The Journal of Friar Odoric

Table of Contents

  1. Here beginneth the iournall of Frier Odoricus, one of the order of the Minorites, concerning strange things which hee sawe among the Tarters of the East.
  2. Of the maners of the Chaldaeans, and of India.
  3. How peper is had: and where it groweth.
  4. Of a strange and vncouth idole: and of certaine customes and ceremonies.
  5. Of certaine trees yeelding meale, hony, and poyson.
  6. Of the abundance of fishes, which cast themselues vpon the shore.
  7. Of the Island of Sylan: and of the mountaine where Adam mourned for his sonne Abel.
  8. Of the vpper India: and of the prouince of Mancy.
  9. Of the citie Fuco.
  10. Of a Monastery where many strange beastes of diuers kindes doe liue vpon an hill.
  11. Of the citie of Cambaleth.
  12. Of the glory and magnificence of the great Can.
  13. Of certaine Innes or hospitals appointed for trauailers throughout the whole empire.
  14. Of the foure feasts which the great Can solemnizeth euery yeere in his Court.
  15. Of diuers prouinces and cities.
  16. Of a certaine rich man, who is fed and nourished by fiftie virgins.
  17. Of the death of Senex de monte.
  18. Of the honour and reuerence done vnto the great Can.
  19. Of the death of frier Odoricus.

Here beginneth the iournall of Frier Odoricus, one of the order of the Minorites, concerning strange things which hee sawe among the Tarters of the East.

Albeit many and sundry things are reported by diuers authors concerning the fashions and conditions of this world: notwithstanding I frier Odoricus of Friuli, de portu Vahonis being desirous to trauel vnto the foreign and remote nations of infidels, sawe and heard great and miraculous things, which I am able truely to auoch. Pera. Trapesunda. First of al therefore sayling from Pera by Constantinople, I arrived at Trapesunda. This place is right commodiously situate, as being an hauen for the Persians and Medes, and other countreis beyonde the sea. In this lande I behelde with great delight a very strange spectacle, namely a certaine man leading about with him more then foure thousande partriges. The man himselfe walked vpon the ground, and the partriges flew in the aire, which he ledde vnto a certaine castle called Zauena, being three dayes iourney distant from Trapesunda. The saide partriges were so tame, that when the man was desirous to lie downe and rest, they would all come flocking about him like chickens. And so hee led them vnto Trapesunda, and vnto the palace of the Emperour, who tooke as many of them as he pleased, and the rest the saide man carried vnto the place from whence he came. In this citie lyeth the body of Athanasius, vpon the gate of the citie. The citie of Azaron in Armenia maior. And then I passed on further vnto Armenia maior, to a certaine citie called Azaron, which had bene very rich in olde time, but nowe the Tarters haue almost layde it waste. In the saide citie there was abundance of bread and flesh, and of all other victuals except wine and fruites. This citie also is very colde, and is reported to be higher situated, then any other city in the world. It hath most holesome and sweete waters about it: for the veines of the said waters seeme to spring and flow from the mighty riuer of Euphrates, which is but a dayes iourney from the saide city. Also, the said citie stands directly in the way to Tauris. Sobissacalo. And I passed on vnto a certaine mountaine called Sobissacalo. In the foresaide countrey there is the very same mountalne whereupon the Arke of Noah rested: vnto the which I would willingly haue ascended, if my company would haue stayed for me. Howbeit the people of that countrey report, that no man could euer ascend the said mountaine, because (say they) it pleaseth not the highest God. Tauris a citie of Persia. And I trauailed on further vnto Tauris that great and royal city, which was in old time called Susis. This city is accompted for traffique of marchandize the chiefe city of the world: for there is no kinde of victuals, nor anything else belonging vnto marchandize, which is not to be had there in great abundance. This city stands very commodiously: for vnto it all the nations of the whole worlde in a maner may resort for traffique. Concerning the saide citie, the Christians in those parts are of opinion, that the Persian Emperour receiues more tribute out of it, then the King of France out of all his dominions. Neare vnto the said city there is a salt-hill yeelding salt vnto the city: and of that salt ech man may take what pleaseth him, not paying ought to any man therefore. In this city many Christians of all nations do inhabite, ouer whom the Saracens beare rule in alle things. Then I traueiled on further vnto a city called Soldania, Or, Sultania. wherein the Persian Emperour lieth all Sommer time: but in winter hee takes his progresse vnto another city standing upon the sea called Baku. The Caspian sea. Also the foresaid city is very great and colde, hauing good and holesome waters therein, vnto the which also store of marchandize is brought. Moreouer I trauelled with a certaine company of Carauans toward vpper India: and in the way, after many days iourney, I came vnto the citie of the three wise men called Cassan Or Cassibin., which is a noble and renowmed city, sauing that the Tartars haue destroyed a great part thereof, and it aboundeth with bread, wine, and many other commodities. From this city vnto Ierusalem (whither the three foresaid wise-men were miraculously led) it is fiftie days iourney. There be many wonders in this citie also, which, for breuities sake, I omit Geste. From thence I departed vnto a certaine city called Geste, whence the Sea of Sand is distant, one dayes iourney, which is a most wonderful and dangerous thing. In this city there is abundance of all kinds of victuals, and especially of figs, reisins, and grapes; more (as I suppose) then in any part of the whole world besides. This is one of the three principall cities in all the Persian Empire. Of this city the Saracens report, that no Christian can by any meanes liue therein aboue a yeere. Como. Then passing many dayes ioumey on forward, I came vnto a certaine citie called Comum, which was an huge and mightie Citie in olde time, conteyning well nigh fiftie miles in circuite, and hath done in times past great damage vnto the Romanes. In it there are stately palaces altogether destitute of inhabitants, notwithstanding it aboundeth with great store of victuals. From hence traueiling through many countreys, at length I came vnto the land of Iob named Hus, which is fulle of all kinde of victuals, and very pleasantly situated. Thereabouts are certaine mountains hauing good pastures for cattell upon them. Here also Manna is found in great aboundance. Four partriges are here solde for lesse than a groat In this countrey there are most comely olde men. Here also the men spin and card, and not the women. This land bordereth vpon the North part of Chalddæa.

Of the maners of the Chaldaeans, and of India.

The Tower of Babel. From thence I traueled into Chaldæa which is a great kingdome, and I passed by the tower of Babel. This region hath a language peculiar vnto it selfe, and there are beautifull men, and deformed women. The men of the same countrey vse to haue their haire kempt, and trimmed like vnto our women: and they weare golden turbants vpon their heades richly set with pearle, and pretious stones. The women are clad in a coarse smock onely reaching to their knees, and hauing long sleeues hanging downe to the ground. And they goe bare-footed, wearing breeches which reach to the ground also. Thei weare no attire vpon their heads, but their haire hangs disheaueled about their eares: and there be many other strange things also. From thence I came into the lower India, which the Tartars ouerran and wasted. And in this countrey the people eat dates for the most part, whereof 42. li. are there sold for lesse than a groat. Ormus. I passed further also many dayes iourney vnto the Ocean sea, and the first land where I arriued, is called Ormes, being well fortified, and hauing great store of marchandize and treasure therein. Such and so extreme is the heat in that countrey, that the priuities of men come out of their bodies and hang down euen vnto their mid-legs. And therefore the inhabitants of the same place, to preserue their own liues, do make a certaine ointment, and anointing their priuie members therewith, do lap them up in certaine bags fastened vnto their bodies, for otherwise they must needs die. Here also they vse a kinde of Bark or shippe called Iase being compact together onely with hempe. Thana, whereof Frederick Cæsar maketh mention. And I went on bourd into one of them, wherein I could not finde any yron at all, and in the space of 28 dayes I arriued at the city of Thana, wherein foure of our friers were martyred for the faith of Christ. This countrey is well situate, hauing abundance of bread and wine, and of other victuals therein. This kingdome in olde time was very large and vnder the dominion of king Porus, who fought a great battell with Alexander the great. The people of this countrey are idolaters worshipping fire, serpents and trees. And ouer all this land the Saracen do beare rule, who tooke it by maine force, and they themselues are in subjection unto King Daldilus. There be diuers kinds of beasts, as namely blacke lyouns in great abundance, and apes also, and monkeis, and battes as bigge as our doues. Also there are mise as bigge as our countrey dogs, because cats are not able to incounter them. Moreouer in the same countrey euery man hath a bundle of great boughs standing in a water-pot before his doore, which bundle is as great as a pillar, and it will not wither, so long as water is applied thereunto: with many other nouelties and strange things, the relation whereof would breed great delight.

