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.

Capitulum quartumdecimum.

MACHOMETUS the fals prophete was abowte this tyme duke or governour of the Saracenys and of the Turkes. The story of whom is introducte in this wise, Steven off Cawnterbury and Giraldus of Wales helpenge moche in this mater. The commune utilite of Rome floryschynge late, the worlde of [folio 265b] Cristen peple was moore large then thempyre of Rome, whiche Page  17, vol.6 hade with in the lordeschippe of hit, withowte Europe, noble provinces of Asia, with alle Affrike. Neverthelesse the Aga|renys, Ismaelites, or callede Saracenys encreasenge moche, of thempire of whom Methodius þe martir propheciede, seyenge that the feithefulle peple of Criste scholde possede but fewe cuntres more then Europe. And after alle Affrike infecte, the pestilente errour of the Saracenys infecte a grete parte of Speyne; and but that the grete mercy of allemyȝhty God hade schewide resistence thei hade infecte Fraunce with alle Speyne. And in the tymes of grete Gregory, the Romane empyre, that was porrecte from the occean of Briteyne unto the costes of Persida, was so attrite and trowblede with batells civile, that hit was unnethe sufficiaunte ageyne their awne enemyes. Then the pagan hoste of men of Persida occupiede diverse provinces of the este of thempire of Rome, and of the feithe of Criste. After that an innumerable pestilence as of corrup|cioun Page  19, vol.6 consumynge Cristen peple in the Este, in the tyme of Heraclius themperour, by Machometus the fals prophete. Þerfore in the tyme of Bonefacius the vthe pope, in the tyme of Heraclius, abowte þe yere of oure Lorde God vi.c. and xxti, Machometus, þe fals prophete and nigromancier, deceyvede the Agarenys in thys maner. A famous clerke beynge in Rome, and not obteynynge his purpose, wente into other ferre cuntres, drawynge mony men to hym, amonge whom he promisede Machometus that he scholde make hym a grete lorde, if he wolde condescende þerto. Whiche norischynge a doffe, putte cornes in the ere of Machometus, of whom þat doffe fedde her ofte. At the laste the seide clerke callede the peple of þat cuntre to gedre, promisynge þat he scholde be governour of Page  21, vol.6 the peple whom the Holy Goste, in the likenesse of a doffe, scholde schewe. Whiche sendenge furthe a doffe, sche wente and sate on the schulder of Machometus, and putte her bylle in his ere, and so Machometus was electe into the governour of that cuntre. These thynges towchide afore be after the commune oppinion, but thynges foloynge be of moore approba|cioun. A monk, Sergius by name, was expulsede from the other monkes of his monastery, for cause he felle into þe erroure off Nestorius; whiche goynge into Araby, drawede to [folio 266a] Machometus, whom he informede: thauȝhe hit be redde in other places that this Sergius was archidiacon of Anthiochia, other the patriarke of Ierusalem. The fader and moder of Machometus dedde, he was norischede in his infancy by his uncle, servynge ydolatry with the peple of Araby, ȝiffen spe|cially to the synne of lechery. Wherefore hit is that the Saracenys halowe the Friday as the Iues do Seturday, and as we do the Sonday. After the adolescency of Machometus paste, he wente into mony regiouns for cause of marchandise, Page  23, vol.6 havynge grete communicacion with Iues and Cristen peple, untille that he hade lernede the rytes of theyme bothe. Then he appliede hym to nigromancy, whiche instructe in that arte, excellente in communicacioun, made Cadigan, lady of the pro|vince of Corozania, what with nigromancy and with wordes of pleasure, and what with spices that he hade taken to here, to have suche affeccioun to hym in so moche that sche supposede hym to be a prophete of God, other elles Messias whom þe Iues taryede, and after that desirede hym to wedde her. The ryte and consuetude was that tyme, that peple scholde be governede off women as by men and so by the mariage of that qwene; he was made kynge and lorde of that province. Whiche ioyn|ynge to hym men of Araby, ȝafe batelle to men of Persida, and occupiede thempir of the este, unto the costes of Alex|andria, ageyn Heraclius. Spekynge in his bookes, whom he made, in this wise, "God spake to Machomete his prophete. Page  25, vol.6 seyenge," that his werkes myȝhte have auctorite, þat were feynede