PRESTER JOHN. THE ASSASSINS
OF THE RYAƚƚ ESTATE OF PRESTRE IOℏN & OF A RICHE MAN ÞAT MADE A MER [folio 114] UEYLOUS CASTEƚƚ AND CLEPED IT PARADYS & OF HIS SOTYLTEE.
THIS Emperour Prestre Ioℏn holt fuƚƚ gret lond And hatℏ many fuƚƚ noble cytees & gode townes in his Royalme and many grete dyuerse yles & large. For aƚƚ the contree of ynde is deuysed in yles for the grete flodes þat comen from PARADYS þat departen aƚƚ the lond in many parties. And also in the see he hatℏ fuƚƚ manye yles. And the beste cytee in the yle of PENTEXOIRE is NYSE þat is a fuƚƚ ryaƚƚ cytee & a noble and fuƚƚ riche This Prestre Ioℏn hatℏ vnder him many kynges & many yles & many dyuerse folk of dyuerse condiciouns And this lond is fuƚƚ gode & ryche, but not so riche as is the lond of the grete CHANE. For the marchauntes comen not thider so comounly for to bye marchandises as þei don in the lond of the gret CHANE, for it is to fer to trauaylle to. And on þat otℏer partie, in the yle of CATHAY men fynden aƚƚ maner thing þat is nede to man clothes ofPage 1:180 gold of silk of spycerye & aƚƚ maner auere de poys, And þerfore, aƚƚ be it þat men han gretter chep in the yle of Prestre Ioℏn, natheless men dreden the longe weye & the grete periles in the see in þo partyes. For in many places of the see ben grete roches of stones of the ADAMANT, þat of his propre nature drawetℏ IREN to him, And þerfore þere passen no schippes þat han ouþer bondes or nayles of IREN within hem, And ȝif þer do anon the roches of the ADAMANTES drawen hem to hem, þat neuer þei may go þens. I myself haue seen o ferrom in þat see as þougℏ it hadde ben a gret yle fuƚƚ of trees & buscayƚƚe fuƚƚ of thornes & breres gret plentee, And the schipmen tolde vs þat aƚƚ þat was of schippes þat weren drawen thider be the ADAMAUNTES for the IREN [folio 115a] þat was in hem. And of the roteness & oþer thing þat was within the schippes grewen sucℏ buscaylle & thornes & breres & grene grass & sucℏ maner of thing, And of the mastes & the seyƚƚ ȝerdes it semed a grete wode or a groue. And suche roches ben in many places þere abouten And þerfore dur not the marchantes passen þere but ȝif þei knowen wel the passages or eƚƚ þat þei han gode lodesmen. And also þei dreden the longe weye & þerfore thei gon to CATHAY for it is more nygℏ. And ȝit is it not so nygℏ but þat men moste ben trauayllynge be see & lond .xj. monethes or .xij. from GENE or from VENYSE or he come to CATHAY. And ȝit is the lond of Prestre Ioℏn more ferr be many dredfuƚƚ iourneyes And the marchantes passen be the kyngdom of PERSIE & gon to a cytee þat is clept HERMES for HERMES the PHILOSOPHRE founded it, And after þat þei passen an arm of the see & þanne þei gon to another cytee þat is clept GOLBACℏ & þere þei fynden marchandises & of POPENGAYES as gret plentee as men fynden here of gees. And ȝif þei wil passen ferthere þei may gon sykerly jnow. In þat contree is but lytyƚƚ whete or barly & þerfore þei eten Ryȝs & hony & mylk & chese & frute. This Emperour Prestre Ioℏn taketℏ aƚƚweys to his wif the dougℏter of the grete CHANE And the grete CHANE alsoPage 1:181 in the same wise the doughter of Prestre Ioℏn, For þeise .ij. ben the grettest lordes vndir the firmament. In the lond of Prestre Ioℏn ben many dyuerse thinges & manye precious stones so grete & so large þat men maken of hem vesseƚƚ As plateres, disscℏes & cuppes & many oþer merueyles ben þere þat it were to combrous [folio 115b] and to long to putten it in scripture of bokes. But of the principaƚƚ yles & of his estate and of his lawe I schaƚƚ telle ȝou som partye. This Emperour Prestre Ioℏn is cristene And a gret partie of his contree also, But ȝit þei haue not aƚƚ the Articƚes of oure feytℏ as wee hauen. Þei beleuen wel in the fader, in the sone and in the