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Marco Polo - Le Divisament dou Monde

 

Parallel text of the Franco-Italian version established by Luigi Foscolo Benedetto and the English translation by Henry Yule and Henri Cordier.

Reference editions

Marco Polo, Il Milione, a cura di Luigi Foscolo Benedetto, Firenze, Olschki, 1928.

The Travels of Marco Polo: The Complete Yule-Cordier Edition, edited by Henry Yule and Henri Cordier, London: John Murray, 1903.

All text and materials are of public domain.

The digitization project is in progress. 76 out of 232 chapters digitized.

Roman numbers indicate the numeration followed by Benedetto in his edition, arabic numbers in brackets report the corresponding paragraph and chapter in Yule's edition.

I.

CI COMANCENT LE LOBRIQUE DE CEST LIVRE QUI EST APPELÉ LE DIVIS[A]MENT DOU MONDE

 

Seignors enperaor et rois, dux et marquois, cuens, chevaliers et borgiois, et toutes gens que volés savoir les deverses jenerasions des homes et les deversités des deverses region dou monde, si prennés cestui livre et le feites lire. Et qui trovererés toutes les grandismesmervoilles et les grant diversités de la grande Harmínie et de Persie et des Tartars et [de] Indie, et de maintes autres provinces, sicom notre livre voç contera por ordre apertemant, sicome meisser Marc Pol, sajes et noble citaiens de Venece, raconte por ce que a seç iaus meisme il le voit. Mes auques hi n'i a qu'il ne vit pas, mes il l'entendi da homes citables et de verité; et por ce metreron les chouse veue por veue et l'entendue por entandue, por ce que notre livre soit droit et vertables sanç nulle ma[n]songe.

 

 

 

 

Et chascuns que cest livre liroie ou oiront le doient croire, por ce que toutes sunt chouses vertables; car je voç fais savoir que, puis que notre Sire Dieu pasme de seç mainç Adam notre primer pere jusque a cestui point, ne fu cristienç, ne paiens, ne tartar, ne yndiens, ne nulç homes de nulle generasion, que tant seust ne cherchast de les deverses partie dou monde et de les grant mervoilles come cestui messire Marc en cherche et soi. Et por ce dit il a soi meisme que tropo seroit grant maus se il ne feist metre en ecriture toutes les granç mervoilles qu'il vit et qu'il oi por verités, por ce que les autres jens que ne le virent ne [ne] sevent, le sachent por cest livre. Et si voç di qu'il demora a ce savoir en celles deverses parties et provences bien XXVI anç.

Le quel puis, demourant en le char[t]re de Jene, fist retraire toutes cestes chouses a messire Rusticiaus de Pise, que en celle meisme chartre estout, au tens qu'il avoit MCCXCVIII anç que Jesucrit nesquí.


PROLOGUE

 

 

Great Princes, Emperors, and Kings, Dukes and Marquises, Counts, Knights, and Burgesses! and People of all degrees who desire to get knowledge of the various races of mankind and of the diversities of the sundry regions of the World, take this Book and cause it to be read to you. For ye shall find therein all kinds of wonderful things, and the divers histories of the Great Hermenia, and of Persia, and of the Land of the Tartars, and of India, and of many another country of which our Book doth speak, particularly and in regular succession, according to the description of Messer Marco Polo, a wise and noble citizen of Venice, as he saw them with his own eyes. Some things indeed there be therein which he beheld not; but these he heard from men of credit and veracity. And we shall set down things seen as seen, and things heard as heard only, so that no jot of falsehood may mar the truth of our Book, and that all who shall read it or hear it read may put full faith in the truth of all its contents.

For let me tell you that since our Lord God did mould with his hands our first Father Adam, even until this day, never hath there been Christian, or Pagan, or Tartar, or Indian, or any man of any nation, who in his own person hath had so much knowledge and experience of the divers parts of the World and its Wonders as hath had this Messer Marco! And for that reason he bethought himself that it would be a very great pity did he not cause to be put in writing all the great marvels that he had seen, or on sure information heard of, so that other people who had not these advantages might, by his Book, get such knowledge. And I may tell you that in acquiring this knowledge he spent in those various parts of the World good six-and-twenty years.

Now, being thereafter an inmate of the Prison at Genoa, he caused Messer Rusticiano of Pisa, who was in the said Prison likewise, to reduce the whole to writing; and this befell in the year 1298 from the birth of Jesus.

II.

COMANT MESSIRE NICOLAO ET MESSIRE MAFFEO SE PARTIRENT DE GOSTANTINOPLE POR CHERCHER DOU MUNDE

 

Il fu voir que au tens que Baudoin estoit enperaor de Gostantinople, ce fu a les MCCL anç [de l'ancarnasion Jesucrít], mesire Nicolao Pol, que pere messire Marc estoít, et messíere Mafeu Pol, que frere messere Nicolau estoít, cestí deus freres estoíent en la cité de Gostantinople, qui i estoient alés de Venesc con leur me˂r˃candie. Noblí et sajes et porveant estoient san faille. Il ont consoíl entr'aus et distrent qu'il vuelent aler en la mer greígnor por gaagner et por fer leur profit. Et adont achatoent plusorç jo[í]aus et se partirent de Gostantínople in une nes et s'en alent en Soldadie.

III.
COMANT MESSIRE NICOLAU E MESIRE MAFEU SE PARTIRENT DA SOLDADIE

Et quant il furent demoiré en Soldadie auques il distrent que il iront encore plus avant. Et que voç en diroie? il se partirent de Soldadie et se mistrent au chemin et chevaucen tant, qu'il ne trevent aventure que a mentovoir face, qu'il furent venu a Barca Caan, que sire estoit d'une partie de Tartar, qui estoit a celui point a Bolgara et a Sara.

Cestui Barcha fist grant honore a messer Nicolau et messer Mafeu et mout ot grant leesse de leur venue. Les deus frers li deunent toutes les joiaus qu'il avoient aportés, et Barch[a] le prist mult volentiers et li pleient outre mesure. Il en fait leur doner bien deus tant que les joiaus ne valoient; il les envoia a parer en plosor partie e furent mout bien parés.

Et quant il furent demorés en la tere de Barca un an, adonc sordi une ghere entre Barca et Alau le sire des Tartar dou levant. Il ala le un contre le autre con tout lor esfors; il se conbatirent ense˂n˃le et hi ot grant maus de gens et d'une parte et d'autre; mes au dereain la venqui Alau. Et por l'achaison de celle bataille et de celle ghere nulo home ne po[o]it aller per chemin qui ne fust pris: et ce estoit deverç dont il estoient venu; mes avant pooient il bien aler. Et adonc les deus frers distroient entr'aus: «puis que nos ne poons retorncr a Gostantinoplc con notre mercaandie, or alon avant por la voie dou levant: si poron retorner au t[raver]se››. Il i s'aparoillent et se partirent de Barca et s'en alent a una cité qui avoit a nom Ouchacca, qui estoit la fin dou reigne dou sire dou ponent. Et da Oucaca si partirent et pasent le flum de Tigri et alerent por un deçert ki estoit lonc XVII jornee: il ne trovent villes ne castiaus for seule[m]ant Tartars con lor tentes qui vivoent de lor bestes.

 

II (Prologue, Chapter 1)
HOW THE TWO BROTHERS POLO SET FORTH FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO TRAVERSE THE WORLD

It came to pass in the year of Christ 1260, when Baldwin was reigning at Constantinople, that Messer Nicolas Polo, the father of my lord Mark, and Messer Maffeo Polo, the brother of Messer Nicolas, were at the said city of Costantinople, whither they had gone from Venice with their merchants' wares. Now these two Brethren, men singularly noble, wise, and provident, took counsel together to cross the Greater Sea  on a venture of trade; so they laid in a store of jewels and set forth from Constantinople, crossing the Sea to Soldaia.

III. (Book I, Chapter 2)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS WENT ON BEYOND SOLDAIA

Having stayed a while at Soldaia, they considered the matter, and thought it well to extend their journey further. So they set forth from Soldaia and travelled till they came to the Court of a certain Tartar Prince, Barca Kaan by name, whose residences were at Sara and at Bolgara [and who was esteemed one of the most liberal and courteous Princes that ever was among the Tartars.]

This Barca was delighted at the arrival of the Two Brothers, and treated them with great honour; so they presented to him the whole of the jewels that they had brought with them. The Prince was highly pleased with these, and accepted the offering most graciously, causing the Brothers to receive at least twice its value.

After they had spent a twelvemonth at the court of this Prince there broke out a great war between Barca and Aláu, the Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, and great hosts were mustered on either side.

But in the end Barca, the Lord of the Tartars of the Ponent, was defeated, though on both sides there was great slaughter. And by reason of this war no one could travel without peril of being taken; thus it was at least on the road by which the Brothers had come, though there was no obstacle to their travelling forward. So the Brothers, finding they could not retrace their steps, determined to go forward. Quitting Bolgara, therefore, they proceeded to a city called Ucaca, which was at the extremity of the kingdom of the Lord of the Ponent; and thence departing again, and passing the great River Tigris, they travelled across a Desert which extended for seventeen days' journey, and wherein they found neither town nor village, falling in only with the tents of Tartars occupied with their cattle at pasture.

 

IV.

COMANT LES II FRERES PASSENT UN DEÇERT ET VINDRENT A LA CITÉ DE BUCARA

 

 

Et quant il ont passé cel deçert adonc furent venu a une cité ki est apellé Boccara, mout noble et grant. La provence avoit ausi a nom Bucara, e n'estoit roi un que avoit nom Barac. La cité estoit la meior que fust en toute Persie. Les dous frers, quant il furent vinu a cest cité, il ne postrent plus aler avant, ne torner arere; et por ce hi demorent trois anç.

Et endementier qu'il hi demoroient, adonc hi vint un messajes d'Alau, le sire dou levant, qui aloit au grant sire de tous les Tartars ke avoit a nom C[h]oblai. Et quant ces mesajes voit messier Nicolao et meser Mafeo, il n'a grant mervoille, por ce que jamés ne avoient veu nul latin en celle contree. Il dist a[s] deus frers: «Seignors, fet il, se voç me volés croir, voç en aurés grant profit et grant honor››. Les deus frers li distrent que il le creeront voluntier, por coi elle soit chouse que il le peusent fair. Le mesaies lor dit: «Seigno[r]s, je voç di que le grant sire de Tartarç ne vit unques nul latin et a grant desider et volunté de veoire; et por ce, se voç volés venir avec moi jusque a lui, je voç di qu'il vos vera molto volunter et voç fira grant honor et grant bien. Et porés venir sauvemant avec moi sanç nul engonbrament».

 

 

V.

COMANT LES II FRERS [CREUR]ENT LES MESAGES AU GRANT KAAN

 

Quand les deus frers ont entandu ce que cest mesajes lor avoit dit, il apresta elç et distrent que il vont volunter avec lui. Et atant se mestrent a la voie con cest mesajes et alerent un an por tramontane et por grec avant que il fussent la venu; e trovent grant mervoilles et diverses coses les quelç ne voç conteron ci por ce que messier Marc, fil de meser Nicolau, que toutes cestes choses vit ausint, le voç contcra en ceste livre avant apertemant.

IV. (Prologue, Chapter 3)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS, AFTER CROSSING A DESERT, CAME TO THE CITY OF BOCARA, AND FELL IN WITH CERTAIN ENVOYS THERE

After they had passed the desert, they arrived at a very great and noble city called Bocara, the territory of which belonged to a king whose name was Barac, and is also called Bocara. The city is the best in all Persia. And when they had got thither, they found they could neither proceed further forward nor yet turn back again; wherefore they abode in that city of Bocara for three years. And whilst they were sojourning in that city, there came from Alau, Lord of the Levant, Envoys on their way to the Court of the Great Kaan, the Lord of all the Tartars in the world. And when the Envoys beheld the Two Brothers they were amazed, for they had never before seen Latins in that part of the world. And they said to the Brothers: "Gentlemen, if ye will take our counsel, ye will find great honour and profit shall come thereof." So they replied that they would be right glad to learn how. "In truth," said the Envoys, "the Great Kaan hath never seen any Latins, and he hath a great desire so to do. Wherefore, if ye will keep us company to his Court, ye may depend upon it that he will be right glad to see you, and will treat you with great honour and liberality; whilst in our company ye shall travel with perfect security, and need fear to be molested by nobody."

V (Prologue, Chapter 4)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS TOOK THE ENVOYS' COUNSEL, AND WENT TO THE COURT OF THE GREAT KAAN

So when the Two Brothers had made their arrangements, they set out on their travels, in company with the Envoys, and journeyed for a whole year, going northward and north-eastward, before they reached the Court of that Prince. And on their journey they saw many marvels of divers and sundry kinds, but of these we shall say nothing at present, because Messer Mark, who has likewise seen them all, will give you a full account of them in the Book which follows.

VI.

COMANT LES II FRERS VINDRENT AU GRANT KAAN

 

Et quant mesere Nicolau et mesere Mafeu furent venu au grant seignor, il les recevi honorablemente et fait elç grant joie et gran feste: il a mont grant leesse de lor venue. Il les demande de maintes coses: primermant de les emperaors, comant il mantent lor segnorie et lor tere in justice et comant il vont a bataile et tous leur afer; et aprés lor demande des rois et des princes et d'autres baron.

 

 

VII.

COMANT LE GRANT KAAN DEMANDE AS II FRERS DES AFFER DES CRISTIENÇ

 

 

Et aprés lor demande de meser l'apostoille et de tous les fais de le yglise romane et de tous les costumes des latin. Et messere Nicolau e meser Mafeu lui distrent toute la verité de chascun por soi bie˂n˃ et ordreemant et sajemant come sajes homes qu'il estoient ke bien s[a]voient la lengue de Tartarç [ce] est la tartaresce.

 

VIII.

COMANT LE GRANT KAAN ENVOIE LES II FRERS POR SEZ MESSAJES A L’APOSTOILLE DE ROME

 

Et quant le grant sire que Cublai Kaan avoit a nom, qui estoit seig(n)or de tous le Tartars do monde et de toutes les provinces et regnes et region de celle grandisme partie do secle, ot entendu tous les fais des latin, sicome les deus frers li avoient dit ben et apertamant, il li plet outre mesure. Il dit a soi meisme qu'il envoíera mesajes a l'apostoille. Et adonc prie les deus frers que il ailent en ceste mesajerie cun un de seç baron. Il li respondirent que il firont tot son comandamant com de lor segnor lige. Adunc le gran sire fait venir devant soi un de seç baron qui av(o)ut a nom Cogatal, et li dit qu'il vuelt qu'il aille avec les deus frers a l'apostoil. Celui le dit: «sire, jeo son votre home e sui por fait tot votre comandamant a mun po[o]ir››.

 

 

Aprés ce le grant sire fait fair seç chartre en langue torques por envoier a l'apostoil et les baille as deus freres et a son baron et a lor encharge ce ke il vuelt qu'il dient por sa part a l'apostoille. Et sachiés que en le chartre se contenoit, et en l'anbascee qu'el li [envoie, ce que vos] o[r]és: il mandoit desant a l'apostoille que il li deust mander jusque a cent sajes homes de la cristien˂e˃ loy et que encore seusent les VII ars et que bien se[u]sent dcspuer et mostrer apertamant a les ydules et a les autres conversation de jens que lor ˂loy estoit˃ tout autrament et toutes les ydres qu'il tient in lor maison et adorent sunt coses de diables e ke bien seusent monstré clermant por raison que la loi cristiene est meior ke la lor. Encore encharge le grant sire as deus freres qu'il li deussent aporter de l'o1io de la lanpe que ard sor le sepoucre de deo en Jerusalem. En tel mainere com vos avéç oi se contenoit en l'ambaxee ke le grant sire envoie a l'apostoille por les deus frers.

 

IX.

COMANT LE GRANT KAAN DONE AS II FRERS LA TABLE D'OR DES COMANDEMENS

 

 

Et quant le grant sire ot enchargés as deus frers et a son baron tot l'anbaxee k'el mande a l'apostoille, il fait lor doner une table d'or, en la quel se contenoit ke les trois messajes, en toutes les pars que il alaissent, lor deust estre donnee toutes les mesion que lor b[i]çognoit et chevalç et homes por lor escordre de une terre ad autre. Et quant me[i]ser Nicolau et meser Mafeu et 1'autre mesajes furent bien apareliés de toutes les chouses ke lor estoient beiso˂n˃ç, il pristrent cojé au tre grant sire, puis montent a chevalç et se mistrent a la voie. Et quant il furent chevauchiés auquant, adonc lo baron tartar, que avec les deus frers aloit, chei amalaides et no puet sevir la voie et remese a une cité. Et quant meser Nicolau et meser Mafeu virent que celui estoit amalaides, il le lairent et se mistrent a la voie. Et voç di que il estoient servi et honorés en totes les pars ou il aloient de toute ce qu'il savoient comander. Et que voç en diroie? il cheuvacherent tant por lor jornee ke il furent venu a Laias et voç di qu'íl hi poinent ˂a˃ aler trois anç, et ce avint por ce k'il ne pooient toutes foies chevaucher por le maus tens et por les nois et por les fluns qui estoient grans.

 

X.

COMANT LES II FRERS VINDRENT A LA CITÉ DE ACRI

 

Et de Laias se partirent et s'en alent ad Acri. Et hi joingent dou mois d'avri1, a les MCCLX anç de l'ancarnasion Jeçucrit, et trovant que meser l'apostoille estoit mort. Et quant meser Nicolau et meser Mafeu ont trové ke l'apostoile estoit mort, que avoit a nom [Clement], il alerent a un sajes cleres ki estoit legat por le yglise de Rome en tout le regne d'Egipte. Il estoit home de grande autorité et avoit a nom Teald de Plaiençe. Il li distrent Pambasee por coi le grant sire des Tartarç les envoie a l'apostoille. Et quant le legat ot entendu ce ke les deus frers li avoient dit, si n'a grant mervoie et li senble. que ce soit grant bien et grant honor de la crestenté. Il dit as deus frers: «Seignors, feit il, voç veés que l'apostoille est mort; et por ce vos convendra sofrir jusque tant ke apostoille sera. Et quant pape seroit voç porois faire votre enbascee››. Les deus frers que bien voient ke le legaut disoit verité distrent que, endementier ke apostoille sera apelés, il vuelent aler a Venise por veoir lor mesnie. Et adonc s'en partirent d'Acri et s'en alent a Negreponte; et de Negrepont se partirent en une nes et najerent tant k'il furent venus [a Venese]. Mesier Nicolau treuve que sa fame estoit morte et les [estoit] remés un filç de xv anç que avoit a nom Marc: et ce fui celui Marc de cui cestui livre paroile. Meser Nicolau et meser Mafeu demorent a Venese en[t]or deus anç por atendre ke apostoille fust.

 

 

XI.

COMANT LES II FRERS SE PARTIRENT DE VENESE POR RETORNER AU GRANT KAAN ET MOINENT AVEC ELZ MARC LE FIL MESSIRE NICOLAU

 

 

Et quant les deus freres ont tant atandu com vos avés oi et il voient que apostoille ne se fasoit, il distrent que desormés poroient il tropo demorer por retorner au grant kaan. Adonc se partirent de Venese et moinent avec eleç Marc son filz; et s'en alent tout droit ad Acri et hi trovent le legat que desoure voç ai contéç. Il parolent con elz de ceste coses assez et li demandent conjé d'aler en Jeruçalem por avoir de l'olio de la lanpe [dou scpolcro] de Crist de quoi le gran can li avoi prié. Lo legaut done elz conjé qu'il doient aler. Adonc les deus freres se partirent d'Acri et alent en Jeruçalem et ont de 1'oleo de la lanpe dou sepolcro de Crist. Il s'en retornent au legat en Acti et li distrent: «Sire, puis que nos veon que apostoille n'est, nos volun retornere au grant sire, por ce que tropo avun demoré››. Et meser lo legat, que des greignor sire de toute la yglise de Rome estoit, dist elz: « Puis ke vos volés retorner au grant sire, il me plet bien››. Adonc fist sez lectrcs et sa embasee por envoier au grant kan: et tesmonge comant mesiere Nicolao et meser Mafeu estoient venu por faire sez anbasee, mes por ce ke apostoille n'estoit ne l'avoient peu faire.

 

 

XII.

COMANT LES II FRERS [ET MARC SE PARTIRENT D'ACRI]

 

Quant les deus freres ont eu les letres dou legat, et il se partirent d'Acri et se mistrent a la voie por retorner au grant sire. Il alent tant qu'il furent venu a Laias; et quant il furent la venu, il ne demore gueries que cestu legat fu esleu apostoille, et s'apeloit pape Gregor de Plajence. Les deus fre[r]s en ont grant leesse. Et aprés ce ne demore gueires ke un messajes vint a Laias, por part do legat qui estoit esleu pape, a meser Nicolau et a mesere Mafeu, et lor mande disant que se il n'estoient alés que il devesent a lui torner. Les du frers ont de ce grant joie et distrent d'Armonie fist armer une galee as deus freres et les que ce firont il volunter. Et que voç en diroi? le roi envoie ao legat honoreemant.

 

XIII.

COMANT LES II FRERS
ALENT A L'APOSTOILE DE ROME

 

Et quant il furent venu ad Acri il s'en alent a meser l'apostoille et se humillent mout ver lui. Meser l'apostoille les recevi honoreemant et lor done sa benesion et fait lor joie et feste. Adonc l'apostoile done a meser Nicolau et a meser Mafeu deus freres precheors que bien estoient les plus sajes que en tute celle provence fuissent. L'une avoit nome frer Nicolau de Vicense, l`autre avo[i]e nome frere Guilielme de Tripule. Il done elz brevilejes et carte et sa enbasee de ce qu”il voloit mander au grant kaan. Et quant meser Nicolau et meser Mafeu et les deus freres presceor ont recevu les brevilees et les carte et l'anbaxae de mesere l'apostoille, il se font doner sa benedicion; puis se partirent tuit e quatre e con elç Marc, le fil mesere Nicolau.

 

 

 

 

 

Il s'en alent tot droit a Laias; et quant il furent la venus, adonc Bondocdaire, que soldan estoit de Babelonie, vent en Arminic con grande oste, et fait grande domajes por la contree. Et ceste mesajes furent en aventure d'estre mors.

 

Et quant les deus frers prescaor virent ce, il ont grant dotance d'aller plus avant; adonc distrent que il ne iront mie. Il donent a meser Nicolau et a mesere Mafeu tous les brevilés et carte k'il avoient et se partirent d'elz er s'en alent avec le mestre deu tens.

 

 

XIV.

COMANT LES II FRERS ET MARC [VINDRENT A LA CITE' DE CLEMEINFU LA U LE GRAN KAAN ESTOIT]

 

Et mesere Nicolau et meser Mafeu et Marc, le filz Nicolau, se mistrent a la voie et chevauchent tant, et de ver et d'esté, k'el furent venus au grant kan, que adonc estoit a une cité k'estoit apelé Clemeinfu, que mout estoit riche et grant. Et ce que il trovent en la voie ne voç firon mencion [or], por ce que noç le voç conteron en notre livre avant, tout per ordre. Et si sachiés que il poinent a aler bien trois anz et dimi; et ce fui por les noies et por le pluie et por les grant fluns et por ce que il ne po[o]ient chevaucher de yver como d'estié.

Et il voç di por verité que quant le grant can soie que mesere Nicolau et meser Mafeu venoient, il envoie seç mesajes contr'aus bien xl jornee et moult furent servi et honorés de tuit.  

 

 

 

 

XV.

COMANT LES II FRERS ET MARC ALENT AVANT LE GRANT KAAN EU PALAIS   

 

 

Et que voç en diroie? quant mesere Nicolau et meser Mafeu et Marc furent venus en celle grant cité, il sien alent au mestre palais, la ou il treivent le grant kaan a mout grant conpagnie de bairon. Il s'enjenoilent devant lui et se humilient tant com il plus puent. Le grant kaan les fait drecer en estant et les recevi honorablemant et lor fait grant joie et grant feste; et mout les demande de lor estre et comant il l'avoient puis fait. Les deus frers li distrent ke il l'ont moult bien fait, puis que il Pont treuvé sain et haitiés. Adonc li preçentent les brevilés e les letres que l'apostoille le envoie, des quelz il ot grant leesse. Puis li bailent le saint oleo, de cui il fist grant joie et le tient mout chier. Le grant kaan, quant il voit Marc qui estoit jeune bachaler, il demande ki est. «Sire, fait meser Nicolao, il est mon filz et vestre home». «Bien soit il venu», fait el le gran can. Et por coi voç firoie lonc cont? sachiés tout voiremant que mout fu grant la joie et la feste ke fait le grant Kaan et toute sa cort de la venue de ceste mesajes. Et molt estoient servi et honorés de tuit. Il demorent en la cort et avoient honor sor les autres baronç.  

 

 

 

 

 

XVI.

COMANT LE GRANT KAAN ENVOIE MARC POUR SEZ MESSAJES

 

Or avint que Marc, le filz messer Nicolao, enprant si bien le costume de Tartars et lor langajcs et lor leteres [que c'estoit mervoille]; car je voç di tout voiremant que, avant grament de tens puis qu'il vint en la cort dou grant segnor, il soit de [quatre] langaies et de quatre letres et scriture. Il estoit sajes et proveanç outre mesure e molt li voloit gran bien le gran kaan por la bonté k'il veoit en lui e por le gran valor. Et quant le gran kaan voit ke Marc estoit si sajes, il le en- voie mesajes en une tere que bien hi poine [a] aler V1 mois.

Li jeune baçaler fait sa enbasee bien et saje- mant; et por ce qu'el avoit veu et oi plusors fois que le grant kan, quant les mesajes k'il mandoit por les diverses partes dou monde, quant il retornoient a lui et li disoient l'anbasee por coi il estoit alés et no li savoient dir autres noveles de les contrees ou il estoient alés, il disoit elz qu'il estoient foux et non saiçhan[ç] et disoi[t] que miaus ameroit oir les noveles et les costumes et les usajes de celle estra[n]jes contree qu`il ne fasoit oir celç por coi il li avoit mandé, et Marc, ke bien savoie tout ce, quant il ala en cele mesajarie, toutes les nuvités et tutes les stranges chauses qu`i1 avoit, met[t]oit son entent por coi il le seust redire au grant kaan.

 

 

 

XVII.

COMANT MARC TORNE DE SA MESAJERIE ET RENONSE SA ENBASEE AU GRANT KAN

 

Quant Marc fu retorné de sa mesajarie, el s'en vait devant le grant kan et li renunse toute le fait por coi il estoit alés - et l'avoit achevee moult bien - puis li dit toutes le novités et toutes le coses qu'il avoit veu[ç] en cele voie, si bien et sajemant que le grant kan, et celç tuit que l'oient, en unt grant mervoie, et distrent entr'aus: se cest jeune vif por aajes il ne puet falir qu'il ne soit home de grant senç et de grand valor. Et que voç en diroie? de cest messajarie en avant, fu appelé, le jeune, mesere Marc Pol, et ensi le apelara desormés nostre livre. Et ce est bien grant raison, car il estoit sajes et costumés.

 

Et por coi voç firoie je lonc conte? sachiés tout voiremant ke messer Marc demore avec le grant kan bien xvii anç; et en tut cest terme ne fin[e] d'aler en mesajerie.

 

 

Car le grant kaan, puis [k]'il voit que messier Marc li aportoie si noveles de tutes pars et que achevoit si bien toutes les biçonges por coi il l'envioit, il, por cest raison, toutes les bones mesajerie et le longaines toutes donnoit [a] meser Marc. Et il achevoit moult bien la beisogne et li savoit dir mai(n)tes novités et maintes estranges chouses. Et le grant kan li plasoit tant l'afer de meser Marc que il le vo(lo)it grant bien et li fasoit si grant onor et le tenoit si pres de soi que les autres baron en avent grant enoie.

 

 

 

Or ço fui la raison por coi meser Marc seç plus de celes couses de celle contree que nulz autres home, qu'il cher(c)e plus de celes estranges parties ke nulz omes ke unques nasquist, et encore qu'il hi mettoit plus son entent a ce savoir.

 

 

 

 

XVIII.

COMANT MESSERE NICOLAU E

MESSERE MAFEU E MESSERE MARC

DEMANDENT CONJÉ AU KAAN 

 

Et quant messere Nicolau et meser Mafeu et meser Marc furent demorés avec le gran kan tant com vos avés oi, il distrent entr'aus qn'il voloient retorner en lor contree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il domandent plusors parole au grant kaan et l'en prient mont doucemant. Mes les grant kan les amoit tant et li tenait si voluntiers entor lui qu'il ne lor donoit paroile por ren dou monde.

 

Or avint que la raine Bolgana, quele fame Argon estoit le sire dou levant, se morut: et cele roine laisse por sien testamente que nule dame ne pense seoir en sa chaire ne estre fame d'Argon se ne fust de son legnas. Adonc Argon prist trois sez barons li quelz avaient a non ensint: le primer Oulatai, le segont Apusca, le tierces Gaia. Il les envoie au grant kan con mont bielle conpagnie por coi il devest envoiere une dame que fust don lignas de la roine Bolgana sa fame que mort estoit.

 

Et quant les trois barons furent venu au grant kan, si li distrent lo porcoi il estoient venu. Le grant kan les recevi honorablemant et list elz joie e fest. Puis mande por une dame que avoit a non Cogacin que estoit dou legnace a celle roine Bolgana, qui estoit jeune dei xvii anz, mout bien et avenant. Il dist as trois barons que ceste dame estoit celle quil vont querant. Celz distrent que ce plet lor bien.

 

 

 

Et atant meser Marc tome de Ynde por mont deverses mer et conte maintes noveles de celle contree.

 

Et les trois barons, que unt veu meser Nicolau et mesere Mafeu et mesere Mame qui estoient latin et sajes, adonc distrent entr'aus qu'il vuelent qn'il aillent con elz por mer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ll alent au grant kaan et li demandent en grace que il li denst envoier por mer et qu'il mandest avec elz les trois latin.

Le grant kan que tant amoit cesti trois, come vos ai contés, a grant envie fait elz celle grace et done conj[é] as trois latin qu'il alaisent avuec celz trois barons avec cele dame.

 

 

 

XIX.

CI DEVISE COMENT MESIRE NICOLAU E MESERE MAFEU E MESSIER MARC SE PARTIRENT DAU GRANT KAAN

 

Et quant le grant kan voit que meisere Nicolau et mesere Mafeu et meser Marc se doient partir, il les fait venir tuit et trois devant soi et lor done deus tables con comandaniant qu'il fuissent franc por toute sa tere et laonques il ailarent deusent avoir la despense por elz et por lor mesnee.

 

 

El encharge elz enbasee a l'apostoille et au roi de France et au roi de Spegne et aus autres roi de crestenee. Puis fist aparoiller xiiii nes, les quelz avoit chascune quatre arbres et maintes foies aloient a xii voiles. Et vos poroie conter bien comant, mes por ce que tropo seroit longaine matere ne le vos rnentovraí ai cestui pont.

 

 

 

Et quant les nes furent aparoillés, les trois baron et la dame et meser Nieolau et meser Mafeu et meser Marc pristrent conjé au grant kan et se recogent en les nes a mout grant gent et le can fist elz doner la spence por ii ans.

Et que vos en diroi? Il se mistrent en la mer et najerent bien trois mois tant qu'il vindrent a une ysle, qui est ver midi, qui a non Java: en la quel ysle a maintes mervelios couses, les quelz vos conteroi en eeste livre, Puis se partirent de cel isle et vos di qu'il najarent por la mer de Indie bien xvm mois avant que il fuissent venus la ou il volient aler; et trovent el mantes grant merveilles que encore le vos conteron en cel livre.

Et quant el furent la venu, il trovent que Argon estoit mors, dont la dame fu doné a Gasan, le filz Argon. Et vos di san fail que quant il entrarent es nes il furent bien vic persones sanz le mariners: tuit morurent, for solemant xviii.

 

Il treuvent que la seignorie d'Argon tenoie Chia[ca]to. I[l] les recomandent la dame et firent toute lor enbasee et lor mesajarie. Et quant mesier Nicolao et meser Mafeu et meser Marc ont faites toutes la bisogne de la dame et les mesajerie que le grant kan lor avoit enchargiés, il pristrent conjé et se partirent et se mistrent a la voie. Et si sachiés tout voiramant que [Qui]achatu done a celz trois mesajes dou grant kan – ce furent meser Nicolau et mesere Mafeu et meser Marc – iiii table d’or [con] comandament: les dou de gerfauc et le une de lion et l'autre estoit plaine, que disoient en lor letre que cesti trois mesajes fuíssent honorés et servi por tout sa tere comme son cors meesme et que chevalz et toute despense et toute escorte fuisent lor doné.

Et certes ensi fu fait. Car il ont por tot sa tere chevals et despense et toutes conses bisognables bin et largement. Car je vos di sans faille que maintes foies lor estoit doués homes a chevalz et plus et moin, selon que beisognoit por lor escordre et por aler seur de une tere ad autre. Et ce estoit bien bisous por ce que [Qui]acatu n'estoit lige seignor et por ce les jens ne stroient de fer maus ausi coin il feistent se il assent seignor lige.

Et encore vos di un autre chouse que bien fait a mentovoir por le onore de cest trois mesajes. Car je vos di tout voiramant que meser Mafeu et meser Nicolao et meser Marc on si grant segnorie com ieo vos dirai. Car sachiés que le grant kan se f[i]oit tant d'eles et lor voloit si grant bien qu'il lor fie la roine Cocacin et encor fie la fille au roi dou Mangi: qu'il le deusent mener ad Argon, le sire de tous le levant. Et il ensi le font. Car il le moinent por la mer, ensi com je vos ai contés en arieres, con tantes jens et con si grant despense. Et si voz di que cest ii grant dames estoient en la maniaies de cesti iii mesnjes: car il le fasoient sauver et guarder [com] se ele fuissent lor filles; et les dames que mout estoient jeune et belle tenaient cesti trois por lor pere et ensint les obeient. Et cesti trois les mestrent en les mains de lor baron. Et si vos di con toute verité que la roine Cocacin, que feme a Casan est que orendroit regne, son baron Casan et elle vuelt si grant bien as trois mesajes qu'il n'est chouse que elle ne feisse por elz come sien peres meesme. Car sachiés que quant cesti trois mesajes se partirent de elle por retorner en lor pais, que ele lerme de pitié pur lor departiment.  Or vos ai contés une chouse que bien fait a loer quant a cesti trois mesajes furent afiés tiel ii dames por mener a lor baron de si longaine parte. Or vos laieron de ce et vos conteron avant. Et que vos en diroie? Quant les trois mesajes furent parti de Chiacatu il se mistrent a la voie et cavachent tant por lor jornee que il furent venu a Trepisonde et de Trepesonde s'en vindrent a Gostantinople [et de Gostantinople] sen vindrent a Negrepont et de Negrepont a Venese. Et ce fu as as mccxcv anz de l'a[n]carnasion de Crist.

Or puis que je vos ui contés tot le fat dou prolegue, ensi com vos avés oi, adonc come[n]cerau le livre.

 

 

 

XX.

DEVISE DE LA PETITE ARMENIE

 

 

II est voir qu’il sunt deus Harmenies: Une grant et une pitete. De la pitete en est sire un rois que mante[n]t bien la tere en justice et est soutpost au Tartar. Il hi a mantes viles et mantes castiaus. Et hi a de tontes chouses en grant abundance. Encore est tere de grant solace detute caces, et de bestes et de osiaus. Mes si vos di qu'ele n'est pas same provence, mes enferme duramant.

 

Et ansienemant les jentilz homes estoient vaillant et prodomes d’armes, mes orendroit sunt il cheitif et vils et ne out nulle bonté for qu’il sunt buen beveor. Encore hi a sor la mer une ville qui est apellé Laias, la qual est do gran mercaandie.

Car sachiés tout voiremant que tutes le speserie e les dras de fratere se portent a ce[ste] ville et toutes autres chier coses; et les mercans de Venese et de Jene et de touts pars hi vinent et I'acatent,

 

 

et tous homes et mercans que vuelent aler en fraterre prenent lor voie de ceste ville. Or vos avon conte de la pitete Ermine et apres vos conteron de 'I'urcomanie.

VI (Prologue, Chapter 5)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS ARRIVED AT THE COURT OF THE GREAT KAAN.

 

When the Two Brothers got to the Great Kaan, he received them with great honour and hospitality, and showed much pleasure at their visit, asking them a great number of questions. First, he asked about the emperors, how they maintained their dignity, and administered justice in their dominions; and how they went forth to battle, and so forth. And then he asked the like questions about the kings and princes and other potentates.

VII (Prologue, Chapter 6)

HOW THE GREAT KAAN ASKED ALL ABOUT THE MANNERS OF THE CHRISTIANS, AND PARTICULARLY ABOUT THE POPE OF ROME

 

And then he inquired about the Pope and the Church, and about all that is done at Rome, and all the customs of the Latins. And the Two Brothers told him the truth in all its particulars, with order and good sense, like sensible men as they were; and this they were able to do as they knew the Tartar language well.

VIII (Prologue, Chapter 7)

HOW THE GREAT KAAN SENT THE TWO BROTHERS AS HIS ENVOYS TO THE POPE

 

When that Prince, whose name was Cublay Kaan, Lord of the Tartars all over the earth, and of all the kingdoms and provinces and territories of that vast quarter of the world, had heard all that the Brothers had to tell him about the ways of the Latins, he was greatly pleased, and he took it into his head that he would send them on an Embassy to the Pope. So he urgently desired them to undertake this mission along with one of his Barons; and they replied that they would gladly execute all his commands as those of their Sovereign Lord. Then the Prince sent to summon to his presence one of his Barons whose name was Cogatal, and desired him to get ready, for it was proposed to send him to the Pope along with the Two Brothers. The Baron replied that he would execute the Lord's commands to the best of his ability.

After this the Prince caused letters from himself to the Pope to be indited in the Tartar tongue, and committed them to the Two Brothers and to that Baron of his own, and charged them with what he wished them to say to the Pope. Now the contents of the letter were to this purport: He begged that the Pope would send as many as an hundred persons of our Christian faith; intelligent men, acquainted with the Seven Arts, well qualified to enter into controversy, and able clearly to prove by force of argument to idolaters and other kinds of folk, that the Law of Christ was best, and that all other religions were false and naught; and that if they would prove this, he and all under him would become Christians and the Church's liegemen. Finally he charged his Envoys to bring back to him some Oil of the Lamp which burns on the Sepulchre of our Lord at Jerusalem.

 

IX (Prologue, Chapter 8)

HOW THE GREAT KAAN GAVE THEM A TABLET OF GOLD, BEARING HIS ORDERS IN THEIR BEHALF

 

When the Prince had charged them with all his commission, he caused to be given them a Tablet of Gold, on which was inscribed that the three Ambassadors should be supplied with everything needful in all the countries through which they should pass—with horses, with escorts, and, in short, with whatever they should require. And when they had made all needful preparations, the three Ambassadors took their leave of the Emperor and set out.

When they had travelled I know not how many days, the Tartar Baron fell sick, so that he could not ride, and being very ill, and unable to proceed further, he halted at a certain city. So the Two Brothers judged it best that they should leave him behind and proceed to carry out their commission; and, as he was well content that they should do so, they continued their journey. And I can assure you, that whithersoever they went they were honourably provided with whatever they stood in need of, or chose to command. And this was owing to that Tablet of Authority from the Lord which they carried with them.

X (Prologue, Chapter 9)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS CAME TO THE CITY OF ACRE.

They departed from Layas and came to Acre, arriving there in the month of April, in the year of Christ 1269, and then they learned that the Pope was dead. And when they found that the Pope was dead (his name was Pope [Clement]), they went to a certain wise Churchman who was Legate for the whole kingdom of Egypt, and a man of great authority, by name Theobald of Piacenza, and told him of the mission on which they were come. When the Legate heard their story, he was greatly surprised, and deemed the thing to be of great honour and advantage for the whole of Christendom. So his answer to the two Ambassador Brothers was this: "Gentlemen, ye see that the Pope is dead; wherefore ye must needs have patience until a new Pope be made, and then shall ye be able to execute your charge." Seeing well enough that what the Legate said was just, they observed: "But while the Pope is a-making, we may as well go to Venice and visit our households." So they departed from Acre and went to Negropont, and from Negropont they continued their voyage to Venice. On their arrival there, Messer Nicolas found that his wife was dead, and that she had left behind her a son of fifteen years of age, whose name was Marco; and 'tis of him that this Book tells. The Two Brothers abode at Venice a couple of years, tarrying until a Pope should be made.

XI (Prologue, Chapter 10)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS AGAIN DEPARTED FROM VENICE, ON THEIR WAY BACK TO THE GREAT KAAN, AND TOOK WITH THEM MARK, THE SON OF MESSER NICOLAS.

 

When the Two Brothers had tarried as long as I have told you, and saw that never a Pope was made, they said that their return to the Great Kaan must be put off no longer. So they set out from Venice, taking Mark along with them, and went straight back to Acre, where they found the Legate of whom we have spoken. They had a good deal of discourse with him concerning the matter, and asked his permission to go to Jerusalem to get some Oil from the Lamp on the Sepulchre, to carry with them to the Great Kaan, as he had enjoined. The Legate giving them leave, they went from Acre to Jerusalem and got some of the Oil, and then returned to Acre, and went to the Legate and said to him: "As we see no sign of a Pope's being made, we desire to return to the Great Kaan; for we have already tarried long, and there has been more than enough delay." To which the Legate replied: "Since 'tis your wish to go back, I am well content." Wherefore he caused letters to be written for delivery to the Great Kaan, bearing testimony that the Two Brothers had come in all good faith to accomplish his charge, but that as there was no Pope they had been unable to do so.

 

XII (Prologue, Chapter 11)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS SET OUT FROM ACRE, AND MARK ALONG WITH THEM

 

When the Two Brothers had received the Legate's letters, they set forth from Acre to return to the Grand Kaan, and got as far as Layas. But shortly after their arrival there they had news that the Legate aforesaid was chosen Pope, taking the name of Pope Gregory of Piacenza; news which the Two Brothers were very glad indeed to hear. And presently there reached them at Layas a message from the Legate, now the Pope, desiring them, on the part of the Apostolic See, not to proceed further on their journey, but to return to him incontinently. And what shall I tell you? The King of Hermenia caused a galley to be got ready for the Two Ambassador Brothers, and despatched them to the Pope at Acre.

XIII (Prologue, Chapter 13)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS PRESENTED THEMSELVES BEFORE THE NEW POPE

 

And when they had been thus honourably conducted to Acre they proceeded to the presence of the Pope, and paid their respects to him with humble reverence. He received them with great honour and satisfaction, and gave them his blessing. He then appointed two Friars of the Order of Preachers to accompany them to the Great Kaan, and to do whatever might be required of them. These were unquestionably as learned Churchmen as were to be found in the Province at that day—one being called Friar Nicolas of Vicenza, and the other Friar William of Tripoli. He delivered to them also proper credentials, and letters in reply to the Great Kaan's messages [and gave them authority to ordain priests and bishops, and to bestow every kind of absolution, as if given by himself in proper person; sending by them also many fine vessels of crystal as presents to the Great Kaan]. So when they had got all that was needful, they took leave of the Pope, receiving his benediction; and the four set out together from Acre, and went to Layas, accompanied always by Messer Nicolas's son Marco.

Now, about the time that they reached Layas, Bendocquedar, the Soldan of Babylon, invaded Hermenia with a great host of Saracens, and ravaged the country, so that our Envoys ran a great peril of being taken or slain. And when the Preaching Friars saw this they were greatly frightened, and said that go they never would. So they made over to Messer Nicolas and Messer Maffeo all their credentials and documents, and took their leave, departing in company with the Master of the Temple.

XIV (Prologue, Chapter 13)

HOW MESSER NICOLO AND MESSER MAFFEO POLO, ACCOMPANIED BY MARK, TRAVELLED TO THE COURT OF THE GREAT KAAN.

 

So the Two Brothers, and Mark along with them, proceeded on their way, and journeying on, summer and winter, came at length to the Great Kaan, who was then at a certain rich and great city, called Kemenfu. As to what they met with on the road, whether in going or coming, we shall give no particulars at present, because we are going to tell you all those details in regular order in the after part of this Book. Their journey back to the Kaan occupied a good three years and a half, owing to the bad weather and severe cold that they encountered. And let me tell you in good sooth that when the Great Kaan heard that Messers Nicolo and Maffeo Polo were on their way back, he sent people a journey of full 40 days to meet them; and on this journey, as on their former one, they were honourably entertained upon the road, and supplied with all that they required.

XV (Prologue, Chapter 14)

HOW MESSER NICOLO AND MESSER MAFFEO POLO AND MARCO PRESENTED THEMSELVES BEFORE THE GREAT KAAN

 

And what shall I tell you? when the Two Brothers and Mark had arrived at that great city, they went to the Imperial Palace, and there they found the Sovereign attended by a great company of Barons. So they bent the knee before him, and paid their respects to him, with all possible reverence [prostrating themselves on the ground]. Then the Lord bade them stand up, and treated them with great honour, showing great pleasure at their coming, and asked many questions as to their welfare, and how they had sped. They replied that they had in verity sped well, seeing that they found the Kaan well and safe. Then they presented the credentials and letters which they had received from the Pope, which pleased him right well; and after that they produced the Oil from the Sepulchre, and at that also he was very glad, for he set great store thereby. And next, spying Mark, who was then a young gallant, he asked who was that in their company? "Sire," said his father, Messer Nicolo, "'tis my son and your liegeman." "Welcome is he too," quoth the Emperor. And why should I make a long story? There was great rejoicing at the Court because of their arrival; and they met with attention and honour from everybody. So there they abode at the Court with the other Barons.

XVI (Prologue, Chapter 15)

HOW THE EMPEROR SENT MARK ON AN EMBASSY OF HIS

 

Now it came to pass that Marco, the son of Messer Nicolo, sped wondrously in learning the customs of the Tartars, as well as their language, their manner of writing, and their practice of war; in fact he came in brief space to know several languages, and four sundry written characters. And he was discreet and prudent in every way, insomuch that the Emperor held him in great esteem. And so when he discerned Mark to have so much sense, and to conduct himself so well and beseemingly, he sent him on an ambassage of his, to a country which was a good six months' journey distant. The young gallant executed his commission well and with discretion. Now he had taken note on several occasions that when the Prince's ambassadors returned from different parts of the world, they were able to tell him about nothing except the business on which they had gone, and that the Prince in consequence held them for no better than fools and dolts, and would say: "I had far liever hearken about the strange things, and the manners of the different countries you have seen, than merely be told of the business you went upon;"—for he took great delight in hearing of the affairs of strange countries. Mark therefore, as he went and returned, took great pains to learn about all kinds of different matters in the countries which he visited, in order to be able to tell about them to the Great Kaan.

XVII (Prologue, Chapter 16)

HOW MARK RETURNED FROM THE MISSION WHEREON HE HAD BEEN SENT

When Mark returned from his ambassage he presented himself before the Emperor, and after making his report of the business with which he was charged, and its successful accomplishment, he went on to give an account in a pleasant and intelligent manner of all the novelties and strange things that he had seen and heard; insomuch that the Emperor and all such as heard his story were surprised, and said: "If this young man live, he will assuredly come to be a person of great worth and ability." And so from that time forward he was always entitled Messer Marco Polo and thus we shall style him henceforth in this Book of ours, as is but right.

Thereafter Messer Marco abode in the Kaan's employment some seventeen years, continually going and coming, hither and thither, on the missions that were entrusted to him by the Lord [and sometimes, with the permission and authority of the Great Kaan, on his own private affairs].

