Volume 1, Chapter 9, Sections 36-39 -- Travels of William de Rubruquis into Tartary, about the year 1253: *section index*


Volume 1, Chapter 9, Section 36 -- Account of the Country under the Dominion of the Great Khan of the Manners and Customs of his Subjects; of a Wonderful Piece of Mechanism, constructed by a French Goldsmith; and of the Palace of the Khan at Caracarum.

From the time of our arrival at the court of Mangu-khan, the leskar or camp made only two days journey towards the south; and it then began its progress northwards, in the direction of Caracarum. In the whole of my journey I was convinced of the truth of what I had been informed by Baldwin de Hainault at Constantinople, that the whole way eastwards was by a continual ascent, as all the rivers run from the east towards the west, sometimes deviating towards the north or south, more or less directly, but never running east, but this was farther confirmed to me by the priests who came from Kathay.[1] From the place where I found Mangukhan, it is twenty days journey south-east to Kathay, and ten days journey right east to Oman Kerule, the original country of the Moal and of Zingis.[2] In those parts there are no cities, but the country is inhabited by a people called Su-Moall, or Mongols of the waters, who live upon fish and hunting, and have neither flocks nor herds. Farther north, likewise, there is no city, but a poor people of herdsmen, who are called Kerkis. The Orangin are there also, who bind smooth bones under their feet, and thrust themselves with such velocity over the ice and snow, as to overtake beasts in the chase. There are many other poor nations in those parts, inhabiting as far to the north as the cold will permit, who join on the west with the country of Pascatir, or the Greater Hungary, of which I have made mention before.[3] In the north the mountains are perpetually covered with snow, and the bounds are unknown by reason of the extreme cold. All these nations are poor; yet they must all betake themselves to some employment, as Zingis established a law that none was to be free from service till so old as to be unable for work.

I was inquisitive about the monstrous men of whom Isidore and Solinus make mention; but no one had ever seen any such, and I therefore doubt whether it be true. Once a priest of Kathay sat by me, clothed in red, of whom I asked how that colour was procured. He told me that on certain high; craggy rocks in the east of Kathay there dwelt certain creatures like men, not above a cubit long, and all hairy, who leapt rather than walked, and dwelt in inaccessible caves. That those who go to hunt them carry strong drink, which they leave in holes of the rocks, and then hide themselves. These little creatures come out from their holes, and having tasted the drink, call out chin-chin, on which multitudes gather together, and drink till they are drunk, and fall asleep. Then the hunters come and bind them, after which they draw a few drops of blood from the veins of the neck of each of these creatures, and let them go free; and this blood is the most precious purple dye. He told me, likewise, that there is a province beyond Kathay, into which, if a man enters, he always continues of the same age at which he entered; but this I do not believe.[4]

Kathay is on the ocean, and I was told by the French goldsmith at Caracarum, that there is a people or nation called Tante and Manse, inhabiting certain islands, the sea around which is frozen in winter, so that the Tartars might invade them; but they sent messengers to the great khan, offering a tribute of 2000 tuemen or jascots yearly, to permit them to live in peace.[5] A tuemen, toman, or jascot, is a piece of money equal to ten marks.

The ordinary money of Kathay is of paper made like pasteboard, the breadth and length of a hand, on which lines are printed, like the seal of Mangu. They write with a pencil like that used by our painters, and in one figure they comprehend many letters, forming one word.[6] The people of Thibet write as we do, and their characters are very like our own. Those of Tangut write from right to left, like the Arabs, and multiply their lines ascending; while the Jugurs write in descending columns. The common money of the Rutenians or Russians, consists in spotted or grizzled furs.

When our Quinquagesima came, which is the Lent time of all the people of the east, the lady Cota fasted all that week, and came every day to our oratory, giving meat to the priests and other Christians, of whom a great company came daily to attend the service. But the porters of the court, seeing such multitudes come daily to our chapel, which was within the precincts of the court, sent one to tell the monk, that they would not allow such multitudes to come within their bounds; to this the monk made a sharp reply, and threatened to accuse them to the khan; but they prevented him, and lodged a complaint before Mangu, that the monk was too full of words, and gathered too great a multitude to hear him speak. On this he was called before the khan, who reproved him severely, saying, that as a holy man, he should employ himself in prayers to God, and not in speeches to men. But he was afterwards reconciled, by promising to go to the Pope, and to induce all the nations of the west to yield obedience to the khan. On his return to the oratory, the monk asked me if I thought he might gain admission to the Pope as the messenger of Mangu; and whether the Pope would supply him with horses to go to St James in Galicia; and whether your majesty would send your son to the court of Mangu. But I counselled him, to beware of making false promises to Mangu, and that God needed not the service of lies or deceitful speaking. About this time a dispute arose between the monk and one of the Nestorian priests, more learned than the rest, as the monk asserted that man was created before paradise, which the other denied; on reference to me, I said that paradise was created on the second day, when the other trees were made, whereas man was made on the sixth. Then the monk said, that the devil brought clay on the first day, from all the corners of the earth, of which he made the body of man, which God inspired with a soul. On this I sharply reproved him for his heretical ignorance, and he scorned me for my ignorance of the language: I departed, therefore, from him to our own house. But when he and the priests went afterwards in procession to the court without calling me, Mangu earnestly enquired the reason of my absence; and the priests being afraid, excused themselves as well as they could, and reported to me the words of the khan, murmuring at the monk. After this the monk was reconciled to me, and I entreated him to aid me in acquiring the language, promising to help him to the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.

After the first week of fasting, the lady ceased from coming to the oratory, and to give meat and drink, so that we had nothing but brown bread, and paste boiled in melted snow or ice, which was exceedingly bad. My companion was much grieved at this diet, on which I acquainted David, the teacher of the khans eldest son, with our necessities, who made a report to the khan, and we were then supplied, with wine, flour, and oil. The Nestorians and Armenians eat no fish in Lent; but the monk had a chest under the altar, with almonds, and raisins, and dried prunes, and other fruits, on which he fed when alone.

About the middle of Lent, the goldsmiths son came from Caracarum, bringing a silver cross made in the French fashion, with an image of Christ, as a present for Bulgai, the chief secretary of the court; and the young man informed Mangu, that the great work he had commanded to be made by his father, was completed. In the neighbourhood of Caracarum, Mangu has a large court, inclosed with a brick wall like our priories. Within that court is a great palace, in which the khan holds feasts twice a-year, once in Easter, and the other in summer; but the latter is the greater, as all the nobles meet then at the court, when the khan distributes garments among them, and displays all his magnificence. Beside the palace there are many great buildings like our barns, in which the victuals and treasures belonging to the khan are stored. Because it was indecent to have flaggons going about the hall of the palace, as in a tavern, William, the goldsmith, constructed a great silver tree, just without the middle entrance of the great hall, at the root of which were four silver lions, having pipes discharging pure cow's milk. Four pipes were conveyed up the body of the tree to its top, which spread out into four great boughs, hanging downwards; on each of these boughs was a golden serpent, all their tails twining about the body of the tree, and each of these formed a pipe, one discharging wine, a second caracosmos, a third ball, or mead made of honey, and the fourth teracina or drink made of rice; each particular drink having a vessel at the foot of the tree to receive it. On the top, between the four pipes, there stood an image of an angel with a trumpet. Under the tree there was a vault, in which a man was hidden, and from him a pipe ascended to the angel; and when the butler commands to sound the trumpet, the man below blows strongly, and the trumpet emits a shrill sound. In a chamber without the palace, the liquors are stored, and servants who are waiting, pour the liquors each in its proper pipe, at the signal, when they are conveyed by concealed pipes up the body of the tree, and discharged into, their appropriate vessels, whence they are distributed by the under-butlers to the visitors. The tree is all ornamented with silver boughs, and leaves and fruit all of silver.  The palace is like a church, having a middle aisle and two side ones, beyond two rows of pillars, and has three gates to the south, and before the middle gate stands the silver tree. The khan sits at the north wall, on a high place, that he may be seen of all, and there are two flights of steps ascending to him, by one of which his cup-bearer goes up, and comes down by the other. The middle space between the throne and the silver tree is left vacant for the cup-bearers and the messengers who bring presents; on the right side of the khan the men sit, and the women on the left. One woman only sits beside him, but not so high as he.