holy gost And þei ben fuƚƚ deuoute & rigℏt trewe on to a notℏer And þei sette not be no barettes ne by cawteles ne of no disceytes. And he hatℏ vnder him .lxxij. prouynces And in euery prouynce is a kyng And þeise kynges han kynges vnder hem, & alle ben tributaries to Prestre Ioℏn. And he hatℏ in his lordschipes many grete merueyles, For in his contree is the see þat men clepen the GRAUELY SEE þat is aƚƚ graueƚƚ and sond withouten ony drope of water. And it ebbetℏ & flowetℏ in grete wawes as oþer sees don. And it is neuer stille ne in pes in no maner cesoun And noman may passe þat see be navye ne be no maner of craft & þerfore may no man knowe what lond is beȝond þat see. And aƚƚ be it þat it haue no water ȝit men fynden þere in & on the bankes fuƚƚ gode fisscℏ of otℏer maner of kynde & schapp þanne men fynden in ony otℏer see & þei ben of right goode tast & delicyous to mannes mete. And a .iij. iourneys long fro þat see ben grete mountaynes out of the whicℏe gotℏ out a gret flood þat cometℏ out of PARADYS & it is fuƚƚ of precious stones withouten ony drope of water & it rennetℏ þorgℏ the desert on þat o syde, so þat it maketℏ the see grauely And it beretℏ into þat see & þere it endetℏ. And þat flomme rennetℏ also .iij. dayes in the woke & bryngetℏ with him grete stones & the roches [folio 116a] alsoPage 1:182 þerewith and þat gret plentee, And anon as þei ben entred in to the grauely see þei ben seyn nomore, but lost for eueremore. And in þo .iij. dayes þat that ryuere rennetℏ noman dar entren in to it, But in the oþer dayes men dar entren wel ynow. Also beȝonde þat flomme, more vpward to the desertes is a gret pleyn aƚƚ grauelly betwene the mountaynes. And in þat playn euery day at the sonne risynge begynnen to growe smale trees & þei growen til mydday berynge frute. But noman dar taken of þat frute for it is a thing of FAYRYE. And after MIDDAY þei discrecen & entren aȝen in to the ertℏe, so þat at the goynge doun of the sonne þei apperen no more & so þei don euery day & þat is a gret mervaylle. In þat desert ben many wylde men þat ben hidouse to loken on for þei ben horned And þei speken nougℏt but þei gronten as pygges. And þere is also gret plentee of wylde houndes, And þere ben manye POPEGAYES þat þei clepen PSITAKES in hire langage And þei speken of hire propre nature & saluen men þat gon þorgℏ the desertes & speken to hem als appertely as þougℏ it were a man. And þei þat speken wel han a large tonge & han .v. toos vpon a fote. And þere ben also of oþer manere, þat han but .iij. toos vpon a fote And þei speken not or but litiƚƚ for þei cone not but cryen. This Emperour Prestre Ioℏn whan he gotℏ into bataylle aȝenst ony otℏer lord, he hatℏ no baneres born before him But he hatℏ .iij. crosses of gold fyn grete & hye, fuƚƚ of precious stones. And euery of þo cross ben sett in a chariot fuƚƚ richely arrayed. And for to kepen euery cros ben ordeyned .x. Miƚƚ. [folio 116b] men of armes & mo þan an .C.Mƚ. men on fote in maner as men wolde kepe a stondard in oure contrees Whan þat wee ben in lond of werre. And this nombre of folk is withouten the princypaƚƚ hoost & withouten wenges ordeynd for the bataylle. And whan he hatℏ no werre, but ridetℏ with a pryuy meynee þanne he hatℏ bore before him but o cros of tree withouten peynture & withouten gold or siluer orPage 1:183 precious stones in remembrance þat Ihesu crist suffred detℏ vpon a cros of tree. And he hatℏ born before him also a plater of gold fuƚƚ of ertℏe in tokene þat his nobless & his mygℏt & his flesscℏ schaƚƚ turnen to ertℏe. And he hatℏ born before him also a vesseƚƚ of siluer fuƚƚ of noble jewelles of gold fuƚƚ riche & of precious stones in tokene of his lordschipe & of his nobless & of his mygℏt. He duelletℏ comounly in the cytee of