And, as he knew all the sovereign's ways, like a sensible man he always took much pains to gather knowledge of anything that would be likely to interest him, and then on his return to Court he would relate everything in regular order, and thus the Emperor came to hold him in great love and favour. And for this reason also he would employ him the oftener on the most weighty and most distant of his missions. These Messer Marco ever carried out with discretion and success, God be thanked. So the Emperor became ever more partial to him, and treated him with the greater distinction, and kept him so close to his person that some of the Barons waxed very envious thereat. And thus it came about that Messer Marco Polo had knowledge of, or had actually visited, a greater number of the different countries of the World than any other man; the more that he was always giving his mind to get knowledge, and to spy out and enquire into everything in order to have matter to relate to the Lord.

XVIII (Prologue, Chapter 17)

HOW MESSER NICOLO, MESSER MAFFEO, AND MESSER MARCO, ASKED LEAVE OF THE GREAT KAAN TO GO THEIR WAY

 

When the Two Brothers and Mark had abode with the Lord all that time that you have been told [having meanwhile acquired great wealth in jewels and gold], they began among themselves to have thoughts about returning to their own country; and indeed it was time. [For, to say nothing of the length and infinite perils of the way, when they considered the Kaan's great age, they doubted whether, in the event of his death before their departure, they would ever be able to get home].

They applied to him several times for leave to go, presenting their request with great respect, but he had such a partiality for them, and liked so much to have them about him, that nothing on earth would persuade him to let them go.

Now it came to pass in those days that the Queen Bolgana, wife of Argon, Lord of the Levant, departed this life. And in her Will she had desired that no Lady should take her place, or succeed her as Argon's wife, except one of her own family [which existed in Cathay]. Argon therefore despatched three of his Barons, by name respectively Ouulatay, Apusca, and Coja, as ambassadors to the Great Kaan, attended by a very gallant company, in order to bring back as his bride a lady of the family of Queen Bolgana, his late wife.

When these three Barons had reached the Court of the Great Kaan, they delivered their message, explaining wherefore they were come. The Kaan received them with all honour and hospitality, and then sent for a lady whose name was Cocachin, who was of the family of the deceased Queen Bolgana. She was a maiden of 17, a very beautiful and charming person, and on her arrival at Court she was presented to the three Barons as the Lady chosen in compliance with their demand. They declared that the Lady pleased them well.

Meanwhile Messer Marco chanced to return from India, whither he had gone as the Lord's ambassador, and made his report of all the different things that he had seen in his travels, and of the sundry seas over which he had voyaged. And the three Barons, having seen that Messer Nicolo, Messer Maffeo, and Messer Marco were not only Latins, but men of marvellous good sense withal, took thought among themselves to get the three to travel with them, their intention being to return to their country by sea, on account of the great fatigue of that long land journey for a lady. And the ambassadors were the more desirous to have their company, as being aware that those three had great knowledge and experience of the Indian Sea and the countries by which they would have to pass, and especially Messer Marco.

So they went to the Great Kaan, and begged as a favour that he would send the three Latins with them, as it was their desire to return home by sea.

The Lord, having that great regard that I have mentioned for those three Latins, was very loath to do so [and his countenance showed great dissatisfaction]. But at last he did give them permission to depart, enjoining them to accompany the three Barons and the Lady.

XIX (Prologue, Chapter 18)

HOW THE TWO BROTHERS AND MESSER MARCO TOOK LEAVE OF THE GREAT KAAN, AND RETURNED TO THEIR OWN COUNTRY

 

And when the Prince saw that the Two Brothers and Messer Marco were ready to set forth, he called them all three to his presence, and gave them two golden Tablets of Authority, which should secure them liberty of passage through all his dominions, and by means of which, whithersoever they should go, all necessaries would be provided for them, and for all their company, and whatever they might choose to order. He charged them also with messages to the King of France, the King of England, the King of Spain, and the other kings of Christendom. He then caused thirteen ships to be equipt, each of which had four masts, and often spread twelve sails. And I could easily give you all particulars about these, but as it would be so long an affair I will not enter upon this now, but hereafter, when time and place are suitable. [Among the said ships were at least four or five that carried crews of 250 or 260 men.]

And when the ships had been equipt, the Three Barons and the Lady, and the Two Brothers and Messer Marco, took leave of the Great Kaan, and went on board their ships with a great company of people, and with all necessaries provided for two years by the Emperor. They put forth to sea, and after sailing for some three months they arrived at a certain Island towards the South, which is called Java, and in which there are many wonderful things which we shall tell you all about by-and-by. Quitting this Island they continued to navigate the Sea of India for eighteen months more before they arrived whither they were bound, meeting on their way also with many marvels, of which we shall tell hereafter.

And when they got thither they found that Argon was dead, so the Lady was delivered to Casa , his son. But I should have told you that it is a fact that, when they embarked, they were in number some 600 persons, without counting the mariners; but nearly all died by the way, so that only eight survived.

The sovereignty when they arrived was held by Kiacatu, so they commended the Lady to him, and executed all their commission. And when the Two Brothers and Messer Marco had executed their charge in full, and done all that the Great Kaan had enjoined on them in regard to the Lady, they took their leave and set out upon their journey. And before their departure, Kiacatu gave them four golden tablets of authority, two of which bore gerfalcons, one bore lions, whilst the fourth was plain, and having on them inscriptions which directed that the three Ambassadors should receive honour and service all through the land as if rendered to the Prince in person, and that horses and all provisions, and everything necessary, should be supplied to them. And so they found in fact; for throughout the country they received ample and excellent supplies of everything needful; and many a time indeed, as I may tell you, they were furnished with 200 horsemen, more or less, to escort them on their way in safety. And this was all the more needful because Kiacatu was not the legitimate Lord, and therefore the people had less scruple to do mischief than if they had had a lawful prince.

Another thing too must be mentioned, which does credit to those three Ambassadors, and shows for what great personages they were held.

 

The Great Kaan regarded them with such trust and affection, that he had confided to their charge the Queen Cocachin, as well as the daughter of the King of Manzi, to conduct to Argon the Lord of all the Levant.

 

And those two great ladies who were thus entrusted to them they watched over and guarded as if they had been daughters of their own, until they had transferred them to the hands of their Lord; whilst the ladies, young and fair as they were, looked on each of those three as a father, and obeyed them accordingly. Indeed, both Casan, who is now the reigning prince, and the Queen Cocachin his wife, have such a regard for the Envoys that there is nothing they would not do for them.

And when the three Ambassadors took leave of that Lady to return to their own country, she wept for sorrow at the parting.

 

 

 

What more shall I say? Having left Kiacatu they travelled day by day till they came to Trebizond, and thence to Constantinople, from Constantinople to Negropont, and from Negropont to Venice. And this was in the year 1295 of Christ's Incarnation.

 

 

And now that I have rehearsed all the Prologue as you have heard, we shall begin the Book of the Description of the Divers Things that Messer Marco met with in his Travels.

XX (Book I, Chapter 1)

HERE THE BOOK BEGINS; AND FIRST IT SPEAKS OF THE LESSER HERMENIA

There are two Hermenias, the Greater and the Less. The Lesser Hermenia is governed by a certain King, who maintains a just rule in his dominions, but is himself subject to the Tartar  The country contains numerous towns and villages, and has everything in plenty; moreover, it is a great country for sport in the chase of all manner of beasts and birds. It is, however, by no means a healthy region, but grievously the reverse.

In days of old the nobles there were valiant men, and did doughty deeds of arms; but nowadays they are poor creatures, and good at nought, unless it be at boozing; they are great at that. Howbeit, they have a city upon the sea, which is called Layas, at which there is a great trade. For you must know that all the spicery, and the cloths of silk and gold, and the other valuable wares that come from the interior, are brought to that city. And the merchants of Venice and Genoa, and other countries, come thither to sell their goods, and to buy what they lack.

And whatsoever persons would travel to the interior (of the East), merchants or others, they take their way by this city of Layas. Having now told you about the Lesser Hermenia, we shall next tell you about Turcomania.

XXI

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE TURCOMANIE

 

En Turcomanie ha trois jenerasion de jens. Ce sunt 'I'urcomans, qne aurent Maomet et tenent sa loy, et sunt sinple jons et ont brut lengajes.

II demorent en montagne et en landes, la on il saveut qui haie buen pasquor, por ce que il vivent de bestiaus. Et vos di qu'il hi naisent buen chavalz turcoman et bon mul de grant vaillmce. Et les autres jens sunt Armin et Greçois que mesleemant demorent con aus, en viles et en casteus, et vivent de mercaandie et d’ars. Car sachiés qne il hi se laborent le sovran tapis dou monde et li pins bians. Il i se laborent encore dras de soie cremosi et d'autres color, mout biaus et riches, et de maintes autres causes ausint.

Les sien nomé cité est le Conio, Casserie, Sevasto; et encore hi a maintes autres cités et causteus, les qualz le qualz ne vos conterai por ce ce que trop seroie longaine materie a mentovoir.

II sout [sout]post an Tartar dou levant et cil hi met sa, segnorie. Or laison de cest provence et parleron de le grant Armenie.

 

 

XXII

CI DEVISE DE LA GRANT ARMINIE

 

La grant Armenie est une grant provence. Elle comance da une cité qui est apelé Arçinga, en la quel se laborent les meillor bocaran que soit an monde. Et hi a les pius biaus bagnes et les meillors d'eive surgent que soient au seicle. Les jens sunt Armin et sunt homes do Tartar. Il hi a mantes castans et cités. Les plus nobles cites est Arçingal que [a] arcevesch[e]ve. L'autres sunt Argiron et Darçiçi.

 

El est mout grant provence. Et vos di que le esté hi demorent toute le oste dou Tartar dou levant, por ce que en ceste provence ha mout bon pasquor l’esté as bestes: et por ce [hi] demorent le Tartar con lor bestes l'estee, mes l’inver ne i demorent pas por la grant froidure de la nois qu'en i a outre mesure, dont les bestes nen poroi vivere. Et por ce se partirent le Tartar I'iuver et s’en vont es leu chaut, la o trovent grant erbes et buen pasquor por lor bestes.

Et encore vos di que en cest grant Erminie est l'arche de Noé sor une grant montaigne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elle confine dever midi enver levant con uno roiames qui est apelés Mosul que sunt jens cristiens, ce sunt jacopins et nestorins, des quelz vos en conterai en avant. Dever tramontane confines con Jor[g]iens, des quelz vos en parlerai encore avant. Et a ceste confine dever Jor[g]iens ha une fontane que sorçe oleo en grant abundance, si que cent nes hi kargent a une foies; mes il n'est pas bon a mauger, me il est bon a ardoir et a ouger les gamiaus por la rogne et por le farbores. Et venient les homes de mont loigne por cesto olio et tot la contree environ ne ardent autre olio que cest,

 

Or laisou de la grant Harmenie et vos conteron de la, provence de Jo[r]gie[n]s.

 

XXIII

CI DEVISE DOU ROI DES GIORGIENS E DE LOR AFFER

 

En Jorgienie a un roi qui est apeles par tout tens Davit Melic, que vaut a dir en fransois Davit roi. Et est sotpost au Tartar. Et ansienement tuit les rois de cele provence nasoient con un seigne d’aigle sor la spale destre. Il sunt belle jens et vaillant d'arme et bon archier et bon conbateor en bataie. Il suut cristiens et tenent la loy greçois. Le chevoil portent peitet a mainere de clerges.

Et [est] cest la provence que Alexandre ne poit paser quant il vost aler au ponent por ce que la vie est estroit et dotose, Car de l’un les est la mer et de l'autre est gran montagne que ne se poent cavaucher. La vie est mount estroit entre la montagne et la mer; et dure cest estroit vie plus de quatre liegues, si que pou homes tendront le pas a tout le monde. Et ce fo la caxon por coi Alexandre ne poet passere. Et vos di que Alexaudre hi fist fermer una tore et hi fist une fortece por coi celle jens ne poesent pasere por venir sor lui et fu apellé la port don fer et ce est le len que le livre Alexandre conte comant il enclouse les Tartars dedens densmontagnes. Et ce ne fu pas voir qu’il fuissent 'I'artar, mes furent une jeus qui estoient apellés Comain et autres jenerasion assez, car Tartars n'estoient a celui tens.

 

II hi a viles et caustaus asés et ont soie en grant abondance et hi si laborent dras de soie et dras d'ores, Ies plus biaus que homes veise unques. Il ha les meillor astor dou moude. Il ha de toutes couses abundance et vivent de mereandie et de labor. La provence est tout plene de grant montagne et d'estroit pas et de fort, si que je vos di que les Tartar ne postrent unques avoir tout entermant la segnoris,

 

 

Encore hi a un monester de nonain qui est apelé sant Lionard, qui a une tel mervaie com je vos contera. Sachiés qu'il hi a un grant lac d'eve qui vent d'une montagne dejoste le yglise de sant Lionard: et en cele eive que vent de cele moutagne en tout l'an ne se trove nul peson, ne peitet ne grant, for tant seulmant que le primer jorno de quaresme comencent a vinir; et venent cascu[n] jor de caresme jusque a saba, sant, ce est la vigille de Pasche; et en tont cest termene i se trevent peison asez, mes en toutes les autres tens de l'an ne s'en trovent mie.

Et encore vos di que la mer que je vos ai conta, qui est juste la montagne, est apellé la mer de Glevechelan, et gire environ [iiM]viiC milles et est logne de tous mer bien doçe jornee et hi met dedens le flu[n] d’Eufrates et mai[n]tes autres flu[n]s et est tout environee de montagne et de terre. Et novelemant les marchians de Jene najerent por cel mer, car il v’ont mis leign on il najerent. Et d’iluec vint la soie que est apelle G[h]elle. Or vos avo[n]s contes de les confin d’Armenie dever tramontane. Or vos volun conter de le autre confin que sunt entre midi et levant.

 

 

XXIV

CI DEVISE DOU ROIAUME DE MOSUL

 

Mosul est un grant roiames qui l'habitent plusors jenerasion de jens les quelz vos deviserai orendroit.

 

 

Il [a] une jens qui est apellé Arabi que orent Maomet. Encore hi a un autre generation de jens que tent la loy cristiane, mes non pas selo[n]c que comande l’eglise de Rome, car it faillent en plusors conses. II sunt apelés nestorin et jacopit. II ont patriarche, qu'el apelent Jatolic; et cestui patriarche fait arceveseheve et vescheve et abes et tout plolés ; et les envoie par toutes pars en Yndie et an Cata et enBaudac, ansint com fait l’apostoille de Rome. Et si vos dl que toit les cristians que vos entrovés en toutes cestes parties que je vos ai contés sunt nestorin et jacopit.

 

 

 

Et tout les dras de soie et d'ores, que sunt apelés mosulin, se font iluec. Et encore vos di que les grandisme mercaans que sunt apelés musolin, que aportent les grandisme quantites de toutes cheres aspices, sunt de cestui roiaumes [que je vos ai dit] desovre. Et en los montagnes de cest regno demorent jens que sunt apelés Curd, que sunt de cristiens nestorin et jacopit. Le une partie sunt sarain, que aorent Maomet. Il sunt prodomes [d'armes] et mauveise jens. Et robeut voluntere les mercaant

Or laison dou roiames de Mosul et vos parleron de la grant cite de Baudac.

 

 

 

 

XXV

CI DEVISE COMANT LA GRANT CITÉ DE BAUDAC FU PRISE

 

Baudac est une graudissime cité la u il est le calif de tous les sarain dou monde, ansint come a Rome est les cies de tous les cristiens dou monde. Et por me me la cité passe un flum mout grant et por celu flum poit [l'en] ben aler en la mer de Yndie. Et hi alent et vinent les mercaant con lor mercanelies. Et sachies que le flum est lonc, de Baudac a la mer de Yndie, bien XVIII jornee. E les mercaans que vuelent aler en Ynille vont port cel flum jusque a une cité qui a non Chisi et d'iluec entrarent en ]a mer de Yndie. Et encore vos di que sor cel flum, entre Baudac et Chisi, a une gran cité que a non Bascra et tout environ la cité por les bois naisent les meior dattal dou monde. En Baudac se laborent de ma[u]tes faison de dras d'ores et de soie, ce sunt nassit et nac et cremosi et de deverses maineres, labores a bestes et ausiaus mout richemant. Elle est la plus noble cité et la greignor que soit en toit cele parties. Et si sachies voiramant que au calis de Baudac se trenve Ie greignor tresor d'or et d'argent et de prees presioses que jamés se trevast a home, et vos dirai comant. Il fui voir que, entor MCCLV anz que Crist nasqui, le grant sire des Tartars que Alau avoit a non, que fu frere au grant sire que orendroit regne, asenble une grandisime ost et vent sor Baudac et la prist a force. Et ce fu bien gran cose, por ce que en Baudac avoit plus CM chevaliers, senz les homes a pie. Et quant il oit prise, il trove au calif une tor toute plene d’or et d'argent, e d'autre tesor, si que james non fu veue tant a une fois en un leu. Quant il veoit cest grant tesor, il n'a grant mereveie e mande por Ie calif et fait venir davant lui.

 

 

Puis li dit: «Calif, foit il, porcoi avois tu amassé tant tesor ? Que dovis tu fair? Or ne savois tu que je estoie tou nemi et que tes venoit sovre con si grant ost por tot deserter? Quant tu ce savoie, porcoi ne preis tu ton tesor et l'aust donés a chevaliers et a soldaer por toi defendre et ta cité!».

 

 

Le calif ne li responde ren por ce qu'il ne savoit que deust dir. Et adonc Alau li dist: «Calif puis que je voi que tu ame tant le tesor, et je le te voi doner a mangere le tien meesme». Adonc fist prendre le calif et fe lo metre en la tor dou tesor et comande que nulle cause li soit doné a manger ne a boir. Et puis li dit: «Calif, or menue de tesor tant com tu voudras, puis qu'il te plait taut; car jamés ne menuerai autre cose que de cest tesor».

Aprés ce l'ai laisé en la tore, la o il morut a chief de quatre jors. Et por ce seroit maus valut au calif qu'il ausse doné son tesor a les homes por defendre sa tere et sez jens que il fuse mor con toutes sez jens e deserités. Et de cestui calif en avant ne oit pius calif.

 

 

 

Or vos diron de Touris. Et bien est il voir que je vos poroi ben avoir dit [premeremant] de lor fait et de lor costumes. Mes por ce que seroit troip longaine materie vos ai abriviés mon dit. Et por ce vos conteron autres couses grant et merveiose, si com vos pori oir.

 

XXVI

DE LA GRANT MERVAILLE QUE AVINT EN BAUDAC DE LA MONTAGNE

 

Et encore volun conter une grant mervoie que avvent entre Baudac et Mosul. II fu voir que ales MCCLXXV anz de l’incarnasion de Crist avoit un calif en Baudac que volent mout grant maus as cristians et jor et noit pensuit comant il peuse tuit les cristians de sa tere fer retorner saracin, o se ne, que il les peust tuit fer metre a mort. Et de ce se conseioit toz jors cun sez regulés et cun sez sajes. Car tuit ensenble voloient grant maus a cristiens. Et ce est couse veritables que tuit les saracin dou monde velent grant maus a tuit les cristians do munde. Or avint que le calif con les sajes que entor lui estoient trevent un ponte tel com je vos dirai.

II trevent que en une evangelie dit que, se il fuse un cristiens que avese tant de foy quant il est un gran de seneve, que por sa priere que il feise a son segnor dieu il firoit jogner II montagnes ensenbles. Et quant il ont ce trové il ont grant leese, por ce que il distrent que ce estoit couse de fer torner les cristians saracins ou de meter les a mort tuit ensenble.

 

 

Et adone le calif mande por tuit les cristie[n]z, nestorin et jacopit, que en sa tere estoient, que mout furent grant quantité. Et quant il furent devant le calif venu, il lor mostre cel evangelie et le fait lor lire. Et quant il l'ont leu, il demande se il estoit ensi verités. «Donc dites vos, fait le calif, que un cristienz que ausse tant de foy quant est un graniaus de seneve que por sez prier que il feisse a son dieu il firoit jugnere II montagnes ensenble?». «Ce d[i]on nos voiremente» feit les cristiens. «Donc vos meterai je un parti davant, fait le calif; puis que vos estes tant cristians, bien en doit avoir entre vos que aie une pou de foy. Dout je vos di: ou voz ferés remuer celle montagne que voz la veés - et lor moustre un mont que pres estoit – ou je voz firai tuit morir a mala mors. Car se voz le faites movoir, adonc mostreres vos ne aies poi[n]t de foy. Je vos firai tuti occire o vos retorneres a la nostre bone loy que Maomet nostre profit nos done et aurés [bonne] foy et estré salves. Et a ce faire vos done respit de ci a X jors. Et se a celui terme ne l'aures fait, vos farai tuit metre a mort». Atant ne parole plus le calif et done conjé a cristians.

 

XXVII

COMANT LES CRISTIENS ONT GRANT PAOR DE CE QUE LE CALIF LOR AVOIT DIT

 

Et quant les cristians ont ente[n]du ce que le calif lor avoit dit, il ont mult gant ire grant paor de morir. Mes toites foies il avoient bone sperance en lor criator que les aidera de cest gran perilz. Il furent a consoil tuit les sajes cristie[n]s, qui estoient les prolés: car il avoit vesqueve et arcevescheve et preste asez. II ne poient prendre cunsuil for que prier lor segnor deu que por sa pieté et mercé [les] conseie en cest fait et qu'il les escampe de si cruel mort come le calif lor faroit faire se il ne firont ee que il lor demande.

Que vos en diroie? Sachies tout voirmant que les cristiens estoient tout jor et tute noite en oracion et prient devotement le Savaor, deo [deu] cel et de la tere, que il por sa pieté le devese aider de cest gran perilz la on il sunt. En c’est grant oracion et en cest pregeres furent les cristians VIII jors et VIII noites, mas[l]es et femes, pitet et grant.

Or avint que endementier que it estoient en ceste oracion que l’angel ven en vision pour mesajes de den a un veschevo que mout estotent home de sante vite. Il dit : «O veschevo, or te vais a tel chabatier que a un iaus et a celu dirés [que il face la priere] que la montagne se mue e la [montagne] se muara mantinant». Et de ceste chabatier vos dirai que home il estoie e sa vie.

Or sachies de voir qu’il estoit home molto onest et mout cast. II deçiunoit et ne fasoit nul peca. Il aloit toz jors a la glise et a la messe. II donoit chascus jors du pan que il avoit por due. Il estoit home de si bone mainere et de si sante vite que l’e[n] ne trovase un meior ne pres ne longe. Et si vos dirai une couse que il fist que l’uen dist que il soit bon home de bone foy et de bone vie. II fu voir qne il avoit plusor foies oi lire eu sant vangelie que se le iaus scandaliçot a pechere que tu le doit traire de la teste ou avuocher le si qu'el no te faça pechere.

Avint qne un jorno a la maison de cest çabater vent une bella femene por achater çabate. Le mestre li vost veir la ganba et la pe per veoir quelz çabate li fuissent bones. Et adonc se fait mostrere la jamba et li pe et la femene li mostre mantinant - et san faille elle estoit si belle, la janbe et le pe, que de plus biaus ne demandés. Et quant le mestre, qui estoit si bon comme jeo vos ai dit, ai veu la janbe et le pe a ceste feme, it en fu tot tenté, por ce que les iaus le voient volunter. Il lase aler la feme et ne li vost vendre  le çabate.

Et quant la feme en fu alés, le mestre dist a soi meesme: «Hai desloiaus et traites, a cui pinses tu? certe je en prenderai grant vingance de mes iaus que me scandaliçent». Et adonc prent tout mantinant une pitete macque, et la fait mont ague, et se done por me le un de iaus en tel mainer qu'il se le crevo dedens la teste, si qu’el non vi jamés. En tal mainere com voz avi oi, cest çabater se gaste le un des iaus de la teste. Et certe il estoit bien santisme home et bon. Or retorneron donc a nostre materie.

XXII (Book I, 2)

CONCERNING THE PROVINCE OF TURCOMANIA

 

In Turcomania there are three classes of people. First, there are the Turcomans; these are worshippers of Mahommet, a rude people with an uncouth language of their own. They dwell among mountains and downs where they find good pasture, for their occupation is cattle-keeping. Excellent horses, known as Turquans, are reared in their country, and also very valuable mules. The other two classes are the Armenians and the Greeks, who live mixt with the former in the towns and villages, occupying themselves with trade and handicrafts. They weave the finest and handsomest carpets in the world, and also a great quantity of fine and rich silks of cramoisy and other colours, and plenty of other stuffs. Their chief cities are Conia, Savast [where the glorious Messer Saint Blaise suffered martyrdom], and Casaria, besides many other towns and bishops' sees, of which we shall not speak at present, for it would be too long a matter. These people are subject to the Tartar of the Levant as their Suzerain. We will now leave this province, and speak of the Greater Armenia.

XXII (Book 1, 3)

DESCRIPTION OF THE GREATER HERMENIA.

 

This is a great country. It begins at a city called Arzinga, at which they weave the best buckrams in the world. It possesses also the best baths from natural springs that are anywhere to be found. The people of the country are Armenians, and are subject to the Tartar. There are many towns and villages in the country, but the noblest of their cities is Arzinga, which is the See of an Archbishop, and then Arziron and Arzizi.

The country is indeed a passing great one, and in the summer it is frequented by the whole host of the Tartars of the Levant, because it then furnishes them with such excellent pasture for their cattle. But in winter the cold is past all bounds, so in that season they quit this country and go to a warmer region, where they find other good pastures. [At a castle called Paipurth, that you pass in going from Trebizond to Tauris, there is a very good silver mine.

And you must know that it is in this country of Armenia that the Ark of Noah exists on the top of a certain great mountain [on the summit of which snow is so constant that no one can ascend; for the snow never melts, and is constantly added to by new falls. Below, however, the snow does melt, and runs down, producing such rich and abundant herbage that in summer cattle are sent to pasture from a long way round about, and it never fails them. The melting snow also causes a great amount of mud on the mountain].

The country is bounded on the south by a kingdom called Mosul, the people of which are Jacobite and Nestorian Christians, of whom I shall have more to tell you presently. On the north it is bounded by the Land of the Georgians, of whom also I shall speak. On the confines towards Georgiania there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance, insomuch that a hundred shiploads might be taken from it at one time. This oil is not good to use with food, but 'tis good to burn, and is also used to anoint camels that have the mange. People come from vast distances to fetch it, for in all the countries round about they have no other oil.

Now, having done with Great Armenia, we will tell you of Georgiania.

XXIII (Book I, 4)

OF GEORGIANIA AND THE KINGS THEREOF

 

In Georgiana there is a King called David Melic, which is as much as to say "David King"; he is subject to the Tartar. In old times all the kings were born with the figure of an eagle upon the right shoulder. The people are very handsome, capital archers, and most valiant soldiers. They are Christians of the Greek Rite, and have a fashion of wearing their hair cropped, like Churchmen.

This is the country beyond which Alexander could not pass when he wished to penetrate to the region of the Ponent, because that the defile was so narrow and perilous, the sea lying on the one hand, and on the other lofty mountains impassable to horsemen. The strait extends like this for four leagues, and a handful of people might hold it against all the world. Alexander caused a very strong tower to be built there, to prevent the people beyond from passing to attack him, and this got the name of the Iron Gate. This is the place that the Book of Alexander speaks of, when it tells us how he shut up the Tartars between two mountains; not that they were really Tartars, however, for there were no Tartars in those days, but they consisted of a race of people called COMANIANS and many besides. [In this province all the forests are of box-wood.

There are numerous towns and villages, and silk is produced in great abundance. They also weave cloths of gold, and all kinds of very fine silk stuffs. The country produces the best goshawks in the world [which are called Avigi]. It has indeed no lack of anything, and the people live by trade and handicrafts. 'Tis a very mountainous region, and full of strait defiles and of fortresses, insomuch that the Tartars have never been able to subdue it out and out.

There is in this country a certain Convent of Nuns called St. Leonard's, about which I have to tell you a very wonderful circumstance. Near the church in question there is a great lake at the foot of a mountain, and in this lake are found no fish, great or small, throughout the year till Lent come. On the first day of Lent they find in it the finest fish in the world, and great store too thereof; and these continue to be found till Easter Eve. After that they are found no more till Lent come round again; and so 'tis every year. 'Tis really a passing great miracle!

That sea whereof I spoke as coming so near the mountains is called the Sea of Ghel or Ghelan, and extends about 700 miles. It is twelve days' journey distant from any other sea, and into it flows the great River Euphrates and many others, whilst it is surrounded by mountains. Of late the merchants of Genoa have begun to navigate this sea, carrying ships across and launching them thereon. It is from the country on this sea also that the silk called Ghellé is brought. [The said sea produces quantities of fish, especially sturgeon, at the river-mouths salmon, and other big kinds of fish.]

XXVI (Book 1, 5)

OF THE KINGDOM OF MAUSUL

On the frontier of Armenia towards the south-east is the kingdom of Mausul. It is a very great kingdom, and inhabited by several different kinds of people whom we shall now describe.

First there is a kind of people called Arabi, and these worship Mahommet. Then there is another description of people who are Nestorian and Jacobite Christians. These have a Patriarch, whom they call the Jatocil, and this Patriarch creates Archbishops, and Abbots, and Prelates of all other degrees, and sends them into every quarter, as to India, to Baudas, or to Cathay, just as the Pope of Rome does in the Latin countries. For you must know that though there is a very great number of Christians in those countries, they are all Jacobites and Nestorians; Christians indeed, but not in the fashion enjoined by the Pope of Rome, for they come short in several points of the Faith.

All the cloths of gold and silk that are called Mosolins are made in this country; and those great Merchants called Mosolins, who carry for sale such quantities of spicery and pearls and cloths of silk and gold, are also from this kingdom.

There is yet another race of people who inhabit the mountains in that quarter, and are called Curds. Some of them are Christians, and some of them are Saracens; but they are an evil generation, whose delight it is to plunder merchants.

[Near this province is another called Mus and Merdin, producing an immense quantity of cotton, from which they make a great deal of buckram and other cloth. The people are craftsmen and traders, and all are subject to the Tartar King.]

XXV (Book I, 6)

OF THE GREAT CITY OF BAUDAS, AND HOW IT WAS TAKEN

 

Baudas is a great city, which used to be the seat of the Calif of all the Saracens in the world, just as Rome is the seat of the Pope of all the Christians. A very great river flows through the city, and by this you can descend to the Sea of India. There is a great traffic of merchants with their goods this way; they descend some eighteen days from Baudas, and then come to a certain city called Kisi, where they enter the Sea of India.

 

There is also on the river, as you go from Baudas to Kisi, a great city called Bastra, surrounded by woods, in which grow the best dates in the world.

In Baudas they weave many different kinds of silk stuffs and gold brocades, such as nasich, and nac, and cramoisy, and many another beautiful tissue richly wrought with figures of beasts and birds. It is the noblest and greatest city in all those regions.

 

 

Now it came to pass on a day in the year of Christ 1255, that the Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, whose name was Alaü, brother to the Great Kaan now reigning, gathered a mighty host and came up against Baudas and took it by storm. It was a great enterprise! for in Baudas there were more than 100,000 horse, besides foot soldiers. And when Alaü had taken the place he found therein a tower of the Califs, which was full of gold and silver and other treasure; in fact the greatest accumulation of treasure in one spot that ever was known. When he beheld that great heap of treasure he was astonished, and, summoning the Calif to his presence, he said to him: "Calif, tell me now why thou hast gathered such a huge treasure? What didst thou mean to do therewith? Knewest thou not that I was thine enemy, and that I was coming against thee with so great an host to cast thee forth of thine heritage? Wherefore didst thou not take of thy gear and employ it in paying knights and soldiers to defend thee and thy city?"

The Calif wist not what to answer, and said never a word. So the Prince continued, "Now then, Calif, since I see what a love thou hast borne thy treasure, I will e'en give it thee to eat!" So he shut the Calif up in the Treasure Tower, and bade that neither meat nor drink should be given him, saying, "Now, Calif, eat of thy treasure as much as thou wilt, since thou art so fond of it; for never shalt thou have aught else to eat!"

 

So the Calif lingered in the tower four days, and then died like a dog. Truly his treasure would have been of more service to him had he bestowed it upon men who would have defended his kingdom and his people, rather than let himself be taken and deposed and put to death as he was.  Howbeit, since that time, there has been never another Calif, either at Baudas or anywhere else.

Now I will tell you of a great miracle that befell at Baudas, wrought by God on behalf of the Christians.

 

 

 

 

XXVI (Book I, 7)

HOW THE CALIF OF BAUDAS TOOK COUNSEL TO SLAY ALL THE CHRISTIANS IN HIS LAND

 

I will tell you then this great marvel that occurred between Baudas and Mausul. It was in the year of Christ … that there was a Calif at Baudas who bore a great hatred to Christians, and was taken up day and night with the thought how he might either bring those that were in his kingdom over to his own faith, or might procure them all to be slain. And he used daily to take counsel about this with the devotees and priests of his faith, for they all bore the Christians like malice. And, indeed, it is a fact, that the whole body of Saracens throughout the world are always most malignantly disposed towards the whole body of Christians.

Now it happened that the Calif, with those shrewd priests of his, got hold of that passage in our Gospel which says, that if a Christian had faith as a grain of mustard seed, and should bid a mountain be removed, it would be removed. And such indeed is the truth. But when they had got hold of this text they were delighted, for it seemed to them the very thing whereby either to force all the Christians to change their faith, or to bring destruction upon them all. The Calif therefore called together all the Christians in his territories, who were extremely numerous. And when they had come before him, he showed them the Gospel, and made them read the text which I have mentioned. And when they had read it he asked them if that was the truth? The Christians answered that it assuredly was so.

 

 

"Well," said the Calif, "since you say that it is the truth, I will give you a choice. Among such a number of you there must needs surely be this small amount of faith; so you must either move that mountain there,"—and he pointed to a mountain in the neighbourhood—"or you shall die an ill death; unless you choose to eschew death by all becoming Saracens and adopting our Holy Law. To this end I give you a respite of ten days; if the thing be not done by that time, ye shall die or become Saracens."

And when he had said this he dismissed them, to consider what was to be done in this strait wherein they were.

XXVII (Book I, 8)

THE CHRISTIANS WERE IN GREAT DISMAY BECAUSE OF WHAT THE CALIF HAD SAID

The Christians on hearing what the Calif had said were in great dismay, but they lifted all their hopes to God, their Creator, that He would help them in this their strait. All the wisest of the Christians took counsel together, and among them were a number of bishops and priests, but they had no resource except to turn to Him from whom all good things do come, beseeching Him to protect them from the cruel hands of the Calif.

 

So they were all gathered together in prayer, both men and women, for eight days and eight nights.

 

 

 

 

 

And whilst they were thus engaged in prayer it was revealed in a vision by a Holy Angel of Heaven to a certain Bishop who was a very good Christian, that he should desire a certain Christian Cobler, who had but one eye, to pray to God; and that God in His goodness would grant such prayer because of the Cobler's holy life.

Now I must tell you what manner of man this Cobler was. He was one who led a life of great uprightness and chastity, and who fasted and kept from all sin, and went daily to church to hear Mass, and gave daily a portion of his gains to God. And the way how he came to have but one eye was this.

 

 

 

 

 

It happened one day that a certain woman came to him to have a pair of shoes made, and she showed him her foot that he might take her measure. Now she had a very beautiful foot and leg; and the Cobler in taking her measure was conscious of sinful thoughts. And he had often heard it said in the Holy Evangel, that if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, rather than sin.

 

 

 

So, as soon as the woman had departed, he took the awl that he used in stitching, and drove it into his eye and destroyed it. And this is the way he came to lose his eye. So you can judge what a holy, just, and righteous man he was.

XXVIII (Book I, 9)

HOW THE ONE-EYED COBLER WAS DESIRED TO PRAY FOR THE CHRISTIANS

Now when this vision had visited the Bishop several times, he related the whole matter to the Christians, and they agreed with one consent to call the Cobler before them. And when he had come they told him it was their wish that he should pray, and that God had promised to accomplish the matter by his means.

 

 

 

On hearing their request he made many excuses, declaring that he was not at all so good a man as they represented. But they persisted in their request with so much sweetness, that at last he said he would not tarry, but do what they desired.

XXIX (Book I, 10)

HOW THE PRAYER OF THE ONE-EYED COBLER CAUSED THE MOUNTAIN TO MOVE

And when the appointed day was come, all the Christians got up early, men and women, small and great, more than 100,000 persons, and went to church, and heard the Holy Mass. And after Mass had been sung, they all went forth together in a great procession to the plain in front of the mountain, carrying the precious cross before them, loudly singing and greatly weeping as they went. And when they arrived at the spot, there they found the Calif with all his Saracen host armed to slay them if they would not change their faith; for the Saracens believed not in the least that God would grant such favour to the Christians. These latter stood indeed in great fear and doubt, but nevertheless they rested their hope on their God Jesus Christ.

So the Cobler received the Bishop's benison, and then threw himself on his knees before the Holy Cross, and stretched out his hands towards Heaven, and made this prayer: "Blessed Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee by Thy goodness that Thou wilt grant this grace unto Thy people, insomuch that they perish not, nor Thy faith be cast down, nor abused nor flouted. Not that I am in the least worthy to prefer such request unto Thee; but for Thy great power and mercy I beseech Thee to hear this prayer from me Thy servant full of sin."

And when he had ended this his prayer to God the Sovereign Father and Giver of all grace, and whilst the Calif and all the Saracens, and other people there, were looking on, the mountain rose out of its place and moved to the spot which the Calif had pointed out! And when the Calif and all his Saracens beheld, they stood amazed at the wonderful miracle that God had wrought for the Christians, insomuch that a great number of the Saracens became Christians. And even the Calif caused himself to be baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen, and became a Christian, but in secret. Howbeit, when he died they found a little cross hung round his neck; and therefore the Saracens would not bury him with the other Califs, but put him in a place apart. The Christians exulted greatly at this most holy miracle, and returned to their homes full of joy, giving thanks to their Creator for that which He had done. And now you have heard in what wise took place this great miracle. And marvel not that the Saracens hate the Christians; for the accursed law that Mahommet gave them commands them to do all the mischief in their power to all other descriptions of people, and especially to Christians; to strip such of their goods, and do them all manner of evil, because they belong not to their law. See then what an evil law and what naughty commandments they have! But in such fashion the Saracens act, throughout the world.

Now I have told you something of Baudas. I could easily indeed have told you first of the affairs and the customs of the people there. But it would be too long a business, looking to the great and strange things that I have got to tell you, as you will find detailed in this Book.

So now I will tell you of the noble city of Tauris.

XXX (Book I, 11)

OF THE NOBLE CITY OF TAURIS

Tauris is a great and noble city, situated in a great province called Yrac, in which are many other towns and villages. But as Tauris is the most noble I will tell you about it.

The men of Tauris get their living by trade and handi crafts, for they weave many kinds of beautiful and valuable stuffs of silk and gold. The city has such a good position that merchandize is brought thither from India, Baudas, Cremesor, and many other regions; and that attracts many Latin merchants, especially Genoese, to buy goods and transact other business there; the more as it is also a great market for precious stones. It is a city in fact where merchants make large profits.

The people of the place are themselves poor creatures; and are a great medley of different classes. There are Armenians, Nestorians, Jacobites, Georgians, Persians, and finally the natives of the city themselves, who are worshippers of Mahommet. These last are a very evil generation; they are known as Taurizi.

The city is all girt round with charming gardens, full of many varieties of large and excellent fruits.

Now we will quit Tauris, and speak of the great country of Persia. [From Tauris to Persia is a journey of twelve days.]

XXVIII

COMANT L’AVISION VIENT A L’EVESQUE QUE LA PROIERE D’UN CIABATTER FIROIT [MOIVIR LA MONTAGNE]

 

Or sachiés, quant ceste avision fu venue plusors foies a cel vescheve que il deust mander por cel çabatero et que celui por sa prier far mover la montagne, cestui veschevo le dist entres les autres cristians tout le fait de l’avision que li estoit avenu por tantes foies. Et les cristiens tuit loerent [qu’il] feissent venir davant elz el çabatier. Et adonc le firent venir. Et quant il fu vinu il distrent que il volent que il doie prier le segnor deu qu’el deust fair mover la montagne. Et quant cest çabater oi ce que le vescheve et les autres cristians li disoient, il dit qu’il n’est pas si bon home que damene deu feisse por so preier si grant fait. Les cristiens le prient meout dolcement que dovese fair cele priere a dieu. Et que vos en diroie? Il le prient tant que il dit qu’el fara lor volunté et fira celle priere a son criatore.

 

XXIX

COMANT LA PRUIERE DOU CRISTIENS FIST MOVOIR LA MONTAGNE

 

E quant le jor dou termene fo venu les cristiens se levent bien por mitin et, masles et femes, pitet et grant, il alent a lor eglise et cautent la sainte mese. Et quant il ont canté et fait tout le servise don nostre sire dieu, il, tuit ensenble, se mestrent a la voie a alere eu plain [au pie] de cele montagne et portant la crois dou Savator davant elz. Et quant il furent tuit les cristines venus en cest plain, qui estoient bien CM, il se mistrent davant la croise de nostre sire. Le calif hi estoit a si grant motitndine de saracin que ce estoit mervoie: qui estoient venu por occir les cristiens, car il ne croient mie que la montagne se remuase. E les cristiens tuit, piteti et grant, avoient grant paur et grant doute; mes toutes foies avoient bone sperance en lor criator. Et quant toutes cestes gens, cristiens et sarasin, estoient en eel plain, adonc Ie çabater s'enjenocle devant la crois et tent sez mains ver le cel e prie mout son Salvator que cel montagne se doie movoir et que tant cristiens come iluec sunt ne mort[t]i soit a male morte.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Et quant il oit fait sa preier, il ne demore mie guiers que la montague començ[a]a deruiner et a mover. E quant Ie calif et les saracin vient ce, il n'out grant mervoie et plusor s'en tornent cristiens.

 

 

 

 

 

Et le calif mesme se fist cristiens, mes ce fu celeemant: mes que, [quand] il morut, li se treuve une croxe a cuil; dont les saracin ne le sevolent es tonbe des autres calif, mes le mistrent en autre leu. En cel mainere ala cest mervoille come il avés oi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XXX

CI DEVISE DE LA NOBLE CITÉ DE TORIS

 

Toris est une grant cité qui est eu une provence qui est apelés Yrac, en la quel a encore maintes cité et mant caustaus: mais, por ce que Toris est la plus noble cité de celle provence, vos conterai de son afar.

Il est voir que les homes de Toris vivent de mercandies et d'ars, car il i se laborent maintes dras a or et de sole et de grant vaillance. La cité si en si buen leu [que] de Yndie et de Baudac et de Mosul et de Cremosor et de maintes autres leus hi vient les mercandies, et iluec vienent maint mercaant latin por acater de celes mercandies que hi venent des estranges pais. Et encore hi se acatent de peres presioses que in grant abundance i si trove. El est cité que mout; font grunt profit les mercant viandant.

Il sunt jens de poc afer et sunt mont meslee de maintes maineres. Jens il ha armi[n] nestori]n] et jacopit et giorgian et persian et encore hi a homes que aorent Maomet et ce sunt le pueple de la cité, que sunt apelés Tauriz[ins].

 

 

La vile est tout euvironé entor de biaus jardinz et de deletable, plen de maint fruit et buens. Les sarain de Toris sunt mont mauveis et desloiaus. Que la loi, que lor profete Maomet a lor doné, comande que tont le maus qu’il puent faire a toutes jens que ne soient de lor loy et tout cel que il puent lor tolir ne n’unt nul pechies. Et por ceste couse foroient it mout mans se no fuse por la segnorie. Et tuites les autres saracin dou monde se mantinent en ceste mainere.

Or laison de Tauris et comenceron de Persie.

 

 

 

(This chapter is absent from the Franco-Italian version of the Divisament dou Monde, but included in Giovan Battista Ramusio's edition of the text)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XXXI

CI COMANCE DE LA GRANT PROVENCE DE PERSE

 

 

Persie est une grandisime provence, la quale ansienamant fu mut nobles et de grant afer, mes orendroit les hont destruite et gasté les Tartars.

En Persie est la cité qui est apelé Sava, de la quel se partirent les trois mais, quant il vindrent ahorer Jesucrit. En ceste cité sunt soveliz les tres mais en trois sepouture mout grant et beles. Et desor la sepouture a une maison quaré – et desovre riont – mut bien evrés. Et est le une juste l’autre. Les cors sunt encore tuit entiere et ont ch[e]voilz et barbe. Le un avoit a nom Beltasar, le autre Gaspar, le terço Melchior. Mesere Marc demande plusor jens de cel cité de l’estre de ces trois mais, mes nul ne i ot qu’il en sause dir ren, for qu’il disoient qu’il estoient trois rois que ansienamant i furent soveliz. Mes il en apristent ce que je vos dirai.

Trois jornee plus avant, trovent un caustaus qui est appelés Cala Ataperistan, que vaut dir en fransois caustiaus de les aoraror de feu. Et ce est il bien verité: car les homes de cel caustiaus aorent le fu. Et voz dirai le porcoi il les aorent.

 

 

Les homes de cel caustiaus dient que jadis ansienemant trois lor rois de cele contree aloient aorer un profete qui estoit nes, et aportent trois ofert – or, oncens et mire – por connoistre se celui profet estoit dieu ou rois tereine or mirre. Car il dient: se il prant or, qu’il est roi tereine et se il prient encens il est dieu et se il prient mire qu’il est mire.

 

 

Et quant furent venu la ou l’enfens estoie nes, les plus jeune de cesti trois rois s’en vait tot seul por veoir l’enfant: et adonc l’entreve qu’il estoit senblable a soi meesme, car il senbloit de son aages et de sa faison. Adonc oisi hors mout mervillat. Et aprés il ala le autre que estoit de meçen aages: et tout ausi le senble come a le autre: de sa faison et de son aages. Et encore oissi hors tout esbais. Puis hi ala le tierce, que de greignor aajes estoit, et tout ansint li avint come a les autres deus. Et encore oissi hors mout pensif. Et quant les trois rois furent tuit et trois ensenble, il dit le un a le autre ce qu’il avoient veu: et de ce se font il mout grant merveie et distrent que il iront tuit et trois a une fois. Adonc s’en alent tuit ensemble devant l’enfant: et treuvent de l’imaje et de le aajes qu’il estoit. Car il ne avoit que XIII jors. Adonc le aorent et li ofrent le or et l’encens et la mirre. L’enfant le prist toites et trois les ofertes. Adonc puis done lor l’enfant un busel cleus. Les trois rois se partirent por retorner en lor contree.

(Book I, 12)

OF THE MONASTERY OF ST. BARSAMO ON THE BORDERS OF TAURIS

On the borders of (the territory of) Tauris there is a monastery called after Saint Barsamo, a most devout Saint. There is an Abbot, with many Monks, who wear a habit like that of the Carmelites, and these to avoid idleness are continually knitting woollen girdles. These they place upon the altar of St. Barsamo during the service, and when they go begging about the province (like the Brethren of the Holy Spirit) they present them to their friends and to the gentlefolks, for they are excellent things to remove bodily pain; wherefore every one is devoutly eager to possess them.

 

 

XXXI (Book I, 13)

OF THE GREAT COUNTRY OF PERSIA; WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE THREE KINGS.

 

Persia is a great country, which was in old times very illustrious and powerful; but now the Tartars have wasted and destroyed it.

In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out when they went to worship Jesus Christ; and in this city they are buried, in three very large and beautiful monuments, side by side. And above them there is a square building, carefully kept. The bodies are still entire, with the hair and beard remaining. One of these was called Jaspar, the second Melchior, and the third Balthasar. Messer Marco Polo asked a great many questions of the people of that city as to those Three Magi, but never one could he find that knew aught of the matter, except that these were three kings who were buried there in days of old.

However, at a place three days' journey distant he heard of what I am going to tell you. He found a village there which goes by the name of Cala Ataperistan, which is as much as to say, "The Castle of the Fire-worshippers." And the name is rightly applied, for the people there do worship fire, and I will tell you why.

