Mandeville's travels : the Cotton version
Mandeville, John, Sir., British Library. Manuscript. Cotton Titus C.16.
Hamelius, Paul, 1868-1922.
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Mandeville's Travels


THE principal authorities are:

Sir G. Warner, in his edition: The Buke of Maundevil (Roxburgh Club, 1889).
Albert Bovenschen: Untersuchungen über Johann von Mandeville und die Quellen seiner Reisebeschreibung (Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde. Berlin, Reimer, 1888).
Johann Vogels: Handschriftliche Untersuchungen über die englische Version Mandeville's (Crefeld, 1891).
Godefroi Kurth: Étude critique sur Jean d'Outremeuse (Memoirs of the Academy of Brussels. Hayez, 1910).
L. Pannier: Les lapidaires franĉais, 1882.



THE book of Mandeville's Travels is so unreliable that it must appear last, if at all, among evidence for its authorship. That an English knight, a physician and traveller, has been buried in Liége in 1372 is attested by his epitaph, transcribed in the fifteenth, sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The tomb and the church of the Guillemins containing it were destroyed at the time of the French Revolution. Püterich von Reichertshausen (born about 1400) was first in publishing the epitaph in a letter to an Archduchess of Austria, dated 1462: Hic iacet nobilis Dominus Joannes de Montevilla Miles, alias dictus ad Barbam, Dominus de Compredi, natus de Anglia, medicinae professor et devotissimus orator et bonorum suorum largissimus pauperibus erogator qui totum orbem peragravit in stratu Leodii diem vitae suae clausit extremum. Anno Dni millesimo trecentesimo septuagesimo secundo mensis Februarij septimo.1. [Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum, VI, pp. 31-59 st. 131-135.—Raim. Duellius: Excerptorum genealogico-historicorum, libri duo, 1725, pp. 281-282.]

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About a century later, the Belgian geographer Ortelius copied it again, differing from Püterich in five points: instead of Montevilla he reads Mandeville; instead of Compredi, Campdi; instead of de Anglia, in Anglia; after bonorum he omits suorum; instead of qui totum … stratu, he reads: qui toto quasi urbe lustrato; instead of 1372, he makes the date 1371. Püterich's stratu makes no sense, and must be wrong. Camperdi, with a crossed p, may well stand for champ perdu, which the late Prof. V. Chauvin told me was an old name for one of the islands in the river Meuse, near Liége.1. [Ortelius: Itinerarium Gallo-Brabanticum, Leiden, 1630, p. 212.]

From those two versions, the epitaph can be reconstructed and interpreted as follows:

Hic jacet nobilis Dominus Joannes de [Mandeville] miles, alias dictus ad Barbam, Dominus de [Camperdi], natus [in] Anglia, medicinae professor et devotissimus orator et bonorum [suorum] largissimus pauperibus erogator, qui [toto quasi orbe lustrato] Leodii diem vitae suae clausit extremum anno [Domini] millesimo trecentesimo septuagesimo secundo mensis Februarij septimo.

The Latin professor may mean one who practises a profession, and orator one who prays. If so, we may translate: Here lies the gentle Sir John of Mandeville, knight, otherwise named with the Beard, lord of Champ-perdu, born in England, practitioner of medicine and very pious in his prayers and very liberal in giving of his property to the poor. After viewing nearly all the world, he ended the last day of his life at Liége in the year of Our Lord one thousand three hundred and seventy-two on February seventh.

The epitaph was again copied in the seventeenth century by an English priest of Liége called Edmund Leukner (identified by Sir G. Warner with the name of Lewknor) and printed in Pitseus (John Pits): Relationes historicae de rebus anglicis, 1619, p. 511. John Weever, who is reported to have visited Liége, prints it in his Ancient Funeral Monuments, 1631, p. 567. It was again transcribed and published by Pierre Lambinet: Recherches … sur l'origine de l'imprimerie, Brussels, 1799, p. 302. One more eye-witness claims to have seen it: the Rev. Charles Ellis, in a letter dated 1699 (Philosophical Transactions, XXIII., 1703, p. 1418).

The authority of the epitaph, while quite convincing in itself, is still strengthened by two documents referring to real property and its holders in the city of Liége. The earlier, dated 1386, aboutPage  2:3 fourteen years after the English doctor's death, describes him as a former inmate of a house under the name of "Mestre Johan ale Barbe." In 1459, the same house is again mentioned as the one "la Mandavele ly chevalier d'Engleterre qui avoit esteit par universe monde solloit demoreir, qui gist a Willmins," i. e. where Mandavele (sic) the knight of England, who had been through all the world, used to dwell, who now lies in [the church of the] Guillemins.1. [Both documents are printed in Gobert: Les rues de Liége, 1901, Vol. IV., pp. 201-203. His misprint mort, instead of avoit, has been kindly pointed out by M. Lahaye, archivist.] No better confirmation could be desired. Those three early and authentic documents agree in omitting the name John of Burgoyne, often accepted as the doctor's real name, and in making no mention of his ever being an author.