SUSE & þere is his principaƚƚ palays þat is so riche & so noble þat noman wil trowe it by estimacioun but he had seen it. And abouen the chief tour of the palays ben .ij. rounde pomeles of gold And in euerycℏ of hem ben .ij. charboncles grete & large þat schynen fuƚƚ brigℏte vpon the nygℏt And the principaƚƚ ȝates of his palays ben of a precious ston þat men clepen SARDOYNE And the bordure & the barres ben of IUORYE And the wyndowes of the halles & chambres ben of CRISTAƚƚ And the tables whereon men eten somme ben of EMERAUDES, summe of AMATYST & somme of GOLD fuƚƚ of precious stones And the pileres þat beren vp the tables ben of the same precious stones And the degrees to gon vp to his throne where he sittetℏ at þe mete on is of ONICHE, Anoþer is of CRISTAƚƚ & anoþer of IASPRE grene, Anoþer of amatyst, Anoþer of SARDYNE, Anoþer of CORNELINE. And the .vij. þat he settetℏ onne his feet is of [folio 117a] CRISOLYTE. And aƚƚ þeise degrees ben bordured with fyn gold with the totℏere precyous stones sett with grete perles oryent. And the sydes of the sege of his throne ben of EMERAUDES & bordured with gold fuƚƚ nobely And dubbed with oþer precious stones and grete perles. And aƚƚ the pileres in his chambre ben of fyne gold with precious stones & with manye CHARBONCLES þat ȝeuen gret lygℏt vpon the nygℏt to aƚƚ peple. And aƚƚ be it þat the CHARBONCLE ȝeue lygℏt rigℏt ynow, natheles at alle tymes brennetℏ a vesseƚƚ of CRISTAƚƚ fuƚƚ of BAWME for to ȝeuen gode smeƚƚ & odour to the Emperour & to voyden awey aƚƚ wykkede eyres & corrupciouns. And the forme of his bedd is of fyne saphires bended with gold for toPage 1:184 make him slepen wel & to refreynen him from lechrye. For he wiƚƚ not lyȝe with his wyfes but .iiij. sitℏes in the ȝeer after the .iiij. cesouns, And þat is only for to engendre children. He hatℏ also a fuƚƚ fayr palays & a noble at the cytee of NYSE where þat he duelletℏ whan him best lyketℏ. But tℏe Ayr is not so attempree as it is at the cytee of SUSE. And ȝee schuƚƚ vnderstonde þat in aƚƚ his contree ne in the contrees þere aƚƚ aboute men eten nogℏt but ones in the day, but ȝif þat men maken hem in the court of the grete CHANE. And so þei eten euery day in his court mo þanne .xxxti.Miƚƚ persones, withouten goeres & comeres. But the .xxxt. .mƚ. persones of his contree ne of the contree of the grete CHANE ne spenden nougℏt so moche gode as don .xij. .Ml. of oure contree. This Emperour Prestre Ioℏn hatℏ eueremore .vij. kynges with him to seruen him And þei departen hire seruice be certeyn monethes And with þeise kynges seruen aƚƚ weys .lxxij. Dukes And .ccc. & .lx. Erles. And aƚƚ the dayes of the ȝeer þere eten [folio 117b] in his houshold & in his Court .xij. Erchebysshoppes & .xx. Bisshoppes. And the Patriark of seynt Thomas is þere as is the POPE here And the Erchebisshoppes & the Bisshoppes & the abbottes in þat contree ben alle kynges. And euerycℏ of þeise grete lordes knowen vel ynow the Attendance of hire seruyce. The on is mayster of his houshold, Anoþer is his chambirleyn, Anoþer seruetℏ him of a dysscℏ, Anoþer of the cuppe, Anoþer is Styward, Anoþer is Mareschaƚƚ, Anoþer is Prynce of his Armes; And þus is he fuƚƚ nobely & ryally serued. And his lond duretℏ in verry brede .iiij. monetℏes iorneyes And in lengtℏe out of mesure, þat is to seyne Aƚƚ the yles vnder ertℏe þat wee supposen to ben vnder vs. Besyde the yle of PENTEXOIRE þat is the lond of Prestre Ioℏn is a gret yle long & brode þat men clepen MILSTORAK & it is in the lordschipe of Prestre Ioℏn. In þat yle is gret plentee of godes. Þere was dwellynge somtyme a riche man & it is not longe sitℏe & men clept him GATHOLONABES & he was fuƚƚ of cautcles & of sotyƚƚPage 1:185 disceytes. And he hadde a fuƚƚ fair casteƚƚ & a strong in a