They relate that in old times three kings of that country went away to worship a Prophet that was born, and they carried with them three manner of offerings, Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrh; in order to ascertain whether that Prophet were God, or an earthly King, or a Physician. For, said they, if he take the Gold, then he is an earthly King; if he take the Incense he is God; if he take the Myrrh he is a Physician.

So it came to pass when they had come to the place where the Child was born, the youngest of the Three Kings went in first, and found the Child apparently just of his own age; so he went forth again marvelling greatly. The middle one entered next, and like the first he found the Child seemingly of his own age; so he also went forth again and marvelled greatly. Lastly, the eldest went in, and as it had befallen the other two, so it befell him. And he went forth very pensive. And when the three had rejoined one another, each told what he had seen; and then they all marvelled the more. So they agreed to go in all three together, and on doing so they beheld the Child with the appearance of its actual age, to wit, some thirteen days. Then they adored, and presented their Gold and Incense and Myrrh. And the Child took all the three offerings, and then gave them a small closed box; whereupon the Kings departed to return into their own land.

XXXII (Book I, 14)

WHAT BEFELL WHEN THE THREE KINGS RETURNED TO THEIR OWN COUNTRY

And when they had ridden many days they said they would see what the Child had given them. So they opened the little box, and inside it they found a stone. On seeing this they began to wonder what this might be that the Child had given them, and what was the import thereof. Now the signification was this: when they presented their offerings, the Child had accepted all three, and when they saw that they had said within themselves that He was the True God, and the True King, and the True Physician.[NOTE 1] And what the gift of the stone implied was that this Faith which had begun in them should abide firm as a rock. For He well knew what was in their thoughts. Howbeit, they had no understanding at all of this signification of the gift of the stone; so they cast it into a well. Then straightway a fire from Heaven descended into that well wherein the stone had been cast.

And when the Three Kings beheld this marvel they were sore amazed, and it greatly repented them that they had cast away the stone; for well they then perceived that it had a great and holy meaning. So they took of that fire, and carried it into their own country, and placed it in a rich and beautiful church. And there the people keep it continually burning, and worship it as a god, and all the sacrifices they offer are kindled with that fire. And if ever the fire becomes extinct they go to other cities round about where the same faith is held, and obtain of that fire from them, and carry it to the church. And this is the reason why the people of this country worship fire. They will often go ten days' journey to get of that fire.

 

 

Such then was the story told by the people of that Castle to Messer Marco Polo; they declared to him for a truth that such was their history, and that one of the three kings was of the city called Saba, and the second of Ava, and the third of that very Castle where they still worship fire, with the people of all the country round about.

Having related this story, I will now tell you of the different provinces of Persia, and their peculiarities.

 

XXXIII (Book 1, 15)

OF THE EIGHT KINGDOMS OF PERSIA, AND HOW THEY ARE NAMED

 

Now you must know that Persia is a very great country, and contains eight kingdoms. I will tell you the names of them all.

The first kingdom is that at the beginning of Persia, and it is called Casvin; the second is further to the south, and is called Curdistan; the third is Lor; the fourth [Suolstan]; the fifth Istant; the sixth Serazy; the seventh Soncara; the eighth Tunocain, which is at the further extremity of Persia. All these kingdoms lie in a southerly direction except one, to wit, Tunocain; that lies towards the east, and borders on the (country of the) Arbre Sol.

In this country of Persia there is a great supply of fine horses; and people take them to India for sale, for they are horses of great price, a single one being worth as much of their money as is equal to 200 livres Tournois; some will be more, some less, according to the quality. Here also are the finest asses in the world, one of them being worth full 30 marks of silver, for they are very large and fast, and acquire a capital amble. Dealers carry their horses to Kisi and Curmosa, two cities on the shores of the Sea of India, and there they meet with merchants who take the horses on to India for sale.

In this country there are many cruel and murderous people, so that no day passes but there is some homicide among them. Were it not for the Government, which is that of the Tartars of the Levant, they would do great mischief to merchants; and indeed, maugre the Government, they often succeed in doing such mischief. Unless merchants be well armed they run the risk of being murdered, or at least robbed of everything; and it sometimes happens that a whole party perishes in this way when not on their guard. The people are all Saracens, i.e. followers of the Law of Mahommet.

In the cities there are traders and artizans who live by their labour and crafts, weaving cloths of gold, and silk stuffs of sundry kinds. They have plenty of cotton produced in the country; and abundance of wheat, barley, millet, panick, and wine, with fruits of all kinds.

[Some one may say, "But the Saracens don't drink wine, which is prohibited by their law." The answer is that they gloss their text in this way, that if the wine be boiled, so that a part is dissipated and the rest becomes sweet, they may drink without breach of the commandment; for it is then no longer called wine, the name being changed with the change of flavour.]

XXXIV (Book I, 16)

CONCERNING THE GREAT CITY OF YASDI

 

Yasdi also is properly in Persia; it is a good and noble city, and has a great amount of trade. They weave there quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to dispose of. The people are worshippers of Mahommet.

When you leave this city to travel further, you ride for seven days over great plains, finding harbour to receive you at three places only. There are many fine woods [producing dates] upon the way, such as one can easily ride through; and in them there is great sport to be had in hunting and hawking, there being partridges and quails and abundance of other game, so that the merchants who pass that way have plenty of diversion. There are also wild asses, handsome creatures. At the end of those seven marches over the plain you come to a fine kingdom which is called Kerman.

XXXII

CI DEVISE DE TROIS MAGIS QUE VINDRENT A AORER DIEU

 

Et quant il ont chevauchés auques jornee, il dístrent quil voient veoir ce que l'infant avoit lor doué. Adonc avrent le busel et il trovent dedans une pieres. Il se font grant meravoie que ce puet estre. L'enfant l'avoit lor doné en senifiance qu'il fuissent ferme come pieres en la foi qu'il avoient comencés. Car quant les trois rois virent que l'enfant avoit prese toutes et trois les ofertes, il distrent qu'il estoit dieu et roi terestre et mire. Et por ce que l'enfant soit [que] questes trois [rois] unt cel foy, done elz la pere en sinifiance qu'il fuissent ferme et costant a cel que il croient. Les trois rois pristent cel perce et la getent in un puis, car il ne savoient pas porcoi la piere fo lor doné; et tant tost que la piere fo getee eu puis, descendi dou ciel un feu ardant et vient tout droit a[u] puis, la ou la piere avoit gitee.

 

 

Et quant les trois rois virent cest grant morvoille il en devienent huit esbaîs et furent repentu de ce qu'il avoient la piere gitee; car bien voient que ce estoit grant senifiance et bone. Il pristent maintinant de cel feu et le portorent en lor pais, et le mistrent en une lor gliese molt belle et riche. Et toutes fois le font ardre et l'aorent come dieu; et tuit lor sacrifice et holocast qu'il font cuient con cel feu. Et s'el avenist alcune fois que le feu s'astutas, il vunt a les autres que cel meesme foy tienent et aorent le feu ausi, et se font doner de lor feu que art en lor yglise, et tornent a aprendre le lor feu: ne jamés ne l'aprennerent se no fost de cel feu que je vos ai comtés. Et vont, pour trever de cel feu, mantes fois X jornees. Por ces caison que je vos [ai] contes, aorent le feu celz de celle contree. Et vos di qu'il sunt mantes jens.

Et toute ceste chouse content et distrent, celz chastelehasiel, a mesiere Marc Pol: et tout ensiut est verité. Et encore vos di que le une des trois mais fu de Saba, et le autre de Ava et le terç de Cashan.

 

 

 

Or vos ai contés cestui fait bien a conpimento et aprés vos contirai de mai[n]tes autres cités de Persie, de lor fait et de lor coutumes

 

XXXIII

CI DEVISE DE VIII ROIAUME DE PERSE

 

 

Or sachiés que en Persie a viil roiames, por ce qu’el est grandisme provence; et si les vos contrai por lor nom tuit.

Le primer roiames — ce est don commencement — a nom Casvin; le segond, qu’est dever midi, est appelés Curdistan; le terç est apelés Lor; le quart Çul[i]stan; le quint Isfaan; le seisme Oeraçi; le septisme Soncara; le oitisine Tunocain, qui est a l’esue de Persie. Tuit cesti roiames sunt dever medi, for le un solemant, ceste est Tunocain, qui est près a l’a[r]bre seul.

 

En cesti roiames a maint biaus destrer et mant e[n] moinent en Yndie a vendre; et sachiés qu’il sunt chevaus de grant vaillance, car il vendent le un bien CC libre de  tornis, et tous les plusors sunt de ceste vaillance. Encore hi a asne li plus biaus don monde, que bien vaut le un trointe mars d’argent; car il sunt grande coreor et bien portant a l’anblaure. Les gens de cesti roiames moinent les cavaus que je vos ai dit jusque a Chisi et a Curmosa, que suut deus cité que sunt sour la rive dou mer d’Endie; et iluec troveut les mercant que les acatent et les moinent en Yndie et la li vendent si cher cum je vos ai contés.

En cestes roiames a de mai[n]tes cruel jens et homisidiaus: car il se ocient tout jor ensenble, et, se ne fust por doutre de la segnorie, ce est del Tartar do levant, il faroient grant maus as mercaante viandant. Et por tout la segnorie ne laisent il mie qu’il ne tacent elz domajes plusors fois; car, se les mercaant ne sunt bien aparoillés d’armes et d’arc, il les occient et maumenent malemant. E vos di san faille que tinent tuit la loy Maomet lou[r] profete.

 

 

 

 

En le cité ha mercaans et homes d’ars asez, que vivent de mercandies et de labor. Car il font dras d’ore et dras de soie de toutes fassions. Il hi naist banbace asez. Il ont abundance de forment et d’ors et de milio et de pani et de toutes blait et de vin et de toutes fruit.

Or laison de cesti roiames et vos conteron de la grant cité de Yasdi tout son afer |e son costumes.

 

 

XXXIV

CI DEVISE DE LA CITÉ DE YASDI

 

Yasdi est en Persie meisme, molt bone cité et noble et de grant marcandies. Il se laborant maint dras de soie, que s’apeles iasdi, que les mercant les portent eu maintes pars por fer lor profit. Il aorent Maomet.

 

 

Et quant l’en s’en part de ceste tiere por aler avant, il chevache VII jornee toute plaine, et n’i a for que en trois leus habitasion, la ou l’en peust herbogier. Il hi a maint biaus boscet, que se puent bien chavacher. Il hi a maintes chachajon de bosces. Il ha pernis et quatornis asez; et les mercant, que por iluec chevauchent, en prenent grant seulas. Il hi a encore asne savajes moût biaus. Et a chief de ceste VII jornee se trouve u[n] roiame que est apellé Cherman.

XXXV (Book I, 17)

CONCERNING THE KINGDOM OF KERMAN

Kerman is a kingdom which is also properly in Persia, and formerly it had a hereditary prince. Since the Tartars conquered the country the rule is no longer hereditary, but the Tartar sends to administer whatever lord he pleases. In this kingdom are produced the stones called turquoises in great abundance; they are found in the mountains, where they are extracted from the rocks. There are also plenty of veins of steel and Ondanique. The people are very skilful in making harness of war; their saddles, bridles, spurs, swords, bows, quivers, and arms of every kind, are very well made indeed according to the fashion of those parts. The ladies of the country and their daughters also produce exquisite needlework in the embroidery of silk stuffs in different colours, with figures of beasts and birds, trees and flowers, and a variety of other patterns. They work hangings for the use of noblemen so deftly that they are marvels to see, as well as cushions, pillows quilts, and all sorts of things.

In the mountains of Kerman are found the best falcons in the world. They are inferior in size to the Peregrine, red on the breast, under the neck, and between the thighs; their flight so swift that no bird can escape them.

On quitting the city you ride on for seven days, always finding towns, villages, and handsome dwelling-houses, so that it is very pleasant travelling; and there is excellent sport also to be had by the way in hunting and hawking. When you have ridden those seven days over a plain country, you come to a great mountain; and when you have got to the top of the pass you find a great descent which occupies some two days to go down. All along you find a variety and abundance of fruits; and in former days there were plenty of inhabited places on the road, but now there are none; and you meet with only a few people looking after their cattle at pasture.

From the city of Kerman to this descent the cold in winter is so great that you can scarcely abide it, even with a great quantity of clothing.

XXXVI (Book I, 18)

OF THE CITY OF CAMADI AND ITS RUINS;

ALSO TOUCHING THE CARAUNA ROBBERS

After you have ridden down hill those two days, you find yourself in a vast plain, and at the beginning thereof there is a city called CAMADI, which formerly was a great and noble place, but now is of little consequence, for the Tartars in their incursions have several times ravaged it. The plain whereof I speak is a very hot region; and the province that we now enter is called Reobarles.

The fruits of the country are dates, pistachioes, and apples of Paradise, with others of the like not found in our cold climate. [There are vast numbers of turtledoves, attracted by the abundance of fruits, but the Saracens never take them, for they hold them in abomination.] And on this plain there is a kind of bird called francolin, but different from the francolin of other countries, for their colour is a mixture of black and white, and the feet and beak are vermilion colour.

The beasts also are peculiar; and first I will tell you of their oxen. These are very large, and all over white as snow; the hair is very short and smooth, which is owing to the heat of the country. The horns are short and thick, not sharp in the point; and between the shoulders they have a round hump some two palms high. There are no handsomer creatures in the world. And when they have to be loaded, they kneel like the camel; once the load is adjusted, they rise. Their load is a heavy one, for they are very strong animals. Then there are sheep here as big as asses; and their tails are so large and fat, that one tail shall weigh some 30 lbs. They are fine fat beasts, and afford capital mutton.

In this plain there are a number of villages and towns which have lofty walls of mud, made as a defence against the banditti, who are very numerous, and are called Caraonas. This name is given them because they are the sons of Indian mothers by Tartar fathers. And you must know that when these Caraonas wish to make a plundering incursion, they have certain devilish enchantments whereby they do bring darkness over the face of day, insomuch that you can scarcely discern your comrade riding beside you; and this darkness they will cause to extend over a space of seven days' journey. They know the country thoroughly, and ride abreast, keeping near one another, sometimes to the number of 10,000, at other times more or fewer. In this way they extend across the whole plain that they are going to harry, and catch every living thing that is found outside of the towns and villages; man, woman, or beast, nothing can escape them! The old men whom they take in this way they butcher; the young men and the women they sell for slaves in other countries; thus the whole land is ruined, and has become well-nigh a desert.

The King of these scoundrels is called Nogodar. This Nogodar had gone to the Court of Chagatai, who was own brother to the Great Kaan, with some 10,000 horsemen of his, and abode with him; for Chagatai was his uncle. And whilst there this Nogodar devised a most audacious enterprise, and I will tell you what it was. He left his uncle who was then in Greater Armenia, and fled with a great body of horsemen, cruel unscrupulous fellows, first through Badashan, and then through another province called Pashai-Dir, and then through another called Ariora-Keshimur. There he lost a great number of his people and of his horses, for the roads were very narrow and perilous. And when he had conquered all those provinces, he entered India at the extremity of a province called Dalivar. He established himself in that city and government, which he took from the King of the country, Asedin Soldan by name, a man of great power and wealth. And there abideth Nogodar with his army, afraid of nobody, and waging war with all the Tartars in his neighbourhood.

Now that I have told you of those scoundrels and their history, I must add the fact that Messer Marco himself was all but caught by their bands in such a darkness as that I have told you of; but, as it pleased God, he got off and threw himself into a village that was hard by, called Conosami. Howbeit he lost his whole company except seven persons who escaped along with him. The rest were caught, and some of them sold, some put to death.

XXXV

Cl DIVISE DOU BOIAMES DE CHERMAN

 

Cherman est un regne en Perse mesnie et ansiene[mant] so seignor el oit por hereditajes, mes puis que le Tartar le conquistrent ne vait pas la segnoria por hereditajes, mes hi mande le Tartar celui sire qu’il vult. En cest regne nuisent les pieres que l’en apele torchoise et hi n’i a en grant abundance, car il les trevent en les montagnes, car il le escavent dedens la roche. Et encore ont vene d’acier et d’ondanique assés. Il se laborent de tuit harnois de chevalier mout bien: ce sunt frain et selle et sperons et espee et arc et earcas et tous lor armeure selonc lor usances. Et lor dames et damoiseles labourent mout noblemant de aguille sor dras de soie de tous colors, a bestes et a osiaus et a montes autres ymajes. Elle laborent les cortines des barons et des grans homes si bien et si ricamant, que c’est una grant mervoille a veoir. Et coltres et coisin et horeiller laborent ausi mout sotilment.

Et en les montagnes de cest pais nuisent les meillor fancons et les miaus volant don monde; et sunt menor que faucon pellerin, et sunt rojes eu pis et desout la coe entre le cuisse. Et si vos di qu’il sunt si volant dismisureemant, qu’il ne est nul ausiaus que devant li puise escamper por voler.

Et quant l’eu s’en part de la cité de Cherman, il chevauche vii jornee toutes fois trovant castiaus et villes et habitassion assez. Et hi a trop buen chevaucher et de grant soulas, car il hi a venesion assés et pernis en abundance. Et quant l’en ha chevauchés vii jornee por cest plan, adonc trouve une grandissime montagne et desendue, car l’en chevauche deus jornees toutes foies au declin et toites foies trouvent de maintes faison de fruit en abundance. Ansienement il havoit habitassion, mes orendroit ne n’i a il mie, mes il hi demorent jens con lor bestiaus paisant.

 

Et de la cité de Cherman jusque a ceste descese ha si gran froit de yver que a poine eschanpe l’en portant asez dras et asez pannes.

XXXVI

Cl DEVISE DE LA CITÉ DE CAMANDI

 

 

Et quant l’en ha descendu celle deus jorné que je vos ai dit, adonc treve une grandisme plaigne et ao començamant de cel plain a une cité que est apelés Camandi, que jadis fu grant cité et noble a mervoille, mes orendroit ne est pas si grant ne si boue: car Tartars d’autre pais les ont domajés plusor foies. Et vos di qu’il est celle plaigne mout chaue. Et la pro[v]ence de coi nos comi[n]son ore est apellé Reobar. Les sien fruit sunt datarl et pome de paraise et pistac et autres fruit, les quelz ne sunt en nostre leu froit. Et en ceste plaign a une generasion d’oisiaus que l’en appelle francolin, que sunt devisé a les autres francolin des autres pais: car il sunt noir et blance mesleemant, et les pies et les beco ont rouges.

 

 

 

 

Les bestes sunt ausi divisée et vos dirai des bue primeramant. Les buef sunt grandismes et sunt tuit blance corne nois. Le poil ont peitet et plain, et ce avient por le caut leu. Il ont les cornes cortes et groses et non agues. Entre les spaules ont un çinb reont haut bien deus paumes. Il sunt la plus belle chause du monde a veoir. Et quant l’en le vuelt chargier, il se coucent ausint com font les giamiaus; et, quant l’en le a chargés, il se levent et portent lor chargies moût bien; car il sunt forte outre mesure. Il ha monton grant com asne et ont la coe si grosse et si large que bien poise trente livres. Il sunt mout biaus et gras et sunt buen a manger.

 

En ceste plaigne a plusor castiaus et viles, que ont les mur de tere hautes et groses por defendres elz des Caraunas, ce sunt beroviers que vont corant les pais. Et porcoi s’apellent Caraonas? Po[r] ce que lor mere sunt esté Indiene et lor pere Tartars. Et cest gens, quant il vuelent corer les pais et rober, il font por lor encantemant, pour evre diablotique, tout le jor devenir oscur, si que l’en ne voit loigne se pou non; e ceste oscurité font durer vii jornee alonc. Il sevent mout bien les pais. Il chevauchent, quant il ont faite la scurité, le un dejoste l’autre; et sunt bien xM tel fois et tel fois plus et telz foiz moin, si qu’il prennent tout le plan dont il vuelent rober. Si que tuit celz que il trovent en les plenes ne poent excanper, ne homes, ne bestes, ne couses, qu’il n’estoient prises. Et puis qu’il ont pris les homes, il occient tuit les velz, et les jeunes enmoinent et les vendent pour sers et pour esclaif.

 

 

 

Les lor roi est apellés Nogodar. E cestui Nogodar [ala] a la cort de Ciagat[a]i, qui es toit frere charnaus au grant can, bien cun xM homes de sa jens; et demoroit o lui por ce que sen oncle estoit et mout grant sire. Et atant qu’il demoroit o lui, Nogodar se pense et fist grant felonie et vos dirai comant. Il se parti da son uncle Ciagatai, que en la grant Arminie estoit, et s’enfui bien cun xM homes de se gens, que mout estoient cruelz et felions, et s’en passe por Badasian et por une Provence que s’apelle Pasciai et por un autre provence [que] a a nom Chesciemur et elluec perdi maintes des ses jens et de ses bestes, por ce que les voies estoient estroites et mauveises.

Et quant il unt toutes cestes provences passé, il entrent en Yndie en lo confin a une Provence, qui est apellés Dilivar. Il pristent une noble cité que a a nom Dilivar et demore en cele cité et pri le regne qu’il tolli a un roi que avoit a nom Asidin Soldan, que mout estoit grant et riche. Et iluec demore Nugodar cun sez jens et no a doutre de nelui. Il fait ghere a tous les autres Tartars, que environ son reigne demorent.

Or vos ai contés de ceste plaigne et de les gens que font fer la scurité por rober. Et si vos fi que messier Marc meesme fut el come pris da celle gens en celle oscurité; mes il escampe a un castiaus qui est apellés Canosalmi.

Et de sez conpains furent pris asez et furent vendus et de tielz mors. Or vos conterons avant des autres chouses.

XXXVII (Book I, 19)

OF THE DESCENT TO THE CITY OF HORMOS.

 

The Plain of which we have spoken extends in a southerly direction for five days' journey, and then you come to another descent some twenty miles in length, where the road is very bad and full of peril, for there are many robbers and bad characters about. When you have got to the foot of this descent you find another beautiful plain called the Plain of Formosa.

This extends for two days' journey; and you find in it fine streams of water with plenty of date-palms and other fruit-trees. There are also many beautiful birds, francolins, popinjays, and other kinds such as we have none of in our country. When you have ridden these two days you come to the Ocean Sea, and on the shore you find a city with a harbour which is called Hormos. Merchants come thither from India, with ships loaded with spicery and precious stones, pearls, cloths of silk and gold, elephants' teeth, and many other wares, which they sell to the merchants of Hormos, and which these in turn carry all over the world to dispose of again. In fact, 'tis a city of immense trade. There are plenty of towns and villages under it, but it is the capital. The King is called Riomedam Ahomet. It is a very sickly place, and the heat of the sun is tremendous. If any foreign merchant dies there, the King takes all his property.

In this country they make a wine of dates mixt with spices, which is very good. When any one not used to it first drinks this wine, it causes repeated and violent purging, but afterwards he is all the better for it, and gets fat upon it. The people never eat meat and wheaten bread except when they are ill, and if they take such food when they are in health it makes them ill. Their food when in health consists of dates and salt-fish (tunny, to wit) and onions, and this kind of diet they maintain in order to preserve their health.

Their ships are wretched affairs, and many of them get lost; for they have no iron fastenings, and are only stitched together with twine made from the husk of the Indian nut. They beat this husk until it becomes like horse-hair, and from that they spin twine, and with this stitch the planks of the ships together. It keeps well, and is not corroded by the sea-water, but it will not stand well in a storm. The ships are not pitched, but are rubbed with fish-oil. They have one mast, one sail, and one rudder, and have no deck, but only a cover spread over the cargo when loaded. This cover consists of hides, and on the top of these hides they put the horses which they take to India for sale. They have no iron to make nails of, and for this reason they use only wooden trenails in their shipbuilding, and then stitch the planks with twine as I have told you. Hence 'tis a perilous business to go a voyage in one of those ships, and many of them are lost, for in that Sea of India the storms are often terrible.

The people are black, and are worshippers of Mahommet. The residents avoid living in the cities, for the heat in summer is so great that it would kill them. Hence they go out (to sleep) at their gardens in the country, where there are streams and plenty of water. For all that they would not escape but for one thing that I will mention. The fact is, you see, that in summer a wind often blows across the sands which encompass the plain, so intolerably hot that it would kill everybody, were it not that when they perceive that wind coming they plunge into water up to the neck, and so abide until the wind have ceased. [And to prove the great heat of this wind, Messer Mark related a case that befell when he was there. The Lord of Hormos, not having paid his tribute to the King of Kerman the latter resolved to claim it at the time when the people of Hormos were residing away from the city. So he caused a force of 1600 horse and 5000 foot to be got ready, and sent them by the route of Reobarles to take the others by surprise. Now, it happened one day that through the fault of their guide they were not able to reach the place appointed for their night's halt, and were obliged to bivouac in a wilderness not far from Hormos. In the morning as they were starting on their march they were caught by that wind, and every man of them was suffocated, so that not one survived to carry the tidings to their Lord. When the people of Hormos heard of this they went forth to bury the bodies lest they should breed a pestilence. But when they laid hold of them by the arms to drag them to the pits, the bodies proved to be so baked, as it were, by that tremendous heat, that the arms parted from the trunks, and in the end the people had to dig graves hard by each where it lay, and so cast them in.]

The people sow their wheat and barley and other corn in the month of November, and reap it in the month of March. The dates are not gathered till May, but otherwise there is no grass nor any other green thing, for the excessive heat dries up everything.

When any one dies they make a great business of the mourning, for women mourn their husbands four years. During that time they mourn at least once a day, gathering together their kinsfolk and friends and neighbours for the purpose, and making a great weeping and wailing. [And they have women who are mourners by trade, and do it for hire.]

Now, we will quit this country. I shall not, however, now go on to tell you about India; but when time and place shall suit we shall come round from the north and tell you about it. For the present, let us return by another road to the aforesaid city of Kerman, for we cannot get at those countries that I wish to tell you about except through that city.

I should tell you first, however, that King Ruomedam Ahomet of Hormos, which we are leaving, is a liegeman of the King of Kerman.

On the road by which we return from Hormos to Kerman you meet with some very fine plains, and you also find many natural hot baths; you find plenty of partridges on the road; and there are towns where victual is cheap and abundant, with quantities of dates and other fruits. The wheaten bread, however, is so bitter, owing to the bitterness of the water, that no one can eat it who is not used to it. The baths that I mentioned have excellent virtues; they cure the itch and several other diseases.

Now, then, I am going to tell you about the countries towards the north, of which you shall hear in regular order. Let us begin.

XXXVIII (Book I, 20)

OF THE WEARISOME AND DESERT ROAD THAT HAS NOW TO BE TRAVELLED

On departing from the city of Kerman you find the road for seven days most wearisome; and I will tell you how this is. The first three days you meet with no water, or next to none. And what little you do meet with is bitter green stuff, so salt that no one can drink it; and in fact if you drink a drop of it, it will set you purging ten times at least by the way. It is the same with the salt which is made from those streams; no one dares to make use of it, because of the excessive purging which it occasions. Hence it is necessary to carry water for the people to last these three days; as for the cattle, they must needs drink of the bad water I have mentioned, as there is no help for it, and their great thirst makes them do so. But it scours them to such a degree that sometimes they die of it. In all those three days you meet with no human habitation; it is all desert, and the extremity of drought. Even of wild beasts there are none, for there is nothing for them to eat.

After those three days of desert [you arrive at a stream of fresh water running underground, but along which there are holes broken in here and there, perhaps undermined by the stream, at which you can get sight of it. It has an abundant supply, and travellers, worn with the hardships of the desert, here rest and refresh themselves and their beasts].

You then enter another desert which extends for four days; it is very much like the former except that you do see some wild asses. And at the termination of these four days of desert the kingdom of Kerman comes to an end, and you find another city which is called Cobinan.

XXXIX (Book 1, 21)

CONCERNING THE CITY OF COBINAN AND THE THINGS THAT ARE MADE THERE

Cobinan is a large town. The people worship Mahommet. There is much Iron and Steel and Ondanique, and they make steel mirrors of great size and beauty. They also prepare both Tutia (a thing very good for the eyes) and Spodium; and I will tell you the process.

They have a vein of a certain earth which has the required quality, and this they put into a great flaming furnace, whilst over the furnace there is an iron grating. The smoke and moisture, expelled from the earth of which I speak, adhere to the iron grating, and thus form Tutia, whilst the slag that is left after burning is the Spodium.

XL (Book I, 22)

OF A CERTAIN DESERT THAT CONTINUES FOR EIGHT DAYS' JOURNEY

When you depart from this City of Cobinan, you find yourself again in a Desert of surpassing aridity, which lasts for some eight days; here are neither fruits nor trees to be seen, and what water there is is bitter and bad, so that you have to carry both food and water. The cattle must needs drink the bad water, will they nill they, because of their great thirst. At the end of those eight days you arrive at a Province which is called Tonocain. It has a good many towns and villages, and forms the extremity of Persia towards the North. It also contains an immense plain on which is found the Arber Sol, which we Christians call the Arbre Sec; and I will tell you what it is like. It is a tall and thick tree, having the bark on one side green and the other white; and it produces a rough husk like that of a chestnut, but without anything in it. The wood is yellow like box, and very strong, and there are no other trees near it nor within a hundred miles of it, except on one side, where you find trees within about ten miles' distance. And there, the people of the country tell you, was fought the battle between Alexander and King Darius.

The towns and villages have great abundance of everything good, for the climate is extremely temperate, being neither very hot nor very cold. The natives all worship Mahommet, and are a very fine-looking people, especially the women, who are surpassingly beautiful.

 

 

 

XLI (Book I, 23)

CONCERNING THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN

 

 

Mulehet is a country in which the Old Man of the Mountain dwelt in former days; and the name means "Place of the Aram." I will tell you his whole history as related by Messer Marco Polo, who heard it from several natives of that region.

The Old Man was called in their language Aloadin. He had caused a certain valley between two mountains to be enclosed, and had turned it into a garden, the largest and most beautiful that ever was seen, filled with every variety of fruit. In it were erected pavilions and palaces the most elegant that can be imagined, all covered with gilding and exquisite painting. And there were runnels too, flowing freely with wine and milk and honey and water; and numbers of ladies and of the most beautiful damsels in the world, who could play on all manner of instruments, and sung most sweetly, and danced in a manner that it was charming to behold. For the Old Man desired to make his people believe that this was actually Paradise. So he had fashioned it after the description that Mahommet gave of his Paradise, to wit, that it should be a beautiful garden running with conduits of wine and milk and honey and water, and full of lovely women for the delectation of all its inmates. And sure enough the Saracens of those parts believed that it was Paradise!

Now no man was allowed to enter the Garden save those whom he intended to be his Ashishin. There was a Fortress at the entrance to the Garden, strong enough to resist all the world, and there was no other way to get in. He kept at his Court a number of the youths of the country, from 12 to 20 years of age, such as had a taste for soldiering, and to these he used to tell tales about Paradise, just as Mahommet had been wont to do, and they believed in him just as the Saracens believe in Mahommet. Then he would introduce them into his garden, some four, or six, or ten at a time, having first made them drink a certain potion which cast them into a deep sleep, and then causing them to be lifted and carried in. So when they awoke, they found themselves in the Garden.

 

XLII (Book I, 24)

HOW THE OLD MAN USED TO TRAIN HIS ASSASSINS

When therefore they awoke, and found themselves in a place so charming, they deemed that it was Paradise in very truth. And the ladies and damsels dallied with them to their hearts' content, so that they had what young men would have; and with their own good will they never would have quitted the place.

Now this Prince whom we call the Old One kept his Court in grand and noble style, and made those simple hill-folks about him believe firmly that he was a great Prophet.

And when he wanted one of his Ashishin to send on any mission, he would cause that potion whereof I spoke to be given to one of the youths in the garden, and then had him carried into his Palace. So when the young man awoke, he found himself in the Castle, and no longer in that Paradise; whereat he was not over well pleased. He was then conducted to the Old Man's presence, and bowed before him with great veneration as believing himself to be in the presence of a true Prophet. The Prince would then ask whence he came, and he would reply that he came from Paradise! and that it was exactly such as Mahommet had described it in the Law. This of course gave the others who stood by, and who had not been admitted, the greatest desire to enter therein.

So when the Old Man would have any Prince slain, he would say to such a youth: "Go thou and slay So and So; and when thou returnest my Angels shall bear thee into Paradise. And shouldst thou die, natheless even so will I send my Angels to carry thee back into Paradise." So he caused them to believe; and thus there was no order of his that they would not affront any peril to execute, for the great desire they had to get back into that Paradise of his. And in this manner the Old One got his people to murder any one whom he desired to get rid of. Thus, too, the great dread that he inspired all Princes withal, made them become his tributaries in order that he might abide at peace and amity with them.

I should also tell you that the Old Man had certain others under him, who copied his proceedings and acted exactly in the same manner. One of these was sent into the territory of Damascus, and the other into Curdistan.

XLIII (Book I, 25)

HOW THE OLD MAN CAME BY HIS END.

 

[Part of the text contained in this rubric in the original text has been included by Yule in the previous paragraph]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it came to pass, in the year of Christ's Incarnation, 1252, that Alaü, Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, heard tell of these great crimes of the Old Man, and resolved to make an end of him. So he took and sent one of his Barons with a great Army to that Castle, and they besieged it for three years, but they could not take it, so strong was it. And indeed if they had had food within it never would have been taken. But after being besieged those three years they ran short of victual, and were taken. The Old Man was put to death with all his men [and the Castle with its Garden of Paradise was levelled with the ground]. And since that time he has had no successor; and there was an end to all his villainies.

Now let us go back to our journey.

XXXVII

CI DEVISE DE LA GRANTE CLINE

 

Il est voir que ceste plaigne dure dever midi cinq jornee. Et a chief [de] cinq jornee l'en trouve un autre clinee que couvent que l’en aille pur au declin xx milles et est mout mauvés voie et hi vienent des mauves homes que robent et por ce est doteuse voie. Et quant l’en a desendue ceste clinee, il treuve un autre plain molt bels et est appelas le plain de Formose.

Il dure deus jornees de loue, Il hi a bielles riveres et datai asez. Oisiaus hi a franculin et papagaus et autres oisiaus que ne sunt senblable as nostres.

 

Et quant l’en a chevauchés deus jornee, il treuve la mer osiane et sour la rive ha une cité que est apelés Cormos, le quel a port.

Et vos di que les mercaaut hi vienent de Yndie cou leur nes, hi aportent de toutes especeries et piere presieuses et perles et dra de soie et d’ores et dens d’olifant et maintes autres mercandies. Et en cel cité le vendent a les autres homes que puis I'aportent por tute universe monde, vendant a les autres gens. Il est ville de mont grant mercandies. Elle a sont soi cités et caustiaus assez. Elle est chief don regne. Le roi a a nom Ruemedan Acomat. Il hi a grandisme chalor, car le solei hi est mout chaut; et est enferme tere. Et se aucun mercaant d’autre pais hi morent, le roi prend tout son avoir.

Et en ceste tere se fait le vin de datal et con autres espices asez et est mout buen. Et quant les homes le boivent, que nen soient costumés de boir, il le fait molt aler desouy et purge tout; mes puis il fait bien et li doue charn usez. Les homes ne use! nostre viandes, por ce que, s’il menuent pain de forment et char, il chaient amalaides. Et por estre sains il menuent datai et peison salee, ce sunt toins; et encore menuent eivoles. Et por demorer sains usent ceste viande que je vos ai dit.

Lor nes sunt mont mauves et ne perisent asez, por ce qu’eles ne sunt clavee cou agu de fer, mes sunt cuisie de fil que se fait de la scorce de les nocces d’Indie. Car il la font macerer et devient come sette de crine de chevas; pmis en font fil et ensi cuisent les nes et ne se gaste por l’eive sause de la mer, mes hi dure asez.

 

 

 

Les nes ont un arbres et une voilles et un timon et ne sunt couverte; mes, quant il les ont chargés, il couvrent la mercandies cou cuir et desor la mercandie, puis qu’il ont coverte, hi metent les cavaus qui portent en Yndie a vendre. Il ne ont fer por fer agus; et por ce font peron de lign et cuisieure de fil. Et por ce est grant perilz a najere en cele nes; et vos di qu’l e[n] noient[n]tes, por ce que la mer d’Endie fait grant tenpeste plusor foies. Et de les lies vos dirai qu’il ne sunt pas enpeccee; mes l’oignent d’une olio de peison.

Les jens sunt noir et aorent Maomet. Et d’esté demorent. le gens pas en le cités, car il hi a si grant chalor qu’il hi morent tuit; mes vos di qu’il vont dehors, a lor jardins la ou il a riviere et ague assez. Et por tout ce ne escanperont, se ne fust ce que je vos dirai. Il est voir que plosors foies de la stee vent un vent d’enver le sabion, qui est environ cel plain, qui est si caut desmesuremant qu’il ociroit l’ome se ne fuste ce: que les homes tant tost qu’il voient que cel chaut [vent] vienet il entrent en l’eive et eu cest mainere escanpent de cel chaut vent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Et encore vos di qu’il seminent lor forment et le orçe et les autres blés fruit, car il se finent e couplent dou mois de mars; e ne troverés nul herbes sor la terre for les datai que durent jusque au mois de may. Et ce avent por le grant calor que tout se[c]he.

Et vos di que quant les homes moururent, ou femes, il en fout grant duel. Et si vos di que les daines plangent lor mors bien quatre anz puis qu’il est mort, ogne jor au moin nue fois. Car il se racuillent con lor parens et con loi voisiimes et font graut plorer et grant criere et grant regrater le mors.

Or vois laison de ceste cité. Et ne vos contaron de Endie a cestui point, car vos bien le conterai en notre livre avant, quant tens et leu sera. Mes mo retornerai por tramontaine por conter de celle provences e retorneron por un autre voie a la cité de Cherman que je vos ai contés, por ce que en les contrés, dont je vos voil conter, ne se puet aler se no da ceste cité de Creman. Et vos di que le roi Ruemedan Acomat, dont nos partîmes ore, est home de cest roi de Cherman.

 

Et en retorner da Cremosa a Cherman a mont biaus plain et abundance de viandes. Il hi a maint bagn chaut. Il ha pernis asez et grant merchiés. Fruit et datai hi ha asez. Li pain de forment qui est si amer que nul eu puet mangier, se ne en est costumés. Et ce avent por ce que l’eive hi est amer. Les bagnes, que je vos ai dit desovre, sunt d’eive surgent, moût chaut, et sunt mout buen s a mai[n]tes maladies et a rognes.

Or vos vueil comencer de les contrée que je vos nomerai e[n] mon livre dever tramontane; et ores comanç.

XXXVIII

COMANT S’EN ALA POR TRE SAOVAJIE CONTRÉ ET POVR[E]

 

Quant l'en s’en part de Gherman, il cheuvache bien vii jornee de mout anoiuse vie; et vos dirai comant. II hi a trois jornee que l'en ne treuve river se pou non; et celle que l'en trouve est sause et verde come herbe de pre, et est si amer que nulz le poroit sofrir a boir; et se l'en en beast une gouse, il le firoit aler desout plus de x fois. Et encore dou sal que celle eive fait, celui que en menuast un peitet graneus, il le firoit ausi mout descorer desout.

Et por ce les homes, qui por illuec vont, portent con elz eive por boir. Les bestes en boivent a grant force et por grant soif. Et si vos di que l'eive les font descorer outre mesure.

 

Et en toute cest trois jornee ne a nulle habitaison, mes est tout desert et grant seccetee. Bestes ne i ont por ce que il ne i troveront a manger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A chief de trois jornee trovon un autre leu que dure quatro jornee, que ausint est desert toute seche et l’eive est ausi amer et ne est arbres ne bestes for que asne solemant. Et a chief de cest mi jornees finisce le reigne de Cherman et trovon la cite de Cobinan.

 

XXXIX

Cl DIVISE DE LA GRANT CITÉ ET NOBLE DE C0BINAN

 

Cobinan est une grant cité. Les gens aore Maomet. Il hi a fer et acer et ondanique asez. Et hi si font mireor d’accer mout biaus et grant. Et iluec se fait la tutie qui est mout boue as iaus. Et encore hi si fait le spodio et vos dirai comant il le font.

 

Il prenent une voi[n]e de tere, que est boine a ce faire. Il l’amoient en une fornace de feu ardan; et desus la fornace a graticule de fer. Et le fum et le humidor qui oisse de celle terre et si prent a la graticule del fer, ce est tutia; et cel que de celle terre remest el feu est spodio.

Et or laison de cest cité et alon avant.

 

XL

COMANT  L'EN ALA POR UN DESERT

 

 

Et quant l’en se parte de cest cité de Cobi[n]an, l’en vait por un deser bien viii jornee, en quel a grant secch[e]té et ne i a fruit ne arbres et les eive hi sunt ausi amer et mauveises. Et [por ce convent que l’en] aporte tout ce que abisogne por mengier et pour boir; for l’eive que le bestes boivent a grant anuie.

 

Et a chies de ceste viii jornee l’en treuve une provence qui est apelés Tonocain. Il hi a cité et chaustiaus asez: Et est en le confines de Persie dever tramontane. Et hi a une grandisime plaigne en le quel est l’arbre seul que les cristiens appellent l’arbre seche; et vos dirai comant il est fait.

Il est mout grant et mout gros. Sez foilles sunt de l’une part vers et de l’autre blance. Il fait ricci senbla[b]le as ricci de castaigne, mes ne i a dedens rien. Il est fort leign et est jaune come bus et ne a nul arbres après a plus de c milles, for que d’une part que i a près arbres a x milles.

 

Et iluec dient celz de celle contrée que fu la bataille entre Alixandre et Dayre.

 

Les viles et les caustaus ont grande abondance de toutes chouses bones et beles, car le pais est trop bien conpasionés: ne trop caut ne trop fredo. Les jens aorent tuit Maomet. Il hi a belle jens, propemant les femes i sunt belles outre mesure.

Et de ci nos partiron et vos conteron d’une contrée que est apellé Muleet la o le Vielle de la montagne soloit demorer.

XLI

CI DEVISE DOU VIEL DE LA MONTAGNE ET DE SEZ ASCISCINS

 

Muleete est ime contrée la ou le Viel de la montagne soloit demorer ansienemant. Muleete vaut a dire [heretiques selon la loy] de Sarain. Or vos conterai tout sou afer solonc que je meser Marc oi la conter a plusors homes.

Le Viel estoit apellé en lor lengajes Alaodin. Il avoit fait fer entres deus montagnes, eu une valé, le plus grant jardin et les plus biaus que jamés fust veu. Il hi a de tous buen fruit don monde. Et qui avoit fait fer les plus belles maison et les plus biaus palais que unques fuissent veu: car il estoient dorés et portrait de toutes les belles coses dou monde. Et encore hi avoit fait faire conduit, que por tel coroit vin, et por tel lait, et por tel lait, et por tel eive. Il hi avoit dame et dameseles, les plus bielles dou monde, les quelz sevent soner de tuit enstrumenti et chantent et calorent miaus que autres femes. Et fasoit le Vielz entendre a sez homes que col jardin estoit parais. Et por ce l’avoit faite en tel mainere que Maomet ne fist entendre a les Sarain que celz que vont en parais hi aront belles femes tant quant il voudront a lor volontés et que hi treverent flum de vin et de lait et de mel et d’eive. Et por ce avoit fait fer cel jardin senblable au parais que Maomet avoit dit a Sarain et les Sarain de celle contrée croient voiremant que cel jardin soit parais.

Et en cest jardin ne introit nul homes jamés, for solemant celz que il voloit fer asisin. Il avoit un castiaus a l’entree de cel jardin si fort ne doutroit home dou monde; et por autre part ne i se pooit entrer que por iluec. Les Vielz tenoit o lui, en sa cort, tuit les jovenes de doç anz en vint de la contrée, ce estoient celz que senbleient estre homes d’armes; les quelz sa voient bien por oir dir, solonc que Maomet lor profete dist elz, que le parais estoit fait en tel maner com je vos ai contés: et ensi croient il voiramant. E que vos en diroie? Li Vieilz en fasoit metre de cesti jeune en cel parais a quatre et a x et a xx, selonc que il voloit, en cest mainere: car il faisoit, elz douer bevrajes por lo quel il s’adormoit mantinant; puis les faisoit prendre et metre en cel jardin et les faisoit desveiller.

XLII

COMANT LE VlEL DE LA MONTAGNE FAIT PARFAIT ET OBEIENT SEZ ASCISCINS.

 

Et quant les jeunes estoient desvoillés, et il se trovent laiens et il voient toutes cestes couses que je vos ai dit, il croient estre en parais voiramant. Et les dames et les dameseles demoroient tout jor con elz sonant et cantant et faisant grant soulas; et en fasoient a lor voluntés. Si que cisti jeune avoient tout ce que il voloient et jamés por lor volontés ne istront de laiens. Et le Viel tient sa corte mout belle et grant et demore mout noblemant et fait creere a cel senple jens des montagnes que entor lui sunt qu’il est profete: et ensi croient il voiramant.

Et quant le Vel en vult aucun por envoier en aucun leu e faire occire aucun home, il fait doner le be[v]raje a tant come il li plet; et quant il sunt endormia il fait prendre [et porter] en son palasio. Et quant cesti jeune sunt desveillés, et il se trovent en cel caustiaus el palais, il s’en font grant meraveie et nen sunt pas lies, car del parais dont il venoient por lor voluntés nen s’en fuissent il jamés partis. Il alent mantinant devant li Viens et se humelient mout ver lui, come celz que croient que soit grant profete. Le Vielz le demande dont il vienent et celz dient qu’il vienent dou parais. Et disoient que voiramant est cel le parais come Maomet dist a nostri ancesor. Lor content toutes les couses qu’il hi trovent. Et le autre que ce oent et ne avoient esté, avoient grant volunté d’aler el parais et avoient volunté de morir porcoi il hi posent aler et mout desiroient cel jor qu’il hi aillent. Et quant le Vielz vuelt faire occir un grant sire, il fait aprover de sien asciscin celz que meior estoient. Il envoie plosors ne grantment logne environ soi por les contrées, et lor comandent qu’il ocient cel homes. Celz vont mantinant et font le comandamant lor segnor, puis retornent a cort — celz que escanpent, car de telz hi a que sunt pris et morti — puis qu’il ont occis le home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XLIII

COMANT LES ASOISCIN SE AFAITENT A MALFER

 

Et quant il sunt torné a lor seignor, [celz] que escanpé sunt, il li dient que il avoient bien achevé la bisogue. Li Vielz fait elz grande joie et grant feste: et bien savoit celui que avoit fait greignor ardemant, car il avoi mandé, darere chascun, de sez homes porcoi il li seusent dir lequel est plus ardi et meior a ucir homes.

Et quant le Vielz voloit fair occir aucun segnor ou aucu[n] aotro homo, il prennoit de cesti sien asciscin et les envoie la ou il voloit, et lor disoit qu’il les voloit mandere en parais et qu’il alasent occire le tiel homes et, se il morisen, que tant tosto ira en parais. Celz, que cest estoit lor comandés por le Vielz, le fasoieut mout voluuter plus que couse que il peussent faire et aloient et fasoient tout ce que le Viel lor comandoit. Et en ceste mainere ne escanpoit nul home que ne fust occis, quant le Vielz de la montagne voust. Et si vos di tout voiramant que plosors rois et plusors barons li fasoient treu et estoien bien con lui por dotance que il ne li feisse occire.