After this evidence, the reports of chroniclers are of small importance, as they chiefly repeat what they knew from the epitaph. An early example is Raoul de Rivo, who died in 1403, and may therefore have known Mandeville personally. In his continuation of Hocsem's chronicle, he writes: Hoc anno [1367] Joannes Mandevilius natione Anglus vir ingenio et arte medendi eminens qui toto fere terrarum orbe peragrato tribus linguis peregrinationem suam doctissime conscripsit, in alium orbem nullis finibus clausum, longeque hoc quietiorem et beatiorem migravit 17 Novembris. Sepultus in ecclesia Wilhelmitarum non procul ab moenibus civitatis Leodiensis.2. [Chapeaville: Gesta pontificum leodiensium, Vol. III., p. 17.] Rivo's dates are wrong. Moreover, his statement is open to two objections: it repeats what may be read in the epitaph and in the mendacious book of Travels; it maintains what is demonstrably untrue: for the three versions (French, Latin and English) cannot be by the same hand, as the English contains many mistranslations from the French. The later chroniclers adduced by Bovenschen and Sir G. Warner are equally worthless as witnesses. The references are:

Cornelius Zantfliet: Chronicon, printed in Martène et Durand: Amplissima collectio, 1729, t. V., p. 299.
Hartmann Schedel: Chronik (Koberger, Nuremberg, 1493, fol. ccxxvii.).
Werner Rolevink: Fasciculus temporum, printed in Pistorius: Scriptt. Germanici, II., p. 564.
John Bale: Scriptorum illustrium maioris Britanniae catalogus. 1557, II., p. 478.Page  2:4
Anton. Meyer: Commentarii sive annales rerum flandricarum. Antwerp, 1561, lib. XIII., p. 165.
Hadrian Barlandus: Rerum gestarum a Brabantiae ducibus historia. Cologne, 1603, pp. 138-139.
Leland: Commentarii de Scriptt. Britannicis, 1709, t. II., p. 366.
Bergeron: Voyages faits principalement en Asie, 1735.
C. Schönborn: Bibliographische Untersuchungen über die Reisebeschreibung des Sir John Mandeville. Festschrift, Breslau, 1840.
Franc. Zambrini: I viaggi di G. da Mandavilla, Bologna, 1872.
Lorenzen: Mandevilles Rejse. 1882.
Sir G. Warner's Life of Mandeville in the Dictionary of National Biography.

A Christian name, John, a surname, de Mandeville, and a descriptive nickname, With the Beard, might be deemed sufficient for one man. Nevertheless, a fourth and fifth name, de Bourgogne and de Bordeaux (de Burdegalia), are found connected with the other three in writings of doubtful authority. First in a passage of the lost fourth book of the arch-romancer d'Outremeuse's Mirror of Histories, next in d'Outremeuse's French Trésorier de Philosophie naturelle (Bibl. Nat. Fonds franĉais 12326), last in a Treatise of the Plague, extant in Latin, French and English (L. Delisle, Cat. des MSS. Libri et Barrois, 1888, p. 252). On the significance and value of those two additional names no one appears to have shed any light. That a book of medicine, such as the above treatise of the plague, and one of natural philosophy, such as the lapidary, should be the work of a man described in his epitaph as "medicinae professor" is not improbable.1. [Is. del Sotto: Le lapidaire du XIVme siècle, d'après le traité du chevalier Jean de Mandeville. Vienne, 1862.]

We can now take leave of Sir John Mandeville, having made ourselves acquainted with his nationality, his profession, his character as a traveller and the date of his death. The origin of the two scientific books ascribed to him and of his multifarious surnames we leave for historians of medicine to discuss. As to his connection with the fictitious book of Travels, there may possibly be a clue to it in the Latin vulgate version, which opposes the physician Master John with the Beard to the knight Sir JohnPage  2:5 Mandeville, thus splitting into two doubles the names of one individual. In Chapter VII. of this version Sir John writes of his stay at Cairo: Porro ego in curia manens vidi circa soldanum unum venerabilem et expertum medicum de nostris partibus oriendum. Solet namque circa se retinere diversarum medicos nationum, quos renominande audierit esse fame. Nos autem raro invicem convenimus ad colloquium, eo quod meum servicium cum suo modicum congruebat. Longo autem postea tempore et ab illo loco remote, viz. in Leodij civitate composui hortatu et adiutorio eiusdem venerabilis viri hunc tractatum, sicut in fine huius tocius operis plenius enarrabo.—While I stayed at court I saw about the soudan a venerable and able physician hailing from our country. For he uses to keep about him physicians of various nationalities, whose reputation has reached his ears. We two had but few opportunities for conversation, as my duties were widely different from his. A long time after, and a long distance away, viz. in the city of Liége, I by the advice and with the assistance of the same worshipful man composed the present treatise, as I shall more fully tell at the close of the whole book.

The sequel of the tale is given in Chapter L.: Itaque anno a nativitate Domini Jesu Christi in repatriando cum ad nobilem Legie seu Leodii civitate[m] permansissem et pre gravitate ac arteticis guttis illuc decumberem in vico qui dicitur basse sauenyr, consului causa convalescendi aliquos medicos civitatis et accidit Dei nutu unum intrare phisicum super alios etate simul et canicie venerandum ac in sua arte euidenter expertum qui ibi dicebatur magister Iohannes ad Barbam. Is ergo cum pariter colloqueremur interseruit dictis aliqua per que tam nostra invicem renovabatur antiqua noticia quam quondam habueramus in Cayr egipti apud Calahelich soldani prout supra tetigi .vij. ca[pitulo huius] libri. Qui cum in me experientiam artis sue excellenter monstrasset adhortabatur ac precabatur instanter ut de his que videram tempore peregrinationis mee per mundum aliqua digererem in scriptis ad legendum et audiendum pro utilitate posteris. Sic quoque tandem illius monitiis et adiutorio compositus est iste tractatus de quo certe nihil scribere proposueram donec saltem ad partes proprias in anglia pervenissem. Et credo premissa circa me per providentiam et gratiam dei contigisse. Quum a tempore quo recessi duo reges nostri anglie et francie non cessaverunt invicem exercere prelia, destructiones depredationes insidias et interfectionesPage  2:6 inter quas nisi a Domino custoditus non transissem sine morte vel mortis periculo et sine criminum grandi cumulo. Et nunc ecce anno egressionis mee xxxiij. constitutus in leodiensi civitate que a mari anglie distat solum per duas dietas audio dictas dominorum inimicitias per gratiam Dei compositas. Quapropter et spero ac propono de reliquo secundum maturiorem etatem me posse in proprijs intendere corporis quieti animeque saluti. Hic itaque finis sit scripti, etc.1. [Mandeville, Itinerarius, black letter, no date. British Museum press mark: G 6700.]

