Home  »  The Marvellous Adventures of Sir John Maundevile Kt  »  Of the Emperor of Persia, and of the Land of Darkness; and of other Kingdoms that belong to the great Chan of Cathay, and other Lands of his, unto the Sea of Greece

Sir John Mandeville. Marvellous Adventures. 1895.

Chapter XXV

Of the Emperor of Persia, and of the Land of Darkness; and of other Kingdoms that belong to the great Chan of Cathay, and other Lands of his, unto the Sea of Greece

NOW, since I have advised you of the Lands and the Kingdoms toward the Septentrional or Northern Parts, in coming down from the Land of Cathay unto the Lands of the Christians, toward Prussia and Russia,—now shall I advise you of other Lands and Kingdoms coming down by other Borders, toward the right Side, unto the Sea of Greece, toward the Land of Christian Men. And, therefore, as after Ind and after Cathay the Emperor of Persia is the greatest Lord,—therefore, I shall tell you of the Kingdom of Persia first, where he hath 2 Kingdoms.

The first Kingdom beginneth toward the East, toward the Kingdom of Turkestan, and it stretcheth toward the West unto the River of Pison, that is one of the 4 Rivers that come out of Paradise. And on another Side it stretcheth toward the Septentrion or North unto the Sea of Caspian; and also toward the South unto the Desert of Ind. And this Country is good and plenteous and full of People. And there be many good Cities. But the 2 principal Cities be these, Bokhara, and Seornergant, that Men call Samarcand. The tother Kingdom of Persia stretcheth toward the River of Pison and the Parts of the West unto the Kingdom of Media, and from the Great Armenia and toward the Septentrion to the Sea of Caspian and toward the South to the Land of Ind. That is also a good Land and a plenteous, and it hath 3 great principal Cities—Messabor, Caphon, and Sarmassan.

And then after is Armenia, in the which were wont to be 5 Kingdoms, that is a noble Country and full of Goods. And it beginneth at Persia and stretcheth toward the West in Length unto Turkey. And in Breadth it endureth to the City of Alexandria, that now is clept the Gate of Hell, that I spake of before, under the Kingdom of Media. In this Armenia be full many good Cities, but Taurizo (Tabreez) is most of Name.

After this is the Kingdom of Media, that is full long, but is not full broad, that beginneth toward the East at the Land of Persia and at Ind the Less; and it stretcheth toward the West, toward the Kingdom of Chaldea and toward the Septentrion, descending toward the Little Armenia. In that Kingdom of Media there be many great Hills and little of flat Earth. There dwell Saracens and another manner of Folk, that Men call Kurds. The best 2 Cities of that Kingdom be Sarras and Karemen.

After that is the Kingdom of Georgia, that beginneth toward the East, at the great Mountain that is clept Abzor, where dwell many divers Folk of diverse Nations. And Men call the Country Alamo. This Kingdom stretcheth him towards Turkey and toward the great Sea, and toward the South it marcheth with the Great Armenia. And there be 2 Kingdoms in that Country; the one is the Kingdom of Georgia, and the other is the Kingdom of Abchaz. And always in that Country be 2 Kings; and they be both Christians, but the King of Georgia is in Subjection to the great Chan. And the King of Abchaz hath the more strong Country and he always vigorously defendeth his Country against all those that assail him, so that no Man may make him in Subjection to any Man.

In that Kingdom of Abchaz is a great Marvel. For a Province of the Country that hath well in Circuit 3 Days’ Journeys, that Men call Hanyson, is all covered with Darkness, without any Brightness or Light; so that no Man may see there, nor no Man dare enter into him. And, nevertheless, they of the Country say, that sometimes Men hear Voices of Folk, and Horses neighing, and Cocks crowing. And Men wit well, that Men dwell there, but they know not what Men. And they say, that Darkness befell by Miracle of God. For a cursed Emperor of Persia, that was hight Saures, pursued all Christian Men to destroy them and to compel them to make Sacrifice to his Idols, and rode with a great Host, in all that ever he might, to confound the Christian Men. And then in that Country dwelled many good Christian Men, the which left their Goods and would have fled into Greece. And when they were in a Plain that was hight Megon, anon this cursed Emperor met with them with his Host to have slain them and hewn them in Pieces. And anon the Christian Men kneeled to the Ground, and made their Prayers to God to succour them. And anon a thick Cloud came and covered the Emperor and all his Host. And so they endure in that Manner that they must not go out any Side; and so shall they evermore abide in Darkness till the Day of Doom, by the Miracle of God. And then the Christian Men went where liked them best, at their own Pleasure, without Hindering of any Creature, their Enemies enclosed and confounded in Darkness without any Stroke.