About Passion Sunday, the khan went before with his small houses only, leaving the great ones behind, and the monk and we followed. On the journey we had to pass through a hilly country[7] where we encountered high winds, extreme cold, and much snow. About midnight the khan sent to the monk and us, requesting us to pray to God to mitigate the severity of the weather, as the beasts in his train were in great jeopardy, being mostly with young, and about to bring forth. Then the monk sent him incense, desiring him to put it on the coals, as an offering to God: Whether he did this or no, I know not, but the tempest ceased, which had lasted two days. On Palm Sunday we were near Caracarum, and at dawn of day we blessed the willow boughs, on which, as yet, there were no buds. About nine o'clock we entered the city of Caracarum, carrying the cross aloft with the banner, and passing through the street of the Saracens, in which the market is held, we proceeded to the church, where the Nestorians met; us in procession. We found them prepared to celebrate the mass, and they all communicated; but I declined this, having already drank, and the sacrament should always be received lasting. After mass, being now evening, William Bouchier, the goldsmith, brought us to sup at his lodging. He had a wife, born in Hungary, of Mahometan parents, who spoke French, and the language of the Comanians. We found here also one Basilicus, the son of an Englishman, likewise born in Hungary, who was likewise skilled in these languages. After supper we retired to our cottage, which, with the oratory of the monk, were placed near the Nestorian church; which is of considerable size, and very handsomely built, and all the ceiling is covered with silk, wrought with gold.

I much deliberated with myself, whether I should continue in communion with the monk and the Nestorians, because I saw their actions full of idolatry and sorcery; but I feared to give offence to the khan in separating from the other Christians, as I saw that my presence pleased him, for which reason I always accompanied them to court; but when there I did not join in their mummeries, praying always in a loud voice for the church, and that God would direct the khan in the right way of salvation. On one occasion the khan promised to come to the church next day; but he departed on his journey to the northward, desiring the priests to excuse him, because he had learnt that the dead were carried thither. But we remained behind, that we might celebrate the festival of Easter. There were a vast multitude of Hungarians, Alans, Rutenians or Russians, Georgians, and Armenians, who had not received the sacrament since they were taken prisoners, as the Nestorians would not admit them into their church unless they were rebaptized; yet they offered their sacrament freely to us, and allowed me to see their manner of consecration; on the vigil of Easter I saw their ceremony of baptism. They pretend to have the ointment with which Mary Magdalen anointed the feet of Jesus, and they put in so much of that oil in kneading their sacramental bread; for all the people of the east use butter, or oil, or fat from a sheep's tail, in their bread, instead of leaven. They pretend also to have of the flour of which the bread was made which was consecrated by our Lord at his Last Supper, as they always keep a small piece of dough from each baking, to mix up with the new, which they consecrate with great reverence. In administering this to the people, they divide the consecrated loaf first into twelve portions, after the number of the apostles, which they afterwards break down into smaller pieces, in proportion to the number of communicants, giving the body of Christ into the hand of every one, who takes it from his own palm with much reverence, and afterwards lays his hand on the top of his head.

I was much at a loss how to act, as the Nestorians entreated me to celebrate the festival, and I had neither vestments, chalice, nor altar. But the goldsmith furnished me with vestments, and made an oratory on a chariot, decently painted with scripture histories; he made also a silver box or pix for the host, and an image of the blessed Virgin, and caused an iron instrument to be made for us to make hosts in our way. Then I made the before mentioned Christians to confess to me, as well as I could, by means of an interpreter, explaining to them the ten commandments, the seven deadly sins, and other matters, exhorting them to confession and penitence: But all of them publickly excused themselves respecting theft, saying that they could not otherwise live, as their masters neither provided them with food or raiment; and I said they might lawfully take necessaries from their masters, especially as they had forcibly deprived them of their subsistence and liberty. Some who were soldiers excused themselves from having gone to the wars, as otherwise they would be slain; these I forbid to go against Christians, declaring, that if slain for their refusal, God would account them as martyrs. After this I gave the holy communion to these people on Easter day, and I hope, with the blessing of God to many, being assisted by the Nestorians, who lent me their chalice and paten. They baptized above threescore persons on Easter eve with great solemnity, to the great joy of all the Christians.

Soon after this William Bouchier was grievously sick, and when recovering, the monk Sergius visited him, and gave him so great a doze of rhubarb as had almost killed him. On this I expostulated with the monk, that he ought either to go about as an apostle, doing miracles by the virtue of prayer and the Holy Ghost, or as a physician, according to the rules of the medical aid, and not to administer strong potions to people who were not prepared. About this time the principal priest of the Nestorians, who was a kind of archdeacon over the rest, became sick; and when I endeavoured, at the request of his family, to prevail upon the monk to visit him, he said, "Let him alone, for he and three others intend to procure an order from Mangu-khan to expel you and me." And I learnt afterwards, that there was a dispute between them, as Mangu-khan had sent four jascots on Easter eve to the monk, to distribute among the priests; and Sergius, keeping one to himself, had given three to the priests, one being a counterfeit, and the priests thought Sergius had kept too great a share to himself. Finding the archdeacon in a dying way, I administered to him the Eucharist and extreme unction, which he received with great humility and devotion; but, by the advice of the monk, I quitted him before he died, as otherwise I could not have entered the court of Mangu-khan for a whole year. When he was dead, the monk said to me, "Never mind it: This man only, among the Nestorians, had any learning, and opposed us; henceforwards Mangu-khan and all the rest will crouch at our feet." He even pretended that he had killed him by his prayers. I afterwards learnt that the monk practised divination, with the aid of a Russian deacon, though, when I challenged him, he pretended to excuse himself, and to deny the truth of what had been reported to me: But I could not leave him, having been placed there by command of the khan, so that I dared not to remove without his special command.

Exclusive of the palace of the khan, Caracarum is not so good as the town of St Denis, and the monastery of St Dennis is worth more than ten times the value of the palace itself. It contains two principal streets: that of the Saracens in which the fairs are held, and to which many merchants resort, as the court is always near; the other is the street of the Kathayans, which is full of artificers. Besides these streets, there are many palaces, in which are the courts of the secretaries of the khan. There are twelve idol temples belonging to different nations, two Mahometan mosques, and one Nestorian church at the end of the town. The town itself is inclosed with a mud wall, and has four gates. On the east side, there is a market for millet and other grain, but which is ill supplied; on the west, sheep and goats are sold; on the north side, oxen and waggons; and on the south side, horses.

Mangu-khan has eight brothers, three by the mother and five by the father. One of these on the mothers side he sent into the country of the Assassines, called Mulibet by the Tartars, with orders to kill them all. Another was sent into Persia, who is supposed to have orders to send armies into Turkey, and from thence against Bagdat and Vestacius. One of his other brothers has been sent into Kathay, to reduce certain rebels. His youngest maternal brother, named Arabucha, lives with him, and keeps up his mother's court, who was a Christian.

