: or muche to endamage them. Thei forced Darius, the Kyng of the Persians, with greate dishonour to flie their countrie. Thei slue Cirus with all his armie. Thei made an ende of Alexandre with al his power. The Romaines sente theim threates thei would warre with theim, but they proued in fine but wordes. Thei are a people not tameable with any toile, bittre warriours, and of great strength of bodie. At the first very rawe, and with out any ordinarie trade of life: neither knowyng what tillage meant, ne yet hauyng any houses or cotages to dwell in. But wandryng vp and doune the wilde fieldes and driuyng their catteile afore theim, their wiues and their children ridyng in wagons by them. Thei obserued iustice, without constraint of lawe. Thei compted none offence more heinous, then thefte. As folke that had nothyng vndre locke nor keye, barre, nor bolte: but altogether in the open fielde. Thei nether occupied golde ne siluer. Their chief foode was milke and Hony. Against colde and other stormes, thei wrapped their bodies in felles, and hides of beastes, and Mice skinnes. Thei knewe not what Wollen meante, ne any facion of garmente.

This maner of life was in many of the Scithians, but not in all. A greate nombre of theim, as thei muche differed in distaunce of place from other, so differed thei also from other in maners: and vsed a certeine trade of liuyng emong them selues, wherof we aftreward will entreats, when we haue saied somewhat more of their facions in generall.

Many of the Scithians delight in manslaughter. And the firste man that he taketh, in fight, his bloud drincketh he: and offreth vnto his Kynge the heades of all those that he ther sleaeth. For when he hath so done, he is admitted to be partaker of the butine what so euer it be, whereof he should be otherwise partles. He cutteth of the heade aftre this sorte. Firste, with his knife he maketh in it a gashe rounde aboute like a circle, vndre the eares: then taketh he it by the heare of the croune, and striketh it of. That done, he fleaeth it, and taweth the skinne betwixte his handes, vntill it become very souple and soft and kiepeth it for a hande kercher. This wille he hange vpon the reine of his horse, and glorieth not a litle in it. And he that hath moste of suche handkerchers, is compted the valeauntest manne. There are many also that sowe together these skinnes of menne, as other doe the skinnes of beastes, and weare theim for their clothyng. Some of them flea the right hand of their enemies beyng slaine, so that the nailes also remain vpon the fingres, and make couers of theim for their quiuers.

Many of them flea the whole bodie, and stretche out the skinne vpon certaine stickes fitted for the nones, and so sprede them vpon their Horse. Of the Skulles of the heades thus slaine, thei make measures to drincke in: coueryng them on the outside with rawe Neates leather, and gilding them on the inside, if he be of habilitie. And when any gheste of estimacion commeth vnto theim, thei offre them to drincke in asmany as they haue, and declare for a greate braggue of their valeauntnesse, that so many they haue slaine with their owne hande.

Ones euery yere, all the chief heades of the Scitians, kepe a solempne drinckyng. At the whiche the maner is, out of one of these Skulles, as out of a wassailing boule, to giue all those the wine that haue slaine an enemie. But he that hath done no such notable acte, tasteth not therof, but sitteth aparte in a corner with out honour: which is iudged among them a greate reproche. But thei that haue achieued many slaughters, thei drancke of two Goblettes together, which thei haue for that purpose.

The goddes whom thei worshippe, and doe Sacrifice vnto, are these: Firste and chiefly vnto Vesta, then to Iupiter, and the goddesse of the grounde: for that thei take her to be Iupiters wife. Nexte vnto Apollo and Venus, Mars and Hercules. Yet erecte thei no Chapelle, Altare, nor Image to any of these: but onely to Mars: to whom thei offre of euery hundred prisoners that thei take, one for a sacrifice. To the other thei offre bothe horses and other beastes, but specially horses. Swine thei so little estieme, that thei neither offre them to any of their goddes ne vouchesauf to kiepe theim in their Countrie. Looke whom the kyng punissheth with death, his children he also commaundeth to be slain, as many as be males, but the women are pardoned.

With whom the Scithians couenaunt or make League: after this manor thei doe it. They fille an earthen panne with wine, and of the parties that shall strike the League or couenaunte, thei drawe a quantitie of bloude, whiche thei mingle therwith. Then diepe thei into the panne their Curtilasse, then shaftes, their axe, and their darte. That done, thei wishe vnto them selues many terrible curses and mischiefes, if thei holde not the league or couenaunte. And then drincke thei the wine. And not thei onely that strike the couenantes, but also those that are moste honourable in their compaignie.

