Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden maonachi Cestrensis; together with the English translations of John Trevisa and of an unknown writer of the fifteenth century.
Higden, Ranulf, d. 1364., Trevisa, John, tr. d. 1402., Caxton, William, ca. 1422-1491., Malverne, John, d 1415?, Babington, Churchill, ed. 1821-1889,, Lumby, J. Rawson ed. (Joseph Rawson), 1831-1895.

Liber Secundus. Capitulum primum. [folio 78a]

THE ordre of the narracion of stories requirethe that the gestes of the worlde scholde be describede also after the places of the worlde schewede and expressede; then, sythe the gretter worlde was made for the lesse worlde, as hit is seide, "The gretter worlde schalle serue the lesse," then the descripcion in the precedenge processe of the grete worlde schalle not be with owte a cause and vtilite. Wyllenge now to describe the lesse worlde in the begyn|nenge of his actes, that the qualite or quantite of hit may Page  177, vol.2 be knowen, whiche beenge so litelle worchethe so grete thynges in so grete a thynge. The maker of alle thynges, anendes whom the ydealle reasones of thynges be hidde, made the lesse worlde after the grete engyne of the worlde made, in whom he impressede the similitude of the grete worlde. For a man and the worlde be assimilate in iij. thynges, in dimension diametralle or dimetralle, in disposi|cion naturalle, and in operation virtualle. And thauȝhe þe longitude of the body of man, whiche is from the soole of the foote vn to the toppe of the hedde, be vj. tymes more then the latitude of hym whiche is from side to side, and x. tymes more then þe altitude of hyt, whiche is from the backe to the bely; for*. [The translator should have written yet.] after the grete clerk Plinius, libro quinto, capitulo decimo octavo, what distaunce is betwene Page  179, vol.2 cenit of oure hedde and a poynte contradictorious to hit in heuyn, soe moche distaunce is from the este in to the weste; soe in lyke wyse hit is in the body of man, that as moche distaunce is betwene the soole of his foote to the toppe of the hedde, so moche distaunce is betwene the extremites of the longeste fyngers, his armes extente. Also Plinius dothe reherse in the same boke, capitulo 17o, þat in euery thrydde age the measure of the peple schalle be but halfe of the firste age precedente in stature, if hit lyve. For lyke as we see in the worlde so hit is in man, that the partes and membres be corespondente to gedre and supplyenge the place of that other. For the bodies above gouerne and ȝiffe influence, the membres inferialle supporte and do seruyce, the meane other membres mediate, receyve, and refunde. And if a member of either worlde be owte of his place naturalle, and a straunge thynge haue introite [folio 78b] in to hit, the body is troublede anoon. As when the wynde is includede in the wombe of the erthe, a movenge of the erthe is made, and when hit is in the clowdes a thundre is Page  181, vol.2 causede and made by hyt, in lyke wise in the body of man; sorowe and sekenesse be causede when membres be owte of theire places naturalle, auther humores be corrupte. And also lyke as a goode habitude of the mynde is signi|fiede when the membres be welle proporcionate as vn to figure, coloure, qualite, quantite, place, and movenge, and in sentence contrarious when the membres be inproporcionate to gedre; wherefore Plato ȝafe sentence that man folowethe the maneres and affectes of that beste, of whom he hathe similitude. And lyke as the hieste thynge of a thynge inferialle towchethe the laweste place of his superior, in the ordre of worldely thynges; as oestres, whiche holde as the laweste place in the kynde of bestes, excede but a litelle the life of plantes in that thei be immoveable and drawenge to the erthe, hauenge oonly the witte of towch|enge. And the hieste parte of the erthe towchethe the loweste parte of the water, and so ascendenge by degrees Page  183, vol.2 vn to the laste worlde: so in lyke wise the hieste thynge in the kynde of bodies, that may be seide, the body of man egally complexionate, atteynethe the laweste thynge of the kynde superialle other generalite, whiche is the sawle of man, whiche holdethe as the laweste place in the kynde or generalite of substaunces intellectualle. Wherefore hit is callede orizon, and as the coste of thynges corporealle and incorporealle, in whom hit is ascended by degres from the laweste power to the hieste powere intellectiue; whiche, separate somme tyme from substaunces terrestrialle, as in affecte atteynethe otherwhile substaunce separate. Also a man hathe somme thynges commune with parcialle thynges of þe worlde. For after Seynte Gregory, in an omely in the As|cencion of oure