About this time, on account of a violent quarrel between the monk and certain Mahometans, and because a rumour was propagated of four hundred assassins having gone forth in divers habits, with an intention to murder the khan, we were ordered to depart from our accustomed place before the court, and to remove to the place where other messengers dwelt. Hitherto I had always hoped for the arrival of the king of Armenia,[8, and had not therefore made any application for leave to depart; but hearing no news of the king, or a certain German priest who was likewise expected, and fearing lest we should return in the winter, the severity of which I had already experienced, I sent to demand the pleasure of the khan, whether we were to remain with him or to return, and representing that it would be easier for us to return in summer than in winter. The khan sent to desire that I should not go far off, as he meant to speak with me next day; to which I answered, requesting him to send for the son of the goldsmith to interpret between us, as my interpreter was very incompetent.

[1] So for as was travelled by Rubruquis, and in the route which he pursued on the north of the Alak mountains, this observation is quite correct to longitude 100° E. But what he here adds respecting Kathay, is directly contradictory to the fact; as all the rivers beyond Caracarum run in an easterly direction. The great central plain of Tangut, then traversed by the imperial horde of the Mongals, and now by the Eluts and Kalkas, must be prodigiously elevated above the level of the ocean.--E.
[2] The information here seems corrupted, or at least is quite incorrect. Kathay or northern China is due east, or east south-east from the great plain to the south of Karakum. Daouria, the original residence of the Mongols of Zingis, between the rivers Onon and Kerlon, is to the north-east.--E.
[3] The Kerkis must fee the Kirguses, a tribe of whom once dwelt to the south-west of lake Baikal. The Orangin or Orangey, inhabited on the east side of that lake. Pascatir is the country of the Bashkirs, Baschkirians, or Pascatirians in Great Bulgaria, called Great Hungary in the text, between the Volga and the Ural.--E.
[4] Rubruquis properly rejects the stories of monstrous men, related by the ancients, yet seems to swallow the absurd story of the purple dye, engrafted by the Kathayan priest on a very natural invention for catching apes. He disbelieves the last information of the priest, which must have been an enigmatical representation of the province of death, or of the tombs.--E.
[5] It is difficult to guess as to these people and their islands; which may possibly refer to Japan, or even Corea, which is no island. Such tribute could not have been offered by the rude inhabitants of Saghalien or Yesso.--E.
[6] This evidently but obscurely describes the Chinese characters; the most ingenious device ever contrived for the monopoly of knowledge and office to the learned class, and for arresting the progress of knowledge and science at a fixed boundary.--E.
[7] From this circumstance, it would appear that Rubruquis had found the court of the khan in the country of the Eluts, to the south of the Changai mountains, perhaps about latitude 44° N. and longitude 103° E, the meridian of the supposed site of Karakum on the Orchon. And it may be presumed, that the imperial suite was now crossing the Changai chain towards the north.--E.
[8] Haitho, of whom some account will be found in the succeeding chapter of this work.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 9, Section 37 -- Of certain disputes between Rubruquis and the Saracens and Idolaters, at the Court of Mangu-khan, respecting Religion.

Next day I was brought to the court, and some of the chief secretaries of the khan came to me, one of whom was a Moal, who is cup-bearer to the khan, and the rest were Saracens. These men demanded on the part of the khan, wherefore I had come there? To this I answered, as I had done before, that I came to Sartach, who sent me to Baatu, and he had ordered me to the khan, to whom I had nothing to say on the part of any man, unless I should speak the words of God if he would hear them, for the khan should know best what Baatu had written. Then they demanded what words of God I would speak to the khan, thinking I meant to prophecy prosperous things as others had done. To this I answered, "If ye would that I speak the words of God unto the khan, get me an interpreter." They said they had sent for him, but urged me to speak by the present one, as they would understand me perfectly. I therefore said, "This is the word of God, to whom much is given, much will be required at his hands; and to whom much is forgiven, he ought the more to love God. To Manga I would say, that God hath given much; for the power and riches which he enjoys, come not from the idols of the Tuinians, but from the omnipotent God who hath made heaven and earth, in whose hands are all kingdoms and dominions, and who transferreth them from nation to nation for the sins of men; wherefore if he love God, it will go well with him, but if otherwise, God will require all things at his hands, even to the utmost farthing." Then they asked if I had been in Heaven, that I should know the commandments of God? I said no, but that God hath given them from Heaven to holy men, and had at length descended from Heaven to earth to teach us, and that we had those things in the Scriptures, and could judge from their works whether men kept the commandments of God or disobeyed them. They then asked if I meant to say that Mangu-khan did not keep the commandments of God? To this I answered, "When I shall have a proper interpreter and am permitted, I shall then recite the commandments of God before Mangu, and he shall be his own judge, whether he hath kept or disobeyed them." Upon this, they went and told Mangu, that I said he was an idolater and Tuinian, and kept not the commandments of God. Next day Mangu sent one of his secretaries, saying, "Ye are here Christians, Mahometans, and Tuinians, wherefore the khan desires that ye will all come together and make comparison of your opinions, that he may know the truth." To this I answered, "Blessed be God that hath put this in the heart of the khan; but our Scriptures command the servants of God not to be contentious, but meek unto all. Wherefore I am ready, without strife or contention, to render a true account of the faith and hope of the Christians to every one who may require to be informed." They wrote down my words and brought them to the khan.

Next day, another message came from the khan, desiring again to know on what account I had come to his court; to which I answered, that this might be known from the letters of Bantu. But they said that these letters were lost, and the khan had forgotten their contents, and would know of me. Somewhat emboldened by this, I said, "The duty and office of our religion is to preach the gospel unto all. Wherefore, having heard of the fame of, the Mongals, I desired to come to them; and hearing that Sartach had become a Christian, I directed my journey to him, and my sovereign the king of the French sent him letters containing good words of friendship, testifying what men we were, and requesting we might be permitted to remain with the people of Moal That Sartach had sent us to Baatu, and he had ordered us to Mangu-khan, whom we had entreated and still do entreat to suffer us to stay." They wrote all this, and made a report of it to the khan. On the morrow he sent again that he knew we had no message for him, but came to pray for him as other priests did, but desired to know if any of our ambassadors had ever been in their country, or any of theirs in our parts. Then I declared unto them all I knew respecting David and Friar Andrew, all of which was put down in writing and laid before Mangu. They came back, saying, "Our lord the khan thinks you have staid long here, and his pleasure is that you return into your own country; but he desires to know whether you would conduct his ambassadors along with you." To this I answered, that I dared not to carry his ambassadors beyond his own dominions, as a warlike nation dwelt between their country and ours, between the sea and the mountains, and being only a poor monk, I could not take upon me to be their guide. This they likewise set down in writing and carried to the khan.

The Nestorians were commanded to set down in writing all that they would speak in favour of the Christian religion; and they wrote out a chronicle from the creation of the world to the passion of Christ; and passing over the passion, they spake of the resurrection of the dead, and of the day of judgment. Finding many things wrong, I pointed them out, and we wrote out the creed or symbol. Asking them how they meant to proceed in the conference, they said they meant to begin with the Saracens; but I dissuaded them from that, because, as they agreed with us in the belief of one only God, they would assist against the Tuinians. I then pointed out to them the original of idolatry in the world; and they desired me to explain these things before Mangu, and then to let them speak, because I should find it difficult and tedious to speak by an interpreter. I then proposed to try them, by taking the side of the Tuinians, while they should defend the opinions of the Christians; but they knew not how to prove any thing, except merely by quoting their Scriptures. To this I said, that these men believed not in our Scriptures, and would oppose them by advancing contrary opinions and positions from those books which they accounted holy. Then I desired that they would allow me to speak first; since if I were overcome they would be permitted to speak, whereas if they were confuted, I would be refused a hearing, and to this they consented.

