To his most Soueraigne, & most Christian Lord Lewis, by Gods grace the renowned king of France, frier William de Rubruk, the meanest of the Minorites order, wisheth health and continual triumph in CHRIST.
It is written in the booke of Ecclesiasticus concerning the wise man: Ecclus. 39, ver. 4 He shall trauell into forren countries, and good and euill shall he trie in all things. The very same action (my lord and kinge) haue I atchieued: howbeit I wish that I haue done it like a wise man, and not like a foole. For many there be, that performe the same action which a wise man doth, not wisely but more vndiscreetly: of which number I feare myselfe to be one. Notwithstanding howsoeuer I haue done it, because you commanded mee, when I departed from your highnes, to write all things vnto you, which I should see among the Tartars, and you wished me also that I should not feare to write long letters, I haue done as your maiestie inioined me: yet with feare and reuerence, because I want wordes and eloquence sufficient to write vnto so great a maiestie. Be it knowen therefore vnto your sacred Maiestie, that in the yere of our Lord 1253, about the Nones of May, we entered into the sea of Pontus, which the Bulgarians call the great sea. It containeth in length (as I learned of certaine merchants) 1008 miles, and is in a maner, diuided into two parts. About the midst thereof are two prouinces, one towards the North, and another towards the South. The South prouince is called Synopolis, and it is the castle and porte of the Soldan of Turkie; but the North prouince is called of the Latines, Gasaria: of the Greeks, which inhabite vpon the sea shore thereof, it is called Cassaria, that is to say Cæsaria. And there are certaine head lands stretching foorth into the sea towards Synopolis. Also, there are 300. miles of distance betweene Synopolis and Cassaria. Insomuch that the distance from those points or places to Constantinople, in length and breadth is about 700. miles: and 700. miles also from thence to the East, namely to the countrey of Hiberia which is a prouince of Georgia. Gasaria. At the prouince of Gasaria or Cassaria we arriued, which prouince is, in a maner, three square, hauing a citie on the West part thereof called Kersoua,1 wherein S. Clement suffered martyrdome. And sayling before the said citie, we sawe an island, in which a Church is sayd to be built by the hands of angels. Soldaia. But about the midst of the said prouince toward the South, as it were, vpon a sharpe angle or point, standeth a citie called Soldaia2 directly ouer against Synopolis. And there doe all the Turkie merchants, which traffique into the north countries, in their iourney outward, arriue, and as they retume homeward also from Russia, and the said Northerne regions, into Turkie. The foresaid merchants transport thither ermines and gray furres, with other rich and costly skinnes. Others carrie cloathes made of cotton or bombast, and silke, and diuers kindes of spices. The citie of Matriga. But vpon the East part of the said prouince standeth a Citie called Matriga3, where the riuer Tanais4 dischargeth his streames into the sea of Pontus, the mouth whereof is twelue miles in breadth. For this riuer, before it entreth into the sea of Pontus, maketh a little sea, which hath in breadth and length seuen hundreth miles, 5 and it is no place there of aboue sixe-paces deepe, whereupon great vessels cannot sayle ouer it. Howbeit the merchants of Constantinople, arriuing at the foresayd citie of Materta Matriga., send their barkes vnto the riuer of Tanais to buy dried fishes, Sturgeons, Thosses, Barbils, and an infinite number of other fishes. The foresayd prouince of Cassaria is compassed in with the sea on three sides thereof: namely on the West side, where Kersoua the citie of Saint Clement is situate: on the South side the citie of Soldaia whereat we arriued: on the East side Maricandis, and there stands the citie of Matriga vpon the mouth of the riuer Tanais. Zikia. Beyond the sayd mouth standeth Zikia, which is not in subiection vnto the Tartars: also the people called Sueui and Hiberi towards the East, who likewise are not vnder the Tartars dominion. Moreouer towards the South, standeth the citie of Trapesunda,6 which hath a gouernour proper to it selfe, named Guydo being of the Image of the Emperours of Constantinople, and is subiect vnto the Tartars. Next vnto that is Synopolis the citie of the Soldan of Turkie, who likewise is in subiection vnto them. Next vnto these lyeth the countrey of Vastacius, whose sonne is called Astar, of his grandfather by the mothers side, who is not in subiection. All the land from the mouth of Tanais Westward as farre as Danubius is vnder their subiection. Yea beyond Danubius also, towards Constantinople, Valakia, which is the land of Assanus, and Bulgaria minor as farre as Solonia, doe all pay tribute vnto them. And besides the tribute imposed, they haue also of late yeares, exacted of euery houshold an axe, and all such corne as they found lying on heapes. We arriued therefore at Soldaia the twelfth of the Kalends of Iune. And diuers merchants of Constantinople, which were arriued there before vs, reported that certaine messengers were comming thither from the holy land, who were desirous to trauell vnto Sartach. Notwithstanding I my self had publickely giuen out vpon Palme Sunday within the Church of Sancta Sophia, that I was not your nor any other mans messenger, but that I trauailed vnto those infidels according to the rule of our order. And being arriued, the said merchants admonished me to take diligent heede what I spake: because they hauing reported me to be a messenger, if I should say the contrary, that I were no messenger, I could not haue free passage granted vnto me. Then I spake after this maner vnto the gouernors of the citie, or rather vnto their Lieutenants, because the gouernors themselues were gone to pay tribute vnto Baatu, and were not as yet returned. We heard of your lord Sartach (quoth I) in the holy land, that he was become a Christian: and the Christians were exceeding glad thereof, and especially the most Christian king of France, who is there now in pilgrimage, and fighteth against the Saracens to redeeme the holy places out of their handes: wherfore I am determined to go vnto Sartach, and to deliuer vnto him the letters of my lord the king, wherein he admonisheth him concerning the good and commoditie of all Christendome. And they receiued vs with gladnes, and gaue vs enterteinement in the cathedrall Church. The bishop of which Church was with Sartach, who told me many good things concerning the saide Sartach, which after I found to be nothing so. Then put they vs to our choyce, whither we woulde haue cartes and oxen, or packehorses to transport our cariages. And the marchants of Constantinople aduised me, not to take cartes of the citizens of Soldaia, but to buy couered cartes of mine owne, (such as the Russians carrie their skins in), and to put all our cariages, which I would daylie take out, into them: because, if I should vse horses, I must be constrained at euery baite to take downe my cariages, and to lift them vp againe on sundry horses backs: and besides, that I should ride a more gentle pace by the oxen drawing the cartes. Wherefore contenting my selfe with their euil counsel, I was trauelling vnto Sartach 2 moneths which I could haue done in one, if I had gone by horse. I brought with me from Constantinople (being by the marchants aduised so to doe) pleasant fruits, muscadel wine, and delicate bisket bread to present vnto the gouernours of Soldaia, to the end I might obtain free passage: because they looke fauorablie vpon no man which commeth with an emptie hand. All of which things I bestowed in one of my cartes, (not finding the gouernours of the citie at home) for they told me, if I could carry them to Sartach, that they would be most acceptable vnto him. Wee tooke oure iourney therefore about the kalends of Iune, with fower couered cartes of our owne and with two other which wee borrowed of them, wherein we carried our bedding to rest vpon in the night, and they allowed vs fiue horses to ride vpon. Frier Bartholomeus de Cremona. For there were iust fiue persons in our companie: namely, I my selfe and mine associate frier Batholomew of Cremona, and Goset the bearer of these presents, the man of God Turgemannus, and Nicolas, my seruant, whome I bought at Constantinople with some part of the almes bestowed vpon me. Moreouer, they allowed vs two men, which draue our carts and gaue attendance vnto our oxen and horses. There be high promontories on the sea shore from Kersoua vnto the mouth of Tanais. Also there are fortie castles betweene Kersoua and Soldaia, euery one of which almost haue their proper languages: amongst whome there were many Gothes, who spake the Dutch tongue. Beyond the said mountaines towards the North there is a most beautifull wood growing on a plaine ful of fountaines and freshets. The necke of Taurica Chersonesus. And beyond the wood there is a mightie plaine champion, continuing fiue days iourney vnto the very extremitie and borders of the said prouince northward, and there it is a narrow Isthmus or neck land, 7 hauing sea on the East and West sides therof, insomuch that there is a ditch made from one sea vnto the other. In the same plaine (before the Tartars sprang vp) were the Comanians wont to inhabite, who compelled the foresayd cities and castles to pay tribute vnto them. But when the Tartars came vpon them, the multitude of the Comanians entred into the foresaid prouince, and fled all of them, euen vnto the sea shore, being in such extreame famine, that they which were aliue, were constrained to eate vp those which were dead; and (as a marchant reported vnto me who sawe it with his owne eyes) that the liuing men deuoured and tore with their teeth, the raw flesh of the dead, as dogges would knawe vpon carrion. Towards the border of the sayd prouince there be many great lakes: vpon the bankes whereof are salt pits or fountaines, the water of which so soon as it entereth into the lake, becommeth hard salte like vnto ice. And out of those salte pittes Baatu and Sartach haue great reuenues: for they repayre thither out of all Russia for salte: and for each carte loade they giue two webbes of cotton amounting to the value of half an Yperpera. There come by sea also many ships for salt, which pay tribute euery one of them according to their burden. The third day after wee were departed out of the precincts of Soldaia, we found the Tartars. The Tartars. Amongst whome being entered, me thought I was come into a new world. Whose life and maners I will describe vnto your Hignes as well as I can.
They haue in no place any setled citie to abide in, neither knowe they of the celestiall citie to come. They haue diuided all Scythia among themselues, which stretcheth from the riuer Danubius euen vnto the rising of the sunne. And euery of their captaines, according to the great or small number of his people, knoweth the bound of his pastures, and where he ought to feed his cattel winter and summer, Spring and autumne. For in the winter they descend vnto the warme regions southward. And in the summer they ascend vnto the colde regions northward. In winter when snowe lyeth vpon the ground, they feede their cattell vpon pastures without water, because then they vse snow in stead of water. Their houses wherein they sleepe, they ground vpon a round foundation of wickers artificially wrought and compacted together: the roofe whereof consisteth (in like sorte) of wickers, meeting aboue into one little roundell, out of which roundell ascendeth a necke like vnto a chimney, which they couer with white felte, and oftentimes they lay mortar or white earth vpon the sayd felt, with the powder of bones, that it may shine white. And sometimes also they couer it with blacke felte. The sayd felte on the necke of their house, they doe garnish ouer with beautifull varietie of pictures. Before the doore likewise they hang a felt curiously painted ouer. For they spend all their coloured felte in painting vines, trees, birds, and beastes thereupon. The sayd houses they make so large, that they conteine thirtie foote in breadth. For measuring once the breadth betweene the wheele-ruts of one of their cartes, I found it to be 20 feete ouer: and when the house was vpon the carte, it stretched ouer the wheeles on each side fiue feete at the least. I told 22. oxen in one teame, drawing an house vpon a cart, eleuen in one order according to the breadth of the carte, and eleuen more before them: the axeltree of the carte was of an huge bignes like vnto the mast of a ship. And a fellow stood in the doore of the house, vpon the forestall of the carte driuing forth the oxen. Moreouer, they make certaine fouresquare baskets of small slender wickers as big as great chestes: and afterward, from one side to another, they frame an hollow lidde or couer of such like wickers, and make a doore in the fore side thereof. And then they couer the sayd chest or little house with black fell rubbed ouer with tallow or sheeps milke to keepe the raine from soaking through, which they decke likewise with painting or with feathers. And in such chests they put their whole houshold stuffe and treasure. Also the same chests they do strongly binde vpon other carts, which are drawen with camels, to the end they may wade through riuers. Neither do they at any time take down the sayd chests from off their carts. When they take down their dwelling houses, they turne the doores alwayes to the South: and next of all they place the carts laden with their chests, here and there, within half a stones cast of the house: insomuch that the house standeth between two ranks of carts, as it were, between two wals.8 The benefite of a painter in strange countries. The matrons make for themselues most beautiful carts, which I am not able to describe vnto your maiestie but by pictures onlie: for I would right willingly haue painted all things for you, had my skill bin ought in that art. One rich Moal or Tartar hath 200. or 100. such cartes with chests. Duke Baatu hath sixteene wiues, euery one of which hath one great house, besides other little houses, which they place behind the great one, being as it were chambers for their maidens to dwel in. And vnto euery of the said houses do belong 200. cartes. When they take their houses from off the cartes, the principal wife placeth her court on the West frontier, and so all the rest in their order: so that the last wife dwelleth vpon the East frontier: and one of the said ladies courts is distant from another about a stones cast. Whereupon the court of one rich Moal or Tartar will appeare like vnto a great village, very few men abiding in the same. One woman will guide 20. or 30. cartes at once, for their countries are very plaine, and they binde the cartes with camels or oxen, one behind another. And there sittes a wench in the foremost carte driuing the oxen, and al the residue follow on a like pace. When they chance to come at any bad passage, they let them loose, and guide them ouer one by one: for they goe a slowe pace, as fast as a lambe or an oxe can walke.
