Westrem, Scott D./ Broader Horizons:
A Study of Johannes Witte de Hese’s Itinerarius and Medieval Travel Narratives
.
Edited and translated by SCOTT D. WESTREM. Medieval Academy Books, No. 105 (2001).



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Broader Horizons

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Medieval Academy Books, No. 105


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Broader Horizons: A Study of Johannes Witte de Hese’s Itinerarius and Medieval Travel Narratives
Scott D. Westrem

The Medieval Academy of America

Cambridge, Massachusetts

2001


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Copyright 2001

By the Medieval Academy of America

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 99-74174

ISBN: 0-915651-10-6

Printed in the United States of America

This book is printed on acid-free paper


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For my grandmothers

Helga Engebretsen Nøkleby (1894-1985)

and

Olga Swanson Westrem (1899-2000)

Who taught me that “manis soule . . . is i-cleped orisoun, as it were
þe next marche in kynde bytwene bodily and goostly þinges”
(John Trevisa’s translation of Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon
[II.i; ed. Churchill Babington, 2:183]).


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Contents


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Illustrations and Tables


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Preface

Johannes Witte de Hese, identifying himself as a cleric in the diocese of Utrecht, claims to have been in Jerusalem in 1389 on a pilgrimage that he then extended to include Egypt, the Sinai, the capital city of Prester John’s empire, the church of Saint Thomas in India, Purgatory, and the island haunts of strange humans and animals. Nothing more is known about this writer, whose name may be as much an invention as the story he tells. His little book—it runs only around forty-four hundred words—records in unremarkable Latin how one late-medieval northern European combined reading, conversation, and fantasy to construct a unique image of the world. This potpourri of information and fiction—untitled in the earliest manuscripts but by the late 1400s called the Itinerarius—presents an earth whose wondrous geography makes holy places ubiquitous and accessible even to a common Dutchman. It is tempting to dismiss Witte’s Itinerarius as a juvenile prank or a “typical” example of medieval gullibility, and some readers have done so.

I believe that this book deserves serious, though not naïve, attention. In claiming to have been visiting sacred sites in the Holy Land when he embarked on a voyage that carried him to the heart of India, Witte recalls pilgrimage accounts and other travel narratives written by Europeans who visited Asia, from the eastern Mediterranean coast to the China Sea, especially after the mid-1200s. The Itinerarius belongs to a group—it cannot quite be called a tradition—of texts. They share a vocabulary that includes common verbs of motion, concrete nouns, and superlative adjectives; a style that combines autobiographical details about travel with ethnographic, political, and mercantile observations; and a perspective that reflects authorial attempts to achieve some comprehension of what has been at times a literally alienating experience.

Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that Witte’s book borrows from, rather than belongs to, this group, because it reports an imaginary
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journey. Indeed, it demonstrates a knowledge of other texts whose authors surveyed exotic landscapes with their mind’s eye, including The Letter of Prester John and The Voyage of Saint Brendan. It is thus a work of even more, though not greater, fiction than The Book of John Mandeville, whose content comes largely from reports by actual pilgrims, ambassadors, and merchants. As one of the first (if not the first) truly fabricated travel books in the Western tradition, the Itinerarius represents what Chaucer’s duplicitous Canon might call “a thyng yfallen al of newe.” I address these issues in chapter 1 by offering an analytical synopsis of the Itinerarius, discussing travel literature as a genre and summarizing European accounts of journeys undertaken between 1240 and 1400. In addition, in the commentary I draw on various medieval sources in an effort to explicate and contextualize Witte’s book.

The Itinerarius itself has a history that is interesting in its own right: it offers a case study of what might happen to a book written in northern Europe during the late Middle Ages. In its language of composition, Latin, the work is found in eight manuscripts (the oldest almost certainly from 1424) and in eleven printed editions that appeared during the heyday of the Age of Discovery: seven of them during the 1490s, three the following decade, and one more in 1565. Records exist of three manuscript copies of a fifteenth-century translation into Middle Dutch, in which the traveler calls himself Johan (Jan) Voet and says he left Jerusalem in 1398. The textual tradition indicates that at least several additional manuscripts in both languages must once have existed. During the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, then, this book had the potential to reach a fair number of readers and listeners.