Or vos ai contés de l’afer dou Vielz de la montagne et de sez asescin; or vos conterai comant il fu destruit et por cui. Et encor vos vuoil dir un antre chouse que je avoi laissé de lui. Car je vos di que cest Vielz [avoit esleu deus autres Vielz] qui estoient sotopost a lui et tenoient toute sa mainere et sez costumes: et le un envoie eles parties de Domas et le autre envoie en Cordistan. Or laison de ce et venion a sa destrucion. Il fu voir que, entor a les mcclxii anz que avoit que Crist avoit nasqui, Alau, les sire des Tartars dou levant, que soit toutes cestes mauveis chouse que cest Vielz faisoit, il dit a soi meesme qu’il le fara destruere. Adonc prist de sez baro[n] e les envoie a cest caustiaus con grant gens. Et asejent le caustaus bien trois anz que ne le postrent prendre. Et ne l’ausent jamés pris tant com il aussent en que mengier; mes a chief de trois anz il ne ont plus que mangier. Adonc furent pris et fu ocis le Vielz que avoit a nom Alaodin, con tute sez homes. Et de cestui Viel jusque a cestui point ne i ot Viel ne nul asescin et en lui se fenist toute le segnorie et les maus que les Vielz de la montagne avoient fait jadis ansi[e]nemant.

Or nos laison de cest matière et aleron avant.

 

 

 

 

 

XLIV

CI DEVISE DE LA CITÉ DE SAPURGAN

 

Et quant l’en se part de cest caustiaus, l’en chevauche por biaus plain et por bele vallee et por belle costeres, la ou il a biaus herbajes et bon pascor et fruit asez et de toutes coses en grant abundance. Et les ost hi demorent voluntieres por le grant plantée qui hi estoient. Et cest contrée durent bien vi jornees et hi a villes et caustiaus et les homes aorent Maomet. Et alcune foies trouve l’en desert de lx milles, et de l, es quelz ne i se trove eive, mes convene que les homes les portent avuec elz; [les] bestes ne boivent jusque a tant qu’il ne sunt ensi de cel desert et venus as leu ou il trovent eive.

 

 

Et quant l’eu a chavauchés vi jornee tel que je vos ai contés, adunc treuve l’en une cité, qui est apelé Sopurgan. Elle est ville de grant plantée de toutes couses. Et vos di qui hi a les meior melon do monde en grandisime quantité, qu’il les font secher en ceste mainere: car il les trincent tous environ sicom coroies, puis les metent au soleil et li font secher et devienent plus douce que mel. Et vos di qu’il en font mercandie et li vont vendant por la contrée environ a grant plantée. Et hi a veneison de bestes et de aisiaus otre mesure.

Or nos lairon de ceste ville et vos conteron do un autre cité que Bale a nom.

 

XLV

CI DEVISE DE LA NOBLE ET GRANT CITÉ DE BALC

 

Balc est une noble cité et grant. Et jadis fu asez plus nobles et pluis grant, car les Tartars et autres gens les ont gastés et domajés. Car je vos di qu’il hi ot jadis maint biaus palais et maintes bielles mason de marbre: et encore hi sunt, destruite et gastee. Et si vos di que en ceste cité prist Alexandre a feme la fille de Dayre, solonc que lor disoit de celle cité. Les gens aorent Maomet. Et si sachiés que jusque a ceste cité dure la tere dou sire des Tartars do levant et a ceste ville sunt le confin de Persie, entre grec et levant.

Or nos laison de ceste cité et enterron a conter d’un autre pais que s’apelle Dogana. Quant l’en s’en part de ceste cité que je vos ai contés, il cheuvache bien xii jornee entre levant e grec, que l’en ne treuve nulle abitasson, por ce que les jens sunt toutes fuies as montagnes en fortresce, por paor des males jens et de les ostes que mout fasoient elz domajes. Et vos di qu’il hi a aigue asez; venesion asez; et des leon hi a encore. Viande ne i treuve l’en pas en tout ceste doce jornee; mes convient que celz que pour illuec vont portent la viande avec elz por lor chevaus et por lor meesme.

 

XLVI

CI DEVISE DE LA MONTAGNE DOU SAL

 

Et quant l’en [a] aies ceste doçe jornee, il treuve un caustiaus que est apellés Taican, la u il a grant merchés de blés. Et est en mout belle contrée et les sien montagnes dever midi sunt mult grant et sunt toute sal. Et tout la contrée environ trointe jornee vieneut por cel sal, qui est le meior do monde. Il est si duro que l’en n’en pont prendre se no con grant pigon de fer. Et vos di qu’il est en si grant abundance que tout lo Monde en avrent asez jusque a la fin dou sei[c]le.

Et quant l’en s’en parte de ceste cite, il ala trois jornee entre grec et levant, toites foies trouvant bielle contrée, la ou l’en trove abitasson asez, et planteuse de fruit et de bles et de vignes. Les [jens] orent Maomet. Il sunt mauvés jens et morturiés. Il demorent mult en beverie, car il boivent volunter: car il ont mont bon viu enet. Il ne portent en lor chef rien, for une corde lungue x paumes et la s’environent en[tor] lor teste. Il sunt mout buen chaçaor et prenent venesion assez. Et ne ont autres vestimens for que le pelles des bestes qu’il prennent in [celle cacerie; et] celles concent et s’en font vestimens et causemant. Et caschun sevent concier les peles de bestes qu’il prenent.

Et quant l’en a alés trois jornee, l’en treuve une cité que est appelés Scasem, qui est a u[n] cuens; et les sien autres cités et caustiaus sunt es montagnes. Et por mi ceste cité passe un fium auques grant. Il a maint porches spin. Et quant les caçaors les velent prendre, et il le mettent les chen souvre, les porches s’acoillent toutes ensenble, puis jete le spine qu’il a sor son dos et por le costé sor les kiens et les ennavres en plosor leus.

Ceste Scasem est en une grant provences [qui ausi a a nom Scasem]. Et a langages por soi. Et les vilan que ont lor bestiames demorent es montagnes, car il hi font belles abitasion et grant. Car il hi font cavernes: et le puent faire legermant, por ce [que] les montagnes sunt de tere.

 

Et quant l’en s’en part de cest cité que je vos ai dit desovre, l’en ala trois jornee que ne trove abitasion nulle, ne a mangier ne a hoir. Mes les viandant l’aportent cun elz. Et a chief de trois jornee treuve l’en la provence de Balasian et vos divisarai de son afer.

XLVII

Cl DEVISE DE LA GRANT PROVENCE DE BALASCIAN

 

Balascian est une provence que les gens aorent Maomet׳ et ont langajes por elz. II est grant roiames et se roit por hereditajes: ce est que de ub lignajes sunt, desendu dou roi Alexandre et de la fille del roi Dayre, le grant sire de Persie. Et encore s’apelent tuit celz rois Çulcarnein, en saraisin lor langajes, que vaut a dire en fransois Alixandre, por le amor dou grant Alixandre.

En ceste provence naisent le pieres presioses que l’en appelle balasci, que sunt mont belles et de grant vaillance. Et naisent en le roces des montagnes. Et vos di qu’il font grant cavernes es montagnes et vont mout sout, ausi cum finit celz que cavent la voine de l’argent. Et ce est en une prope montagne que est apellee Sighinan. Et encore sachiés que le roi les fait caver por lui; ne null’autre home ne i poroit aler a cele montagne por caver de celz balasci que ne fost mort mai[n]tinant. Et encore vos di qu’il est poine la teste et l’avoir se nul en trasse aucun de son roiames. Car le roi les envoie por sez homes as autres rois et as autres princes et grant seignors: a cel por treu, et a cel por amor, et encore en fait vendre por [or] et por arjento. Et ce fait le roi por ce que sez balaxi soient chier et de grant vaillance come il sunt. Car se il en laisast caver as autres homes et porter por le monde, il se ne traierent tant qu’il ne seroient si cher ne de si grant vaillance. Et por ce hi a mis si grant paine le roi porcoi nul n’en traie nul sanz sa paroulle.

Et encore sachiés de voir que en cest meisme contrée, en une autres montagnes, se trouvent les pieres des quelz l’en fait le açur: et ce est le plu[s] fin açur et le meior qui soit ou mo|de. E les pieres que je vos ai dit, de coi l’en fait l’açur, est voine que naist eu montagnes come autres voiries. Et encore vos di qu’il hi a montagnes en quoi l’en treuve voine, des quelz traient argent a grant plantée. Il est mout froide contrée et provence.

Et encore sachiés qu’il hi naisent mont buen chavalz et sunt grant coreor et ne portent fer en lor pies: et si vont por montagnes toz jors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encore hi naisent en celle montagnes faucons sacri que mont sunt buen et bien volant. Et ausint hi naisent les faucons lanier. Venesion et chach[a]jonz de bestes et d’ausiaus hi a grant plantée. Forment ont buen; orçe ont sanz escorce. Olio ne ont d’olive, mes il le font de susiman et de noce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E[n] ceste roiame ha maint estroit pas et maint forti leu, si qu’il ne ont doutee que nulles jens hi pensent entrer por lor daumager. Et lor cités et lor caustiaus sunt en grande montagnes, en fortisme leus. Il sunt buen archier et bon caçaor et la greignor partie vestent cuir de bestes, por ce qu’il ont grant charestie de dras. Et les grant dames et les gentilz portent braies tel com je vos dirai. Il hi a de telz dames que en une brae, ce sunt le muandes dejanbe, metent bien C brace de toile bansin et de tel hi a que en meten LXXX, et de tel LX; et ce font elle por mostrer que aient grose natege, por ce que lor homes se deletent en groses femes.

Or vos avun dit de cest roiame et en laiseron atant et vos conteron d’une deverse gens, que sunt ver midi, logne de ceste provence x jornee.

 

XLVIII

CI DEVISE DE LA GRANT PROVENCE DE PASCIAI

 

Il est voir que x jornee ver midi loigne da Balascian a une provence que s’apelle Pasciai. Et ont langajes por elz. [Les] jens sunt ydules que aorent le idres. Il sunt brune jens. il savent mult de incantamant et de ars diabolitique. Les homes portent a lor oreilles cerchiaus et bocles d’or et d’argent et de perles et de pieres presioses assez. Il sunt molt malisieuse jens et sajes de lor costumes. Ceste provence est molt caut leu. Lor viandes est chars et ris.

Or laison de ceste et vos conteron do un autre provence que est logne de ceste vii jornee, ver isceloc, que a nom Chesciemur.

 

XLIX

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE KESIMUR

 

Kesiinur est une provence que encore sunt ydoles et ont lingajes por soi. Il sevent tant d’incantamant des diables que ce est mervoie. Car il font parler as ydres. Il font por incantamant canger les tens et font faire le grant oscurité. Il font por l’incanter et por sens si grant chouses qu’el ne est nulz que ne le vist qui le poust croire. Et si vos di que il sunt chief des autres ydoles et de lor desenderent le ydres.

Et de ceste leu poroit l’en aler a la mer de Endie.

 

Il sunt brun et maigri; les femes sunt moût belles selonc fames brunes. Lor viande est chars et ris. Elle est tenpree terre, que ne i a trop chaut, ne trop froit. Il hi a cités et caustiaus assés. Il ont boschajes et desers et tant fortissimes pas qu’il no ont dotee de nelui. Et |se] mantinent por eles mesmes, car il ont lor roi que mantienent la justisie.

 

 

Il ont hermites solonc lor costumes que demorent en lor hermitajes et font grant astinence de rnangier et de boir et sunt mont cast de loxurie et se gardent otre mesure de nun fer pechiés que contre lor foi soit. Il sunt tenu de lor jens mont saintes. Et vos di qu’il vivent por grant aajes et le grant astinence qu’il font de no pecher font il por l’amor de lor ydres. Et encore ont abaie et monester asez de lor foi.

 

 

Et le coral que de nostre tere s’aporte po[r vendre se] vende plus en cele contrée que en autre.

 

Or nos lason de ceste provences et de cest parties e ne iron avant, por ce que se nos alaisomes avant nos entreronmes en Yndie et je ne i voil entrer ore a cestui point, por ce que au retorner de nostre voie vos conteron toutes les couses d’Ynde por ordr[e]. Et por ce retorneron a nostres provence ver Baldascian, porce que d’autre partie ne poron aler.

L

CI DEVISE DOU GRANDISIME FLUM DE BALASCIAN

 

Et quant l’en se part de Badascian, l’en ala douçe jornee entre levant et grec sor por un flum qui est do frere au seignor de Badascian, la ou il a chaustiaus et habitasion asez. Les gens sunt vaillans et orent Maomet. Et a chief de doçe jornee treuve l’en une provence ne trop grant, car ell’est trois jornee por toutes pars et est appellés Vocan.

 

 

Les gens aorent Maomet et ont langue por elz. Et sunt prodomes d’armes. [E] n’ont seignor [for que un que il appellent None] que vaut a dir en langue françois cuenz; et sunt [sout]post au seignor de Badausian. Il ont bestes sauvages asez et venejon et chachajon de toites faites.

Et quant l’en se part de ce leu, ala trois jornee por grec, toutes foies por montagnes. Et monte l’en tant que l’en dit que cel est le plus aut leu deo inonde. Et quant l’en est en cel haut leu, adonc treuve un plan entres deus montagnes eu quel a u[n] flum mout biaus. Et hi a le meillor pascor dou monde. Car une magre beste hi devent grasse en x jors. Il h i a grant abondance de toutes sauvagines. Il hi a grant moutitude de monton sauvages que sunt grandisme. Car ont les cornes bien VI paumes et ao main IIII ou III. Et de cest cornes font le pastore grant escueles la o il mengiunt. Et encore les pastres de ceste cornes encludent les leus ou il tienent lor bestes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Et por cest plain ala l’en bien doçe jornee et est apellee Pamier. Ne en toutes cestes xii jornee ne [a] abitasion ne herbages, mes convent que les viandant portent les viandes con elz. Oisians volant ne i a nul por l'aut len et froit que est. Et si vos di que le feu por cel grant froit ne est si cler ne de cel color come en autre leu et ne se cuient bien les couses.

Or laison de ce et vos conteron encore des autres couses avant por grec et por levant. Et quant l'en est aléd ces doçe jornees que je vos ai dit, il convient couste l'en chavauchent bien XL jornee entre grec et levant, toutes foies por montagnes et por couste et por valee et passent maintes fluns et mantes desers leus. Ne en toutes cestes jornee ne [a] habitasion ne erbaiges, mes les vian[d]ant convent que portent les viandes. Cest contrée est appelles Belor. Les jens demorent es montagnes mont liant. Il sunt ydres et mont sauvajes et ne vivent for que de chaçagion de bestes. Lor vestiment sunt de cuir de bestes. Et sunt mauves jens duremant.

Or laison de cest contrée et vos conteron de la provence de Cascar.

 

LI

Cl DEVISE DOU ROIAUME DE CASCAR

 

Cascar fu jadis roiames, mes orendroit est soutpost au graut [kaan]. Les jeus aorent Maomet. II hi a viles et chaustiaus assez et la greignor cité et la plus noble est Cascar. Et sunt ausi entre grec et levant, il vivent de mercandies et d’ars. Il ont moult biaus jardins et vignes et belles posesion. Il hi naist banbaxe asez. Et de ceste contrée isent niant mercant que vunt por tout le monde faisant mercandies. Il sunt mout escarse jeus et miserables: car maus menuient et maus boivent. Et en ceste contree demorent auques cristiens nestorin que unt lor yglise et lor loy. Et les gens de la provence ont lengue por soi. Ceste proveuce dure V jornee. Or nos laison de ceste contree et vos parleron de Sanmarcan.

 

 

 

LII

CI DEVISE DE LA GRANT CITÉ DE SANMARCAN

 

Sanmarcan est une grandisme cité et noble. Les jens sunt cristiens et saraçins. II sunt an neveu dou grant can, et ne est pas son ami, mes plusors foies a nimisté cun lui. Ele est ver maistre. Et vos dirai une grant mervoie que aviut en ceste cité.

II fu voir qu’il ne a encore grament de tens que Ci[a]gatai, le frere cbarnaus au grant can, se fist cristiens et estoit seignors de ceste contree et de maintes autres. Et les cristiens de le cite de Sanmarcan, quant il virent que le seignor estoit cristiens, il en our grant leese. Et adonc firent en celle cite une grant gliese a le onor de saint Johan Batiste: et ansi s’apelloit celle yglise. Il pristent une mout belle pieres que de saraisinz estoit et la mistrent por pilier d’une colone que eu mileu de le yglise estoit et sostenoit la covreure.

Or aviut que C[ia]gatai murut. Et quant les saraçins virent que celui estoit mort, et por ce que il avoient eu et avoient toutes fois grant ire de celle pieres que estoit en l'eglise des cristiens, il distrent entr’aus qu’il vulent celle pieres por force. Et ce pooient il bien fair car il estoient x tant que les cristiens. Et adonc auquans des meiors saracin aient a le ygliese de saut Johan et distrent a cristiens qu’i estoient qu’il voloient celle pieres que lor avoit esté. Les cristiens distrent qu’il les en volent [doner] tout ce qu’il vodront et laissast la piere, por ce que trop seroit grant domajes de le yglise se celle pieres s’en traisti hors. Les saracin distrent qu’il n’en voloient or ne tesor, mes voloient lor pieres en toutes maineres. Et que vos en diroie? La segnorie estoit a cel neveu don grant can. Il font faire comandamant as cristiens que de celui jor a deus jors deussent rendre celle pieres as saraçinz.

 

 

 

 

 

Et quant les cristien ont eu cel comandement il unt grant ire et ne sevent qu’il deussent faire. Or en avint tel miracle com je vos conterai.

 

 

 

Sachiés que quant le maitin dou jor que la pieres se dovoit rendre fu venu, la colonne que estoit sor la pieres, por la volontés dou nostre seignor Jesucrit, se hoste de la pieres et se fait en aut bien trois paumes; et se sostenoit ausi bien com se la pieres hi fust sout. Et toutes foies, de celui jor avant, est ausi demoré celle collune et encore est elle ensint, Et ce fu tenu et encore est tenue un de grant miracle que avenisse au monde.

 

Or nos laison de ce et aleron avant et vos conteron d'une province que est appellés Yarcan.

XLIV (Book I, 26)

CONCERNING THE CITY OF SAPURGAN

On leaving the Castle, you ride over fine plains and beautiful valleys, and pretty hill-sides producing excellent grass pasture, and abundance of fruits, and all other products. Armies are glad to take up their quarters here on account of the plenty that exists. This kind of country extends for six days' journey, with a goodly number of towns and villages, in which the people are worshippers of Mahommet. Sometimes also you meet with a tract of desert extending for 50 or 60 miles, or somewhat less, and in these deserts you find no water, but have to carry it along with you. The beasts do without drink until you have got across the desert tract and come to watering places.

So after travelling for six days as I have told you, you come to a city called Sapurgan. It has great plenty of everything, but especially of the very best melons in the world. They preserve them by paring them round and round into strips, and drying them in the sun. When dry they are sweeter than honey, and are carried off for sale all over the country. There is also abundance of game here, both of birds and beasts.

 

 

 

 

 

XLV (Book I, 27)

OF THE CITY OF BALC

Balc is a noble city and a great, though it was much greater in former days. But the Tartars and other nations have greatly ravaged and destroyed it. There were formerly many fine palaces and buildings of marble, and the ruins of them still remain. The people of the city tell that it was here that Alexander took to wife the daughter of Darius. Here, you should be told, is the end of the empire of the Tartar Lord of the Levant. And this city is also the limit of Persia in the direction between east and north-east.

Now, let us quit this city, and I will tell you of another country called Dogana. When you have quitted the city of which I have been speaking, you ride some 12 days between north-east and east, without finding any human habitation, for the people have all taken refuge in fastnesses among the mountains, on account of the Banditti and armies that harassed them. There is plenty of water on the road, and abundance of game; there are lions too. You can get no provisions on the road, and must carry with you all that you require for these 12 days.

 

 

 

XLVI (Book 1, 28)

OF TAICAN, AND THE MOUNTAINS OF SALT. ALSO OF THE PROVINCE OF CASEM

After those twelve days' journey you come to a fortified place called Taican, where there is a great corn market. It is a fine place, and the mountains that you see towards the south are all composed of salt. People from all the countries round, to some thirty days' journey, come to fetch this salt, which is the best in the world, and is so hard that it can only be broken with iron picks. 'Tis in such abundance that it would supply the whole world to the end of time. [Other mountains there grow almonds and pistachioes, which are exceedingly cheap.]

When you leave this town and ride three days further between north-east and east, you meet with many fine tracts full of vines and other fruits, and with a goodly number of habitations, and everything to be had very cheap. The people are worshippers of Mahommet, and are an evil and a murderous generation, whose great delight is in the wine shop; for they have good wine (albeit it be boiled), and are great topers; in truth, they are constantly getting drunk. They wear nothing on the head but a cord some ten palms long twisted round it. They are excellent huntsmen, and take a great deal of game; in fact they wear nothing but the skins of the beasts they have taken in the chase, for they make of them both coats and shoes. Indeed, all of them are acquainted with the art of dressing skins for these purposes.

When you have ridden those three days, you find a town called Casem, which is subject to a count. His other towns and villages are on the hills, but through this town there flows a river of some size. There are a great many porcupines hereabouts, and very large ones too. When hunted with dogs, several of them will get together and huddle close, shooting their quills at the dogs, which get many a serious wound thereby.

This town of Casem is at the head of a very great province, which is also called Casem. The people have a peculiar language. The peasants who keep cattle abide in the mountains, and have their dwellings in caves, which form fine and spacious houses for them, and are made with ease, as the hills are composed of earth.

After leaving the town of Casem, you ride for three days without finding a single habitation, or anything to eat or drink, so that you have to carry with you everything that you require. At the end of those three days you reach a province called Badashan, about which we shall now tell you.

XLVII (Book 1, 29)

OF THE PROVINCE OF BADASHAN

Badashan is a Province inhabited by people who worship Mahommet, and have a peculiar language. It forms a very great kingdom, and the royalty is hereditary. All those of the royal blood are descended from King Alexander and the daughter of King Darius, who was Lord of the vast Empire of Persia. And all these kings call themselves in the Saracen tongue Zulcarnian, which is as much as to say Alexander; and this out of regard for Alexander the Great.

It is in this province that those fine and valuable gems, the Balas Rubies, are found. They are got in certain rocks among the mountains, and in the search for them the people dig great caves underground, just as is done by miners for silver. There is but one special mountain that produces them, and it is called Syghinan. The stones are dug on the king's account, and no one else dares dig in that mountain on pain of forfeiture of life as well as goods; nor may any one carry the stones out of the kingdom. But the king amasses them all, and sends them to other kings when he has tribute to render, or when he desires to offer a friendly present; and such only as he pleases he causes to be sold. Thus he acts in order to keep the Balas at a high value; for if he were to allow everybody to dig, they would extract so many that the world would be glutted with them, and they would cease to bear any value. Hence it is that he allows so few to be taken out, and is so strict in the matter.

There is also in the same country another mountain, in which azure is found; 'tis the finest in the world, and is got in a vein like silver. There are also other mountains which contain a great amount of silver ore, so that the country is a very rich one; but it is also (it must be said) a very cold one.

 

 

It produces numbers of excellent horses, remarkable for their speed. They are not shod at all, although constantly used in mountainous country, and on very bad roads. [They go at a great pace even down steep descents, where other horses neither would nor could do the like. And Messer Marco was told that not long ago they possessed in that province a breed of horses from the strain of Alexander's horse Bucephalus, all of which had from their birth a particular mark on the forehead. This breed was entirely in the hands of an uncle of the king's; and in consequence of his refusing to let the king have any of them, the latter put him to death. The widow then, in despite, destroyed the whole breed, and it is now extinct.

The mountains of this country also supply Saker falcons of excellent flight, and plenty of Lanners likewise. Beasts and birds for the chase there are in great abundance. Good wheat is grown, and also barley without husk. They have no olive oil, but make oil from sesamé, and also from walnuts. [In the mountains there are vast numbers of sheep—400, 500, or 600 in a single flock, and all of them wild; and though many of them are taken, they never seem to get aught the scarcer. Those mountains are so lofty that 'tis a hard day's work, from morning till evening, to get to the top of them. On getting up, you find an extensive plain, with great abundance of grass and trees, and copious springs of pure water running down through rocks and ravines. In those brooks are found trout and many other fish of dainty kinds; and the air in those regions is so pure, and residence there so healthful, that when the men who dwell below in the towns, and in the valleys and plains, find themselves attacked by any kind of fever or other ailment that may hap, they lose no time in going to the hills; and after abiding there two or three days, they quite recover their health through the excellence of that air. And Messer Marco said he had proved this by experience: for when in those parts he had been ill for about a year, but as soon as he was advised to visit that mountain, he did so and got well at once].

In this kingdom there are many strait and perilous passes, so difficult to force that the people have no fear of invasion. Their towns and villages also are on lofty hills, and in very strong positions.[NOTE 8] They are excellent archers, and much given to the chase; indeed, most of them are dependent for clothing on the skins of beasts, for stuffs are very dear among them. The great ladies, however, are arrayed in stuffs, and I will tell you the style of their dress! They all wear drawers made of cotton cloth, and into the making of these some will put 60, 80, or even 100 ells of stuff. This they do to make themselves look large in the hips, for the men of those parts think that to be a great beauty in a woman.

 

XLVIII (Book I, 30)

OF THE PROVINCE OF PASHAI

You must know that ten days' journey to the south of Badashan there is a Province called Pashai, the people of which have a peculiar language, and are Idolaters, of a brown complexion. They are great adepts in sorceries and the diabolic arts. The men wear earrings and brooches of gold and silver set with stones and pearls. They are a pestilent people and a crafty; and they live upon flesh and rice. Their country is very hot.

Now let us proceed and speak of another country which is seven days' journey from this one towards the south-east, and the name of which is Keshimur.

XLIX (Book I, 31)

OF THE PROVINCE OF KESHIMUR

Keshimur also is a Province inhabited by a people who are Idolaters and have a language of their own. They have an astonishing acquaintance with the devilries of enchantment; insomuch that they make their idols to speak. They can also by their sorceries bring on changes of weather and produce darkness, and do a number of things so extraordinary that no one without seeing them would believe them. Indeed, this country is the very original source from which Idolatry has spread abroad. In this direction you can proceed further till you come to the Sea of India.

The men are brown and lean, but the women, taking them as brunettes, are very beautiful. The food of the people is flesh, and milk, and rice. The clime is finely tempered, being neither very hot nor very cold. There are numbers of towns and villages in the country, but also forests and desert tracts, and strong passes, so that the people have no fear of anybody, and keep their independence, with a king of their own to rule and do justice.

There are in this country Eremites (after the fashion of those parts), who dwell in seclusion and practise great abstinence in eating and drinking. They observe strict chastity, and keep from all sins forbidden in their law, so that they are regarded by their own folk as very holy persons. They live to a very great age. There are also a number of idolatrous abbeys and monasteries. [The people of the province do not kill animals nor spill blood; so if they want to eat meat they get the Saracens who dwell among them to play the butcher.] The coral which is carried from our parts of the world has a better sale there than in any other country.

Now we will quit this country, and not go any further in the same direction; for if we did so we should enter India; and that I do not wish to do at present. For, on our return journey, I mean to tell you about India: all in regular order. Let us go back therefore to Badashan, for we cannot otherwise proceed on our journey.

L (Book I, 32)

OF THE GREAT RIVER OF BADASHAN

In leaving Badashan you ride twelve days between east and north-east, ascending a river that runs through land belonging to a brother of the Prince of Badashan, and containing a good many towns and villages and scattered habitations. The people are Mahommetans, and valiant in war. At the end of those twelve days you come to a province of no great size, extending indeed no more than three days' journey in any direction, and this is called Vokhan. The people worship Mahommet, and they have a peculiar language. They are gallant soldiers, and they have a chief whom they call None, which is as much as to say Count, and they are liegemen to the Prince of Badashan. There are numbers of wild beasts of all sorts in this region.

And when you leave this little country, and ride three days north-east, always among mountains, you get to such a height that 'tis said to be the highest place in the world! And when you have got to this height you find [a great lake between two mountains, and out of it] a fine river running through a plain clothed with the finest pasture in the world; insomuch that a lean beast there will fatten to your heart's content in ten days. There are great numbers of all kinds of wild beasts; among others, wild sheep of great size, whose horns are good six palms in length. From these horns the shepherds make great bowls to eat from, and they use the horns also to enclose folds for their cattle at night. [Messer Marco was told also that the wolves were numerous, and killed many of those wild sheep. Hence quantities of their horns and bones were found, and these were made into great heaps by the way-side, in order to guide travellers when snow was on the ground.]

The plain is called Pamier, and you ride across it for twelve days together, finding nothing but a desert without habitations or any green thing, so that travellers are obliged to carry with them whatever they have need of. The region is so lofty and cold that you do not even see any birds flying. And I must notice also that because of this great cold, fire does not burn so brightly, nor give out so much heat as usual, nor does it cook food so effectually.

Now, if we go on with our journey towards the east-north-east, we travel a good forty days, continually passing over mountains and hills, or through valleys, and crossing many rivers and tracts of wilderness. And in all this way you find neither habitation of man, nor any green thing, but must carry with you whatever you require.

 

The country is called Bolor. The people dwell high up in the mountains, and are savage Idolaters, living only by the chase, and clothing themselves in the skins of beasts. They are in truth an evil race.

LI (Book I, 33)
OF THE KINGDOM OF CASCAR.

 

Cascar is a region lying between north-east and east, and constituted a kingdom in former days, but now it is subject to the Great Kaan. The people worship Mahommet. There are a good number of towns and villages, but the greatest and finest is Cascar itself. The inhabitants live by trade and handicrafts; they have beautiful gardens and vineyards, and fine estates, and grow a great deal of cotton. From this country many merchants go forth about the world on trading journeys. The natives are a wretched, niggardly set of people; they eat and drink in miserable fashion. There are in the country many Nestorian Christians, who have churches of their own. The people of the country have a peculiar language, and the territory extends for five days' journey.

 

LII (Book I, 34)

OF THE GREAT CITY OF SAMARCAN

Samarcan is a great and noble city towards the north-west, inhabited by both Christians and Saracens, who are subject to the Great Kaan's nephew, Caidou by name; he is, however, at bitter enmity with the Kaan. I will tell you of a great marvel that happened at this city.

It is not a great while ago that Sigatay, own brother to the Great Kaan, who was Lord of this country and of many an one besides, became a Christian. The Christians rejoiced greatly at this, and they built a great church in the city, in honour of John the Baptist; and by his name the church was called. And they took a very fine stone which belonged to the Saracens, and placed it as the pedestal of a column in the middle of the church, supporting the roof.

 

 

It came to pass, however, that Sigatay died. Now the Saracens were full of rancour about that stone that had been theirs, and which had been set up in the church of the Christians; and when they saw that the Prince was dead, they said one to another that now was the time to get back their stone, by fair means or by foul. And that they might well do, for they were ten times as many as the Christians. So they gat together and went to the church and said that the stone they must and would have. The Christians acknowledged that it was theirs indeed, but offered to pay a large sum of money and so be quit. Howbeit, the others replied that they never would give up the stone for anything in the world. And words ran so high that the Prince heard thereof, and ordered the Christians either to arrange to satisfy the Saracens, if it might be, with money, or to give up the stone. And he allowed them three days to do either the one thing or the other. What shall I tell you? Well, the Saracens would on no account agree to leave the stone where it was, and this out of pure despite to the Christians, for they knew well enough that if the stone were stirred the church would come down by the run.

So the Christians were in great trouble and wist not what to do. But they did do the best thing possible; they besought Jesus Christ that he would consider their case, so that the holy church should not come to destruction, nor the name of its Patron Saint, John the Baptist, be tarnished by its ruin.

And so when the day fixed by the Prince came round, they went to the church betimes in the morning, and lo, they found the stone removed from under the column; the foot of the column was without support, and yet it bore the load as stoutly as before! Between the foot of the column and the ground there was a space of three palms. So the Saracens had away their stone, and mighty little joy withal. It was a glorious miracle, nay, it is so, for the column still so standeth, and will stand as long as God pleaseth.

Now let us quit this and continue our journey.

 

 


LIII

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE YARCAN

Yarcan est une provence que dure de lonc cinq jornee. Les gens sunt de la loy Maomet et cristiens nestorinz hi a auques. Il sunt a cel neveu meisme dou grant can que je vos ai contés desovre. Il ont grant abundance de toutes chouses. Mes por ce que ne i a chonses que face a mentovoir en nostre, livre, et por ce laison de ce et vos conteron de Cotan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIV

CI DEVISE DE LA GRANT PROVENCE DE COTAN

 

Cotan est une provence entre levant et grec et est longue VIII jornee. il sunt au grant can. Les gens aorent tuit Maomet. Il hi a cités et caustiaus assez; et la plus noble cité et celle que est chief dou regn est appelles Cotan: ce est le nom de la provence. Il ha abundance de toutes couses. Il hi naist banbace assez.

 

 

 

Il ont vignes et possesion et jardinz assez. Il vivent de marchandies et de ars. Il ne sunt pas homes d’armes.

Or nos partiron de ci et vos conteron d’une autre provence que a a nom [Pem].

 

LV

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE PEM

 

Pem est une provence qui est longue cinq jornee entre levant et grec. Les jens aorent Maomet et sunt ao grant can. Il hi a villes et chaustiaus assez; et la plus noble cité, qui est chief dou reigne, est appelles Pem. Il hi a flum que i se treuvent pieres que l'en apelle diaspe et calcedoine assez. Il ont abundance de [toutes] couses. Il hi naist banbance assez. Il vivent de mercandies et d’ars. Et vos di qu’il ont un tel costumes com je vos dirai. Car quant une feme a un mari, et il se part d’elle por aler en voiajes, et que doie demorer dei xx jors en sus, la feme, tant tost que son mari est parti por aler en voiajes, elle prant mari, et ce puet elle bien faire por lor usance. Et les homes, laonques il aillent, prenent fames ausint.

Et sachiés que toutes cestes provences que je vos ai contés, da Cascar jusque ci, et encore oltre avant, est de la grant Turchie. Or nos laison de ce et vos conteron d’une provence que est appelle Ciarcian.

LIII (Book I, 35)

OF THE PROVINCE OF YARCAN

Yarcan is a province five days' journey in extent. The people follow the Law of Mahommet, but there are also Nestorian and Jacobite Christians. They are subject to the same Prince that I mentioned, the Great Kaan's nephew. They have plenty of everything, [particularly of cotton. The inhabitants are also great craftsmen, but a large proportion of them have swoln legs, and great crops at the throat, which arises from some quality in their drinking-water.]

As there is nothing else worth telling we may pass on.

LIV (Book I, 36)

OF A PROVINCE CALLED COTAN

Cotan is a province lying between north-east and east, and is eight days' journey in length. The people are subject to the Great Kaan, and are all worshippers of Mahommet. There are numerous towns and villages in the country, but Cotan, the capital, is the most noble of all, and gives its name to the kingdom. Everything is to be had there in plenty, including abundance of cotton, [with flax, hemp, wheat, wine, and the like].

The people have vineyards and gardens and estates. They live by commerce and manufactures, and are no soldiers.

 

LV (Book I,  37)

OF THE PROVINCE OF PEIN

Pein is a province five days in length, lying between east and north-east. The people are worshippers of Mahommet, and subjects of the Great Kaan. There are a good number of towns and villages, but the most noble is Pein, the capital of the kingdom. There are rivers in this country, in which quantities of Jasper and Chalcedony are found. The people have plenty of all products, including cotton. They live by manufactures and trade. But they have a custom that I must relate. If the husband of any woman go away upon a journey and remain away for more than 20 days, as soon as that term is past the woman may marry another man, and the husband also may then marry whom he pleases.

I should tell you that all the provinces that I have been speaking of, from Cascar forward, and those I am going to mention [as far as the city of Lop] belong to Great Turkey.

LVI

CI COMANCE DE LA PROVENCE DE CIARCIAN

 

Ciarcian est une provence de la grant Turchie entre grec et levant. Les jens aorent Maomet. Il hi a viles et chastiaus asez et la mestre cité dou regne est Ciarcian. Il hi a fluns que moinent diaspes et calcedon, les qualz portent a vendre au Cata et n’ont grant profit, car il en ont asez et bones.

 

Et toute ceste provence est sablun: et de Cotan a Pen est ausi sablon, et da Pem ici est encore sablon. Et hi a niantes aigues mauves et ameres. Et encore hi a en plosors leus aigues doces et bones. Et quant il avint que oste passe por la contree, que il soient enemis, il fuient con lor femes et con [lor] filz et con lor bestes entre le sablon deus jornee ou trois, en leus ou il savent que aie aigue et qu’il peussent vivre con lor bestes. Et si vos di que nulz poit apercevoir la o il soient alés, por ce que le vent covre les voies dont il sunt alés de sablon, si que ne apert dont il soient alés et ne senble que por iluec alast nuques home ne beste. En telle mainere escanpent de lor ennemis com je vos ai dit. Et se il avint que por iluec passe ost qui soient ami, si fuient le bestes seulement, porcoi il ne velent qu’eles soient elz tollues et meugiés: car les ostes ne paient chouses qu’il prendes.

Et quant l’en s’en part de Ciarcian, il ala bien cinq jornee por sablon, la ou il a de mauveise aigue et d’ameres. Et en tel leu hi a des bones et douces. Et ne i ha cose que face a mentovoir en nostre livre. Et [a] chief de V jornee treuve l’en une cité que est au chef dou grant desert, la o les homes prenent les viandes por paser le desert. Et por ce laison de ce et vos conteron avant.

LVII

CI DEVISE DE LA CITÉ DE LOP

 

Lop est une graut cité que est au chef dont l'en entre en le grant desert, qui est apellé le desert de Lop. Et est entre levant et grec. Ceste cité est au grant can. Les jens aorent Maomet. Et vos di que cel que vuelent pasere le desert se repousent en ceste ville une semaine por resfre[s]cher elz et lor bestes. A chief d’une semaine, il prennent viandes por un mois por elz et por lor bestes. Et adont se parte l’en de ceste ville et entrent l’en eu desert.

Et vos di qu’il est longo, selonc que l’en dit, tant que en un anz aleroit l’en au chef. Et la o il est moin large se poine a passer un mois.

Il est toutes montagnes et sablon et valés. E ne i se trouve ren a mangier. Mes jeo vos di que quant l’en est alés un jors et une noit l’en trove eive de beres: mes mie aigue que peust avoir asez grant jens, mes cinquant ou cent homes con lor bestes. Et por tout le desert vos convent aler tontes foies un jorno et une nuit, avant que vos trovés eaues. Et si vos di que en trois leus, ou en quatre, treuve l’en eive amer et sause, et toutes les autres sunt bones, que sunt entor de XXVIII eives. Bestes ne oisiaus ne i a pas, por ce que il ne i treuvent a mangier.

Me[s] si vos di que l’en hi trouve une tel mervoie com je vos conterai. Il est voir que quant l’en chauvache de noit por cest desert, et il avent couse que aucun reumagne et s’esvoie de sez conpains por dormir ou por autre chouse, et il vuelt puis aler por jugnire sez conpagnons, adonc oient parlere espiriti en mainiere que senblent que soient sez conpagnons: car il les appellent tel fois por lor nom. Et plosors foies les font devoier en tel mainere qu’il ne se trevent jamés; et en ceste mainere en sunt ja maint morti et perdu.

 

 

 

 

Et encore vos di que [le] jor meisme oient les homes ceste voices de espiriti et vos semble maintes foies que vos oiés soner manti instrumenti et propemant tambur.

E[n] ces |maineres se passe ceste desert et a si grant anuie com vos avés oi. Desormés nos lairon dou desert que bien vos avun dit tout l’afer; et vos conteron des provences que l’en treuve quant isti do desert.

LVIII

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE TANGUT

 

 

Et quant l’en a chevauchés cest troint jornee dou desert que je vos ai dit, adonc treuve l'en une cité que est apellés Saciou, qui est au grant kaan. La provence s’apelle Tangut. Il sunt tuit ydres. Bien est il voir qu’il a auques cristiens nestorin. Et encore hi a saracins. Les ydres ont langajes por elz. La ville est entre grec et levant. Il ne sunt jens que vivent de mercandies, mes vivent don profit des blés qu’il recoient de la tere.

Il ont maintes abaye et mant moster, les quelz sunt tuit plen de ydres de mainte faision, as quelz font grant sacrificie et grant honor et granti reverence. Et sachiés que tout les homes que ont enfanz font norir un mouton a honor de le ydres; et a chief de l'an, ou en la feste de san idre, eil que ont nodri le monton le moinent con sez enfanz devant le ydres, et li font grant reverence, et elz et lor enfanz. Et quant ont ce fait, il le font toit cuire. Puis le portent devant l’idre con grant reverence et iluec le laissent tant qu'il ont dit lor ofice et lor preier que le ydre sauvent lor filz; et dient que le ydre menuient la sostance de la cars. Puis que il ont ce fait, il prenent celle cars que devant le ydre avoit esté et la portent a lor maison ou en autre leu qu’il voilent et mandent por lor parens et le menuent cun grant reverence et a grant feste. Et quant il ont manjés la cars, et il reculient les oses et le sauvent en arche mout sauvemant.

 

Et sachiés que tuit les ydules dou monde, quant il morurent, les autres font ardoir les cors. Et encore vos di que quant cesti ydres sunt portés de lor maison au leu o il doient estre ars, entre voies, en auquant leus, les parens dou mors ont fait emi la voie une maison de fust coverte de dras de soie et de dras d’ore. Et quant le mort est porté devant ceste maison si aornés. il s’arestent; et les homes gitent devant le mors vi[n] et viandes assez. Et ce font il por ce que il dient que a tiel honor sera il recevu en l’autre siecle. Et quant il est aportés au leu ou il doit estre ars, ses parens font entailler homes de carte de papir et chevaus et gamiaus et monete grant come biçans; et toutes cestes couses funt ardoir avec le cors. Et dient que en le autre monde le mors aura tant esclaif et tantes bestes et tantes monto[n]s com il font ardoir de charte. Et encore vos di que quant le cors sunt porté a ardoir, tuit les stormens de la tere vont sonant avante le cors.

Et encore vos di do un autre chouse: que quant cesti ydres sunt mors, il mandent por lor astrolique et dient elz la nasion dou mort, ce est quant il nasqui, de quel mois et quel jorno et l'oire. Et quant les astroilique le a entandu, il fait sez endevinaille por ars diabolique et dit, puis qu’il a fait sez ars, le jor que le cors se doit ardoir. E vos di que de tielz fait demorer que ne s’ard une semaine et de tielz un mois et de tielz VI mois. Et adonc convient que les parens dou mort les tegnent en lor maison taut com je vos ai dit. Car il ne firoient jamés ardoir jusque a tant que les endevinz lor dient qu’il soit bien ardoir. Endementier que le cors ne s’arde et demore en lor maison le tenent en tiel mainere. Car je vos di qu’il out une cassie de table grosses un paum et bien conjunte ensenble, tote enpointe noblemant, et hi metent le cors dedens et puis le covrent de tielz dras et si ordré et con canfara et con autre especes, que le cors ne pouce point a celz de la maison. Et encore vos di que les parens dou mors, ce sunt celz de la maison, ogne jor tant quant le cors hi demore, li font metre table et hi metent viande da mangier et da boir ausi com s’il fust vif et le metent davant la cascio ou le cors est et le laisent tant come l’en peusse avoir mengient et dient que s’arme menuie de cel viande. En tel mainer le tenent jusque au jor que il se mene a ardoir. Et encore vos di qu’il funt un autre chouse: que plosors foies cesti endevi[n] dient as pare[n]s des mors que il ne est buen que il traient por la porte de la maison le cors mors et trovent caison ou de staile ou d’autre chouse que soient encontre a celle porte. Et adonc les parens dou mors le funt traire por autre porte et maintes fois font ronpir les mur et d’iluec le funt trare.

Et tuit les ydules dou monde vont por la mainere que je vos ai dit.

Or nos laison de ceste matiere et vos parleron d’autre cité, que sunt ver maistre, joste le chief de cest desert.

LVI (Book I, 38)

OF THE PROVINCE OF CHARCHAN

Charchan is a Province of Great Turkey, lying between north-east and east. The people worship Mahommet. There are numerous towns and villages, and the chief city of the kingdom bears its name, Charchan. The Province contains rivers which bring down Jasper and Chalcedony, and these are carried for sale into Cathay, where they fetch great prices. The whole of the Province is sandy, and so is the road all the way from Pein, and much of the water that you find is bitter and bad. However, at some places you do find fresh and sweet water. When an army passes through the land, the people escape with their wives, children, and cattle a distance of two or three days' journey into the sandy waste; and knowing the spots where water is to be had, they are able to live there, and to keep their cattle alive, whilst it is impossible to discover them; for the wind immediately blows the sand over their track.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quitting Charchan, you ride some five days through the sands, finding none but bad and bitter water, and then you come to a place where the water is sweet. And now I will tell you of a province called Lop, in which there is a city, also called LOP, which you come to at the end of those five days. It is at the entrance of the great Desert, and it is here that travellers repose before entering on the Desert.

LVII (Book I, 39)

OF THE CITY OF LOP AND THE GREAT DESERT

Lop is a large town at the edge of the Desert, which is called the Desert of Lop, and is situated between east and north-east. It belongs to the Great Kaan, and the people worship Mahommet. Now, such persons as propose to cross the Desert take a week's rest in this town to refresh themselves and their cattle; and then they make ready for the journey, taking with them a month's supply for man and beast. On quitting this city they enter the Desert.

The length of this Desert is so great that 'tis said it would take a year and more to ride from one end of it to the other. And here, where its breadth is least, it takes a month to cross it.

'Tis all composed of hills and valleys of sand, and not a thing to eat is to be found on it. But after riding for a day and a night you find fresh water, enough mayhap for some 50 or 100 persons with their beasts, but not for more. And all across the Desert you will find water in like manner, that is to say, in some 28 places altogether you will find good water, but in no great quantity; and in four places also you find brackish water. Beasts there are none; for there is nought for them to eat.

 

But there is a marvellous thing related of this Desert, which is that when travellers are on the move by night, and one of them chances to lag behind or to fall asleep or the like, when he tries to gain his company again he will hear spirits talking, and will suppose them to be his comrades. Sometimes the spirits will call him by name; and thus shall a traveller ofttimes be led astray so that he never finds his party. And in this way many have perished. [Sometimes the stray travellers will hear as it were the tramp and hum of a great cavalcade of people away from the real line of road, and taking this to be their own company they will follow the sound; and when day breaks they find that a cheat has been put on them and that they are in an ill plight.]

Even in the day-time one hears those spirits talking. And sometimes you shall hear the sound of a variety of musical instruments, and still more commonly the sound of drums. [Hence in making this journey 'tis customary for travellers to keep close together. All the animals too have bells at their necks, so that they cannot easily get astray. And at sleeping-time a signal is put up to show the direction of the next march.]

So thus it is that the Desert is crossed.

LVIII (Book I, 40)

CONCERNING THE GREAT PROVINCE OF TANGUT

After you have travelled thirty days through the Desert, as I have described, you come to a city called Sachiu, lying between north-east and east; it belongs to the Great Kaan, and is in a province called Tangut. The people are for the most part Idolaters, but there are also some Nestorian Christians and some Saracens. The Idolaters have a peculiar language, and are no traders, but live by their agriculture.

 

They have a great many abbeys and minsters full of idols of sundry fashions, to which they pay great honour and reverence, worshipping them and sacrificing to them with much ado. For example, such as have children will feed up a sheep in honour of the idol, and at the New Year, or on the day of the Idol's Feast, they will take their children and the sheep along with them into the presence of the idol with great ceremony. Then they will have the sheep slaughtered and cooked, and again present it before the idol with like reverence, and leave it there before him, whilst they are reciting the offices of their worship and their prayers for the idol's blessing on their children. And, if you will believe them, the idol feeds on the meat that is set before it! After these ceremonies they take up the flesh and carry it home, and call together all their kindred to eat it with them in great festivity [the idol-priests receiving for their portion the head, feet, entrails, and skin, with some part of the meat]. After they have eaten, they collect the bones that are left and store them carefully in a hutch.