Hauing taken downe their houses from off their cartes, and turning the doores Southward, they place the bed of the master of the house, at the North part thereof. The womens place is alwaies on the East side, namely on the left hand of the good man of the house sitting vpon his bed with his face Southwards; but the mens place is vpon the West side, namely at the right hand of their master. Men when they enter into the house, wil not in any case hang their quiuers on the womens side. Ouer the masters head is alwayes an image, like a puppet, made of felte, which they call the masters brother: and another ouer the head of the good wife or mistresse, which they call her brother being fastened to the wall: and aboue betweene both of, them, there is a little leane one, which is, as it were the keeper of the whole house. The good wife or mistresse of the house placeth aloft at her beds feete, on the right hand, the skinne of a Kidde stuffed with wooll or some other matter, and neare vnto that a little image or puppet looking towards the maidens and women. Next vnto the doore also on the womens side, there is another image with a cowes vdder, for the women that milke the kine. For it is the duety of their women to milke kine. On the other side of the doore next vnto the men, there is another image with the vdder of a mare, for the men which milke mares. And when they come together to drinke and make merie, they sprinckle parte of their drinke vpon the image which is aboue the masters head: afterward vpon other images in order: then goeth a seruant out of the house with a cuppe full of drinke sprinckling it thrise towards the South, and bowing his knee at euery time: and this is done for the honour of the fire. Then perfourmeth he the like superstitious idolatrie towards the East, for the honour of the ayre: and then to the West for the honour of the water: and lastly to the North in the behalfe of the dead. When the maister holdeth a cuppe in his hande to drinke, before he tasteth thereof, hee powreth his part vpon the ground. If he drinketh sitting on horse backe, hee powreth out part thereof vpon the necke or maine of his horse before hee himselfe drinketh. After the seruaunt aforesaide hath so discharged his cuppes to the fower quarters of the world, hee returneth into the house: and two other seruants stand ready with two cuppes, and two basons, to carrie drinke vnto their master and his wife, sitting together vpon a bed. And if he hath more wiues than one, she with whome hee slept the night before, sitteth by his side the daye following: and all his other wiues must that day resorte vnto the same house to drinke: and there is the court holden for that day: the giftes also which are presented that daye are layd vp in the chests of the sayd wife. And vpon a bench stands a vessell of milke or of other drinke and drinking cuppes.
In winter time they make excellent drinke of Rise, of Mill, and of honie, being well and high coloured like wine. Also they haue wine brought vnto them from farre countries. In summer time they care not for any drinke, but Cosmos. And it standeth alwaies within the entrance of his doore, and next vnto it stands a minstrell with his fidle. I sawe there no such citerns and vials as ours commonly be, but many other musicall instruments which are not vsed among vs. And when the master of the house begins to drinke, one of his seruants cryeth out with a lowde voice HA, and the minstrell playes vpon his fidle. They vse the like custome in Florida. And when they make any great solemne feast, they all of them clap their hands and daunce to the noyse of musique the men before their master and the women before their mistresse. And when the master hath drunke, then cries out his seruant as before, and the minstrell stayeth his musique. Then drinke they all around both men and women: and sometimes they carowse for the victory very filthily and drunkenly. Also when they will prouoke any man, they pul him by the eares to the drinke, and lug and drawe him strongly to stretch out his throate clapping their handes and dauncing before him. Moreouer when some of them will make great feasting and reioycing, one of the company takes a full cuppe, and two other stand, one on his right hand and another on his left, and so they three come singing to the man who is to haue the cuppe reached vnto him, still singing and dauncing before him: and when he stretcheth foorth his hand to receiue the cuppe, they leape suddenly backe, returning againe as they did before, and so hauing deluded him thrice or fower times by drawing backe the cuppe vntill he be merie, and hath gotten a good appetite, then they giue him the cuppe, singing and dauncing and stamping with their feete, vntill he hath done drinking.
Concerning their foode and victuals, be it knowen vnto your Highnesse that they do, without al difference or exception, eate all their dead carrions. And amongst so many droues it cannot be, but some cattell must needes die. Howbeit in summer, so long as their Cosmos, that is, their mares milke lasteth, they care not for any foode. Drying of flesh in the wind. And if they chance to haue an oxe or an horse dye, they drie the flesh thereof: for cutting it into thin slices and hanging it vp against the Sunne and the wind, it is presently dried without salt, and also without stenche or corruption. They make better puddings of their horses then of their hogs, which they eate being new made: the rest of the flesh they reserue vntill winter. They make of their oxe skins great bladders or bags, which they doe wonderfully dry in the smoake. Of the hinder part of their horse hides they make very fine sandals and pantofles. They giue vnto 50. or an 100. men the flesh of one ram to eat. For they mince it in a bowle with salt and water (other sauce they haue none) and then with the point of a knife, or a little forke which they make for the same purpose (such as wee vse to take rosted peares or apples out of wine withal) they reach vnto euery one of the company a morsell or twaine, according to the multitude of guestes. The master of the house, before the rams flesh be distributed, first of all himselfe taketh thereof, what he pleaseth. Also, if he giueth vnto any of the company a speciall part, the receiuer therof must eat it alone, and must not impart ought therof vnto any other. Not being able to eate it vp all, he caries it with him, or deliuers it vnto his boy, if he be present, to keepe it: if not, he puts it vp into his Saptargat, that is to say, his foure square budget, which they vse to cary about with them for the sauing of all such prouision, and wherein they lay vp their bones, when they haue not time to gnaw them throughly, that they may burnish them afterward, to the end that no whit of their food may come to nought.
Their drinke called Cosmos, which is mares milke, is prepared after this manner. They fasten a long line vnto 2. posts standing firmely in the ground, and vnto the same line they tie the young foles of those mares, which they mean to milke. Then come the dams to stand by their foles gently suffering themselues to be milked. And if any of them be too vnruly, then one takes her fole, and puts it vnder her, letting it suck a while, and presently carying it away againe, there comes another man to milke the said mare. And hauing gotten a good quantity of this milke together (being as sweet as cowes milke) while it is newe they powre it into a great bladder or bag, and they beat the said bag with a piece of wood made for the purpose, hauing a club at the lower ende like a mans head, which is hollow within: and so soone as they beat vpon it, it begins to boile like newe wine, and to be sower and sharp of taste, and they beate it in that manner till butter come thereof. Then taste they thereof, and being indifferently sharpe they drinke it: for it biteth a mans tongue like the wine of raspes, when it is drunk. After a man hath taken a draught thereof, it leaueth behind it a taste like the taste of almon milke, and goeth downe very pleasantly, intoxicating weake braines: also it causeth vrine to be auoided in great measure. Likewise Caracosmos, that is to say black Cosmos, for great lords to drink, they make on this maner. First they beat the said milke so long till the thickest part thereof descend right downe to the bottome like the lees of white wine, and that which is thin and pure remaineth aboue, being like vnto whay or white must The said lees or dregs being very white, are giuen to seruants, and will cause them to sleepe exceedingly. That which is thinne and cleare their masters drinke: and in very deed it is marueilous sweete and holesome liquor. Duke Baatu hath thirty cottages or granges within a daies iourney of his abiding place: euery one of which serueth him dayly with the Caracosmos of an hundreth mares milk, and so all of them together euery day with the milke of 3000. mares, besides white milke which other of his subiects bring. For euen as the husbandmen of Syria bestow the third part of their fruicts and carie it vnto the courts of their lords, euen so doe they their mares milke euery third day. Out of their cowes milke they first churne butter, boyling the which butter vnto a perfect decoction, they put it into rams skinnes, which they reserue for the same purpose. Neither doe they salte their butter: and yet by reason of the long seething, it putrifieth not: and they keepe it in store for winter. The churnmilke which remaineth of the butter, they let alone till it be as sowre as possibly it may be, then they boile it and in boiling, it is turned all into curdes, which curds they drie in the sun, making them as hard as the drosse of iron: and this kind of food also they store vp in sachels against winter. In the winter season when milke faileth them, they put the foresaid curds (which they cal Gry-vt) into a bladder, and powring hot water thereinto, they beat it lustily till they haue resolued it into the said water, which is thereby made exceedingly sowre, and that they drinke in stead of milke9. They are very scrupulous, and take diligent heed that they drinke not fayre water by it selfe.
Great lords haue cottages or granges towards the South, from whence their tenants bring them Millet and meale against winter. The poorer sort prouide themselues of such necessaries, for the exchange of rams, and of other beasts skins. The Tartars slaues fil their bellies with thick water, and are therewithall contented. They wil neither eate mise with long tailes, nor any kinde of mise with short tailes. They haue also certaine litle beasts called by them Sogur, which lie in a caue twenty or thirty of them together, al the whole winter sleeping there for the space of sixe moneths: 10 and these they take in great abundance. There are also a kind of conies hauing long tayles like vnto cats: and on the outside of their tailes grow blacke and white haires. They haue many other small beasts good to eat, which they know and discerne right well. I saw no Deere there, and but a fewe hares but a great number of Roes. I saw wild asses in great abundance which be like vnto Mules. Also I saw another kind of beast called Artak, hauing in al resemblance the body of a ram and crooked hornes, which are of such bignes, that I could scarce lift vp a paire of them with one hand; and of these hornes they make great drinking cups. Our falconers vse the left first. Another strange custome, which I leaue to be scanned by falconers themselues. They haue Falcons, Girfalcons, and other haukes in great plenty all which they cary vpon their right hands: and they put alwaies about their Falcons necks a string of leather, which hangeth down to the midst of their gorges, by the which string they cast them off the fist at their game, with their left hand they bow doune the heads and breasts of the sayd haukes, least they should be tossed vp and downe, and beaten with the wind, or least they should soare too high. Wherefore they get a great part of their victuals, by hunting and hauking. Concerning their garments and attire be it knowen vnto your Maiestie, that out of Cataya and other regions of the East, out of Persia also and other countries of the South, there are brought vnto them stuffes of silke, cloth of gold, and cotton cloth, which they weare in time of summer. But out of Russia, Moxel, Bulgaria the greater, and Pascatir, that is Hungaria the greater, and out of Kersis (all which are Northerne regions and full of woods) and also out of many other countries of the North, which are subiect vnto them, the inhabitants bring them rich and costly skins of diuers sortes (which I neuer saw in our countries) wherewithal they are clad in winter. And alwaies against winter they make themselues two gownes, one with the fur inward to their skin, and another with the furre outward, to defend them from wind and snow, which for the most part are made of woolues skins, or Fox skins, or els of Papions. And when they sit within the house, they haue a finer gowne to weare. The poorer sort make their vpper gowne of dogs or of goats skins. When they goe to hunt for wild beasts, there meets a great company together, and inuironing the place round about, where they are sure to find some game, by litle and litle they approach on al sides, til they haue gotten the wild beasts into the midst, as it were into a circle, and then they discharge their arrowes at them. Also they make themselues breeches of skins. The rich Tartars somtimes fur their gowns with pelluce or silke shag, which is exceeding soft, light, and warme. The poorer sort do line their clothes with cotton cloth which is made of the finest wooll they can pick out, and of the courser part of the said wool, they make felt to couer their houses and their chests, and for their bedding also. Great expense of wooll. Of the same wool, being fixed with one third part of horse haire, they make all their cordage. They make also of the said felt couerings for their stooles, and caps to defende their heads from the weather: for all which purposes they spend a great quantity of their wooll. And thus much concerning the attyre of the men.
The men shaue a plot foure square vpon the crownes of their heads, and from the two formost corners they shaue, as it were, two seames downe to their temples: they shaue also their temples and the hinder part of their head euen vnto the nape of the necke: likewise they shaue the forepart of their scalp downe to their foreheads, and vpon their foreheads they leaue a locke of hayre reaching downe vnto their eye browes: vpon the two hindermost corners of their heads, they haue two lockes also, which they twine and braid into knots and so bind and knit them vnder each eare one. Moreouer their womens garments differ not from their mens, sauing that they are somewhat longer. But on the morrowe after one of their women is maried, shee shaues her scalpe from the middest of her head downe to her forehead, and weares a wide garment like vnto the hood of a Nunne, yea larger and longer in all parts then a Nuns hood, being open before and girt vnto them vnder the right side. For herein doe the Tartars differ from the Turkes: because the Turkes fasten their garments to their bodies on the left side: but the Tartars alwaies on the right side. They haue also an ornament for their heads which they call Botta, being made of the barke of a tree, or of some such other lighter matter as they can find, which by reason of the thicknes and roundnes therof cannot be holden but in both hands together: and it hath a square sharp spire rising from the top therof, being more then a cubite in length, and fashioned like vnto a pinacle. The said Botta they couer al ouer with a piece of rich silke: and it is hollow within: and vpon the midst of the sayd spire or square toppe, they put a bunch of quils or of slender canes a cubite long and more: and the sayd bunch, on the top thereof, they beautifie with Peacocks feathers, and round about al the length therof, with the feathers of a Malards taile, and with precious stones also. Great ladies weare this kind of ornament vpon their heads binding it strongly with a certain hat or coyfe, which hath an hole in the crowne, fit for the spire to come through it: and vnder the fore-said ornament they couer the haires of their heads, which they gather vp round together from the hinder part therof to the crowne, and so lap them vp in a knot or bundel within the said Botta, which afterward they bind strongly vnder their throtes. Hereupon when a great company of such gentlewomen ride together, and are beheld a far off, they seem to be souldiers with helmets on their heads carrying their launces vpright: for the said Botta appeareth like an helmet with a launce ouer it. Al their women sit on horsebacke bestriding their horses like men: and they bind their hoods or gownes about their wastes with a skie coloured silke skarfe, and with another skarfe they girde it aboue their breasts: and they bind also a piece of white silke like a mufler or mask vnder their eyes, reaching down vnto their breast These gentlewomen are exceeding fat, and the lesser their noses be, the fairer are they esteemed: they daube ouer their sweet faces with grease too shamefully: and they neuer lie in bed for their trauel of childbirth.