How peper is had: and where it groweth.

Malabar. Moreouer, that it may be manifest how peper is had, it is to be vnderstood that it groweth in a certaine kingdome whereat I my selfe arriued, being called Minibar, and it is not so plentifull in any other part of the worlde as it is there. For the wood wherein it growes conteineth in circuit 18 dayes iourney. And in the said wood or forrest there are two cities, one called Flandrina, and the other Cyncilim. In Flandrina both Iewes and Christians doe inhabite, betweene whom there is often contention and warre: howbeit the Christians ouercome the Iewes at all times. In the foresaid wood pepper is had after this maner: first it groweth in leaues like vnto pot-hearbs, which they plant neere vnto great trees as we do our vines, and they bring forth pepper in clusters, as our vines doe yeeld grapes, but being ripe, they are of a greene colour, and are gathered as we gather grapes, and then the graines are layed in the Sunne to be dried, and being dried are put into earthen vessels: and thus is pepper made and kept. Now, in the same wood there be many riuers, wherein are great store of Crocodiles, and of other serpents, which the inhabitants thereabout do burne vp with straw and with other dry fewel, and so they go to gather their pepper without danger. Polumbrum. At the South end of the said forrest stands the city of Polumbrum, which aboundeth with marchandize of all kinds. All the inhabitants of that countrey do worship a liuing oxe, as their god, whom they put to labour for sixe yeres, and in the seuenth yere they cause him to rest from al his worke, placing him in a solemne and publique place, and calling him an holy beast Moreouer they vse this foolish ceremonie: Euery morning they take two basons, either of siluer, or of gold, and with one they receiue the vrine of the oxe, and with the other his dung. With the vrine they wash their face, their eyes, and all their fiue senses. Of the dung they put into both their eyes, then they anoint the bals of the cheeks therewith, and thirdly their breast: and then they say that they are sanctified for all that day; And as the, people doe, euen so doe their King and Queene. This people worshippeth also a dead idole, which, from the nauel vpward, resembleth a man, and from the nauel downeward an oxe. The very same Idol deliuers oracles vnto them, and sometimes requireth the blood of fourtie virgins for his hire. And therefore the men of that region do consecrate their daughters and their sonnes vnto their idols, euen as Christians do their children vnto some Religion or Saint in heauen. Likewise they sacrifice their sonnes and their daughters, and so, much people is put to death before the said Idol by reason of that accursed ceremony. Also, many other hainous and abominable villanies doeth that brutish beastly people commit: and I sawe many moe strange things among them which I meane not here to insert. The burning of their dead. Another most vile custome the foresaide nation doeth retaine: for when any man dieth they burne his dead corps to ashes: and if his wife suruiueth him, her they burne quicke, because (say they) she shall accompany her husband in his tilthe and husbandry, when he is come into a new world. Howbeit the said wife hauing children by her husband, may if she will, remain with them, without shame or reproach; notwithstanding, for the most part, they all of them make choice to be burnt with their husbands. Now, albeit the wife dieth before her husband, that law bindeth not the husband to any such inconuenience, but he may mary another wife also. Likewise, the said nation hath another strange custome, in that their women drink wine, but their men do not. Also the Women haue the lids and brows of their eyes and beards shauen, but the men haue not: with many other base and filthy fashions which the said women do vse contrary to the nature of their sexe. Mobar, or Maliapor. From that kingdom I traueiled 10. daies iourney vnto another kingdome called Mobar, which containeth many cities. Within a certaine church of the same countrey, the body of S. Thomas the Apostle is interred, the very same church being full of idols: and in 15. houses round about the said Church, there dwell certaine priests who are Nestorians, that is to say, false, and bad Christians, and schismatiques.

Of a strange and vncouth idole: and of certaine customes and ceremonies.

In the said kingdome of Mobar there is a wonderfull strange idole, being made after the shape and resemblance of a man, as big as the image of our Christopher, et consisting all of most pure and glittering gold. And about the neck thereof hangeth a silke riband, ful of most rich and precious stones, some one of which is of more value then a whole kingdome. The house of this idol is all of beaten gold, namely the roofe, the pauement, and the sieling of the wall within and without. Vnto this idol the Indians go on pilgrimage, as we do vnto S. Peter. Some go with halters about their necks, some with their hands bound behind them, some others with kniues sticking on their armes or legs: and if after their peregrination, the flesh of their wounded arme festereth or corrupteth, they esteeme that limme to be holy, and thinke that their God is wel pleased with them. Neare vnto the temple of that idol is a lake made by the hands of men in an open et common place, whereinto the pilgrimes cast gold, siluer, and precious stones, for the honour of the idol and the repairing of his temple. And therefore when any thing is to be adorned or mended, they go vnto this lake taking vp the treasure which was cast in. Moreouer at euery yerely feast of the making or repairing of the said idol, the king and queene, with the whole multitude of the people, and all the pilgrimes assemble themselues, and placing the said idol in a most stately and rich chariot, they cary him out of their temple with songs, and with all kind of musical harmonie, and a great company of virgins go procession-wise two and two in a rank singing before him. Many pilgrims also put themselues vnder the chariot wheeles, to the end that their false god may go ouer them: and al they ouer whom the chariot runneth, are crushed in pieces, and diuided asunder in the midst, and slaine right out. Yea, and in doing this, they think themselues to die most holily and securely, in the seruice of their god. And by this meanes euery yere, there die vnder the said filthy idol, mo then 500. persons, whose carkases are burned, and their ashes are kept for reliques, because they died in that sort for their god. Moreouer they haue another detestable ceremony. For when any man offers to die in the seruice of his false god, his parents, and all his friends assemble themselues together with a consort of musicians, making him a great and solemne feast: which feast being ended, they hange 5. sharpe kniues about his neck carying him before the idol, and so soone as he is come thither, he taketh one of his kniues crying with a loud voice, For the worship of my god do I cut this my flesh, and then he casteth the morsel which is cut, at the face of his idol: but at the very last wound wherewith he murthereth himselfe, he vttereth these words: Now do I yeeld my self to death in the behalfe of my god, and being dead, his body is burned, and is esteemed by al men to be holy. The king of the said region is most rich in gold, siluer, and precious stones, and there be the fairest vnions in al the world. Traueling from thence by the Ocean sea 50. daies iourney southward, I came vnto a certain land named Lammori, Perhaps he meaneth Comori. where, in regard of extreeme heat, the people both men and women go stark-naked from top to toe: who seeing me apparelled scoffed at me, saying that God made Adam et Eue naked. In this countrey al women are common, so that no man can say, this is my wife. Also when any of the said women beareth a son or a daughter, she bestowes it vpon any one that hath lien with her, whom she pleaseth. Likewise al the land of that region is possessed in common, so that there is not mine and thine, or any propriety of possession in the diuision of lands: howbeit euery man hath is owne house peculiar vnto himselfe. Mans flesh, if it be fat, is eaten as ordinarily there, as beefe in our country. And albeit the people are most lewd, yet the country is exceedingly good, abounding with al commodities, as flesh, corne, rise, siluer, gold, wood of aloes, Campheir, and many other things. Marchants comming vnto this region for traffique do vsually bring with them fat men, selling them vnto the inhabitants as we sel hogs, who immediatly kil and eat them. Sumatra. In this island towards south, there is the another kingdome called Simoltra, where both men and women marke themselues with red-hot yron in 12. sundry spots of their faces: and this nation is at continual warre with certaine naked people in another region. Iaffa. Then I traueled further vnto another island called Iaua, the compasse whereof by sea is 3000. miles. The king of this Iland hath 7. other crowned kings vnder his iurisdiction. The said Island is throughly inhabited, and is thought to be one of the principall Ilands of the whole world. In the same Iland there groweth great plenty of cloues, cubibez, and nutmegs, and in a word all kinds of spices are there to be had, and great abundance of all victuals except wine. The king of the said land of Iaua hath a most braue and sumptuous pallace, the most loftily built, that euer I saw any, and it hath most high greeses and stayers to ascend vp to the roomes therein contained, one stayre being of siluer, and another of gold, throughout the whole building. Also the lower roomes were paued all ouer with one square plate of siluer, and another of gold. All the wals vpon the inner side were seeled ouer with plates of beaten gold, whereupon were engrauen the pictures of knights, hauing about their temples, ech of them a wreath of golde, adorned with precious stones. The roofe of the palace was of pure gold. With this king of Iaua the great Can of Catay hath had many conflictes in war: whom notwithstanding the said king hath alwayes ouercome and vanquished.