The bewriall of their kynges is aftre this maner; where the Kyng dieth, those that are of his bloude, rounde his heare, cutte of one of his eares, slice his armes rounde aboute, all to begasshe his foreheade and his nose, and shoote him through the lifte hande, in thre or fowre places. Then laie thei the corps in a Carte, and cary it to the Gerrites, where the Sepulchres of all their Kynges are. And thei dwell vpon the floude Boristhenes, about the place wher it becometh first saileable. This people when thei haue receiued it, trenche out a square plotte in the ground very wide and large. And then rippe the bealy of the corps, and bowelle it cleane: clensyng it and drieng it from all filthe, and fille it vp with Siler Montanum, Frankencense, Smallache siede, and Anise siede, beaten together in a Mortre. And when thei haue sowed it vp againe close, thei ceare the whole bodie, and conueighe the same in a Carte, to the nexte people vndre the gouernaunce of the Scithians, whiche with honour receiue it, and conueigh it vnto the nexte of their dominion: and so from one to another, vntle it haue passed rounde aboute, to as many peoples as are of their dominion, and be comen againe to the place of bewriall emong the Gerrites, whether it is accompanied with a certain of all the peoples, to whom it hath comen, as thei gathered encreace from place to place. Thei, aftre what tyme thei haue laied the corps, cophine and all, vpon a bedde of state, amid the square afore mentioned: sticke doune their iauelines and speares aboute him, and with stickes laied ouer from one to another, frame as it ware a Cielyng, whiche thei couer with a funeralle palle. Then in the reste of the voide space, that yet remaines in the Cophine made for the nones: thei berwrie one of his dierest lemmans, a waityng manne, a Cooke, a Horsekeper, a Lacquie, a Butler, and a Horse. Whiche thei al first strangle, and thruste in, together with a portion of all sortes of plate, and of euery suche thyng as appertained to his housholde, or body. And when the yere comes about, then do thei thus. Thei take of those that ware nerest about the Kyng (now there are none aboute the king, but thei be Scithians free borne, and suche as his self doth commaunde: for he maie be serued with no bought slaue) of those take thei fiuetie and as many of his best horses. And when thei haue strangeled bothe the men and the horses, they bowell the Horses, stuffe their bealies againe with Chaffe, and sowe theim vp close, and sette the menne vppon their backes. Then make thei a voulte ouer round about the bordre of the greate square, and so dispose these Horse menne enuiron the same, that thei sieme a farre of, a troupe of liuyng horsemen gardyng the kyng.

The communes haue also a maner of bewrialle aftre a like sorte. When one of theim dieth, his nexte neighbour and kindsfolke laie hym in a Carte, and cary hym aboute to euery of his frindes: whiche at the receipte of hym make a feaste, as well to the kindsmen, as to all the residewe that accompaignie the corps. And when thei haue thus caried hym aboute by the space of fowretene daies, he is bewried. All the braine of his heade beyng first piked out, and the skulle rinsed with water cleane. Aboute the bodie thei sette vp three sparres of woodde slopyng, and restyng one vpon another at the toppes. Rounde about these sparres, thei straine cappyng woollen, packyng theim as close as thei can. And within betwixt the sparres, as it ware in the middest ouer the deade, thei set a traie or shallowe trough, where in to thei caste a kinde of stones, that glistereth by fire light.

The menne emong the Scithians do not vse to washe them selues. But the women vse to powre water vpon their own bodies, and to rubbe themselues against some roughe stone: and then with a piece of a Cipresse, Ceadre, or Encence tree, to grate their whole bodie, vntill it be some what bollen or swollen. And then enoint thei bothe that and their face, with certeine medicines for the nones: whereby thei become the nexte daie of a very good smell, and (when the medicine is washed awaie) slicke and smothe.

Their commune othe, and the othe of charge in matiers of controuersie, or iudgemente, is by the kynges clothe of estate: by the whiche if a man shalbe tried to haue forsworne hymself (as their enchauntours haue a maner to trie with salowe roddes whether thei haue or not) by and by without respighte, he loseth his heade, and all his goodes, whiche tourne to the vse of them that haue proued him periured.