The duties of women are, to driue carts: to lay their houses vpon carts and to take them downe again: to milke kine: to make butter and Gry-vt: to dresse skins and to sow them, which they vsually sowe with thread made of sinewes, for they diuide sinewes into slender threads, and then twine them into one long thread. They make sandals and socks and other garments. Howbeit they neuer wash any apparel: for they say that God is then angry, and that dreadful thunder wil ensue, if washed garments be hanged forth to drie: yea, they beat such as wash and take their garments from them. They are wonderfully afraid of thunder: for in the time of thunder they thrust all strangers, out of their houses, and then wrapping themselues in black felt, they lie hidden therein, til the thunder be ouerpast. They neuer wash their dishes or bowles: yea, when their flesh is sodden, they wash the platter wherein it must be put, with scalding hot broth out of the pot, and then powre the said broth into the pot againe. They make felte also, and couer their houses therewith. The duties of the men are to make bowes and arrowes, stirrops, bridles and saddles, to build houses and carts, to keep horses, to milke, mares, to churne Cosmos and mares milke, and to make bags wherein to put it, they keepe camels also and lay burthens vpon them. As for sheepe and goates they tend and milke them, aswell the men as the women. With sheeps milke thicked and salted they dresse and tan their hides. When they wil wash their hands or their heads, they fil their mouthes full of water, and spouting it into their hands by little and little, they sprinckle their haire and wash their heades therwith.11 As touching mariages, your Highnes is to vnderstand, that no man can haue a wife among them till he hath bought her whereupon somtimes their maids are very stale before they be maried, for their parents alwaies keepe them till they can sel them. They keepe the first and second degrees of consanguinitie inuiolable, as we do but they haue no regard of the degrees of affinity: for they wil marrie together, or by succession, two sisters. Their widowes marie not at al, for this reason: because they beleeue, that al who haue serued them in this life, shall do them seruice in the life to come also. Whereupon they are perswaded, that euery widow after death shal returne vnto her own husband. And herehence ariseth an abominable and filthy custome among them, namely that the sonne marieth somtimes all his fathers wiues except his own mother: For the court or house of the father or mother falleth by inheritance alwaies to the yonger son. Whereupon he is to prouide for all his fathers wiues, because they are part of his inheritance aswel as his fathers possessions. And then if he will he vseth then for his owne wiues: for he thinks it no iniurie or disparagement vnto himselfe, although they returne vnto his father after death. Therfore when any man hath bargained with another for a maid, the father of the said damosel makes him a feast: in the meane while she fleeth vnto some of her kinsfolks to hide her selfe. Then saith her father vnto the bridegrome: Loe, my daughter is yours, take her whersoeuer you can find her. Then he and his friends seek for her till they can find her, and hauing found her hee must take her by force and cary her, as it were, violently vnto his owne house.
Concerning their lawes or their execution of iustice, your Maiesty is to be aduertised, and when two men fight, no third man dare intrude himself to part them. Yea, the father dare not help his owne sonne. But he that goes by the worst must appeale vnto the court of his lord. And whosoeuer els offereth him any violence after appeale, is put to death. But he must go presently without all delay: and he that hath suffered the iniury, carieth him, as it were captiue. They punish no man with sentence of death, vnles hee bee taken in the deede doing, or confesseth the same. But being accused by the multitude, they put him vnto extreame torture to make him confesse the trueth. They punish murther with death, and carnall copulation also with any other besides his owne. By his own, I meane his wife or his maid seruant, for he may vse his slaue as he listeth himself. Heinous theft also or felony they punish with death. For a light theft, as namely for stealing of a ram, the party (not being apprehended in the deed doing, but otherwise detected) is cruelly beaten. And if the executioner laies on an 100. strokes, he must haue an 100. staues, namely for such as are beaten vpon sentence giuen in the court. Also counterfeit messengers, because they feine themselues to be messengers, when as indeed they are none at all, they punish with death. Sacrilegious persons they vse in like manner (of which kind of malefactors your Maiesty shall vnderstand more fully hereafter) because they esteeme such to be witches. When any man dieth, they lament and howle most pitifully for him: and the said mourners are free from paying any tribute for one whole yeare after. Also whosoeuer is present at the house where any one growen to mans estate lieth dead, he must not enter into the court of Mangu–Can til one whole yere be expired. If it were a child deceased he must not enter into the said court til the next moneth after. Neere vnto the graue of the partie deceased they alwaies leaue one cottage. If any of their nobles (being of the stock of Chingis, who was their first lord and father) deceaseth, his sepulcher is vnknowen. And alwayes about those places where they interre their nobles, there is one house of men to keep the sepulchers. I could not learn that they vse to hide treasures in the graues of their dead. The Comanians build a great toomb ouer their dead, and erect the image of the dead party thereupon, with his face towards the East, holding a drinking cup in his hand, before his nauel. They erect also vpon the monuments of rich men, Pyramides, that is to say, little sharpe houses or pinacles: and in some places I saw mighty towers made of brick, in other places Pyramides made of stones, albeit there are no stones to be found thereabout. I saw one newly buried, in whose behalfe they hanged vp 16. horse hides, vnto each quarter of the world 4, betweene certain high posts: and they set besides his graue Cosmos for him to drink, and flesh to eat: and yet they sayd that he was baptized. I beheld other kinds of sepulchers also towards the East: namely large flowres or pauements made of stone, some round and some square, and then 4. long stones pitched vpright, about the said pauement towards the 4. regions of the world. When any man is sicke, he lieth in his bed, and causeth a signe to be set vpon his house, to signifie that there lieth a sicke person there, to the end that no man may enter into the sayd house: whereupon none at all visit any sicke party but his seruant only. Moreouer, when any one is sicke in their great courts, they appoint watchmen to stand round about the said court, who wil not suffer any person to enter within the precincts thereof. For they feare least euill spirits or winds should come together with the parties that enter in. They esteeme of soothsayers, as of their priests.
And being come amongst those barbarous people, me thought (as I said before) that I was entred into a new world: for they came flocking about vs on horse back, after they had made vs a long time to awaite for them sitting in the shadow, vnder their black carts. The first question which they demanded was whether we had euer bin with them heretofore, or no? And giuing them answere that we had not, they began impudently to beg our victuals from vs. And we gaue them some of our bisket and wine, which we had brought with vs from the towne of Soldaia. And hauing drunke off one flagon of our wine they demanded another, saying, that a man goeth not into the house with one foote. Howbeit we gaue them no more, excusing our selues that we had but a litle. Then they asked vs, whence we came, and whither we were bound? I answered them with the words aboue mentioned: that we had heard concerning duke Sartach, that he was become a Christian, and that vnto him our determination was to trauel, hauing your Maiesties letters to deliuer vnto him. They were very inquisitiue to know whether I came of mine own accord, or whether I were sent? I answered that no man compelled me to come, neither had I come, vnles I my selfe had bin willing: and that therefore I was come according to mine own wil, and to the will of my superior. I tooke diligent heed neuer to say that I was your Maiesties ambassador. Then they asked what I had in my carts; whether it were gold or siluer, or rich garments to carie vnto Sartach? I answered that Sartach should see what we had brought, when we were once come vnto him, and that they had nothing to do to aske such questions, but rather ought to conduct me vnto their captaine, and that he, if he thought good, should cause me to be directed vnto Sartach: if not, that I would returne. For there was in the same prouince one of Baatu his kinsmen called Scacati, vnto whom my lord the Emperor of Constantinople had written letters of request to suffer me to passe through his territory. With this answere of ours they were satisfied, giuing vs horses and oxen, and two men to conduct vs. Howbeit before they would allow vs the foresayd neccessaries for our iorney, they made vs to awayt a long whyle, begging our bread for their yong brats, wondering at all things which they sawe about our seruants, as their kniues, gloues, purses, and points, and desiring to haue them. I excused my self that we had a long way to trauel, and that we must in no wise so soon depriue our selues of things necessary, to finish so long a iourney. Then they said that I was a very varlet. True it is, that they tooke nothing by force from me: howbeit they will beg that which they see very importunatly and shamelesly. And if a man bestow ought vpon them, it is but cost lost, for they are thankles wretches. They esteeme themselues lords and think that nothing should be denied them by any man. If a man giues them nought, and afterward stands in neede of their seruice, they will do right nought for him. They gaue vs of their cowes milke to drink after that butter was cherned out of it, being very sower, which they cal Apram. And so we departed from them. And in very deed it seemed to me that we were escaped out of the hands of diuels. On the morrow we were come vnto the captain. From the time wherin we departed from Soldaia, till we arriued at the court of Sartach, which was the space of two moneths, we neuer lay in house or tent, but alwaies vnder the starry canopy, and in the open aire, or vnder our carts. Neither yet saw we any village, nor any mention of building where a village had bin, but the graues of the Comanians in great abundance. The same euening our guide which had conducted vs, gaue vs some Cosmos. After I had drunke thereof I sweat most extreamly for the nouelty and strangenes, because I neuer dranke of it before. Notwithstanding me thought it was very sauory, as indeed it was.
On the morrowe after we met with the cartes of Scacatai laden with houses, and me thought that a mighty citie came to meete me. I wondered also at the great multitude of huge droues of oxen, and horses, and at the flockes of sheepe. I could see but a fewe men that guided all these matters: whereupon I inquired how many men he had vnder him, and they told me that he had not aboue 500. in all, the one halfe of which number we were come past, as they lay in another lodging. Then the seruant which was our guide told me, that I must present somwhat vnto Scacatay: and so he caused vs to stay, going himselfe before to giue notice of our comming. By this time it was past three of the clocke, and they vnladed their houses nere vnto a certain water: And there came vnto vs his interpreter, who being aduertised by vs that wee were neuer there before, demanded some of our victuals, and we yeelded vnto his request. Also he required of vs some garment for a reward, because he was to interpret our sayings vnto his master. Howbeit we excused our selues as well as wee could. Then he asked vs, what we would present vnto his Lord? And we tooke a flagon of wine, and filled a maund with bisket, and a platter with apples and other fruits. But he was not contented therewith, because we brought him not some rich garment. Notwithstanding we entred so into his presence with feare and bashfulnes. He sate vpon his bed holding a citron in his hand, and his wife sate by him: who (as I verily thinke) had cut and pared her nose betweene the eyes, that she might seeme to be more flat and saddle-nosed: for she had left her selfe no nose at all in that place, hauing annointed the very same place with a black ointment, and her eye browes also: which sight seemed most vgly in our eies. Then I rehearsed vnto him the same wordes, which I had spoken in other places before. For it stoode vs in hand to vse one and the same speech in all places. A caueat right worthy the noting. For we were wel forewarned of this circumstance by some which had been amongst the Tartars, that we should neuer varie in our tale. Then I besought him, that he would vochsafe to accept that small gifte at our hands, excusing my selfe that I was a Monke, and that it was against our profession to possesse gold, or siluer, or precious garments, and therefore that I had not any such thing to giue him, howbeit he should receiue some part of our victuals instead of a blessing. Hereupon he caused our present to be receiued, and immediately distributed the same among his men, who were mette together for the same purpose, to drinke and make merrie. I deliuered also vnto him the Emperor of Constantinople his letters (this was eight dayes after the feast of Ascension) who sent them forthwith to Soldaia to haue them interpreted there: for they were written in Greeke, and he had none about him that was skilfulle in the Greeke tongue. He asked vs also whether we would drink any Cosmos, that is to say mares milke? (For those that are Christians among them, as namely the Russians, Grecians, and Alanians, who keep their own law very strictly, wil in no case drinke thereof, yea, they accompt themselues no Christians after they haue once drunke of it, and their priests reconcile them vnto the Church as if they had renounced the Christian faith.) I gaue him answere, that we had as yet sufficient of our owne to drinke, and that when our drinke failed vs, we must be constrained to drink such as should be giuen vnto vs. He enquired also what was contained in our letters, which your Maiestie sent vnto Sartach? I answered: that they were sealed vp, and that there was nothing conteined in them, but good and friendly wordes. And he asked what wordes wee would deliuer vnto Sartach? I answered: the words of Christian faith. He asked again what these words were? For he was very desirous to heare them. Then I expounded vnto him as well as I could, by mine interpretor, (who had no wit nor any vtterance of speech) the Apostles creed. Which after he had heard, holding his peace, he shooke his head. Then hee assigned vnto vs two men, who shoulde giue attendance vpon our selues, vpon our horses, and vpon our Oxen. And hee caused vs to ride in his companie, till the messenger whome hee had sent for the interpretation of the Emperours letters, was returned. And so wee traueiled in his companie till the morowe after Pentecost.
Vpon the euen of Pentecost, there came vnto vs certaine Alanians, wno are called Or Akas. Acias, being Christians after the maner of the Grecians, vsing greeke bookes and Grecian priests: howbeit they are not schismatiques as the Grecians are, but without acception of persons, they honour al Christians. And they brought vnto vs sodden flesh, requesting vs to eat of their meat, and to pray for one of their company being dead. Then I sayd, because it was the euen of so great and so solemne a feast day, that we would not eate any flesh for that time. And I expounded vnto them the solemnitie of the sayd feast, whereat they greatly reioyced: for they were ignorant of all things appertayning to Christian religion, except only the name of Christ. They and many other Christians, both Russians, and Hungarians demanded of vs, whether they might be saued or no, because they were constrained to drinke Cosmos, and to eate the dead carkases of such things, as were slaine by the Saracens, and other infidels? Which euen the Greeke and Russian priests themselues also esteeme as things strangled or offered vnto idoles: because they were ignorant of the times of fasting, neither could they haue obserued them albeit they had knowen them. Then instructed I them as well as I could and strengthened them in the faith. As for the flesh which they had brought we reserued it vntill the feast day. Cloth is the chiefe marchandise in Tartarie. For there was nothing to be sold among the Tartars for gold and siluer, but only for cloth and garments of the which kind of marchandise wee had none at all. When our seruants offered them any coine called Yperpera, they rubbed it with their fingers, and put it vnto their noses, to try by the smell whether it were copper or no. Neither did they allow vs any foode but cowes milke onely which was very sowre and filthy. There was one thing most necessary greatly wanting vnto vs. For the water was so foule and muddy by reason of their horses, that it was not meete to be drunk. And but for certaine bisket, which was by the goodnes of God remaining vnto vs, we had vndoubtedly perished.