In the year 1355 after the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, while I was travelling home, I stayed near the noble city of Liége and was there laid up by disease and arthritic gout in the ward called Basse Sauvenière. For my recovery I consulted some doctors of the town, and by God's will it happened that one physician came in who was more venerable than the rest through his age and hoary hair and evidently expert in his art. He was there called Master John with the Beard. Now as we were conversing together he dropped some remarks by which we renewed our mutual acquaintance which we had at Cairo in Egypt in the soudan's castle, and which I touched upon in Chapter VII. of the present book. While displaying his knowledge of his art to my benefit, he admonished and prayed me instantly that I should reduce to writing something of what I had seen while roaming through the world, that it might be read and heard for the use of posterity. So at last, through his advice and with his assistance, the present treatise was composed, of which I intended to write nothing until I finally reached my own country in England. And I believe that the above adventures happened to me by God's providence and grace. For from the time when I started travelling, our two kings of England and France did not cease to wage mutual war, destruction, depredation, ambushes and killing which I could not, but for divine protection, have passed without death or peril of death, or without great accumulation of evils. While now, thirty-three years after my departure, dwelling in the city of Liége, which lies only two days' journey from the English sea, I learn that through the grace of God the abovesaid enmity of those lords has been settled. Therefore I hope and intend, for the rest of my riper years to be able to attend to the rest of my body and to the salvation of my soul at home. Here then is the end of my writing, etc.Page  2:7

Can a grain of truth be discerned under this story, which contradicts our English version (p. 210)? As the fictitious journey ends in 1356, it was some years before the peace of Brétigny (1360) between Edward III. and John the Good of France. Probably the book was actually written after the peace, as the Itinerarius hints. Perhaps the English doctor and traveller, when settled at Liége, advised and helped the younger Jean d'Outremeuse in the composition of a work dealing with Eastern geography and intended to serve certain political interests in England. So much we may venture to guess, but cannot hope to demonstrate.

It may help further research to point out that a surgeon named Henri de Mondeville lived in the early fourteenth century and attended the French armies in Flanders in 1301, and that the name Mandeville occurs again in the annals of the medical profession to the north of Liége, in the Dutch province of Guelders in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. At Dordrecht in the west of Holland was born about 1670 another medical man connected with English literature and with the progress of freethought, Bernard Mandeville, the author of the Fable of the Bees. Whether those worthies belong to the same stock we have not examined.

What the French and English versions of the book of Travels tell about its authorship is hardly worth considering. No doubt a convicted liar may occasionally speak the truth, only in such a case he would not openly contradict himself. Now the book reports that it was shown to the pope in Rome when there was no pope in Rome (p. 210, l. 1), and that it was afterwards written (p. 210, l. 31), as the French has it, in Liége. This is as incredible as the Latin quoted above. All that can be admitted is that d'Outremeuse (born 1338) may have known Mandeville (died 1372), and as there is in Paris a French MS. of the Travels dated 1371, that the traveller and doctor may have winked at the use of his name in a fictitious itinerary. The question why a book made by one man should have circulated under the name of another, who was alive to disown it, is difficult to solve. Strange instances of hoaxes perpetrated in d'Outremeuse's Mirror of Histories have been adduced by Prof. Kurth, but for fathering the book of Travels on the Englishman he may have had a practical and sensible reason. Its bold attacks on the dogmas and discipline of the Church might arouse the resentment of the ecclesiastical authorities. By concealing himselfPage  2:8 behind the mask of an assumed name he could shelter himself from possible persecution.

To be complete, we translate from a quotation by S. Bormans the strange fable of Mandeville's death and identity preserved from the lost 4th part of d'Outremeuse's Mirror:

In 1372 died at Liége on the twelfth of November a man who was greatly distinguished for his birth. He was content to be known by the name of John of Burgundy, called With the Beard. He, however, opened his heart on his death-bed to Jean d'Outremeuse, his gossip, whom he appointed his executor. In truth, he entitled himself, in the deed of his last will, Sir John Mandeville, knight, Earl of Montfort in England and lord of the isle of campdi and of the castle Pérouse.1. [The late Prof. Chauvin thought of Pierreuse, an old and erewhile respectable street of Liége.] Having, however, had the misfortune of killing in his country an earl whom he does not name, he bound himself to travel through the three parts of the world. Came to Liége in 1343. Issued as he was from very high nobility, he loved to keep himself hidden. He was, moreover, a great naturalist, a profound philosopher and astrologer, especially adding a very singular knowledge of physics, rarely making mistakes when he told his opinion about a patient, whether he would recover or not. When dead at last, he was buried with the brethren Wilhelmites, in the suburb of Avroy, as you have been able to see more fully above.2. [Bormans's Introduction to the Mirror of Histories, 1887, p. cxxxiii.]



JEAN D'OUTREMEUSE, in all probability the real author of the Travels, has been stripped of many borrowed plumes by modern criticism. He had no right to the aristocratic name and pedigree of Des Pres. "Né le 2 janvier 1338, il entra dans la cléricature, c.à.d. qu'il fut tonsuré et porta le costume ecclésiastique, sans d'ailleurs jamais recevoir les ordres. Mari de Catherine Martial, qui lui survécut, il en eut un fils qui devint 'chanoine de Liége'" —that is, not of the Cathedral chapter, which had a share in the Government of the Episcopal Principality, but of some one of the seven collegiate churches. "Lui-même se dit 'clerc liégeois, notairePage  2:9 public, audiencier et comte palatin'"—a non-aristocratic title, belonging to legal officers in certain Bishops' Palaces. "Il remplissait auprès de la cour de l'official des fonctions qui … devaient présenter une certaine analogie avec celle de greffier."1. [Kurth, as above, following Bormans, Introduction to d'Outremeuse, pp. vi seq., and Bulletin de la Commission Royale d'Histoire, 5e série, t. I., pp. 282 seq., 1891.] He died November 25, 1400; his obit, dated on the next day, has been printed by Bormans (Bulletin, etc.).