All things being arranged, we convened at our oratory, and Mangu-khan sent three of his secretaries, a Christian, a Saracen, and a Tuinian, to be judges of the controversy. It was first proclaimed, "This is the order of Mangu-khan, and none dare say that the commandment of God is otherwise. Let none speak contentiously, or use injurious words to one another, or make any tumult whereby this business may be hindered, upon pain of death." There was a great assembly, as every party had convened the wisest of their sect, and many others came flocking around to listen; but all were silent. The Christians set me in the middle, willing that I should contend with the Tuinians; who murmured against Mangu, as no khan had ever thus endeavoured to search into their secrets. Yet they opposed one from Kathay to me, who had his interpreter, while I had the son of the goldsmith to interpret my words. The Kathayan said to me, "Friend! if you be put to a nonplus, who must seek a wiser than thou art?" To this I made no reply. Then he demanded whether I would dispute as to how the world was made, or as to what became of the souls after death? For they were desirous to begin with these questions, as they held them for the strongest in their doctrines, all the Tuinians following the heresy of the Manicheans, believing in a good and a bad principle, and they all believe that souls pass from body to body. In confirmation of this, the goldsmith told me they had brought a person from Kathay, who, by the size of his body, appeared to be only three years old, yet was capable of reasoning, and knew how to write, and who affirmed that he had passed through three several bodies. Even one of the wisest of the Nestorians demanded of me whether the souls of brutes could fly to any place after death where they should not be compelled to labour.

To the before-mentioned question of the Kathayan, I answered: "Friend, this ought hot to be the commencement of our  conference. All things are of God, who is the fountain and head of us all; and therefore we ought first to speak concerning God, of whom you think otherwise than you ought, and Mangu desires to know which of us hath the better belief." The arbitrators allowed this to be reasonable, and I proceeded: "We firmly believe that there is but one God in perfect unity; what believe you?" He said, "Fools say there is but one God, but wise men say there are many. There are great lords in your country, and here is still a greater, even Mangu-khan. So it is of the Gods, as in divers countries there are divers gods." To this I answered: "You make a bad comparison between God and men; for in this way every mighty man might be called a God in his own country." And when I meant to have dissolved the similitude, he prevented me, by asking, "What manner of God is yours, who you say is but one?" I answered: "Our God, beside whom there is no other, is omnipotent, and therefore needeth not the help of any other; whereas all have need of his help. It is not so with men, as no man can do all things; wherefore there must be many lords on earthy as no one can support all. God is omniscient, or knoweth all things; and therefore hath no need of any counsellor, for all wisdom is from him. God is perfectly good; and needs not therefore any good from us. In God we live and move and have our being. Such is our God, and you must not hold that there is any other." "It is not so," said he; "for there is one highest in heaven, whose origin or generation we know not, and there are ten under him, and on earth they are infinite in number." To this he would have added other fables. I asked him respecting the highest God, of whom he had spoken, whether he were omnipotent, or if any of the inferior Gods were so? And fearing to answer this, he demanded, "Why, since our God was perfectly good, he had made the half of all things evil?" To this I answered, that this was false; for whosoever maketh any evil is no God, and all things whatsoever are good. At this all the Tuiuians were astonished, and set it down in writing as false or impossible. He then asked me, "Whence cometh evil?" "You ask amiss," said I, "for you ought first to inquire what evil is, before you ask whence it comes: But let us return to the first question, whether do you believe that any God is omnipotent? and when that is discussed, I will answer whatever you may demand." On this he sat a long time without speaking, and the judges appointed by the khan commanded him to make answer. At length he said, that no God was omnipotent; on which all the Saracens broke out into great laughter. When silence was restored, I said, "None of your gods, therefore, can save you in all dangers, since chances may happen in which they have no power. Besides, no man can serve two masters; how, therefore, can you serve so many Gods in heaven and in earth?" The auditory decreed that he should make answer to this, but he held his peace.

When I was about to have propounded reasons to prove the truth of the divine essence, and to have explained the doctrine of the Trinity, the Nestorians alleged that I had said quite enough, and that now they meant to speak; so I gave place to them. When, therefore, they would have disputed with the Saracens, these men said that they agreed to the truth of the law and the gospel of the Christian, and would not dispute with them in any thing, and even confessed that they beg from God in their prayers that they may die the death of the Christians. There was among the idolaters a priest of the sect of the Jugurs, who believe in one God, and yet make idols. With this man the Nestorians talked much, shewing all things till the coming of Christ to judgment, and explaining the Trinity to him and the Saracens by similitudes. All of them hearkened to their harangue without attempting to make any contradiction; yet none of them said that they believed and would become Christians. The conference was now broken up. The Nestorians and Saracens sang together with a loud voice, and the Tuinians held their peace; and afterwards they all drank together most plentifully.



Volume 1, Chapter 9, Section 38 -- The last audience of Rubruquis with Mangu-khan, and the letter he received for the King of France.

On Whitsunday I was called into the presence of the khan, and before I went in, the goldsmith's son, who was my interpreter, informed me that it was determined I was to return to my own country, and advised me to say nothing against it. When I came before the khan I kneeled, and he asked me whether I said to his secretaries that he was a Tuinian. To this I answered, "My lord, I said not so; but if it please your highness I will repeat what I then said;" and I recited what I had spoken, as mentioned before, and he answered: "I thought well you said not so, for it was a word you ought not to have spoken; but your interpreter hath ill rendered your words." Then, reaching forth the staff on which, he leaned towards me, he said, "be not afraid." To which I answered smiling, that if I had feared I should not have come hither. He then said, as if confessing his faith: "We Moals believe that there is but one God, and we have an upright heart towards him." "Then," said I, "may God grant you this mind, for without his gift it cannot be." He then added, "God hath given to the hand divers fingers, and hath given many ways to man. He hath given the Scriptures to you, yet you keep them not. You certainly find not in the Scriptures that one of you should dispraise another?" "No," said I; "and I signified unto your highness from the beginning, that I would not contend with any one." "I speak not," said he, "respecting you. In like manner, you find not in your Scriptures, that a man ought to swerve from justice for the sake of money?" To this I answered, "That our Scriptures taught no such evil doctrine, neither had I come into, these parts to get money, having even refused that which was freely offered to me." And one of the secretaries, then present, certified, that I had refused a jascot and a piece of silk. "I speak not of that," said the khan; "God hath given you the Scriptures and you keep them not; but he hath given to us soothsayers, and we do what they bid us, and live in peace." He drank four times, as I think, before he disclosed these things; and, while I waited attentively in expectation that he might disclose any thing farther respecting his faith, he began another subject, saying: "You have stayed a long time here, and it is my pleasure that you return. You have said that you dared not to carry my ambassadors with you; will you carry my messenger, or my letters?" To this I answered, "If he would make me understand his words, and that they were put in writing, I would willingly carry them, to the best of my power." He then asked if I would have gold or silver, or costly garments? I answered, that we received no such things; but not having wherewith to bear our expences, we could not get out of his country without his help. He then said, that he would provide us in all necessaries through his country, and demanded how far we would be brought. I said it were sufficient if he gave us a pass into Armenia. To this he answered: "I will cause you to be carried thither, after which look to yourself. There are two eyes in one head, yet they both look to one object. You came here from Baatu, and therefore you must return by him." Having requested and obtained leave to speak, I addressed him thus: "Sir! we are not men of war, and desire that they who would most justly govern according to the will of God may have dominion in the world. Our office is to teach men to live according to the law of God: For this, purpose we came into these parts, and would willingly have remained here if it had been your pleasure; but since you are pleased that we should return, I shall carry your letters according to my power, in obedience to your commands. I request of your magnificence, that, when I have delivered your letters, it may be lawful for me to come back into your dominions; chiefly because you have servants of our nation at Balac, who want a priest to teach them and their children the law of our religion, and I would willingly stay with them." He then asked whether I knew that our lords would send me back to him? To this. I answered, "I know not what may be the purpose of my sovereign; but I have licence to go wherever I will, where it is needful to preach the word of God, and it seems to me necessary in these parts; wherefore, whether my lords send ambassadors or not, if it is your pleasure, I will return." Then, after a long pause, as if musing, he said, "You have a lone way to go, make yourself strong with food, that you may be enabled to endure the journey." So he ordered them to give me drink, and I departed from his presence, and returned not again. From that time I could have no time nor place to expound to him the catholic faith; for a man must not speak before him, unless what he pleaseth to order or allow, except he were an ambassador, who may speak what he will, and they always demand of such whether he has any thing more to say.