Vpon the day of Pentecost there came vnto vs a certain Saracen, vnto whome, as hee talked with vs, we expounded the Christian faith. Who (hearing of God’s benefits exhibited vnto mankind by the incarnation of our Sauior Christ, and the resurrection of the dead, and the iudgement to come, and that in baptisme was a washing away of sinnes) sayd that hee would be baptized. But when we prepared our selues to the baptising of him, he suddenly mounted on horsebacke, saying that he would goe home and consult with his wife what were best to be done. And on the morrow after he told vs, that he durst in no case receiue baptisme, because then he should drinke no more Cosmos. For the Christians of that place affirme that no true Christians ought to drinke thereof: and that without the said liquor he could not liue in that desert From which opinion, I could not for my life remoue him. Wherefore be it knowen of a certainty vnto your highnes, that they are much estranged from the Christian faith by reason of that opinion which hath bin broached and confirmed among them by the Russians, of whom there is a great multitude in that place. The same day Scacatay the captaine aforesayd gaue vs one man to conduct vs to Sartach, and two other to guide vs vnto the next lodging, which was distant from that place fiue dayes iourney for oxen to trauell. They gaue vnto vs also a goate for victuals, and a great many bladders of cowes milke, and but a little Cosmos, because it is of so great estimation among them. And so taking our iourney directly toward the North, me thought that wee had passed through one of hell gates. The seruants which conducted vs began to play the bold theeues with vs, seeing vs take so little heed vnto our selues. At length hauing lost much by their theeuery, harme taught vs wisdome. And then we came vnto the extremity of that prouince, which is fortified with a ditch from one sea vnto another: without the bounds wherof their lodging was situate. Into the which, so soone as we had entred, al the inhabitants there seemed vnto vs to be infected with leprosie: Salt pits. for certain base fellowes were placed there to receiue tribute of al such as tooke salt out of the salt pits aforesaid. From that place they told vs that we must trauel fifteen daies iourney, before we shuld find any other people. With them wee dranke Cosmos, and gaue vnto them a basket full of fruites and of bisket. And they gaue vnto vs eight oxen and one goate, to sustaine vs in so great a iourney, and I knowe not how many bladders of milke. Ten dayes iorney. And so changing our oxen, we tooke our iourney which we finished in tenne dayes, arriuing at another lodging: neither found wee any water all that way, but onely in certane ditches made in the valleys, except two small riuers. And from the time wherein wee departed out of the foresaid prouince of Gasaria, we trauailed directly Eastward, hauing a Sea on the South side of vs, and a waste desert on the North, which desert, in some places, reacheth twenty dayes iourney in breadth, and there is neither tree, mountaine, nor stone therein. And it is most excellent pasture. Here the Comanians, which were called Capthac, were wont to feede their cattell. Howbeit by the Dutch men they are called Valani, and the prouince it selfe Valania. The length of Comania. But Isidore calleth all that tract of land stretching from the riuer of Tanais to the lake of Mæotis, and so along as farre as Danubius, the countrey of Alania. And the same land contunueth in length from Danubius vnto Tanais (which diuideth Asia from Europe) for the space of two moneths iourney, albeit a man should ride poste as fast as the Tartars vse to ride: and it was all ouer inhabited by the Comanians, called Capthac: yea and beyond Tanais, as farre as the riuer Edil or Volga: the space betweene the two which riuers is a great and long iourney to bee trauailed in ten dayes. Russia. To the North of the same prouince lieth Russia, which is full of wood in all places, and stretcheth from Polonia and Hungaria, euen to the riuer of Tanais: and it hath bene wasted all ouer by the Tartars, and as yet is daily wasted by them. They preferre the Saracens before the Russians, because they are Christians, and when they are able to giue them no more golde or siluer, they driue them and their children like flockes of sheepe into the wildernes, constraining them to keepe their cattell there. Prussia. Beyond Russia lieth the countrey of Prussia, which the Dutch knights of the order of Saint Maries hospitall of Ierusalem haue of late wholly conquered and subdued. And in very deede they might easily winne Russia, if they would put to their helping hand. For if the Tartars should but once know, that the great Priest, that is to say, the Pope did cause the ensigne of the crosse to bee displaied against them, they would flee all into their desert and solitarie places.12
We therefore went on towards the East, seeing nothing but heauen and earth, and sometimes the sea on our right hand, called the Sea of Tanais, and the sepulchres of the Comanians, which appeared vnto vs two leagues off, in which places they were wont to burie their kinred altogether. So long as we were trauelling through the desert, it went reasonably well with vs. For I cannot sufficiently expresse in words the irkesome and tedious troubles which I susteined, when I came at any of their places of abode. For our guide would haue vs goe in vnto euery Captaine with a present, and our expenses would not extend so farre. For we were euery day eight persons of vs spending our waifaring prouision, for the Tartars seruants would all of them eate of our victuals. We ourselues were fiue in number, and the seruants our guides were three, two to driue our carts, and one to conduct vs vnto Sartach. The flesh which they gaue vs was not sufficient for vs: neither could we finde any thing to be bought for our money. Extreme heate in Sommer. And as we sate vnder our carts in the coole shadowe, by reason of the extreame and vehement heate which was there at that time, they did so importunately and shamelesly intrude themselues into our companie, that they would euen tread vpon vs, to see whatsoeuer things we had. Hauing list at any time to ease themselues, the filthy lozels had not the maners to withdrawe themselues farther from vs, then a beane can bee cast. Yea, like vile slouens they would lay their tailes in our presence, while they were yet talking with vs: many other things they committed, which were most tedious and loathsome vnto vs. But aboue all things it grieued me to the very heart, that when I would vtter ought vnto them, which might tend to their edification, my foolish interpreter would say: you shall not make me become a Preacher now: I tell you, I cannot nor I will not rehearse any such wordes. And true it was which he saide, For I perceiued afterward, when I began to haue a little smattering in the language, that when I spake one thing, he would say quite another, whatsoeuer came next vnto his witlesse tongues end. Tanaia. Then seeing the danger I might incurre in speaking by such an interpreter, I resolued much rather to holde my peace, and thus we traiueiled with great toile from lodging to lodging, till at the length, a fewe dayes before the feast of Saint Marie Magdalene, we arriued at the banke of the mightie riuer Tanais which diuideth Asia from Europa, euen as the riuer Nilus of Ægypt disioyneth Asia from Africa. At the same place where wee arriued, Baatu and Sartach did cause a certaine cottage to be built, vpon the Easterne bankeof of the riuer, for a companie of Russians to dwelle in to the ende they might transport Ambassadoors and merchants in ferrie-boates ouer that part of the riuer. First they ferried vs ouer, and then our carts, putting one wheele into one lyter, and the other wheele into another lyter, hauing bounde both the lyters together, and so they rowe them ouer. In this place our guide played the foole most extreamely. For hee imagining that the said Russians, dwelling in the cottage, should haue prouided vs horses, sent home the beasts which we brought with vs, in another cart, that they might returne ynto their owne masters. And when we demanded to haue some beasts of them, they answered, that they had a priuiledge from Baatu, whereby they were bound to none other seruice, but only to ferry ouer goers and commers: and that they receiued great tribute of marchants in regard therof. We staied therfore by the said riuers side three daies. The first day they gaue vnto vs a great fresh turbut: the second day they bestowed rye bread, and a litle flesh vpon vs, which the purueyer of the village had taken vp at euerie house for vs: and the third day dried fishes, which they haue there in great abundance. The breadth of Tanaia. The saide riuer was euen as broad in that place, as the riuer of the Sein is at Paris. And before we came there, we passed ouer many goodly waters, and full of fish: howbeit the Barbarous and rude Tartars know not how to take them: neither do they make any reckoning of any fish, except it be so great, that they may pray vpon the flesh thereof, as vpon the flesh of a ram. He is much deceiued. The riuer is the limite of the East part of Russia, and it springeth out of the fennes of Mæotis, which fennes stretch vnto the North Ocean. And it runneth Southward into a certain great sea 700. miles about before it falleth into the sea called Pontus Euximus. And al the riuers, which we passed ouer, ran with ful stream into those quarters. The foresaid riuer hath great store of wood also growing vpon the West side thereof. About the beginning of August, the Tartars returne southward. Beyond this place the Tartars ascend no farther vnto the North: for at that season of the yeere, about the first of August, they begin to returne backe vnto the South. And therefore there is another cottage somewhat lower, where passengers are ferried ouer in Winter time. And in this place wee were driuen to great extremitie, by reason that we could get neither horses, nor oxen, for any money. At length, after I had declared vnto them, that my comming was to labour for the common good of all Christians, they sent vs oxen and men; howbeit we our selues were faine to trauel on foote. At this time they were reaping their rye. Wheat prospereth not wel in that soile. They haue the seede of Millium in great abundance. The Russian women attire their heads like vnto our women. They imbroder their safegards or gowns on the outside, from their feet vnto their knees with particoloured or grey stuffe. The Russian men weare caps like vnto the Dutch men. Also they weare vpon their heads certain sharpe, and high crowned hats made of felt much like vnto a sugar loafe. Then traueiled we 3. daies together, not finding any people. And when our selues and our oxen were exceeding weary and faint, not knowing how far off we should find any Tartars, on the sudden, there came two horses running towards vs, which we tooke with great ioy, and our guide and interpreter mounted vpon their backes, to see, how far off they could descry any people. At length vpon the fourth day of our iourney, hauing found some inhabitants, we reioyced like sea faring men, which had escaped out of a dangerous tempest, and had newly recouered the hauen. Then hauing taken fresh horses, and oxen, we passed on from lodging to lodging, till at the last, vpon the second of the Kalends of August, we arriued at the habitation of Duke Sartach himselfe.
The region lying beyond Tanais, is a very goodly countrey, hauing store of riuers and woods toward the North part thereof. There be mighty huge woods which two sorts of people do inhabite. The people of Moxel are Pagans. One of them is called Moxel, being meere Pagans, and without law. They haue neither townes nor cities, but only cottages in the woods. Their lord and a great part of themselues were put to the sword in high Germanie. Whereupon they highly commend the braue courage of the Almans, hoping as yet to be deliuered out of the bondage of the Tartars, by their meanes. If any merchant come vnto them, he must prouide things necessary for him, with whom he is first of all enterteined, all the time of his abode among them. If any lieth with another mans wife, her husband, vnles he be an eiewitnes therof, regardeth it not: for they are not ielous ouer their wiues. They haue abundance of hogs, and great store of hony and waxe, and diuers sorts of rich and costly skins, and plentie of falcons. The people called Merdui being Saracens. Next vnto them are other people called Merclas, which the Latines cal Merdui, and they are Saracens. Beyond them is the riuer of Etilia or Volga, which is the mightiest riuer that euer I saw. And it issueth from the North part of Bulgaria the greater, and so trending along Southward, disimboqueth into a certain lake containing in circuit the space of 4. moneths trauel, whereof I will speak hereafter. The circuite of the Caspian sea. The two foresaid riuers, namely Tanais and Etilia, otherwise called Volga, towards the Northren regions through the which we traueiled, are not distant asunder aboue x. daies iourney, but Southward they are diuided a great space one from another. For Tanais descendeth into the sea of Pontus. Etitilia maketh the foresaid sea or lake, with the help of many other riuers which fal therinto out of Persia. Kergis or Asa. And we had to the South of vs huge high mountains, vpon the sides wherof, towards the said desert, doe the people called Cergis, and the Alani or Acas inhabit, who are as yet Christians, and wage warre against the Tartars. The Saracens called Lesgi. Beyond them, next vnto the sea or lake of Etilia, there are certaine Saracens called Lesgi, who are in subiection vnto the Tartars. Beyond these is Porta ferrea, or the yron gate, nowe called Derbent, which Alexander built to exclude the barbarous nations out of Persia. He returneth by Derbent. Concerning the situation whereof, your maiestie shall vnderstand more about the end of this Treatise: for I trauailed in my returne by the very same place. Betweene the two foresaid riuers, in the regions through the which we passed did Comanians of olde time inhabite, before they were ouerrun by the Tartars.