The Itinerarius did not remain in its pristine form, however. The Latin narrative underwent considerable revision three times, and the evidence shows that scribes and printers, rather than the author, were responsible for the changes. These successive stages of development—or mutation—make for significantly different texts: the first largely removes the author’s voice by placing much of the account in the third person (a change that is later reversed), while the next two introduce hundreds of lexical and syntactical changes in efforts to improve the work’s style. There is little evidence that revisers found the Itinerarius dubious or mendacious; indeed, independent interpolations in three manuscripts reinforce Witte’s reliability. Readers seem to have judged it similarly, given the general tenor of marginalia and the frequency with which it was bound together, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with works of theology, history, natural science, and geography in manuscript codices and printed book collections. The Middle Dutch translation shows a different kind of mutation from the Latin original, which constitutes another reason to trace the book’s textual history carefully. Producing orthographically and semantically dissimilar versions of a single translation, scribes “translated” the work from one Dutch dialect into another in the course of copying it.


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A careful analysis of the Latin text’s development also demonstrates that the seven printers who produced the Itinerarius between ca. 1490 and 1565 used—today we would say pirated—each other’s work, so that a clear line of descent extends from the first edition to the eleventh. After the book’s third publication, and except for the last one, changes are rare and often result from typographical errors. Printers may have raced—even competed—to get a book about travel in Asia into the hands of Europeans eager for information about new worlds; three of them (in 1499, 1504, and ca. 1507) moved Witte’s date of departure from Jerusalem ahead one century, to 1489, probably in a deliberate attempt to market their product as news. As the printing press introduced texts with a regional appeal to larger audiences, the Itinerarius, which initially circulated in German-speaking areas, particularly in the Rhineland, began to appear farther afield, and its content generated the interest, and occasional censure, of scholars.

These issues related to the history of the Itinerarius as a book are the focus of chapter 2, which addresses the identity of Johannes Witte de Hese and the critical reception of the book attributed to him, and of chapter 3, which delineates the text’s transmission. The description of this transmission has as its basis the heart of this book, chapters 4 and 5: the critical editions of the Latin and Middle Dutch versions of the work and the textual notes. By isolating discrete variants in the critical editions and by offering other kinds of information in the textual notes (as well as by linking this work to other medieval travel books in focused commentary paragraphs, in chapter 7), I attempt to represent comprehensively the range of texts that make up what is called Witte’s Itinerarius. The English translation in chapter 6 is, I hope, neither more nor less rhetorically sophisticated than the original (in its earliest version), and notes account for discrepancies in the Latin and Dutch texts. Brief descriptions of the manuscripts appear in an appendix.

This range is wide and reflects the perils of editing medieval works, at least one that differs so from text to text that it borders on fiction to print any one of them as the version that early readers knew. Yet this conundrum befits a book whose author’s identity cannot be established and whose title appears to be a printer’s invention. Writing, as I shall for a couple hundred pages, about “Johannes Witte de Hese’s Itinerarius” is, thus, in a sense already writing fiction. Witte himself describes the predicament he faced having to sail between two dangerous seas: one whose lodestone bottom threatened to act as a lethal magnet to vessels with iron aboard, and another of shifting sands where one-eyed cannibals were on the lookout for tasty mariners. One must pass beyond these obstacles, he writes, “and thus it is essential that one have a favorable, direct wind” in order to escape alive. In the following examination and presentation of a book that is at once uninformed and curious about the world, sophomoric yet significant, I attempt to avoid either treating it with dismissive condescension or suggesting that it compares to Dante, either making it seem
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that the text we have of the Itinerarius is univocal (this would be not fiction but a lie) or offering an edition that is unreadable. I hope for a good wind, although my life does not depend on it—but then, in fact, neither did Witte’s.