Our reasons for ascribing the Travels to him do not amount to absolute proof, and rest merely on strong circumstantial and internal evidence. Similarity of contents, tone and spirit between two books may go a long way towards proving common authorship, and the Travels have many passages and features in common with the authentic Mirror of Histories.

The contents of Friar Odoric de Pordenone's Travels in the Far East have been conveyed wholesale into both works, being attributed to Sir John Mandeville in one case and to Ogier the Dane in the other (Vol. III., pp. 56-67 of the Mirror). Minute coincidences have been pointed out in our notes, such as the blunder of letting the four different kinds of wood in the True Cross grow from three seeds (note to p. 7, l. 24). It is hardly possible that such a mistake has been committed independently by two writers. Large as is the number of examples mentioned in the notes, it might be increased by a systematic search.

Another argument has been reached separately by Prof. Gustave Charlier, of the University of Brussels, and by myself. In Vol. IV. p. 587 of the Mirror, d'Outremeuse writes that he will not tarry to describe Tartary, because he has fully discussed that country elsewhere. S. Bormans (p. xc of his Introduction, 1887) remarks that the Trésorier de Philosophie naturelle contains no such account. Now the Mandeville does, especially in Chapter XXV., which narrates the foundation by Jenghiz Khan of the Tartar empire. In so far as a statement by d'Outremeuse is worth any notice, this would amount to an indirect avowal of authorship.

Taken singly, each of the above arguments is inconclusive. Put together, they become very strong. It is hardly becoming for an editor to boast of having copied a French and an English MS. of Mandeville with his own hand, and devoted years to collecting and considering the evidence, yet the impression gained by him as thePage  2:10 result of such work may claim a scientific value, unless he has grown biased by focusing his attention on one point. With this proviso, I may state that to me d'Outremeuse appears as the only possible author of Mandeville: his attacks on the Papacy (in the Mirror, Vol. V., p. 165, the pope and cardinals are accused of taking bribes from John Lackland) evince Wycliffite tendencies in agreement with the dedication of the Travels to Edward III. His indecencies betray a coarse mind fed on Medieval fabliaux. The mockery of the heroic conventions of the romances, especially of the Alexandrian and Crusading epics, shows a memory conversant with wonderful adventures in the Near and in the Far East and a satirical contempt for their religious enthusiasm. Now such characteristics are not uncommon in the fourteenth century: if it were permissible to name Chaucer in the same breath with the author of Mandeville, their mental attitudes might in some respects be compared.

But where d'Outremeuse cannot be matched is in his capacity for mixing and confusing truth and untruth. His spirit is too grovelling for high fiction, for the creation of a fair imaginary world. All the elements of his romancing are prosaic and vulgar. But he puts them together with brazen audacity, disfigures or invents proper names, alters numbers and circumstances, to the despair of those honest commentators who have traced him to his sources. No plagiarist has pilfered more unscrupulously, and yet he always reasserts his fickle originality by his knack of distorting the texts from which he borrows. This was partly deliberate deceit, but it might also spring from carelessness in copying, from trusting a slippery memory, or even from a peculiar notion of an author's rights and duties. Whether his motives were purely mercenary, or whether he obeyed an original impulse, his chief aim was to entertain while pretending to impart solid historical or geographical information. Dry facts he collected in abundance from Boldensele's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from Odoric's two accounts of his travels in Palestine and in the Far East, from Haiton of Armenia's Flower of Histories. But he spiced them by means of fabulous details drawn from the romances of Eastern adventure which deal with Alexander the Great's expeditions to Persia and India, and with the experiences of Godfrey of Bouillon and his companions among the Saracens. The influence of the Medieval epic is felt in the manner as well as in the matter of thePage  2:11 Mandeville. It has been pointed out to me by an English poet of distinction that its prose style is rhythmical and balanced, and that it somewhat retains the movement of poetry. Prof. Kurth, the principal authority on Jean d'Outremeuse, finds him a faithful imitator of the mannerisms and conventions of the minstrels.

This brings us to a hitherto unsolved riddle in the work of the notary of Liége. It is denied by no one that he composed epics and romances in verse, as he writes himself: "Toute les giestes et histoires que je ay fait, je les fis et formay anchois que je translatasse et metisse en chest ches miens croniques, car je n'avoie nulle pensée de translateir, por xx. années près; si que je fis mes histoires toutes plaines" (Miroir des Histoires, Vol. III., p. 402).

Although the meaning of the last word is open to dispute, the general sense is clear: All the gestes and histories that I have made I made and shaped before transferring and putting them into these my present chronicles, for I had no thought of transferring for wellnigh twenty years; so that I made my histories all plain. From this statement it has been rightly concluded that the Mirror of Histories, a huge chronicle in prose, is the work of his later years, and that during his first twenty years of authorship he wrote historical works in rhyme, dealing in part with the same matter as the Mirror. One such poem, the Geste de Liége, is extant and has been printed along with the prose. Where are the others?