And we found Sartach lying within three daies iourney of the riuer Etilia: whose Court seemed vnto vs to be very great. For he himselfe had sixe wiues, and his eldest sonne also had three wiues: euery one of which women hath a great house, and they haue ech one of them about 200. cartes. Coiat the historian. Our guide went vnto a certaine Nestorian named Coiat, who is a man of great authoritie in Sartachs Court. He made vs to goe very farre vnto the Lordes gate. For so they call him, who hath the office of enterteining Ambassadours. In the euening Coiac commanded vs to come vnto him. Then our guide began to enquire what we would present him withal, and was exceedingly offended, when he saw that we had nothing ready to present. We stoode before him, and he sate maiestically, hauing musicke and dauncing in his presence. Then I spake vnto him in the wordes before recited, telling him, for what purpose I was come vnto his lorde, and requesting so much fauour at his hands, as to bring our letters vnto the sight of his Lord. I excused my selfe also, that I was a Monke, not hauing, nor receiuing, nor vsing any golde, or siluer, or any other precious thing, saue onely our bookes, and the vestiments wherein we serued God: and that this was the cause why I brought no present vnto him, nor vnto his Lord. For I that had abandoned mine owne goods, could not be a transporter of things for other men. Then hee answered very courteously, that being a Monke, and so doing, I did well: for so I should obserue my vowe: neither did himselfe stande in neede of ought that we had, but rather was readie to bestowe vpon vs such thinge as we our selues stood in neede of: and he caused vs to sit downe, and to drinke of his milke. And presently after he requested vs to say our deuotions for him: and we did so. He enquired also who was the greatest Prince among the Franckes? And I saide, the Emperour, if he could inioy his owne dominions in quiet. No (quoth he) but the king of France. For he had heard of your Highnes by lord Baldwine of Henault. I found there also one of the Knights of the temple, who had bene in Cyprus, and had made report of all things which he sawe there. Then returned wee vnto our lodging. And on the morow we sent him a flagon of Muscadel wine (which had lasted very wel in so long a iourney) and a boxe full of bisket, which was most acceptable vnto him and he kept our seruants with him for that euening. The next morning he commanded me to come vnto the Court, and to bring the kings letters and my vestiments and bookes with me: because his Lorde was desirous to see them. Which we did accordingly, lading one cart with our bookes and vestiments and another with bisket, wine, and fruites. Then he caused all our bookes and vestiments to bee laide forth. And there stoode rounde about vs many Tartars, Christians and Saracens on horseback. At the sight whereof, he demanded whether I would bestow all those things vpon his lord or no? Which saying made me to tremble, and grieued me full sore. Howbeit, dissembling our griefe as well as we could, we shaped him this answer: Sir, our humble request is, that our Lorde your master would vouchsafe to accept our bread, wine, and fruits, not as a present, because it is too meane, but as a benediction, least we should come with an emptie hand before him. And he shall see the letters of my souereigne Lord the king, and by them he shall vnderstand for what cause we are come vnto him and then both our selues, and all that we haue, shall stand to his curtesie: for our vestiments be holy, and it is vnlawfull for any but Priests to touch them. Then he commaunded vs to inuest our selues in the said garments, that we might goe before his Lord: and wee did so. Then I my selfe putting on our most precious ornaments, tooke in mine armes a very faire cushion, and the Bible which your Maiesty gaue me, and a most beautifull Psalter, which the Queenes Grace bestowed vpon me, wherein there were goodly pictures. Mine associate tooke a missal and a crosse: and the clearke hauing put on his surplesse, tooke a censer in his hand. And so we came vnto the presence of his Lord and they lifted vp the felt hanging before his doore, that he might behold vs. Then they caused the clearke and the interpreter thrise to bow the knee: but of vs they required no such submission. And they diligently admonished vs to take heed, that in going in, and in comming out, we touched not the threshold of the house, and requested vs to sing a benediction for him. Then we entred in, singing Salue Regina. And within the entrance of the doore, stood a bench with cosmos, and drinking cups thereupon. And all his wiues were there assembled. Also the Moals or rich Tartars thrusting in with vs pressed vs sore. Then Coiat caried vnto his Lord the censer with incense, which he beheld very diligently, holding it in his hand. Afterward hee caried the Psalter vnto him, which he looked earnestly vpon, and his wife also that sate beside him. After that he caried the Bible: then Sartach asked if the Gospel were contained therein? Yea (said I) and all the holy scriptures besides. He tooke the crosse also in his hand, and demanded concerning the image, whether it were the image of Christ or no? I said it was. The Nestorians and the Armenians do neuer make the figure of Christ vpon their crosses. No good consequence. Wherefore either they seem not to think wel of his passion, or els they are ashamed of it. Then he caused them that stood about vs, to stand aside, that he might more fully behold our ornaments. Afterward I deliuered vnto him your Maiesties letters, with translation therof into the Arabike, and Syriake languages. For I caused them to be translated at Acon into the character, and dialect of both the saide tongues. And there were certain Armenian Priests, which had skil in the Turkish and Arabian languages. The aforesaid knight also of the order of the Temple had knowledge in the Syriake, Turkish, and Arabian tongues. Then we departed forth, and put off our vestiments, and there came vnto vs certaine Scribes together with the foresaid Coiat, and caused our letters to be interpreted. Which letters being heard, he caused our bread, wine and fruits to be receiued. And he permitted vs also to carie our vestiments and bookes vnto our owne lodging. This was done vpon the feast of S. Peter ad vincula.
The next morning betimes came vnto vs a certaine Priest who was brother vnto Coiat, requesting to haue our box of Chrisme, because Sartach (as he said) was desirous to see it: and so we gaue it him. About euentide Coiat sent for vs, saying: My lord your king wrote good words vnto my lord and master Sartach. Howbeit there are certaine matters of difficulty in them concerning which he dare not determine ought, without the aduise and counsell of his father. And therfore of necessitie you must depart vnto his father, leauing behind you the two carts, which you brought hither yesterday with vestiments and bookes, in my custodie because my lorde is desirous to take more diligent view thereof. I presently suspecting what mischiefe might ensue by his couetousnes, said vnto him: Sir, we will not onely leaue those with you, but the two other carts also, which we haue in our posession, will we commit vnto your custodie. You shall not (quoth he) leaue those behinde you, but for the other two carts first named, we will satisfie your request. I saide that this could not conueniently be done: but needes we must leaue all with him. Then he asked, whether we meant to tarie in the land? I answered: If you throughly vnderstand the letters of my lorde the king, you know that we are euen so determined. Then he replied, that we ought to be patient and lowly: and so we departed from him that euening. On the morrowe after he sent a Nestorian Priest for the carts, and we caused all the foure carts to be deliuered. Then came the foresaid brother of Coiat to meet vs, and separated all those things, which we had brought the day before vnto the Court, from the rest, namely the bookes and vestiments, and tooke them away with him. Howbeit Coiat had commanded, that we should carie those vestiments with vs, which wee ware in the presence of Sartach, that wee might put them on before Baatu, if neede should require: but the said Priest tooke them from vs by violence, saying: thou hast brought them vnto Sartach, and wouldest thou carie them vnto Baatu? And when I would haue rendred a reason, he answered: be not too talkatiue, but goe your wayes. Then I sawe that there was no remedie but patience: for wee could haue no accesse vnto Sartach himselfe, neither was there any other, that would doe vs iustice. I was afraide also in regard of the interpreter, least he had spoken other things then I saide vnto him: for his will was good that we should haue giuen away all that we had. There was yet one comfort remaining vnto me: for when I once perceiued their couetous intent, I conueyed from among our bookes the Bible, and the sentences, and certaine other bookes which I made speciall account of. Howbeit I durst not take away the Psalter of my soueraigne Lady the Queene, because it was too wel known, by reason of the golden pictures therein. And so we returned with the two other carts vnto our lodging. Then came he that was appointed to be our guide vnto the court of Baatu, willing vs to take our iourney in all posthaste: vnto whom I said, that I would in no case haue the carts to goe with me. Which thing he declared vnto Coiat. Then Coiat commaunded that we should leaue them and our seruant with him: And we did as he commanded. They are come as farre as Volga. And so traueling directly Eastward towards Baatu, the third day we came to Etilia or Volga: the streams whereof when I beheld, I wondered from what regions of the North such huge and mighty waters should descend. Before we were departed from Sartach, the foresaid Coiat, with many other Scribes of the court said vnto vs: doe not make report that our Lord is a Christian, but a Moal. The Tartars will be called Moal. Because the name of a Christian seemeth vnto them to be the name of some nation. So great is their pride, that albeit they beleeue perhaps some things concerning Christ, yet will they not bee called Christians, being desirous that their owne name, that is to say, Moal should be exalted aboue all other names. Neither wil they be called by the name of Tartars. For the Tartars were another nation, as I was informed by them.
At the same time when the French men tooke Antioch, a certaine man named Con Can had dominion ouer the Northren regions, lying thereabouts. Con is a proper name: Can is a name of authority or dignitie, which signifieth a diuiner or soothsayer All diuiners are called Can amongst them. Whereupon their princes are called Can, because that vnto them belongeth the gouernment of the people by diuination. Wee doe reade also in the historie of Antiochia, that the Turkes sent for aide against the French-men, vnto the kingdome of Con Can. For out of those parts the whole nation of the Turkes first came. The said Con was of the nation of Kara–Catay, Kara signifieth blacke, and Katay is the name of a countrey. So that Kara–Catay signifieth the blacke Catay. An Ocean sea. This name was giuen to make a difference between the foresaid people, and the people of Catay, inhabiting Eastward ouer against the Ocean sea: concerning whom your maiesty shall vnderstand more hereafter. These Catayans dwelt vpon certaine Alpes, by the which I trauailed. Nayman. Presbiter Iohn. And in a certaine plane countrey within those Alpes, there inhabited a Nestorian shepheard, being a mighty gouernour ouer the people called Yayman, which were Christians, following the sect of Nestorius. After the death of Con Can, the said Nestorian exalted himselfe to the kingdome, and they called him King Iohn, This history of Presbiter Iohn in the North-east, is alledged at large by Gerardus Mercator in his generall mappe. From whence the Turkes first sprang. reporting ten times more of him then was true. For so the Nestorians which come out of those parts, vse to doe. For they blaze abroade great rumors, and reports vpon iust nothing. Whereupon they gaue out concerning Sartach, that he was become a Christian, and the like also they reported concerning Mangu Can, and Ken Can namely because these Tartars make more account of Christians, then they doe of other people, and yet in very deede, themselues are no Christians. So likewise there went foorth a great report concerning the said king Iohn. Howbeit, when I trauailed along by his territories, there was no man that knew any thing of him, but onely a fewe Nestorians. The place of Ken Can his abode. Vut Can, or Vnc Can. The village of Cara Carum. Crit and Merkit. In his pastures or territories dwelleth Ken Can, at whose Court Frier Andrew was. And I my selfe passed by it at my returne. This Iohn had a brother, being a mightie man also, and a shepheard like himselfe, called Vut, and be inhabited beyond the Alpes of Cara Catay, being distant from his brother Iohn, the space of three weekes iourney. He was lord ouer a certain village, called Cara Carum, hauing people also for his subiects, named Crit, or Merkit, who were Christians of the sect of Nestorius. But their Lorde abandoning the the worship of Christ followed after idoles, reteining with him Priests of the saide idoles, who all of them are worshippers of deuils and and sorcerers. [Moal in olde time a beggerly people.] Beyond his pastures, some tenne or fifteene dayes iourney, were the pasture of Moal, who were a poore and beggerly nation, without gouernour, and without Lawe, except their soothsayings, and their diuinations, vnto the which detestable studies, all in those partes doe apply their mindes. The place of the Tartars. Neere vnto Moal were other poore people called Tartars. The foresaid king Iohn died without issue male, and thereupon his brother Vut was greatly inriched, and caused himselfe to be named Can; and his droues and flockes raunged euen vnto the borders of Moal. Cyngis About the same time there was one Cyngis, a blacke smith among the people of Moal. This Cyngis stole as many cattel from Vut Can as he could possibly get: insomuche that the shepherds of Vut complained vnto their Lord. Then prouided he an armie and marched vp into the countrey of Moal to seeke for the saide Cyngis. But Cyngis fledde among the Tartars and hidde himselfe amongest them. And Vut hauing taken some spoils both from Moal and also from the Tartars, returned home. Then spake Cyngis vnto the Tartars and vnto the people of Moal, saying: Sirs because we are destitute of a gouernonr and Captaine, you see howe our neighbours do oppresses vs. And the Tartars and Moals appointed him to be their Chieftaine. Then hauing secretly gathered together an armie, he brake in suddenly vpon Vut, and ouercame him, and Vut fledde into Cataua. Magnu-can. At the same time was the daughter of Vut taken, which Cyngis married vnto one of his sonnes, by whome she conceiued, and brought forth the great Can, Which now reigneth called Mangu–Can. Then Cyngis sent the Tartars before him in al places where he came: and thereupon was their name published and spread abroade for in all places the people woulde crie out: Loe, the Tartars come, the Tartars come. Howbeit through continuall warres, they are nowe all of them in a maner consumed and brought to nought. Whereupon the Moals endeuour what they can, to extinguish the name, of the Tartars that they may exalt their owne name. The countrey wherein they first inhabited and where the Court of Cyngis Can Mancherule as yet remaineth, is called Macherule. But because Tartaria is the region about which they haue obtained their conquests, they esteeme that as their royall and chiefe citie and there for the most part doe they elect their great Can.
