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displaced in the early part of his life, Malik Nāṣir reigned till 1341, a duration unparalleled in Mahommedan Egypt, whilst we are told that during the last thirty years of his reign Egypt rose to a high pitch of wealth and prosperity. Mandeville, however, then goes on to say that his eldest son, Melechemader, was chosen to succeed; but this prince was caused privily to be slain by his brother, who took the kingdom under the name of Melechmadabron. “And he was Soklan when I departed from those countries.” Now Malik Nāṣir Mahommed was followed in succession by no less than eight of his sons in thirteen years, the first three of whom reigned in aggregate only a few months. The names mentioned by Mandeville appear to represent those of the fourth and sixth of the eight, viz. Ṣaliḥ 'Imād ud-din Ismā'īl, and Moʑaffar (Saif ud-din Ḥajjī); and these the statements of Mandeville do not fit.

On several occasions Arabic words are given, but are not always recognizable, owing perhaps to the carelessness of copyists in such matters. Thus, we find (p. 50) the names (not satisfactorily identified) of the wood, fruit and sap of the balsam plant; (p. 99) of bitumen, “alkatran” (al-Kāṭrān); (p. 168) of the three different kinds of pepper (long pepper, black pepper and white pepper) as sorbotin, fulful and bano or bauo (fulful is the common Arabic word for pepper; the others have not been satisfactorily explained). But these, and the particulars of his narrative for which no literary sources have yet been found, are too few to constitute a proof of personal experience.

Mandeville, again, in some passages shows a correct idea of the form of the earth, and of position in latitude ascertained by observation of the pole star; he knows that there are antipodes, and that if ships were sent on voyages of discovery they might sail round the world. And he tells a curious story, which he had heard in his youth, how a worthy man did travel ever eastward until he came to his own country again (p. 183). But he repeatedly asserts the old belief that Jerusalem was in the centre of the world (79, 183), and maintains in proof of this that at the equinox a spear planted erect in Jerusalem casts no shadow at noon, which, if true, would equally consist with the sphericity of the earth, provided that the city were on the equator.

The sources of the book, which include various authors besides those whom we have specified, have been laboriously investigated by Dr Albert Bovenschen[1] and Dr G. F. Warner,[2] and to them the reader must be referred for more detailed information on the subject.

The oldest known MS. of the original once Barrois's, afterwards the earl of Ashburnham's, now Nouv. Acq. Franç. 4515 in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris — is dated 1371, but is nevertheless very inaccurate in proper names. An early printed Latin translation made from the French has been already quoted, but four others, unprinted, have been discovered by Dr J. Vogels.[3] They exist in eight MSS., of which seven are in Great Britain, while the eighth was copied by a monk of Abingdon; probably, therefore, all these unprinted translations were executed in this country. From one of them, according to Dr Vogels,[4] an English version was made which has never been printed and is now extant only in free abbreviations, contained in two 15th century MSS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford — MS. e Museo 116, and MS. Rawlinson D. 99: the former, which is the better, is in Midland dialect, and may possibly have belonged to the Augustinian priory of St Osyth in Essex, while the latter is in Southern dialect.

The first English translation direct from the French was made (at least as early as the beginning of the 15th century) from a MS. of which many pages were lost.[5] Writing of the name Califfes (Khalif), the author says (Roxburghe Club ed., p. 18) that it is tant a dire come roi (s). II y soleit auoir v. soudans — “as much as to say king. There used to be 5 sultans.” In the defective French MS. a page ended with Il y so; then came a gap, and the next page went on with part of the description of Mount Sinai, Et est celle vallee mult froide (ibid. p. 32). Consequently the corresponding English version has “That ys to say amonge hem Roys Ils and this vale ys ful colde”! All English printed texts before 1725, and Ashton's 1887 edition, follow these defective copies, and in only two known MSS. has the lacuna been detected and filled up.

One of them is the British Museum MS. Egerton 1982 (Northern dialect, about 1410-1420?), in which, according to Dr Vogels, the corresponding portion has been borrowed from that English version which had already been made from the Latin. The other is in the British Museum MS. Cotton Titus C. xvi. (Midland dialect, about 1410-1420?), representing a text completed, and revised throughout, from the French, though not by a competent hand. The Egerton text, edited by Dr G. F. Warner, has been printed by the Roxburghe Club, while the Cotton text, first printed in 1725 and 1727, is in modern reprints the current English version.