The liar himself declares, speaking of Ogier the Dane: "Toutes ses chouses sont declareis en la novelle gieste que nous meisme avons fait sour Ogier" (Mirror, Vol. III., 1873, p. 111). All these things are set forth in the new geste that we have ourselves made on Ogier. No trace of this has been discovered, although a graduate of Liége University, M. Edgar Renard, in a manuscript dissertation, has done his best to search for it. But Ogier appears in some French and Latin versions of the Mandeville as a conqueror of India and as protector of Christianity there. In the Mirror, Ogier is put in the place of Odoric as a traveller in the Far East. Here we have one more point of contact between d'Outremeuse and the Mandeville. Elsewhere in the Mirror, d'Outremeuse writes that he will not tell the full story of the Crusades, because it is contained in the gestes or romances. The Crusade happened "ensi que li romans qui son fais de Godefroit de Builhon deviseit, qui s'accordent asseis as croniques; et partant de cel histoir je l'envoie à romans de Godefrois, excepteisPage  2:12 aliquant fais dont je parleray quant temps serait" (Mirror, Vol. IV., 1877, p. 290). The Crusade took place as the romances which have been made about Godfrey of Bouillon relate, which agree well with the chronicles. And therefore I send [the reader] from this history to the romances of Godfrey, excepting some events that I shall discuss when the time comes.

Now two romances of Godfrey are known, one printed in fragments by Paulin Paris and by Hippeau, under the titles of La Chanson d'Antioche, Le Roman du Chevalier au Cygne et de Godefroid de Bouillon, and La Chanson de Jérusalem. This may be put out of court. The other is a lengthy rifacimento of the late fourteenth century printed by de Reiffenberg and fully discussed by Paulin Paris in Vol. XXV., pp. 507, etc., of the Histoire littéraire de la France, along with its two sequels, the Baudouin de Sebourc printed by Bocca and the Bâtard de Bouillon printed by Scheler. We accept the conclusion of Paulin Paris, that the latter three, forming a monstrous whole of many thousands of lines, are by one hand, and that this hand is that of an author of Liége, who wrote in the second half of the fourteenth century. Here, then, is a huge body of pseudo-historical verse about the fabulous East, composed in Liége by an author not yet identified. On the other hand, we miss the unidentified verse of Jean d'Outremeuse, supposed to deal with Ogier the Dane, the conqueror of the fabulous East, and one of the characters in the second part of Mandeville's Travels (Latin and French). What stands in the way of giving the unwieldy trilogy, Godfrey of Bouillon, Baldwin of Sebourc, and the Bastard of Bouillon, to d'Outremeuse himself? The lack of direct evidence, for while claiming to have made many gestes and histories, he does not expressly state that he dealt with the cycle of the Crusades.

As for the internal evidence, without overrating its value, it must be confessed that it points to single authorship of the trilogy, the Mirror and the Travels. What Paulin Paris writes, of his anonymous minstrel of Liége, and Prof. Kurth of the chronicler, d'Outremeuse applies equally to our book of Travels. The opinions and idiosyncrasies found in them, their anti-clericalism, their cynicism and licentiousness, their relentless mockery of courtly love and religious enthusiasm, joined to a boundless admiration for physical strength and for impossible feats of arms, their cringing reverence for high rank, for wealth and sounding titles,Page  2:13 in fact, all their characteristics, mark them as the work of one man. The three seem to be by a single plagiarist who had read extensively in historical and geographical lore, who indulged in fantastic descriptions of the Holy Land, of Persia, India and Tartary, who adorned them with accounts of monstrous men and beasts drawn from Vincent de Beauvais' Mirror of Nature, and who mixed and disguised his borrowings with shameless audacity. It is beyond doubt that they were composed at Liége during the same period. Is it at all likely that two literary twinbrothers and forgers were busy side by side in that small Episcopal city? One argument against single authorship is the great aggregate bulk of those writings, which may be thought to lie beyond the power of a man who had to attend to his duties as an officer of the law courts. But the very uniformity of his sources and of his matter made it possible to use the same materials over and over again. A glance at the notes in the present volume will show how often one passage in the Mandeville duplicates another. On perusing the trilogy, and the Mirror of Histories, numberless cases of such duplication will occur. Let us single out two, which bear on d'Outremeuse's attitude to science and religion. On p. 122 of the Travels, a voyage of circumnavigation is described in which a man reaches his own country after going all round the world. Similarly, in the fourteenth-century Crusading epic, a party starting from Jerusalem reaches another forest of Ardennes and another castle of Bouillon at the other end of the earth (see note).

The almsgiving to beasts of p. 137 of the Travels is also alluded to in the epic. Here the Christians are blamed by a Saracen for giving to the poor the remnants of food that ought to be kept for dogs, and the abbot Gerard of St. Trond justifies the Christian practice.

Such examples show that, in many respects, the epic, the Travels and the Mirror are one, and we cannot but believe them to be by one hand.



THE dedication of the Travels to Edward III. does not occur in any English text or in all the French ones. We print it fromPage  2:14 Warner, p. xxix. It is also to be found in the editio princeps of the Travels (1725), p. 385, and in Halliwell's reprint of 1866, p. xi: Principi excellentissimo, pre cunctis mortalibus precipue venerando Domino Edwardo, Divina Providentia Francorum et Anglorum regi serenissimo, Hibernie Domino, Aquitanie Duci, Mari ac ejus insulis occidentalibus dominanti, christianorum eufamie et ornatui, universorumque arma gerentium tutori, ac probitatis et strenuitatis exemplo; principi quoque invicto, mirabilis Alexandri sequaci, ac universo orbi tremendo; cum reverentia, non qua decet (cum ad talem et tantam reverentiam minus sufficientes exstiterint) sed qua parvitas et possibilitas mittentis et offerentis se extendunt, contenta tradantur.—To the most excellent prince, to be chiefly reverenced above all mortals, to the Lord Edward, by Divine Providence most serene king of France and England, lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine, ruler of the sea and of its Western Islands, credit and ornament of Christendom, patron of all men at arms and pattern of probity and strength, also to the unconquered prince, follower of the wonderful Alexander, to be feared by the universe, the contents of this book are offered, not with fit reverence, for they would prove inadequate for such a great and noble object, but so far as the insignificance and power of the sender and dedicator extend.