The Massagetes, a people of Scithia in Asie, beyond the sea called Caspium mare in appareille and liuyng, muche like to the Scithians, and therefore of some so called: vse to fighte bothe on horsebacke and on fote, with suche actiuitie and force, that thei are almoste inuincible in bothe. Their weapons are bowe and arrowes, Launces and Armynge swordes. Their beltes aboute their waste, the ornament of their heades, and their pollerone, are garnished with golde. Their Horses are barbed on the brest, with barbes of gold. Their reines, bridles, and trappour are all of golde. The heades of their Launces are of Brasse, and their Quiuers armed with Brasse. As for Siluer and Iron thei occupie none. Eche manne marieth one wife, and yet are the wiues of them all, commune one to another, whiche thyng is not vsed emong any of the other Scythians. When so euer any man lusteth for the compaignie of his woman, he hangeth vp his quiuer vpon the carte wherein his wife is caryed by him, and there openly without shame coupleth.

When any one of this people waxeth very aged, his friendes, acquaintance, and kindesfolke assembled together, make a bealy Sacrifice of hym: sleayng as many shiepe besides, as will serue for the fulnesse of the nombre. And when thei haue dressed theim, eate parte and parte like, the one with the other. And this kinde of departynge is compted emong theim, of all other moste blessed. If any fortune to pine awaie of sickenesse, hym eate thei not: but put in a hole, and throwe earthe vpon him. Sory for the losse, that he came not to the feaste.

Thei neither sowe nor mowe, but liue by flesshe of suche beastes as thei haue, and suche fisshe as Araxe the floude doeth plenteously minister vnto them: and with drinckynge of Milke, wherof thei make no spare. Thei knowe no goddes but the Sonne: In whose honour thei offre vp Horses in Sacrifice, as beyng in swiftenesse moste like vnto the Sonne.

The Seretines are a debonaire people, and suche louers of quietnesse, that they shonne to entremedle with any other people. Merchauntes passe their outmost floude toward them, but thei maie come no nigher. Along the banques there, thei sette oute suche thynges, as thei are disposed to selle. Not the Merchauntes, but the indwellers of the Countrie. For thei selle to other, and buie of none. And thei sette them in ordre as thei iudge them in price. The buyer cometh, and as he iudgeth theim by his eye to be worthe, without further trade or feloweshippe betwixte theim, so laieth he doune. And if thei receiue it, he departeth with the ware. Emong them is there neither whore nor thiefe, nor adulteresse broughte to iudgemente. Neither was it euer hearde, that there was a manne slaine emong theim. For the feare of their Lawes woorketh more strongly with theim, then the influences of the Starres. Thei dwelle as it ware in the beginnyng or entryng of the worlde. And for that thei liue aftre a chast sort: thei are neither skourged with Blastynges, ne Haile, ne Pestilence, ne suche other euilles. No manne toucheth a woman there, aftre she hath conceiued, ne yet in the time of her flowres. Thei eate none vncleane beastes, ne knowe what Sacrifisyng meaneth. Euery man there is his owne Iudge, acordyng to Iustice. Therefore are thei not chastised with suche corrections as happen vnto other for synne, but bothe continue long in life, and die without grief.

The Tauroschithians (so called for that thei dwell aboute the mounteigne Taurus) offre as many as fortune to make Shipwracke vpon their shore: to the virgine, whose name ye shall aftre heare. And if it fortune any Greke or Grekes, to be driuen thether, him doe thei sacrifice after this maner.

Aftre what tyme thei haue made prayer after their maner, thei strike of his heade with an hatchet. And (as some saie) tumble doune the carkesse into the Sea, (for this Virgine hath a Chapelle vpon the toppe of a high clieue, hangyng ouer the Sea, where this feate is doone) and naile vp the heade vpon a Gibet. In this poincte of nailyng vp the heade, all the writers agre, but in tomblyng doune the body, not so, for some affirme, that the body is bewried. The Virgine Deuille, to whom thei Sacrifice: is saith to be Iphigenia Agamemnons doughter. Their enemies as many as thei take, thus thei handle. Euery manne cutteth of his prisoners head, and carieth it home: and fasteneth it vpon the ende of a long pole, and setteth it vp: some vpon their house toppe some vpon their chimneis as high as thei can. And no merueile though thei set them so that thei might well see rounde about theim: for thei saie: they are the wardens and kepers of al their whole house. They liue by spoile, and by warre.