And you must know that all the Idolaters in the world burn their dead. And when they are going to carry a body to the burning, the kinsfolk build a wooden house on the way to the spot, and drape it with cloths of silk and gold. When the body is going past this building they call a halt and set before it wine and meat and other eatables; and this they do with the assurance that the defunct will be received with the like attentions in the other world. All the minstrelsy in the town goes playing before the body; and when it reaches the burning-place the kinsfolk are prepared with figures cut out of parchment and paper in the shape of men and horses and camels, and also with round pieces of paper like gold coins, and all these they burn along with the corpse. For they say that in the other world the defunct will be provided with slaves and cattle and money, just in proportion to the amount of such pieces of paper that has been burnt along with him.

But they never burn their dead until they have [sent for the astrologers, and told them the year, the day, and the hour of the deceased person's birth, and when the astrologers have ascertained under what constellation, planet, and sign he was born, they declare the day on which, by the rules of their art, he ought to be burnt]. And till that day arrive they keep the body, so that 'tis sometimes a matter of six months, more or less, before it comes to be burnt.

 

 

 

Now the way they keep the body in the house is this: They make a coffin first of a good span in thickness, very carefully joined and daintily painted. This they fill up with camphor and spices, to keep off corruption [stopping the joints with pitch and lime], and then they cover it with a fine cloth. Every day as long as the body is kept, they set a table before the dead covered with food; and they will have it that the soul comes and eats and drinks: wherefore they leave the food there as long as would be necessary in order that one should partake. Thus they do daily. And worse still! Sometimes those soothsayers shall tell them that 'tis not good luck to carry out the corpse by the door, so they have to break a hole in the wall, and to draw it out that way when it is taken to the burning.

 

 

 

 

 

And these, I assure you, are the practices of all the Idolaters of those countries.

However, we will quit this subject, and I will tell you of another city which lies towards the north-west at the extremity of the desert.

LIX

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE CAMUL

 

Camul est une provence que jadis fu roiaumes. II hi a villes et castiaus assez et la mestre ville est appellé Camul. La provence est emi de deus desert: car de l'une part a le grant desert et da l’autre a un petit desert de trois jornee.

Les jens sunt tuit ydres. et ont langajes por si. Il vivent don fruct de la tere, car il ont des chuses de mangier et da boir assez et en vendent as viandant qie por illuec passent. Il sunt homes de grant seullas, car il ne entendent a autre couse for che a soner estromens et a chantere et a balere et a prendre grant delit a lor cors.

Et vos di que se un forester li vient a sa maison por herbergier, il en est trop lies. Il comande a sa feme qu’elle face tout ce que le forestier vuelt et il se part de sa maison et vait a fer sez fait et demore deus jors ou trois et le forester demore avec sa feme en la maison et fait a sa volunté et jije cou elle et un lit ousi com se elle fusse sa feme et demorent en gran seulas. Et tuit celz de ceste cité et porvence sunt auni de lor feme; mes je vos di qu’il ne le se tienent a vergogne. Et les femes sunt beles et gaudent et de soulas.

Or avint que au tens que Mongu Can, sire des Tartars, regnoit, adonc li fu denunsiés comant celz de Camul fasoient ensi avoutrer lor femes a forastier. E cel Mo[n]gu mande elz comandant sout grant poine que il ne deusent herberger les forestiers. Et quant cel de Camul ont eu cest comandemant, il en furent mout dole[n]s.

 

 

Et adonc furent a consoil et conseillent et font ce que je vos dirai. Car il pristent un grant present et l’aportent a Mongu et le prient que il le laisase fere les usause de lor femes que lor ancestere avoient elz laissés et li dient come lor ancestere avoient dit que por le plaisir qu’il fasoient as forestieres de lor fames et de lor coses que lor ydres l’avoient a grant bien et que lor blee et lor labor de tere en molteplio asez. Et quant Mongu kaan entendi ce, il dit: «Puis que vos volés votre honte, et vos l’aiés». Et adonc consent qu’il faichent lor volunté et vos di que toutes foies ont il mantenee celle usance et mantinent encore.

Or laison de Camul et vos conteron des autres que sunt entre tramontaine et maistre. Et sachiés que ceste provence est au grant can.

 

LX

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE GHINGHINTALAS

 

Ghinghintalas est une provence que encor est juste le desert entre tramontane et maistre. Elle est grant XVI jornee. Elle est au grant can. Il hi a cités et castiaus assez. Il hi a trois generasionz de jens: ce sunt ydres et celz que aorent Maomet et cristienz nestorin. Et a le confin de ceste provence dever tramontane a une montagne en la quel a mout bone voine d’acer et d’ondan[i]que.

Et en ceste montagnes meisme se trouve une voine de la quel se fait la salamandre. Et sachiés que salamandre ne est pas beste come ue[n] dit, mes est tes choses com je dirai desout. Il est vérité que vos savés bien que por nature nulle bestes ne nulz animaus ne pont vivre en feu, por ce que chascu[n] animaus est fait des quatre alimens. Et por ce que les jens ne savoient la certance de la salamandre le disoient en la mainere qu’il die[n] encore que salamandre soit beste, mes il ne est pas verité. Mes je le vos dirai orendroit.

Car je vos di que je ot un conpagnons, que avoit a nom Çurficar, un turs que mout estoit saje, qui demoroit trois anz por le grant can en celle provence por fair traire celle salamandre et cel undanique et cel acer et toutes couses. [Car toutes] foies hi mande seignor le grant can por trois anz por seignoreier la provence et por fer la besogne de la salamandre. Et mun conpains me dist le fait et je meisme le vi. Car je vos di que quant l’en a cavé des montagnes de celle voine que vos avés oi et l’en la ront et despece, elle se tient ensemble et fait file come lane.

Et por ce, quant l’en a ceste voine, il la fait secher; puis la fait pistere en grant morter de covre; puis la fait lavere; et remaint celle file que je vos ai dit et la terre gete que ne vaut rien. Puis ceste files, que est semblable a laine, la fait bien filere et puis en fait fer toaille. Et quant les toailles sunt faites je vos di qu’elles ne sunt mie bien blances. Mes il la mettent en le feu et le hi laisent une peces. E la toaille devient blanche come noif. Et toites foies que cestes toaille de salamandre ont nulle sosure ou bruture, l’en la met en feu et la hi lasse une piece, et devient blance [com] noif.

Et ce est la verité de la salamandre que je vos ai dit et toites les autres chouses que s’en dient sunt mensogne et fables. Et encore vos di que a Rome en a une toaille que le gran can envoie a l’apostoille por grant present et porcoi le saint suder de nostre seignor Jesucrit hi fust mis dedens.

Or nos laison [de] ceste provence et vos conteron des autre provence entre grec et levant.

 

LXI

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE SUCCIU

 

Quant l’en s’en part de cest provence que dit vos ai, il ala X jornee entre levant et grec. Et en toute ceste voie ne a abitasion se pou non. Et ne i ha chouses que a mentovoir face en nostre livre.

 

Et a chief de X jornee l’en treuve une provence que est apellé Succiu, en la quele a cité et castiaus assez. Et la mestre cité est apellés Succiu. Il lii a cristianz et ydre. Il sunt au grant can. Et la grant provence jeneraus ou ceste provence est — et ceste deus que je vos ai contés en arrieres — est apellés Tangut. Et por toutes les sien montagnes i se treuve le ribarbar en grant abondance. Et iluec l’acatent les mercaant et le portent puis por le monde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il vivent dou frout qu’il traient de la terre; mes de mercandies ne se travaillent il guieres. Or nos partiron de ci et vos conteron d’une cité que est apellés Ca[n]piciou.

LIX (Book I, 41)

OF THE PROVINCE OF CAMUL

 

Camul is a province which in former days was a kingdom. It contains numerous towns and villages, but the chief city bears the name of Camul. The province lies between the two deserts; for on the one side is the Great Desert of Lop, and on the other side is a small desert of three days' journey in extent.

The people are all Idolaters, and have a peculiar language. They live by the fruits of the earth, which they have in plenty, and dispose of to travellers. They are a people who take things very easily, for they mind nothing but playing and singing, and dancing and enjoying themselves.

And it is the truth that if a foreigner comes to the house of one of these people to lodge, the host is delighted, and desires his wife to put herself entirely at the guest's disposal, whilst he himself gets out of the way, and comes back no more until the stranger shall have taken his departure. The guest may stay and enjoy the wife's society as long as he lists, whilst the husband has no shame in the matter, but indeed considers it an honour. And all the men of this province are made wittols of by their wives in this way. The women themselves are fair and wanton.

Now it came to pass during the reign of Mangu Kaan, that as lord of this province he came to hear of this custom, and he sent forth an order commanding them under grievous penalties to do so no more [but to provide public hostelries for travellers]. And when they heard this order they were much vexed thereat. [For about three years' space they carried it out. But then they found that their lands were no longer fruitful, and that many mishaps befell them.]

So they collected together and prepared a grand present which they sent to their Lord, praying him graciously to let them retain the custom which they had inherited from their ancestors; for it was by reason of this usage that their gods bestowed upon them all the good things that they possessed, and without it they saw not how they could continue to exist.

When the Prince had heard their petition his reply was "Since ye must needs keep your shame, keep it then," and so he left them at liberty to maintain their naughty custom. And they always have kept it up, and do so still.

Now let us quit Camul, and I will tell you of another province which lies between north-west and north, and belongs to the Great Kaan.

LX (Book I, 42)

OF THE PROVINCE OF CHINGINTALAS

Chingintalas is also a province at the verge of the Desert, and lying between north-west and north. It has an extent of sixteen days' journey, and belongs to the Great Kaan, and contains numerous towns and villages. There are three different races of people in it—Idolaters, Saracens, and some Nestorian Christians. At the northern extremity of this province there is a mountain in which are excellent veins of steel and ondanique.

And you must know that in the same mountain there is a vein of the substance from which Salamander is made. For the real truth is that the Salamander is no beast, as they allege in our part of the world, but is a substance found in the earth; and I will tell you about it. Everybody must be aware that it can be no animal's nature to live in fire, seeing that every animal is composed of all the four elements.

 

 

Now I, Marco Polo, had a Turkish acquaintance of the name of Zurficar, and he was a very clever fellow. And this Turk related to Messer Marco Polo how he had lived three years in that region on behalf of the Great Kaan, in order to procure those Salamanders for him. He said that the way they got them was by digging in that mountain till they found a certain vein. The substance of this vein was then taken and crushed, and when so treated it divides as it were into fibres of wool, which they set forth to dry.

 

When dry, these fibres were pounded in a great copper mortar, and then washed, so as to remove all the earth and to leave only the fibres like fibres of wool. These were then spun, and made into napkins. When first made these napkins are not very white, but by putting them into the fire for a while they come out as white as snow. And so again whenever they become dirty they are bleached by being put in the fire.

Now this, and nought else, is the truth about the Salamander, and the people of the country all say the same. Any other account of the matter is fabulous nonsense. And I may add that they have at Rome a napkin of this stuff, which the Grand Kaan sent to the Pope to make a wrapper for the Holy Sudarium of Jesus Christ.]

We will now quit this subject, and I will proceed with my account of the countries lying in the direction between north-east and east.

LXI (Book I, 43)

OF THE PROVINCE OF SUKCHUR

On leaving the province of which I spoke before, you ride ten days between north-east and east, and in all that way you find no human dwelling, or next to none, so that there is nothing for our book to speak of.

At the end of those ten days you come to another province called Sukhur, in which there are numerous towns and villages. The chief city is called Sukhu. The people are partly Christians and partly Idolaters, and all are subject to the Great Kaan.The great General Province to which all these three provinces belong is called Tangut. Over all the mountains of this province rhubarb is found in great abundance, and thither merchants come to buy it, and carry it thence all over the world. [Travellers, however, dare not visit those mountains with any cattle but those of the country, for a certain plant grows there which is so poisonous that cattle which eat it lose their hoofs. The cattle of the country know it and eschew it.]

The people live by agriculture, and have not much trade. [They are of a brown complexion. The whole of the province is healthy.]

LXII

CI DIT DE LA CITÉ DE CANPICIOU

 

Canpiciou est nue cité que est en Ta[n]gut meesme, que est mout grant cité et noble, et est chief, e seignorie toute la provence de Tangut. Les jeus sunt ydres et hi a de celz que aorent Maomet. Et encore hi a cristiens et ont en ceste ville trois eglise grant et belles. Les ydres ont maint mostier et baie selonc lor usance. Il ont grandisme quantité de ydre. Et si vos di qu’il en ont de celle que sunt grant X pas: tel est de fust e tel de tere e tel de peres, et sunt toute coverte d’or et evree mout bien. Ceste grant ydre gigent et plusor autres idres peitetes son environ celle grant et senble qui li faichent humilité e reverence. Et por ce que je ne vos ai contés toites le fais des ydres vos le voil conter ici.

Or sachiés que les regulés de les ydules vivent plus honestemant que les autres ydres. Il se gardent de luxurie, mes ne l’ont pas por grant pechiés. Mes si vos di que se il trouvent aucun home que aie jeu con feme contre nature, il condanent a mort. Et vos di qu’il out luner ausi com nos avun les mois. Et ont alcun lunar que tutes les ydules dou monde ne occirent bestes ne osiaus por cinq jors ne ne menuierent chars que fuse occise en celz cinq jors. Et cesti cinq jors vivent plus honestemant que ne funt les jors autres.

Il prenent jusque en trente femes, et plus et moin selonc qu’il est riche et qu’il en puent tenoir. Et les homes donent a lor femes por lor doaire bestiaus et esclaif et monoie, et selonc son p[o]oir. Mes si sachiés que la primere tent il por la meior. Et encore vos di que se il voit que aucune de sez femes ne soit bone e que ne li place, il la pout bien cacer e fer a sa volonté. Il prenent le cousines por feme et prenent la feme sun pere. Il ne tenent pecchiés mant greu pechiés que nos avun: car il vivent come bestes.

Et por ce nos en laison atant et vos conteron des autres ver tramontaine.

Et si vos di que mesier Nicolau et mesier Mafeu et mesier Marc demorent un an en ceste cité por lor fait que ne fa a mentovoir.

Et por ce nos partiron de ci et aleron seisante jornee ver tramontaine.

 

 

 

LXII

CI DEVISE DE LA CITÉ DE EÇINA

 

Quant l’en s’en part de ceste cité de Canpiciou, il chevauche doçe jornee et treuve une cité que est appelles Eçina, qui est au chief don desert do sablon, ver tramontaine; et est de la provence de Tangut. Les gens sunt ydres. Il ont gamaus et bestiames assez. Il hi naisent faucons lanier et sacri assez et sunt mout bones. Et il vivent dou fructo de la terre et de bestiaus. Ne sunt homes de mercandie.

Et en ceste cité prant [l'en] les viande por XL jornee: car sachiés que quant l’en s’en part de cest cité de Eçina il chevauche pur [por] un desert por tramontaine XL jornee, que ne i a habitasion ne erberges ne ne i demorent jens for l’estee es valés et en montagnes. Hi treuve l’en bien bestes sauvajes asez et asne sauvajes hi a asez. Il hi a boscajes de pin assez. Et quant l’en a chevachés XL jornee por ceste desert, il treuve une provence ver tramontaine et oirés quelz.

LXIV

CI DEVISE DE LA CITÉ DE CARACORON

 

Caracoron est une cité que gire trois milles, le quel fu le primer seje que les Tartar ont quant il oisent de lor contrée.

 

 

 

Et vos conterai don fait des Tartars et toutes le maineres comant il ont signorie et comant il s’espandirent por le monde.

Il fui voir que las Tartars demoroient en tramontaine entor Ciorcia; et en cel contre es [toit] grant plaignes que ne avoit abitasion com de cités et de caustiaus, mes il hi avoit b[u]en pascor et grant flumes et aigues assez. Il ne avoient seignors, mes bien est il voir qu’il fasoient rente a u[n] grant sire que estoit appellés en lor lengajes Une Can, que vaut a dir en françois le grant sire — et ce fu le Prestre Johan de cui tout le monde en parolent de sa grant seguorie. Les Tartars les donoient rente d’ogne x bestes le une.

 

Or avint que il multiplient mont. Et quant Prestre Johan vit qu’il estoient si grant jent, il dit qu’il li poroient nuire et dit qu’il les partira por plosor contrée. Et adonc hi envoie de sez baron por ce faire. Et quant les Tartars oirent ce que Prestre Johan voloit lor faire, il en furent dulens. Il se partirent tuit ensemble et aient por desert leus ver tramontaine tant que Prestre Johan ne po[o]it lor nuire. Et estoient revel a lui et ne li fasoient nulle rente. Et ensi demorent auques de tens.

 

 

 

 

LXIV

COMAN CINGHIS FU LE PRIMER KAAN DES TARTARS

 

Or avint qne a les mclxxxvii anz [de l'ancarnasion de Crist] les Tartars font un lor roi que avoit a nom en lor lengajes Cinghis Can. Cestui fui home de grant valor et de gran senz et de grant proesse. Et si vos di que quant cestui fu esleu a rois, tnit les Tartars do monde, que por celes estranges contree estoient espandu, s’en vindrent a lui et le tenoient a sigueur. Et cestui Cinghis Can mantenoit la seignorie bien e francement.

Et que vos en diroie? Il hi vindrent si grant moutitudene de Tartars que ce estoit mervoille. Et quant Cinghis Can voit que il avoit si grant jens, il s’aparoille con arc et con autres lor armeure et vait conquistant por cels autres parties. Et vos di qu’il conquistirent bien vm provences. Mes ne fasoit elz nulz maus, ne ne tollit elz lor coses; mes les menoit o lui por conquister des autres gens. Et en ceste mainere conquiste ceste grant moutitude de jens que vos avés oi. Et ceste jens, quant il voient la bone seignorie et la grant debonaireté de cest segnor, il aloient trop volunter avec lui. Et quant Cinghis Can ot amasé si grant moutitude de jens que tout le monde covrent, il dit qu’il vuelt.

 

Adonc envoie sez messajes au Prester Johan — et ce fu a les mcc anz que avoit que Crist avoit nascu — il hi mande qu’il vel sa fille prendre a feme. Et quant le Prester Johan oi ce que Cinghis Can li mande demandant sa fille a feme, il le tint a grant despit. Et dit: «et comant ne a grant vergoigne Cinghis Can de demander ma fille a feme? Or ne set il que il est mes homes et mon sers? Or retornés a lui et li dites que je firoie [avant] ardoir ma fille que je le la donast a feme. Et li dites por ma part que je li mant qu’il conveint que je le met a mort, si com traitor et desliaus qu’il estoit contre son seiguor». Puis dist as messajes qu’il se partissent mantinant devant lui et que jamés ne tornasent. Et quant les mesajes oirent ce, il se partirent mantinant. Il alerent tant qu’il viendront a lor seignor; et li content tout ce que li mande le Prestre Johan, que ne i fallent rien, tout por ordre.onquister grant partie do munde.

 

LXVI

COMANT CINGHIS KAAN APAROILLE SEZ JENS POR ALER SOR LE PRESTER JOHAN

 

Et quant Cinghis Can oi la grant vilenie que le Prestre Johan li mande, il en a si le cuer enflé que pou [se faut] que ne li creve dedenz son ventre. Car je vos di qu’il estoit home de trop grand seignorie. Il parole a chief de piece, et dit si aut que tuit cel que entor lui estoient [l’oi], qu’il ne vuelt jamés tinir la segnorie, se la grant vilanie que le Prester Joan li mande, se il ne le li veint plus chieremant que jamés fuisse vendue villanie a home. Et dit qu’il convint que porchainemant il li monstre se il est son sers.

Et adonc fait sesmondre toutes sez jens et fait le greignor aparoillemant que jamés fust veu ne oi. Il fait bien savoir au Prestre Johan qu’il se defende tant com el poet, et comant il ala sour lui a tout so[n] e[n]fors. Et quant le Prestre Johan soit certainemant que Cinghis Can venoit sor lui a si grant jens, il en fait gas, et l’avoit por noiant, car il disoit que il n’estoient homes d’armes.

Mes toutes foies il dit a soi meisme qu’il fira tout son po[o]ir por ce que, se il vient, qu’il le velent prendre et metre a male mort. Et adonc fait sesmundre et aparoiller toutes sez jens, por mantes parties et estranges. Il fait bien si grant esfors que de greignor ost ne aspicté mes parler. En tel maineres com vos avés oi s’aparoillent les une gens et le autre.

Et porcoi vos firoie je lonc conte? Sachiés tout voiremant que Cinghis Can, con toutes sez jens, s’en vint en un gra[n]disime plain et biaus que Tanduc estoit appellés, que estoit au Prestre Johan: et iluec mist son canp. Et vos di qu’il estoient si grant moutitudine de jens que nulz poroit savoir le no[n]bre. Et iluec ot novelles comant le Prestre Johan venoit; et il n’ot joie, por ce que celle estoit belle plaigne et large por largemant fer bataille. Et por ce atendoit il iluec et desiroit mout sa venue por mesler a lui.

Mes atant laisse li contes a parlere de Cinghis Can et de sez homes et retorneron au Prestre Johan et as sez homes.

 

LXVII

COMANT LE PRESTER JOHAN CON SEZ JENS A LA A L’ENCONTRE DE ClNGHIS KAAN

 

Or dit li contes que quant le Prestre Johan soit que Cinghis Can con tontes sez jens venoient sor lui, il ala con toutes sez jens contre lui; et aient tant qu’il furent venu en ceste plain de Tanduc et iluec mistrent canp pres a cel de Cingliis Can a xx milles. Et cascunes parties se repousent por estre fresces et haitiers le jor de la meslee.

En tel mainer com vos avés oi estoient les deus grandisme ostes en cel plain de Tanduc. Et un jor Cinghis Can fait venir devant soi astronique, qui estoient cristienz et saracin, et comande elz qu’il le seussent a dire qui doit vincre la bataille entre lui e le Prestre Johan. Le strolique le virent por lor ars. Les saracin nen li en sevent dir vérité; mes les cristiens le li mostrent apertemant. Car il ont devant lui une canne, et la trenchent por mi por loue, et puis mistrent le une d’une part et l’autre d’autre et ne la tenoit nelui. Puis mistrent nom a une part de la canne Cinghis Can et a l’autre canne Prestre Johan; et distrent a Cingliis Can: «Sire, or regardés cestes cannes et veés que ceste est votre nom et l’autre est le nom dou Prestre Johan; et por ce, quant nos auron fait nostre encantamant, celui que sa canue vendra sor l’autre vencra la bataille». Cinghis Can dit que cel vuelt il bien veoir et dist a les astronique qu’il le li mostrent au plus tost que il porunt.

Et adonc les astronique cristiens on le salterie et legent certes salmes, et font lor enchantemant. Et adonc la cane, la ou estoit le nom de Cingliis Can, san que nulle le tocchast, se jont a l’autre et monte sor cele dou Prestre Johan. Et ce fui voiante tuti celz que illuec estoient. Et quant Cinghis Can voit ce, il en lia grant joie. Et por ce qu’il treuve les cristiens en virité, il fist puis toutes fois grant honor as cristiens, et les ont por homes de verité et vertables et ont puis toites foies.

 

LXVIII

CI DEVISE DE LA GRA N BATAILLE QUE FU ENTRE LE PRESTEE JOHAN E ClNGIIIS KAAN

 

Et après ce deus jors s’armarent andeus les parties et se conbatirent ensenble duremant. Et fu la gragnor bataille que fust jamés veue. Il hi oit gran maus et d’une part et d’autre, mes au dereant venqui la bataille Cinghis Can.

Et fu en celle bataille ocis le Prestre Johan; et de celui jor avant perde sa tere que Cinghis Can la ala conquistant tout jor.

 

Et si vos di que Cinghis Can, puis celle bataille, regna vi auz et ala conquistant maint castiaus et niant provinces. Mes a chief de vi anz ala a un chastiaus que avoit a non Caagiu et iluec fu feru d’une sagite eu genoeilz e de celui coux morut. Dont il fu grand domajes por ce qu’il estoit preudomes et sajes.

 

Or vos ai divisé comant les Tartars ont premermant seignor, ce fu Cinghis Can. Et encore vos ai contés comant il vinquirent premeremant le Prestre Johan. Or vos vueil conter de lor costumes et de lor usance.

LXIX

Cl DEVISE DES CAN QUE REGNENT APRES LA MORT DE CINGHIS KAAN

Sachié tuti voiramant que apres Cinghis Can fui seignor Cui Can, le tierce Batui Can, le quart Oktai Can, le quint Mongu Can, le sexme Cublai Can, qui est le greignor e le plus poisant, que ne fu nul des autres. Car tuit les autres cinq fnissent ensemble, ne auront tant de po[o]ir cum cestui Cublai. Et encore vos di greignor couse que le je vos di: que tuit les enperaor dou moude et tons les rois de cristiens et de saraçin ne aront taut po[o]ir ne poroient il fair tant come cestui Cublai grant can poroit il fair. Et ce vos mostrerai en nostro livre tout apertamant.

Et sagiés de voir que tuit les grant seignors, que sunt estés desendue dou la lignee de Cinghis Can, sont portés a sovellir a une grant montaigne qui est apellés Altai. Et launques les grant seignors des Tartars muerent, se il murisent c jornee loigne de celle montagne, il convent que s’aportent illuec a sevellir.

 

Et si vos di un autre meravoie: que quant les cors de cesti grant can sunt aportés a celle montagnes — et il soient loigne xl jornee on pius on mi[n]s — toutes les gens qu’il encontrerent por les voies dont les cors sunt portés, sunt mis a le spee por celz que le cors conduient. Et dient: «Alés servir vostre seignor en l’autre munde». Car il cuident voiramant que tuit celz qu’il ocient |doient aler servir lo seignor en l’autre monde. Et ce meisme font il des chavauz: car, quant le seignor muert, il occient tuit les meillors chevaus que le seignor avoit, [et] font ocire porcoi le seignor l’ait en l’autre monde.

Et sachies que quant Mongu Can morut, plus de xxM homes furent occis, que encontrent le cors quant il se portoit a seveler.

 

 

 

 

 

Et depuis que nos vos avuns comenciés de Tartars, si vos en dirai mantes choses. Les Tartars demorent l’enver es plain et en leus chaut, ou il aie erbajes et b[u]en pasquor por lor bestes; et la stee demorent en froit leus, en montagnes et en vales, la ou il treuvent eives et boschajes et pasquor [por] lor bestes. Il ont maison de fust et le covrent de feutres, et sunt reont et le porten avec elz lau[n]ques il vont. Car il ont liés le verges de fust si bien et ordeneemant qu’il le puent porter li[g]erement. Et toutes les foies que il tendent et drecent lor maison, la porte est toutes foies dever midi.

 

Il out charrete coverte de feutre noir si bien que se il p[l]oust toz jors eive ne beigneroit nulle chouse que fust en la charete. Il la font mener et traire a buef et a camiaus. Et desus cestes carrete portent il lor feme et lor enfanz. Et vos di que les dames achatent et vendent et ovrent tout ce que a son baron et a se mesnie besogne; car les homes ne se brient de nulle rienz for que de chacer, et de fait de ostes, et de oiseller et faucons.

 

Il vivent de cars et de lait et de chacheson et encore menuent des rat de faraon, que n'i a en grant abundance par me les plaignes desore et por totes pars. Il menuieut ben chars de cavaus et de chien et bovent lait de jumentes. Il menuent de toutes pars.

 

Il se gardent que por rien dou monde ne tocheroit le un a la feme de l’autre: car trop l’ont por mauveis chouse et vilaine. Les dames sunt bones et loiaus ver lor baronz et font mult bien la besogne de la masnee.

 

 

 

Les mariajes font en cest mainere. Car chascun puet prandre tantes femes com li plet jusque eu cent, se il a le pooir qu’il le peuse mantenoir. E les homes donent le doaiere a la mer sa feme, ne la femene done rien a l’ome. Mes si sachiés qu’il ont por plus verables et por meior la primer sa feme. [Il ont plus filz] que ne a les autres gens por ce qu’il ont tantes femes com je vos ai contés.

 

Il prennent lor cousine et, le pere muert, le sien greignor fil prent a feme la feme son peire, puis qu’elle ne soit sa mer. Il prent encore la feme de son frere charnaus se il muert. Quant il prenent feme font grant noses.

LXII (Book I, 44)

OF THE CITY OF CAMPICHU

Campichu is also a city of Tangut, and a very great and noble one. Indeed it is the capital and place of government of the whole province of Tangut. The people are Idolaters, Saracens, and Christians, and the latter have three very fine churches in the city, whilst the Idolaters have many minsters and abbeys after their fashion. In these they have an enormous number of idols, both small and great, certain of the latter being a good ten paces in stature; some of them being of wood, others of clay, and others yet of stone. They are all highly polished, and then covered with gold. The great idols of which I speak lie at length. And round about them there are other figures of considerable size, as if adoring and paying homage before them. Now, as I have not yet given you particulars about the customs of these Idolaters, I will proceed to tell you about them.

You must know that there are among them certain religious recluses who lead a more virtuous life than the rest. These abstain from all lechery, though they do not indeed regard it as a deadly sin; howbeit if any one sin against nature they condemn him to death. They have an Ecclesiastical Calendar as we have; and there are five days in the month that they observe particularly; and on these five days they would on no account either slaughter any animal or eat flesh meat. On those days, moreover, they observe much greater abstinence altogether than on other days.

Among these people a man may take thirty wives, more or less, if he can but afford to do so, each having wives in proportion to his wealth and means; but the first wife is always held in highest consideration. The men endow their wives with cattle, slaves, and money, according to their ability. And if a man dislikes any one of his wives, he just turns her off and takes another. They take to wife their cousins and their fathers' widows (always excepting the man's own mother), holding to be no sin many things that we think grievous sins, and, in short, they live like beasts.

Messer Maffeo and Messer Marco Polo dwelt a whole year in this city when on a mission

 

Now we will leave this and tell you about other provinces towards the north, for we are going to take you a sixty days' journey in that direction.

LXII (Book I, 45)

OF THE CITY OF ETZINA

When you leave the city of Campichu you ride for twelve days, and then reach a city called Etzina, which is towards the north on the verge of the Sandy Desert; it belongs to the Province of Tangut. The people are Idolaters, and possess plenty of camels and cattle, and the country produces a number of good falcons, both Sakers and Lanners. The inhabitants live by their cultivation and their cattle, for they have no trade.

At this city you must needs lay in victuals for forty days, because when you quit Etzina, you enter on a desert which extends forty days' journey to the north, and on which you meet with no habitation nor baiting-place. In the summer-time, indeed, you will fall in with people, but in the winter the cold is too great. You also meet with wild beasts (for there are some small pine-woods here and there), and with numbers of wild asses. When you have travelled these forty days across the Desert you come to a certain province lying to the north. Its name you shall hear presently.

LXIV (Book I, 46)

OF THE CITY OF CARACORON

Caracoron is a city of some three miles in compass. [It is surrounded by a strong earthen rampart, for stone is scarce there. And beside it there is a great citadel wherein is a fine palace in which the Governor resides.] 'Tis the first city that the Tartars possessed after they issued from their own country. And now I will tell you all about how they first acquired dominion and spread over the world.

Originally the Tartars[ dwelt in the north on the borders of Chorcha. Their country was one of great plains; and there were no towns or villages in it, but excellent pasture-lands, with great rivers and many sheets of water; in fact it was a very fine and extensive region. But there was no sovereign in the land. They did, however, pay tax and tribute to a great prince who was called in their tongue Unc Can, the same that we call Prester John, him in fact about whose great dominion all the world talks. The tribute he had of them was one beast out of every ten, and also a tithe of all their other gear.

Now it came to pass that the Tartars multiplied exceedingly. And when Prester John saw how great a people they had become, he began to fear that he should have trouble from them. So he made a scheme to distribute them over sundry countries, and sent one of his Barons to carry this out. When the Tartars became aware of this they took it much amiss, and with one consent they left their country and went off across a desert to a distant region towards the north, where Prester John could not get at them to annoy them. Thus they revolted from his authority and paid him tribute no longer. And so things continued for a time.

LXIV (Book I, 47)

OF CHINGHIS, AND HOW HE BECAME THE FIRST KAAN OF THE TARTARS

Now it came to pass in the year of Christ's Incarnation 1187 that the Tartars made them a King whose name was Cinghis Kaan. He was a man of great worth, and of great ability (eloquence), and valour. And as soon as the news that he had been chosen King was spread abroad through those countries, all the Tartars in the world came to him and owned him for their Lord. And right well did he maintain the Sovereignty they had given him.

What shall I say? The Tartars gathered to him in astonishing multitude, and when he saw such numbers he made a great furniture of spears and arrows and such other arms as they used, and set about the conquest of all those regions till he had conquered eight provinces. When he conquered a province he did no harm to the people or their property, but merely established some of his own men in the country along with a proportion of theirs, whilst he led the remainder to the conquest of other provinces. And when those whom he had conquered became aware how well and safely he protected them against all others, and how they suffered no ill at his hands, and saw what a noble prince he was, then they joined him heart and soul and became his devoted followers.

And when he had thus gathered such a multitude that they seemed to cover the earth, he began to think of conquering a great part of the world. Now in the year of Christ 1200 he sent an embassy to Prester John, and desired to have his daughter to wife. But when Prester John heard that Chinghis Kaan demanded his daughter in marriage he waxed very wroth, and said to the Envoys, "What impudence is this, to ask my daughter to wife! Wist he not well that he was my liegeman and serf? Get ye back to him and tell him that I had liever set my daughter in the fire than give her in marriage to him, and that he deserves death at my hand, rebel and traitor that he is!" So he bade the Envoys begone at once, and never come into his presence again. The Envoys, on receiving this reply, departed straightway, and made haste to their master, and related all that Prester John had ordered them to say, keeping nothing back.

LXVI (Book I, 48)

HOW CHINGHIS MUSTERED HIS PEOPLE TO MARCH AGAINST PRESTER JOHN

When Chinghis Kaan heard the brutal message that Prester John had sent him, such rage seized him that his heart came nigh to bursting within him, for he was a man of a very lofty spirit. At last he spoke, and that so loud that all who were present could hear him: "Never more might he be prince if he took not revenge for the brutal message of Prester John, and such revenge that insult never in this world was so dearly paid for. And before long Prester John should know whether he were his serf or no!"

So then he mustered all his forces, and levied such a host as never before was seen or heard of, sending word to Prester John to be on his defence. And when Prester John had sure tidings that Chinghis was really coming against him with such a multitude, he still professed to treat it as a jest and a trifle, for, quoth he, "these be no soldiers."

 

Natheless he marshalled his forces and mustered his people, and made great preparations, in order that if Chinghis did come, he might take him and put him to death. In fact he marshalled such an host of many different nations that it was a world's wonder. And so both sides gat them ready to battle.

 

And why should I make a long story of it? Chinghis Kaan with all his host arrived at a vast and beautiful plain which was called Tanduc, belonging to Prester John, and there he pitched his camp; and so great was the multitude of his people that it was impossible to number them. And when he got tidings that Prester John was coming, he rejoiced greatly, for the place afforded a fine and ample battle-ground, so he was right glad to tarry for him there, and greatly longed for his arrival.

But now leave we Chinghis and his host, and let us return to Prester John and his people.

 

LXVII (Book I, 49)

HOW PRESTER JOHN MARCHED TO MEET CHINGHIS

Now the story goes that when Prester John became aware that Chinghis with his host was marching against him, he went forth to meet him with all his forces, and advanced until he reached the same plain of Tanduc, and pitched his camp over against that of Chinghis Kaan at a distance of 20 miles. And then both armies remained at rest for two days that they might be fresher and heartier for battle.

So when the two great hosts were pitched on the plains of Tanduc as you have heard, Chinghis Kaan one day summoned before him his astrologers, both Christians and Saracens, and desired them to let him know which of the two hosts would gain the battle, his own or Prester John's. The Saracens tried to ascertain, but were unable to give a true answer; the Christians, however, did give a true answer, and showed manifestly beforehand how the event should be. For they got a cane and split it lengthwise, and laid one half on this side and one half on that, allowing no one to touch the pieces. And one piece of cane they called Chinghis Kaan, and the other piece they called Prester John. And then they said to Chinghis: "Now mark! and you will see the event of the battle, and who shall have the best of it; for whose cane soever shall get above the other, to him shall victory be." He replied that he would fain see it, and bade them begin.

Then the Christian astrologers read a Psalm out of the Psalter, and went through other incantations. And lo! whilst all were beholding, the cane that bore the name of Chinghis Kaan, without being touched by anybody, advanced to the other that bore the name of Prester John, and got on the top of it. When the Prince saw that he was greatly delighted, and seeing how in this matter he found the Christians to tell the truth, he always treated them with great respect, and held them for men of truth for ever after.

LXVIII (Book I, 50)

THE BATTLE BETWEEN CHINGHIS KAAN AND PRESTER JOHN

And after both sides had rested well those two days, they armed for the fight and engaged in desperate combat; and it was the greatest battle that ever was seen. The numbers that were slain on both sides were very great, but in the end Chinghis Kaan obtained the victory.

And in the battle Prester John was slain. And from that time forward, day by day, his kingdom passed into the hands of Chinghis Kaan till the whole was conquered.

I may tell you that Chinghis Kaan reigned six years after this battle, engaged continually in conquest, and taking many a province and city and stronghold. But at the end of those six years he went against a certain castle that was called Caaju, and there he was shot with an arrow in the knee, so that he died of his wound. A great pity it was, for he was a valiant man and a wise.

I will now tell you who reigned after Chinghis, and then about the manners and customs of the Tartars.

 

 

LXIX (Book I, 51)

OF THOSE WHO DID REIGN AFTER CHINGHIS KAAN, AND OF THE CUSTOMS OF THE TARTARS

Now the next that reigned after Chinghis Kaan, their first Lord, was Cuy Kaan, and the third Prince was Batuy Kaan, and the fourth was Alacou Kaan, the fifth Mongou Kaan, the sixth Cublay Kaan, who is the sovereign now reigning, and is more potent than any of the five who went before him; in fact, if you were to take all those five together, they would not be so powerful as he is. Nay, I will say yet more; for if you were to put together all the Christians in the world, with their Emperors and their Kings, the whole of these Christians,—aye, and throw in the Saracens to boot,—would not have such power, or be able to do so much as this Cublay, who is the Lord of all the Tartars in the world, those of the Levant and of the Ponent included; for these are all his liegemen and subjects. I mean to show you all about this great power of his in this book of ours.

You should be told also that all the Grand Kaans, and all the descendants of Chinghis their first Lord, are carried to a mountain that is called Altay to be interred. Wheresoever the Sovereign may die, he is carried to his burial in that mountain with his predecessors; no matter an the place of his death were 100 days' journey distant, thither must he be carried to his burial.

Let me tell you a strange thing too. When they are carrying the body of any Emperor to be buried with the others, the convoy that goes with the body doth put to the sword all whom they fall in with on the road, saying: "Go and wait upon your Lord in the other world!" For they do in sooth believe that all such as they slay in this manner do go to serve their Lord in the other world. They do the same too with horses; for when the Emperor dies, they kill all his best horses, in order that he may have the use of them in the other world, as they believe.

 

And I tell you as a certain truth, that when Mongou Kaan died, more than 20,000 persons, who chanced to meet the body on its way, were slain in the manner I have told.

(Book I, 52)

CONCERNING THE CUSTOMS OF THE TARTARS

Note: this chapter continues the narration begun in the previous rubric of the original Franco-Italian text )

Now that we have begun to speak of the Tartars, I have plenty to tell you on that subject. The Tartar custom is to spend the winter in warm plains, where they find good pasture for their cattle, whilst in summer they betake themselves to a cool climate among the mountains and valleys, where water is to be found as well as woods and pastures. Their houses are circular, and are made of wands covered with felts. These are carried along with them whithersoever they go; for the wands are so strongly bound together, and likewise so well combined, that the frame can be made very light. Whenever they erect these huts the door is always to the south.

They also have waggons covered with black felt so efficaciously that no rain can get in. These are drawn by oxen and camels, and the women and children travel in them. The women do the buying and selling, and whatever is necessary to provide for the husband and household; for the men all lead the life of gentlemen, troubling themselves about nothing but hunting and hawking, and looking after their goshawks and falcons, unless it be the practice of warlike exercises.

They live on the milk and meat which their herds supply, and on the produce of the chase; and they eat all kinds of flesh, including that of horses and dogs, and Pharaoh's rats, of which last there are great numbers in burrows on those plains. Their drink is mare's milk.

They are very careful not to meddle with each other's wives, and will not do so on any account, holding that to be an evil and abominable thing. The women too are very good and loyal to their husbands, and notable housewives withal. [Ten or twenty of them will dwell together in charming peace and unity, nor shall you ever hear an ill word among them.]

The marriage customs of Tartars are as follows. Any man may take a hundred wives an he so please, and if he be able to keep them. But the first wife is ever held most in honour, and as the most legitimate [and the same applies to the sons whom she may bear]. The husband gives a marriage payment to his wife's mother, and the wife brings nothing to her husband. They have more children than other people, because they have so many wives.

They may marry their cousins, and if a father dies, his son may take any of the wives, his own mother always excepted; that is to say the eldest son may do this, but no other. A man may also take the wife of his own brother after the latter's death. Their weddings are celebrated with great ado.

LXX

CI DEVISE DOU DIEU DES TARTARS E DE LOR LOY

 

Et sachiés que la lor loi est tiel.

 

 

 

Car il ont un lor diu que l’apeles Nacygai et dient que celle est dieu tereine que garde lor filz et lor bestes et lor blee. Il li font grant reverence et grant honor, car cascun en tenent en lor maison. Car il font cest deu de feutre et de dras et le tenent en lor maison; et encore font la moiller de cest dieu et sez filz. La moiere metent de la senestre partie et les filz devant. Et le honorent assez. Et quant vienent a mangier, il prenent de la char grasse et n’oigeut la bouche a cel dieu et a sa feme et as sez filz. Et puis prenent dou brod e l'espannent dehors la port de sa maison. Et quant il ot ce fait, il dient que lor dieu et sa masnee ont eu lor part. Apres ce menuient il et boivent.

 

Car sachiés qu’il boivent lat de jumente; mes si vos di qu’il l'a[do]bent en tel mainere qu’ele senble vin blance et est bone a boire et l’apellent chemis.

Lor vestime[n]s sunt telz: car lez riches homes vestent dras d’ores et dras de soie et riches pennes çebellines et ermines et vair et de voupes mout ricamant.

 

 

 

 

Et tout lor arnois sunt mout biaus et de gran vaillance. Lor armes sunt ars et espee et mases; mes lies ars s’aident plus que d’autre couses, car il sunt trop buen archier. En lor dos portent armeure de cuir de bufal et de autres cuir coct que mout sunt fort.

Il sunt buens homes en bataille et vaillans duremant. Et vos diron commit il se puent travailler plus que autres homes. Car maintes foies, quant il abesogne, il alara ou demo[r]a un moi sanz nulles viandes, for que il vivra de[l] lait d’uue jumente, et menuiera des cars de les chacheison qu’il prennent. Et son chaval paisera des herbes qu’il treuvera: car il ne bisogne porter ors ne paille. Il sunt mout obient a lor seignor: et vos di que quant il beisogne, il demoure tonte la noite a chaval cun ses armes et le chaval alera toutes foies paisant les erbes. Il sunt celles jens au monde que plus durent travaille et mauns, et main velent de despence, et que miaus sunt por conquister terre et reignes.

 

 

 

 

 

Il sunt ordree en ceste mainere que je vos deviserai. Sachies que quant un seignor des Tartar ala en oste, el moine o lui CM homes a chevalz. Il ordre son afer ensi com vos oirés. Il fait un chief a ogne x, a ogne c, a ogne m, et a ogne xM, [que il] ne a que consilier que con x homes; et celz que est sire de xM homes ne ot que faire que cou x homes; et celui que est seignor de m homes ne ot que [faire que] con x; et ausint celui que est seignor de c ne a que fer que cun x. Ensint com vos avés oi respont chascun a son chief. Et quant le seignor de cM en vuelt mander aucun in aucuna parte, il comande au chef de xM qu’il li donne M homes; et le chief de xM comande au chief de M qu’il li done sa parte; et le chef de m comande au chef de c et [le] chef de c comande au chief de x, que chascufn] done parte de cel que les vienent de m homes. Et chascuz sevent mantinant et les donent tant. Car il est chascun obedient a ce qu’il est lor comandé plus que jens dou monde. Et sachiés que les cM est apelle un tut et les xM un toman et les [toman se poeut conter] por milier et por centener et por desine.

Et quant les ostes alent por fer aucune cose, il soient en plain ou en montagnes, il mandent dous jornee avant cc homes pour excaregaites et ausint derieres et dejoste: ce est de quatre pars. Et ce font il por ce que l'ost ne peust estre asali qu’il ne le seussent. Et quant il vont en longue voie en ost il ne portent noiant des arnois. Car il portent deus butaies de cuir, la u il metent lor lait qu’il boivent; et portent une petite pignate, ce est baratere, la ou il cuirent lor cars. Il portent une petite tende, la ou il demorent por la pluie. Et si vos di un autre chouse: que, quant il ha mester, il chevauchent bien x jornee sainz nulle viandes et sanz fer feu, mes vivent du sanc de lor cavaus: car chascun poinge la voi[n]e a son cheval et boit du sanc. Il ont encore lor lait secce que est saude come paste; de celle lait portent et en metent en 1’aive et la moinent tant que celle laite se destruie et puis la boivent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Et quant il vienent a baitaille con lor ennimis, il les vinquent en ceste maineres. Car il ne s’en tornent ad honte de fuir: car il vait [arcant], or ca, or la, encor a lor ennimis. Il ont si costumés lor cavalz qu’il se girent cha e l[a] ausi tosto com firoit un chien. Et quant l’en li cace, et il vunt fuiant, il conbatent ausi bien et ausi fort come quant il sunt vis a vis con les ini mis. Car, quant il fuit plus tost, adonc se gire ariere con sun arche et fait grant coux de sajete et occit des chevals des ennemis et encore des homes. Et quant les inimis les creunt avoir desconfit et vencu, et il ont perdu; car lor chevaus sunt occis et elles meesme assez. Et quant les Tartars veont qu’il ont occis deus cavaus lor ennimis et des homes ausint, il se girent sor elz, et s’esprovent si bien et si vaillanzment qu’il desconfirent lor ennimis et li vinquent. Et en ceste mainere out ja vencue maintes batailles et mantes gens.

Tout ce que je vos ai contes sunt le ujes et les costumes des droit Tartars: mes je vos di que orendroit sunt mout enbatardi. Car celz que usent au Cata se mantienent alles ujes et a la mainere et as costumes des ydres et ont laisé lor loy. Et celz que usent en levant se tienent a la mainere de saraçin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il mantinent la justice en tel manere com je vos deviserai. Il est voir que quant uno homo ha enblé aucune peitite chouse, que nen doie [perdre persone], il li est doné vii bastonee, ou xvii, ou xxvii, ou xxxvii, ou xlvii; et in ceste mainere vait jusque in cvii, croisent toutes fois x selonc que il ha enblé. Et plusor en morent de ceste bastonee. Et se le home enble un chevaus, ou autre chouse, qu’il doie perdre persone, il est trinchiés por mi con spee. Si voiremant que se celui que anble puet paier, et vuelt donei viiii tant que cel que il a enblé [ne vaut], il escanpe.

Et cascun seignor, ou les autres homes que out bestes assez, il font boiler de son seigne: ce sunt les chevaus et les jumentes et camiaus et bof et vaches et autres bestes groses. Puis le laise aler paistre por les plaines et por les mons sanz garde d’ome ; et s’ele se meslent le une cou le autre, cascun rende la soe a celui de cui le segne est treuvé. Les berbis et les moutons et les bec font il ben garder as homes. Lor bestiames sunt toutes grandismes et grases et belles outre mesure.