Sir G. Warner regards this as an interpolation, because it does not appear in the best manuscripts. To us it seems genuine, implicitly putting the King above his enemy the Pope ("above all mortals"), praising the world-conqueror Alexander, often mentioned in the Travels, and admitting the frivolous character of the book itself. It should be noted that the writer does not claim to have travelled or to be a subject of the English or French crown. Liége was an Imperial fief. If d'Outremeuse wrote this, he was no doubt paid for it.

The date when the Mandeville was finished cannot be later than 1371, as a manuscript bearing that date is said to be extant in Paris. If we accept the dedication as genuine, the year 1366, when King Edward repudiated the Pope's supremacy over the realm, is a probable one. It comes soon after 1362, for which see note to p. 146, l. 26. The reference to the peace of Brétigny (1360) in the Itinerarius would put it still further back. In 1366, Jean d'Outremeuse was twenty-eight years old, and Sir John Mandeville still had six years to live. If the Travels were partPage  2:15 of an anti-Papal campaign of popular agitation, they would be turned into English almost at once, for the Wycliffites knew the importance of addressing the people in their mother tongue. The choice of an English name for the imaginary protagonist of the Travels, and even the choice of an author of Liége for supporting the English policy against the Pontifical See, would be easily accounted for. Was not Jean le Bel, the chronicler and servant of Edward in his wars, a native of the Principality of Liége, and was he not one of the models and sources for d'Outremeuse's, as for Froissart's chronicles?

Our theory, first put forward in the Quarterly Review (April 1917), that the Travels are an anti-Papal pamphlet in disguise, rests primarily upon the allusions to the Papacy, eleven in number, contained in the text. Some of these do not allow of any definite conclusions, such as the four comparisons between the Pontifical dignity and various heads of other churches, the Patriarch of Constantinople (p. 11, l. 25), the Caliph of Muhammadans (p. 27, l. 10), the Patriarch of St. Thomas in India (p. 184, l. 21), and the Lobassy or Grand Lama of Tibet (p. 205, l. 17). Others hint, without open blame, that the popes have altered the rites of the Early Church: auricular confession is described as an invention of the Holy Fathers (p. 80, l. 16 and note), and they are said to have added to the text of the mass (p. 200, l. 3). The report that Athanasius was put in prison by a pope for composing his creed (p. 96, l. 27) can hardly be interpreted as complimentary to the Roman See. Much more aggressive than this is the passage about the quarrel between Pope John the XXIInd and the Greeks (pp. 11-12). Accusations of pride and avarice are levelled against John, and the letter of defiance addressed to him is worthy of the Wycliffites. An open charge of simony is levelled at the Pontiff himself in the sentence: For now is Simon king crowned in Holy Church (p. 12, ll. 21-22, and see note). Slyer, though no less impudent, is the claim that the mendacious Travels have been "affirmed and proved" by Our Holy Father (p. 210, l. 17). The eleventh and last instance is open to dispute and a matter of hypothesis. A prophet is credited with the pronouncement that "Out of Babylon shall come a worm that shall devour all the world" (p. 73, l. 20). As no such sentence has been traced in the prophetical books of the Bible, we may suspect a Wycliffite war-cry against the world-power of the New Babylon or Rome.

Page  2:16

Other allusions to religious matters, to the various sects of Christianity, to the beliefs of Jews, Muhammadans and heathens of various lands, must be read in the light of the statements discussed above, always remembering that the propagandist prefers innuendo to direct statements, and that it was a dangerous thing to defy the power of the Church barefaced. It is not impossible that the account of Buddhist almsgiving to beasts (p. 137, ll. 5-36, and note) hides a satire on the doctrine of Purgatory and on the sale of indulgences. That certain savages delight to drink human blood and call it dieu (i. e. god, p. 129, l. 26) may or may not be a satire against the dogma of transubstantiation. Many similar cases are discussed in the notes. On the whole, they bear out the interpretation of the book as a more or less veiled libel against the Roman Church.



A FULL enumeration of the manuscripts of the French original text of the Travels, listed by J. Vogels, will be found in Roehricht's Bibliotheca Geographica Palaestinae, 1890. No critical edition is in existence. A reprint from two MSS. in the British Museum (Harley 4383 and Royal 20 B. x), with variants from others, is accessible in the Roxburgh Club edition. A modernised French text, cut down to about one-fifth of the original, is to be found in Bergeron: Recueil des Voyages, The Hague, 1735.

Dr. Vogels has proved the existence of two independent English translations of the Travels, testifying to their wide popularity in the country of John Wycliffe. Of these translations one, preserved in two MSS. (E. Museo 116 and Rawlinson D. 99 in the Bodleian), is called by him E.L. = Englisch Lateinisch or Anglo-Latin, as it is from a Latin version, and the other, E.F. = Anglo-French, is from the French original. The variations between several copies of the latter are so striking that they were long believed to be by several Englishers. But the method applied by Dr. Vogels seems incontrovertible. He assumes that no man is likely to mistranslate what has already been correctly interpreted. One convincing example occurs on p. 56, ll. 27-28. D'Outremeuse there describes the signs of the Zodiac as "signes du ciel," signs of the sky. ThePage  2:17 Englisher misread "cygnes," swans, and wrote "Swannes of heuene." That this blunder arose from the French is undeniable. No reviser or corrector could possibly have introduced it. It not only bears the stamp of an original translator, but of one who distinguished himself by his ignorance and stupidity. Another example is that on p. 72, l. 3. D'Outremeuse wrote about nonains cordelières, i.e. Franciscan nuns. The Englisher misread the c. as the numeral 100 and wrote "Nonnes of an hundred ordres." By these two examples the capacity of the original Englisher may be gauged. It is not surprising that his blunders should have invited emendation, and that more sensible and more cultivated scribes should have confronted his work with one of the many French copies and removed the worst faults. But the modern editor does not go to the Mandeville for accurate information; he wants the text as it came from the earliest translator's hand, testifying to the state of mind of the anonymous individual who first turned it into English, and to the wants and shortcomings of his fourteenth-century readers. Therefore he prefers the imperfect Cotton Titus c. XVI. version to the more correct Egerton 1982 printed by Sir G. Warner. For signes du ciel, the Egerton has: signez of þe firmament; the nonains cordelières it simply omits.