The soothsayers are the priests of the Mongals, and whatever they command to be done is performed without delay. I shall describe their office, as I learnt it from the goldsmith and others. Of these soothsayers there are great numbers, under the direction of a chief priest, whose house is always about a stone's throw in front of the great house of Mangu-khan, and under his charge are all the chariots which carry idols. The other soothsayers dwell behind the court, in places appointed for them; and such as have confidence in their art come to consult them from various distant parts. Some of them are skilful in astronomy, especially their chief, and they foretell eclipses of the sun and moon. When these are to happen, all the people prepare their food, that they may not be under the necessity of going out of doors, and during the eclipse they play on various instruments of music, and set up loud shouts: when it is over, they indulge in feasting and carousing, to express their joy.

These soothsayers pretend to foretell lucky and unlucky days for all affairs; and the Tartars never levy an army, or undertake a war without their approbation. They had long since resumed their attack on Hungary, but that the soothsayers have always opposed it. They make every thing which is sent to court pass between two fires, as a purification, likewise, all the household stuff belonging to a dead person must be purged in the same manner; and, if any living creature drop down, or any thing whatever fall to the ground during the ceremony, it becomes the property of the soothsayers, who, besides, have a certain proportion of every thing which they purify as their due. There was, therefore, a twofold reason why Friar Andrew Carpini was made to pass between the fires; both because he brought presents, and because Con-khan, for whom these had been brought, was dead: But as I brought nothing, this was not required of me.

Once on a time, some very costly furs were presented at the court of the Christian lady, whom Pascha, the good woman of Metz served, and the soothsayers, in passing them between the fires, took more than was their due. Another woman, who had the custody of the treasures belonging to that lady, accused them of the fraud to her mistress, who reproved them severely for their conduct. Sometime afterwards the lady fell sick, and the soothsayers accused the servant, who had detected their fraud, of having bewitched her. She received the bastinado for seven days successively, and other tortures, to make her confess; and on hearing of her mistress's death, begged to be killed that she might follow her, for that, in truth, she had never done her the smallest injury. But, as she confessed nothing, Mangu-khan commanded that she should live. After this the soothsayers accused the daughters nurse of the deceased lady, which nurse was a Christian, and wife to the chief of the Nestorian priests. She and her servant-maid were tortured to make a confession, and the maid answered, that the nurse had sent her to receive responses from a certain horse. The nurse also confessed that she had used some spells to procure the love of her lady, but had never done any thing to hurt her. On being demanded to say whether her husband knew of her incantations, she excused him, saying that he had burnt the characters which she had made. Then she was put to death, and the husband was sent to be judged by his bishop in Kathay.

It happened that the principal wife of Mangu brought forth a son, and the soothsayers were brought to foretell the destiny of the infant, when they prophesied that he should live long and prosperously, and become a great lord; but he died in a few days. On being reproached for their falsehood, they said that the nurse of Cerina, who had been lately put to death, had killed the boy, and pretended to have seen her carrying him away. There were then in the camp a son and daughter of the nurse, whom the lady immediately sent for in a rage, and ordered them to be put to death. Some time afterwards this came to the ears of Mangu-khan, who was much enraged at the conduct of his wife. He caused the man to be beheaded who had slain the nurses son, and made his head to be hung round the neck of the woman who had killed her daughter, ordering her to be cudgelled with burning fire-brands, through among all the tents, and then put to death. He would also have put his wife to death if it had not been for the sake of the children he had by her; but he commanded her to be shut up for seven days without food, and went out from his court for a whole, moon.

After the feast of Pentecost, they began to prepare their letters for your Majesty, and, in the mean time, the khan returned to Caracarum, and held a great feast on the 15th of June, at which all the ambassadors were desired to be present, but I went to church to baptize the three children of a poor German. William the goldsmith was chief butler at this feast, as he had the charge of the silver tree which poured out the drink. On this occasion the khan gave, during four successive days, a complete suit of apparel each day to all his courtiers, every day a new colour; and he made them a speech, saying, "I have sent my brothers afar into dangers among foreign nations; it shall be seen how you will conduct yourselves when I send you to extend the boundaries of our empire."

At this time there was an ambassador at the court from the khans of Bagdat, of whom it was reported, when Mangu declared he would not grant them peace unless they would destroy all their warlike ammunition, that he answered, "We will do this when you pluck off all the hoofs from your horses." I saw there, also, the ambassadors from a soldan of India, who brought with him eight leopards and ten hare-hounds who were taught to sit on a horses croup in hunting, like the leopards. When I asked of them, the way to India, they pointed to the west, and they travelled with me, on our return, always westwards, for nearly three weeks. I also saw there the ambassador of the sultan of Turkey, who brought rich presents to the khan. At length the letters being ready for your majesty, they called for me and explained them, and the following is their substance, so far as I could understand
them by my interpreter:

"The commandment of the Eternal GOD is this: As there is but one Eternal GOD in heaven, so upon earth let there be but one Lord, Zingis-khan, son of God, and Mangu-tinij.[1] This is the word which is spoken to you; whether Moals, Namans, Markets, or Musselmen; wherever man may hear or horse may go, cause it to be heard and understood, that such as have heard my commands and do not obey, or would levy an army against me, shall be as having eyes and not seeing, as having hands and unable to hold any thing, and as having feet, yet unable to walk.

"This is the commandment of the Eternal GOD, and by the virtue of the Eternal GOD, the commandment of Mangu-khan, the great emperor of the Moals, is given to Lodowick the French King, and to all other lords and priests, and to the great world of the Franks, that they understand my words and the commandments of the Eternal GOD, made to Zingis-khan; neither but from Zingis-khan ever came this commandment unto you.[2]

"A certain man, named David, came unto you as an ambassador from the Moals, but he was a liar; and with him you sent your ambassador to Khen-khan. After Khen-khan was dead, your ambassador came to this court, and Charmis his wife sent you a nassick cloth. But how could that wicked woman, more vile than a dog, know matters appertaining to war and peace, and to settle the great world in quiet?