Et encore vos dirai un autre merveliose usance qu’il ont que je avoie dementiqué a scrivre. Sachiés touti voirmant que quant il sunt deus homes que le un ait eu un filz masle e soit mort de quatro anz o quant il vuelt, et un autre home ait eu une fille feme et soit encor morte, il font mariajes ensenble. Car il douent la feme morte a l’enfans mors por moiller et en font faire carte. Puis celle carte ardent et le fume que vait en l’air si dient que vunt a lor filz en l’autre monde, et qu’il le sevent et que se tenent a mari et a moier. Il font grant noisse, [et convivie; et il prennent des viandes qu’il menuient] et n’espandent cha et la et dient que ce vont a lor enfans en l’autre monde. Et encore font un autre chouse. Car il font e[n]pindre et portraire en carte homes a similitude de eles, et chevaus et dras et biçanz et arnois, puis les font ardoir; et dient que toutes celles couses qu’il avaient fait portraire et ardre auront lor enfans en l’autre monde. Et quant il ont ce fait il se tenent por parens et mantienent lor parenté ausi bien com il fuissent vif.

Or vos ai montré et devisé apertament les usance et les costumes des Tartars: non pas que je vos ai contés dou grandisme fait dou grant can, ce est le grant sire de tous les Tartars, ne de sa grandisme enperiaus cort, mes je le vos conterai en ce livre quant tens et leu en sera. Car bien sont merveilloses couses por metre en escripture. Mes desormés volun retorner a nostre conte, en la grant plaigne ou nos estion quant nos come[n]chames des fais des Tartars.

LXXI
CI DEVISE DOU PLAIN DE BARGU ET DE DEVERSES COSTUMES DES JENS

 

Et quant l'en s’en part de Caracoron e de Altai, la ou il se metent les cors des Tartars ensi com je vos ai contés en arieres, il ala puis por une contrée ver tramontane que est apellé le plain de Bargu. Et dure bien xl jornee. Les jens sunt apellés Mecrit[t] et sunt sauvaje jens. Il vivent de bestes et les plusor sunt cerf. Et vos di qu’il chavauchent les cerf. Usance et costumes ont come Tartars. Il sunt au grant can. Il ne out bles no vin. L’esté out venesion et chachajonz de bestes et d’ousiaus assez, mes en yver ne i demore nulle bestes ne osiaus por le grant froit.

 

 

Et quant l'en [a] alee xl jornee, adonc treuve l’en le mer osiane. Et iluec il ont montagne, la o li fauconz pelerin out lor nid. Oar sachiés qu’il n’i a homes ne femes ne bestes ne osiaus for que une mainere d’osiaus que sunt apeles bargherlac des queles fauconz se passent. II sunt grant come perdis. II ont fait les pies come papagaus, la coe come rondiaus. Il sunt mout volant. Et quant le grant kaan vuelt des fauconz nideces pellerin, il mande jusque la por elz. Et en l'isle que sunt en cel mer environ naisent les jerfaucz. Et si vos di voiramant que ceste leu est tant ver tramontaine que la stoille de tramontaine remaint auques en deriere ver midi. Et encore vos di que les jerfauches que naisent en l'isle que je vos ai dit desovre sont en si grant abundance que le grant can en ha tant quant il ne vuelt. Et ne entendés que celz que l'aportent de tere de cristiens as Tartars, les portent au grant can: mes les portent au levant, ad Argon et a celz seignors dou levant.

 

Or vos avon conte tout les fait des provences de tramontane apertement jusque a la mer osiane; et desormes en avant vos conteron des autres provences et retorneron dusque au grant kaan et retorneron a une provence que nos avon escript en nostre livre, qui est apelés Canpiciu.

 

 

LXII

CI DEVISE DOU GRANT ROIAUMES D’ERGINUL

 

 

Et quant l’en se part de cest Canpiciu qne je vos ai conté, l’en ala cinq jornee es queles a maint espiriti les quelz oit l’en parler, le nuit le plosor foies. Et a chief de cel cinq jornee ver levant, l’en treuve un roiames que est apelés Erginul. Et est au grau can. Et est de la grant provence de Taugut que a plosors roiames. Le jens sunt cristienz nestorin et ydres et celz que aorent Maomet. Il hi a cités assez. Et la mestre cité est Erginul. Et de cest cité ver iscieloc puet l’en aler es contrés dou Catai.

Et en ceste voie de seloc ver le contrée dou Catai treuve [l’en] une cité qui est apellés Si[li]ngiu. [Et la provence ausi a nom Siliugiu]. Et hi a villes et cités assez. Et est de Tangu[t] meisme et est au grant can. Les jens sunt ydres et jens qne aorent Maomet et des cristiens il hi a auques. [Il i a] buef sauvajes que sunt grant come olifans et sunt mout biaus a veoir: car il sunt tout pelous for le dos et sunt blanc et noir. Le poil est lonc trois paumes. Il sunt si biaus que c’en est une mervoie a voir. Et de cesti buef mesme ont domesces assez: car il pristrent des sauvajes et li funt aligner, si qu’il en ont grandisme quantité. Et li charchent et laborent con elz; et vos di qu’il laborent deus tant et ont [deus tant] de force.

 

 

Et en cest contree naisti le meillor musco et le plus finz que soit au monde. Et sachiés que le mosche se trouve en ceste mainere que je vos dirai. Sachiés tout voiramant que il est une peitete beste de le grant do u[n]e gaçelle, mes sa faison est tel: elle a poil de cerf mol gros; les pies come gazelle; corne ne a pas; coe a de gaçelle; mes elle a quatre dens, deus de sot et [deus] de sovre, que sunt lonc bien trois doies et sont soutil et vunt le deus en sus et les deus en jus. Elle est belle beste. Le moscee se i treuve en ceste mainere : car, quant l’en l’a prise, il li treuve eu belic, enmi sont le venire, entre le cuir et la char, une posteume de sanc, le quel l’en la trince cun tout le cuir, et l’en trait hors; et cel sanc est le moscee de coi vient si grant odor. Et sachiés que en ceste contree en a en grant quantité et si buen com je vos ai contés.

Il vivent de mercandies et d’ars et ont abundance de blés. Elle est, la provence, grant xxv jornee. Il hi a faisan grant deus tant que celle de nostre pais: car il sunt de la grant de paon, aucun pou moin. Il ont la coe lo[n]gue au plus x paumes et bien n’i a de ix, et de viii, et de vii au moin. Il hi a encore des faisan qui sunt de la grande et de faisonz [des faisans] des nostres pais. Des autres oisiaus hi a de maintes mainere con mout belles pennes et bien colorés.

Les gens sunt ydres et sunt gras et ont peitet nés [et] quevoilz noir. Il ne ont barbe for que [au]quant poil eu greignon. Les dames ne ont nul poil for que en chef, ne nulle autre part ne ont nul poil. [Elle sunt mult blances et ont mult belle chars et toutes sez membres] elle ont mout bien faites de toutes faisions. Et sachiés que il se deletent mout en luxurie et prennent femes assez, por ce que lor loy ne lor usance ne lor contraire; mes en puent prandre tantes com el vuelent et qu’il ont pooir de tenoir. Et si vos di que se il a une belles femes et elle soit de vil leignages, si la prent por sa biauté un grant barons ou un grant home a fame, et en done a sa mier arjent assez selonc qne il sunt en acorde.

Or nos partiron de ça et vos diron d’une autre provence ver levant.

 

LXXIII

CI DEVISE DE LA PROVENCE DE EGRIGAIA

 

Et quant l’en s’en part de Erginul et ala ver levant VIII jornee, il trouve une provence que est apellés Egrigaia ou il [a] cités et castiaus assez et [est] de Tengut. La mestre cité est apellé Calacian. Les jens sunt ydres et hi a trois yglise de cristiens nestorin.. Il sunt au grant Tartar. Et en ceste cité se font giambellot de poil de gamiaus, les pius biaus que soient au monde et les meillors. Et encore en font de laine blance, ce sont giambellot blance, mout biaus et buens et en font grant quantité. Et d’iluec les aportent les mercant por maintes part et au Catai [et] en autres leu por mi le monde.

Or isiron de ceste provence [et vos diron de une autre provence] ver levant que l’en apelle Tenduc et enterromes eles terres dou Prestre Johan.

 

LXXIV

CI DEVISE DE LA GRANT PROVENCE DE TENDUC

 

 

Tenduc est une provence ver levant la o il ha viles et castiaus assez. II sunt au grant can, car les desendent don Prestre Johan sunt au grant can. La mestre cite est nomées Tenduc. Et de cest provence en est rois un dou legnagnes an Prestre Johan et encore est Prestre Johan. [Si sachiés que le Prestre Johan est cristiens]. Son nom est Giorgie. II tient la tere por lo grant can; mes non pas tout celle que tenoit le Prestre Johan, mes aucune partie de celle. Mes si vos di que les grant kaan toutes foies ont donee de lor filles et de lor parens a les rois que reignent qui sunt dou lignajes au Prestre Johan.

En ceste provence se trouve les pieres dont l’açur se fait et hi n’i a asez et bones. Il hi a çamelloit de poil de gamaus mout buenes. II vivent de bestiaumes et dou frout qu’il traient de la terre. Et encore hi si fait auques mercandies et ars.

La segnorie est a cristiens, ensi com je vos ai dit; mes il i a ydres asez et homes que adorent Maomet. Il hi a une jeuerasion de Jens que sunt appelles Argon, que vaut a dire en françois guasmul: ce est a dire qu’il sunt ne de deus generasion, de la legnee de celz do Tenduc [quo adorent les ydres] et do celz que aorent Maomet. Il sunt biaus homes plus quo le autre dou pais et plus sajes et plus mercaant.

 

Et sachies que en ceste provence estoit le mestre seje dou Prestre Johan quant il seignorioit les Tartars et toute eelles provinces et reignes environ. Et encore hi demorent le sien descendens. Et cestui Jor[gie], que jo vos ai només, est dou lignages dou Prestre Johan, sicom jo vos ai eu conte dit; et est le soi[sjme seignor depuis le Prestre Johan. Et ce est le leu que nos apellon de ça [en] nostre pais Gogo et Magogo; mes il l'apellent Ung et Mungul. Et en cascune de ceste provence avoit une generasion de jens: eu Ung estoient les Gog et en Mungul demoroit les Tartars.

Et quant l'en chevauche por cest provence vn jornee por levant ver le Catai l'en treuve maintes cites et castiaus, la ou il ont Jens que orent Maumet et ydres et cri-stiens nestori[n] auques. Il vivent de mercandies et d’ars: car il se laborent dras d'ores que l'en apelle nascisi fin et nac, et dras de soie de maintes maineres. Ausint com nos avon les dras de laine de maintes maineres, ausint il ont dras d'ores et de soie de maintes maineres.

 

Il sunt au grant kaan. Il est una cité que est apellés Sindaciu; et en ceste ville se fait maintes ars de toutes chauses, et arnois que beisogne ad ostes. Et es montagnes de ceste provence ha une leu que est apellés Ydifu, eu quelz a une mout bone argentiere, en la quel se tra argente asez. Il ont chachajon de bestes et d’osiaus assez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or nos partiron de ceste provence et cites et aleron III jornee. Et adonc treuveron une cité que s’apelle Ciagannor en la quel a un gran palais qui est dou grant kaan. Car sachies que le gran kan demore a ceste cité en cest palais voluntieres, por ce que il hi a lac et rivier assez, la ou il demorent cesnes assez. Et encore il hi a biaus plain es quelz ont grues assez et faisans et perdrices assez et de maintes autres faisons d’ousiaus. Et por la bone oisiliagion que hi a, le grant kan hi demore voluntier et hi prent son solas: car il oiselle a gerfauc et a faucon et prant osiaus assez a grant joie et a grant feste. Il hi a cinq mainere de grues, les quelz vos diviserai. L’une mainere est toute noire come corbiaus et sunt mout grant. Le autre mainere sunt toute blance: les eles ont mout belles, car por toutes les pennes ont pleiu de iaux reont com celz dou paon, mes sunt de color d'or mout resprendisant; le chief o[n]t vermoil et noir [et sunt noir] et blance au eou, et sunt greignor que nulle de l'autres assez. La tie[r]ce mainere sunt de la fasions des nostre. Et la quarte mainere sunt peitete; el ont es oreilles pennes lone vermoilles et noire mou belles. La quinte maineres sunt toutes griges: le chief ount vermoilles et noires mout bien faites et sunt grandismes.

Et apres cestes cité a one valee en la quel le grant kaan a fait faire plosor maisonnetes, es queles il fait tenoir grandismes quantité de cators, que nos apellon les grant perdris. II fait demorer a la garde de cesti osiaus plusors homes et hi n’i a si grant abundance que ceste est mervoie a veoir. Et quant le grant kaan est et vient en cele contree, il a de cesti osiaus en grant abundance, tant quant il en vuelt.

Et de ci nos partiron et aleron trois jornee entre tramontaine et grec.

LXXV

CI DEVISE DE LA CITÉ DE CIANDU E D'UN MERVEILLEUS PALAIS DOU GRANT KAAN

 

Et quant l'en est parti de la cité que je vos ai només desovre et l'en ala trois jornee, adonc treuve l'en une cite qui est appellé Ciandu, qne le grant can que est et regne et que a nom Cublai Kaan la fist faire. Et en ceste cité hi fisti faire Cublai Kan un grandismes palais de marbre et de pieres. Les sales et canbres sunt toutes dorés. Il est mout merveillosemant biaut et bien aur[n]es.

 

Et de ceste palais se muet mur que environe bien xvi milles de tere, es queles a fontaines et flu[n]s et plateries assez. E le grant can hi tent de toutes faites bestes, ce sunt cerf et dain et cavriul, por doner a mangier as gerfauc et as faucun que il tent en mue en cel leu, que sunt [plus] de cc gierfaus. Et il meisme les vait veoir en la mue, ogne semaine une foies. Et plu sors foies le grant can vait por cest praerie qui est enveronee de mur et moine soi un leopars sor la crope de son cheval. Et, quant il velt, il le laise alere et prant un cerf on dain on cravriol et les fait doner as gerfaus qu’il tient en mue. Et cel fait il por son delit et por solax.

Et encore sagiés que eu milieu de celle praerie environe de mur, a fait le grant can un gran palais, qui est tout do cannes, mes est endorés tout dedens et orvré a bestes et a osiaus mout sotilmant evrés; la covreure est ausi toute de cammes envernigés si bien et si fort que nules eive ne i poit nuire. Et vos dirai come il est fait de cannes. Sachiés de voir que celle cannes sunt grose pluis de trois paumes et sunt lonc de x pas jusque a xv. L’en le trence por mi do un nod al autre, et adonc est fait un coup; et de cestes cannes [l'en fait coup] quo sunt groses et si grant quo l’en en puet covrir maison et fer toute de chief. Et cost palais quo jo vos ai dit desovre estoit tute de cannes. Et si l’avoit fet si ordree lo grant kaan qu’il le fasoit lever quantunques il voloit. Car il lo sostenoit plus de cc cordes do soie.

Et vos di que le grant kaan demorent iluec trois mois do l'an: jugn et jugnee et aost. Et por ce hi demore il de cest tons qu’il no a chaut e por lo grant delit. Et cesti trois mois que vos avés [oi], tient lo grant kaan le palais de cannes fait, et tous les autres mois de l’an le tient il desfait. Et le a si ordree que il le puet fer et desfer a sa volunté.

 

Et quant il vient a les xxviii jors d’aost, le grant kaan se part de cest cité et de cest palais; chas[c]un an en cestui jor, et vos dirai porcoi. Il est voir que il a un araz de chevaus blance et de jumentes blances come noif sanz nulz autres coleur, et sunt grandismes quantité: ce est qu’il hi a plus de xM jomentes. Et le lat de ceste jumente blanc n’en oç boire nulz se ne celz que sunt dou legnage de l’enperio, ce est de[l] legnages de grant kaan. Bien est il voir que un autre jenerasion de jens en puet bien boir, ce su[n]t appellés Horiat, et cest honor done eles Cinghis Can por une vitorie qu’il firent con lui jadis.

Et si vos di que quant ceste bestes blances vont pasant, l'en fait elz si grant reverence, que se un grant seignor hi passast ne paseroit por mi ceste beste, mes atendroit tant qu’eles fuissent passé, ou il aleroit tant avant qu’il l'aroit passee. Et les astronique et les ydres on dit au grant can que de ceste lait doie espandre chascun an a les xxviii jors d’aost por l'air et por les terres porcoi les espirt en aient a boir. E les ydres [dient qu’il convient que en aient a boir les] espirt por ce que il li savent toutes sez couses, homes et femes, bestes, osiaus, bles, et toutes autres chouses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Et d'iluec se part lo gran can et vait a un autre leu. Mes si vos dirai avant une mervoille que je avoie demantiqué. Or sachiés que quant le grant kaan demoroit on son palais et il fust [p]luie on niusles ou mautens, il avoit sajes astronique et sajes enchanteor qui por lor senz et por lor enchantacion fasievent tous les nues et tous les maus tens hoster desus son palais; si que desus le palais n'i a maus tens, et de toutcs autres part vait le maus tens. Cesti sajes homes, que ce funt, sunt appelés Tebet e Quesmur — il sunt deus generasions de jens que sunt ydres. Il sevent d'ars diabolique e de encantemans plus que toz autres homes. Et ce qu'il font, il font por ars de diable, et font croire a les autres jens qu'il les font por grant santité et por evre de Dieu.

 

Et ceste jens meesme, que je vos ai dit, ont une tel usance com je vos dira. Car je vos di que quant un home est jugiés a mor, et soit mors par la seignorie, il le prenne[n]t et le font cuire et le menuient; mes se il morust da sa mort il le mengient mie.

Et sajés tout voirmant que cesti bacsi que je vos die desovre, que sevennt tant de enchantemant, font si grant mervoille com je vos dirai. Je vos di que quant le grant kaan siet en sa mestre sale a sa table, qui est aut plus de viii coves, et les coupes sunt emi le paviment de la sale, logne de la table bien x pas, et sunt plene de vin et de lait ou d'autres buen bevrajes, et ceste sajes encanteors que je vos ai dit desovre, que bacsi sunt només, il font tant por lor encantemant et por lor ars que celes coupes pleinnes por lor meesme se lèvent [desus] le paviment ou elle estoient et s'eu vont devant le grant kan san ce que nulz ne le toucent; et ce font voiant xM homes, et ce est voir et vertables sauz nulle mensogne. Et bien vos diron les sajes homes de nigromansie se puet bien faire.

Encore vos di que cesti bacsi, quant il vienent les festes de lor ydres, il s'en vont au grant kan et li dient: «Sire la tel feste vient de tel nostre ydre» 一 et nome le nom de cel ydre qu’il vuelt; et puis li dient — «vos savés, biaus sire, que ceste ydre suelt faire maus tens et domajes de nostre chouses et des bestes et de bles, se elle ne ont ofert et holocast; et por ce vos preon, biaus sire, que vos nos faisois doner tant moutonz que aient le chief noir et tant de ence[n]s et tant leigne aloé et tant de tel couse et tant de tel, por ce quo nos peussiom faire grant honor et grant sacrifice a nostre ydre por ce qu'elles nos savent et nos cors e nostre bestes et nostre bles». Et ceste couses dient cesti bacsi as barons que sunt entor le grant kaan et a celz que ont baillie. Et cesti il dient au graut can, et adonc ont tout ce que il demandent por honorifier la feste de lor ydres. Et quant cesti bacsi ont eu totes celes chouses qui ont demandé, il en font a lor ydres grant honor, con grant chant et grant feste. Car il les encensent de buen odor de toutes celles bones espices et font cuire la cars et la metent devant les ydres et espandent del brod ça e la et dient que les ydres en prenent tant qu'eles vuelt. En tel mainer font honor a lor ydres les jor de lor feste. Car sachiés tout voiremant que chascun ydres ont feste en lor [jor] només come ont les nos [saint].

 

 

 

Car il ont grandisme mostier et abaie, que je vos di que il hi a si grant mostier come une pitete cité, es quelz a plus de iiM nonain selonc lor costumes, que vestrent plus honestemant que ne font les autres homes. Il portent le chief ras e la barbe rase. Il font les greignors festes a lor ydres con greignors cant et con greignors luminarie que jamés fose veue. Et encore vos di que cesti bacsi en i ont entr'aus de tiaus que, selonc lor ordre, puent prandre mollier. Et il ensi font, car il en prennent et ont filz asez.

Et encore vos di qn'il est un autre mainere de religions, que sunt appelés sensi[n]: qui sunt homes de grant astinence, selonc lor costumes, et moinent si apres vie com je vos conterai. Sachiés touti voiremant que il ne menuent en toute lor vie for que semule, [ce] est canille, c’est l'escorse que remanent de la farine dou forment. Car il prenent celle semule, ce est canille, et la metent en eive chaude et la hi lassent demorer auquant; puis le menuent. Il degiunent maintes foies l'an et ne mengient rien dou monde for que cel canille que vos ai contés. Il ont grant ydres et asez et tel foies aorent le feu. Et vos di que les autres régulés dient que cesti que [vi]vent en si grant astinence sunt come paterin, por ce que il ne aorent en tel mainere les ydres com il font. Mes a grant deference entr'aus, ce est entre 1e une regule et le autre. Cesti ne prenneroient mollier por ren dou monde. El portent le chief et le barbe raise. Il portent vestimens noir et bloies de canave; et se il fuissent de soie, il le portèrent de tel coleur co[m] je vos ai dit. Il dorment sor les estuies, ce sunt boises. Il font la plus aspre vie que homes dou monde.

Lor moistier et lor ydres sunt toutes femes, ce est a dire qu'il ont toutes nous de femes.

Or nos laison de ce et vos conteron des grandismes fais et des merveies dou grandisme seignor des seignors de tous les Tartars, ce est le tres noble grant can que Cublai est apellés.

 

 

LXXVI

CI DEVISE DE TOUS LES FAIS DOU GRANT KAAN QUE ORENDROIT REGNE QUE CUBLAI KAAN EST APELÉS; ET DIVISE COMANT IL TIENT CORT ET COMANT IL MANTENT SEZ JENS EN GRANT JUSTICE ET ENCORE DIT DE SON CONQUIST

 

Or vos vueil comencier a contier en nostre livre tous les grandismes fait e toutes les grandismes mervoies dou grant kaan que aorendroit regne, que Cublai Kaan est apelés: que vaut a dire en nostre lengaje le grant seignors des seignors. Et certes il ha bien ceste nom a droit, por ce que cascun sache voiremant que ceste grant kan est le pius poisant homes de jens et de teres et de trésor que unques fust au monde, ne que orendroit soit, da Adam notre primer pere jusque a cestui point. Et ce vos montrerai je tout apertamant en nostre livre que ce est veritables chouse: si que chaschaun sera content que il est le greignor sire que unques fust au inonde, ne que orendroit, soie. E vos most[re]rai raison comant.

 

LXXVII

CI DEVISE DE LA GRANT BATAILLE KE FU ENTRE LE GRANT KAAN ET LE ROI NAYAN SON UNCLE

 

Or sachiés tout{i} voirmant qu’il est de la dreite ligne enperiaus de Cinchins Kan que droitemant de cel lengnajes doit estre le sire de tous le Tartars. Et cestui Cublai Kan est le seisme Grant Kan, ce vaut a dire qu’il est sesme grant seingnor des tous les Tartars. Et sachiés qu’il ot la segnorie as .M.CC.LVI. anz que avoit qe Crist avoit nasqu, et en celui an comancé a reingner. Et sachiés qu’il ot la segnorie por son valor et por sa proece et por son grant senz, car sez parenz et seç freres la le defendoient. Mes il, por grant proesse, l’ot, et sachiés qe droitemant venoit a lui por raisonz la seingnorie.

Il a, qu’il comance a regner, .XLII. anç jusque a cestui point qe core .M.CC.LXXXXVIII.  Il puet bien avoir d’aajes quatrevins |34b| et cinq anz. [9] Et avant q’el fust seingnor, il aloit en ost tout la plosors foies; il estoit prodomes des armes et buen chaveitains. Mes, puis qu’il fu seingnor, ne ala en ost for che une foies, et ce fu a les .M.CC.LXXXVI. anz, et voç dirai por coi.

Il fui voir que un que avoit a non Naian, qe uncle estoit de Cublai Kaan, remest jeune enfanz seingnor et sire de mantes terres et provences, si qu’il pooit bien faire .CCCCm. homes a chevaus.  Seç ancestre ansienemant sunt esté sot le Grant Grant Kaan e cestui mesme estoit ausi sout le Grant Chan, mes, ensi con je voç ai contés, cestui estoit jeune enfans de trointe anz: il se vit si Grant Sire qu’il pooit bien metre au camp .CCCCm. homes a cheva‹u›z. Il dit que ne voloit estre pl{i}us sout le Grant Kan, mes dit qu’il li toudra la seingnorie selun qu’el poit.

 

 

Adonc cestui Naian mande seç mesajes a Caidu, qui estoit un gran sire et poissant et estoit neveu au Grant Chan, mess il estoit revelés et li voloit grant maus. Il li mande qu’il aille sor le Grant Kan de l’une part, et il vendra da l’autre por lui tollir la terre et la seingnorie.  Et cestui Caidu dit qu’il li plet bien et dit qu’il sera bien aparoillés con sa jens a cel terme qu’il avoient ordree et alera sor le Grant Kaan. Et sachiés qe cestui avoit bien de pooir de faire et de metre au canp .Cm. homes a chevaus. Et qe voç en diroie? Cesti deus baronz, ce sunt Naian et Caidu, s’aparoillent et fasoient grant amasemant des chevalers et des homes a piés por aler sor le[s] Grant Kaan.









LXXVIII

COMANT LE GRANT KAAN ALA ENCONTRE NAYAN

Et quant le Gran Chan soit ceste chose, il ne fu esbaï mie, mes, ensi come sajes homes et de grant vailançe, il s’aparoille con sez jens et dit qu’il ne vuelt jamés porter corone ne tenir terre se il ne met a male mort cesti dous traitres et desloiaus. Et sachiés qe le Gran Kaan fist{i} tout son aparoillamant en .XXII. jors si priveemant que null en savoit rien for celz de son consoil.Il oit asenblé bien .CCCLXm. homes a chevauz et bien . Cm. a piés. Et por ce fist si poi de jens: por ce qe cesti furent de sez ost qui estoient pres de lui. Les autres seç hostes, qe doce estoient, qe mout estoient grandisme quantité, estoient tant loingne en ost por conquister teres en plusors parties, qu’il ne li poroit avoir eu a tens et a leu, car, ce il aüse fait tout son enfors, il firoit tant de chevalers a chevaus com il voudroit, si grant moutitude qe ce seroit enposible chose a croire et a oïr. Et cesti .‹C›CCL‹X›m. homes a chevaus qu’il fist, furent sez fauchoner et autres homes qui estoient entor lui. Et quant le Grant Kan ot aparoillés ceste pou jens que je voç ai contés desovre, il foit voir a sez astronique ce il vincra ses enemis et ce{l} il en vendra a buen chief. Et cel li distrent qu’il fira de ses enemis a sa volunté. Adonc le Grant Can, con toutes sez jens, se mist a la vie, et ala tant que en .XX. jors vindrent en une grant plaingne, la ou Naian estoit con toutes sez jens que bien estoient .CCCCm. homes a chevalz. Il hi vindrent un jor mout maitin, et ce fu en tel mainere qe sez ennimis ne seurent rien, por ce que le Grant Kaan avoit fait prandre si toutes les voies qe nulz pooit aler ne venir que ne fust pris. Et ce fu l’ach‹a›ison por coi sez ennimis ne soustrent lor venu. Et voç di qe quant cesti hi jungent, Naian estoit en sa tende con sa feme en lit et se solaiçoit avec li, car il le voloit mou grant bien.

LXXIX

CI COMANCE DE LA BATAILLE DOU GRANT KAAN ET DE NAYAN SON ONCLE

Et que voç en diroie? Quant l’aube dou jor de la bataille fu venu, adonc aparut le Grant Chan sor un tertres qui estoi{e}t en la plaingne: la, Naian estoit atendés, qe demoroient moult seuramant com celz que ne creoent por ren dou monde qe illuec venist nulles jens por lor fer domajes, et ce estoit l’achaison qe il demoroient a si grant seurté et ne fasoient garder lor canp ne ne avoient nulle eschar{a}gaite ne avant ne areres. Le Grant Kaan estoit sor le tertres terteres que voç ai contés sor une bertresche ordree sor quatre leofans; il avoit sor lui s’a‹n›seingne si haut qe bien pooit estre veue de toutes pars. Sez jens estoient tuit eschieré a .XXXm. a .XXXm., et environnent tout le canp en un moment. Et avech chascun home a cheval avoit un home a pié derere a la crope dou cheval, con la{i}nce en main. En tel mainere com vos avés hoï estoit le Grant Kaan con sez jens atiré, con sez esceles environ le canp de Naian por conbatre con elz.

 

 

Et quant Naian et sez homes on veu le Grant Kaan con sez jens environ lor canp, il en furent tuit esbaïs: il corent as armes, il s’aparoilent tostainemant et font lor eschiele bien et ordreement. Endementier qe andeus partes estoient aparoillés qe ne avoient que dou ferir, adonc peust l’en veoir et oïr soner maint estroment et maintes channes, et chanter a aute vois, car sachiés qe les uçance des Tartars sunt tielz: car, quant il sunt atiré et aschieré por conbatre, il ne seroient en la bataile jusque a tant qe les naccar ne sonent, ce sunt celz de lor chevetain. Et endementier qe les naccar ne sonent, adonc tous les plosors des Tartars sonent lor enstrumens et chantent. Et ce estoit le porcoi le soner e le chanter hi estoit si grant, e d’une part et d’autre. Et quant toutes les jens furent bien aparoilliés d’andeus pars, atant comeancent a soner les grant nacar dou Grant Chan. Et tantost que les nachar conmancent a soner, atant ne font deleament, mes laisse corre les une jens vers le autre, con ars et con espee et con macque et pou de lances, mes les homes a piés aveient bien abalestre et autre armaüres asseç. Et qe voç en diroie? Il conmancent la meslee mout cruele et felonese: or poit l’en veoir voler sagites, car toit l’air n’estoit plein come ce il fuist pluie; or poit bien veoir chevalers et chevaus mort caoir a la tere; il hi estoit si grant la grïé et remoute que l’en ne oïst le dieu tonant. Et sachiés que Naian estoit cristienz bateiçieuç et a ceste bataille avoit il la crois de Crist sor la enseingne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Et por coi voç firoie je lonch conte? Sachiés tout voirement qe cele fu la plus perilieuse bataile et la plus dotouse qe jamés fust veue, ne a nostre tens ne furent tantes jens en un canp a bataille et propemant homes a chevaus. Il hi morurent tant homes et d’une part et d’autre qe ce estoit mervoille a veoir. Elle dure, ceste meslee, dou mai{n}tin jusque a midi, mes au dereain venqui la bataille le Grant Kaan.

 

 

 

Quant Naian et sez homes virent qu’il ne pooient plus sofrir, il se mistrent en fuie, mes ce ne vaut lor rien, car Naian fu pris et tous sez baronz et ses homes se rendirent con lor armes au Grant Chan.

LXXX

COMANT LE GRANT KAAN FIST ONCIRE NAYAN

Et quant le Grant Kan soit que Naian estoit pris, il comande qu’il soit mis a mort. Adonc fu mort en tel mainere com je voç dirai: car il fu envolupé en un tapis et illuec fu tant moinés sa et la si estroitemant qu’il se morut. Et por ce le fist morir en tel mainere: que il ne vuelen que le sanc dou leingnajes de l’enperer soit espandu sor la terre, ne que le soleil ne l’air le voie.

 

 

Et quant le Grant Kaan ot vencu ceste bataille en tel mainere com voç avés hoï, tous les homes et lez baronz …†… nomerai ceste .IIII. provences. La primer fu Ciorcia, l’autre Cauli, la terce Barscol, la quarte Sichintingiu. Et aprés que le Grant Kaan ot ce fait et vencu cest bataille, les generasionz des jens qui hi estoient, saracinç, ydres et juif et maintes autres jens que ne creoent en Dieu, fasoient gas de la cruis que Naian avoit aportés sor sun gonfanonç et disoient contre les cristienz que i estoient: «Veés comant la crois dou vostre dieu a aidiés Naian qui estoit cristienç!» Il en fasoient si grant gas et si grant escherne qu’ele vindrent devant le Grant Chan. Et quant le Grant Chan oï ce, il dist maus a celz que gas en fasoient devant elz. Puis apelle mant cristienz qe illuec estoient et il comance a conforter et dit: «Se la crois dou vostre dieu ne a aidiés Naian, elle a fait grant raisonz: por ce qe elle est bone ne devoit faire se bien non et droit; et Naian estoit{e} desliaus et traitres que venoit contre son seingnors, et por ce est grant droit de ce qe li est avenu. Et la crois dou vostre dieu fist bien se elle ne l’‹a› aidé contre droit. Por ce q’ele est bone couse ne devoit faire autre qe bien».

 

 

 

 

 

 

Les cristiens responderent au Grant Kan: «Grandisme sire, font il, vos dites bien verités, car la crois ne vost faire maus ne desliautés come fasoit Naian, qe estoit traites et desloiaus contre son seingnors, et il a bien eu ce de qe elle estoit doingne». Tel paroles furent entre le Grant Chan e les cristiens de la crois qe Naian avoite aportés sor s’ainsegne.

LXXXI

COMANT LE GRANT KAN SE TORNE A LA CITÉ DE CANBALU

Et quant le Grant Kan ot vencu Naian en tel mainere com vos avés oï, adonc se torne a la mestre cité de Canbaluc et iluech demore a grant seulas et a grant feste. E le autre baronz qe rois estoit, que Caidu avoit a nom, quant il oï qe Naian avoit esté desconfit et mort, il n’ot grant ire, e ne fist ost mes, avent grant doute et grant paor d’estre asi menés come avoit esté Naian.

Or avés entendu comant le Grant Kan ne ala qe ceste foies en oste, car en toutes sez autres beçongnes et hostes mandoit seç filz et sez baronç, mes en ceste ne vost il que nulz hi alast for qe il seulemant, por ce qe trop li senbloit grant fait et mauvés la sorcuidance de celui. Or noç lairon de ceste matiere e retorneron a contere des grandismes fait del Grant Kaan.

 

 

 

Nos avon conté de quel legnages il fu et son ajes. Or vos diron cel qu’il fist as baronz qe se portent bien en la bataille, et cel qu’il fist a celz qui furent vilz et coard. Je voç di qe a celz qe bien se provent, celui qui estoit seingnor de .C. homes le fait seingnor de .M. e li fait grant donemant de vaicelement d’argent et de table de comandemant de seingneurie: car, celui qe a seingnorie de .C. ‹a› table d’arjent, celui qe a seingnorie de .M., table d’or, ovoir d’arjent endoré; celui qe a seingnorie de .Xm. a table d’or a teste de lion.







E vos dirai le poise de ceste table: celz que ont seingnorie de .C. et de .M. poisent sajes .CXX., et celle a teste de lion poisse saje .CCXX. Et en toutes cestes tables est escrit un comandemant, et dient: «Por la force dou grant dieu et dou la grant grace que a doné a nostre enperer, le nom dou Chan soit beneoit. Et tuit celz qe ne lo hobïeront soient mort et destruit». Et encore voç di qe tuit celç qe ont cestes tables on encore brevilejes con escriture de tout ce qe il doient faire en lor seingnorie.

Or voç avonz contés cesti fait; or nos conteron encore de ce mesme. Car je voç di qe celui qe a grant seingnorie de .Cm., ou qu’il soit seingnor d’une grant host jeneraus, cesti ont une table d’or que poise saje .IIIc. et hi a escrit letres que dient ensi com je vos ai dit desovre; et desout a la table est portrait le lion, et desovre hi est himaginés le soleil e la lune. Et encore ont brevelejes de grant comandemans et de grant fait. Et cesti qe ont ceste noble table si ont por comandemant qe toutes foies qu’il chevauce doie porter sor son chief un paile en seingnificance de grande seingnorie. Et toutes les foies qe il siet, deit seoir en charere d’arjent. Et encore a cesti tielz done le Grant Sire une table de gerfaus, et ceste table done il a les tres grant baronz por ‹c›oi qe il aient pleine bailie come il meisme, car, quant il vuelt mander et messajes et autres homes, si puet prandre les chevaus d’un rois, se il vuelt. Et por ce voç ai dit des chevaus des rois: por coi voç sachiés qu’il puet prandre de tous autres homes.

Or nos noç laiseron de ceste matiere et voç conteron des fassionz dou Grant Kan et de sa contenanse.

(Book I, 58)

CONCERNING THE GOD OF THE TARTARS

This is the fashion of their religion. [They say there is a Most High God of Heaven, whom they worship daily with thurible and incense, but they pray to Him only for health of mind and body. But] they have [also] a certain [other] god of theirs called Natigay, and they say he is the god of the Earth, who watches over their children, cattle, and crops. They show him great worship and honour, and every man hath a figure of him in his house, made of felt and cloth; and they also make in the same manner images of his wife and children. The wife they put on the left hand, and the children in front. And when they eat, they take the fat of the meat and grease the god's mouth withal, as well as the mouths of his wife and children. Then they take of the broth and sprinkle it before the door of the house; and that done, they deem that their god and his family have had their share of the dinner.

Their drink is mare's milk, prepared in such a way that you would take it for white wine; and a right good drink it is, called by them Kemiz.

The clothes of the wealthy Tartars are for the most part of gold and silk stuffs, lined with costly furs, such as sable and ermine, vair and fox-skin, in the richest fashion.

(Book I, 59)

CONCERNING THE TARTAR CUSTOMS OF WAR

(The title of this chapter has been introduced by Yule in his translation)

All their harness of war is excellent and costly. Their arms are bows and arrows, sword and mace; but above all the bow, for they are capital archers, indeed the best that are known. On their backs they wear armour of cuirbouly, prepared from buffalo and other hides, which is very strong.]

They are excellent soldiers, and passing valiant in battle. They are also more capable of hardships than other nations; for many a time, if need be, they will go for a month without any supply of food, living only on the milk of their mares and on such game as their bows may win them. Their horses also will subsist entirely on the grass of the plains, so that there is no need to carry store of barley or straw or oats; and they are very docile to their riders. These, in case of need, will abide on horseback the livelong night, armed at all points, while the horse will be continually grazing. Of all troops in the world these are they which endure the greatest hardship and fatigue, and which cost the least; and they are the best of all for making wide conquests of country. And this you will perceive from what you have heard and shall hear in this book; and (as a fact) there can be no manner of doubt that now they are the masters of the biggest half of the world.

Their troops are admirably ordered in the manner that I shall now relate. You see, when a Tartar prince goes forth to war, he takes with him, say, 100,000 horse. Well, he appoints an officer to every ten men, one to every hundred, one to every thousand, and one to every ten thousand, so that his own orders have to be given to ten persons only, and each of these ten persons has to pass the orders only to other ten, and so on; no one having to give orders to more than ten. And every one in turn is responsible only to the officer immediately over him; and the discipline and order that comes of this method is marvellous, for they are a people very obedient to their chiefs.

 

 

 

 

Further, they call the corps of 100,000 men a Tuc; that of 10,000 they call a Toman; the thousand they call…; the hundred Guz; the ten….

And when the army is on the march they have always 200 horsemen, very well mounted, who are sent a distance of two marches in advance to reconnoitre, and these always keep ahead. They have a similar party detached in the rear, and on either flank, so that there is a good look-out kept on all sides against a surprise. When they are going on a distant expedition they take no gear with them except two leather bottles for milk; a little earthenware pot to cook their meat in, and a little tent to shelter them from rain. And in case of great urgency they will ride ten days on end without lighting a fire or taking a meal. On such an occasion they will sustain themselves on the blood of their horses, opening a vein and letting the blood jet into their mouths, drinking till they have had enough, and then staunching it. They also have milk dried into a kind of paste to carry with them; and when they need food they put this in water, and beat it up till it dissolves, and then drink it. [It is prepared in this way; they boil the milk, and when the rich part floats on the top they skim it into another vessel, and of that they make butter; for the milk will not become solid till this is removed. Then they put the milk in the sun to dry. And when they go on an expedition, every man takes some ten pounds of this dried milk with him. And of a morning he will take a half pound of it and put it in his leather bottle, with as much water as he pleases. So, as he rides along, the milk-paste and the water in the bottle get well churned together into a kind of pap, and that makes his dinner.]

When they come to an engagement with the enemy, they will gain the victory in this fashion. [They never let themselves get into a regular medley, but keep perpetually riding round and shooting into the enemy. And] as they do not count it any shame to run away in battle, they will [sometimes pretend to] do so, and in running away they turn in the saddle and shoot hard and strong at the foe, and in this way make great havoc. Their horses are trained so perfectly that they will double hither and thither, just like a dog, in a way that is quite astonishing. Thus they fight to as good purpose in running away as if they stood and faced the enemy, because of the vast volleys of arrows that they shoot in this way, turning round upon their pursuers, who are fancying that they have won the battle. But when the Tartars see that they have killed and wounded a good many horses and men, they wheel round bodily, and return to the charge in perfect order and with loud cries; and in a very short time the enemy are routed. In truth they are stout and valiant soldiers, and inured to war. And you perceive that it is just when the enemy sees them run, and imagines that he has gained the battle, that he has in reality lost it; for the Tartars wheel round in a moment when they judge the right time has come. And after this fashion they have won many a fight.

All this that I have been telling you is true of the manners and customs of the genuine Tartars. But I must add also that in these days they are greatly degenerated; for those who are settled in Cathay have taken up the practices of the Idolaters of the country, and have abandoned their own institutions; whilst those who have settled in the Levant have adopted the customs of the Saracens.

(Book I, 55)

CONCERNING THE ADMINISTERING OF JUSTICE AMONG THE TARTARS

(The title of this chapter has been introduced by Yule in his translation and is not present in the original Franco-Italian text)

The way they administer justice is this. When any one has committed a petty theft, they give him, under the orders of authority, seven blows of a stick, or seventeen, or twenty-seven, or thirty-seven, or forty-seven, and so forth, always increasing by tens in proportion to the injury done, and running up to one hundred and seven. Of these beatings sometimes they die. But if the offence be horse-stealing, or some other great matter, they cut the thief in two with a sword. Howbeit, if he be able to ransom himself by paying nine times the value of the thing stolen, he is let off.

Every Lord or other person who possesses beasts has them marked with his peculiar brand, be they horses, mares, camels, oxen, cows, or other great cattle, and then they are sent abroad to graze over the plains without any keeper. They get all mixt together, but eventually every beast is recovered by means of its owner's brand, which is known. For their sheep and goats they have shepherds. All their cattle are remarkably fine, big, and in good condition.

They have another notable custom, which is this. If any man have a daughter who dies before marriage, and another man have had a son also die before marriage, the parents of the two arrange a grand wedding between the dead lad and lass. And marry them they do, making a regular contract! And when the contract papers are made out they put them in the fire, in order (as they will have it) that the parties in the other world may know the fact, and so look on each other as man and wife. And the parents thenceforward consider themselves sib to each other, just as if their children had lived and married. Whatever may be agreed on between the parties as dowry, those who have to pay it cause to be painted on pieces of paper and then put these in the fire, saying that in that way the dead person will get all the real articles in the other world.

Now I have told you all about the manners and customs of the Tartars; but you have heard nothing yet of the great state of the Grand Kaan, who is the Lord of all the Tartars and of the Supreme Imperial Court. All that I will tell you in this book in proper time and place, but meanwhile I must return to my story which I left off in that great plain when we began to speak of the Tartars.

LXXI (Book I, 56)

SUNDRY PARTICULARS OF THE PLAIN BEYOND CARACORON

And when you leave Caracoron and the Altay, in which they bury the bodies of the Tartar Sovereigns, as I told you, you go north for forty days till you reach a country called the plain of Bargu. The people there are called Mescript; they are a very wild race, and live by their cattle, the most of which are stags, and these stags, I assure you, they used to ride upon. Their customs are like those of the Tartars, and they are subject to the Great Kaan. They have neither corn nor wine. [They get birds for food, for the country is full of lakes and pools and marshes, which are much frequented by the birds when they are moulting, and when they have quite cast their feathers and can't fly, those people catch them. They also live partly on fish.]

And when you have travelled forty days over this great plain you come to the ocean, at the place where the mountains are in which the Peregrine falcons have their nests. And in those mountains it is so cold that you find neither man or woman, nor beast nor bird, except one kind of bird called Barguerlac, on which the falcons feed. They are as big as partridges, and have feet like those of parrots and a tail like a swallow's, and are very strong in flight. And when the Grand Kaan wants Peregrines from the nest, he sends thither to procure them. It is also on islands in that sea that the Gerfalcons are bred. You must know that the place is so far to the north that you leave the North Star somewhat behind you towards the south! The gerfalcons are so abundant there that the Emperor can have as many as he likes to send for. And you must not suppose that those gerfalcons which the Christians carry into the Tartar dominions go to the Great Kaan; they are carried only to the Prince of the Levant.

Now I have told you all about the provinces northward as far as the Ocean Sea, beyond which there is no more land at all; so I shall proceed to tell you of the other provinces on the way to the Great Kaan. Let us, then, return to that province of which I spoke before, called Campichu.

 

LXII (Book I, 57)

OF THE KINGDOM OF ERGUIUL, AND PROVINCE OF SINJU

On leaving Campichu, then, you travel five days across a tract in which many spirits are heard speaking in the night season; and at the end of those five marches, towards the east, you come to a kingdom called Erguiul, belonging to the Great Kaan. It is one of the several kingdoms which make up the great Province of Tangut. The people consist of Nestorian Christians, Idolaters, and worshippers of Mahommet. There are plenty of cities in this kingdom, but the capital is Erguiul. You can travel in a south-easterly direction from this place into the province of Cathay.

Should you follow that road to the south-east, you come to a city called Sinju, belonging also to Tangut, and subject to the Great Kaan, which has under it many towns and villages. The population is composed of Idolaters, and worshippers of Mahommet, but there are some Christians also. There are wild cattle in that country [almost] as big as elephants, splendid creatures, covered everywhere but on the back with shaggy hair a good four palms long. They are partly black, partly white, and really wonderfully fine creatures [and the hair or wool is extremely fine and white, finer and whiter than silk. Messer Marco brought some to Venice as a great curiosity, and so it was reckoned by those who saw it]. There are also plenty of them tame, which have been caught young. [They also cross these with the common cow, and the cattle from this cross are wonderful beasts, and better for work than other animals.] These the people use commonly for burden and general work, and in the plough as well; and at the latter they will do full twice as much work as any other cattle, being such very strong beasts.

In this country too is found the best musk in the world; and I will tell you how 'tis produced. There exists in that region a kind of wild animal like a gazelle. It has feet and tail like the gazelle's, and stag's hair of a very coarse kind, but no horns. It has four tusks, two below and two above, about three inches long, and slender in form, one pair growing upwards, and the other downwards. It is a very pretty creature. The musk is found in this way. When the creature has been taken, they find at the navel between the flesh and the skin something like an impostume full of blood, which they cut out and remove with all the skin attached to it. And the blood inside this impostume is the musk that produces that powerful perfume. There is an immense number of these beasts in the country we are speaking of. [The flesh is very good to eat. Messer Marco brought the dried head and feet of one of these animals to Venice with him.]

The people are traders and artizans, and also grow abundance of corn. The province has an extent of 26 days' journey. Pheasants are found there twice as big as ours, indeed nearly as big as a peacock, and having tails of 7 to 10 palms in length; and besides them other pheasants in aspect like our own, and birds of many other kinds, and of beautiful variegated plumage.

 

The people, who are Idolaters, are fat folks with little noses and black hair, and no beard, except a few hairs on the upper lip. The women too have very smooth and white skins, and in every respect are pretty creatures. The men are very sensual, and marry many wives, which is not forbidden by their religion. No matter how base a woman's descent may be, if she have beauty she may find a husband among the greatest men in the land, the man paying the girl's father and mother a great sum of money, according to the bargain that may be made.