mountayne, so strong & so noble þat noman cowde devise a fairere ne a strengere. And he had let muren aƚƚ the mountayne aboute with a strong waƚƚ & a fair And withjnne þo walles he had the fairest gardyn þat ony man mygℏte beholde & þerein were trees berynge aƚƚ maner of frutes þat ony man cowde deuyse. And þerein were also aƚƚ maner vertuous herbes of gode smeƚƚ and aƚƚ oþer herbes also þat beren faire floures. And he had also in þat gardyn many faire welles, And beside þo welles he had lete make faire halles & [folio 118a] faire chambres depeynted aƚƚ with gold & azure. And þere weren jn þat place many a dyuerse thinges And manye dyuerse storyes. And of bestes & of bryddes þat songen fuƚƚ delectabely & meveden be craft, þat it semede þat þei weren quyke. And he had also in his gardyn aƚƚ maner of foules & of bestes þat ony man mygℏte thenke on for to haue pley or desport to beholde hem. And he had also in þat place the faireste damyseles þat mygℏte ben founde vnder the age of .xv. ȝeer And the faireste ȝonge striplynges þat men mygℏte gete of þat same age; And aƚƚ þei weren clothed in clotℏes of gold fuƚƚ richely And he seyde þat þo weren aungeles. And he had also let make .iij. welles faire & noble & aƚƚ envyround with ston of jaspre, of cristaƚƚ, dyapred with gold & sett with precious stones & grete orient perles. And he had made a conduyt vnder ertℏe so þat the .iij. welles at his list on scholde renne mylk, Anoþer wyn & anoþer hony; And þat place he clept paradys. And whan þat ony gode knygℏt þat was hardy & noble cam to see this rialtee, he wolde lede him in to his paradys & schewen him þeise wonderfuƚƚ thinges to his desport & the merueyllous & delicious song of dyuerse briddes & the faire damyseles & the faire welles of mylk of wyn & of hony plentevous rennynge. And he wolde let make dyuerse jnstrumentes of Musik to sownen in an higℏ tour so merily þat it was ioye for to here & noman scholde see the craft þere of.Page 1:186 And þo he seyde weren aungeles of god & þat place was paradys þat god had behigℏt to his frendes seyenge: "DABO VOBIS TERRAM FLUENTEM LACTE & MELLE." And þanne wolde he maken hem to drynken of a certeyn drynk whereof anon þei scholden [folio 118b] be dronken And þanne wolde hem thinken gretter delyt þan þei hadden before. And þan wolde he seye to hem þat ȝif they wolde dyen for him & for his loue þat after hire detℏ þei scholde come to his paradys & þei scholden ben of the age of þo damyselles & þei scholde pleyen with hem & ȝit ben maydenes. And after þat ȝit scholde he putten hem in a fayrere paradys, where þat þei scholde see god of nature visibely in his magestee and in his blisse. And þan wolde he schewe hem his entent And seye hem þat ȝif þei wolde go sle sucℏ a lord or sucℏ a man þat was his enemye or contrarious to his list, þat þei scholde not drede to don it & for to be slayn þerfore hem self, for after hire detℏ he wolde putten hem in to anoþer paradys, þat was an .C. fold fairere þan ony of the tothere & þere scholde þei dwellen with the most fairest damyselles þat mygℏte be & pley with hem eueremore. And þus wenten many dyuerse lusty Bacheleres for to sle grete lordes in dyuerse contrees þat weren his enemyes & made hemself to ben slayn in hope to haue þat paradys. And þus often tyme he was revenged of his enemyes be his sotyƚƚ disceytes & false cawteles. And whan the worthi men of the contree hadden perceyued this sotyƚƚ falshod of this GATHOLONABES, þei assembled hem with force & assayleden his casteƚƚ & slowen him & destroyeden aƚƚ the faire places & aƚƚ the nobletees of þat paradys. The place of the welles & of the walles & of many oþer thinges ben ȝit apertly sene, but the ricchesse is voyded clene; And it is not longes gon sitℏ þat place was destroyed.