"Those two monks who came from you to Sartach, were sent by Sartach to Baatu; but as Mangu-khan is the greatest over the world of the Moals, Baatu sent them unto us. And now that the great world of the Franks, and the priests, and monks, may live in peace and enjoy their goods, and that the commandment of GOD might be heard among you, we would have sent certain Moals as our ambassadors to you by your priests; but your messenger answered, that betwixt us and you there was a warlike nation, with many bad men and troublesome ways, so that they were afraid they could not bring our ambassadors in safety to you; but if we would deliver them our letters, containing our commandments to King Lodowick, they engaged to carry them. For this cause we have not sent our ambassadors along with them; but we have sent you this, the commandment of the Eternal GOD, by your priests. And this is the commandment of the Eternal GOD, which we have given you to understand, and when you shall hear and believe it, if you will obey, send your ambassadors unto us, so that we may be satisfied whether you will have peace or war. When, by the power of the Eternal GOD, the whole world shall be in unity, peace, and joy, from the rising of the sun to where it sets, then shall it appear what we will do. But if ye shall see and hear the commandment of the Eternal GOD, and will not hearken to or believe it, saying, our country is far off, our hills are strong, our sea is great; and in this confidence shall lead an army against us to know what we can do; he that made what is hard easy, and that which is far off near, the Eternal GOD himself knows that alone."

While these things were going forwards, my companion heard that we were to return by the wilderness to Baatu, under the guidance of a Moal, on which he ran to Bulgai, the chief secretary, signifying to him, by signs, that he should certainly die if he went that way. On the day when we were to receive our pass, which was a fortnight after the feast of St John, 8th July, the secretary said to him; it is the pleasure of Mangu, that your companion shall return by Baatu, and as you are sick, you may remain and shall be provided in necessaries till some ambassador come, with whom you may return more easily by a way where there are villages. The friar answered "God grant the khan a long and prosperous life, I will remain." Then they brought us three garments, saying, that as we refused gold or silver, and had stayed long here, praying for the khan, he entreats that each would accept a single garment, that you may not depart empty handed.

[1] Explained as signifying the sound of iron, probably in allusion to his martial power.--E.
[2] The obscurity of this passage is inexplicable.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 9, Section 39 -- The departure of Rubruquis from the Court of Mangu-khan, and his journey by Saray and other places, to Tripoly in Syria.

Leaving the Leskar or moving camp of Mangu-khan, we came to Caracarum, and while we remained in the house of William Bouchier the goldsmith, my guide brought ten jascots, five of which he delivered to William, commanding him, from the khan, to expend these for the use of the friar while he remained there, and he left the other five with my interpreter for my subsistence by the way; for William had given them such instructions without my knowledge. I immediately changed one of the jascots into small money, which I distributed among the poor Christians of Caracarum. Another was spent in providing garments and other necessaries for our journey. With the third my interpreter bought several articles, of which he afterwards made some profit. The other two we expended on the road, as, after we came into Persia, sufficient necessaries were nowhere given us. William, your majesty's citizen and subject, sends you a girdle set with a precious stone, which is worn in those parts as a defence against thunder and lightning, and most humbly salutes you, always commending you to God in his prayers.

My companion and I parted with tears, he remaining with master William, while I, with my interpreter, the guide, and one servant, returned to the court of Baatu, our guide having authority to take a sheep once in four days, for the sustenance of all four. From Caracarum to the court of Baatu our journey continued four months and ten days, during all which time we never saw a town, or even the appearance of a single house, except one village, in which we did not even eat bread; nor in all that time did we ever rest, except one day, when we could not get horses. We returned, for the most part, by the same kind of people through whom we had passed in going, and yet through other countries, for we went in the winter, and returned in the summer, by the higher parts of the north, except that for fifteen days journey we had to travel along a certain river among the mountains, where there was no lodging, except by the river side.[1] Sometimes we had to go two, or even three days, with no other food than cosmos; and at one time we were in great danger, not being able to fall in with any people, our provisions all exhausted, and our horses quite tired.

When we had travelled twenty days, I heard that the king of Armenia had passed by on his journey to the court of Mangu. In the end of August I met with Sartach, who went to Mangu, accompanied by his wives and children, and with flocks and herds; yet the bulk of the families over whom he ruled, remained between the Tanais and Etilia, or Volga. I sent my duty to him, saying that I would willingly have remained in his country, but that Mangu had ordered me to return and carry his letters. His answer was, that I must obey the will of Mangu-khan.

I then asked Coiac to return our clothes and books. "What," said he, "did you not bring them to Sartach?" I said that I had certainly brought them to Sartach, but had not given them, and put him in mind of what I had said on that former occasion. To this he answered "You say truth, and none can resist the truth. I left your goods with my father, who dwells in Saray, a new town, which Baatu has built on the eastern shore of the Volga, but our priests have some of your vestments." "If any thing please you," said I, "keep it, so that you restore my books." I requested letters from him to his father to restore my things; but he was in haste to be gone, and said that we should alight at the train of the ladies, which was near at hand, and he should send me Sartachs answer. Though I was fearful he might deceive me, yet I dared not to contend with him. Late in the evening his messenger came with two coats, seemingly all of silk, saying that Sartach had sent me these, one for myself, and that I might present the other to my king on his behalf. I answered, that I wore no such garments, but should present both to my king, in honour of his lord; and I now send both by the bearer of these letters. He delivered me also a letter for the father of Coiac, to restore all that belonged to me.

We returned to the court of Baatu on the same day on which I had departed thence the year before, being the second day after the invention of the Holy Cross, 16th September 1254; and I found our young men in health, though much afflicted with poverty. Gosset told me, they had perished for want, if the king of Armenia had not comforted them, and recommended them to Sartach, for the Tartars believed I was dead, and even asked them if they could keep oxen and milk mares; for if I had not returned, they had certainly been reduced to servitude. After this Baatu called me before him, and made the letters which Mangu-khan sends you to be interpreted to me. He likewise demanded what way I would go, whether by sea or land? I said the sea would be frozen, as whiter was approaching, and I must, therefore, go by land; and believing your majesty was still in Syria, I directed my journey to Persia, for if I had known you were in France, I would have gone through Hungary. We had to travel a month with Baatu before we could obtain a guide. At length they appointed a Jugur, who understanding I would give him nothing, and that I wished to go by Armenia, caused our letters to be made for conducting me to the soldan of Turkey, hoping he might there receive gifts. We left the moving court of Baatu fifteen days before All Saints, 16th October, and went direct southwards for Sarai, always keeping near the Volga, and there the Volga divides into three branches or arms, each almost twice as large as the branch of the Nile at Damieta. Besides these, it divides into four lesser arms, so that we had to pass seven branches of the river in boats: Upon the middle branch, is a village called Sumerkant,[2] without any wall, but which was besieged by the Tartars for eight years before they could gain possession, and had formerly cost the Saracens and Alani nine years; for though not fortified, it is surrounded by water. We there found a German and his wife, with whom Gosset had lived all the preceding winter, by the order of Baatu. On the east side of this river Baatu always travels, and Sartach on the west, never going farther south than this place, as there is very good grass in great abundance. Coiacs father, on receiving the letters of Sartach, restored my vestments, except a surplice, an albs, an almic trimmed with fine silk, a stole, a girdle, and a tualia adorned with gold embroidery. He gave me back, likewise, my silver plate, except the censer, and a small box for holding chrism, all of which were with the priest who attended Sartach; and he returned my books, except our lady's psalter, which he kept with my leave, as I could not deny him, for he said Sartach took great delight in it. A bible also, and an Arabian book worth thirty sultanies, were retained, and many other things which I never recovered. Sarai, and the palace of Baatu are on the east side of the river, and the valley through which the arms of the river spread abroad, is more than seven leagues in breadth.