LXXIII (Book I, 58)

OF THE KINGDOM OF EGRIGAIA

Starting again from Erguiul you ride eastward for eight days, and then come to a province called Egrigaia, containing numerous cities and villages, and belonging to Tangut. The capital city is called Calchan. The people are chiefly Idolaters, but there are fine churches belonging to the Nestorian Christians. They are all subjects of the Great Kaan. They make in this city great quantities of camlets of camel's wool, the finest in the world; and some of the camlets that they make are white, for they have white camels, and these are the best of all. Merchants purchase these stuffs here, and carry them over the world for sale.

We shall now proceed eastward from this place and enter the territory that was formerly Prester John's.

LXXIV (Book I, 59)

CONCERNING THE PROVINCE OF TENDUC, AND THE DESCENDANTS OF PRESTER JOHN

Tenduc is a province which lies towards the east, and contains numerous towns and villages; among which is the chief city, also called Tenduc. The king of the province is of the lineage of Prester John, George by name, and he holds the land under the Great Kaan; not that he holds anything like the whole of what Prester John possessed. It is a custom, I may tell you, that these kings of the lineage of Prester John always obtain to wife either daughters of the Great Kaan or other princesses of his family.

In this province is found the stone from which Azure is made. It is obtained from a kind of vein in the earth, and is of very fine quality. There is also a great manufacture of fine camlets of different colours from camel's hair. The people get their living by their cattle and tillage, as well as by trade and handicraft.

The rule of the province is in the hands of the Christians, as I have told you; but there are also plenty of Idolaters and worshippers of Mahommet. And there is also here a class of people called Argons, which is as much as to say in French Guasmul, or, in other words, sprung from two different races: to wit, of the race of the Idolaters of Tenduc and of that of the worshippers of Mahommet. They are handsomer men than the other natives of the country, and having more ability, they come to have authority; and they are also capital merchants.

You must know that it was in this same capital city of Tenduc that Prester John had the seat of his government when he ruled over the Tartars, and his heirs still abide there; for, as I have told you, this King George is of his line, in fact, he is the sixth in descent from Prester John.

Here also is what we call the country of Gog and Magog; they, however, call it Ung and Mungul, after the names of two races of people that existed in that Province before the migration of the Tartars. Ung was the title of the people of the country, and Mungul a name sometimes applied to the Tartars.

And when you have ridden seven days eastward through this province you get near the provinces of Cathay. You find throughout those seven days' journey plenty of towns and villages, the inhabitants of which are Mahommetans, but with a mixture also of Idolaters and Nestorian Christians. They get their living by trade and manufactures; weaving those fine cloths of gold which are called Nasich and Naques, besides silk stuffs of many other kinds. For just as we have cloths of wool in our country, manufactured in a great variety of kinds, so in those regions they have stuffs of silk and gold in like variety.

All this region is subject to the Great Kaan. There is a city you come to called Sindachu, where they carry on a great many crafts such as provide for the equipment of the Emperor's troops. In a mountain of the province there is a very good silver mine, from which much silver is got: the place is called Ydifu. The country is well stocked with game, both beast and bird.

Now we will quit that province and go three days' journey forward.

(Book I, 60)

CONCERNING THE KAAN'S PALACE OF CHAGANNOR

(Note: this chapter continues the narration begun in the previous rubric of the original Franco-Italian text )

At the end of those three days you find a city called Chagan Nor [which is as much as to say White Pool], at which there is a great Palace of the Grand Kaan's;] and he likes much to reside there on account of the Lakes and Rivers in the neighbourhood, which are the haunt of swans and of a great variety of other birds. The adjoining plains too abound with cranes, partridges, pheasants, and other game birds, so that the Emperor takes all the more delight in staying there, in order to go a-hawking with his gerfalcons and other falcons, a sport of which he is very fond.

There are five different kinds of cranes found in those tracts, as I shall tell you. First, there is one which is very big, and all over as black as a crow; the second kind again is all white, and is the biggest of all; its wings are really beautiful, for they are adorned with round eyes like those of a peacock, but of a resplendent golden colour, whilst the head is red and black on a white ground. The third kind is the same as ours. The fourth is a small kind, having at the ears beautiful long pendent feathers of red and black. The fifth kind is grey all over and of great size, with a handsome head, red and black.

Near this city there is a valley in which the Emperor has had several little houses erected in which he keeps in mew a huge number of cators which are what we call the Great Partridge. You would be astonished to see what a quantity there are, with men to take charge of them. So whenever the Kaan visits the place he is furnished with as many as he wants.

 

 

LXXV (Book I, 61)

OF THE CITY OF CHANDU, AND THE KAAN'S PALACE THERE

And when you have ridden three days from the city last mentioned, between north-east and north, you come to a city called Chandu, which was built by the Kaan now reigning. There is at this place a very fine marble Palace, the rooms of which are all gilt and painted with figures of men and beasts and birds, and with a variety of trees and flowers, all executed with such exquisite art that you regard them with delight and astonishment.

Round this Palace a wall is built, inclosing a compass of 16 miles, and inside the Park there are fountains and rivers and brooks, and beautiful meadows, with all kinds of wild animals (excluding such as are of ferocious nature), which the Emperor has procured and placed there to supply food for his gerfalcons and hawks, which he keeps there in mew. Of these there are more than 200 gerfalcons alone, without reckoning the other hawks. The Kaan himself goes every week to see his birds sitting in mew, and sometimes he rides through the park with a leopard behind him on his horse's croup; and then if he sees any animal that takes his fancy, he slips his leopard at it, and the game when taken is made over to feed the hawks in mew. This he does for diversion.

Moreover [at a spot in the Park where there is a charming wood] he has another Palace built of cane, of which I must give you a description. It is gilt all over, and most elaborately finished inside. [It is stayed on gilt and lackered columns, on each of which is a dragon all gilt, the tail of which is attached to the column whilst the head supports the architrave, and the claws likewise are stretched out right and left to support the architrave.] The roof, like the rest, is formed of canes, covered with a varnish so strong and excellent that no amount of rain will rot them. These canes are a good 3 palms in girth, and from 10 to 15 paces in length. [They are cut across at each knot, and then the pieces are split so as to form from each two hollow tiles, and with these the house is roofed; only every such tile of cane has to be nailed down to prevent the wind from lifting it.] In short, the whole Palace is built of these canes, which (I may mention) serve also for a great variety of other useful purposes. The construction of the Palace is so devised that it can be taken down and put up again with great celerity; and it can all be taken to pieces and removed whithersoever the Emperor may command. When erected, it is braced [against mishaps from the wind] by more than 200 cords of silk.

The Lord abides at this Park of his, dwelling sometimes in the Marble Palace and sometimes in the Cane Palace for three months of the year, to wit, June, July, and August; preferring this residence because it is by no means hot; in fact it is a very cool place. When the 28th day of [the Moon of] August arrives he takes his departure, and the Cane Palace is taken to pieces.

But I must tell you what happens when he goes away from this Palace every year on the 28th of the August [Moon]. You must know that the Kaan keeps an immense stud of white horses and mares; in fact more than 10,000 of them, and all pure white without a speck. The milk of these mares is drunk by himself and his family, and by none else, except by those of one great tribe that have also the privilege of drinking it. This privilege was granted them by Chinghis Kaan, on account of a certain victory that they helped him to win long ago. The name of the tribe is Horiad.

Now when these mares are passing across the country, and any one falls in with them, be he the greatest lord in the land, he must not presume to pass until the mares have gone by; he must either tarry where he is, or go a half-day's journey round if need so be, so as not to come nigh them; for they are to be treated with the greatest respect. Well, when the Lord sets out from the Park on the 28th of August, as I told you, the milk of all those mares is taken and sprinkled on the ground. And this is done on the injunction of the Idolaters and Idol-priests, who say that it is an excellent thing to sprinkle that milk on the ground every 28th of August, so that the Earth and the Air and the False Gods shall have their share of it, and the Spirits likewise that inhabit the Air and the Earth. And thus those beings will protect and bless the Kaan and his children and his wives and his folk and his gear, and his cattle and his horses, his corn and all that is his. After this is done, the Emperor is off and away.

But I must now tell you a strange thing that hitherto I have forgotten to mention. During the three months of every year that the Lord resides at that place, if it should happen to be bad weather, there are certain crafty enchanters and astrologers in his train, who are such adepts in necromancy and the diabolic arts, that they are able to prevent any cloud or storm from passing over the spot on which the Emperor's Palace stands. The sorcerers who do this are called Tebe and Kesimur, which are the names of two nations of Idolaters. Whatever they do in this way is by the help of the Devil, but they make those people believe that it is compassed by dint of their own sanctity and the help of God. [They always go in a state of dirt and uncleanness, devoid of respect for themselves, or for those who see them, unwashed, unkempt, and sordidly attired.]

These people also have a custom which I must tell you. If a man is condemned to death and executed by the lawful authority, they take his body and cook and eat it. But if any one die a natural death then they will not eat the body.

There is another marvel performed by those Bacsi, of whom I have been speaking as knowing so many enchantments. For when the Great Kaan is at his capital and in his great Palace, seated at his table, which stands on a platform some eight cubits above the ground, his cups are set before him [on a great buffet] in the middle of the hall pavement, at a distance of some ten paces from his table, and filled with wine, or other good spiced liquor such as they use. Now when the Lord desires to drink, these enchanters by the power of their enchantments cause the cups to move from their place without being touched by anybody, and to present themselves to the Emperor! This every one present may witness, and there are ofttimes more than 10,000 persons thus present. 'Tis a truth and no lie! and so will tell you the sages of our own country who understand necromancy, for they also can perform it.

And when the Idol Festivals come round, these Bacsi go to the Prince and say: "Sire, the Feast of such a god is come" (naming him). "My Lord, you know," the enchanter will say, "that this god, when he gets no offerings, always sends bad weather and spoils our seasons. So we pray you to give us such and such a number of black-faced sheep," naming whatever number they please. "And we beg also, good my lord, that we may have such a quantity of incense, and such a quantity of lignaloes, and"—so much of this, so much of that, and so much of t'other, according to their fancy—"that we may perform a solemn service and a great sacrifice to our Idols, and that so they may be induced to protect us and all that is ours."

The Bacsi say these things to the Barons entrusted with the Stewardship, who stand round the Great Kaan, and these repeat them to the Kaan, and he then orders the Barons to give everything that the Bacsi have asked for. And when they have got the articles they go and make a great feast in honour of their god, and hold great ceremonies of worship with grand illuminations and quantities of incense of a variety of odours, which they make up from different aromatic spices. And then they cook the meat, and set it before the idols, and sprinkle the broth hither and thither, saying that in this way the idols get their bellyful. Thus it is that they keep their festivals. You must know that each of the idols has a name of his own, and a feast-day, just as our Saints have their anniversaries.

They have also immense Minsters and Abbeys, some of them as big as a small town, with more than two thousand monks (i.e. after their fashion) in a single abbey. These monks dress more decently than the rest of the people, and have the head and beard shaven. There are some among these Bacsi who are allowed by their rule to take wives, and who have plenty of children.

Then there is another kind of devotees called Sensin, who are men of extraordinary abstinence after their fashion, and lead a life of such hardship as I will describe. All their life long they eat nothing but bran, which they take mixt with hot water. That is their food: bran, and nothing but bran; and water for their drink. 'Tis a lifelong fast! so that I may well say their life is one of extraordinary asceticism. They have great idols, and plenty of them; but they sometimes also worship fire. The other Idolaters who are not of this sect call these people heretics—Patarins as we should say—because they do not worship their idols in their own fashion. Those of whom I am speaking would not take a wife on any consideration. They wear dresses of hempen stuff, black and blue, and sleep upon mats; in fact their asceticism is something astonishing. Their idols are all feminine, that is to say, they have women's names.

Now let us have done with this subject, and let me tell you of the great state and wonderful magnificence of the Great Lord of Lords; I mean that great Prince who is the Sovereign of the Tartars, Cublay by name, that most noble and puissant Lord.

(Book II, 1)

OF CUBLAY KAAN, THE GREAT KAAN NOW REIGNING, AND OF HIS GREAT PUISSANCE

 

 

 

Now am I come to that part of our Book in which I shall tell you of the great and wonderful magnificence of the Great Kaan now reigning, by name Cublay Kaan; Kaan being a title which signifyeth "The Great Lord of Lords," or Emperor. And of a surety he hath good right to such a title, for all men know for a certain truth that he is the most potent man, as regards forces and lands and treasure, that existeth in the world, or ever hath existed from the time of our First Father Adam until this day. All this I will make clear to you for truth, in this book of ours, so that every one shall be fain to acknowledge that he is the greatest Lord that is now in the world, or ever hath been. And now ye shall hear how and wherefore.

 

LXXVI (Book II, 2)

 

CONCERNING THE REVOLT OF NAYAN, WHO WAS UNCLE TO THE GREAT KAAN CUBLAY

Now this Cublay Kaan is of the right Imperial lineage, being descended from Chinghis Kaan, the first sovereign of all the Tartars. And he is the sixth Lord in that succession, as I have already told you in this book. He came to the throne in the year of Christ, 1256, and the Empire fell to him because of his ability and valour and great worth, as was right and reason. His brothers, indeed, and other kinsmen disputed his claim, but his it remained, both because maintained by his great valour, and because it was in law and right his, as being directly sprung of the imperial line.

Up to the year of Christ now running, to wit 1298, he hath reigned two-and-forty years, and his age is about eighty-five, so that he must have been about forty-three years of age when he first came to the throne.] Before that time he had often been to the wars, and had shown himself a gallant soldier and an excellent captain. But after coming to the throne he never went to the wars in person save once. This befel in the year of Christ, 1286, and I will tell you why he went.

There was a great Tartar Chief, whose name was Nayan, a young man [of thirty], Lord over many lands and many provinces; and he was Uncle to the Emperor Cublay Kaan of whom we are speaking. And when he found himself in authority this Nayan waxed proud in the insolence of his youth and his great power; for indeed he could bring into the field 300,000 horsemen, though all the time he was liegeman to his nephew, the Great Kaan Cublay, as was right and reason. Seeing then what great power he had, he took it into his head that he would be the Great Kaan's vassal no longer; nay more, he would fain wrest his empire from him if he could.

So this Nayan sent envoys to another Tartar Prince called Caidu, also a great and potent Lord, who was a kinsman of his, and who was a nephew of the Great Kaan and his lawful liegeman also, though he was in rebellion and at bitter enmity with his sovereign Lord and Uncle. Now the message that Nayan sent was this: That he himself was making ready to march against the Great Kaan with all his forces (which were great), and he begged Caidu to do likewise from his side, so that by attacking Cublay on two sides at once with such great forces they would be able to wrest his dominion from him.

And when Caidu heard the message of Nayan, he was right glad thereat, and thought the time was come at last to gain his object. So he sent back answer that he would do as requested; and got ready his host, which mustered a good hundred thousand horsemen.

Now let us go back to the Great Kaan, who had news of all this plot.

 

 

(Book II, 3)

HOW THE GREAT KAAN MARCHED AGAINST NAYAN

When the Great Kaan heard what was afoot, he made his preparations in right good heart, like one who feared not the issue of an attempt so contrary to justice. Confident in his own conduct and prowess, he was in no degree disturbed, but vowed that he would never wear crown again if he brought not those two traitorous and disloyal Tartar chiefs to an ill end. So swiftly and secretly were his preparations made, that no one knew of them but his Privy Council, and all were completed within ten or twelve days. In that time he had assembled good 360,000 horsemen, and 100,000 footmen,—but a small force indeed for him, and consisting only of those that were in the vicinity. For the rest of his vast and innumerable forces were too far off to answer so hasty a summons, being engaged under orders from him on distant expeditions to conquer divers countries and provinces. If he had waited to summon all his troops, the multitude assembled would have been beyond all belief, a multitude such as never was heard of or told of, past all counting. In fact, those 360,000 horsemen that he got together consisted merely of the falconers and whippers-in that were about the court! And when he had got ready this handful (as it were) of his troops, he ordered his astrologers to declare whether he should gain the battle and get the better of his enemies. After they had made their observations, they told him to go on boldly, for he would conquer and gain a glorious victory: whereat he greatly rejoiced.  So he marched with his army, and after advancing for 20 days they arrived at a great plain where Nayan lay with all his host, amounting to some 400,000 horse. Now the Great Kaan's forces arrived so fast and so suddenly that the others knew nothing of the matter. For the Kaan had caused such strict watch to be made in every direction for scouts that every one that appeared was instantly captured. Thus Nayan had no warning of his coming and was completely taken by surprise; insomuch that when the Great Kaan's army came up, he was asleep in the arms of a wife of his of whom he was extravagantly fond. So thus you see why it was that the Emperor equipped his force.

 (Book II,  4)

OF THE BATTLE THAT THE GREAT KAAN FOUGHT WITH NAYAN

What shall I say about it? When day had well broken, there was the Kaan with all his host upon a hill overlooking the plain where Nayan lay in his tent, in all security, without the slightest thought of any one coming thither to do him hurt. In fact, this confidence of his was such that he kept no vedettes whether in front or in rear; for he knew nothing of the coming of the Great Kaan, owing to all the approaches having been completely occupied as I told you. Moreover, the place was in a remote wilderness, more than thirty marches from the Court, though the Kaan had made the distance in twenty, so eager was he to come to battle with Nayan. And what shall I tell you next? The Kaan was there on the hill, mounted on a great wooden bartizan, which was borne by four well-trained elephants, and over him was hoisted his standard, so high aloft that it could be seen from all sides. His troops were ordered in battles of 30,000 men apiece; and a great part of the horsemen had each a foot-soldier armed with a lance set on the crupper behind him (for it was thus that the footmen were disposed of); and the whole plain seemed to be covered with his forces. So it was thus that the Great Kaan's army was arrayed for battle.

When Nayan and his people saw what had happened, they were sorely confounded, and rushed in haste to arms. Nevertheless they made them ready in good style and formed their troops in an orderly manner. And when all were in battle array on both sides as I have told you, and nothing remained but to fall to blows, then might you have heard a sound arise of many instruments of various music, and of the voices of the whole of the two hosts loudly singing. For this is a custom of the Tartars, that before they join battle they all unite in singing and playing on a certain two-stringed instrument of theirs, a thing right pleasant to hear. And so they continue in their array of battle, singing and playing in this pleasing manner, until the great Naccara of the Prince is heard to sound. As soon as that begins to sound the fight also begins on both sides; and in no case before the Prince's Naccara sounds dare any commence fighting. So then, as they were thus singing and playing, though ordered and ready for battle, the great Naccara of the Great Khan began to sound. And that of Nayan also began to sound. And thenceforward the din of battle began to be heard loudly from this side and from that. And they rushed to work so doughtily with their bows and their maces, with their lances and swords, and with the arblasts of the footmen, that it was a wondrous sight to see. Now might you behold such flights of arrows from this side and from that, that the whole heaven was canopied with them and they fell like rain. Now might you see on this side and on that full many a cavalier and man-at- arms fall slain, insomuch that the whole field seemed covered with them. From this side and from that such cries arose from the crowds of the wounded and dying that had God thundered, you would not have heard Him! For fierce and furious was the battle, and quarter there was none given. But why should I make a long story of it? You must know that it was the most parlous and fierce and fearful battle that ever has been fought in our day. Nor have there ever been such forces in the field in actual fight, especially of horsemen, as were then engaged—for, taking both sides, there were not fewer than 760,000 horsemen, a mighty force! and that without reckoning the footmen, who were also very numerous. The battle endured with various fortune on this side and on that from morning till noon. But at the last, by God's pleasure and the right that was on his side, the Great Khan had the victory, and Nayan lost the battle and was utterly routed. For the army of the Great Kaan performed such feats of arms that Nayan and his host could stand against them no longer, so they turned and fled. But this availed nothing for Nayan; for he and all the barons with him were taken prisoners, and had to surrender to the Kaan with all their arms. Now you must know that Nayan was a baptized Christian, and bore the cross on his banner; but this nought availed him, seeing how grievously he had done amiss in rebelling against his Lord. For he was the Great Kaan's liegeman, and was bound to hold his lands of him like all his ancestors before him.

 (Book II,  5)

HOW THE GREAT KAAN CAUSED NAYAN TO BE PUT TO DEATH

And when the Great Kaan learned that Nayan was taken right glad was he, and commanded that he should be put to death straightway and in secret, lest endeavours should be made to obtain pity and pardon for him, because he was of the Kaan's own flesh and blood. And this was the way in which he was put to death: he was wrapt in a carpet, and tossed to and fro so mercilessly that he died. And the Kaan caused him to be put to death in this way because he would not have the blood of his Line Imperial spilt upon the ground or exposed in the eye of Heaven and before the Sun.

And when the Great Kaan had gained this battle, as you have heard, all the Barons and people of Nayan's provinces renewed their fealty to the Kaan. Now these provinces that had been under the Lordship of Nayan were four in number; to wit, the first called Chorcha; the second Cauly; the third Barscol; the fourth Sikintinju. Of all these four great provinces had Nayan been Lord; it was a very great dominion. And after the Great Kaan had conquered Nayan, as you have heard, it came to pass that the different kinds of people who were present, Saracens and Idolaters and Jews, and many others that believed not in God, did gibe those that were Christians because of the cross that Nayan had borne on his standard, and that so grievously that there was no bearing it. Thus they would say to the Christians: "See now what precious help this God's Cross of yours hath rendered Nayan, who was a Christian and a worshipper thereof." And such a din arose about the matter that it reached the Great Kaan's own ears. When it did so, he sharply rebuked those who cast these gibes at the Christians; and he also bade the Christians be of good heart, "for if the Cross had rendered no help to Nayan, in that It had done right well; nor could that which was good, as It was, have done otherwise; for Nayan was a disloyal and traitorous Rebel against his Lord, and well deserved that which had befallen him. Wherefore the Cross of your God did well in that It gave him no help against the right." And this he said so loud that everybody heard him. The Christians then replied to the Great Kaan: "Great King, you say the truth indeed, for our Cross can render no one help in wrong-doing; and therefore it was that It aided not Nayan, who was guilty of crime and disloyalty, for It would take no part in his evil deeds." And so thenceforward no more was heard of the floutings of the unbelievers against the Christians; for they heard very well what the Sovereign said to the latter about the Cross on Nayan's banner, and its giving him no help.

(Book II,  6)

HOW THE GREAT KAAN WENT BACK TO THE CITY OF CAMBALUC

And after the Great Kaan had defeated Nayan in the way you have heard, he went back to his capital city of Cambaluc and abode there, taking his ease and making festivity. And the other Tartar Lord called Caydu was greatly troubled when he heard of the defeat and death of Nayan, and held himself in readiness for war; but he stood greatly in fear of being handled as Nayan had been.

I told you that the Great Kaan never went on a campaign but once, and it was on this occasion; in all other cases of need he sent his sons or his barons into the field. But this time he would have none go in command but himself, for he regarded the presumptuous rebellion of Nayan as far too serious and perilous an affair to be otherwise dealt with.So we will have done with this matter of Nayan, and go on with our account of the great state of the Great Kaan.

(Book II,  7)

HOW THE KAAN REWARDED THE VALOUR OF HIS CAPTAINS

We have already told you of his lineage and of his age; but now I must tell you what he did after his return, in regard to those barons who had behaved well in the battle. Him who was before captain of 100 he made captain of 1000; and him who was captain of 1000 men he made to be captain of 10,000, advancing every man according to his deserts and to his previous rank. Besides that, he also made them presents of fine silver plate and other rich appointments; gave them Tablets of Authority of a higher degree than they held before; and bestowed upon them fine jewels of gold and silver, and pearls and precious stones; insomuch that the amount that fell to each of them was something astonishing. And yet 'twas not so much as they had deserved; for never were men seen who did such feats of arms for the love and honour of their Lord, as these had done on that day of the battle.
Now those Tablets of Authority, of which I have spoken, are ordered in this way. The officer who is a captain of 100 hath a tablet of silver; the captain of 1000 hath a tablet of gold or silver-gilt; the commander of 10,000 hath a tablet of gold, with a lion's head on it. And I will tell you the weight of the different tablets, and what they denote. The tablets of the captains of 100 and 1000 weigh each of them 120 saggi; and the tablet with the lion's head engraven on it, which is that of the commander of 10,000, weighs 220 saggi. And on each of the tablets is inscribed a device, which runs: "By the strength of the great God, and of the great grace which He hath accorded to our Emperor, may the name of the Kaan be blessed; and let all such as will not obey him be slain and be destroyed." And I will tell you besides that all who hold these tablets likewise receive warrants in writing, declaring all their powers and privileges. I should mention too that an officer who holds the chief command of 100,000 men, or who is general-in-chief of a great host, is entitled to a tablet that weighs 300 saggi. It has an inscription thereon to the same purport that I have told you already, and below the inscription there is the figure of a lion, and below the lion the sun and moon. They have warrants also of their high rank, command, and power. Every one, moreover, who holds a tablet of this exalted degree is entitled, whenever he goes abroad, to have a little golden canopy, such as is called an umbrella, carried on a spear over his head in token of his high command. And whenever he sits, he sits in a silver chair. To certain very great lords also there is given a tablet with gerfalcons on it; this is only to the very greatest of the Kaan's barons, and it confers on them his own full power and authority; so that if one of those chiefs wishes to send a messenger any whither, he can seize the horses of any man, be he even a king, and any other chattels at his pleasure.

 

LXXXII

CI DEVISE LE FASSION DOU GRANT KAAN

Le grant seingnors des seingnors que Cublai Kan est apellés est de tel fasionz: il est de belle grandesse, ne petit ne grant, mes est de meçaine grandesse; il est carnu de bielle mainere; il est trop bien taliés de toutes menbres; il a son vis blance et vermoille come rose; les iaus noir et biaus; le nes bien fait et bien seant.

Il a quatre femes, les quelz il tient toutes foies por sez moilier droite, et le greingnor filz que il aie de ceste quatre femes doit estre por raisonz seingnor de l’enpere quant il se morust le Grant Kaan. Elle sunt apelé e‹m›poraïces et chascune por son non. Et chascune de ceste dame tient cort por soi: il n’i a nule que ne aie .IIIc. damoiselles mout belles et avenant; elle ont maint vallez esculiés et maint autres homes et femes, si que bien a chascune de ceste dame en sa cort .Xm. persones. Et toutes foies qu’il vult jecir jeçir avec aucune de ces quatre femes, il la fait venir en sa chambre, et tel foies il vait a la canbre sa feme. Il ha encore maintes amie, et voç dirai en quel mainere. Il est voir qu’il est une generasion de Tartarç, que sunt apellés Ungrac, que mout sont belles jens, et onnes anz sunt elleue .C. pucelles les plus belles qe soient en toutes celles jenerasion et sunt amenés au Grant Chan, et il le fait garder a les dames dou palais et le fait jezir con elles en un lit por savoir s’elle ha bone aleyne et por savoir s’ell’est pucelle et bien saine de toutes choses. Sunt mises a servir le seingnor en tel maineres com je voç dirai. Il est voir qe ogne trois ijors et trois nuit .VI. de cestes dameiselles servent le seingnor et en chanbre et au lit et a tout ce qe beçogne. Et le Grant Kaan en fait de celes ce k’el velt. Et a chief de trois jors et de trois noit vienent les autres .VI. damoiselles, et ensi vait tout le anz: que ogne trois jors et trois nuit se müent de .VI. en .VI. dameselles.

LXXXIII
CI DEVISE DES FILZ DOU GRANT KAN


Et encore sachiés qe le Gran Kaan a de seç quatre femes .XXII. filz masles. Le greingnors avoit a non CinchinCinchin, por le amor dou buen Cinchin Kan; et cestui devoit estre Grant Kaan et seingnor de tout l’enpere. Or avint qu’il se morut, mes il en remest un fil que a a non Temur; et cestui Temur doit estre Grant Kaan et seingnor, et ce est rason, por ce qu’il fu fil dou greingnor fil do Grant Kaan. Et si voç di qe cest Temur est sajes et prodonmes, et maintes foies a ja mout bien prouvés en bataille.



Et sachiés qe le Grant Kan a encore bien .XXV. autres filz de ses amies que sunt bones et vailanz d’armes et chascun est grant baron. Et encore voç di qe des filz qu’il a des seç quatre femes en sunt .VII. rois des grandismes provences et roiames, et tuit mantinent bien lor reingne, car il sunt sajes et prodonmes, et ce est bien raison, car je voç di qe lor pere le Grant Kan est le plus sajes homes et les plus proven de toutes chouses et le meior regeor des jens et d’enpere et home de greingnor vailance qe unques fust en toutes les generasionz des Tartarç. Or vos ai deviséç dou Grant Chan et de seç filz, et adonc voç deviserai comant il tient cort et sa mainere.


LXXXIV
CI DEVISE DOU PALAIS DOU GRANT KAN

 

Sachiés tout voiramant qe le Grant Chan demore en la maistre vile dou Catai, Cabaluc est appellés, trois mois de l’an, c’est dece‹n›bre et jenner et fevrer. En ceste ville a son grant palais, et voç diviserai sa faison. El est tout avant un grant mur quarés qui est por chascun quaré un milier, ce est a dire qu’il est tout environ quatre miles. Il est mout gros et d’autesse ont il bien .X. pas, et sunt toutes blances et merlés. Et chascun cant de cest mur a un grant palais mout biaus et mout riches el quelz se tienent les hernois dou Grant Can: ce sunt arç et tarcasci et seles et fren de cavaus et cordes d’arç, et toutes chouses beçognables a oste. Et encore un paleis senblable a çelç des cant, si qe sunt environ les murs .VIII., et tuit et .VIII. sunt plein des arnois dou Grant Sire. Et saqiés qe en chascun ne a que d’une chouse: ce est qe en la une arç e ne autres; et le ‹autre› avoit seles et ne autres; et ensi vait qe en chaschun a toute une chouses. Et cest mur a eu quaré dever midi .V. portes; eu mileu une grant porte que ne s’evre nulle fois for tant solemant quant le Grant ‹Kan› en hoisce et quant il hi entre. Et jouste ceste grant porte en a deus petite, des caschune part une, et por celle entrent toutes les autres jens. Et puis en a ver le chant un autre mout grant et dever l’autre chant un autre, por les queles entrent enc{h}ore les autres jens.






Et dedens cest mur ha un autre mur que est auques plus lonc qe large. Il a ausint .VIII. palais sor cest mures tout en tel maineres con les autres, et encore hi se tinent dedens les hernoi{e}s dou Grant Sire. Il a ausi .V. portes eu quaré dever midi toutes senblables a les autres ‹dou› mur devant. Et en chascun autres quarés a une sole porte, et ausint ont les autres murs que dit vos ai. Et eu mileu de cestes mures est le palais dou Grant Sire, qui est fait en tel mainere com je voç dirai. Il est le greingnor que jamés fust veu. Il ne a pas soler, mes le paviment est plus aut que l’autre tere entor .X. paumes.














La couverture covreuüre est mout autesme; les mur de les sales et de les canbres sunt toutes couvertes d’or et d’arg{i}ent et hi a portraites dragons et bestes et osiaus et chevalers, et autres deverses jenerasion des bestes. Et la couverture est ausi fa‹i›te si que ne i se pert autre que hor et pointures.




La sale est si grant et si larges qe bien hi menjuerént plus de .VIm. homes. Il ha tantes chanbres que ce est mervoilles a voir. Il est si grant et si bien fait que ne a home au monde que le pooir en aüst qu’il le seust miaus ordrer ne faire. Et la covreture desovre sunt toute vermoile et vers et bloies et jaunes et de tous colors; et sunt envernicé si bien et si soitilmant qu’il sunt respre‹n›disant come crist{i}aus, si que mou {lou} loingne environ le palais luissent. Et sachiés qe cele covreure est si fort et si fermeement faite qe dure maint anz.






 

 


Et entre le un mur et les autres de celz qe je voç ai contés, a praeries et biaus arbres es quelz ha plosors maineres des deverses bestes: ce sunt cerf blances, les bestes que funt le mouscre, cavriol, daynes et vair, et de plosors maineres des belles bestes. Et toutes les terres dedens les murs sunt plainnes des cestes beles bestes for qe les voies dont les homes vont solament.








Et de l’un chant dever maistre a un lac mout grant eu quel a de plosors maineres de poisonç, car le Grant Sire hi a fait metre de maintes maineres peisonç, et toute le foies qe le Grant Sire velt de celz pesonz en a a sa volunté. Et si vos di que un grant flun hi met et hoisse, mes si est si ordrés qe nul peisson non poit hoissir. Et ce est fait con rees de fer et de raim.

Et encore voç di que dever traimontane, loinge dou palais entor d’u‹n›e balestree, a fait fair un tertre, ce est un mont, qe bien est haut .C. pas et environ est plus d’un mil, les quel mout est tout plein et covert d’arbres que de nul tens perdent foiles, mes toutes foies sunt vers. Et voç di que le Grant Sire, que launques l’en li content que fust un biaus arbres, il le fasoit prendre con toutes le raïces et co’ moute terre et le fasoit porter a cel mont con les leofant. Et fust l’albre grant quant il vousist{i}, qu’il ne feist ce faire. Et en ceste mainere hi avoit les plus biaus arbres dou monde. Et voç di que le Grant Sire hi fait covrir tout cel mont de roçe de l’açur, que est mout vers, si que les arbores sunt tuit vers et le mont tout vers, e n’i apert fors que couse vers: et por ce est apellés le mont vers. Et desus le mont, eu mileu dou coume, a un palais biaus et grant et tout vers. Et voç di qe ceste mont et les arbres et les palais sunt si biaus a regarder que tout celz que le voient en ont leesse et joie; et por ce le a fait faire le Grant Sire: por avoir celle belle viste et por ce que li re‹n›de confort et solas.


 

LXXXV
CI DEVISE DOU PALAIS DOU FILÇ DOU KAN QE DOIT REIGNER APRES LUI


Et encore voç di que dejouste ceste palais en a fait faire le Grant Sire un autre palais senblable au sien, que ne i faille rien. Et ce est fait por ce qe le aie son filz quant el{le} regnara et sera seingnor; et por ce est fait tout en tel mainiere et ausi grant et con tantes murs cum est cel dou Grant Kaan qe je voç ai contés desovre. Le fil CinchinCinchin, qe je vos nomai desovre, qe doit estre seingnor, et toutes celes maineres et celz costumes et celz fait que fait le Grant Kan maintenoit et fasoit, por ce q’el est esleu a sire tantost que le Grant Kan sera mort. Il ha bien bolle et seel d’e‹n›pire, mes non pas {s}conpliemant come a le Gran Sire tant quant il vit. Or voç ai contés et deviséç des palais. Or voç conterai de la grant vile dou Catai, la ou ceste palais palais sunt; por coi fui faite et comant.



 


Il est voir que iluec avoit une ansiene cité grant et noble qe avoit a non Ganbalu, que {a}vaut a dire en nostre lengaje la cité dou seingnor; et le Grant Kaan treuvoit por seç astronique que ceste cité se devoit revelere et faire gran contraire contre l’enpi{e}r. Et por ceste chaison le Grant Kaan fist faire ceste cité dejoste celle, qe ne i a qe un flum e’mi. Et fist traire les jens de celle cité et metre en la ville q’il avoit estoré, qui est apellé Taidu.





Elle est si grant com je voç conterai. Elle est environ .XXIIII. miles et est quarés, qe ne a plus de l’un quaré que de l’autre, ‹et› est murés des murs de teres que sunt grosses desout .X. pas et haut .XX., mes voç di qu’elle ne sunt pas si grosse desovre come desout, por ce qe toutes foies dou fundemant en sus venoient mermant, si que desovre sunt grosses entor trois pas. Elles sunt toutes merlés et blances. Elle a .XXII. portes et sor chascune porte a un grandisme palais et biaus, si que en chascu‹n› quarés des murs a trois portes et .V. palais, por qu’il hi a por chascun cant encore un palais. Et cesti palais ont mout grant sale, la o les armes de celz que gardent la cité demorent.



Et si voç di que les rues de la ville sunt si droit et si large que l’en voit de l’une part a l’autre, et sunt ordree si que chascune porte se voit com les autres. Hi a ma‹i›nt biaus palais et mant biaus herberges et maintes belles maisonç. Elle ‹a› en mileu de la cité un grandisme palais eu quel a une grant cloque, ce est canpane, qe sone la noit qe nulz ne aille por la ville depuis qu’ele aura soné trois fois, char, puis que celle canpane a soné tantes foies com il ont ordree, ne oçe aler nulz por la cité for qe por beinçogne de feme qu’enfantent et por beinçogne des homes malaides; et celz que por ce vont convient qe il portent lumere. Et voç di qu’il est ordree qe chascune porte soit gardee por miles homes. Et ne entendés que il gardent por doutance qu’il aient de jens, mes le font por ennorance dou Grant Sire qe laiens demore, et encore qe il ne velent que les lairons feissent domajes en la ville. Or voç ai contés de la vile. Desormés vos conteron comant il tent cort et de seç autres fait, ce est dou Grant Sire.








 

LXXXVI
COMANT LE GRANT KAAN SE FAIT GARDER A .XIIM. HOMES A CHEVALÇ

 


Or sachiés qe le Grant Kaan, por sa grandesse, se fait garder a .XIIm. homes a chevalz: et s’apelent quesitam, que vaut a dire en fransois chevalers et feelz dou seingnor. E ne le fait pas por doutance qu’il aie de nul homes. Cesti .XIIm. homes ont quatre cheveitan, car chascu‹n› est cheveitan de .IIIm. et cesti .IIIm. demorent eu palais dou Grant Sire por trois jors et por trois noit, et menuient et boivent laiens. Et ensi qe quant il ont gardee cesti .IIIm. trois jors et trois nuit, adonc s’en vont, et puis vienent les autres .IIIm. et gardent autres trois jors et trois nuit, et ensi font jusque a tant qu’il ont tuit gardés, et puis conmeancçent de rinchief, et ensi vait tout l’an.








 


Et quant le Grant Kaan tent sa table, por aucune cort qe il face, ‹il fait› en tel mainere: car la table au Grant Sire est mout aute plus qe les autres, il siet en tramontaine, si que que son vix garde ver midi, et sa primer feme siet dejoste lui de le senestre partie; et de la destre part, auque plus bas, sieent lez filz au seingnorç e sseç neveu et seç parenç qe sunt de l’enperiel lingnages, si que je voç di qe lor chief vienent as piés dou Grant Sire; et puis les autres baron sieent ‹a› autres tables encore plus bas.Et ausint vait des femes, car toutes les femes as filz dou Grant Sire et de sez neveu et de ses parens seent de le senestre partie, ausi plus bas, et aprés seent toutes les femes des baronç et des chevalers, et seent ausi plus bas. Et chascun sevent sun leu o il doit soir por le ordremant dou seingnor. Et sunt les tables por tel mainer qe le Grant Sire puet veoir tuit, et ce sunt grandismes quantité. Et deors de cest sale, e’ menuient plus de .XLm., car il hi vienent maintes homes co’ mant grant present, et ce sunt homes que vienent d’estranges pars con estranges choses, et de tiel hi a que ont eu seingnorie et encore en vuelent. Et cesti tielz homes vienent en cesti tielz jors quant le Grant Kaan tient cort et fait noses.

Et eu mileu de ceste sale, ou le Grant Sire tient sa table, est une grant peitere d’or fin qe bien tient de vin come grant botet; et environ ceste peitere, ce est en chascun chant, e‹n› a une plus peitete; et de cele grant vient le vin au bevrajes que sunt en celle mandre.







Se trait le vin, ou le chier bevrajes que hi soit, et s’en enplent grant vernique d’or qe bien sunt tiel qe tienent tant vin que .VIII. homes ou .X. en av‹r›oient assez, et se metent, entres deus homes que sieent a table, un; et chascun de cesti deus homes hont une coppe d’or a maneque, et con celle cope prennent dou vin de cel grant vernique d’or. Et ausint en ont entre deus dames: un de celz grant et deus coupes, comant ont les homes. Et sachiés qe cesti verniques et cestes chouses sunt de grant vailance, et voç di que le Grant Sire ha si grant vaiçellemant d’or et d’arjent que ne est homes que ne les veïst qe les peust croire.























Et sachiés qe celz qe font la creense au Grant Kan des viandes et des bev‹r›ajes sunt plosors baronz, et voç di qu’il ont fascee lor bouche et lor nes con belles toailles de soie et d’or, por ce que lor alaine ne lor fraor ne venissent en les viandes et les bevrajes dou Grant Sire. Et quant le Grant Sire doit boir, tous les estormens, que hi ni ha grandismes quantité de toutes faites, conmencent conmençent a soner; et quant le Grant Sire a sa coupe en main, tous les baronz et toutes les gens qe hi sont s’enjenoillent et font seingne de grant humilité: et adonc boit le Grant Sire; et toutes foies quant hil boit se fait ensi con voç avés hoï. Des viandes ne voç di mie por ce qe cascun doit croire qu’il hi ni a en grant habundance. Et si voç di qu’il ne i menuie nulz baronç ne nulz chevalers que ne moine sa feme et qe ne i menjue cun les autres dames.


Et quant il hont mengiés et les tables sunt hostés, adonc hi vienent en celle salle davant le Grant Sire et devant toutes les autres jens grandismes moutitude des giuculer et de tregiteor, et maintes de plusors maineres des grant espirimens, et tuit font grant seulas et grant feste devant le Grant Sire et mout en font les gens joie et molt en rient et se solacent. Et quant tout ce est fait, adonc se partent les gens et chascun se torne a son ostel et a sa maison.

 

LXXXVII
CI DEVISE DE LA GRAN FEST KE FAIT LE GRANT KAN DE SA NATIVITE


Et sachiés qe tuit les Tartarç font feste de lor nativité; et le Grant ‹Kan› fu nes a les .XXVIII. jors de la lune dou mois de setenbre, et en celui jor fait le greingnor feste qu’il font le chief de l’an, si co‹m› je voç le conterai aprés ceste.
 


Or sachiés que le jor de sa na‹ti›vité le Grant Kaan se vest de noble dras a or batu. Et bien .XIIm. baronç et chevalers se vestent cum lui, dou color et d’une mainere semblable a cel dou Grant Sire; non pas qe il soient si chier, mes il sunt dou color, et dras de soie et dorés, et tuit ont grant çinture d’or: et {en} cestes vestime‹n›s done elz le Grant Sire; et si voç di que il hi a de telz de cesti vestiment que, {valent}…†… les pieres presioses et les perles que sovre hi estoient, vailent plus de .Xm. biçanç d’or; et de cesti tielz en hi a plusors. Et sachiés qe le Grant Kan .XIII. foies le an done riches vestimens a celz .XIIm. baronç et chevalers, et li vest{e} tuit de une senblable vesteure com lui et de grant vailance. Et ce poés veoir qe ce est grandisme chouse que ne est nulz autre seingnor au monde que ce peust faire ne mantenoir for che il seulemant.




 

LXXXVIII
ENCORE DE LA FESTE QUE LE KAN FAIT DE SA NATIVITE MEISME

 

Et sachiés que cest jor de sa nativité, tous les Tartarç dou muonde, det toutes les provences et region, qe de lui tenent tere et seingneuries, li funt grant present, chascun com est convenable a celui que l’aporte et selonc qe est ordreées. Et encore hi vienent maint autres homes con grant present, et ce sunt celz qe vuelent demander qe il lor donet aucune seingneurie. Et le{s} Grant Sire a esleu .XII. baronz que donent le seingne‹u›orie a cesti tielz homes selonc qe a chascun s’afiert.

Et en cestui jor toç les ydres et toç les cristienç e toç les saraçin et toç les generasion des jens font grant orasion et grant progere a les ydres et a les lor dieu qu’il lor sauve lor seingnor et qui li donent longe vite et joie et santé. En tel mainere com je voç ai contés dure celui jor la joie et la feste de sa nativité.

 


Or voç laison de ceste, que bien la voç avon contés, et voç diron d’un autre grant feste qu’il fait en lor chief d’an, qui est appellé la blance feste.


 

LXXXIX
CI DIVISE DE LA GRANDISME FESTE KE FAIT LE GRANT KAN DE LOR CHIEF DE L’AN

 


Il est voir qu’il font lor chief d’an le mois de fevrer; et le Grant Sire et tous celz que sunt sotopost a lui en font une tel feste com je voç conterai. Il est uçance que le Grant Kan con tout seç sojés se vestent de robbe blanche, et masles et femes, puis qu’il aient le pooir de fer lle. Et ce font il por ce qe blance vesteure senble elz beneurose et bone, et por ce le vestent il le chief de lor an: por coi tout l’an prennent lor bien et aient joie. Et en cestui jor, toutes les jens et toutes les provences et regionz, et reingnes qe de lui tenent teres et seingneuries, li aportent grandismes present d’or et d’argent et de perles et des pieres presieuses et de maint riches dras blances; et ce font il por ce qe tout le an ait lor seingnor treçors asseç et que ait joie et leese. Et encore voç di qe les baronz et les chevalers et tous les pueples se presentent les uns a les autres couses blances, et s’acolent et se font joie et feste; et ce funt il por ce qe tout l’an prennent lor bien et que aient bone aventure. Et encore sachiés tout voiremant qe en cestui jor ‹sont› presentés preçentés au Grant Kan {an}plus de .Cm. {a}chevaus blances mout biaus et riches.







Et encore celui jor hi vienent les sien leofant, qe bien sunt .Vm., tuit covers de biaus dras entailliés a testes et a osiaus; et chascun a sor son dos deus  escring mout biaus et riches, et sunt plein de vacellament dou seingnor et des riches arnois por celle cort blance.

 


Et encore hi vienent grandissime quantité de gamiaus, ausi covert de dras, et sunt chargés des chouses beçugnables a scele feste, et tuit passent por devant le Grant Sire: et ce est la plus belle viste a veoir que fust jamés veue.

Et encore voç di qe le mai{n}tin de celle feste, avant qe les tables soient mises, tuit les rois et tous les dux et marchois et cuenz, baronç, chevalers, astronique, mires, fauchoner, et maintes autres oficiaus et regior de jens et de terres et des host vienent en la grant sale devant le seingnor; et celz que ne{i} hi chevent demorent dehors le palais en tel leu que le Grant Sires les puet bien veoir. Et voç di q’il sunt ordree en tel mainere: tout premierement sunt seç filz et seç neveu et celz de son legnages enperiaus, aprés sunt les rois, et aprés lex dux, et puis toutes les ordres le une aprés le autre, ensi com il estoit convenable. Et quant il sunt tuit asetés, chascun en son leu, adonc se leve un grant prolés et dit a haute vos: «Enclinés et adorés!». Et tant tost qe celui a ensi dit, il s’enclinent maintinant et metent lor front en tere et font lor orassion ver le seingnor et l’aorent ausi com ce il fust dieu; et en tel mainiere l’aorent por quatre foies. Il vont a un autel que mout est bien aornés; et sus cel autel a une table vermoille en la quel est ecrit le non dou Grant Kaan; et encore hi a un biaus encensier, et encensent celle table et l’a‹u›tel con grant reverence. Puis ‹chascun› s’en torne a son leu. Et quant il ont tuit ce fait, adonc se font les preçent qe je vos ai contés, qe sont de si grandissme vailance et si riches.

Et quant les present sunt tuit fait e le{s} Grant Sire a veue toutes cestes chouses, adonc se metent les tables. Et quant les tables sunt mises, adonc s’asient les jens si ordreemant com je vos ai contés autres foies, car le Grant Sire siet a sa aute table et avec lui, da la senestre part, sa primier feme, et nul autre ne i siet pas; puis seent tous les autres en tel maineres et si ordreemant com je vos ai contés, et toutes les dames meisme sient da la partie de l’anperaïces, ensi com je vos ai contés. Il tient table tout en tel mainere com je voç ai devisé l’autre foies. Et quant il ont mengiés, les joculer viene‹n›t et seulaçent la cort ensi con vos hoïstes l’autre foie. Aprés qu’il ont tout ce fait, chascun se torne a son ostiaus et a sa maison. Or voç ai divisé de la blance feste dou chief de l’an. Or voç conterai de une noblisime chouse que le Grant Sire a fait: que a ordree certes vestimens a certes baronç por venir a seç ordree festes.

