Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

Part of an Epistle written by one Yuo of Narbona vnto the Archbishop of Burdeaux, containing the confession of an Englishman as touching the barbarous demeanour of the Tartars, which had liued long among them, and was drawen along perforce with them in their expedition against Hungarie: Recorded by Mathew Paris in the yere of your Lord 1243.

The Lord therefore being prouoked to indignation, by reason of this and other sinnes committed among vs Christians, is become, as it were, a destroying enemie, and a dreadful auenger. This I may iustly affirme to be true, because an huge nation, and a barbarous and inhumane people, whose law is lawlesse, whose wrath is furious, euen the rod of Gods anger, ouerrunneth, and vtterly wasteth infinite countreyes, cruelly abolishing all things where they come, with fire and sword. And this present Summer, the foresayd nation, being called Tartars, departing out of Hungarie, which they had surprised by treason, layd siege vnto the very same towne, wherein I my selfe abode, with many thousands of souldiers: neither were in the sayd towne on our part aboue 50. men of warre, whom, together with 20. cros-bowes, the captaine had left in garrison. All these, out of certeine high places, beholding the enemies vaste armie, and abhorring the beastly crueltie of Antichrist his complices, signified foorthwith vnto their gouernour, the hideous lamentations of his Christian subiects, who suddenly being surprised in all the prouince adioyning, without any difference or respect of condition, fortune, sexe, or age, were by manifolde cruelties, all of them destroyed with whose carkeises, the Tartarian chieftains, and their brutish and sauage followers, glutting themselues, as with delicious cates, left nothing for vultures but the bare bones. And a strange thing it is to consider, that the greedie and rauenous vultures disdeined to praye vpon any of the reliques, which remained. Olde, and deformed women they gaue, as it were for dayly sustenance, vnto their Canibals; the beautifull deuoured they not, but smothered them lamenting and scritching, with forced and vnnaturall rauishments. Like barbarous miscreants, they quelled virgins vnto death, and cutting off their tender paps to present for deinties vnto their magistrates, they engorged themselues with their bodies.

Howbeit, their spials in the meane time discrying from the top of an highe mountaine the Duke of Austria, the king of Bohemia, the Patriarch of Aquileia, the Duke of Carinthia, and (as some report) the Earle of Baden, with a mightie power, and in battell aray, approching towards them, that accursed crew immediately vanished, and all those Tartarian vagabonds retired themselues into the distressed and vanquished land of Hungarie who as they came suddenly, so they departed also on the sudden which their celeritie caused all men to stand in horrour and astonishment of them. But of the sayd fugitiues the prince of Dalmatia tooke eight, one of which number the Duke of Austria knew to be an English man, who was perpetually banished out of the Realme of England, in regard of certaine notorious crimes by him committed. This fellow, on the behalfe of the most tyrannicall king of the Tartars, had bene twise, as a messenger and interpreter, with the king of Hungarie, menacing and plainely foretelling those mischiefes which afterward happened, vnlesse he would submit himselfe and his kingdome vnto the Tartars yoke. Well, being allured by our Princes to confesse the trueth, he made such oathes and protestations, as (I thinke) the deuill himselfe would haue beene trusted for. First therefore he reported of himselfe, that presently after the time of his banishment, namely about the 30. yere of his age, hauing lost all that he had in the citie of Acon at Dice, euen in the midst of Winter, being compelled by ignominious hunger, wearing nothing about him but a shirt of sacke, a paire of shooes, and a haire cappe onely, being shauen like a foole, and vttering an vncoth noise as if he had bene dumbe, he tooke his iourney, and and so traueiling many countreyes, and finding in diuers places friendly entertainment, he prolonged his life in this maner for a season, albeit euery day by rashnesse of speech, and inconstancie of heart, he endangered himselfe to the deuill. At length, by reason of extreame trauaile, and continuall change of aire and of meats in Caldea, he fell into a greuious sicknesse, insomuch that he was wearie of his life. Not being able therefore to go forward or backeward, and staying there a while to refreshe himselfe, he began (being somewhat learned) to commend to writing those wordes which hee heard spoken, and within a short space, so aptly to pronounce, and to vtter them himselfe, that he was reputed for a natiue member of that countrey: and by the same dexteritie he attained to manie languages. This man the Tartars hauing intelligence of by their spies, drew him perforce into their societie and being admonished by an oracle or vision, to challenge dominion ouer the whole earth, they allured him by many rewards to their faithfull seruice, by reason that they wanted interpreters. But concerning their maners and superstitions, of the disposition and stature of their bodies, of their countrey and maner of fighting &c, he protested the particulars following to be true: namely, that they were aboue all men, couetous, hasty, deceitfull, and mercilesse: notwithstanding, by reason of the rigour and extremitie of punishments to be inflicted vpon them by their superiours, they are restreined from brawlings, and from mutuall strife and contention. The ancient founders and fathers of their tribes, they call by the name of gods, and at certaine set times they doe celebrate solemne feasts vnto them, many of them being particular, & but foure onely generall. They thinke that all things are created for themselues alone. They esteeme it none offence to exercise cruelty against rebels. They be hardie and strong in the breast, leane and pale-faced, rough and huf-shouldered, hauing flatte and short noses, long and sharpe chinnes, their vpper iawes are low and declining, their teeth long and thinne, their eyebrowes extending from their fore-heads downe to their noses, their eies inconstant and blacke, their countenances writhen and terrible, their extreame ioynts strong with bones and sinewes, hauing thicke and great thighes, and short legs, and yet being equall vnto vs in stature: for that length which is wanting in their legs is supplied in the vpper parts of their bodies. Their countrey in olde time was a land vtterly desert and waste, situated far beyond Chaldea, from whence they haue expelled Lions, Beares, & such like vntamed beasts with their bowes, and other engines. Of the hides of beasts being tanned, they vse to shape for themselues light, but yet impenetrable armour. They ride fast bound to their horses, which are not very great in stature, but exceedingly strong, and mainteined with little prouender. They vse to fight constantly and valiantly with iauelines, maces, battle axes, and swords. But specially they are excellent archers, and cunning warriers with their bowes. Their backs are slightly armed, that they may not flee. They withdraw not themselues from the combate, till they see the chiefe Standerd of their Generall giue backe. Vanquished, they aske no fauour and vanquishing, they shew no compassion. They all persist in their purpose of subduing the whole world vnder their owne subiection, as if they were but one man, and yet they are moe then millions in number. They haue 60000. Courriers, who being sent before vpon light horses to prepare a place for the armie to incampe in, will in the space of one night gallop three days iourney. And suddenly diffusing themselues ouer an whole prouince, and surprising all the people thereof vnarmed, vnprouided, dispersed, they make such horrible slaughters that the king or prince of the land inuaded, cannot finde people sufficient to wage battell against them, and to withstand them. They delude all people and princes of regions in time of peace, pretending that for a cause which indeed is no cause. Sometimes they say, that they will make a voyage to Colen, to fetch home the three wise kings into their owne countrey; sometimes to punish the auarice and pride of the Romans, who oppressed them in times past, some times to conquere barbarous and Northren nations; sometimes to moderate the furie of the Germans with their owne meeke mildnesse; sometimes to learne warlike feats and stratagems of the French; sometimes for the finding out of fertile ground to suffice their huge multitudes; sometimes again in derision they say, that they intend to goe on pilgrimage to S. Iames of Galicia. In regard of which sleights and collusions certaine vndiscreet gouernors concluding a league with them, haue granted them free passage thorow their territories, which leagues notwithstanding being violated, were an occasion of ruine and destruction vnto the foresayd gouernours, &c.

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Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:42