The Agathirsians are menne verie neate and fine, and greate wearers of golde in their appareill. Thei occupie their women in commune, so that thei seme all of one kindred, and one householde: neuer striuyng nor grudgyng one with another, muche like in body vnto the Thracians.

The Neuriens vse the maners of the Sithians. This people the somer before that Darius set furthe, ware constrained for the greate multitude of Serpentes that ware bredde in their quartres, to chaunge their dwellyng place. Thei verily doe belieue, and wille sweare it: that euery yere ones for a certaine daies, thei become Woulues, and retourne againe into their former shape and state.

The Antropophagites (so called for that thei liue by mannes fleshe) of all menne, are the worste condicioned, without lawe, or officer, appareilled like the Scithiens: but in language like vnto no bodye but them selues.

The Melanchleni do all weare blacke, as their name dothe signifie. And of these also are eaters of mannes fleshe: so manye as folowe the trade of the Scithians.

The Budines are a great nacion, and a populous, graye eyed, and redde headed al. Their heade citie is Gelone, wherof thei are also called Gelonites. Thei kepe euery thirde yere a reuelle in the honour of Bacchus: whereat thei make reuelle in dede, yea, reuell route. Thei ware sometime Griekes, whiche put of fro their countrie, seatled them selues there. And by processe, losing the proprietie of their owne tongue, became in language haulfe Grekes, and haulfe Scithians. Yet are the Gelonites bothe in language and liuinge, different from the Budines. For the Budines being natiue of the place, are brieders of Catteile: The Gelonites, occupienge tilthe: liue by corne, and haue their frute yardes. Neyther lyke in colour ne countenaunce to the other. All their quartres are verye full, and thicke of trees. It hathe also many meres and greate. In and aboute the whiche thei take Ottres, and Beauers, and many other beastes: of whose skinnes they make them pilches, and Ierkins.

The Lirceis liue by woodmanshippe, and huntinge, and aftre this maner. Their countrie beinge also very thicke of trees, thei vse to climbe suche as siemeth them beste: and there awaite their game. At the foote of euery mannes tree lieth a dogge, and a horse well taughte to couche flatte on the bealy, as lowe as can bee. When the beast cometh within daungier, he shoteth. And yf he hitte, he streighte commeth downe, taketh his horse backe, and foloweth with his hounde.

The Argippians dwell vndre the foote of the highe mountaines. Men whiche fro their birthe are balde; bothe the males and the females. Their noses tourne vp like a shoinge horne, and their chinnes be great out of measure. The sounde of their voice vnlike to all other: ther apparell aftre the sorte of the Scithians. Thei haue small regarde to brieding: by the reason wherof thei haue smalle store of cattaile. Thei lie vndre trees, whiche in the wintre thei couer ouer with a white kinde of felte, and in the somer take the same awaye, and lie vndre the open tree. Ther is no manne that will harme them for that thei are compted holy halowed: neither haue thei anye kinde of armour, or weapon of warre. These men haue the arbitrement of their neighbours controuersies rounde aboute. And as thei determine so are thei ended. Who so flieth vnto them, is saufe as in sanctuary.

The Issedonnes haue this propertie. When so euer any mannes father ther, dieth: all his kinsfolke bringe euery man one beast or other to the house of the sonne that kepeth the funeral. Which when they haue killed and minsed: they minse also the body of the deade. And bothe the flesshes beinge mingled together, thei fall to the banket. Then take thei the dead mannes heade, and pike the braine cleane, and all other moistures and ragges, and when thei haue guilte it, thei vse it for a representacion of the partie departed. Solempnisinge euery yere furthe, the memoriall, with newe ceremonies, and mo. This dothe the sonne for the father, and the father for the sonne, as the Grekes kepe their birthe daies.

These are also sayde to be verye iuste dealers, and their wiues to be as valeaunt and hardie as the husbandes. Suche haue the maners of the Scithians bene. But afterwarde being subdued by the Tartares, and wearing by processe into their maners and ordinaunces: thei nowe liue all aftre one sorte, and vndre one name.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:27