falsely by hym. And when he hade subduede to hym not oonly peple nye to hym, but also peple of ferre cuntres hade grete confluence inclinedo to the carnalle concupiscence*. [Sic in MS.] to hym, as Egipte, Libia, Araby, and alle Siria, and causede theyme to leve their olde rytes, and folowe his lawes, what thro his arte and wylenesse, whyche thynge he myȝhte not do by strenȝhte, prohibitynge to the paganes ydolatry, grawnt|ynge to the Iewes circumcision after their rytes: whiche made to theym newe lawes inducynge wyttenesse of eiþer testamente, whom the Saracenys kepe, and calle theim their lawes, in whom he commaundid the Saracyns to be circumcided after the ryte of þe Iues, prohibitynge to his successors the eytynge of swyne flesche. Machomete schewynge a cause seide that a swyne [folio 266b] Page  27, vol.6 was create of the dungge of a camele after the grete floode of Noe, and þerfor hit awe to be eschewede of clene peple as unclene meyte. Also he ordeynyde certeyne waschynges in water, for the expiacion or clenesynge of their synne, after the maner of baptyme usede amonge Cristen peple; and that he he myȝhte snare the peple in moore suerte he ordeynede and made a statute by whiche he knowede to please the con|cupiscence of man, that thei scholde have so mony wives and concubynes as a man myȝte fynde, and take wyves also of their owne kynrede, into the iiiithe nowmbre, and to refuse unto the iiiithe wife, and suffrenge men to take theyme ageyne, grauntynge licence to a man to take so mony concubynes as he wolde bye, or women taken in captivite, and to selle theyme ageyne withowte he hade geten eny of theym with childe. Also he ordeynede sobrenesse in meytes and in drynkes, prohibitynge Page  29, vol.6 drynkynge of wyne, but in certeyne festes in the yere, tech|ynge his peple to pray with mony knelynges towarde the sowthe, that he myȝhte have somme distinccioun from the Iewes, whiche make their preiers towarde the weste, and also from Cristen men, whiche use to prey towarde the este. Also he tauȝhte his peple to honore Venus, godesse of lechery, and to kepe that day holy, commaundynge oon God omnipotente to be worschippede, seyenge Moyses and Iohn Baptiste to have bene ii. grete prophetes, and Criste the moste of prophetes, as borne of a virgyn by the vertu of Godde, and not thro carnalle affeccioun, as hit is schewede in his booke Alcoranus. Never|thelesse he mixte fals thynges with trawthe, seyenge after that Criste elevate to hevyn, and not sleyne; for he seide that Iudas þe traytour sechenge Criste in a denne, was chaungede into the similitude of Criste, and crucifiede in his stedde. Also he movede his peple to goe to a certeyne temple every yere, which was callede metha orationis, and to prey þer; where thei caste Page  31, vol.6 mony stones, as to stone the develle; seyenge Abraham to have made þat howse for his sonnes, and specially for the Ismaelites, for cause of preyenge. Also a man taken in advowtery, after the lawe of Machomete, is stonyde; and a man doynge fornica|cioun with a woman in liberte is correcte by lxxx. betynges. [folio 267a] Also a thefe is punyschede in the firste tyme and secunde by betynge, in the thryde tyme he losethe his hondes, in the iiiithe tyme his feete; seyenge that God hathe promisede paradise to men kepynge these thynges, and other commaundementes of his lawes. In whiche paradise is the gardyn of delices, where noon intemperaunce is or affliccioun of incommodite, but the fruicion of alle maner delices, where alle thynges schalle be to theire pleasure, and angelles schalle ministre to theyme, so grete that hit scholde be as the space of oon day from þe oon eie Page  33, vol.6 unto that other, promisenge helle to theyme that wylle not kepe his lawes. Also he commendethe, in his booke Alcoranus, faders of the Olde Testamente, specially Moyses, Iohn Bap|tiste, Criste, and Machomete. Also alle men be commendede that truste in God and exercise ryȝhteuousenes; but hit is not redde þer what feithe is, and what men be tru, and who be fals. Also hit is seide þer that v. bookes didde descende from hevyn to the informacioun of men, the Sawter, the Lawe of Moyses, the bookes of prophetes, the Gospelle, and the Al|coran of Machomete. In whom hit is seyde Allemyȝhty God, willynge to directe mankynde into the weye off sawle healethe, ȝave a