That none of the forms of the English version can be from the same hand which wrote the original is made patent by their glaring errors of translation, but the Cotton text asserts in the preface that it was made by Mandeville himself, and this assertion was till lately taken on trust by almost all modern historians of English literature. The words of the original “je eusse cest livret mis en latin . . . mais . . . je l'ay mis en rōmant” were mistranslated as if “je eusse” meant “I had” instead of “I should have,” and then (whether of fraudulent intent or by the error of a copyist thinking to supply an accidental omission) the words were added “and translated it aȝen out of Frensche into Englyssche.” Mätzner (Altenglische Sprachproben, I., ii., 154-155) seems to have been the first to show that the current English text cannot possibly have been made by Mandeville himself. Of the original French there is no satisfactory edition, but Dr Vogels has undertaken a critical text, and Dr Warner has added to his Egerton English text the French of a British Museum MS. with variants from three others.

It remains to mention certain other works bearing the name of Mandeville or de Bourgogne.

MS. Add. C. 280 in the Bodleian appends to the “Travels” a short French life of St Alban of Germany, the author of which calls himself Johan Mandivill[e], knight, formerly of the town of St Alban, and says he writes to correct an impression prevalent among his countrymen that there was no other saint of the name: this life is followed by part of a French herbal.

To Mandeville (by whom de Bourgogne is clearly meant) d'Oultremouse[6] ascribes a Latin “lappidaire selon l'oppinion des Indois,” from which he quotes twelve passages, stating that the author (whom he calls knight, lord of Montfort, of Castelperouse, and of the isle of Campdi) had been “baillez en Alexandrie” seven years, and had been presented by a Saracen friend with some fine jewels which had passed into d'Oultremouse's own possession: of this Lapidaire, a French version, which seems to have been completed after 1479, has been several times printed.[7] A MS. of Mandeville's travels offered for sale in 1862[8] is said to have been divided into five books: (1) the travels, (2) de là forme de la terre et comment et par quelle manière elle fut faite, (3) de la forme del ciel, (4) des herbes selon les yndois et les pkilosophes par de là, and (5) ly lapidaire — while the cataloguer supposed Mandeville to have been the author of a concluding piece entitled La Venianche de nostre Signeur Ihesu-Crist fayte par Vespasian fil del empereur de Romme et comment Iozeph daramathye fu deliures de la prizon. From the treatise on herbs a passage is quoted asserting it to have been composed in 1357 in honour of the author's natural lord, Edward, king of England. This date is corroborated by the title of king of Scotland given to Edward, who had received from Baliol the surrender of the crown and kingly dignity on the 20th of January 1356, but on the 3rd of October 1357 released King David and made peace with Scotland: unfortunately we are not told whether the treatise contains the author's name, and, if so, what name. Tanner (Bibliotheca) alleges that Mandeville wrote several books on medicine, and among the Ashmolean MSS. in the Bodleian are a medical receipt by John de Magna Villa (No. 1479), an alchemical receipt by him (No. 1407), and another alchemical receipt by Johannes de Villa Magna (No. 1441).

  1. Die Quellen für die Reisebeschreibung des Johann von Mandeville, Inaugural-Dissertation . . . Leipzig (Berlin, 1888). This was revised and enlarged as “Untersuchungen über Johann von Mandeville und die Quellen seiner Reisebeschreibung,” in the Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin, Bd. 23, Heft 3 u. 4 (No. 135, 136).
  2. In his edition (Roxburghe Club).
  3. Die ungedruckten lateinischen Versionen Mandeville's (Crefeld, 1886).
  4. Handschriftliche Untersuchungen über die englische Version Mandeville's (Crefeld, 1891), p. 46.
  5. Dr Vogels controverts these positions, arguing that the first English version from the French was the complete Cotton text, and that the defective English copies were made from a defective English MS. His supposed evidences of the priority of the Cotton text equally consist with its being a later revision, and for Roys Ils in the defective English MSS. he has only offered a laboured and improbable explanation.
  6. Stanislas Bormans, Introduction to d'Oultremouse's Chronicle, pp. lxxxix., xc.; see also Warner's edition of the Travels, p. xxxv. The ascription is on ff. 5 and 6 of Le Tresorier de philosophie naturele des pierres precieuses, an unprinted work by d'Oultremouse in MS. Fonds français 12326 of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. The passage about Alexandria is on f. 81.
  7. See L. Pannier, Les Lapidaires français, pp. 189-204: not knowing d'Oultremouse's evidence, he has discredited the attribution to Mandeville and doubted the existence of a Latin original.
  8. Description . . . d'une collection . . . d'anciens manuscrits . . . réunis par les soins de M. J. Techener, pt. i. (Paris, 1862), p. 159 (referred to by Pannier, pp. 193-194).