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Acknowledgments

Before expressing his gratitude to a variety of organizations and people who contributed in one way or another to his book The Powers of Prophecy, the historian Robert E. Lerner began his “Acknowledgments” with an affecting, poignant observation. Foreseeing a time when all extant medieval codices would be available in a computerized format, so that work on them might be done by “pushing buttons,” he recognized the potential richness of resulting studies. Recalling the Baroque libraries and fields of lavender he had encountered on his own travels from manuscript to manuscript, however, he expressed some dismay that in such a future, plainly put, “research will be infinitely less fun.” Lerner’s book was published in 1983. I am happy to report nearly two decades later not only that scholarship continues to be an enterprise supported by many good souls to whom thanks are due but also that it still affords much delight.

I must acknowledge at the outset that the present volume is something of a curiosity in that it is the product of some two decades of intermittent work. At its core are two editions and a translation of a fictional pilgrimage account that comprised the centerpiece of my dissertation, which I completed at Northwestern University in 1985. My work on the Latin and Middle Dutch manuscript copies of Johannes Witte de Hese’s Itinerarius never would have begun in the first place had it not been for the attention I received, beginning in April 1981, at the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota from its curator and associate curator, John Parker and Carol Urness (she has since become curator). Its development was greatly furthered by a Dissertation Year Fellowship from The Graduate School at Northwestern University and by a grant from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service), or DAAD, which enabled me to study at the University of Heidelberg from 1981 to 1983. While many scholars lent their expertise to answering my questions and filling some of the gaps in my knowledge during that time,
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I may well have abandoned the entire project had it not been for the encouragement, early on, of several (I give the names of their institutions here as I first knew them): Ursula Altmann (Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke at the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in [East] Berlin), Harmut Beckers (Universität Münster), Albert Derolez (Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent), and Pieter Obbema (Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden). At the Universität Heidelberg, my work was fostered by two particularly keen and sympathetic professors, Karl-Friedrich Kraft and the late Elfriede Stutz.

Experience taught me that research certainly could be adventuresome, if not always fun, as I hitchhiked to Czechoslovakia and back; worked amid the acrid smell of the brewery across a narrow lane from the tidy Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek in Donaueschingen, a quick stroll from one source of the Danube; and learned where best to cross into East Berlin on my many day visits, as well as where to stop to buy long-playing vinyl recordings from the Soviet Union in order to use up the “Ostmarken” I was required to exchange (and spend) every day before going back to the other side of the Wall.

My dissertation begins with a history of later medieval travel narratives running some three hundred pages, a context into which I hoped to set Witte’s Itinerarius. In the course of writing it, I decided to follow an idealized route to the Holy Land to understand something of what a medieval pilgrim might have witnessed. I still can hear the clacking of worry beads on a bus threading its way over a mountain pass in Turkey, still see the parade of pious Christians from throughout the world re-enacting Jesus’s route to the Cross along the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday, still smell the Dead Sea. Having blundered onto the site of Hama a day or two after the third largest city in Syria had been turned into a ruin during a government-directed air raid on rebels that cost many thousand lives, I came within a hair’s breadth of being shot by members of an army militia conducting a passport check on the bus I had boarded (unwittingly, and after authorities thought I had been sent in a different direction). The devastation was top secret, and word that an American had become a witness caused bedlam. My companions at the time—four Libyan history teachers who mistook me for a Norwegian (I was admittedly dissembling) and with whom I had been conversing animatedly about Ibn Batuta, the greatest medieval traveler of all, just before we were stopped for inspection—demanded as “brothers” of the Syrian soldiers that I be released to them. They won my life, and while they were demonstrably unnerved over my citizenship, they asked me to stay with them in the Libyan hostel in Damascus. In that ancient city, through their good offices, an imam showed me the shrine of John the Baptist in the city’s Great Mosque, explaining his importance to Muslims and, in an echo of a famous passage in the Book of John Mandeville, noting significant parallels between Islam and Christianity. It is fair to say that I am more indebted to this anonymous quartet
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from Tripoli than to anyone else that my study was ever finished. Lerner’s vision of a digitalized future has its attractions.

