THE TRAVELS OF SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE
FOR as much as the land beyond the sea, that is to say the Holy Land, that men call the Land of Promission or of Behest, passing all other lands, is the most worthy land, most excellent, and lady and sovereign of all other lands, and is blessed and hallowed of the precious body and blood of our Lord Jesu Christ; in the which land it liked him to take flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary, to environ that holy land with his blessed feet; and there he would of his blessedness enombre him in the said blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, and become man, and work many miracles, and preach and teach the faith and the law of Christian men unto his children; and there it liked him to suffer many reprovings and scorns for us; and he that was king of heaven, of air, of earth, of sea and of all things that be contained in them, would all only be clept king of that land, when he said, REX SUM JUDEORUM, that is to say, 'I am King of Jews'; and that land he chose before all other lands, as the best and most worthy land, and the most virtuous land of all the world: for it is the heart and the midst of all the world, witnessing the philosopher, that saith thus, VIRTUS RERUM IN MEDIO CONSISTIT, that is to say, 'The virtue of things is in the midst'; and in that land he would lead his life, and suffer passion and death of Jews, for us, to buy and to deliver us from pains of hell, and from death without end; the which was ordained for us, for the sin of our forme-father Adam, and for our own sins also; for as for himself, he had no evil deserved: for he thought never evil ne did evil: and he that was king of glory and of joy, might best in that place suffer death; because he chose in that land rather than in any other, there to suffer his passion and his death. For he that will publish anything to make it openly known, he will make it to be cried and pronounced in the middle place of a town; so that the thing that is proclaimed and pronounced, may evenly stretch to all parts: right so, he that was former of all the world, would suffer for us at Jerusalem, that is the midst of the world; to that end and intent, that his passion and his death, that was published there, might be known evenly to all parts of the world.
See now, how dear he bought man, that he made after his own image, and how dear he again-bought us, for the great love that he had to us, and we never deserved it to him. For more precious chattel ne greater ransom ne might he put for us, than his blessed body, his precious blood, and his holy life, that he thralled for us; and all he offered for us that never did sin.
Ah dear God! What love had he to us his subjects, when he that never trespassed, would for trespassers suffer death! Right well ought us for to love and worship, to dread and serve such a Lord; and to worship and praise such an holy land, that brought forth such fruit, through the which every man is saved, but it be his own default. Well may that land be called delectable and a fructuous land, that was be-bled and moisted with the precious blood of our Lord Jesu Christ; the which is the same land that our Lord behight us in heritage. And in that land he would die, as seised, to leave it to us, his children.
Wherefore every good Christian man, that is of power, and hath whereof, should pain him with all his strength for to conquer our right heritage, and chase out all the misbelieving men. For we be clept Christian men, after Christ our Father. And if we be right children of Christ, we ought for to challenge the heritage, that our Father left us, and do it out of heathen men's hands. But now pride, covetise, and envy have so inflamed the hearts of lords of the world, that they are more busy for to dis-herit their neighbours, more than for to challenge or to conquer their right heritage before-said. And the common people, that would put their bodies and their chattels, to conquer our heritage, they may not do it without the lords. For a sembly of people without a chieftain, or a chief lord, is as a flock of sheep without a shepherd; the which departeth and disperpleth and wit never whither to go. But would God, that the temporal lords and all worldly lords were at good accord, and with the common people would take this holy voyage over the sea! Then I trow well, that within a little time, our right heritage before-said should be reconciled and put in the hands of the right heirs of Jesu Christ.
And, for as much as it is long time passed, that there was no general passage ne voyage over the sea; and many men desire for to hear speak of the Holy Land, and have thereof great solace and comfort; I, John Mandeville, Knight, albeit I be not worthy, that was born in England, in the town of St. Albans, and passed the sea in the year of our Lord Jesu Christ, 1322, in the day of St. Michael; and hitherto been long time over the sea, and have seen and gone through many diverse lands, and many provinces and kingdoms and isles and have passed throughout Turkey, Armenia the little and the great; through Tartary, Persia, Syria, Arabia, Egypt the high and the low; through Lybia, Chaldea, and a great part of Ethiopia; through Amazonia, Ind the less and the more, a great part; and throughout many other Isles, that be about Ind; where dwell many diverse folks, and of diverse manners and laws, and of diverse shapes of men. Of which lands and isles I shall speak more plainly hereafter; and I shall devise you of some part of things that there be, when time shall be, after it may best come to my mind; and specially for them, that will and are in purpose for to visit the Holy City of Jerusalem and the holy places that are thereabout. And I shall tell the way that they shall hold thither. For I have often times passed and ridden that way, with good company of many lords. God be thanked!
And ye shall understand, that I have put this book out of Latin into French, and translated it again out of French into English, that every man of my nation may understand it. But lords and knights and other noble and worthy men that con Latin but little, and have been beyond the sea, know and understand, if I say truth or no, and if I err in devising, for forgetting or else, that they may redress it and amend it. For things passed out of long time from a man's mind or from his sight, turn soon into forgetting; because that mind of man ne may not be comprehended ne withholden, for the frailty of mankind.