Lorde God, "A man hathe beenge with stones, lyvenge with trees, felenge with bestes, vnderstondenge with angelles." Also erthe apperethe in the body of a man in the flesche and in the boones, water in the bloode and humores, aier in þe longes, and fire in the herte. But a man in Grewe is callede antropos, as a tre euertede; for a Page  185, vol.2 man hathe an hedde with heire, in the maner of a rote of a tre, and armes as bowȝes. As vnto the thridde simili|tude, whiche is virtualle operacion, we see, as Seynte Gre|gory seythe in an omely of Aduente, that the worlde hathe thryvede in yeres afore as in yowthe to the multiplicacion of peple, for hit was myȝhty as for healethe of bodies, grene and fatte as in plente of thynges. But hit is now as depressede with age, and is constreynede as with ryfe greuaunces to a nye dethe. Also in lyke wise the body of man encreasethe in youthe, the breste is stronge, the armes be fulle; but the stature is boede downe in age, the coppe is depressede, the breste is constreynede with mony sighes, the brethe is succidede, and vertu failethe thro alle the body. Also like as we see that þer be ij. movenges in the gretter worlde, oon naturalle, thro whom the worldes inferialle be movede from the weste in to the este, that other is a movenge violente, by whom the worldes be rapte thro the rape of the firste mover from the este in to þe weste: soe hit is in like wise in man, that the flesche Page  187, vol.2 covetethe ageyne the sawle, and the sawle ageyne the flesche, and þe powers inferialle laboure and stryve ageyne reason. Also a man is comparate with mony thynges in the worlde, and suffrethe as thynges commune with theyme, for he is slawe otherwhile as the erthe, floenge like to the water, ȝiffenge place like to the aier, brennenge as fire, chaung|enge like to the moone, sleenge as Mars, goenge abowte other couetenge like to Mercurius, goenge owte of kynde like Iupiter, beenge woode or cruelle like to Saturnus. Also, after Plinius, libro septimo, capitulo tertio, lyke as the extremalle places of the worlde be moste habundante in miracles, as in Ynde, Ethioppe, and Affrike, soe in like wise nature hathe made moste meruellous disportes in that kynde of men. For now there is suche diuersite in the face of man, where x. members were firste, or fewe moo, that vnnethe ij. men be lyke amonge mony ml. Also there be men in Affrike, thro the lawde of whom thynges com|mended dye, trees do wedre, and wexe drye: also in Tri|ballis Page  189, vol.2 and in Illyricis be men whiche cause thynges beholden longe to peresche, and specially if the men beholdenge be wrothe, whiche haue ij. apples in either eie. So in lyke wise the poete Varro rehersethe that nature hathe infuded in to the eien of somme men venom, so that þer is noone ylle thynge but hit is reperible in man. Also somme partes off men be causede for somme meruellous thynges, to be schewede, as a thowmbe in the ryȝhte foote of Pyrrhus*. [Pirus or Pirrus, MS.] kynge, the towchenge of whom ȝafe subsidy ageyne venom, whom auctores say not to haue be brente when the body of the kynge was brente. Also Plinius seithe, libro 7o, capitulo 17o, that somme men lyve alle the body concrete and compacte with boones, with owte eny maro, and these men do not thurste, neithe*. [So Harl. MS.] swete. Also in the same boke, Page  191, vol.2 capitulo 21o, somme men hauenge senowes as transuertede and ouercrossede thro alle the body, haue bene of grete myȝhte; somme preuayle in swifte course and rennenge; somme men be nowble in siȝhte, as a knyȝhte callede Strabo was, whiche see the schippes Punicalle and myrrours by c.xxxvti ml passes from hym. Also, after Plinius, libro xio, capitulo xlixo, Tiberius themperour see more clerely in derknesse then in lyȝhte, in so moche that he awakede in the nyȝhte see alle thynges clerely. Also Plinius, libro 7o, capitulo 27o. Mony men haue hade grete scharpenesse in mynde, as Cyrus kynge of Pers[i]a, whiche ȝafe names to alle the knyȝhtes in his hoste. Also Seneca rehersethe of hym selfe in the firste prologe, that he was of suche memory that he wolde haue rehersede ij. ml names by herte, after the ordre thei were seide, and also moo then ijc versus seide of an other man, begynnenge at the laste Page  193, vol.2 vn to the firste. Also he rehersethe there, that Cineas, meassenger of kynge Pyrrhus, salutede alle the senate of Rome and alle the peple abowte by theire propre names in the secunde day after his commynge to the cite. Also an other man rehersenge the versus of a poete, ascribede the lawde to hym, in that he rehersede theym more expedientely then the poete whiche made theyme. Also Plinius, libro 7o, capitulo 27o, rehersethe that somme men