Now, as concerneth Sartach, whether he beleeues in Christ, or no, I knowe not. This I am sure of, that he will not be called a Christian. Yea rather he seemeth vnto mee to deride and skoffe at Christians. He lieth in the way of the Christians, as namely of the Russians, the Valachians, the Bulgarians of Bulgaria the lesser, the Soldaianes, the Kerkis, and the Alanians: who all of them passe by him, as they are going to the Court of his father Baatu, to carie gifts: whereupon he is more in league with them. How best, if the Saracens come, and bring greater gifts than they, they are dispatched sooner. He hath about him certaine Nestorian Priestes, who pray vpon their beades, and sing their deuotions. Also, there is another vnder Baatu called Berta Or, Berca., who feedeth his cattell toward Porta ferrea, or Derbent, where lieth the passage of all those Saracens, which come out of Persia, and out of Turkie to goe vnto Baatu, and passing by they giue rewards vnto him. And he professeth himselfe to be a Saracene, and will not permit swines flesh to be eaten in his dominions. Howbeit, at the time of our return, Baatu commanded him to remoue himselfe from that place, and to inhabite vpon the East side of Volga: for hee was vnwilling that the Saracens messengers should passe by the saide Berrta, because he sawe it was not for his profite. For the space of foure dayes while we remained in the court of Sartach, we had not any victuals at all allowed vs, but once onely a little Cosmos. And in our iourney betweene him and his father, wee trauelled in great feare. For certaine Russians, Hungarians, and Alanians being seruants vnto the Tartars (of whom they haue great multitudes among them) assemble themselues twentie or thirtie in a companie, and so secretly in the night conueying themselues from home they take bowes and arrowes with them, and whomsoeuer they finde in the night season, they put him to death, hiding themselues in the day time. And hauing tired their horses, they goe in the night vnto a company of other horses feeding in some pasture, and change them for newe, taking with them also one or two horses besides, to eate them when they stand in neede. Our guide therefore was sore afraide, least we should haue met with such companions. In this iourney wee had died for famine, had we not caried some of our bisket with vs. At length we came vnto the mighty riuer of Etilia, or Volga. For it is foure times greater then the riuer of Sein, and of a wonderfull depth: and issuing forth of Bulgaria the greater, it runneth into a certain lake or sea, which of late they call the Hircan sea, according to the name of a certain citie in Persia, standmg vpon the shore thereof. Howbeit Isidore calleth it the Caspian Sea. For it hath the Caspian mountaines and the land of Persia situate on the south side thereof: and the mountaines of Musihet, that is to say, of the people called Assassini13 towards the East, which mountaines are coioyned vnto the Caspian mountaines, but on the North side thereof lieth the same desert, wherein the Tartars doe now inhabite. Changlæ. Howbeit heretofore there dwelt certaine people called Changlæ. And on that side it receiueth the streams of Etilia: which riuer increaseth in Sommer time, like vnto the riuer Nilus in Ægypt. Vpon the West part thereof, it hath the mountaines of Alani, and Lesgi, and Porta ferrea, or Derbent, and the mountaines of Georgia. This Sea therefore is compassed in on three sides with the mountaines, but on the North side by plaine grounde. Frier Andrew. Frier Andrew, in his iourney traueiled round about two sides therof, namely the South and the East sides: and I my selfe about other two, that is to say, the North side in going from Baatu to Mangu–Can, and in returning likewise; and the West side in comming home from Baatu into Syria. A man may trauel round about it in foure moneths. And it is not true what Isidore reporteth, namely that this Sea is a bay or gulfe comming forth of the Ocean: for it doeth, in no part thereof, ioyne with the Ocean, but is enuironed on all sides with lande.
At the region extending from the West shore of the foresaid sea, where Alexanders Iron gate, otherwise called the gate of Derbent, is situate and from the mountaines of Alania, all along by the fennes of Alcotts, whereinto the riuer of Tanais falleth and so forth, to the North Ocean, was wont to be called Albania. The North Ocean. Of which countrey Isidore reporteth, that there be dogs of such an huge stature and so fierce, that they are able in fight to match bulles and to master lions. Which is true, as I vnderstand by diuers, who tolde me, that there towardes the North Ocean they make their dogges to draw in carts like oxen, by reason of their bignesse and strength. Moreouer, vpon that part of Etilia where we arriued, there is a new cottage built, wherein they haue placed Tartars and Russians both together, to ferrie ouer, and transport messengers going and comming to and fro the court of Baatu. For Baatu remaineth vpon the farther side towards the East. Neither ascendeth hee in Sommer time more Northward then the foresaide place where we arriued, but was euen then descending to the South. From Ianuarie vntil August both he and all other Tartars ascend by the banks of riuers towards cold and Northerly regions, and in August they begin to returne backe againe. He descended downe the riuer Volga in a barke. We passed downe the streame therefore in a barke, from the foresaid cottage vnto his court. From the same place vnto the villages of Bulgaria the greater, standing toward the North, it is fiue dayes iourney. I wonder what deuill caried the religion of Mahomet thither. For, from Derbent, which is vpon the extreame borders of Persia, it is about 30 daies iourney to passe ouerthwart the desert, and so to ascend by the banke of Etilia, into the foresaid countrey of Bulgaria. Astrscan. All which way there is no citie, but onely certaine cottages neere vnto that place where Etilia falleth into the sea. Those Bulgarians are most wicked Saracens, more earnestly professing the damnable religion of Mahomet, then any other nation whatsoeuer. The description of Baatu and his court. Moreouer, when I first behelde the court of Baatu, I was astonied at the sight thereof; for his houses or tents seemed as though they had bene some huge and mighty citie, stretching out a great way in length, the people ranging vp and downe about it for the space of some three or four leagues. And euen as the people of Israel knew euery man, on which side of the tabernacle to pitch his tent: euen so euery one of them knoweth right well, towards what side of the court he ought to place his house when he takes it from off the cart. Horda signifieth the midst. Wherupon the court is called in their language Horda, which signifieth, the midst: because the gouernour or chieftaine among them dwels alwaies in the middest of his people: except onely that directly towards the South no subiect or inferiour person placeth himselfe, because towards that region the court gates are set open: but vnto the right hand, and the left hand they extend themselues as farre as they will, according to the conueniencie of places, so that they place not their houses directly opposite against the Court. At our arriual we were conducted vnto a Saracen, who prouided not for vs any victuals at all. The day following, we were brought vnto the court and Baatu had caused a large tent to be erected, because his house or ordinarie tent could not contain so many men and women as were assembled. Our guide admonished vs not to speake, till Baatu had giuen vs commandement so to doe, and that then we should speake our mindes briefly. Then Baatu demanded whether your Maiestie had sent Ambassadours vnto him or no? I answered, that your Maiestie had sent messengers to Ken Can: and that you would not haue sent messengers vnto him, or letters vnto Sartach, had not your Highnes bene perswaded that they were become Christians: because you sent not vnto them for any feare, but onely for congratulation, and curtesies sake, in regard that you heard they were conuerted to Christianitie. Then led he vs vnto his pauilion and wee were charged not to touch the cordes of the tent, which they account in stead of the threshold of the house. There we stoode in our habite bare footed, and bare-headed, and were a great and strange spectacle in their eyes. Iohn de Plano Carpini. For indeed Frier Iohn de Plano Carpini had byn there before my comming: howbeit, because he was the Pope’s messenger, he changed his habit that he might not be contemned. Then we were brought into the very midst of the tent, neither required they of vs to do any reuerence by bowing our knees, as they vse to doe of other messengers. Wee stood therefore before him for the space wherein a man might haue rehearsed the Psalme, Miserere mei Deus: and there was great silence kept of all men. Baatu himselfe sate vpon a seate long and broad like vnto a bed, guilt all ouer, with three stairs to ascend thereunto, and one of his ladies sate beside him. The men there assembled, sate downe scattering, some on the right hand of the saide Lady, and some on the left. Those places on the one side which the women filled not vp (for there were only the wiues of Baatu) were supplied by the men. Also, at the very entrance of the tent stoode a bench furnished with cosmos, and with stately great cuppes of siluer, and golde, beeing richly set with precious stones. Baatu beheld vs earnestly, and we him and he seemed to me to resemble in personage, Monsieur Iohn de beau mont, whose soule resteth in peace. And hee had a fresh ruddie colour in his countenance. At length he commanded vs to speake. Then our guide gaue vs direction, that wee should bow our knees and speak. Wherupon I bowed one knee as vnto a man: then he signified that I should kneele vpon both knees: and I did so, being loath to contend about such circumstaunces. And again he commanded me to speak. Then I thinking of praier vnto God, because I kneeled on both my knees, began to pray on this wise: Sir, we beseech the Lord, from whom all good things doe proceed and who hath giuen you these earthly benefites, that it would please him hereafter to make you partaker of his heauenly blessings: because the former without these are but vain and vnprofitable. And I added further. Be it knowen vnto you of a certainty, that you shal not obtain the ioyes of heauen, vnles you becomes a Christian: for God saith, Whosoeuer beleeueth and is baptized, shalbe saued: but he that beleeueth not, shalbe condemned. At this word he modestly smiled: but the other Moals began to clap their hands, and to deride vs. And my silly interpreter, of whom especially I should haue receiued comfort in time of need, was himself abashed and vtterly dasht out of countenance. The letters of the French King. Then, after silence made, I said vnto him, I came vnto your soune, because we heard that he was become a Christian: and I brought vnto him letters on the behalfe of my souereigne Lord the king of France: and your sonne sent me hither vnto you. The cause of my comming therefore is best known vnto your selfe. Then he caused me to rise vp. And he enquired your maiesties name, and my name, and the name of mine associate and interpreter, and caused them all to be put down in writing. He demaunded likewise (because he had bene informed, that you were departed out of your owne countreys with an armie) against whom you waged warre? I answered: against the Saracens, who had defiled the house of God at Ierusalem. He asked also, whether your Highnes had euer before that time sent any messengers vnto him, or no? To you sir? (said I) neuer. Then caused he vs to sit downe, and gaue vs of his milke to drinke, which they account to be a great fauour, especially when any man is admitted to drinke Cosmos with him in his own house. And as I sate looking downe vpon the ground, he commanded me to lift vp my countenance, being desirous as yet to take more diligent view of vs, or els perhaps for a kinde of superstitious obseruation. For they esteeme it a signe of ill lucke, or a prognostication of euill vnto them, when any man sits in their presence, holding downe his head, as if he were sad: especially when he leanes his cheeke or chinne ypon his hand. Then we departed forth, and immediately after came our guide vnto vs, and conducting vs vnto our lodging, saide vnto me: Your master the King requesteth that you may remaine in this land, which request Baatu cannot satisfie without the knowledge and consent of Mangu–Can. Wherefore you, and your interpreter must of necessitie goe vnto Mangu–Can. Howbeit your associate, and the other man shall returne vnto the court of Sartach, staying there for you, till you come backe. Then began the man of God mine interpreter to lament, esteeming himselfe but a dead man. Mine associate also protested, that they should sooner chop off his head, then withdrawe him out of my companie. Moreouer I my selfe saide, that without mine associate I could not goe: and that we stood in neede of two seruants at the least, to attend vpon vs, because, if one should chance to fall sicke, we could not be without another. Then returning vnto the court, he told these sayings vnto Baatu. And Baatu commanded saying: let the two Priests and the interpreter goe together, but let the clearke return vnto Sartach. And comming againe vnto vs, hee tolde vs euen so. And when I would haue spoken for the clearke to haue had him with vs, he saide: No more words: for Baatu hath resolued, that so it shall be; and therefore I dare not goe vnto the court any more. Goset the clearke had remaining of the almes money bestowed vpon him, 26. Yperperas, and no more; 10. Whereof he kept for himselfe and for the lad, and 16. he gaue vnto the man of God for vs. And thus were we parted asunder with teares: he returning vnto the court of Sartach, and our selues remaining still in the same place.
Vpon Assumption euen our clearke arriued at the court of Sartach. And on the morrow after, the Nestorian Priestes were adorned with our vestments in the presence of the said Sartach. Then wee our selues were conducted vnto another hoste, who was appointed to prouide vs houseroome, victualles, and horses. But because wee had not ought to bestowe vpon him, hee did all things vntowardly for vs. They trauell fiue weekes by the banke of Etilia. Then wee rode on forwards with Baatu, descending along by the banks of Etilia, for the space of fiue weekes together: Sometimes mine associate was so extremelie hungrie, that hee would tell mee in a manner weeping, that it fared with him as though hee had neuer eaten any thing in all his life before. There is a faire or market following the court of Baatu at all times: but it was so farre distant from vs that we could not haue recourse thereunto. For wee were constrained to walke on foote for want of horses. Hungarians. At length certaine Hungarians (who had sometime bene after a sort Cleargie men) found vs out and one of them could as yet sing many songs without booke, and was accompted of other Hungarians as a Priest, and was sent for vnto the funerals of his deceased countrey men. There was another of them also pretily wel instructed in his Grammer: for hee could vnderstand the meaning of any thing that wee spake but could not answere vs. These Hungarians were a great comfort vnto vs, bringing vs Cosmos to drinke, yea and some times flesh for to eate also who, when they requested to haue some bookes of vs, and I had not any to giue them (for indede we had none but onely a Bible, and a breuiarie) it grieued mee exceedingly. And I said vnto them: Bring mee some inke and paper, and I will write for you so long as we shall remaine here: and they did so. And I copied out for them Horas beatæ Virginis, and Officium defunctorum. A Comanian. Moreouer, vpon a certaine day, there was a Comanian that accompanied vs, saluting vs in Latine, and saying: Saluete Domini. Wondering thereat and saluting him againe, I demaunded of him, who had taught him that kind of salutation? Hee saide that hee was baptised in Hungaria by our Friers, and that of them hee learned it. He said moreouer, that Baatu had enquired many things of him concerning vs, and that hee told him the estate of our order. Afterwarde I sawe Baatu riding with his companie, and all his subiects that were householders or masters of families riding with him, and (in mine estimation) they were not fiue hundred persons in all. At length about the ende of Holy roode, there came a certaine great Moal vnto vs (whose father was a Millenarie, which is a great office among them) saying: A iourney of 4. moneths from Volga. I am the man that must conduct you vnto Mangu–Can, and we haue thither a iourney of foure moneths long to trauell, and there such extreame colde in those parts, that stones and trees do euen riue asunder in regarde thereof. Therefore I would wish you throughly to aduise your selues, whether you be able to indure it or no. Vnto whom I answered: I hope by Gods help that we shalbe able to brooke that which other men can indure. Then he saide: if you cannot indure it, I will foresake you by the way. And I answered him: it were not iust dealing for you so to doe: for wee goe not thither vpon anie busmesse of our owne, but by reason that we are sent by your lord. Wherefore sithence we are committed vnto your charge, you ought in no wise to forsake vs. Then he said: all shalbe well. Afterward he caused vs to shewe him all our garments: and whatsoeuer hee deemed to be lesse needfull for vs, he willed vs to leaue it behind in the custodie of our hoste. On the morrow they brought vnto each of vs a furred gowne, made all of rammes skinnes, with the wool stil vpon them, and breeches of the same, and boots also of buskins, according to their fashion, and shooes made of felt, and hoods also made of skins after their maner. The 16. of September. 46. dayes. The second day after Holy rood, we began to set forward vpon our iourney, hauing three guides to direct vs: and we rode continually Eastward, till the feast of All Saints. Throughout all that region, and beyonde also did the people of Changle Or, Kangittæ. inhabite, who were by parentage descended from the Romanes. Vpon the North side of vs, wee had Bulgaria the greater, and on the South, the foresaid Caspian sea.