After leaving Sarai, on the feast of All Saints, 1st November, we travelled south till the feast of St Martin, 11th November, when we came to the mountains of the Alani. In fifteen days travel we found no people, except at one little village, where one of the sons of Sartach resided, accompanied by many falconers, and falcons. For the first five days we did not meet a single man, and were a whole day and night in great danger of perishing for want of water. The Alani in some of the mountains, still hold out against the Tartars, so that two of every ten of the subjects of Sartach are obliged to guard certain passes in the mountains of Dagistan, lest the Alanians carry away the cattle in the plain. There are likewise certain Mahometans called Lesghis in these mountains who are not subjugated, so that the Tartars had to give us a guard of twenty men to see us safe beyond the Iron-gate. I was glad of this circumstance, as I had never seen the Tartars armed; and yet, of all those twenty, only two had habergions, which they said they had procured from the Alani, who are excellent smiths and armourers. In my opinion, the Tartars have small store of armour, except bows and arrows, and leather jackets; some have iron plates, and skull cups from Persia, and I saw two at the court of Mangu armed with clumsy and unwieldy coats of rough hog-skin. We found one castle of the Alanians, which had been subdued by the Tartars, about which there were many vineyards, and there we drank wine for the first time. On the following day we reached Derbent or the Iron-gate, built by Alexander the Macedonian, on a small plain between the sea and the mountains, one end of the city reaching to the shore, while the other extends a mile in length to the top of the mountain, on which is a strong castle. But the breadth of the city scarcely exceeds a stones throw. It has very strong walls, and turrets of large polished stones, with no trenches; but the Tartars have demolished the tops of the turrets, and the bulwarks of the walls.

Two days journey from Derbent we came to a city named Samaron,[3] in which there were many Jews; near which we saw walls descending from the mountains to the sea; and leaving the way by the sea, because it turns to the east, we went up into the high countries, towards the south. Next day we passed through a valley, in which we could perceive the foundations of walls, stretching quite across between two mountains, which were themselves quite impassable. All these walls were erected of old by Alexander, for restraining the fierce nations of Scythian shepherds, inhabiting the wilderness, from invading the plains and cities of the southern countries of Persia and Asia Minor. There were also other walls and inclosures inhabited by Jews. Next day we came to a great city called Samach;[4] and after this we entered the great plain of Moan, through which runs the river Cur or Cyrus, from which the Curgi or Curdi have their name, whom we call Georgians, and which river passes through the middle of Tefflis, their capital. The Cur comes directly from the west, running east into the Caspian, and in it are excellent salmon.[5] In the plains of Moan or Mogan we again met with Tartars; and through this plain flows the Araxes, which comes from Armenia the Greater, called likewise the land of Ararat. To the west of that plain is Curgia,[6] and in this plain the Crosmini, Krosmians or Korasmiens,[7] formerly dwelt. Ganges or Kanja, a great city in the entrance of the mountains towards Georgia, was their capital, and prevented the Georgians from coming down to plunder the plain country. We next came to a bridge of boats fastened together with great iron chains, for crossing the united stream of the Kur and Araxes.

We proceeded thence, travelling up the river called pontem inidignatus Araxes, leaving Persia and the Caspian mountains on our left hand, towards the south, Curgia and the great sea on our right hand, towards the west.[8] Going all the way southwards,[9] we passed through the meadows of Bacchu-khan, the general of the Tartar army on the Araxes, who has likewise subjugated the Curgi, the Turks, and the Persians. There is another Tartar governor of Persia at Tauris, named Argon, who presides over the tribute. But Mangu-khan has recalled both of these generals to make way for one of his brothers, as I formerly mentioned, who is to have the command in Persia. I was in the house of Bacchu, who gave me wine, while he drank cosmos; and, although it was the best new wine, I would rather have had cosmos, if he had offered it, being more restorative for such a half-starved wretch as I then was. We ascended the Araxes to its head, and beyond the mountains, where it rises, is the good city of Arsorum,[10] which belongs to the Soldan of Turkey.[11] When we departed from Bacchu, my guide went to Tauris to speak with Argon, and took my interpreter with him; but Bacchu caused me to be carried to Naxuam,[12] formerly the capital of a great kingdom, and the greatest and fairest city in those parts, but the Tartars have now made it a wilderness. There were formerly eight hundred churches[13] of the Armenians here, which are now reduced to two very small ones, in one of which I held my Christmas as well as I could, with our clerk Gosset. Next day the priest of this church died, and a bishop with twelve monks came from the mountains to his funeral, for all the bishops of the Armenians are monks, and likewise most of those belonging to the Greeks.[14]

In the city of Naxuam I met a Catalan friar, of the order of Predicants, named Barnard, who lives with a friar of the Holy Sepulchre, resident in Georgia, and possessing extensive lands there. We were detained in Naxuam by the snow, till the 6th January 1255, and came in four days to the country of Sabensa, a Curdish prince, heretofore powerful, but now tributary to the Tartars, who destroyed all his warlike stores. Zacharias, the father of Sabensa, possessed himself of all the country of the Armenians, from whence he drove out the Saracens. In this country there are many fine villages of true Christians, having churches like those of Europe; and every Armenian has in his house, in an honourable place, a wooden hand holding a cross, before which a lamp continually burns; and that which we do by holy water, they do with frankincense, which they burn every evening through every corner of the house, to drive away evil spirits. I ate with Sabensa, and both he and his wife did me great reverence. His son Zachary, a wise and comely young man, asked me if your majesty would, entertain him; for though he has plenty of all things, he is so uneasy under the Tartar dominion, that he would rather retire to a strange country, than endure their violent exactions. These people say they are true sons of the church, and if the Pope would send them aid, they would bring all the neighbouring nations under subjection to the church of Rome.

From Naxuam we travelled in fifteen days into the country of the soldan of Turkey, to a castle called Marseugen, inhabited by Armenians, Curgians, and Greeks, the Turks only having the dominion. From that place, where we arrived on the first Sunday of Lent, till I got to Cyprus, eight days before the feast of St John the Baptist, I was forced to buy all our provisions. He who was my guide procured horses for us, and took my money for the victuals, which he put into his own pocket; for when in the fields, he took a sheep from any flock he saw by the way, without leave or ceremony. In the Feast of the Purification, 2d February, I was in a city named Ayni, belonging to Sabensa, in a strong situation, having an hundred Armenian churches, and two mosques, and in it a Tartar officer resides.

At this place I met five preaching friars, four of whom came from Provence, and the fifth joined them in Syria. They had but one sickly boy who could speak Turkish and a little French, and they had the Popes letters of request to Sartach, Baatu, and Mangu-khan, that they might be suffered to continue in the country to preach the word of God. But when I had told them what I had seen, and how I was sent back, they directed their journey to Tefflis, where there were friars of their order, to consult what they should do. I said that they might pass into Tartary with these letters, but they might lay their account with much labour, and would have to give an account of the motives of their journey; for having no other object but preaching, they would be little cared for particularly as they had no ambassador. I never heard what they did afterwards.

