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Written in Norman French by the 14th century English nobleman named in the title, though some claim the name was a pseudonym for Jean de Bourgogne, a physician of Liege, or by Jean d'Outremeuse, also a citizen of Liege and composer of fabulous history. The book purports to be a travelogue of Mandeville's journeys to Jerusalem, Egypt, Turkistan, India, China, and some islands that may have been Samoa, Japan, the Philippines, or some combination there-of.

Initially, it serves as a guide for those wishing to make a pilgrimage to the holy lands, and it discusses the good and bad points of different modes of travel, and even different popular travel routes. Sir John Mandeville may very well have journeyed to Jerusalem, but probably not much further. Indeed, there is a famous criticism of his book stating that Mandeville may not have gotten any further than the nearest library, based on some of his rather unusual observations of the world outside of Northwestern Europe.

Mandeville probably came up with most of his information by reading the travelogues of actual explorers, such as Marco Polo and Ordoric of Pordenone, and adding bits of medieval legend. Although this made him significantly less accurate, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville easily out-sold the more factual works of the day. The book was translated into well over 40 languages, and was owned by any merchant worth his salt.

Like most medieval writers, Mandeville praises all Christendom just about every other line, yet his words come across as markedly liberal in an age where published authors were usually monks or nuns.

This is also probably one of the most thoroughly enjoyable historical geographies you'll ever read, especially if you enjoy fantasy. Players of White Wolf's historical World of Darkness settings, especially Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade, might find it a particularly valuable resource

And so, without further ado . . . Project Gutenburg's public domain version of . . .

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville


  1. To Teach You the Way Out of England to Constantinople
  2. Of the Cross and the Crown of Our Lord Jesu Christ
  3. Of the City of Constantinople, And of the Faith of Greeks
  4. [Of the Way from Constantinople to Jerusalem.] Of Saint John the Evangelist. And of Ypocras' Daughter, Transformed from a Woman to a Dragon
  5. [Of Diversities in Cyprus; of the Road from Cyprus to Jerusalem, and of the Marvel of a Fosse Full of Sand]
  6. Of Many Names of Soldans, and of the Tower of Babylon
  7. Of the Country of Egypt; Of the Bird Phoenix of Arabia; of the City of Cairo; of the Cunning to Know Balm and to Prove It; And of the Garners of Joseph
  8. Of the Isle of Sicily; Of the Way From Babylon to the Mount Sinai; Of the Church of Saint Katherine and of All the Marvels There
  9. Of the Desert Between the Church of Saint Catherine and Jerusalem. Of the Dry Tree; And How Roses Came First into the World
  10. Of the Pilgrimages in Jerusalem, and of the Holy Places Thereabout
  11. Of the Temple of Our Lord. Of the Cruelty of King Herod. Of the Mount Sion. Of Probatica Piscina; And of Natatorium Siloe.
  12. Of the Dead Sea; And of the Flome Jordan. Of the Head of Saint John the Baptist; And of the Usages of the Samaritans
  13. Of the Province of Galilee, and Where Antichrist Shall Be Born. Of Nazareth. Of the Age of Our Lady. Of the Day of Doom. And of the Customs of Jacobites, Syrians; And of the Usages of Georgians
  14. Of the City of Damascus. Of Three Ways to Jerusalem; One, by Land and by Sea; Another, More by Land than by Sea; And the Third Way to Jerusalem, All by Land
  15. Of the Customs of Saracens, And of Their Law. And How the Soldan Reasoned Me, Author of This Book; And of the Beginning of Mohammet
  16. Of the Lands of Albania and of Libia. Of the Wishings for Watching of the Sparrow-Hawk; And of Noah's Ship
  17. Of the Land of Job; And of His Age. Of the Array of Men of Chaldea. Of the Land Where Women Dwell Without Company of Men. Of the Knowledge and Virtues of the Very Diamond
  18. Of the Customs of the Isles About Ind. Of the Difference Betwixt Idols and Simulacres. Of Three Manner Growing of Pepper Upon One Tree. Of the Well that Changeth His Odour Every Hour of the Day; And that is Marvel
  19. Of the Dooms Made by St. Thomas's Hand. Of Devotion and Sacrifice Made to Idols There, in the City of Calamye; And of the Procession in Going About the City
  20. Of the Evil Customs Used in the Isle of Lamary. And How the Earth and the Sea Be of Round Form and Shape, by Proof of the Star that Is Clept Antarctic, that Is Fixed in the South
  21. Of the Palace of the King of the Isle of Java. Of the Trees that Bear Meal, Honey, Wine, and Venom; And of Other Marvels and Customs Used in the Isles Marching Thereabout
  22. How Men Know by the Idol, If the Sick Shall Die or Not. Of Folk of Diverse Shape and Marvellously Disfigured. And of the Monks that Gave Their Relief to Baboons, Apes and Marmosets, and to Other Beasts
  23. Of the Great Chan of Cathay. Of the Royalty of His Palace, and How He Sits at Meat; And of the Great Number of Officers that Serve Him
  24. Wherefore He Is Clept the Great Chan. Of the Style of His Letters, and of the Superscription About His Great Seal and His Privy Seal
  25. Of the Governance of the Great Chan's Court, and When He Maketh Solemn Feasts. Of His Philosophers. And of His Array, When He Rideth by the Country
  26. Of the Law and the Customs of the Tartarians Dwelling in Cathay. And How that Men Do When the Emperor Shall Die, and How He Shall Be Chosen
  27. Of the Realm of Tharse and the Lands and Kingdoms Towards the Septentrional Parts, in Coming Down from the Land of Cathay
  28. The Emperor of Persia, and of the Land of Darkness; And of Other Kingdoms That Belong to te Great Chan of Cathay, and Other Lands of His, Unto the Sea of Greece
  29. Of the Countries and Isles That Be Beyond the Land of Cathay; And of the Fruits There; And of the Twenty-Two Kings Enclosed Within the Mountains
  30. Of the Royal Estate of Prester John. And of a Rich Man that Made a Marvellous Castle and Cleped It Paradise; And of His Subtlety
  31. Of the Devil's Head in the Valley Perilous. And of hte Customs of Folk in Diverse Isles That Be About in the Lordship of Prester John
  32. Of the Goodness of the Folk of the Isle of Bragman. Of King Alexander. And Wherefore the Emperor of Ind is Clept Prester John
  33. Of the Hills of Gold that Pismires Keep. And of the Four Floods that Come from Paradise Terrestrial
  34. Of the Customs of Kings and Other That Dwell in the Isles Coasting to Prester John's Land. And of the Worship that the Son Doth to the Father When He Is Dead

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