Iaic twelue dayes iourney from Volga. Pascatir. Hauing traueiled twelue dayes iourney from Etilia, wee fonnd a mightie riuer called Iagac: which riuer issuing out of the North, from the land of Pascatir, descendeth into the foresaid sea. The language of Pascatir, and of the Hungarians is all one, and they are all of them shepheards, not hauing any cities. And their countrey bordereth vpon Bulgaria the greater, on the West frontier thereof. From the Northeast part of the said countrey, there is no citie at all. For Bulgaria the greater is the farthest countrey that way, that hath any citie therein. The Hungarians descended from the Bascirdes. Out of the forenamed region of Pascatir, proceeded the Hunnes of olde time, who afterwarde were called Hungarians. Next vnto it is Bulgaria the greater. Isidore reporteth concerning the people of this nation, that with swift horses they trauersed the impregnable walles and bounds of Alexander, (which, together with the rocks of Caucasus, serued to restraine those barbarous and blood-thirstie people from inuading the regions of the South) insomuch that they had tribute paid vnto them, as farre as Ægypt. Likewise they wasted all countreis euen vnto France. Whereupon they were more mightie than the Tartars as yet are. Valachians. And vnto them the Blacians, the Bulgarians, and the Vandals ioyned themselues. For out of Bulgaria the greater, came those Bulgarians. Moreouer, they which inhabit beyond Danubius, neere vnto Constantinople, and not farre from Pascatir, are called Ilac, which (sauing the pronunciation) is al one with Blac, (for the Tartars cannot pronounce the letter B) from whom also descended the people which inhabit the land of Assani. For they are both of them called Ilac (both these, and the other) in the languages of the Russians, the Polonians, and the Bohemians. The Sclauonians speake all one language with the Vandals, all which banded themselues with the Hunnes: and now for the most part, they vnite themselues vnto the Tartars: whom God hath raised vp from the vtmost panes of the earth, according to that which the Lord saith: Deut. 32. v. 21. Rom. 10. v. 19. I will prouoke them to enuy (namely such as keepe not his Law) by a people, which is no people, and by a foolish nation will I anger them. This prophecie is fulfilled, according to the literal sense thereof, vpon all nations which obserue not the Law of God. All this which I haue written concerning the land of Pascatir, was told me by certaine Friers prædicants, which trauailed thither before euer the Tartars came abroad. And from that time they were subdued vnto their neighbors the Bulgarians being Saracens, whereupon many of them proued Saracens also. Other matters concerning this people, may be known out of Chronicles. For it is manifest, that those prouinces beyond Constantinople, which are now called Bulgaria, Valachia, and Sclauonia, were of old time prouinces belonging to the Greekes. Also Hungaria was heretofore called Pannonia. Cangle an huge plaine countrey. And wee were riding ouer the land of Cangle, from the feast of Holy roode, vntill the feast of All Saints: traueiling almost euery day (according to mine estimation) as farre, as from Paris to Orleans, and sometimes farther, as we were prouided of poste horses: for some dayes we had change of horses twise or thrise in a day. Sometimes we trauailed two or three daies together, not finding any people, and then we were constrained not to ride so fast Of 20. or 30. horses we had alwayes the woorst, because wee were strangers. For euery one tooke their choice of the best horses before vs. They prouided mee alwaies of a strong horse, because I was very corpulent and heauy: but whether he ambled a gentle pase or no, I durst not make any question. Neither yet durst I complaine, although he trotted full sore. But euery man must be contented with his lot as it fell. Whereupon wee were exceedingly troubled: for oftentimes our horses were tired before we could come at any people. And then wee were constrained to beate and whip on our horses, and to lay our garments vpon other emptie horses: yea and sometimes two of vs to ride vpon one horse.
Of hunger and thirst, colde and wearinesse, there was no end. For they gaue vs no victuals, but onely in the euening. In the morning they vsed to giue vs a little drinke, or some sodden Millet to sup off. In the euening they bestowed flesh vpon vs, as namely, a shoulder and breast of rams mutton, and euery man a measured quantitie of broath to drinke. When we had sufficient of the flesh-broath, we were maruellously wel refreshed. And it seemed to me most pleasant, and most nourishing drinke. Euery Saterday 15, I remained fasting vntil night, without eating or drinking of ought. And when night came, I was constrained, to my great grief and sorow, to eat flesh. Sometimes we were faine to eate flesh halfe sodden, or almost rawe, and all for want of fewel to seethe it withal: especially when we lay in the fields, or were benighted before we came at our iourneis end: because we could not then conueniently gather together the doung of horses or oxen: for other fewel we found but seldome, except perhaps a few thornes in some places. Certaine riuers. Likewise vpon the bankes of some riuers, there are woods growing here and there. Howbeit they are very rare. In the beginning our guide highly disdained vs, and it was tedious vnto him to conduct such base fellowes. Afterward, when he began to know vs somewhat better, he directed vs on our way by the courts of rich Moals, and we were requested to pray for them. Wherefore, had I caried a good interpreter with me, I should haue had opportunities to haue done much good. The foresaid Chingis, who was the first great Can or Emperour of the Tartars, had foure sonnes, of whome proceeded by natural descent many children, euery one of which doeth at this day enioy great possessions: and they are daily multiplied and dispersed ouer that huge and waste desert, which is, in dimensions, like vnto the Ocean Sea. Our guide therefore directed vs, as we were going on our iourney, vnto many of their habitations. And they marueiled exceedingly, that we would receiue neither gold, nor siluer, nor precious and costly garments at their hands. They inquired also, concerning the great Pope, whether he was of so lasting an age as they had heard? For there had gone a report among them, that he was 500 yeeres olde. They inquired likewise of our countreis, whether there were abundance of sheep, oxen, and horses or no? Concerning the Ocean sea, they could not conceiue of it, because it was without limits or banks. Vpon the euen of the feast of All Saints, we forsook the way leading towards the East, (because the people were now descended very much South) and we went on our iourney by certaine Alpes, or mountaines directly Southward, for the space of 8. dayes together. Eight dayes iourney southward. Asses swift of foote. In the foresaid desert I saw many asses (which they cal Colan) being rather like vnto mules: these did our guide and his companions chase very eagerly: howbeit, they did but lose their labour: for the beastes were too swift for them. High mountaines. Manured grounds. Vpon the 7. day there appeared to the South of vs huge high mountaines, and we entred into a place which was well watered, and fresh as a garden, and found land tilled and manured. Kenchat a village of the Saracens. The eight day after the feast of All Saints, we arriued at a certain towne of the Saracens, named Kenchat, the gouernour whereof met our guide at the townes end with ale and cups. For it is their maner at all townes and villages, subiect vnto them, to meet the messengers of Baatu and Mangu Can with meate and drinke. At the same time of the yere, they went vpon the yce in that countrey. And before the feast of S. Michael The 7. day of Nouember., we had frost in the desert. I enquired the name of that prouince but being now in a strange territorie, they could not tell mee the name thereof, but onely the name of a very smal citie in the same prouince. A great riuer. And there descended a great riuer16 downe from the mountaines, which watered the whole region, according as the inhabitants would giue it passage, by making diuers chanels and sluces: neither did this riuer exonerate it selfe into any sea, but was swallowed vp by an hideous gulfe into the bowels of the earth: Many lakes. Vines. and it caused many fennes or lakes. Also I saw many vines, and dranke of the wine thereof.
A cottage. The mountains of Caucasus are extended vnto the Easterne Sea. The day following, we came vnto another cottage neere vnto the mountains. And I enquired what mountains they were, which I vnderstood to be the mountains of Caucasus, which are stretched forth, and continued on both parts to the sea, from the West vnto the East: and on the East part they are conioyned vnto the foresaid Caspian sea, whereinto the riuer of Volga dischargeth his streams. I enquired also of the city of The citie of Talas or Chincitalas. Friar Andrew. Talas, wherein were certaine Dutchmen seruants vnto one Buri, of whom Frier Andrew made mention. Concerning whom also I enquired very diligently in the courts of Sartach and Baatu. Howbeit I could haue no intelligence of them, but onely that their lord and master Ban was put to death vpon the occasion following: This Ban was not placed in good and fertile pastures. And vpon a certain day being drunken, he spake on this wise vnto his men. Am not I of the stocke and kinred of Chingis Can, as well as Baatu? (for in very deede he was brother or nephew vnto Baatu). Why then doe I not passe and repasse vpon the banke of Etilia, to feed my cattel there, as freely as Baatu himselfe doeth? Which speeches of his were reported vnto Baatu. Whereupon Baatu wrote vnto his seruants to bring their Lorde bound vnto him. And they did so. Then Baatu demanded of him whether he had spoken any such words? And hee confessed that he had. Howbeit, (because it is the Tartars maner to pardon drunken men) he excused himselfe that he was drunken at the same time. Howe durst thou (quoth Baatu) once name mee in thy drunkennesse? And with that hee caused his head to be chopt off. Concerning the foresaid Dutchmen, I could not vnderstand ought, till I was come vnto the court of Mangu–Can. The village of Bolac. And there I was informed that Mangu–Can had remoued them out of the iurisdiction of Baatu, for the space of a moneths iourney from Talas Eastward, vnto a certaine village, called Bolac: where they are set to dig gold, and to make armour. Whereupon I could neither goe nor come by them. I passed very neere the saide citie in going forth, as namely, within three dayes iourney thereof: but I was ignorant that I did so: neither could I haue turned out of my way, albeit I had knowen so much. From the foresaide cottage we went directly Eastward, by the mountaines aforesaid. He entreth into the territories of Mangu Can. And from that time we trauailed among the people of Mangu–Can, who in all places sang and daunced before our guide, because hee was the messenger of Baatu. For this curtesie they doe affoord eche to other: namely the people of Mangu–Can receiuing the messengers of Baatu, in maner aforesaide: and so likewise the people of Baatu intertaining the messengers of Mangu–Can. Notwithstanding the people of Baatu are more surlie and stoute, and shewe not so much curtesie vnto the subiectes of Mangu–Can, as they doe vnto them. Certain Alpes wherein the Cara Catayans inhabited. A mighty riuer. A fewe dayes after, wee entered vpon those Alpes where the Cara Catayans were woont to inhabite. And there wee found a mightie riuer: insomuch that we were constrained to embarke our selues, and to saile ouer it. Afterward we came into a certaine valley, where I saw a castle destroyed, the walles whereof were onely of mudde: and in that place the ground was tilled also. Ground tilled. Equius. And there wee founde a certaine village, named Equius, wherein were Saracens, speaking the Persian language: howbeit they dwelt an huge distance from Persia. A lake of fifteene dayes iourney in compasse. The day following, hauing passed ouer the foresaide Alpes which descended from the great mountains Southward, we entered into a most beautiful plaine, hauing high mountaines on our right hande, and on the left hande of vs a certaine Sea or lake,18 which containeth fifteene dayes iourney in circuite. All the foresayde plaine is most commodiously watered with certaine freshets distilling from the said mountaines, all which do fall into the lake. In Sommer time wee returned by the North shore of the saide lake, and there were great mountaines on that side also. Vpon the forenamed plaine there were wont to be great store of villages: but for the most part they were all wasted, in regarde of the fertile pastures, that the Tartars might feede their cattel there. Cailac a great city, and full of merchants. Wee found one great citie there named Cailac, wherein was a mart, and great store of Merchants frequenting it. In this citie wee remained fifteene dayes, staying for a certaine Scribe or Secretarie of Baatu, who ought to haue accompanied our guide for a despatching of certaine affaires in the court of Mangu. All this countrey was wont to be called Organum: and the people thereof had their proper language, and their peculiar kinde of writing. Contomanni. But it was altogether inhabited of the people called Contomanni. The Nestorians likewise in those parts vsed the very same kinde of language and writing. They are called Organa, because they were wont to be most skilfull in playing vpon the Organes or citherne, as it was reported vnto me. Here first did I see worshippers of idoles, concerning whom, bee it knowen vnto your maiestie, that there be many sects of them in the East countries.