Of certaine trees yeelding meale, hony, and poyson.

Nere vnto the said Iland is another countrey called Panten, or Tathalamasin. And the king of the same country hath many Ilands vnder his dominion: In this land there are trees yeelding meale, hony, and wine, and the most deadly poison in all the whole world: for against it there is but one only remedy: and that is this: if any man hath taken of the poyson, and would be deliuered from the danger thereof, let him temper the dung of a man in water, and so drinke a good quantitie thereof, and it expels the poyson immediatly, making it to auoid at the fundament. Meale is produced out of the said trees after this maner. They be mighty huge trees, and when they are cut with an axe by the ground, there issueth out of the stocke a certain licour like vnto gumme, which they take and put into bags made of leaues, laying them for 15 daies together abroad in the sun, and at the end of those 15 dayes, when the said licour is throughly parched, it becommeth meale. Then they steepe it first in sea water, washing it afterward with fresh water, and so it is made very good and sauorie paste, whereof they make either meat or bread, as they thinke good. Of which bread I my selfe did eate, and it is fayrer without and somewhat browne within. A sea running still Southward. By this countrey is the sea called Mare mortuum, which runneth continually Southward, into the which whoseuer falleth is neuer seene after. In this countrey also are found canes of an incredible length, namely 60 paces high or more, and they are as bigge as trees. Other canes there be also called Cassan, which overspread the earth like grasse, and out of euery knot of them spring foorth certaine branches, which are continued vpon the ground almost for the space of a mile. In the sayd canes there are found certaine stones, one of which stones, whoseuer carryeth about with him, cannot be wounded with any yron: and therefore the men of that countrey for most part, carry such stones with them, whithersoeuer they goe. Many also cause one of the armes of their children, while they are yong, to be launced, putting one of the said stones in the wound, healing also, and closing vp the said wound with the powder of a certaine fish (the name whereof I do not know) which powder doth immediatly consolidate and cure the said wound. And by the vertue of these stones, the people aforesaid doe for the most part triumph both on sea and land. Howbeit there is one kind of stratageme, which the enemies of this nation, knowing the vertue of the sayd stones, doe practise against them: namely, they prouide themselues armour of yron or steele against their arrowes, and weapons also poisoned with the poyson of trees, and they carry in their hands wooden stakes most sharpe and hard-pointed, as if they were yron: likewise they shoot arrowes without yron heads, and so they confound and slay some of their vnarmed foes trusting too securely vnto the vertue of their stones. Sayles made of reedes. Also Of the foresayd canes called Cassan they make sayles for their ships, and litle houses, and many other necessaries. Campa. From thence after many dayes trauell, I arrived at another kingdome called Campa, a most beautiful and rich countrey, and abounding with all kind of victuals: the king whereof, at my being there, had so many wiues and concubines, that he had 300 sonnes and daughters by them. This king hath 10004 tame Elephants, which are kept euen as we keepe droues of oxen, or flocks of sheepe in pasture.

Of the abundance of fishes, which cast themselues vpon the shore.

In this countrey there is one strange thing to be obserued, that euery seueral kind of fishes in those seas come swimming towards the said countrey in such abundance, that, for a great distance into the sea, nothing can be seene but the backs of fishes: which, casting themselues vpon the shore when they come neare vnto it, do suffer men, for the space of 3. daies, to come and to take as many of them as they please, and then they returne againe vnto the sea. After that kind of fishes comes another kind, offering it selfe after the same maner, and so in like sort all other kinds whatsoeuer: notwithstanding they do this but once in a yere. And I demaunded of the inhabitants there, how, or by what meanes this strange accident could come to passe: They answered, that fishes were taught, euen by nature, to come and to do homage vnto their Emperour. Tortoises. There be Tortoises also as bigge as an ouen. Many other things I saw which are incredible, vnlesse a man should see them with his own eies. In this country also dead men are burned, and their wiues are burned aliue with them, as in the city of Polumbrum above mentioned: for the men of that country say that she goeth to accompany him in another world, that he should take none other wife in marriage. Moumoran. Moreouer I traueled on further by the ocean-sea towards the south, and passed through many countries and islands, whereof one is called Moumoran, and it containeth in compasse ii. M. miles, wherein men and women haue dog faces, and worship an oxe for their god: and therefore euery one of them cary the image of an oxe of gold or siluer vpon their foreheads. The men and the women of this country go all naked, sauing that they hang a linen cloth before their priuities. The men of the said country are very tall and mighty, and by reason that they goe naked, when they are to make battell, they cary yron or steele targets before them, which do couer and defend their bodies from top to toe: and whomsoeuer of their foes they take in battel not being able to ransom himselfe for money, they presently deuoure him: but if he be able to redeeme himselfe for money, they let him go free. Their king weareth about his necke 300. great and most beautifull vnions, and saith euery day 300. prayers vnto his god. He weareth vpon his finger also a stone of a span long which seemeth to be a flame of fire, and therefore when he weareth it, no man dare once approch vnto him: and they say that there is not any stone in the whole world of more value then it. Neither could at any time the great Tartarian Emperour of Katay either by force, money, or policie obtaine it at his hands: notwithstanding that he hath done the vtmost of his indeuour for this purpose.

Of the Island of Sylan: and of the mountaine where Adam mourned for his sonne Abel.