 

XC CI DEVISE DES .XIIM. BARONÇ QUE VIENT A LES FESTES
 




Or sachiés tuit voiremant que le Gran Sire a ordree sien .XIIm. baronz, que Quecitain sunt apellés, que vaut a dire les prosimen feoilz dou seingnor. Il a doné a chascun .XIII. robes, chascune de color devisé l’une de l’autre, et sunt aornés des perles et de pieres et d’autres riches chouses mout noblemant, et sunt de mut grandisime vailance. Il a encore doné a chascuns des cesti .XIIm. baronç une ceinture d’or mout belle et de grant vailance; et enchore doné a chascun chausemant de camu laboré de fil d’arjent mout sotilmant qui sunt mout biaus et chieres. Il ont tuit aornemant si noble et si biaus que bien senble, quant il les ont vestu, que chascun soit un rois. Et a chascune feste de les .XIII. est ordree le quelz de cesti vestimenz se doit vestir. Et auisi le Grant Sire en a .XIII. senblable a seç baronç, ce est de coleur, mes il sunt plus nobles et de greingnor vaillance et mielz aornés, et toutes foies se vest d’un senblable com sez baronç.





 

 

 

Or voç ai devisé des .XIII. vestimens que ont les .XIIm. baronç da lor seingnor, qe sunt entre tuit .CLVIm. vestiment, si chier et de grant vailançe com je voç ai contés, que vailent si grant moutitude de treçor qe a poine se poroite conter les nunbres, sanz le centures et les causement qe ausint vailent treçor asseç. Et tout ce a fait le Grant Sire por ce qe sez festes soient plus honorables et plus grant.
Et encore voç dirai une chouse, qui semble mervoille, que auques fait a conter en nostre livre: char sachiés qe un grant lion est moiné devant le Gran Sire, et le lion, tantost{o} qu’il le voit, se jete a jecir devant lui et fait seingne ‹de› grant humilité et senble qu’il le conoisse por seingnor; il demore devant lui sanç nulle chaene, et ce est bien une couse que fait a mervoille. Or voç laison de ceste couse et voç conteron de la grant chace qe fait faire le Grant Sire, ensi con voç oirés.

XCI
COMANT LE GRANT KAAN A ORDREE QE SEÇ JENS LI AP [ORTENT DES VENOISONS]

 

Or sachiés de voir qe endementiers qe le Grant Sire demore en la cité dou Catai ces trois mois, ce sunt decenbre et jener et fevrer, il ha establi qe .LX. jornee, environ la ou il est, toutes jens doient chacer et oiseler, et est establi et ordree ce: qe chascun seingnor de jens et de terres qe toutes grant bestes, come sunt sengler sauvajes et cerf et daines et cavriolz et horses et autres bestes, li doient aporter, ce est a dire la greignor partie de celles grant bestes. Et en tel mainere chachoient toutes les jens qe je voç ai dit. Et celles bestes qu’il vuelent mander au Grant Sire, il font traire toutes l’ent{e}railles dedent le ventre, puis le mettent sus les charrettes et l’envoient au seingnors.
Et ce font celz de .XXX. jornee, et ce sunt grandisme quantité. Et celz que sunt loin .LX. jornee no li envoient la charç, por ce qe trop est longue voie, mes il li envoient toutes les cuires afaités et concés, por ce que le seingnor en fait faire toutes sez beiçognes de fait d’armes et des hostes. Or voç ai devisés dou fait de la cace, et adonc voç deviseron de feres bestes qe le Grant Sire tient.

 

XCII
CI DEVISE DES LIONÇ ET DES LIOPARS ET DE LEUS CERVIER QUI SUNT AFAITES A PRENDRE BESTES. ET ENCORE DIT DE GERFAUS ET DE FAUCONÇ ET D’AUTRES OISIAUS


Enchore sachiés qe le Grant Sire a bien leopars aseç, qe tuit sunt bon da chacer et da prendre bestes. Il ha encore bien grant quantité de leus cerver que tuit sunt afaités a bestee ‹s›s prandre et mout sunt bien a chacher. Il ha plosors lyons grandisme, greingnors aseç qe celz de Babilonie: il sunt de mout biaus poil et de mout biaus coleor, car il sunt tout vergés por lonc noir et vermoil et blance; il sunt afaités a prandre sengler sauvajes et les buef sauvajes et orses et asnes sauvajes et cerf et cavriolz et autres bestes. Et si voç di qu’il est mout bielle chouse a regarder les feres bestes qe les lions …†… qu’il les portent sus le charethe en une cuble et ho lui a un chien petit.
 


Il a encore grant moutitude ‹de› aiglies qe sunt afaités a prandre leus et voupes et dain et chavriou, et en prennent asseç. Mes celles que sunt afaités a prendre leus, sunt mout grandissmes et de grant poisance, car sachiés qu’il ne est si grant leus qe escanpe devant celle aigle qu’il ne soit pris. Or voç ai devisé de ce que voç aveç oï. Or voç vueil deviser comant le Grant Sire fait tenir grandissime quantité des buen chienz.
 

XCIII
CI DIT DES .II. FRERS QE SUNT SOR LES CHIENÇ DE LA CHACE


Il est voir que le Grant Sire a deus baronç que sunt freres charnaus, qe le u‹n› a a non Baian Baian et le autre Mingan. Il sunt apellés cuiuci, qe vaut a dire celz qe tienent le chien mastin. Chascun de cest freres a .Xm. homes sout elz et tuit les .Xm. sont vestu do un coleur et les autres .Xm. sunt do un autre, ce est vermoil et bloie. Et, toutes les foies qu’il vont con le Grant Sire en chace, il portent celles vestimens que je voç ai contés. Et en ceste .Xm. en a deus miles que chascun a un grant chien mastin ou deus ou plus, si que il sunt grandisme moutitudes. Et quant le Grant Sire vait a chace, adonc le un de cesti deus freres, con seç .Xm. homes et con bien .Vm. chienz, li vait delé une part, et le autre frer, con les sien .Xm. et con lor chienz, li vait de l’autre. Il vont tuit jouste le un le autre, auque loingne, si qu’il tienent plus d’une jornee: il ne treuvent nulles bestes sauvajes que ne soit prese.


Il est trop bielle couse a voire la chace et la mainere de celle chienz et de celz chacheors, car je voç di que quant le Grant Sire chevache con seç baronz por mi le landes oiselant, adonc veés venir de cesti chienz chachant orses et cerf et autres bestes, et d’une part et d’autre, si qe mout est bi‹e›lle viste a veoir.


 

 

 

 

 

 


Et adonc voç ai contés de celles qe tienent les chienz de chace. Or voç diron conmant le Grant Sire vait les autres trois mois.

 

 

XCIV

CI DEVISE COMANT LE GRANT KAN VAIT EN CHACE POR PRANDRE BESTES ET OISIAUS


Et quant le Grant Sire ha demoré trois mois en la cité que je voç ai nomé desovre, et ce fu decembre et jenner et fevrer, adonc se part de cest cité dou mois de mars et ala ver midi dusque a la mer Hosiane, qui hi a deus jornee.  Il moine avech lui bie‹n› .Xm. fauchoner et porte bien .Vc. gerfauç e fauchon pelerin et fauchon sagri en grant habundance; et encore portent en grant quantité des hostor por oiçeler en rivier.  Mes ne entendés qu’il le teingne tuit ho soi en un leu, mes il les part sa et la, a .C. et a .CC. et a plus. Et cesti oselent et les greingnors parties des osiaus qu’il prennent aportent au Grant Sire.  Et voç di que quant le Grant Sire vait oiscelant cu sez jerfaus et con autre osiaus il ha bien .Xm. homes que sunt ordinés as .II. as .II. et s’apellent toscaor, qe vient a dire en nostre lengue home qe demorent a garde, et il si font, car a .II. .II. demorent sa et la si qe bien tienent de tere asez, et chascun a un reclan et un capiaus por ce qe il peussent clamer les osiaus et tenir.  Et quant le Grant Sire fait geter seç osiaus, il ne est mester qe celz qe les getent aillent elz derieres, por ce qe les homes que je voç ai dit desovre, qe sunt sa et la, le gardent si bien qu’il ne poit aler nulle part qe cesti homes ne ailent; et, se les osiaus ont mester de secors, il le secorent mai‹n›tinant. 

 

Et tous les osiaus dou Grant Sire, et encore celz des autres baronç, ont une petite table d’arjent as piés en la quel est ecrit les nom de cui il est et qui lle tient, e por ceste mainere est le osiaus conneu tant tost qu’il est pris, et est rendu a celui de cui il est. Et se l’en ne set de cui il est, ‹est› aporté a un baron qe est apellés bularguci, qe vaut a dir le gardiens des couses qe ne treuvent seingnor, char je voç di qe se l’en trouve un chevaus o une espee ou un osiaus ou autre couse, et il ne treuve de cui il soit,  a ceste baronç, et cil la fait prendre et garder. Et celui qui lla trove, se il ne la porte tant tost, il est tenu por lairon.  Et celz qe ont perdue les couses s’en vunt a ceste baronç et, ce lui le a, le la fait rendre tout mantinant. Et cestui baron demoire toutes foies eu plus aut leus de tote l’ost con son confanon, por qe cele qe o‹n›t perdues les chouses les voient erament.  Et en ceste mainere ne se poent perdre nulle chouse qe ne soient trouvee et rendues.

 

 

 

Et quant le Grant Sire ala ceste voies qe je voç ai contés propes a la mer Osiane, en celes voies poet l’en veoir maintes belles vistes de prendre bestes et osiaus: el ne a seulas au monde qe ce vaile.  Et le Grant Sire vait toutes foies sor quatre leofant, la o il a une mout belle chanbre de fust, la quel est dedens toute couverte de dras a or batu, et dehors est de cuir de lion coverte.

 

 

 

Le Grant Sire il tient toutes foies .XII. gerfaus des meillorz q’il ait.  Et encore hi demorent plusors baronç por lui faire seulas et conpagnie.  Et si voç di que quant le Grant Sire alera en ceste canbre sus le leofant, et des autres baronz qe chavauchent environ lui li di‹e›nt: «Sire, grues passent!»  Et le Grant Sire fait descovrir la chanbre desovre et adonc voit les grues; il fait prendre celz gerfaus qu’il vuel{en}t et le laisse aler, et celz gerfaus plusors foies prennent les grues.  Et ce voit toutes foies en son lit et ce li est bien grant soulas et grant delit. 

Et toutes les autres baronz et chevalers chevauchent environ le seingnors.  Et sachiés qe unques ne fu, ne croi qe soit, nulz homes qe si grant seulas ne si grant delit poïst en cest monde con cestui fait, ne qe si en aüst le poïr de fer.

Et quant il a tant alés qu’il est venu a un leu qe est apellés Cacciar Modun, adonc treuve illuec tandu sez pavilonz et de seç filz et de seç baronz et de sez amie, qe bien sunt plus de .Xm. mult biaus et riches. Et voç deviserai comant est fait son pavilon. Il est si grant la tende la o il tient sa cort et bien si grant qe hi demorent sout .M. chevalers; et cest tende a sa porte ver midi; et en cest sale demorent les baronz et autres jens.  Et une autre tende est, que se tient com ceste et enver ponent, et en ceste demore le seingnor.  Et quant el vuelt parler ad aucun, il le fait venir laiens.  Et derer a la grant sale est une grant canbre et belle ou dort le Grant Sire.  Et encore hi a autres canbres et autres tendes, mes ne se tient pas cun le grant tende. Car sachiés tout voiremant qe les deus sales qe je voç ai contés, et la cambre, sunt faites com je voç deviserai.

 

Chascune des sales ha trois col lonnes de leing despeciés, mout bien evrés, puis sunt dehors toutes coverte de cuir de lionz mout biaus, car il sunt tuit vergiés de noir et de blanc et de vermoil. Il sunt si bien ordiné que vent ne pluie ne i poient nuire ne fer doumajes.  Et dedens sunt toutes d’armines et de jerbelin: ce sunt andeus les plus belles pennes et les plus riches et de greingnor vailance que pennes que soient, mes bien est il voir que la pelle de gebbeline, tant qe soit a une robe d’ome, vaut bien la fin .IIm. beçant d’or, mes les comunel vaut .M. beçant; et l’apellent les Tartarz le{s} roi des pelames, et sunt de la grant d’une faÿne; et de cestes deus pelles sunt cestes deus grant sales dou Grant Sire ovrés et entaillés si sotilmant qe ce est une mervoille a voir.  Et la canbre, la ou le sire dort, qe se tient con les deus sales, est ausi dehors de coir de lyonz et dedens de pelles giebeline et armine, et est mout noblemant faite et ordené.  Et les cordes qe tienent les sales et la canbre sunt toutes de soie.  Et elles sunt de si grant vailance et tant costent, cestes trois tendes, qe un peitet rois ne le poroit pager.

Et environ cestes tendes ha et sunt toutes les autres tendes, bien ordrés et bien asentés. Et les amies dou seingnor ont ausi riches pavilonz.  Et encore les gerfaus et les fauchon et les autres hosiaus et bestes ont toute en grandismes quantités. Et que voç en diroie? Sachiés tuit voiremant qe il hi a si grant jens en cest canp qe ce estoit mervoie, car il senble bien qu’il soit en la meior cité qu’il aie, car de toutes pars hi sunt venus les jens, car ausi tient toute sa mesnee dehors ho lui, et mire et astronique et fauconierç et autres hofitiaus asseç sunt ausi avec lui. Il hi sunt toutes chouses ausi ordeneemant com con ‹il› hi {hi} a emi sa mestre ville.

 

Et sachiés qu’il demore en ceste leu jusque a primevoile, qe est en celui leu entor la pasque nostre de ‹re›suresion, et en tout cestui terme ne fine d’aler hoisellant a lac, a riviere; et prennoient grues et cesnes et autres osiaus asseç.  Et encore les seç jens que sunt expandut per plousors part environ lui, li apportent venesionz et osialasionz asseç.  Il hi demore cestui terme au greingnor seulas et au greingnor delit dou monde, qe no est home au monde qe ne le veist qe le peust croire, por ce q’el est asez plus sa grandese et son afer et son delit qe je ne voç di.

 

Et si vos di encore un a‹u›tre chouse: qe nulz mercheans, ne nulz homes d’ars, ne nul villein ne osent tenir nul fauccon ne osiaus da oslere ne  chien da chacer, et ce avant avent .XX. jornee environ le leu ou le Grant Sire demore; mes en toutes autres provences et parties de sa tere puent bien chacer et fer a lor volunté des osiaus et de chiens.  Et encore sachiés voiremant qe por toutes les teres la o le Grant Sire a seingnorie nulz rois ne nulz baronz ne nul homes ne osent prendre ne cacer levre ne daine ne cavriolz ne cerf, ne de ceste tel maineres des bestes que moltiplient dou mois de mars jusqe ad otobre; et qi contre ce feïst en seroit fait repentir durremant, por ce qe le Seingnor le a ensi estabeli.  Et voç di qu’il est si hobeï son conmandamant qe les liure et les daine et les autres bestes qe je voç ai només vienent plusors foies jusque a le home, et ne le touce ne ne li fait nulz maus.

En tel mainere com voç avés oï demore le Grant Sire en cestui leu jusque entor la Pasche de Resuresion. Et quant il hi est tant demorés com vos avés hoï, adonc se part de luec a toutes sez jens et s’en torne tout droitemant a la cité de Canbalu por celle voie meisme dont il estoie{n}t venu, et toutes foies chaçant et hoicellant a grant seulas et a grant joie.


LXXXII (Book II,  8)
CONCERNING THE PERSON OF THE GREAT KAAN

 

The personal appearance of the Great Kaan, Lord of Lords, whose name is Cublay, is such as I shall now tell you. He is of a good stature, neither tall nor short, but of a middle height. He has a becoming amount of flesh, and is very shapely in all his limbs. His complexion is white and red, the eyes black and fine, the nose well formed and well set on.
He has four wives, whom he retains permanently as his legitimate consorts; and the eldest of his sons by those four wives ought by rights to be emperor;—I mean when his father dies. Those four ladies are called empresses, but each is distinguished also by her proper name. And each of them has a special court of her own, very grand and ample; no one of them having fewer than 300 fair and charming damsels. They have also many pages and eunuchs, and a number of other attendants of both sexes; so that each of these ladies has not less than 10,000 persons attached to her court.When the Emperor desires the society of one of these four consorts, he will sometimes send for the lady to his apartment and sometimes visit her at her own. He has also a great number of concubines, and I will tell you how he obtains them. You must know that there is a tribe of Tartars called Ungrat, who are noted for their beauty. Now every year an hundred of the most beautiful maidens of this tribe are sent to the Great Kaan, who commits them to the charge of certain elderly ladies dwelling in his palace. And these old ladies make the girls sleep with them, in order to ascertain if they have sweet breath [and do not snore], and are sound in all their limbs. Then such of them as are of approved beauty, and are good and sound in all respects, are appointed to attend on the Emperor by turns. Thus six of these damsels take their turn for three days and nights, and wait on him when he is in his chamber and when he is in his bed, to serve him in any way, and to be entirely at his orders. At the end of the three days and nights they are relieved by other six. And so throughout the year, there are reliefs of maidens by six and six, changing every three days and nights.

LXXXIII  (Book II, Chapter 9)
CONCERNING THE GREAT KAAN'S SONS


The Emperor hath, by those four wives of his, twenty-two male children; the eldest of whom was called Chinkin for the love of the good Chinghis Kaan, the first Lord of the Tartars. And this Chinkin, as the Eldest Son of the Kaan, was to have reigned after his father's death; but, as it came to pass, he died. He left a son behind him, however, whose name is Temur, and he is to be the Great Kaan and Emperor after the death of his Grandfather, as is but right; he being the child of the Great Kaan's eldest son. And this Temur is an able and brave man, as he hath already proven on many occasions.

The Great Kaan hath also twenty-five other sons by his concubines; and these are good and valiant soldiers, and each of them is a great chief. I tell you moreover that of his children by his four lawful wives there are seven who are kings of vast realms or provinces, and govern them well; being all able and gallant men, as might be expected. For the Great Kaan their sire is, I tell you, the wisest and most accomplished man, the greatest Captain, the best to govern men and rule an Empire, as well as the most valiant, that ever has existed among all the Tribes of Tartars.

 

 


LXXXIV (Book II, Chapter 10)
CONCERNING THE PALACE OF THE GREAT KAAN

 

You must know that for three months of the year, to wit December, January, and February, the Great Kaan resides in the capital city of Cathay, which is called Cambaluc, [and which is at the north-eastern extremity of the country]. In that city stands his great Palace, and now I will tell you what it is like. It is enclosed all round by a great wall forming a square, each side of which is a mile in length; that is to say, the whole compass thereof is four miles. This you may depend on; it is also very thick, and a good ten paces in height, whitewashed and loop-holed all round. At each angle of the wall there is a very fine and rich palace in which the war-harness of the Emperor is kept, such as bows and quivers, saddles and bridles, and bowstrings, and everything needful for an army. Also midway between every two of these Corner Palaces there is another of the like; so that taking the whole compass of the enclosure you find eight vast Palaces stored with the Great Lord's harness of war. And you must understand that each Palace is assigned to only one kind of article; thus one is stored with bows, a second with saddles, a third with bridles, and so on in succession right round. The great wall has five gates on its southern face, the middle one being the great gate which is never opened on any occasion except when the Great Kaan himself goes forth or enters. Close on either side of this great gate is a smaller one by which all other people pass; and then towards each angle is another great gate, also open to people in general; so that on that side there are five gates in all.

Inside of this wall there is a second, enclosing a space that is somewhat greater in length than in breadth. This enclosure also has eight palaces corresponding to those of the outer wall, and stored like them with the Lord's harness of war. This wall also hath five gates on the southern face, corresponding to those in the outer wall, and hath one gate on each of the other faces, as the outer wall hath also. In the middle of the second enclosure is the Lord's Great Palace, and I will tell you what it is like. You must know that it is the greatest Palace that ever was. [Towards the north it is in contact with the outer wall, whilst towards the south there is a vacant space which the Barons and the soldiers are constantly traversing. The Palace itself] hath no upper story, but is all on the ground floor, only the basement is raised some ten palms above the surrounding soil [and this elevation is retained by a wall of marble raised to the level of the pavement, two paces in width and projecting beyond the base of the Palace so as to form a kind of terrace-walk, by which people can pass round the building, and which is exposed to view, whilst on the outer edge of the wall there is a very fine pillared balustrade; and up to this the people are allowed to come].

The roof is very lofty, and the walls of the Palace are all covered with gold and silver. They are also adorned with representations of dragons [sculptured and gilt], beasts and birds, knights and idols, and sundry other subjects. And on the ceiling too you see nothing but gold and silver and painting. [On each of the four sides there is a great marble staircase leading to the top of the marble wall, and forming the approach to the Palace.]

The Hall of the Palace is so large that it could easily dine 6000 people; and it is quite a marvel to see how many rooms there are besides. The building is altogether so vast, so rich, and so beautiful, that no man on earth could design anything superior to it. The outside of the roof also is all coloured with vermilion and yellow and green and blue and other hues, which are fixed with a varnish so fine and exquisite that they shine like crystal, and lend a resplendent lustre to the Palace as seen for a great way round. This roof is made too with such strength and solidity that it is fit to last for ever. [On the interior side of the Palace are large buildings with halls and chambers, where the Emperor's private property is placed, such as his treasures of gold, silver, gems, pearls, and gold plate, and in which reside the ladies and concubines. There he occupies himself at his own convenience, and no one else has access.]
Between the two walls of the enclosure which I have described, there are fine parks and beautiful trees bearing a variety of fruits. There are beasts also of sundry kinds, such as white stags and fallow deer, gazelles and roebucks, and fine squirrels of various sorts, with numbers also of the animal that gives the musk, and all manner of other beautiful creatures, insomuch that the whole place is full of them, and no spot remains void except where there is traffic of people going and coming. [The parks are covered with abundant grass; and the roads through them being all paved and raised two cubits above the surface, they never become muddy, nor does the rain lodge on them, but flows off into the meadows, quickening the soil and producing that abundance of herbage.]
From that corner of the enclosure which is towards the north-west there extends a fine Lake, containing foison of fish of different kinds which the Emperor hath caused to be put in there, so that whenever he desires any he can have them at his pleasure. A river enters this lake and issues from it, but there is a grating of iron or brass put up so that the fish cannot escape in that way.

Moreover on the north side of the Palace, about a bow-shot off, there is a hill which has been made by art [from the earth dug out of the lake]; it is a good hundred paces in height and a mile in compass. This hill is entirely covered with trees that never lose their leaves, but remain ever green. And I assure you that wherever a beautiful tree may exist, and the Emperor gets news of it, he sends for it and has it transported bodily with all its roots and the earth attached to them, and planted on that hill of his. No matter how big the tree may be, he gets it carried by his elephants; and in this way he has got together the most beautiful collection of trees in all the world. And he has also caused the whole hill to be covered with the ore of azure, which is very green. And thus not only are the trees all green, but the hill itself is all green likewise; and there is nothing to be seen on it that is not green; and hence it is called the Green Mount; and in good sooth 'tis named well. On the top of the hill again there is a fine big palace which is all green inside and out; and thus the hill, and the trees, and the palace form together a charming spectacle; and it is marvellous to see their uniformity of colour! Everybody who sees them is delighted. And the Great Kaan had caused this beautiful prospect to be formed for the comfort and solace and delectation of his heart.

You must know that beside the Palace (that we have been describing), i.e. the Great Palace, the Emperor has caused another to be built just like his own in every respect, and this he hath done for his son when he shall reign and be Emperor after him. Hence it is made just in the same fashion and of the same size, so that everything can be carried on in the same manner after his own death. [It stands on the other side of the lake from the Great Kaan's Palace, and there is a bridge crossing the water from one to the other.] The Prince in question holds now a Seal of Empire, but not with such complete authority as the Great Kaan, who remains supreme as long as he lives. Now I am going to tell you of the chief city of Cathay,in which these Palaces stand; and why it was built, and how.



LXXXV (Book II, Chapter 11)
CONCERNING THE CITY OF CAMBALUC


Now there was on that spot in old times a great and noble city called Cambaluc, which is as much as to say in our tongue "The city of the Emperor." But the Great Kaan was informed by his Astrologers that this city would prove rebellious, and raise great disorders against his imperial authority. So he caused the present city to be built close beside the old one, with only a river between them. And he caused the people of the old city to be removed to the new town that he had founded; and this is called Taidu. [However, he allowed a portion of the people which he did not suspect to remain in the old city, because the new one could not hold the whole of them, big as it is.]
As regards the size of this (new) city you must know that it has a compass of 24 miles, for each side of it hath a length of 6 miles, and it is four-square. And it is all walled round with walls of earth which have a thickness of full ten paces at bottom, and a height of more than 10 paces; but they are not so thick at top, for they diminish in thickness as they rise, so that at top they are only about 3 paces thick. And they are provided throughout with loop-holed battlements, which are all whitewashed. There are 12 gates, and over each gate there is a great and handsome palace, so that there are on each side of the square three gates and five palaces; for (I ought to mention) there is at each angle also a great and handsome palace. In those palaces are vast halls in which are kept the arms of the city garrison.

The streets are so straight and wide that you can see right along them from end to end and from one gate to the other. And up and down the city there are beautiful palaces, and many great and fine hostelries, and fine houses in great numbers. [All the plots of ground on which the houses of the city are built are four-square, and laid out with straight lines; all the plots being occupied by great and spacious palaces, with courts and gardens of proportionate size. All these plots were assigned to different heads of families. Each square plot is encompassed by handsome streets for traffic; and thus the whole city is arranged in squares just like a chess-board, and disposed in a manner so perfect and masterly that it is impossible to give a description that should do it justice.] oreover, in the middle of the city there is a great clock—that is to say, a bell—which is struck at night. And after it has struck three times no one must go out in the city, unless it be for the needs of a woman in labour, or of the sick. And those who go about on such errands are bound to carry lanterns with them. Moreover, the established guard at each gate of the city is 1000 armed men; not that you are to imagine this guard is kept up for fear of any attack, but only as a guard of honour for the Sovereign, who resides there, and to prevent thieves from doing mischief in the town.

 

LXXXVI(Book II, Chapter 12)
HOW THE GREAT KAAN MAINTAINS A GUARD OF TWELVE THOUSAND HORSE, WHICH ARE CALLED KESHICAN

 

You must know that the Great Kaan, to maintain his state, hath a guard of twelve thousand horsemen, who are styled Keshican, which is as much as to say "Knights devoted to their Lord." Not that he keeps these for fear of any man whatever, but merely because of his own exalted dignity. These 12,000 men have four captains, each of whom is in command of 3000; and each body of 3000 takes a turn of three days and nights to guard the palace, where they also take their meals. After the expiration of three days and nights they are relieved by another 3000, who mount guard for the same space of time, and then another body takes its turn, so that there are always 3000 on guard. Thus it goes until the whole 12,000, who are styled (as I said) Keshican, have been on duty; and then the tour begins again, and so runs on from year's end to year's end.

 

LXXXVI (Book II, Chapter 13)
THE FASHION OF THE GREAT KAAN'S TABLE AT HIS HIGH FEASTS


And when the Great Kaan sits at table on any great court occasion, it is in this fashion. His table is elevated a good deal above the others, and he sits at the north end of the hall, looking towards the south, with his chief wife beside him on the left. On his right sit his sons and his nephews, and other kinsmen of the Blood Imperial, but lower, so that their heads are on a level with the Emperor's feet. And then the other Barons sit at other tables lower still. So also with the women; for all the wives of the Lord's sons, and of his nephews and other kinsmen, sit at the lower table to his right; and below them again the ladies of the other Barons and Knights, each in the place assigned by the Lord's orders. The tables are so disposed that the Emperor can see the whole of them from end to end, many as they are. [Further, you are not to suppose that everybody sits at table; on the contrary, the greater part of the soldiers and their officers sit at their meal in the hall on the carpets.] Outside the hall will be found more than 40,000 people; for there is a great concourse of folk bringing presents to the Lord, or come from foreign countries with curiosities.


In a certain part of the hall near where the Great Kaan holds his table, there [is set a large and very beautiful piece of workmanship in the form of a square coffer, or buffet, about three paces each way, exquisitely wrought with figures of animals, finely carved and gilt. The middle is hollow, and in it] stands a great vessel of pure gold, holding as much as an ordinary butt; and at each corner of the great vessel is one of smaller size [of the capacity of a firkin], and from the former the wine or beverage flavoured with fine and costly spices is drawn off into the latter.

[And on the buffet aforesaid are set all the Lord's drinking vessels, among which are certain pitchers of the finest gold,] which are called verniques, and are big enough to hold drink for eight or ten persons. And one of these is put between every two persons, besides a couple of golden cups with handles, so that every man helps himself from the pitcher that stands between him and his neighbour. And the ladies are supplied in the same way. The value of these pitchers and cups is something immense; in fact, the Great Kaan has such a quantity of this kind of plate, and of gold and silver in other shapes, as no one ever before saw or heard tell of, or could believe. [There are certain Barons specially deputed to see that foreigners, who do not know the customs of the Court, are provided with places suited to their rank; and these Barons are continually moving to and fro in the hall, looking to the wants of the guests at table, and causing the servants to supply them promptly with wine, milk, meat, or whatever they lack. At every door of the hall (or, indeed, wherever the Emperor may be) there stand a couple of big men like giants, one on each side, armed with staves. Their business is to see that no one steps upon the threshold in entering, and if this does happen, they strip the offender of his clothes, and he must pay a forfeit to have them back again; or in lieu of taking his clothes, they give him a certain number of blows. If they are foreigners ignorant of the order, then there are Barons appointed to introduce them, and explain it to them. They think, in fact, that it brings bad luck if any one touches the threshold. Howbeit, they are not expected to stick at this in going forth again, for at that time some are like to be the worse for liquor, and incapable of looking to their steps.]

And you must know that those who wait upon the Great Kaan with his dishes and his drink are some of the great Barons. They have the mouth and nose muffled with fine napkins of silk and gold, so that no breath nor odour from their persons should taint the dish or the goblet presented to the Lord. And when the Emperor is going to drink, all the musical instruments, of which he has vast store of every kind, begin to play. And when he takes the cup all the Barons and the rest of the company drop on their knees and make the deepest obeisance before him, and then the Emperor doth drink. But each time that he does so the whole ceremony is repeated. I will say nought about the dishes, as you may easily conceive that there is a great plenty of every possible kind. But you should know that in every case where a Baron or Knight dines at those tables, their wives also dine there with the other ladies.

And when all have dined and the tables have been removed, then come in a great number of players and jugglers, adepts at all sorts of wonderful feats, and perform before the Emperor and the rest of the company, creating great diversion and mirth, so that everybody is full of laughter and enjoyment. And when the performance is over, the company breaks up and every one goes to his quarters.

 

LXXXVII (Book II, Chapter 14)
CONCERNING THE GREAT FEAST HELD BY THE GRAND KAAN EVERY YEAR ON HIS BIRTHDAY


You must know that the Tartars keep high festival yearly on their birthdays. And the Great Kaan was born on the 28th day of the September moon, so on that day is held the greatest feast of the year at the Kaan's Court, always excepting that which he holds on New Year's Day, of which I shall tell you afterwards.

Now, on his birthday, the Great Kaan dresses in the best of his robes, all wrought with beaten gold; and full 12,000 Barons and Knights on that day come forth dressed in robes of the same colour, and precisely like those of the Great Kaan, except that they are not so costly; but still they are all of the same colour as his, and are also of silk and gold. Every man so clothed has also a girdle of gold; and this as well as the dress is given him by the Sovereign. And I will aver that there are some of these suits decked with so many pearls and precious stones that a single suit shall be worth full 10,000 golden bezants. And of such raiment there are several sets. For you must know that the Great Kaan, thirteen times in the year, presents to his Barons and Knights such suits of raiment as I am speaking of. And on each occasion they wear the same colour that he does, a different colour being assigned to each festival. Hence you may see what a huge business it is, and that there is no prince in the world but he alone who could keep up such customs as these.




On his birthday also, all the Tartars in the world, and all the countries and governments that owe allegiance to the Kaan, offer him great presents according to their several ability, and as prescription or orders have fixed the amount. And many other persons also come with great presents to the Kaan, in order to beg for some employment from him. And the Great Kaan has chosen twelve Barons on whom is laid the charge of assigning to each of these supplicants a suitable answer.

On this day likewise all the Idolaters, all the Saracens, and all the Christians and other descriptions of people make great and solemn devotions, with much chaunting and lighting of lamps and burning of incense, each to the God whom he doth worship, praying that He would save the Emperor, and grant him long life and health and happiness.
And thus, as I have related, is celebrated the joyous feast of the Kaan's birthday. Now I will tell you of another festival which the Kaan holds at the New
Year, and which is called the White Feast.
 

LXXXIX (Book II, Chapter 15)
OF THE GREAT FESTIVAL WHICH THE KAAN HOLDS ON NEW YEAR'S DAY

 

 

The beginning of their New Year is the month of February, and on that occasion the Great Kaan and all his subjects made such a Feast as I now shall describe. It is the custom that on this occasion the Kaan and all his subjects should be clothed entirely in white; so, that day, everybody is in white, men and women, great and small. And this is done in order that they may thrive all through the year, for they deem that white clothing is lucky. On that day also all the people of all the provinces and governments and kingdoms and countries that own allegiance to the Kaan bring him great presents of gold and silver, and pearls and gems, and rich textures of divers kinds. And this they do that the Emperor throughout the year may have abundance of treasure and enjoyment without care. And the people also make presents to each other of white things, and embrace and kiss and make merry, and wish each other happiness and good luck for the coming year. On that day, I can assure you, among the customary presents there shall be offered to the Kaan from various quarters more than 100,000 white horses, beautiful animals, and richly caparisoned. [And you must know 'tis their custom in offering presents to the Great Kaan (at least when the province making the present is able to do so), to present nine times nine articles. For instance, if a province sends horses, it sends nine times nine or 81 horses; of gold, nine times nine pieces of gold, and so with stuffs or whatever else the present may consist of.]

On that day also, the whole of the Kaan's elephants, amounting fully to 5000 in number, are exhibited, all covered with rich and gay housings of inlaid cloth representing beasts and birds, whilst each of them carries on his back two splendid coffers; all of these being filled with the Emperor's plate and other costly furniture required for the Court on the occasion of the White Feast.

And these are followed by a vast number of camels which are likewise covered with rich housings and laden with things needful for the Feast. All these are paraded before the Emperor, and it makes the finest sight in the world.

Moreover, on the morning of the Feast, before the tables are set, all the Kings, and all the Dukes, Marquesses, Counts, Barons, Knights, and Astrologers, and Philosophers, and Leeches, and Falconers, and other officials of sundry kinds from all the places round about, present themselves in the Great Hall before the Emperor; whilst those who can find no room to enter stand outside in such a position that the Emperor can see them all well. And the whole company is marshalled in this wise. First are the Kaan's sons, and his nephews, and the other Princes of the Blood Imperial; next to them all Kings; then Dukes, and then all others in succession according to the degree of each. And when they are all seated, each in his proper place, then a great prelate rises and says with a loud voice: "Bow and adore!" And as soon as he has said this, the company bow down until their foreheads touch the earth in adoration towards the Emperor as if he were a god. And this adoration they repeat four times, and then go to a highly decorated altar, on which is a vermilion tablet with the name of the Grand Kaan inscribed thereon, and a beautiful censer of gold. So they incense the tablet and the altar with great reverence, and then return each man to his seat.


When all have performed this, then the presents are offered, of which I have spoken as being so rich and costly. And after all have been offered and been seen by the Emperor, the tables are set, and all take their places at them with perfect order as I have already told you. And after dinner the jugglers come in and amuse the Court as you have heard before; and when that is over, every man goes to his quarters.











XC (Book II, Chapter 16)
CONCERNING THE TWELVE THOUSAND BARONS WHO RECEIVE ROBES OF CLOTH OF GOLD FROM THE EMPEROR ON THE GREAT FESTIVALS, THIRTEEN CHANGES A-PIECE


Now you must know that the Great Kaan hath set apart 12,000 of his men who are distinguished by the name of Keshican, as I have told you before; and on each of these 12,000 Barons he bestows thirteen changes of raiment, which are all different from one another: I mean that in one set the 12,000 are all of one colour; the next 12,000 of another colour, and so on; so that they are of thirteen different colours. These robes are garnished with gems and pearls and other precious things in a very rich and costly manner. And along with each of these changes of raiment, i.e. 13 times in the year, he bestows on each of those 12,000 Barons a fine golden girdle of great richness and value, and likewise a pair of boots of Camut, that is to say of Borgal, curiously wrought with silver thread; insomuch that when they are clothed in these dresses every man of them looks like a king! And there is an established order as to which dress is to be worn at each of those thirteen feasts. The Emperor himself also has his thirteen suits corresponding to those of his Barons; in colour, I mean (though his are grander, richer, and costlier), so that he is always arrayed in the same colour as his Barons, who are, as it were, his comrades. And you may see that all this costs an amount which it is scarcely possible to calculate.

Now I have told you of the thirteen changes of raiment received from the Prince by those 12,000 Barons, amounting in all to 156,000 suits of so great cost and value, to say nothing of the girdles and the boots which are also worth a great sum of money. All this the Great Lord hath ordered, that he may attach the more of grandeur and dignity to his festivals.


And now I must mention another thing that I had forgotten, but which you will be astonished to learn from this Book. You must know that on the Feast Day a great Lion is led to the Emperor's presence, and as soon as it sees him it lies down before him with every sign of the greatest veneration, as if it acknowledged him for its lord; and it remains there lying before him, and entirely unchained. Truly this must seem a strange story to those who have not seen the thing!

 

XCI (Book II, Chapter 17)
HOW THE GREAT KAAN ENJOINETH HIS PEOPLE TO SUPPLY HIM WITH GAME


The three months of December, January, and February, during which the Emperor resides at his Capital City, are assigned for hunting and fowling, to the extent of some 40 days' journey round the city; and it is ordained that the larger game taken be sent to the Court. To be more particular: of all the larger beasts of the chase, such as boars, roebucks, bucks, stags, lions, bears, etc., the greater part of what is taken has to be sent, and feathered game likewise. The animals are gutted and despatched to the Court on carts.

 

 


This is done by all the people within 20 or 30 days' journey, and the quantity so despatched is immense. Those at a greater distance cannot send the game, but they have to send the skins after tanning them, and these are employed in the making of equipments for the Emperor's army.

 


XCII (Book II, Chapter 18)
OF THE LIONS AND LEOPARDS AND WOLVES THAT THE KAAN KEEPS FOR THE CHASE
 

 


The Emperor hath numbers of leopards trained to the chase, and hath also a great many lynxes taught in like manner to catch game, and which afford excellent sport. He hath also several great Lions, bigger than those of Babylonia, beasts whose skins are coloured in the most beautiful way, being striped all along the sides with black, red, and white. These are trained to catch boars and wild cattle, bears, wild asses, stags, and other great or fierce beasts. And 'tis a rare sight, I can tell you, to see those lions giving chase to such beasts as I have mentioned! When they are to be so employed the Lions are taken out in a covered cart, and every Lion has a little doggie with him. [They are obliged to approach the game against the wind, otherwise the animals would scent the approach of the Lion and be off.]
There are also a great number of eagles, all broken to catch wolves, foxes, deer, and wild goats, and they do catch them in great numbers. But those especially that are trained to wolf-catching are very large and powerful birds, and no wolf is able to get away from them.
 

 

 


XCIII (Book II, Chapter 19)
CONCERNING THE TWO BROTHERS WHO HAVE CHARGE OF THE KAAN'S HOUNDS

 

The Emperor hath two Barons who are own brothers, one called Baian and the other Mingan; and these two are styled Chinuchi (or Cunichi), which is as much as to say, "The Keepers of the Mastiff Dogs." Each of these brothers hath 10,000 men under his orders; each body of 10,000 being dressed alike, the one in red and the other in blue, and whenever they accompany the Lord to the chase, they wear this livery, in order to be recognized. Out of each body of 10,000 there are 2000 men who are each in charge of one or more great mastiffs, so that the whole number of these is very large. And when the Prince goes a-hunting, one of those Barons, with his 10,000 men and something like 5000 dogs, goes towards the right, whilst the other goes towards the left with his party in like manner. They move along, all abreast of one another, so that the whole line extends over a full day's journey, and no animal can escape them.

Truly it is a glorious sight to see the working of the dogs and the huntsmen on such an occasion! And as the Lord rides a-fowling across the plains, you will see these big hounds coming tearing up, one pack after a bear, another pack after a stag, or some other beast, as it may hap, and running the game down now on this side and now on that, so that it is really a most delightful sport and spectacle. [The Two Brothers I have mentioned are bound by the tenure of their office to supply the Kaan's Court from October to the end of March with 1000 head of game daily, whether of beasts or birds, and not counting quails; and also with fish to the best of their ability, allowing fish enough for three persons to reckon as equal to one head of game.
Now I have told you of the Masters of the Hounds and all about them, and next will I tell you how the Lord goes off on an expedition for the space of three months.

XCIV (Book II, Chapter 20)
HOW THE EMPEROR GOES ON A HUNTING EXPEDITION

 

After he has stopped at his capital city those three months that I mentioned, to wit, December, January, February, he starts off on the 1st day of March, and travels southward towards the Ocean Sea, a journey of two days. He takes with him full 10,000 falconers, and some 500 gerfalcons besides peregrines, sakers, and other hawks in great numbers; and goshawks also to fly at the water-fowl. But do not suppose that he keeps all these together by him; they are distributed about, hither and thither, one hundred together, or two hundred at the utmost, as he thinks proper. But they are always fowling as they advance, and the most part of the quarry taken is carried to the Emperor. And let me tell you when he goes thus a-fowling with his gerfalcons and other hawks, he is attended by full 10,000 men who are disposed in couples; and these are called Toscaol, which is as much as to say, "Watchers." And the name describes their business. They are posted from spot to spot, always in couples, and thus they cover a great deal of ground! Every man of them is provided with a whistle and hood, so as to be able to call in a hawk and hold it in hand. And when the Emperor makes a cast, there is no need that he follow it up, for those men I speak of keep so good a look out that they never lose sight of the birds, and if these have need of help they are ready to render it.
All the Emperor's hawks, and those of the Barons as well, have a little label attached to the leg to mark them, on which is written the names of the owner and the keeper of the bird. And in this way the hawk, when caught, is at once identified and handed over to its owner. But if not, the bird is carried to a certain Baron, who is styled the Bularguchi, which is as much as to say "The Keeper of Lost Property." And I tell you that whatever may be found without a known owner, whether it be a horse, or a sword, or a hawk, or what not, it is carried to that Baron straightway, and he takes charge of it. And if the finder neglects to carry his trover to the Baron, the latter punishes him.Likewise the loser of any article goes to the Baron, and if the thing be in his hands it is immediately given up to the owner. Moreover, the said Baron always pitches on the highest spot of the camp, with his banner displayed, in order that those who have lost or found anything may have no difficulty in finding their way to him. Thus nothing can be lost but it shall be incontinently found and restored.

And so the Emperor follows this road that I have mentioned, leading along in the vicinity of the Ocean Sea (which is within two days' journey of his capital city, Cambaluc), and as he goes there is many a fine sight to be seen, and plenty of the very best entertainment in hawking; in fact, there is no sport in the world to equal it! The Emperor himself is carried upon four elephants in a fine chamber made of timber, lined inside with plates of beaten gold, and outside with lions' skins [for he always travels in this way on his fowling expeditions, because he is troubled with gout].

He always keeps beside him a dozen of his choicest gerfalcons, and is attended by several of his Barons, who ride on horseback alongside. And sometimes, as they may be going along, and the Emperor from his chamber is holding discourse with the Barons, one of the latter shall exclaim: "Sire! Look out for Cranes!" Then the Emperor instantly has the top of his chamber thrown open, and having marked the cranes he casts one of his gerfalcons, whichever he pleases; and often the quarry is struck within his view, so that he has the most exquisite sport and diversion, there as he sits in his chamber or lies on his bed; and all the Barons with him get the enjoyment of it likewise! So it is not without reason I tell you that I do not believe there ever existed in the world or ever will exist, a man with such sport and enjoyment as he has, or with such rare opportunities.

And when he has travelled till he reaches a place called Cachar Moduno, there he finds his tents pitched, with the tents of his Sons, and his Barons, and those of his Ladies and theirs, so that there shall be full 10,000 tents in all, and all fine and rich ones. And I will tell you how his own quarters are disposed. The tent in which he holds his courts is large enough to give cover easily to a thousand souls. It is pitched with its door to the south, and the Barons and Knights remain in waiting in it, whilst the Lord abides in another close to it on the west side. When he wishes to speak with any one he causes the person to be summoned to that other tent. Immediately behind the great tent there is a fine large chamber where the Lord sleeps; and there are also many other tents and chambers, but they are not in contact with the Great Tent as these are. The two audience-tents and the sleeping-chamber are constructed in this way.

Each of the audience-tents has three poles, which are of spice-wood, and are most artfully covered with lions' skins, striped with black and white and red, so that they do not suffer from any weather. All three apartments are also covered outside with similar skins of striped lions, a substance that lasts for ever. And inside they are all lined with ermine and sable, these two being the finest and most costly furs in existence. For a robe of sable, large enough to line a mantle, is worth 2000 bezants of gold, or 1000 at least, and this kind of skin is called by the Tartars "The King of Furs." The beast itself is about the size of a marten.These two furs of which I speak are applied and inlaid so exquisitely, that it is really something worth seeing. All the tent-ropes are of silk. And in short I may say that those tents, to wit the two audience-halls and the sleeping-chamber, are so costly that it is not every king could pay for them.

 

Round about these tents are others, also fine ones and beautifully pitched, in which are the Emperor's ladies, and the ladies of the other princes and officers. And then there are the tents for the hawks and their keepers, so that altogether the number of tents there on the plain is something wonderful. To see the many people that are thronging to and fro on every side and every day there, you would take the camp for a good big city. For you must reckon the Leeches, and the Astrologers, and the Falconers, and all the other attendants on so great a company; and add that everybody there has his whole family with him, for such is their custom.

 

The Lord remains encamped there until the spring, and all that time he does nothing but go hawking round about among the canebrakes along the lakes and rivers that abound in that region, and across fine plains on which are plenty of cranes and swans, and all sorts of other fowl. The other gentry of the camp also are never done with hunting and hawking, and every day they bring home great store of venison and feathered game of all sorts. Indeed, without having witnessed it, you would never believe what quantities of game are taken, and what marvellous sport and diversion they all have whilst they are in camp there.There is another thing I should mention; to wit, that for 20 days' journey round the spot nobody is allowed, be he who he may, to keep hawks or hounds, though anywhere else whosoever list may keep them.

 

And furthermore throughout all the Emperor's territories, nobody however audacious dares to hunt any of these four animals, to wit, hare, stag, buck, and roe, from the month of March to the month of October. Anybody who should do so would rue it bitterly. But those people are so obedient to their Lord's command, that even if a man were to find one of those animals asleep by the roadside he would not touch it for the world! And thus the game multiplies at such a rate that the whole country swarms with it, and the Emperor gets as much as he could desire. Beyond the term I have mentioned, however, to wit that from March to October, everybody may take these animals as he list.

After the Emperor has tarried in that place, enjoying his sport as I have related, from March to the middle of May, he moves with all his people, and returns straight to his capital city of Cambaluc (which is also the capital of Cathay, as you have been told), but all the while continuing to take his diversion in hunting and hawking as he goes along.

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