lawe to the childer of Israel after Abraham, by whom God scholde be knowen and worschippyde. But thei brekynge that lawe, God ȝafe to other peple his tru gospelle; seyenge Page  35, vol.6 that hit was diffynede by Godde that a prophete scholde be sende to the Ysmaelites, with a lawe whom the Saracenys scholde folowe, as the Iewes do Moyses, and Cristen men Criste. Wherefore the Saracenys kepynge their lawe holly, preferre theyme to Iues and Cristen men, whom thei say to violate their lawes mony tymes. Machomete havynge a camel of semely forme, usynge hym in secrete places to his awne honde, hongenge that book Alcoranus, conteynynge the lawes in hit, abowte the necke of the camelle, and sende hym in the nyȝhte to the felde. Whiche ioyenge of his liberte, and not suffrenge to be towchid of eny man, that rumor and fame was excitede anoon, and a grete multitude of peple were gedrede to see that beeste; whiche beste perceyvynge and seynge Ma|chometus Page  37, vol.6 his norischer, come anoon to hym, and likkede his hondes. Then the peple cryede seyenge that he was the tru prophete of God, preyenge hym that the booke scholde be openede with his holy hondes. Whiche openede, Machomete seide, "Beholde youre lawe, not writen by the honde of man, [folio 267b] but by the power of Godde, sende from hevyn, and to be ob|servede in tymes perpetualle; in whom hit is rehersede howe ye awe to honoure God, and what rewardes ye schalle have for the kepynge of his lawes." And that day in whom these thynges wer doen, was made holy day, and callede the feste of the camelle, and the peple prevente that feste by the absti|nence of a monethe, in the whiche monethe thei faste in this wise, that thei eite noo þinge from morowe in whiche howr blacke may not*. [Sic in MS.] be discernede from white, unto the goynge downe of the sonne, ne drynkynge afore that tyme, not lyenge with theire wives, ȝiffenge theyme to preiere; usenge surfette Page  39, vol.6 from the goynge downe of the sonne untille the tyme afore|seide in the morowe foloynge, and usenge theire wifes: but feble men and seke are not constreynyde to that abstinence. This Machometus havynge the fallynge disease or infirmite, and displeasynge his wife moche þerby, pleasede here and oþer peple to whom he hade ȝiffen the lawe, seyenge hym to falle soe for the wordes of Michael tharcangel spekynge ofte with hym, in that a carnalle man may not suffre the wordes of an angelle but if he falle. Whiche hatede wyne moche, whiche was peraventure for the grete hete of the cuntre, neverthe|lesse Machomete made drunke thro wyne in a tyme, and lyenge in the strete, was devourede and gnaven allemoste of swyne, whom he iuggede unclene bestes. Wherefore his foloers ab|steyne from wyne and from the flesche of swyne, in the firste thynge of whom they seme to folowe the Iues. In the secunde hit is presupposede that thei folowe the phisikke of here maister. Also hit is seide that this Machomete luffed moche an holy Page  41, vol.6 heremite, dwellynge in deserte, in the hye weye towarde Ynde from Araby or Caldee, whom he visitte ofte tymes, in so moche that his men were vexede soore þerwith, for the necessite of theire maistere causede theyme to wake mony nyȝhtes with|owte eny slepe. Whiche thouȝhte to slee the heremite: at þe laste hit happede this Machometus to be made drunke þer in a season, whiche beynge faste in slepe, his men conspirede, come to his chambre, and takenge his swerde did sle the heremite, [folio 268a] and putte after that his swerde alle bloody in his shethe. Machomete arysynge in the morowe, and fyndynge the heremite sleyne, was hevy in herte, and thouȝhte how he myȝhte be vengede of his men. But the men acordede afore, seide that he hade sleyne hym in his drunkenesse, schewynge to hym his swerde defilede with bloode. Machometus supposynge that to be tru, cursede wyne and alle men drynkynge hit; where|fore devoute Saracenys in the lawe drynke noo wyne, but that man is worthy to be reprovede þat drynkethe wyne amonge theim; nevertheless thei have delectable drynke made of diverse spices, but somme of þeym drynke wyne secretely. That pesti|lente secte encreasede so moche after the dethe of Machomete, that hit toke men of Persida into dedicacion, and to the super|sticion of men of Araby, infectynge after that alle Affrike and a grete parte