The people called Iugures idolaters. The first sort of these idolaters are called Iugures: whose land bordereth vpon the foresaid land of Organum, within the said mountains Eastward: and in al their cities Nestorians do inhabit together, and they are dispersed likewise towards Persia in the cities of the Saracens. The citizens of the foresaid city of Cailac had 3. idole-Temples: and I entred into two of them, to beholde their foolish superstitions. In the first of which I found a man hauing a crosse painted with ink vpon his hand, whereupon I supposed him to be a Christian: for he answered like a Christian vnto al questions which I demanded of him. And I asked him, Why therefore haue you not the crosse with the image of Iesu Christ thereupon? And he answered: We haue no such custome. Whereupon I coniectured that they were indeede Christians: but, that for lacke of instruction they omitted the foresaide ceremonie. For I saw there behind a certaine chest (which was vnto them in steed of an altar, whereupon they set candles and oblations) an image hauing wings like vnto the image of Saint Michael, and other images also, holding their fingers, as if they would blesse some body. That euening I could not find any thing els. For the Saracens doe onely inuite men thither, but they will not haue them speake of their religion. And therfore, when I enquired of the Saracens concerning such ceremonies, they were offended thereat. On the morrow after were the Kalends, and the Saracens feast of Passeouer. And changing mine Inne or lodging the same day, I tooke vp mine abode neere vnto another idole-Temple. For the citizens of the said citie of Cailac doe curteously inuite, and louingly intertaine all messengers, euery man of them according to his abilitie and portion. And entring into the foresaid idole-Temple, I found the Priests of the said idoles there. For alwayes at the Kalends they set open their Temples, and the priests adorne themselues, and offer vp the peoples oblations of bread and fruits. First therefore I will describe vnto you those rites and ceremonies, which are common vnto all their idole-Temples: and then the superstitions of the foresaid Iugures, which be, as it were, a sect distinguished from the rest They doe all of them worship towards the North, clapping their hands together, and prostrating themselues on their knees vpon the earth, holding also their foreheads in their hands. Wherupon the Nestorians of those parts will in no case ioyne their hands together in time of prayer: but they pray, displaying their hands before their breasts. They extend their Temples in length East and West: and vpon the North side they build a chamber, in maner of a Vestry for themselues to goe forth into. Or sometimes it is otherwise. If it be a foure square Temple, in the midst of the Temple towards the North side therof, they take in one chamber in that place where the quire should stand. And within the said chamber they place a chest long and broad like vnto a table: and behinde the saide chest towardes the South stands their principall idole: which I sawe at Caracaram, and it was as bigge as the idole of Saint Christopher. Frier William was at Caracarum. Also a certaine Nestorian priest, which had bin in Catay, saide that in that countrey there is an idole of so huge a bignes, that it may be seen two daies iourney before a man come at it. And so they place other idoles round about the foresaid principal idole, being all of them finely gilt ouer with pure golde: and vpon the saide chest, which is in manner of a table, they set candles and oblations. The doores of their Temples are alwayes opened towards the South, contrary to the custome of the Saracens. They haue also great belles like vnto vs. And that is the cause (as I thinke) why the Christians of the East will in no case vse great belles. Notwithstanding they are common among the Russians, and Græcians of Gasaria.
All their Priests had their heads and beards shauen quite ouer: and they are clad in saffron coloured garments: and being once shauen, they lead an vnmaried life from that time forward: and they liue an hundreth or two hundreth of them together in one cloister or couent. Vpon those dayes when they enter into their temples, they place two long foormes therein: Bookes. and so sitting vpon the sayd foormes like singing men in a quier, namely the one halfe of them directly ouer against the other, they haue certaine books in their hands, which sometimes they lay downe by them vpon the foormes: and their heads are bare so long as they remaine in the temple. And there they reade softly vnto themselues, not vttering any voice at all. Whereupon comming in amongst them, at the time of their superstitious deuotions, and finding them all siting mute in maner aforesayde, I attempted diuers waies to prouoke them vnto speach, and yet could not by any means possible. They haue with them also whithersoeuer they goe, a certaine string with an hundreth or two hundreth nutshels thereupon, much like to our bead-roule which we cary about with vs. And they doe alwayes vtter these words: Ou mam Hactani, God thou knowest: as one of them expounded it vnto me. And so often doe they expect a reward at Gods hands, as they pronounce these words in remembrance of God. Round about their temple they doe alwayes make a faire court, like vnto a churchyard, which they enuiron with a good wall: and vpon the South part thereof they build a great portal, wherein they sit and conferre together. And vpon the top of the said portall they pitch a long pole right vp, exalting it, if they can, aboue all the whole towne besides. And by the same pole all men may knowe, that there stands the temple of their idoles. These rites and ceremonies aforesayd be common vnto all idolaters in those parts. Going vpon a time towards the foresayd idole-temple, I found certain priests sitting in the outward portal. And those which I sawe, seemed vnto me, by their shauen beards, as if they had bene French men. They wore certaine ornaments vpon their heads made of paper. The priestes of the foresaide Iugures doe vse such attire whithersoeuer they goe. They are alwaies in their saffron coloured iackets, which be very straight being laced or buttened from the bosome right downe, after the French fashion. And they haue a cloake vpon their left shoulder descending before and behind vnder the right arme, like vnto a deacon carying the housselboxe in time of lent. Their letters or kind of writing the Tartars did receiue. Paper. So do the people of China vse to write, drawing their lines perpendicularly downward, and not as we doe from the right hand to the lefte. They begin to write at the top of their paper drawing their lines right downe: and so they reade and multiply their lines from the left hand to the right. They doe vse certaine papers and characters in their magical practices. Whereupon their temples are full of such short scroules hanged round about them. Also Mangu–Can hath sent letters vnto your Maiestie written in the language of the Moals or Tartars, and in the foresayd hand or letter of the Iugures. They burne their dead according to the auncient custome, and lay vp the ashes in the top of a Pyramis. Now, after I had sit a while by the foresaid priests, and entred into their temple and seene many of their images both great and small, I demanded of them what they beleeued concerning God? And they answered: We beleeue that there is onely one God. And I demaunded farther: Whether do you beleue that he is a spirit, or some bodily substance? They saide: We beleeue that he is a spirite. Then said I: Doe you beleeue that God euer tooke mans nature vpon him? They answered: Noe. And againe I said: Sithence ye beleeue that he is a spirit, to what end doe you make so many bodily images to represent him? Sithence also you beleeue not that hee was made man: why doe you resemble him rather vnto the image of a man then of any other creature? Then they answered saying: we frame not these images whereby to represent God. But when any rich man amongst vs, or his sonne, or his wife, or any of his friends deceaseth, hee causeth the image of the dead party to be made, and to be placed here: and we in remembrance of him doe reuerence thereunto. Then I replyed: you doe these things onely for the friendship and flatterie of men. Noe (said they) but for their memory. Then they demanded of me, as it were in scoffing wise: Where is God? To whom I answered: where is your soule? They said, in our bodies. Then saide I, is it not in euery part of your bodie, ruling and guiding the whole bodie, and yet notwithstanding is not seene or perceiued? Euen so God is euery where and ruleth all things, and yet is he inuisible, being vnderstanding and wisedome it selfe. Then being desirous to haue had some more conference with them, by reason that mine interpreter was weary, and not able to expresse my meaning, I was constrained to keepe silence. The Moals or Tartars are in this regard of their sect: namely they beleeue that there is but one God: howbeit they make images of felt, in remembrance of their deceased friends, couering them with fiue most rich and costly garments, and putting them into one or two carts, which carts no man dare once touch: and they are in the custody of their soothsayers, who are their priests, concerning whom I will giue your Highnesse more at large to vnderstand hereafter. These soothsayers or diuiners do alwaies attend vpon the court of Mangu and of other great personages. As for the poorer or meaner sorte, they haue them not, but such onely as are of the stocke and kindred of Chingis. And when they are to remoue or to take any iourney, the said diuiners goe before them, euen as the cloudie piller went before the children of Israel. And they appoint ground where the tents must be pitched, and first of al they take down their owne houses: and after them the whole court doth the like. Also vpon their festiual dates or kalends they take forth the foresayd images, and place them in order round, or circle wise within the house. Then come the Moals or Tartars, and enter into the same house, bowing themselues before the said images and worship them. Moreouer, it is not lawfull for any stranger to enter into that house. For vpon a certaine time I my selfe would haue gone in, but I was chidden full well for my labour.
But the foresayd Iugures (who liue among the Christians, and the Saracens) by their sundry disputations as I suppose, haue bene brought vnto this, to beleeue that there is but one onely God. And they dwelt in certaine cities, which afterward were brought in subiection vnto Chingis Can: whereupon he gaue his daughter in mariage vnto their king. The countrey of Presbiter Iohn Also the citie of Caracarum it selfe is in a manner within their territory: and the whole countrey of king or Presbyter Iohn, and of his brother Vut lyeth neere vnto their dominions: sauing, that they inhabite in certaine pastures Northward and the sayde Iugures betweene the mountaines towardes the South. Whereupon it came to passe, that the Moals receiued letters from them. And they are the Tartars principall scribes and al the Nestorians almost can skill of their letters. Tangut. Next vnto them, between the foresaid mountaines Eastward, inhabiteth the nation of Tangut, who are a most valiant people, and tooke Chingis in battell. But after the conclusion of a league hee was set at libertie by them, and afterward subdued them. Strange oxen. These people of Tangut haue oxen of great strength, with tailes like vnto horses, and with long shagge haire vpon their backes and bellyes. They haue legges greater then other oxen haue, and they are exceedingly fierce. These oxen drawe the great houses of the Moals and their hornes are slender, long, streight, and most sharpe pointed, insomuch that their owners are faine to cut off the endes of them. A cowe will not suffer her selfe to be coupled vnto one of them vnles they whistle or sing vnto her. They haue also the qualities of a Buffe: for if they see a man clothed in red, they run vpon him immediately to kill him. The people of Tebet. Next vnto them are the people of Tebet, men which were wont to eate the carkases of their deceased parents that for pities sake, they might make no other sepulchre for them, then their owne bowels. Howbeit of late they haue left off this custome, because that thereby they became abominable and odious vnto al other nations. Notwithstanding vnto this day they make fine cups of the skuls of their parents, to the ende that when they drinke out of them, they may amidst all their iollities and delights call their dead parents to remembrance. This was tolde mee by one that saw it. Abundance of golde. The sayd people of Tebet haue great plentie of golde in their land. Whosoeuer therefore wanteth golde, diggeth till he hath found some quantitie, and then taking so much thereof as will serue his turne, he layeth vp the residue within the earth: because, if he should put it into his chest or storehouse, hee is of opinion that God would withholde from him all other gold within the earth. I sawe some of those people, being very deformed creatures. The stature of the people of Tangut, and of the Iugures. In Tangut I saw lusty tall men, but browne and swart in colour. The Iugures are of a middle stature like vnto our French men. Amongst the Iugures is the originall and roote of the Turkish, and Comanian languages. Langa and Solanga. Next vnto Tebet are the people of Langa and Solanga, whose messengers I saw in the Tartars court. And they had brought more than ten great cartes with them, euery one of which was drawen with sixe oxen. The people of Solanga resemble Spaniards. They be little browne men like vnto Spaniards. Also they haue iackets, like vnto the vpper vestment of a deacon, sauing that the sleeues are somewhat streighter. And they haue miters vpon their heads like bishops. But the fore part of their miter is not so hollow within as the hinder part: neither is it sharpe pointed or cornered at the toppe: but there hang downe certaine square flappes compacted of a kinde of strawe which is made rough and rugged with extreme heat, and is so trimmed, that it glittereth in the sunne beames, like vnto a glasse, or an helmet well burnished. And about their temples they haue long bands of the foresayd matter fastened vnto their miters, which houer in the wind, as if two long hornes grewe out of their heads. And when the wind tosseth them vp and downe too much, they tie them ouer the midst of their miter from one temple to another: and so they lie circle wise ouerthwart their heads. A table of elephants tooth. Moreouer their principal messenger comming vnto the Tartars court had a table of elephants tooth about him of a cubite in length, and a handfull in breadth, being very smoothe. And whensoeuer hee spake vnto the Emperor himselfe, or vnto any other great personage, hee alwayes beheld that table, as if hee had found therein those things which hee spake: neither did he cast his eyes to the right hand, nor to the lefte, nor vpon his face, with whom he talked. Yea, going too and fro before his lord, he looketh no where but only vpon his table. The people called Muc. Beyond them (as I vnderstand of a certainty) there are other people called Muc, hauing villages, but no one particular man of them appropriating any cattell vnto himselfe. Notwithstanding there are many flockes and droues of cattell in their countrey, and no man appointed to keepe them. But when any one of them standeth in neede of any beast, hee ascendeth vp vnto an hill, and there maketh a shout, and all the cattel which are within hearing of the noyse, come flocking about him, and suffer themselues to be handled and taken, as if they were tame. And when any messenger or stranger commeth into their countrie, they shut him vp into an house, ministring there things necessary vnto him, vntill his businesse be despatched. For if anie stranger should trauell through that countrie, the cattell would flee away at the very sent of him, and so would become wilde. Great Cathaya. Beyond Muc is great Cathaya, the inhabitants whereof (as I suppose) were of olde time, called Seres. For from them are brought most excellent stuffes of silke. And this people is called Seres of a certame towne in the same countrey. I was crediblie informed, that in the said countrey, there is one towne hauing walls of siluer, and bulwarkes or towers of golde. There be many prouinces in that land, the greater part whereof are not as yet subdued vnto the Tartars. And amongst20
2Simferopol, I presume.
5The Sea of Azou is 210 miles long, and its breadth varies from 10 to 100 miles.
7The Isthmus of Perekop.
8Something in the style of the laagers of South Africa at the present day.
9Presumably the first mention of preserved milk in any form.
11The same custom still exists amongst the inhabitants of the Lena Delta
12There is some confusion in original edition, which I have here corrected.
13A tribe who murdered all strangers: hence our word assassin.
16The Terek is probably alluded to.
20Somewhat is wanting.
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Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51