A less personally threatening hindrance nearly obstructed the completion of my dissertation after I returned to Northwestern. When I was quite far along in the introductory chapters on travel narratives and their history—my editions and translation of the Itinerarius having been finished—it was discovered that owing to my absence in Germany, I had never written a formal dissertation prospectus. At this stage in the project it was not difficult for me to fashion one nearly overnight, but rather to my surprise the Department of English rejected it: a chapter on travel narratives might preface a study of the journey or the pilgrimage as a trope in the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, but such works on their own lacked sufficient literary merit to justify being the subject of a doctoral thesis. This was precisely the perspective I was trying to gainsay, and I always will be appreciative to the members of my dissertation committee—Leonard Barkan, Traugott Lawler (director), and Catharine Regan—for maintaining that I should be allowed to attempt to make my case, as well as for their suggestions about how to make it more cogently. I mention this anecdote in part as a general acknowledgment of how much the academy has shifted in only a short time: it would be difficult to imagine a dissertation prospectus on travel narratives being rejected for the same reason today. Sometimes such a movement in tectonic plates has a proximate cause, however, and I believe that the publication of Mary B. Campbell’s elegant book The Witness and the Other World, in 1988, demonstrated the cultural value of what may now be called a genre (even if its definition remains tentative). Others at Northwestern contributed significantly to my dissertation and the process of its completion. Robert E. Lerner offered copious learned annotations to sections of it. Clarence L. Ver Steeg, Dean of The Graduate School, supported me as a student and did me the honor of making me his assistant during my last two years at the university, educating me in the wider world of the academy. In this capacity I also gained much from Leila S. Edwards, John D. Margolis, and Claire Prince.

My dissertation remained in a drawer while I faced a demanding teaching schedule and other responsibilities at Lehman College of the City University of New York (and, later, at the CUNY Graduate Center). A chance encounter in August 1988 with V. A. Kolve in that marvelous United Nations of scholarship—the (former) Reading Room of the British Library—opened the cabinet. In his customary sage and attentive way, Del listened to my description of an erstwhile project, encouraged me to return to it despite all else, and suggested that I submit it to the Medieval Academy for its consideration. (Thus began what has become over time my profound indebtedness to him.) It is fair to say that in the present volume, which the Medieval Academy accepted for publication in 1991, most of my dissertation has been dramatically revised. Mary Campbell and an anonymous
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scholar were readers of my manuscript, and I am grateful to both for their insights and suggestions, which have also been incorporated here.

Because my book entered a queue of publications, each of which is meticulously reviewed and edited by the staff at the Academy (in addition to their many other duties), I have had some leisure and occasion to revisit my submission of over a decade ago. In the early 1990s, Robert Lerner sent me a citation from a recently published catalog recording that a Latin copy of Witte’s Itinerarius was in the holdings of the municipal library at Soest, in Westphalia. A grant from the Professional Staff Congress and the City University of New York, administered by CUNY’s Research Foundation, made it possible for me to examine this manuscript, which I knew I needed to include in a published edition. In so doing, Lerner, ever an alert and generous teacher, enabled me to experience the wonder of Soest, a medieval gem whose buildings are constructed from local, distinctively green limestone and whose air is redolent with the odor of baking pumpernickel, which was invented there in the 1450s. I found it to be a hindrance to scholarship as the noon hour approaches. A three-month Summer Grant from the DAAD during 1996 supported my work in German libraries on another project, but I also used the occasion to re-examine my readings of all manuscript copies of the Itinerarius in European collections.

Two other men have left a mark on this book in ways neither could have imagined. Wallace W. Douglas, a peppery man and a specialist in Romantic poetry and composition theory at Northwestern, was the most scrupulous reader of my dissertation, which he returned to me laden with annotations a year after I received my degree. He was a devoted friend who taught me much, through correction and example. The poet James Merrill left his home in Stonington, Connecticut, to that borough’s Village Improvement Association in order to give a selected writer an opportunity to work quietly and without interruption. It was my good fortune to be the second recipient of his—and the VIA’s—generosity, in 1996-97. I used this opportunity (among other things) to refashion completely my presentation of the three versions of the Itinerarius, using numbered lemmata instead of lines to treat discrete sections of text, which in turn required a complete revision of chapter 3. I also updated sections of other chapters. On 7 February 1995, the New York Times ran obituaries for Wally Douglas and Jimmy Merrill side by side. My year in Stonington was much enlivened by the presence—and great kindness—of many of the borough’s residents, chief among them Raymond Izbicki, Sylvia Lynch, Chip Kidd, J. D. McClatchy, and Eleanor Perényi.