haue bene nowble of witte, as Iulius Cesar, whiche was vsede to rede, wryte, here, and to endyte epistoles at oon tyme. Also Plinius rehersethe, libro 7o, capitulo 28o,*. [The true reference is to capp. 17, 18.] that somme men haue moste strenȝhte in the ryȝhte honde, somme in the lifte honde,*. [londe, Harl. MS.] and somme men haue egalle strenȝhtes in either [folio 80a] honde. Also men be moore heuy then women, and dedde thynges more then thynges in lyfe, and thynges slepenge more then thynges wakenge. Also, libro 7o, capitulo 17, we haue a-redde a man to haue laȝhede in the firste day Page  195, vol.2 of his natiuite, and to haue put a way the honde of the man towchenge hym. Also, capitulo 20. Somme men be seide to haue not laȝhede in theire lyfe, somme men neuer to haue wepede, somme men neuer to haue spytte. Also, capitulo quarto, lyke as hit is in other bestes, so hit is in the kynde of man, that somme persones be gendred of bothe kyndes, whom we calle hermofroditas, callede somme tyme androdinos, namede as amonge wondres, now acomptede amonge delites. Also we haue seen and herde peple to haue chaungede theire kynde. For we see a maide in Affrike in the day of here mariage to haue ben chaungede in to a man, and to haue hade a berde and other membres of a man, and to haue mariede soone after with a woman. Also Seynte Austyn seithe, De Civitate Dei, libro tertio, capitulo 29, that A. Gellius*. [Agellius, MS., α., and Harl. MS.] rehersethe, libro Atticarum noctium, women to haue ben chaungede in to men, and that hit is not a fable but a trawthe. Wherefore A. Gellius*. [Agellius, MS., α., and Harl. MS.] dothe Page  197, vol.2 reherse hym selfe to haue seen at a cite callede Smyrna, a maide chaungede in to a man in the day of theire wed|denge. Wherefore suche a wondre brouȝhte oon tyme to the senate, in the tyme of Licinius Crassus, and Cassius Longinus,*. [Lascivius Crassus, Cassius, and Longinus, Harl. MS.] consulles, whiche was sende in to a deserte place thro the cownsaille of wicches. Also Titus Liuius spekethe of hennes chaungenge theire kynde in to kokkes, and also, Auicenna, libro octauo de animalibus, that an henne hade the victory of a cokke in fiȝhte, whiche lifte the tayle lyke to a cokke after the victory, spurres groenge in the legge of hit, hauenge a combe in the hedde. Also the same Auicenne, capitulo 5o. Also Trogus rehersethe a woman in Egipte to haue childede vij. childer at oon season, but other the moder other the childer contynue not in lyfe longe after. But mony women haue ij. childer at oon tyme, and tweyne at an other tyme, as hit was schewede in Hercules, and in Iphicles*. [Hispicle, or Hispicles, MSS.; Hispycle, Cx.] his brother. Also somme Page  199, vol.2 women haue in alle tymes male childer, somme women at alle tymes female childer, and somme women bothe at diuerse tymes. Also somme women be bareyn at alle [folio 80b] tymes and to alle men, and somme women beenge bareyn to somme men conceyve of somme men. Also, capitulo 13o. Somme women haue childer like to theyme, somme like to the fader, and somme like to theire predecessores afore tyme. An exemple may be schewede of Niceus, a nowble peynter at Byzantium, whiche borne of his moder, a feire woman, wente owte of kynde in to a fowle man of Ethi|oppe. Hugo, capitulo Malo. Philosophers say the nature of women to be of suche disposicion that thei brynge furthe suche childer like to the formes whom thei beholde in the tyme of concepcion, for the sawle of man in the vse vene|realle transmittethe interially formes other similitudes con|ceyvede exterially, and takethe, as by rape, the similitudes of theyme in to his propre qualite. Therefore men in Page  201, vol.2 Speyne vse to sette or putte feire horses to the siȝhte of the mares when thei vse to gendre, and to peynte in places where dofes vse freschely with feire dofes in picture. And Quintilianus*. [Quintelianus, Harl. MS.] defended a woman accusede of advoutery, in that sche was delyuerede of a man of Ethioppe, makenge allegacion suche an ymage to haue be made in picture a bowte the bedde in the tyme of here concepcion. Also that grete clerk Ypocras writethe a woman to haue been despisede, in that sche was delyuerede of a feire childe, like neither to the fader neither to the moder, but that Ypocras defendede that woman, in that there was suche an ymage abowte the bedde in the tyme of here concepcion. Plinius, libro septimo, capitulo tertio decimo. Therefore mony difference be in a man, swiftenesse of sawle, variablenesse of witte, impressenge mony similitudes in the concepcion of a man. But the sawles in other bestes be as immove|able, and þer fore euery concepcion of theyme is like to the kynde of hit.