I passed also by another island called Sylan, which conteineth in compasse aboue ii. M. miles: wherein are an infinit number of serpents, and great store of lions, beares, and al kinds of rauening and wild beasts, and especially of elephants. In the said country there is an huge mountaine, whereupon the inhabitants of that region do report that Adam mourned for his son Abel the space of 500. yeres. In the midst of this mountain there is a most beautiful plain, wherin is a litle lake conteining great plenty of water, which water the inhabitants report to haue proceeded from the teares of Adam and Eue: howbeit I proued that to be false, because I saw the water flow in the lake. This water is ful of hors-leeches, and blood-suckers, and of precious stones also: which precious stones the king taketh not vnto his owne vse, but once or twise euery yere he permitteth certaine poore people to diue vnder the water for the said stones, and al that they can get he bestoweth vpon them, to the end they may pray for his soule. But that they may with lesse danger diue vnder the water, they take limons which they pil, anointing themselues throughly with the iuice therof, and so they may diue naked vnder the water, the hors-leeches not being able to hurt them. From this lake the water runneth euen vnto the sea, and at a low ebbe the inhabitants dig rubies, diamonds, pearls, and other pretious stones out of the shore: wherupon it is thought, that the king of this island hath greater abundance of pretious stones, then any other monarch in the whole earth besides. In the said country there be al kinds of beasts and foules: and the people told me, that those beasts would not inuade nor hurt any stranger, but only the natural inhabitants. I saw in this island fouls as big as our countrey geese, hauing two heads, and other miraculous things, which I will not here write off. Traueling on further toward the south, I arriued at a certain island called Bodin, Or, Dadin. which signifieth in our language vnclean. In this island there do inhabit most wicked persons, who deuour and eat raw flesh committing al kinds of vncleannes and abominations in such sort, as it is incredible. For the father eateth his son, and the son his father, the husbande his owne wife, and the wife her husband: and that after this maner. If any mans father be sick, the son straight goes vnto the soothsaying or prognosticating priest, requesting him to demand of his god, whether his father shall recouer of that infirmity of no: Then both of them go vnto an idol of gold or of siluer, making their praiers vnto it in maner folowing: Lord, thou art our God, and thee we do adore, beseeching thee to resolue vs, whether such a man must die, or recouer of such an infirmity or no: Then the diuel answereth out of the foresaid idol: if he saith (he shal liue) then returneth his son and ministreth things necessary vnto him, til he hath attained vnto his former health: but if he saith (he shal die) then goes the priest vnto him, and putting a cloth into his mouth doth strangle him therewith: which being done, he cuts his dead body into morsels, and al his friends and kinsfolks are inuited vnto the eating thereof, with musique and all kinde of mirth: howbeit his bones are solemnely buried. And when I found fault with that custome demanding a reason thereof, one of them gaue me this answer: this we doe, least the wormes should eat his flesh, for then his soule should suffer great torments, neither could I by any meanes remooue them from that errour. Many other nouelties and strange things there bee in this countrey, which no man would credite, vnles he saw them with his owne eyes. Howbeit, I (before almighty God) do here make relation of nothing but of that only, whereof I am as sure, as a man may be sure. Concerning the foresaid islands I inquired of diuers wel-experienced persons, who al of them, as it were with one consent, answered me saying, That this India contained 4400. islands vnder it, or within it: in which islands there are sixtie and foure crowned kings: and they say moreouer, that the greater part of those islands are wel inhabited. And here I conclude concerning that part of India.

Of the vpper India: and of the prouince of Mancy.

First of al therefore, hauing traueled many dayes iourney vpon the Ocean-sea toward the East, at length I arriued at a certaine great prouince called Mancy, being in Latine named India. Concerning this India I inquired of Christians, of Saracens, and of Idolaters, and of al such as bare any office vnder the great Can. Who all of them with one consent answered, that this prouince of Mancy hath mo then 2000. great cities within the precincts thereof, and that it aboundeth with all plenty of victuals, as namely with bread, wine, rise, flesh, and fish. All the men of this prouince be artificers and marchants, who, though they be in neuer so extreme penurie, so long as they can helpe themselues by the labor of their hands, wil neuer beg almes of any man. The men of this prouince are of a faire and comely personage, but somewhat pale, hauing their heads shauen but a litle: but the women are the most beautiful vnder the sunne. The first city of the said India which I came vnto, is called Ceuskalon, Or, Ceuskala. which being a daies iourney distant from the sea, stands vpon a riuer, the water whereof, nere vnto the mouth, where it exonerateth it selfe into the sea, doth ouerflow the land for the space of 12. daies iourney. All the inhabitants of this India are worshippers of idols. The foresaid city of Ceuskalon hath such an huge nauy belonging thereunto, that no man would beleeue it vnlesse he should see it. In this city I saw 300. li. of good and new ginger sold for lesse than a groat. There are the greatest, and the fairest geese, and most plenty of them to be sold in al the whole world, as I suppose: He meaneth Pellicans, which the Spaniards cal Alcatrarzi. they are as white as milke, and haue a bone vpon the crowne of their heads as bigge as an egge, being of the colour of blood: vnder their throat they haue a skin or bag hanging downe halfe a foot. They are exceeding fat and wel sold. Also they haue ducks and hens in that country, one as big as two of ours. There be monstrous great serpents likewise, which are taken by the inhabitants and eaten: whereupon a solemne feast among them without serpents is not set by: and to be briefe, in this city there are al kinds of victuals in great abundance. From thence I passed by many cities, and at length I came vnto a city named Caitan, Or, Zaiton. wherin the friers Minorites haue two places of aboad, vnto the which I transported the bones of the dead friers, which suffred martyrdom for the faith of Christ, as it is aboue mentioned. In this city there is abundance of al kind of victuals very cheap. The said city is as big as two of Bononia, and in it are many monasteries of religious persons, al which do worship idols. I my selfe was in one of those Monasteries, and it was told me, that there were in it iii. M. religious men, hauing xi. M. idols: and one of the said idols which seemed vnto me but litle in regard of the rest, was as big as our Christopher. These religious men euery day do feed their idol-gods: wherupon at a certeine time I went to behold the banquet: and indeed those things which they brought vnto them were good to eat, and fuming hote, insomuch that the steame of the smoke thereof ascended vp vnto their idols, and they said that their gods were refreshed with the smoke: howbeit all the meat they conueyed away, eating it vp their owne selues, and so they fed their dumb gods with the smoke onely.

Of the citie Fuco.

Traueling more eastward, I came vnto a city named Fuco, which conteineth 30. miles in circuit, wherin be exceeding great and faire cocks, and al their hens are as white as the very snow, hauing wol in stead of feathers, like vnto sheep. It is a most stately and beautiful city, and standeth vpon the sea. Then I went 18. dates iourney on further, and passed by many prouinces and cities, and in the way I went ouer a certain great mountaine, vpon the one side whereof I beheld al liuing creatures to be as black as a cole, and the men and women on that side differed somwhat in maner of liuing from others: howbeit, on the other side of the said hil euery liuing thing was snow-white, and the inhabitants in their maner of liuing, were altogether vnlike vnto others. There, all maried women cary in token that they haue husbands, a great trunke of horne vpon their heads. A great riuer. From thence I trauelled 18. dayes journey further, and came vnto a certaine great riuer, and entered also into a city, whereunto belongeth a mighty bridge, to passe the said riuer. And mine hoste, with whom I soiourned, being desirous to shew me some sport, said vnto me: Sir, if you will see any fish taken, goe with me. Foules catching fish. Then he led me vnto the foresaid bridge, carying in his armes with him certaine diue-doppers or water-foules, bound vnto a company of poles, and about euery one of their necks he tied a threed, lest they should eat the fish as fast as they tooke them: and he carried 3. great baskets with him also: then loosed he the diue doppers from the poles, which presently went into the water, and within lesse then the space of one houre, caught as many fishes as filled the 3. baskets: which being full, mine hoste vntyed the threeds from about their neckes, and entering the second time into the riuer they fed themselues with fish, and being satisfied they returned and suffered themselues to be bound vnto the saide poles as they were before. And when I did eate of those fishes, me thought they were exceeding good. Trauailing thence many dayes iourneys, at length I arriued at another city called Canasia, Or Cansai, or Quinzai. which signifieth in our language, the city of heauen. Neuer in all my life did I see so great a citie; for it conteineth in circuit an hundreth miles: neither sawe I any plot thereof, which was not throughly inhabited: yea, I sawe many houses of tenne or twelue stories high, one aboue another. It hath mightie large suburbs containing more people than the city it selfe. Also it hath twelue principall gates: and about the distance of eight miles, in the high way vnto euery one of the saide gates standeth a city as big by estimation as Venice, and Padua. The foresaid city of Canasia is situated in waters or marshes, which alwayes stand still, neither ebbing nor flowing: howbeit it hath a defence for the winde like vnto Venice. In this city there are mo than 10002. bridges, many whereof I numbred and passed ouer them: The Italian copy in Ramusius, hath 11000. bridges. and vpon euery of those bridges stand certaine watchmen of the citie, keeping continuall watch and ward about the said city, for the great Can the Emperour of Catay. The people of this countrey say, that they haue one duetie inioyned vnto them by their lord: for euery fire payeth one Balis in regard of tribute: and a Balis is fiue papers or pieces of silke, which are worth one floren and an halfe of our coine. Tenne or twelue housholds are accompted for one fire, and so pay tribute but for one fire onely. Al those tributary fires amount vnto the number of 85. Thuman, with other foure Thuman of the Saracens, which make 89. in al; And one Thuman consisteth of 10000. fires. The residue of the people of the city are some of them Christians, some marchants, and some traueilers through the countrey: whereupon I marueiled much howe such an infinite number of persons could inhabite and liue together. There is great aboundance of victuals in this citie, as namely of bread and wine, and especially of hogs-flesh, with other necessaries.