On the second Sunday in Lent we came to the head of the Araxes, and passing the mountains, we came to the Euphrates, by which we descended eight days journey, going to the west, till we came to a castle named Camath or Kemac, where the Euphrates trends to the south, towards Halapia, or Aleppo. We here passed to the north-west side of the river, and went over very high mountains, and through deep snow, to the west. There was so great an earthquake that year in this country, that in one city called Arsingan, ten thousand persons are said to have perished. During three days journey we saw frequent gaps in the earth, which had been cleft by the convulsion, and great heaps of earth which had tumbled down from the mountains into the vallies. We passed through the valley where the soldan of the Turks was vanquished by the Tartars, and a servant belonging to my guide, who was in the Tartar army, said the Tartars did not exceed 10,000 men, whereas the soldan had 200,000 horse. In that plain there broke out a great lake at the time of the earthquake, and it came into my mind, that the earth opened her mouth to receive yet more blood of the Saracens.

We remained in Sebasta, Siwas, or Sivas, a town of the Lesser Armenia, in the Easter week, and on the succeeding Sunday we came to Caesaria of Capadocia, now called Kaisarea. In about fifteen days, making short journeys, we came to Konieh or Iconium. This delay arose in part from the difficulty of procuring horses, but chiefly because the guide chose to stop, often for three days together in one place, to negotiate his own affairs; and though much dissatisfied, I durst not complain, as he might have slain me and our servants, or sold us for slaves, and there was none to hinder it. I found many Franks at Iconium, and among these a merchant called Nicholas de Sancto Syrio, and his partner Boniface de Molandino, who had a monopoly of all the alum of Turkey from the soldan, and by this means they had raised the price so much, that what used to sell for fifteen byzants, is now sold for forty. My guide presented me to the soldan, who said he would willingly get me conveyed to the sea of Armenia or Cilicia; but the above merchants knowing that the Turks made little account of me, and that I was much distressed with my guide, caused me to be conveyed to Curruma,[15] a port in the dominions of the king of Armenia. Having remained here from before the Ascension till after Pentecost, or near a fortnight, I heard there were messengers arrived from the king to his father, and I went to the king's father to learn the news. I found him surrounded by all his sons, except Barum Usin, who resided in a certain castle; and he told me that his son was on his return, and that Mangu-khan had much eased his tribute, granting him a privilege that no ambassador should come into his country. On this the old man and all his sons made a banquet; and he caused me to be conveyed by sea to the haven called Aijax,[16] whence I passed over into Cyprus, and at Nicosia I found our provincial, who, the same day, carried me with him to Antiochia,[17] which is in a very weak state; we were there on the feast of St Peter, and St Paul, 29th June; and from thence we went to Tripolis in Syria, where the chapter of our order was held, on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,1 5th August 1255.

Our provincial is determined that I shall reside at Acon,[18] and will not suffer me to come to your majesty, but commands me to write what I will by the bearer of these presents. I would willingly see your highness, and some spiritual friends in your kingdom; and beseech your majesty to write our provincial to allow me to go to you, and to return shortly again into the Holy Land.

I would have your majesty to understand, that in Turkey, every tenth man is not a Mahometan; they are all Armenians and Greeks, and are ruled over by children. The soldan, who was conquered by the Tartars, had a lawful wife of Iberia, by whom he had one feeble son, whom he directed to succeed him as soldan. He had another son by a Greek concubine, whom he committed to the guardianship of a certain great admiral. The third he had by a Turkish woman, to whom many Turks and Turkomans having gathered, they proposed to have slain all the soldans sons by Christian mothers, and if successful, to have destroyed all the churches, and to compel all to become Mahometans on pain of death. But he was overcome in battle, and many of his men slain. He recruited his army, and ventured a second battle, in which he was defeated and taken prisoner, and still remains confined. Pacester, the son of the Greek concubine, was soon afterwards made soldan, as the other was weak, whom they have sent to the Tartars; the kindred by the mothers side, of this son, such as the Iberians and Curds, are much dissatisfied at his being deprived; so that at this time a child ruleth in Turkey, having no treasure, few soldiers, and many enemies. The son of Vestacius is weak, and at war with the son of Assan, who is likewise a child, and worn out with the servitude of the Tartars. If, therefore, an army of the church were now to come to the Holy Land, it were easy to subdue all these countries, or to pass through them. The king of Hungary hath not above 30,000 soldiers. From Cologne to Constantinople are not above sixty days journey by waggons; and from Constantinople not so many to the country of the king of Armenia. In old times, valiant men passed through all these countries and prospered; yet they had to contend with most valiant opponents, whom God hath now destroyed out of the earth. In this way we need fear no dangers of the sea, or the mercy of sailors, and the price of freight would defray the expences by land. I say confidently, if our countrymen would go as the king of the Tartars does, and would be contented with such victuals, they might conquer the whole world.

It does not seem to me expedient, that any more friars should be sent to the Tartars, in the way I went, or as the predicant friars go. But if our lord the Pope were to send a bishop in an honourable style, capable to answer their follies, he might speak unto them as he pleased; for they will hear whatever an ambassador chooses to speak, and always demand if he will say any more. But he ought to have many good interpreters, and ought to be at large expences.

I have thus written to your highness, according to my weak power and understanding, craving pardon from your clemency, for my superfluities or wants, or for any thing that may be indiscreetly or foolishly written, as from a man of little understanding, not accustomed to write long histories. The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, preserve your heart and fortify your mind.

[1] The reason of the change was, probably, that they might fall in with the travelling Tartar camps, who went northwards in the summer, that they might procure food and change of horses. In going to Mangu, he appears to have travelled through Soongaria, and, in returning, through the country of the Kalmaks. The river here mentioned may have been the Borotala.--E
[2] Sarni, Saray, or Sarey, seems to have been built on the Achtuba, or eastern branch of the Volga, near Zarewpod, where many traces of a large town, still exist. Sumerkent is unknown, but may have been near Astrachan, formerly named Hadschi-Aidar-Khan. But there are ruins of a town still existing on both sides of the Volga, which are now used for the purpose of making saltpetre.--Forst.
[3] Schabran, or Schabiran.--E.
[4] Shamaki, in Shirvan.--E.
[5] The Karai, on which Tefflis or Tiblis stands, runs from the north-west; the Demur, Araz or Araxes from the west; and both united form the Kur, which runs directly south into the Caspian.--E.
[6] Georgia or Gurgistan is to the north-west of the plain of Mogan.--E.
[7] These were the ancestors of the present Turks, who laid the foundation of the Osmanian or Othoman empire. Kanja, called Ganges or Ganghe in the text, was their capital.--Frost.
[8] This passage is erroneous or corrupted. In travelling westwards up the Araxes or Araz, he had Persia on his left, to the south, Georgia on his right, to the north, and the Caspian sea and mountains of the Iron-gate were left behind him, to the east and north-east.--E.
[9] Westwards.--E.
[10] Arz-roum on the Frat or Euphrates, perhaps a corruption of Arx-romanorum; as the Turks give the name of Roum to a part of Lesser Asia; and all the eastern nations call the Constantinopolitan empire Roum to this day.--E.
[11] Turkey, in these travels of Rubruquis, is always, to be understood as referring to the Turkish dominion in Asia Minor, of which Konieh or Iconium was the capital.--E.
[12] Nak-sivan, or Nag-jowan.--E.
[13] This must be an error for eighty.--E.
[14] Rubruquis here tells a long story of an Armenian prophecy, from which they expected to be freed from the iron yoke of the Tartars, by St Louis, not worth inserting.--E.
[15] Kurke or Kurch.--E.
[16] Aias-cala, in the gulf of Aiasso, or Scanderoon.--E.
[17] Antioch or Antakia.--E.
[18] Ptolomais, or St John d'Acre.--E.


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