Sir G. Warner chose the Egerton MS. for three reasons:—1. the Egerton was still unprinted, while the Cotton was accessible in the 1725 edition and in several reprints from that, e.g. Halliwell's (London. F. S. Ellis, 1866). 2. It is in a more Northern dialect, and therefore interesting to the philologist. 3. Its mistakes are fewer.—The former two reasons have lost their importance, since Sir G. Warner's edition is in print. The last is not convincing after Dr. Vogels has proved that the Egerton version is a composite one, accepting the main body of the text from Cotton, with minor variations, and filling a large gap (corresponding to p. 22, l. 3 to p. 41, l. 21 of the present edition) from the Anglo-Latin version discovered by Vogels. Cotton, then, although it has lost a few pages (our pp. 212-217), remains the only practically complete and consistent, as well as the most original text. An earlier pedigree of the various English texts, constructed by Dr. Nicholson and accepted by Sir G. Warner, is thus proved to have no foundation in fact.

We are then compelled to agree to the strange principle that the test of authenticity lies not in the correctness but in the veryPage  2:18 excess of the blundering, for a demonstrably and intentionally misleading French original by the arch-romancer d'Outremeuse has been Englished by an ignorant and careless translator. Wherever the present editor felt tempted to correct the Cotton manuscript, he either found, on comparing with the two Brussels manuscripts and with the printed Harley text, that d'Outremeuse himself was responsible for the misstatement, or that the translator had erred through incompetence. Very few errors, pointed out in the notes, may be due to the copyist or copyists who intervened between the original and the Cotton MS. Even here, there can be no certainty, as the Englisher was quite capable of any lapse of spelling and grammar, in addition to the many fantastic mistranslations that are undoubtedly his own. A difficult problem is raised by the cases of words correctly rendered in one passage and misinterpreted in another. Can we believe that the same man knew the meaning of a French word one day and forgot it on the morrow? Other explanations are more probable. 1. His French manuscript might be faulty, as in the confusion of signes with cygnes or in that of cordeleres and c. ordres. 2. The context might help in one case, and hinder in another. 3. His slovenliness is so obvious, that it suffices to account for doubtful examples. For all these reasons, the task of the would-be improver is a hopeless one, and we had to confine ourselves to honestly supplying readers with the original data and to banish the fruits of our own wisdom to the notes. In this we took warning by the example of the learned Scheler, who closes his commentary on the Bâtard de Bouillon with a sigh of regret at having too much normalised his text. No variants could be printed in the footnotes because the difference between the English MSS. is too great. The list of those MSS. has twice been printed by Dr. Vogels: once in his paper of 1891, and once in Roehricht. I have only seen those in London, Oxford and Cambridge.

As the first duty of a student who undertakes to edit a translation is to master its original, and as only a diplomatic reprint of the Anglo-French Harley 4383, supplemented by Royal XX B.x, with variants from Sloane 1464 and Grenville XXXIX., is accessible in print, I have copied Brussels 10420-5, a text recommended by Vogels as among the best, but full of crabbed abbreviations, and I have checked it with Brussels 11141, which is inferior, but in a plain hand. The Cotton version I have found faithful to thePage  2:19 Anglo-French Harley text, when the Englisher did ?? victim to his peculiar weaknesses. The mistranslations are ?? esting in showing how slavishly, and with what complete disreg?? of both the French and the English idiom, the work has been done.

In Sir G. Warner's description of the Cotton MS. we have nothing to alter: "It is a small quarto measuring 8 1/2 by 6 inches, with 132 leaves. The text is written in a neat, well-formed hand, varying somewhat in parts (more especially at folio 119) but not enough to make it certain that more than one scribe was employed. The ornamentation is very simple. There is a large initial in gold, on a red and blue ground, at the beginning, and the other initials are in blue, filled in and flourished with lines in red. The text is divided into chapters by rubricated titles, without numeration." The date conjecturally assigned to it is 1410-1420. Although not a word is illegible, some letters are so much alike as to be practically identical: so c and t, n and u (mendinant may be read mendiuant, cf. mendif). Even e and o are sometimes hard to distinguish. A curl after final r often means nothing: clere̛ = clere. The question has been raised whether a crossed ƚƚ should be read ll or lle. We agree with Prof. Kern that the crossing in this case is of no phonetic or grammatical importance. It might have been altogether disregarded in copying.