Of a Monastery where many strange beastes of diuers kindes doe liue vpon an hill.

In the foresaide citie foure of our friers had conuerted a mighty and riche man vnto the faith of Christ, at whose house I continually abode, for so long time as I remained in the citie. Who vpon a certaine time saide vnto me: Ara, that is to say, Father, will you goe and beholde the citie? And I said, yea. Then embarqued we our selues, and directed our course vnto a certaine great Monastery: where being arrived, he called a religious person with whom he was acquainted, saying vnto him concerning me: this Raban Francus, that is to say, this religious Frenchman commeth from the Westerne parts of the world, and is now going to the city of Cambaleth to pray for the life of the great Can, and therefore you must shew him some rare thing, that when hee returnes into his owne countrey, he may say, this strange sight or nouelty haue I seene in the city of Canasia. Then the said religious man tooke two great baskets full of broken reliques which remained of the table, and led me vnto a little walled parke, the doore whereof he vnlocked with his key, and there appeared vnto vs a pleasant faire green plot, into the which we entred. In the said greene stands a litle mount in forme of a steeple, replenished with fragrant herbes and fine shady trees. And while we stood there, he tooke a cymball or bell, and rang therewith, as they vse to ring to dinner or beuoir in cloisters, at the sound whereof many creatures of diuers kinds came downe from the mount, some like apes, some like cats, some like monkeys and some hauing faces like men. And while I stood beholding of them, they gathered themselues together about him, to the number of 4200. of those creatures, putting themselues in good order, before whom he set a platter, and gaue them the said fragments to eate. And when they had eaten he rang vpon his cymbal the second time, and they al returned vnto their former places. Then, wondring greatly at the matter, I demanded what kind of creatures those might be? They are (quoth he) the soules of noble men which we do here feed, for the loue of God who gouerneth the world: and as a man was honorable or noble in this life, so his soule after death, entreth into the body of some excellent beast or other, but the soules of simple and rusticall people do possesse the bodies of more vile and brutish creatures. Then I began to refute that foule error: howbeit my speach did nothing at all preuaile with him: for he could not be perswaded that any soule might remaine without a body. Chilenso. From thence I departed vhto a certaine citie named Chilenso, the walls whereof conteined 40. miles in circuit. In this city there are 360. bridges of stone, the fairest that euer I saw: and it is wel inhabited, hauing a great nauie belonging thereunto, and abounding with all kinds of victuals and other commodities. Thalay. And thence I went vnto a certaine riuer called Thalay, which where it is most narrow, is 7. miles broad: Cakam. and it runneth through the midst of the land of Pygmæi, whose chiefe city is called Cakam, and is one of the goodliest cities in the world. These Pigmæans are three of my spans high, and they make larger and better cloth of cotten and silke, then any other nation vnder the sunne. Ianzu. And coasting along by the saide riuer, I came vnto a certaine citie named Ianzu, in which citie there is one receptacle for the Friers of our order, and there be also three Churches of the Nestorians. This Ianzu is a noble and great citie, containing 48 Thuman of tributarie fiers, and in it are all kindes of victuals, and great plenty of such beastes, foules and fishes, as Christians doe vsually liue vpon. The lord of the same citie hath in yeerely reuenues for salt onely, fiftie Thuman of balis, and one balis is worth a floren and a halfe of our coyne: insomuch that one Thuman of balis amounteth vnto the value of fifteene thousand florens. Howbeit the sayd lord fauoureth his people in one respect, for sometimes he forgiueth them freely two hundred Thuman, least there should be any scarcity or dearth among them. There is a custome in this citie, that when any man is determined to banquet his friends, going about vnto certaine tauernes or cookes houses appointed for the same purpose, he sayth vnto euery particular hoste, you shall haue such, and such of my friendes, whom you must intertaine in my name, and so much I will bestowe vpon the banquet. And by that means his friendes are better feasted at diuerse places, then they should haue beene at one. Tenne miles from the sayde citie, about the head of the foresayd riuer of Thalay, there is a certaine other citie called Montu, which hath the greatest nauy that I saw in the whole world. All their ships are as white as snow, and they haue banqueting houses in them, and many other rare things also, which no man would beleeue, vnlesse he had seene them with his owne eyes.

Of the citie of Cambaleth.

Karamoron. Traueiling eight dayes iourney further by diuers territories and cities, at length I came by fresh water vnto a certaine citie named Lencyn, standing vpon the riuer of Karauoran, which runneth through the midst of Cataie, and doeth great harme in the countrey when it ouerfloweth the bankes, or breaketh foorth of the chanell. Sumacoto. From thence passing along the riuer Eastward, after many dayes trauell, and the sight of the diuers cities, I arriued at a citie called Sumakoto, which aboundeth more with silke then any other citie in the world: for when there is great scarcitie of silke, fortie pound is sold for lesse then eight groates. In this citie there is abundance of all merchandize, and all kindes of victuals also, as of bread, wine, flesh, fish, with all choise and delicate spices. Then traueiling on still towards the East by many cities, I came vnto the noble and renowmed citie of Cambaleth, which is of great antiquitie being situate in the prouince of Cataie. This citie the Tartars tooke, and neare vnto it within the space of halfe a mile, they built another citie called Caido. The citie of Caido hath twelue gates, being each of them two miles distant from another. Also the space lying in the midst betweene the two foresayd cities is very well and throughly inhabited, so that they make as it were but one citie betweene them both. The whole compasse or circuit of both cities together, is 40. miles. In this citie the great emperour Can hath his principall seat, and his Imperiall palace, the wals of which palace containe foure miles in circuit: and neere vnto this his palace are many other palaces and houses, of his nobles which belong vnto his court. Within the precincts of the sayd palace Imperiall, there is a most beautiful mount, set and replenished with trees, for which cause it is called the Greene mount, hauing a most royall and sumptuous palace standing thereupon, in which, for the most part, the great Can is resident. Vpon the one side of the sayd mount there is a great lake, whereupon a most stately bridge is built, in which lake is great abundance of geese, ducks, and all kindes of water foules: and in the wood growing vpon the mount there is great store of all birds, and wilde beasts. And therefore when the great Can will solace himselfe with hunting or hauking, he needs not so much as once to step forth of his palace. Moreouer, the principall palace, wherein he maketh his abode, is very large, hauing within it 14 pillers of golde, and all the walles thereof are hanged with red skinnes, which are sayd to be the most costly skinnes in all the world. In the midst of the palace standes a cisterne of two yards high, which consisteth of a precious stone called Merdochas, and is wreathed about with golde, and at ech corner thereof is the golden image of a serpent, as it were, furiously shaking and casting forth his head. This cisterne also hath a kind of networke of pearle wrought about it. Likewise by the sayd cisterne there is drinke conueyed thorow certeine pipes and conducts, such as vseth to be drunke in the emperors court, vpon the which also there hang many vessels of golde, wherein, whosoeuer will may drinke of the sayd licour. In the foresayd palace there are many peacocks of golde: and when any Tartar maketh a banquet vnto his lord, if the guests chance to clap their hands for ioy and mirth, the sayd golden peacocks also will spread abroad their wings, and lift vp their traines, seeming as if they danced: and this I suppose to be done by arte magike or by some secret engine vnder the ground.