of Speyne, contynuynge soe unto this tyme pre|sente. And Turpinus tharchebischop rehersethe, Machomete made an ydole of auricalke or alkmuyne in the brynke of the see of Speyne, made with his awne hondes, havynge the face of hit towarde the meridien, in whom he includede a legion of spirittes by nigromancy, and a Cristen man comynge to þat Page  43, vol.6 place is trowblede sone; a Saracene departethe with owte eny hurte; a brydde liȝhtenge and sittynge on hyt dyethe anoon. That ymage hathe a mace in the ryȝhte honde of hit, whiche schalle falle firste when a kynge is borne in Fraunce whiche schalle innewe alle the londe of Speyne with the lawes of Criste, and then that mace fallen the Saracenys schalle flee for fere, levynge theire rychesse to other peple. The famous norischer and childe of that secte, the Sawden and duke of Turkes, the grete malle of Cristen peple, abowte the yere of oure Lorde God ml. c. and xc., herynge that Cristen men usede diversites of meytes at oon refeccion, seide suche men were not worthy to have hevyn. Also hit is schewede in an ex|emple foloynge the laboure of that Turke, to the encrease of theire and to the schame of the religion of Criste as amonge þeim. Too*. [white written, but then erased.] monkes of the ordre Cisterciense were presentede to hym, taken afore by the Turkes, whom he understode to be of the kynde of philosophres by theire communicacion, in|quirynge of þeim by interpretators of what condicion and pro|fession Page  45, vol.6 thei were of. Thei seide that they were monkes, professede to lyve after the rule of Seynte Benedicte. The Turke enquirenge mony thynges of the institucion of that rule, inquirede specially amonge other thynges wheþer thei drunke eny wyne, or did eiȝte eny flesche. They answerede [folio 268b] seyenge that they hade a certeyne wyne to theire refeccion, and noo flesche, but if necessite of infirmite requirede hit. Then the tyraunte commaundede theym to have moore liberte, and so be servede of theire meyte by ij. ferre and beawtuous women, with flesche and water. Whiche usenge flesche and water, made a convencion with þeire eien after thexemple of blissede Iob, that thei scholde not applye theim to synne, but to ȝiffe theym to preyere. The Sawden perceyvynge that, commaundid that they scholde be servede with fisches and wyne, after the seyenge of Salomon: "ȝiffe wyne to þeim that be of a bytter sawle, that they may drynke and forgete Page  47, vol.6 theire necessite:" that wily enemy intendede to delude simplicite by that arte, that he myȝhte delecte the blamenge of the religion of Criste. The monkes drynkynge wine gladdely, and not remembrenge theire holy religion, felle on the women that ministrede to þeim, and folowede the pleasure of the flesche. In the morowe that wyne digeste, and know|ynge theire offense, thei wepede soore, to whom the tyraunte seide, "Wherefore be ye moore soory nowe then ye were wonte to be?" They seide, "We have synnede soore thro thexcesse of wyne." The tyraunte seide, "Ye kepede youre profession truly while ye did eite flesche and drynke water, but thro wyne ye have offendede ageyne youre profession. Wherefore hit apperethe that Benedicte the auctor of your rewle was not discrete prohibitynge the eytynge of flesche, by Page  49, vol.6 ye whiche the state of the sawle is not trowblede, and grawnt|ynge wyne, by the whiche the state of reason is destroyede. whiche ye have provede by experience. Þerfore Machometus oure awtor was more discrete inhibitynge the drynkynge of wyne that dothe trowble the sawle, and grawntynge to us the eytynge of flesche, that noyethe not. And þerfor sithe ye have offended ageyne youre profession, ye may not be recon|cilede by us; goe into youre awne cuntre and do penaunce after youre consuetude;" and he suffrede theyme to departe, a man of a pestilence inveterate, reprovenge the blissede man Seynte Benedicte. Of whom Gregory the noble pope re|hersethe, seyenge that he did write the rule of monkes fulle of discreccion: for truly he was discrete that he chargede to [folio 269a] restreyne the mynde and delices of metes to men goynge to holy chevallery, grawntynge to theyme a lytelle wyne after the Page  51, vol.6 sentence of thapostle, thro the whiche the unsure flesche scholde be noryschede, and þe scharpenes of þe mynde scholde not be vexede þerwith.