Wherefore we may well say with David, “A Domino factum est istud; et est mirabile in Oculis nostris.” (“This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our Eyes.”). And that was a great Miracle, that God made for them. Wherefore methinketh that Christian Men should be more devout to serve our Lord God than any other Men of any other Sect. For without any Doubt, if there were not Cursedness and Sin of Christian Men, they should be Lords of all the World. For the Banner of Jesu Christ is always displayed, and ready on all Sides to the Help of his true loving Servants. Insomuch, that one good Christian Man in good Belief should overcome and chase out a 1000 cursed misbelieving Men, as David saith in the Psalter. “Quoniam persequebatur unus mille, et duo fugarent decem milia;” (“How should one chase a 1000, and 2 put 10,000 to Flight;”) and, “Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem milia a dextris tuis.” (“A 1000 shall fall at thy Side, and 10,000 at thy right Hand.”). And how that it might be that one should chase a 1000, David himself saith, following, “Quia Manus Domini fecit hæc omnia.” (“For the Hand of the Lord made all these Things.”). So that we may see openly that if we be good Men, no Enemy may endure against us.

Also ye shall understand that out of that Land of Darkness goeth out a great River that sheweth well that there be Folk dwelling there by many ready Tokens; but no Man dare enter into it.

And wit well, that in the Kingdoms of Georgia, of Abchaz and of the Little Armenia be good Christian Men and devout. For they shrive them and housel them (take the Sacrament) evermore once or twice in the Week. And there be many of them that housel them every Day; and so do we not on this Side, albeit that Saint Paul commandeth it, saying, “Omnibus Diebus Dominicis ad Communicandum hortor.” (“Every Lord’s Day I exhort you to communicate.”). They keep that Commandment, but we keep it not.

And after, on this Side, is Turkey, that marcheth with the Great Armenia. And there be many Provinces, as Cappadocia, Saure, Brique, Quesiton, Pytan and Gemethe. And in every one of these be good Cities. This Turkey stretcheth unto the City of Sathala that sitteth upon the Sea of Greece, and so it marcheth with Syria. Syria is a great Country and a good, as I have told you before. And also it hath, above toward Ind, the Kingdom of Chaldea, that stretcheth from the Mountains of Chaldea toward the East unto the City of Nineveh, that sitteth upon the River of Tigris; and in Breadth it beginneth toward the North to the City of Maraga; and it stretcheth toward the South unto the Sea Ocean. In Chaldea it is a flat Country, and few Hills and few Rivers.

After is the Kingdom of Mesopotamia, that beginneth, toward the East, at the River Tigris, at a City that is clept Mosul; and it stretcheth toward the West to the River of Euphrates unto a City that is clept Roianz; and in Length it goeth from the Mount of Armenia unto the Desert of Ind the Less. This is a good Country and a flat, but it hath few Rivers. It hath but 2 Mountains in that Country, of the which one is called Symar and the other Lyson. And this Land marcheth with the Kingdom of Chaldea.

Also, there be, toward the Meridional or Southern Parts, many Countries and many Regions, as the Land of Ethiopia, that marcheth, toward the East with the great Deserts, toward the South with the Kingdom of Mauritania, and toward the North with the Red Sea.

After is Mauritania, that endureth from the Mountains of Ethiopia unto Lybia the High. And that Country lieth along from the Sea Ocean toward the South; and toward the North it marcheth with Nubia and with the High Lybia, and the Men of Nubia be Christian; and it marcheth from the Lands above-said with the Deserts of Egypt, and that is the Egypt that I have spoken of before.

And after is Lybia the High and Lybia the Low that descendeth down low toward the great Sea of Spain, in the which Country be many Kingdoms and many divers Folk.

Now I have advised you of many Countries on this Side the Kingdom of Cathay, of the which many be obeissant to the great Chan.