Many scholars and friends in several countries have lent significant intellectual and emotional support—often the two have not been clearly distinguishable—over the course of the evolution of the present volume. Chief among those whose names have not already been mentioned are: Oscar Behrens, the late Jean Hagstrum, Peter S. Hawkins, Iain Macleod Higgins, Rachel Jacoff, Gerlof Janzen, the late Mills B. Lane IV, Karen and
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Robert Upchurch, and Robyn and Reid Westrem. I can never thank Flora Sedgwick enough for undertaking the assiduous task of teaching me, in fact, to read; without Guido Kauls’s mastery of foreign language pedagogy I never would have been able to function at a German university. Johanna Prins offered many suggestions for improving my work on the Middle Dutch text. During my years in Heidelberg from 1981 to 1983—and many times since then—Margot and Walter Maisel treated me like a third son (and their children Kirti and Thomas accepted me as a brother); I can never repay their kindnesses. On two visits to Czechoslovakia during those same years, Petr Antl and his wife Klára Antlová—together with Petr’s parents Zuzana and Pavel, and his brother Pavel—bestowed generosity on me in ways that, given the times, amounted to real courage. They have remained ever openhanded, but happily, since the Velvet Revolution, their bravery has been less severely tested. Stephen A. Saitas, who is as aware as anyone I know of how my heart goes out to cartography, has traveled a good distance with me. He skillfully produced two figures for this book. Kheir Fakhreldin, a doctoral student in English at the CUNY Graduate Center, assisted me in compiling the index.

Finally, I am indebted to the staff of the Medieval Academy of America for shepherding this book. Luke Wenger, the former director, made helpful suggestions regarding format and content after the volume was first accepted for publication. Richard K. Emmerson, the current director, energetically promoted the appearance of this project. As readers of and contributors to Speculum may well expect, Jacqueline Brown has brought her general knowledge of medieval culture, her command of several languages, and her adroit editorial expertise to bear on the content and correctness of this text. The Academy’s choice of Juleen Audrey Eichinger as an independent editor for this book was inspired: she has been attentive, consistent, exacting, patient, meticulous, and considerate.

Scott D. Westrem


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Abbreviations



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Chapters

1

The Itinerarius: Content and Context

1. Travel as Travail *

The oracle at Delphi pronounced the happiest man in the world to have been Aglaus of Psophis, who experienced little sadness in life because he never left his small farm in a remote corner of Arcadia. Pliny records this anecdote in his Historia naturalis, an eclectic and vast encyclopedia of science that reached most of its medieval European readers via Solinus’s compilation Collectanea rerum memorabilium (ca. A.D. 240). This is the book of wonders that C. Raymond Beazley dismissed as having been assembled “on the principle ‘Credo,’ or at least ‘Lego, quia impossibile,’ ” in which geography functions merely “as a framework on which the web of the story-teller is woven into the garments of romance.”1 Solinus was justly nicknamed Polyhistor, and given the fabric of his many descriptions of marvels and monsters found throughout the world, Aglaus’s good fortune as a happy homebody cannot rescue him from cutting a boring figure.


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This is the paradox of travel, as both an activity and a subject for verbal entertainment. Even today, with supersonic transportation, air conditioned hotels, and a nearly universal language, travel is not without its discomforts and perils. It was all the more irksome during the Middle Ages (when the English word was more aptly travail and when reisen/reizen in Germanic languages also meant ‘to march an army’). Yet for centuries audiences have derived pleasure from participating vicariously in journeys to remote lands; those attributed to Saint Brendan, Marco Polo, and Sir John Mandeville survive in many hundreds of manuscripts. Indeed, as these three names suggest, a traveler may occasionally be refashioned or even invented to amuse—perhaps also to instruct—the Aglauses who never leave home. One such invention is the subject of this book.

