A voyage of three Ambassadours, who in the time of K. Edward the Confessor, and about the yere of our Lord 1056, were sent vnto Constantinople, and from thence vnto Ephesus, together with the occasion of their sending, &c. recorded by William of Malmesburie, lib. 2. de gestis regum Anglorum, capite 13.
Die sancti paschatis ad mensam apud Westmonasterium assederat, diademate fastigatus, et optimatum turma circumuallatus. Cumque alij longam quadragesimæ inediam recentibus cibis compensantes, acriter comederent, ille a terrenis reuocato animo, diuinum quiddam speculatus, mentes conuiuantium permouit ampliorem perfusus in risum: nulloque causam lætitiæ perquirere præsumente, tunc quidem ita tacitum donec edendi satietas obsonijs finem imposuit. Sed remotis mensis, cum in triclinio regalibus exueretur, tres optimates eum prosequuti, quorum vnus erat comes Haroldus, secundus abbas, tertius episcopus, familiaritatis ausu interrogant quid riserat: mirum omnibus nec immeritò videri, quarè in tanta serenitate diei et negòtij, tacentibus cæteris, scurrilem cachinnum ejecerit. Stupenda (inquit) vidi, nec ideo sine causa risi. Tum illi, vt moris est humani ingenij, sciscitari et quærere causam ardentiùs, vt supplicibus dignantèr rem impertiatur. Ille multùm cunctatus tandem instantibus mira respondit: septem dormientes in monte Cælio requiescere iam ducentis annis in dextro iacentes latere: sed tunc in hora ipsa risus sui, latus inuertisse sinistrum: futurum vt septuaginta quatuor annis ita iaceant: dirum nimirum miseris mortalibus omen. Nam omnia ventura in his septuaginta quatuor annis, quæ dominus circa finem mundi prædixit discipulis suis: gentem contra gentem surrecturam, et regnum aduersus regnum, terræmotus per loca, pestilentiam et famem, terrores de coelo et signa magna, regnorum mutationes, gentilium in Christianos bella, item Christicolarum in paganos victorias. Talia mirantibus inculcans passionem septem dormientium, et habitudines corporum singulorum, quas nulla docet litera, ita promptè disseruit: ac si cum eis quotidiano victitaret contubernio. His auditis, comes militem, episcopus clericum, abbas monachum, ad veritatem verborum exsculpendam, Manicheti Constantinopolitano imperatori misere, adiectis regis sui literis et muneribus. Eos ille benignè secum habitos episcopo Ephesi destinauit, epistola pariter, quam sacram vocant, comitante: vt ostenderentur legatis regis Angliæ septem dormientium marturiales exuuiæ. Factúmque est vt vaticinium regis Edwardì Græcis omnibus comprobatum, qui se a patribus accepisse iurarent, super dextrum illos latus quiescere: sed post introitum Anglorum in speluncam, veritatem peregrinæ prophetiæ contubernalibus suis prædicarunt. Nec moram festinatio malorum fecit, quin Agareni, et Arabes, et Turci, alienæ scilicèt a Christo gentes, Syriam, et Lyciam, et minorem Asiam omnino, et maioris multas vrbes, inter quas et Ephesum, ipsam etiam Hierosolymam depopulati, super Christianos inuaderent.
Vpon Easter day king Edward the Confessor being crowned with his kingly diademe, and accompanied with diuers of his nobles, sate at dinner in his pallace at Westminster. And when others, after their long abstinence in the Lent, refreshed themselves with dainty meats, and fed thereupon very earnestly, he lifting vp his mind from earthly matters and meditating on heauenly visions (to the great admiration of those which were present) brake forth into an exceeding laughter: and no man presuming to enquire the cause of his mirth, they all kept silence til dinner was ended. But after dinner as he was in his bedchamber putting off his solemne roabes, three of his Nobles to wit earle Harold, an Abbot, and a Bishop, being more familiar with him then the residue followed him in and bouldly asked him what was the occasion of his laughter: for it seemed very strange vnto them all, what should moue him at so solemne a time and assembly, while others kept silence, to laugh so excessively. I saw (quoth he) admirable things, and therefore laughed I not without occasion. Then they (as it is the common guise of all men) demaunded and enquired the cause more earnestly, humbly beseeching faith that hee would vouchsafe to impart that secret vnto them. Whereupon musing a long while vnto himself, at length he told them wonderfull things: namely that seuen Sleepers had rested in mount Cælius two hundred yeeres, lying upon their right sides but in the very houre of his laughter, that they turned themselues on their left sides; and that they should continue so lying for the space of 74. yeeres after; being a dismal signe of future calamitie vnto mankinde. For all things should come to passe within these 74. yeeres, which, as our Sauiour Christ foretold vnto his disciples, were to be fulfilled about the ende of the world: namely that nation should rise against nation, and kingdome against kingdome, and that there should bee in many places earthquakes, pestilence, and famine, terrible apparitions in the heauens, and great signes, together with alterations of kingdomes, warres of infidels against the Christians, and victories of the Christians against the infidels. And as they wondered at these relations, he declared vnto them the passion of the seuen Sleepers, with the proportion and shape of cache of their bodies (which things, no man liuing had as then committed vnto writing) and that so plainely and distinctly, as if he had conuersed a long time in their company. Hereupon the earle sent a knight, the bishop a clearke, the Abbot a monke vnto Maniches the Emperour of Constantinople, with the letters and gifts of their King. Who giuing them friendly entertainment, sent them ouer vnto the bishop of Ephesus; and wrote his letters vnto him giuing him charge, that the English Ambassadours might be admitted to see the true, and material habiliments of the seuen Sleepers. And it came to passe that King Edwards vision was approued by all the Greeks, who protested they were aduertised by their fathers, that the foresaid seuen Sleepers had alwayes before that time rested vpon their right sides; but after the Englishmen were entered into the caue, those Sleepers confirmed the trueth of the outlandish prophesie, vnto their countreymen. Neither were the calamities foretold, any long time delayed: for the Aragens, Arabians, Turkes and other vnbeleeuing nations inuading the Christians, harried and spoiled Syria, Lycia, the lesser Asia, and many cities of Asia the greater, and amongst the rest Ephesus, yea, and Ierusalem also.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:09