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Sir John Mandeville. Marvellous Adventures. 1895.

Chapter XXIV

Of the Realm of Thurse and the Lands and Kingdoms towards the Septentrional or Northern Parts, in coming down from the Land of Cathay

THIS Land of Cathay is in Asia the Deep; and after, on this Side, is Asia the More. The Kingdom of Cathay marcheth toward the West with the Kingdom of Thurse, of the which was one of the Kings that came to give Presents to our Lord in Bethlehem. And they that be of the Lineage of that King are, some of them, Christian. In Thurse they eat no Flesh, neither drink they any Wine.

And on this Side, toward the West, is the Kingdom of Turkestan, that stretcheth toward the West to the Kingdom of Persia, and toward the Septentrional or North to the Kingdom of Khorasan. In the Country of Turkestan be but few good Cities; but the best City of that Land is hight Octorar. There be great Pastures, but little Corn; and therefore, for the most Part, they be all Herdsmen, and they lie in Tents and they drink a Manner of Ale made of Honey.

And after, on this Side, is the Kingdom of Khorasan, that is a good Land and a plenteous, without Wine. And it hath a Desert toward the East that lasteth more than an 100 Days’ Journey. And the best City of that Country is clept Khorasan, and from that City the Country beareth his Name. The Folk of that Country be hardy Warriors.

And on this Side is the Kingdom of Comania, wherefrom the Comanians that dwelled in Greece sometime were chased out. This is one of the greatest Kingdoms of the World, but it is not all inhabited. For at one of the Parts there is so great Cold that no Man may dwell there; and in another Part there is so great Heat that no Man may endure it, and also there be so many Flies, that no Man may know on what Side he may turn him. In that Country is but little Wood or Trees that bear Fruit or others. They lie in Tents; and they burn the Dung of Beasts for Default of Wood. This Kingdom descendeth on this Side toward us and toward Prussia and toward Russia.

And through that Country runneth the River of Ethille that is one of the greatest Rivers of the World. And it freezeth so strongly every Year, that many times Men have fought upon the Ice with great Hosts, both Parties on Foot, and their Horses quitted for the Time, and what with those on Horse and on Foot, more than 200,000 Persons on each Side.

And between that River and the great Sea Ocean, that they call the Sea Maure, lie all these Realms. And toward the Head, beneath, in that Realm is the Mount Chotaz, that is the highest Mount of the World, and it is between the Sea Maure and the Sea Caspian. There is a full strait and dangerous Passage to go toward Ind. And therefore King Alexander made there a strong City, that Men call Alexandria, to guard the Country that no Man should pass without his Leave. And now Men call that City, the Gate of Hell.

And the principal City of Comania is clept Sarak, that is on one of the 3 Ways to go into Ind. But by this Way, may not pass any great Multitude of People, but if it be in Winter. And that Passage Men call the Derbent. The tother Way is to go from the City of Turkestan by Persia, and by that Way be many Days’ Journey by Desert. And the 3rd Way is that which cometh from Comania and then goes by the great Sea and by the Kingdom of Abchaz.

And ye shall understand, that all these Kingdoms and all these Lands above-said unto Prussia and to Russia be all obeissant to the great Chan of Cathay, and many other Countries that march with other Borders. Wherefore his Power and his Lordship is full great and full mighty.