THE sources of the Mandeville have been traced by Sir G. Warner and Dr. Bovenschen, until all but a few pages have been proved to be stolen from some older book, and until all probability of the author having seen with his own eyes and described from his own experience has disappeared. It seems, then, as if nothing were left for following commentators to do but to repeat what has been said before them. This is not so. In their zeal for unmasking the plagiarist and in the fulness of their learning those two scholars have not been content to measure the extent of their author's reading. They have pursued many of the traditions collected by him to their remote origins in classical and Jewish antiquity, thus attributing to him a wider and more solid erudition than hePage  2:20 possessed. On the other hand, they have taken too little account of his familiarity with romances in the vernacular, especially those about the Crusades and about Alexander the Great. Finally, they have insufficiently stressed the use made by him of Vincent of Beauvais's encyclopaedia, both of natural philosophy (Speculum Naturale) and of history (Speculum Historiale). None of the three principal sources of the Travels, William of Boldensele's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Friar Odoric de Pordenone's travels to Palestine and to the Far East, William of Tripoli's account of the Saracens (De Statu Saracenorum), is included in Vincent, but most of the other books, historical and scientific, plundered for the Mandeville, have been excerpted by him. Where the commentators refer to Pliny, to Solinus, to Isidor of Seville, to Honorius' Imago Mundi, it is certain that d'Outremeuse never went beyond what he learned at school or could read in his encyclopaedia. If we fail to identify the exact wording of the passage in Vincent, we may assume that d'Outremeuse took liberties with his model or that he used a copy somewhat different from our present printed editions. The names of Vincent's authorities he found carefully noted in each chapter. The fabulous history of Alexander, e.g., is told in the Mirror Historial, Book IV. The Historia Alexandri, Justinus, Valerius, Quintus Curtius, Martianus, Orosius, the Epistle of Alexander, Seneca, the correspondence between Alexander and Didimus, are quoted in turn. This enabled d'Outremeuse to refer glibly to them all.

It is no less certain that, as a reader and writer of Gestes or romances, he knew some verse epics in Middle French, probably the Alexander edited by Michelant. It is nearly impossible for a modern commentator, provided with recent printed editions, to ascertain what particular versions of the legend, vernacular or Latin, in verse or in prose, d'Outremeuse may have followed besides his Vincent. When he departs from all known authorities, Dr. Bovenschen is inclined to surmise "oral tradition," and Sir G. Warner hesitates between lost sources and the author's invention. Now that we are acquainted with d'Outremeuse's vagaries, there is little doubt that the latter view is the correct one. Lost authorities are very unlikely to have escaped the minute and protracted search of a number of competent students. As for oral tradition, which is gradually losing its hold on the faith of scholars, there is no reason to postulate it at all. Judging from d'Outremeuse's knownPage  2:21 methods, we must suppose the written sources as few as possible. Eugesippus-Fretellus's description of the Holy Places (De Locis Sanctis), John de Plano-Carpino on the Tartars (Book XXXI. of the Mirror Historial), are incorporated in Vincent. Extracts from other works must have been obtained in the Latin original. As has already been pointed out by Sir G. Warner (p. xl of his Introduction), all the sources of the Travels, except Boldensele and Odoric, occur in the list of authorities for d'Outremeuse's Mirror of Histories (p. xcix of the Introduction to it).



OUR Cotton MS. contains four alphabets: one at the close of Chap. III., called Greek (p. 13); another at the close of Chap. VII., called Egyptian (p. 34); a third at the close of Chap. XIII. called Jewish (p. 73); and a fourth at the close of Chap. XVI., called Saracen (p. 92). A so-called Persian alphabet, missing in the Cotton MS. (p. 100), is inserted in the corresponding place in the Egerton MS. Facing p. 442 of Cordier's edition of Odoric is the facsimile of an "alphabet fantaisiste de la langue de Penthexoire," from a Mandeville, whether printed or manuscript, French or Latin, M. Cordier does not say.

Sir G. Warner's comments are that (1) the Greek alphabet offers peculiar forms; (2) the so-called Egyptian is corrupt past recognition; (3) the so-called Hebrew is also corrupt; (4) the so-called Saracen is not Arabic, but has strong affinities with the Slavonic alphabet known as the Glagolitic, and is found in the Cosmographia of Aethicus. (References to: H. Wuttke, Die Kosmographie des Istrier Aithicos, etc., Leipzig, 1854, p. 85; Pertz, De Cosmographia Ethici libri tres, Berlin, 1853, pp. 150-184, and plate, p. 199.) (5) The so-called Persian cannot be identified, but is given by J. G. Eccard, De origine Germanorum libri duo, 1750, pl. IV., p. 192, from an unspecified MS. at Ratisbon. It there professes to be Chaldaic. This MS. contains six other alphabets, including the so-called Egyptian of Mandeville.—So far Sir G. Warner.

The whole problem is one that cannot be solved without comparing and classifying many facsimiles and photographs, an enterprise not easily achieved in the year of Our Lord 1920. ThereforePage  2:22 we here confine ourselves to stating its existence, and to asking some questions. Had d'Outremeuse any reason for collecting and reproducing all these alphabets? Why did the copyists and buyers of the Travels go to the trouble and expense of drawing and purchasing them? Was it on account of the connection between the Glagolitic alphabet, e.g., and the Medieval heresies popularly traced to the East, and especially to the Bulgarians? Was it because the legend of Prester John of Pentexoire, as stated by Cordier (p. 440), served as a vehicle for allusions to contemporary politics and religion, as in the pamphlet from which a facsimile is reproduced in his Odoric (p. 441)? In brief, have the alphabets any bearing on the anti-Papal character of the Mandeville? One practical object of keeping half a dozen of them bound together in one volume might be to facilitate secret correspondence, as a common form of cypher in the Middle Ages was the mixing of various alphabets in the same text (Al. Meister, Anfänge der modernen diplomatischen Geheimschrift, 1902, p. 18). The objection to this hypothesis is that, if such documents had been in use, at least a few of them ought to have survived, to come under the notice of keepers of records and manuscripts. So far nothing seems to have been heard about them. Still the question remains, whether sympathisers with the Mandeville's heterodox views did not use its alphabets for secret intercourse.