Of the glory and magnificence of the great Can.

Moreouer, when the great emperor Can sitteth in his imperiall throne of estate, on his left hand sitteth his queene or empresse, and vpon another inferior seate there sit two other women, which are to accompany the emperor, when his spouse is absent, but in the lowest place of all, there sit all the ladies of his kindred. All the maried women weare vpon their heads a kind of ornament in shape like vnto a mans foote, of a cubite and a halfe in length, and the lower part of the sayd foote is adorned with cranes feathers, and is all ouer thicke set with great and orient pearles. Vpon the right hand of the great Can sitteth his first begotten sonne and heire apparent vnto his empire, and vnder him sit all the nobles of the blood royall. There bee also foure Secretaries, which put all things in writing that the emperor speaketh. In whose presence likewise stand his Barons and diuers others of his nobilitie, with great traines of folowers after them, of whom none dare speake so much as one word, vnlease they haue obtained licence of the emperor so to doe, except his iesters and stage-players, who are appointed of purpose to solace their lord. Neither yet dare they attempt to doe ought, but onely according to the pleasure of their emperor, and as hee inioineth them by lawe. About the palace gate stand certaine Barons to keepe all men from treading vpon the threshold of the sayd gate. When it pleassth the great Can to solemnize a feast, he hath about him 14000. Barons, carying wreathes and litle crownes vpon their heads, and giuing attendance vpon their lord, and euery one of them weareth a garment of gold and precious stones, which is woorth ten thousand Florens. His court is kept in very good order, by gouernours of tens, gouernours of hundreds, and gouernours of thousands, insomuch that euery one in his place performeth his duetie committed vnto him, neither is there any defect to bee found. I Frier Odoricus was there present in person for the space of three yeeres, and was often at the sayd banquets; for we friers Minorites haue a place of aboad appointed out for vs in the emperors court, and are enioined to goe and to bestow our blessing vpon him. And I enquired of certaine Courtiers concerning the number of persons pertaining to the emperors court? And they answered mee that of stage-players, musicians, and such like, there were eighteene Thuman at the least, and that the keepers of dogs, beasts and foules were fifteene Thuman, and the physicians for the emperours body were foure hundred; the Christians also were eight in number, together with one Saracen. At my being there, all the foresayd number of persons had all kind of necessaries both for apparell and victuals out of the emperors court. Moreouer, when he will make his progresse from one countrey to another, hee hath foure troupes of horsemen, one being appointed to goe a dayes iourney before, and another to come a dayes iourney after him, the third to march on his right hand, and the fourth on his left, in the manner of a crosse, he himselfe being in the midst, and so euery particular troupe haue their daily iourneys limited vnto them, to the ende they may prouide sufficient victuals without defect. Nowe the great Can himselfe is caried in maner following; hee rideth in a chariot with two wheeles, vpon which a maiesticall throne is built of the wood of Aloe, being adorned with gold and great pearles, and precious stones, and foure elephants brauely furnished doe drawe the sayd chariot, before which elephants, foure great horses richly trapped and couered doe lead the way. Hard by the chariot on both sides thereof, are foure Barons laying hold and attending thereupon, to keepe all persons from approaching neere vnto their emperour. Vpon the chariot also two milke-white Ier-falcons doe sit, and seeing any game which hee would take, hee letteth them flie, and so they take it, and after this maner doeth hee solace himselfe as hee rideth. Moreover, no man dare come within a stones cast of the chariot, but such as are appointed. The number of his owne followers, of his wiues attendants, and of the traine of his first begotten sonne and heire apparent, would seeme incredible vnto any man, vnlesse hee had seene it with his owne eyes. The foresayd great Can hath diuided his Empire into twelue partes or Prouinces, and one of the sayd prouinces hath two thousand great cities within the precincts thereof. Whereupon his empire is of that length and breadth, that vnto whatsoeuer part thereof he intendeth his iourny, he hath space enough for six moneths continual progresse, except his Islands which are at the least 5000.

Of certaine Innes or hospitals appointed for trauailers throughout the whole empire.

The foresayd Emperor (to the end that trauailers may haue all things necessary throughout his whole empire) hath caused certaine Innes to be prouided in sundry places vpon the high wayes, where all things pertaining vnto victuals are in a continuall readinesse. And when any alteration or newes happen in any part of his Empire, if he chance to be farre absent from that part, his ambassadors vpon horses or dromedaries ride post vnto him, and when themselues and their beasts are weary, they blow their horne, at the noise whereof, the next Inne likewise prouideth a horse and a man, who takes the letter of him that is weary and runneth vnto another Inne: and so by diuers Innes, and diuers postes, the report, which ordinarily could skarce come in 30. dayes, is in one naturall day brought vnto the emperor: and therefore no matter of any moment can be done in his empire, but straightway he hath intelligence thereof. Moreouer, when the great Can himselfe will go on hunting, he vseth this custome. Some twenty dayes iourney from the citie of Kambaleth there is a forrest containing sixe dayes iourney in circuit, in which forrest there are so many kinds of beasts and birds, as it is incredible to report. Vnto this forrest, at the ende of euery third or fourth yere, himselfe with his whole traine resorteth, and they all of them together enuiron the sayd forrest, sending dogs into the same, which by hunting do bring foorth the beasts: namely, lions and stags, and other creatures, vnto a most beautifull plaine in the midst of the forrest, because all the beasts of the forrest doe tremble, especially at the cry of hounds. Then commeth the great Can himselfe, being caried vpon three elephants, and shooteth fine arrowes into the whole herd of beasts, and after him all his Barons, and after them the rest of his courtiers and family doe all in like maner discharge their arrowes also, and euery mans arrow hath a sundry marke. Then they all goe vnto the beasts which are slaine (suffering the liuing beasts to returne into the wood that they may haue more sport with them another time) and euery man enjoyeth that beast as his owne, wherein he findeth his arrow sticking.

Of the foure feasts which the great Can solemnizeth euery yeere in his Court.

