The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, by John Mandeville

Chapter XVI

Of the Lands of Albania and of Libia. Of the Wishings for Watching of the Sparrow-Hawk; and of Noah’s Ship

NOW, sith I have told you before of the Holy Land and of that country about, and of many ways for to go to that land and to the Mount Sinai, and of Babylon the more and the less, and to other places that I have spoken before, now is time, if it like you, for to tell you of the marches and isles and diverse beasts, and of diverse folk beyond these marches.

For in those countries beyond be many diverse countries and many great kingdoms, that be departed by the four floods that come from paradise terrestrial. For Mesopotamia and the kingdom of Chaldea and Arabia be between the two rivers of Tigris and of Euphrates; and the kingdom of Media and of Persia be between the rivers of Nile and of Tigris; and the kingdom of Syria, whereof I have spoken before, and Palestine and Phoenicia be between Euphrates and the sea Mediterranean, the which sea dureth in length from Morocco, upon the sea of Spain, unto the Great Sea, so that it lasteth beyond Constantinople 3040 miles of Lombardy.

And toward the sea Ocean in Ind is the kingdom of Scythia, that is all closed with hills. And after, under Scythia, and from the sea of Caspian unto the flom of Thainy, is Amazonia, that is the land of feminye, where that no man is, but only all women. And after is Albania, a full great realm; and it is clept Albania, because that the folk be whiter there than in other marches there-about: and in that country be so great hounds and so strong, that they assail lions and slay them. And then after is Hircania, Bactria, Hiberia and many other kingdoms.

And between the Red Sea and the sea Ocean, toward the south is the kingdom of Ethiopia and of Lybia the higher, the which land of Lybia (that is to say, Lybia the low) that beginneth at the sea of Spain from thence where the pillars of Hercules be, and endureth unto anent Egypt and toward Ethiopia. In that country of Lybia is the sea more high than the land, and it seemeth that it would cover the earth, and natheles yet it passeth not his marks. And men see in that country a mountain to the which no man cometh. In this land of Lybia whoso turneth toward the east, the shadow of himself is on the right side; and here, in our country, the shadow is on the left side. In that sea of Lybia is no fish; for they may not live ne dure for the great heat of the sun, because that the water is evermore boiling for the great heat. And many other lands there be that it were too long to tell or to number. But of some parts I shall speak more plainly hereafter.

Whoso will then go toward Tartary, toward Persia, toward Chaldea and toward Ind, he must enter the sea at Genoa or at Venice or at some other haven that I have told you before. And then pass men the sea and arrive at Trebizond that is a good city; and it was wont to be the haven of Pontus. There is the haven of Persians and of Medians and of the marches there beyond. In that city lieth Saint Athanasius that was bishop of Alexandria, that made the psalm QUICUNQUE VULT.

This Athanasius was a great doctor of divinity. And, because that he preached and spake so deeply of divinity and of the Godhead, he was accused to the Pope of Rome that he was an heretic. Wherefore the Pope sent after him and put him in prison. And whiles he was in prison he made that psalm and sent it to the Pope, and said, that if he were an heretic, then was that heresy, for that, he said, was his belief. And when the Pope saw it, and had examined it that it was perfect and good, and verily our faith and our belief, he made him to be delivered out of prison, and commanded that psalm to be said every day at prime; and so he held Athanasius a good man. But he would never go to his bishopric again, because that they accused him of heresy.

Trebizond was wont to be holden of the Emperor of Constantinople; but a great man, that he sent for to keep the country against the Turks, usurped the land and held it to himself, and cleped him Emperor of Trebizond.

And from thence men go through Little Armenia. And in that country is an old castle that stands upon a rock; the which is clept the castle of the Sparrow-hawk, that is beyond the city of Layays beside the town of Pharsipee, that belongeth to the lordship of Cruk, that is a rich lord and a good Christian man; where men find a sparrow-hawk upon a perch right fair and right well made, and a fair lady of faerie that keepeth it. And who that will watch that sparrow-hawk seven days and seven nights, and, as some men say, three days and three nights, without company and without sleep, that fair lady shall give him, when he hath done, the first wish that he will wish of earthly things; and that hath been proved often-times.

And one time befell, that a King of Armenia, that was a worthy knight and doughty man, and a noble princes watched that hawk some time. And at the end of seven days and seven nights the lady came to him and bade him wish, for he had well deserved it. And he answered that he was great lord enough, and well in peace, and had enough of worldly riches; and therefore he would wish none other thing, but the body of that fair lady, to have it at his will. And she answered him, that he knew not what he asked, and said that he was a fool to desire that he might not have; for she said that he should not ask but earthly thing, for she was none earthly thing, but a ghostly thing. And the king said that he ne would ask none other thing. And the lady answered; “Sith that I may not withdraw you from your lewd corage, I shall give you without wishing, and to all them that shall come of you. Sir king! ye shall have war without peace, and always to the nine degree, ye shall be in subjection of your enemies, and ye shall be needy of all goods.” And never since, neither the King of Armenia nor the country were never in peace; ne they had never sith plenty of goods; and they have been sithen always under tribute of the Saracens.

Also the son of a poor man watched that hawk and wished that he might chieve well, and to be happy to merchandise. And the lady granted him. And he became the most rich and the most famous merchant that might be on sea or on earth. And he became so rich that he knew not the thousand part of that he had. And he was wiser in wishing than was the king.

Also a knight of the Temple watched there, and wished a purse evermore full of gold. And the lady granted him. But she said him that he had asked the destruction of their order for the trust and the affiance of that purse, and for the great pride that they should have. And so it was. And therefore look he keep him well, that shall wake. For if he sleep he is lost, that never man shall see him more.

This is not the right way for to go to the parts that I have named before, but for to see the marvel that I have spoken of. And therefore whoso will go right way, men go from Trebizond toward Armenia the Great unto a city that is clept Erzeroum, that was wont to be a good city and a plenteous; but the Turks have greatly wasted it. There-about groweth no wine nor fruit, but little or else none. In this land is the earth more high than in any other, and that maketh great cold. And there be many good waters and good wells that come under earth from the flom of Paradise, that is clept Euphrates, that is a journey beside that city; and that river cometh towards Ind under earth, and resorteth into the land of Altazar. And so pass men by this Armenia and enter the sea of Persia.

From that city of Erzeroum go men to an hill that is clept Sabissocolle. And there beside is another hill that men clepe Ararat, but the Jews clepe it Taneez, where Noah’s ship rested, and yet is upon that mountain. And men may see it afar in clear weather. And that mountain is well a seven mile high. And some men say that they have seen and touched the ship, and put their fingers in the parts where the fiend went out, when that Noah said, BENEDICITE. But they that say such words, say their will. For a man may not go up the mountain, for great plenty of snow that is always on that mountain, neither summer nor winter. So that no man may go up there, ne never man did, since the time of Noah, save a monk that, by the grace of God, brought one of the planks down, that yet is in the minster at the foot of the mountain.

And beside is the city of Dain that Noah founded. And fast by is the city of Any in the which were wont to be a thousand churches.

But upon that mountain to go up, this monk had great desire. And so upon a day, he went up. And when he was upward the three part of the mountain he was so weary that he might no further, and so he rested him, and fell asleep. And when he awoke he found himself lying at the foot of the mountain. And then he prayed devoutly to God that he would vouchsafe to suffer him go up. And an angel came to him, and said that he should go up. And so he did. And sith that time never none. Wherefore men should not believe such words.

From that mountain go men to the city of Thauriso that was wont to be clept Taxis, that is a full fair city and a great, and one of the best that is in the world for merchandise; thither come all merchants for to buy avoirdupois, and it is in the land of the Emperor of Persia. And men say that the emperor taketh more good in that city for custom of merchandise than doth the richest Christian king of all his realm that liveth. For the toll and the custom of his merchants is without estimation to be numbered. Beside that city is a hill of salt, and of that salt every man taketh what he will for to salt with, to his need. There dwell many Christian men under tribute of Saracens. And from that city, men pass by many towns and castles in going toward Ind unto the city of Sadonia, that is a ten journeys from Thauriso, and it is a full noble city and a great. And there dwelleth the Emperor of Persia in summer; for the country is cold enough. And there be good rivers bearing ships.

After go men the way toward Ind by many journeys, and by many countries, unto the city that is clept Cassak, and that is a full noble city, and a plenteous of corns and wines and of all other goods. This is the city where the three kings met together when they went to seek our Lord in Bethlehem to worship him and to present him with gold, incense, and myrrh. And it is from that city to Bethlehem fifty-three journeys. From that city men go to another city that is clept Gethe, that is a journey from the sea that men clepe the Gravelly Sea. That is the best city that the Emperor of Persia hath in all his land. And they clepe flesh there Dabago and the wine Vapa. And the Paynims say that no Christian man may not long dwell ne endure with the life in that city, but die within short time; and no man knoweth not the cause.

After go men by many cities and towns and great countries that it were too long to tell unto the city of Cornaa that was wont to be so great that the walls about hold twenty-five mile about. The walls shew yet, but it is not all inhabited. From Cornaa go men by many lands and many cities and towns unto the land of Job. And there endeth the land of the Emperor of Persia. And if ye will know the letters of Persians and what names they have, they be such as I last devised you, but not in sounding of their words.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:10