Foure great feasts in a yeere doeth the emperor Can celebrate: namely the feast of his birth, the feast of his circumcision, the feast of his coronation, and the feast of his mariage. And vnto these feasts he inuiteth all his Barons, his stage-players, and all such as are of his kinred. Then the great Can sitting in his throne, all his Barons present themselues before him, with wreaths and crownes vpon their heads, being diuersly attired, for some of them are in greene, namely the principall: the second are in red, and the third in yellow, and they hold each man in his hand a little Iuorie table of elephants tooth, and they are girt with golden girdles of halfe a foote broad, and they stand vpon their feete keeping silence. About them stand the stage-players or musicians with their instruments. And in one of the corners of a certaine great pallace, all the Philosophers or Magicians remaine for certaine howers, and doe attend vpon points or characters: and when the point and hower which the sayd Philosophers expected for, is come, a certaine crier crieth out with a loud voyce, saying, Incline or bowe your selues before your Emperour: with that all the Barons fall flat vpon the earth. Then hee crieth out againe; Arise all, and immediately they all arise. Likewise the Philosophers attend vpon a point or character the second time, and when it is fulfilled, the crier crieth out amaine; Put your fingers in your eares: and foorthwith againe he saieth; Plucke them out. Againe, at the third point he crieth, Boult this meale. Many other circumstances also doe they performe, all which they say haue some certaine signification: howbeit, neither would I write them, nor giue any heed vnto them, because they are vaine and ridiculous. And when the musicians hower is come, then the Philosophers say, Solemnize a feast vnto your Lord: with that all of them sound their instruments, making a great and a melodious noyse. And immediately another crieth, Peace, peace, and they are all whist. Then come the women-musicians and sing sweetly before the Emperour, which musike was more delightfull vnto me. After them come in the lions and doe their obeisance vnto the great Can. Then the iuglers cause golden cups full of wine to flie vp and downe in the ayre, and to apply themselues vnto mens mouthes that they may drinke of them. These and many other strange things I sawe in the court of the great Can, which no man would beleeue vnlesse he had seen with his owne eies, and therefore I omit to speake of them. A lambe in a gourd. I was informed also by certaine credible persons, of another miraculous thing, namely, that in a certaine kingdome of the sayd Can, wherein stand the mountains called Kapsei (the kingdomes name is Kalor) there grewe great Gourds or Pompions, which being ripe, doe open at the tops, and within them is found a little beast like vnto a yong lambe, euen as I my selfe haue heard reported, that there stand certaine trees vpon the shore of the Irish sea, bearing fruit like vnto a gourd, which, at a certaine time of the yeere doe fall into the water, and become birds called Bernacles, and this is most true. [This report is first found in the writings of Giraldus Cambreusis, tutor to King John.]

Of diuers prouinces and cities.

And after three yeeres I departed out of the empire of Cataie, trauailing fiftie dayes iourney towards the West. His returne Westward. And at length I came vnto the empire of Pretegoani, whose principall citie is Kosan, which hath many other cities vnder it. Casan From thence passing many dayes trauell, I came vnto a prouince called Casan, which is for good commodities, one of the onely prouinces vnder the Sunne, and is very well inhabited, insomuch that when we depart out of the gates of one city we may beholde the gates of another city, as I my selfe saw in diuers of them. The breadth of the sayd prouince is fifty dayes iourney, and the length aboue sixty. In it there is great plenty of all victuals, and especially of chesnuts, and it is one of the twelue prouinces of the great Can. Going on further, I came vnto a certaine kingdome called Tebek, Or Thebet. which is in subiection vnto the great Can also, wherein I thinke there is more plenty of bread and wine then in any other part of the whole world besides. The people of the sayd countrey do, for the most part, inhabit in tents made of blacke felt. Their principall city is inuironed with faire and beautifull walles, being built of most white and blacke stones, which are disposed chekerwise one by another, and curiously compiled together: likewise all the high wayes in this countrey are exceedingly well paued. In the sayd countrey none dare shed the bloud of a man, or of any beast, for the reuerence of a certaine idole. In the foresayd city their Abassi, that is to say, their Pope is resident, being the head and prince of all idolaters (vpon whom he bestoweth and distributeth gifts after his maner) euen as our pope of Rome accounts himselfe to be the head of all Christians. The women of this countrey weare aboue an hundreth tricks and trifles about them, and they haue two teeth in their mouthes as long as the tushes of a boare. When any mans father deceaseth among them, his sonne assembleth together all the priests and musicians that he can get, saying that he is determined to honour his father: then causeth he him to be caried into the field (all his kinsfolks, friends, and neighbours, accompanying him in the sayd action) where the priests with great solemnity cut off the father’s head, giuing it vnto his sonne, which being done, they diuide the whole body into morsels, and so leaue it behinde them, returning home with prayers in the company of the sayd sonne. So soone as they are departed, certaine vultures, which are accustomed to such bankets, come flying from the mountaines, and cary away all the sayd morsels of flesh: and from thenceforth a fame is spread abroad, that the sayd party deceased was holy, because the angels of God carried him into paradise. And this is the greatest and highest honour, that the sonne can deuise to performe vnto his deceased father. The same story concerning the very same people is in William de Rubricis. Then the sayd sonne taketh his fathers head, seething it and eating the flesh thereof, but of the skull he makes a drinking cup, wherein himselfe with all his family and kindred do drinke with great solemnity and mirth, in the remembrance of his dead and deuoured father. Many other vile and abominable things doth the said nation commit, which I meane not to write, because men neither can nor will beleeue, except they should haue the sight of them.

Of a certaine rich man, who is fed and nourished by fiftie virgins.

While I was in the prouince of Mancy, I passed by the palace of a certaine famous man, which hath fifty virgin damosels continually attending vpon him, feeding him euery meale, as a bird feeds her yoong ones. Also he hath sundry kindes of meat serued in at his table, and three dishes of ech kinde; and when the sayd virgins feed him, they sing most sweetly. This man hath in yeerely reuenues thirty thuman of tagars of rise, euery of which thuman yeeldeth tenne thousand tagars, and one tagar is the burthen of an asse. His palace is two miles in circuit, the pauement whereof is one plate of golde, and another of siluer. Neere vnto the wall of the sayd palace there is a mount artificially wrought with golde and siluer, whereupon stand turrets and steeples and other delectable things for the solace and recreation of the foresayd great man. And it was tolde me that there were foure such men in the sayd kingdome. Long nailes. It is accounted a great grace for the men of that countrey to haue long nailes vpon their fingers, and especially vpon their thumbes which nailes they may fold about their hands: but the grace and beauty of their women is to haue small and slender feet: and therefore the mothers when their daughters are yoong, do binde vp their feet, that they may not grow great. Melistorte. Trauelling on further towards the South, I arriued at a certaine countrey called Melistorte, which is a pleasant and fertile place. And in this countrey there was a certeine man called Senex de monte, who round about two mountaines had built a wall to inclose the sayd mountaines. Within this wall there were the fairest and most chrystall fountaines in the whole world: and about the sayd fountaines there were most beautifull virgins in great number, and goodly horses also, and in a word, euery thing that could be deuised for bodily solace and delight, and therefore the inhabitants of the countrey call the same place by the name of Paradise.

The sayd olde Senex, when he saw any proper and valiant yoong man, he would admit him into his paradise. Moreouer, by certaine conducts he makes, wine and milke to flow abundantly. This Senex, when he hath a minde to reuenge himselfe or to slay any king or baron, commandeth him that is gouernor of the sayd paradise, to bring thereunto some of the acquaintance of the sayd king or baron, permitting him a while to take his pleasure therein, and then to giue him a certaine potion being of force, to cast him into such a slumber as should make him quite voide of all sense, and so being in a profound sleepe to conuey him out of his paradise: who being awaked, and seeing himselfe thrust out of the paradise would become so sorrowfull, that he could not in the world deuise what to do, or whither to turne him. Then would he goe vnto the foresaid old man, beseeching him that he might be admitted againe into his paradise: who saith vnto him, You cannot be admitted thither, vnlesse you will slay such or such a man for my sake, and if you will giue the attempt onely, whether you kill him or no, I will place you againe in paradise, that there you may remaine alwayes: then would the party without faile put the same in execution, indeuouring to murther all those against whom the sayd olde man had conceiued any hatred. And therefore all the kings of the east stood in awe of the sayd olde man, and gaue vnto him great tribute.

Of the death of Senex de monte.

And when the Tartars had subdued a great part of the world, they came vnto the sayd olde man, and tooke from him the custody of his paradise: who being incensed thereat, sent abroad diuers desperate and resolute persons out of his forenamed paradise, and caused many of the Tartarian nobles to be slaine. The Tartars seeing this, went and besieged the city wherein the said olde man was, tooke him, and put him to a most cruell and ignominious death. The friers in that place haue this speciall gift and prerogatiue: namely, that by the vertue of the name of Christ Iesu, and in the vertue of his pretious bloud, which he shedde vpon the crosse for the saluation of mankinde, they doe cast foorth deuils out of them that are possessed. And because there are many possessed men in those parts, they are bound and brought ten dayes iourney unto the sayd friers, who being dispossessed of the vncleane spirits, do presently beleeue in Christ who deliuered them, accounting him for their God, and being baptized in his name, and also deliuering immediatly vnto the friers all their idols, and the idols of their cattell, which are commonly made of felt or of womens haire: then the sayd friers kindle a fire in a publike place (whereunto the people resort, that they may see the false gods of their neighbors burnt) and cast the sayd idols thereinto: howbeit at the first those idols came out of the fire againe. Then the friers sprinkled the sayd fire with holy water, casting the idols into it the second time, and with that the deuils fled in the likenesse of blacke smoake, and the idols still remained till they were consumed vnto ashes. Afterward, this noise and outcry was heard in the ayre: Beholde and see how I am expelled out of my habitation. And by these meanes the friers doe baptize great multitudes, who presently reuolt againe vnto their idols: insomuch that the sayd friers must eftsoones, as it were, vnderprop them, and informe them anew. There was another terrible thing which I saw there: for passing by a certaine valley, which is situate beside a pleasant riuer, I saw many dead bodies, and in the sayd valley also I heard diuers sweet sounds and harmonies of musike, especially the noise of citherns, whereat I was greatly amazed. This valley conteineth in length seuen or eight miles at the least; into the which whosoeuer entreth, dieth presently, and can by no meanes passe aliue thorow the middest thereof: for which cause all the inhabitants thereabout decline vnto the one side. Moreouer, I was tempted to go in, and to see what it was. At length, making my prayers, and recommending my selfe to God in the name of Iesu, I entred, and saw such swarmes of dead bodies there, as no man would beleeue vnlesse he were an eye witnesse thereof. At the one side of the foresayd valley vpon a certaine stone, I saw the visage of a man, which beheld me with such a terrible aspect, that I thought verily I should haue died in the same place. But alwayes this sentence, the word became flesh, and dwelt amongst vs, I ceased not to pronounce, signing my selfe with the signe of the crosse, and neerer then seuen or eight pases I durst not approach vnto the said head: but I departed and fled vnto another place in the sayd valley, ascending vp into a little sand mountaine, where looking round about, I saw nothing but the sayd citherns, which me thought I heard miraculously sounding and playing by themselues without the help of musicians. And being vpon the toppe of the mountaine, I found siluer there like the scales of fishes in great abundance: and I gathered some part thereof into my bosome to shew for a wonder, but my conscience rebuking me, I cast it vpon the earth, reseruing no whit at all vnto my selfe, and so, by Gods grace I departed without danger. And when the men of the countrey knew that I was returned out of the valley aliue, they reuerenced me much, saying that I was baptised and holy, and that the foresayd bodies were men subiect vnto the deuils infernall, who vsed to play vpon citherns, to the end they might allure people to enter, and so murther them. Thus much concerning those things which I beheld most certainely with mine eyes, I frier Odoricus haue heere written: many strange things also I haue of purpose omitted, because men will not beleeue them vnlesse they should see them.

Of the honour and reuerence done vnto the great Can.

I will report one thing more, which I saw, concerning the great Can. It is an vsuall custome in those parts, that when the forsayd Can traueileth thorow any countrey, his subiects kindle fires before their doores, casting spices thereinto to make a perfume, that their lord passing by may smell the sweet and delectable odours thereof, and much people come forth to meet him. And vpon a certaine time when he was cumming towardes Cambaleth, the fame of his approch being published, a bishop of ours with certaine of our minorite friers and my selfe went two dayes iourney to meet him: and being come nigh vnto him, we put a crosse vpon wood, I my selfe hauing a censer in my hand, and began to sing with a loud voice: Veni creator spiritus. And as we were singing on this wise, he caused vs to be called, commanding vs to come vnto him: notwithstanding (as it is aboue mentioned) that no man dare approach within a stones cast of his chariot, vnlesse he be called, but such onely as keepe his chariot. And when we came neere vnto him, he vailed his hat or bonet being of an inestimable price, doing reuerance vnto the crosse. And immediatly I put incense into the censer, and our bishop taking the censer perfumed him, and gaue him his benediction. Moreouer, they that come before the sayd Can do alwayes bring some oblation to present vnto him, obseruing the antient law: Thou shall not appeare in my presence with an empty hand. And for that cause we carried apples with vs, and offered them in a platter with reuerence vnto him: and taking out two of them he did eat some part of one. And then he signified vnto vs, that we should go apart, least the horses comming on might in ought offend vs. With that we departed from him, and turned aside, going vnto certaine of his barons, which had bene conuerted to the faith by certeine friers of our order, being at the same time in his army: and we offered vnto them of the foresayd apples, who receiued them at our hands with great ioy, seeming vnto vs to be as glad, as if we had giuen them some great gift.

All the premisses abouewritten friar William de Solanga hath put downe in writing euen as the foresayd frier Odoricus vttered them by word of mouth, in the yeere of our Lord 1330. in the moneth of May, and in the place of S. Anthony of Padua. Neither did he regard to write them in difficult Latine or in an eloquent stile, but euen as Odoricus himselfe rehearsed them, to the end that men might the more easily vnderstand the things reported. I frier Odoricus of Friuli, of a certaine territory called Portus Vahonis, and of the order of the minorites, do testifie and beare wimesse vnto the reuerend father Guidotus minister of the prouince of S. Anthony, in the marquesate of Treuiso (being by him required vpon mine obedience so to doe) that all the premisses aboue written, either I saw with mine owne eyes, or heard the same reported by credible and substantiall persons. The common report also of the countreyes where I was, testifieth those things, which I saw, to be true. Many other things I haue omitted, because I beheld them not with mine owne eyes. Howbeit from day to day I purpose with my selfe to trauell countreyes or lands, in which action I dispose myselfe to die or to liue, as it shall please my God.

Of the death of frier Odoricus.

In the yeere therefore of our Lord 1331 the foresayd frier Odoricus preparing himselfe for the performance of his intended iourney, that his trauel and labour might be to greater purpose, he determined to present himselfe vnto Pope Iohn the two and twentieth, whose benediction and obedience being receiued, he with a certaine number of friers willing to beare him company, might conuey himselfe vnto all the countreyes of infidels. And as he was trauelling towards the pope, and not farre distant from the city of Pisa, there meets him by the waye a certaine olde man, in the habit and attire of a pilgrime, saluting him by name, and saying: All haile frier Odoricus. And when the frier demaunded how he had knowledge of him: he answered: Whiles, you were in India I knew you full well, yea, and I knew your holy purpose also: but see that you returne immediatly vnto the couer from whence you came, for tenne dayes hence you shall depart out of this present world. Wherefore being astonished and amazed at these wordes (especially the olde man vanishing out of his sight, presently after he had spoken them) he determined to returne. And so he returned in perfect health, feeling no crazednesse nor infirmity of body. And being in his couen at Vdene in the prouince of Padua, the tenth day after the foresayd vision, hauing receiued the Communion, and preparing himselfe vnto God, yea, being strong and sound of body, hee happily rested in the Lord; whose sacred departure was signified vnto the Pope aforesaid, vnder the hand of the publique notary in these words following.

In the yeere of our Lord 1331, the 14. day of Ianuarie, Beatus Odoricus a Frier minorite deceased in Christ, at whose prayers God shewed many and sundry miracles, which I Guetelus publique notarie of Vtina, sonne of M. Damianus de Porto Gruaro, at the commandement and direction of the honorable Conradus of the Borough of Gastaldion, and one of the Councell of Vtina, haue written as faithfully as I could, and haue deliuered a copie thereof vnto the Friers minorites: howbeit not of all, because they are innumerable, and too difficult for me to write.

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