That travel resonates in the Western imagination is no mystery. Medieval Europe learned from its three influential monotheistic religions that history began with a fall from grace that forced humanity’s progenitors to take “their first journey” as exiles from Paradise.2These faiths also liken each individual’s life to a pilgrimage whose goal and resting place is God/Allah, and they have made this analogy manifest by endorsing actual journeys to holy places on earth. In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the drama of redemption is replete with the imagery of motion: the flight out of Egypt, the way of the cross, the hegira. From this perspective, the ideal of harmonious stasis in Arcadia, while it may offer bucolic charm, is naïve because it ignores the fundamental facts of human existence. The gulf fixed between Aglaus and Adam is sin. Although both experience life in a happy garden, the contented man of the Golden Age does not commit a primal act of disobedience that all his restless descendants in a baser Age of Iron will be condemned to repeat. In this classical tradition, travel is a symptom of sin rather than its penalty.3 At the same time, however, Arcadia cannot be regained, as may Paradise by the believer who moves, with wandering steps and slow, toward salvation.

Thus, it seems only human that writers and their readers are more interested in any far-flung activity of a Ulysses or an Aeneas than in the domestic tranquillity of an Aglaus: for story-tellers and their audiences, some plot is better than none at all. Two putative travelers are particularly noteworthy for their unusual appeal during the Middle Ages. The first of
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these is Alexander the Great, whose exploits in Africa and Asia are the subject matter of a network of texts, which collectively form the “Alexander Legend,” written over the course of a millennium in a host of languages, from Greek and Latin (most prominently, Walter of Châtillon’s superlative Alexandreis [ca. 1180]) to Persian and various European vernaculars (some of which cast the tale in verse that seldom rises above “rime doggerel”).4 The second is the narrator of Le Livre de Jehan de Mandeville (ca. 1360), an encyclopedic description of the world supposedly based on the international experience of a mercenary soldier who journeyed from England to Cathay between 1322 and 1356 but in fact mostly gleaned from reports by actual travelers to, or residents of, Asia. However scanty the evidence may be for the existence of “Sir John Mandeville,” his Book was copied and translated with such frequency (ca. 300 manuscripts in ten European languages are known today) that it became one of the most successful works of the later Middle Ages. Since the 1470s it has enjoyed a robust history as a printed book as well.5

2. The Matter of the Itinerarius

The literary victory of Alexander and John Mandeville over Aglaus may help to explain the modest popularity during the fifteenth century of a relatively short treatise, entitled Itinerarius in its first printed edition (ca. 1490) and written by a Dutchman in holy orders named Johannes Witte de Hese, according to the earliest manuscripts. If we believe his book, his zeal for pilgrimage enabled him to witness wonders effected by familiar saints and fantastical animals, and to experience danger, terror, imprisonment, opulence, disorientation, perplexity, the kindness of strangers—in short, the full range of adventure—during more than two years of travel in Asia during the late 1300s.6


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Witte begins his account by identifying himself as a “presbyter”—a priest or, perhaps, a Benedictine—from the “diocese of Utrecht,” territory that during the later Middle Ages comprised much of what is today the Netherlands, and by claiming that he was visiting holy places in Jerusalem, during May of 1389, when he decided to continue his pilgrimage to the Jordan, which he followed to the Red Sea and to Hermopolis, called the “capital city” of Egypt, where the Virgin Mary lived for seven years with the young Jesus.7 This first sentence characterizes the Itinerarius as a whole. It briskly gives information about the narrator and his vocation as a clericpilgrim, transports him some 300 miles along a vaguely delineated route, and offers quick sketches of key stops on his journey. The language is at once pious, authoritative, and ambiguous, a peculiar blend that rescues the book from being dismissed as a fantasy in puerile Latin. The devotion that leads Witte to the Jordan, the string of toponyms marking his passage to Hermopolis, and the imprecise use of prepositions to describe his movement (as well as his attribution to an unnamed source [“dicitur”] of the name of Egypt’s capital [5]) all encourage the reader to trust a well-intentioned, if ineloquent, narrator rather than to notice that he appears to believe that the Jordan river flows into the Red Sea and to know nothing of Cairo.8

Witte’s voyage to Hermopolis exposes him to unusual marine life, an early glimpse of the exotica that will characterize his Asia and of the laconic writing style of this narrator, who seems ruffled by nothing. He samples a species of fish—it has the head of a cat and the beak of an eagle—that flies over the water the distance a bolt can be shot from a crossbow and requires long boiling. After claiming to have “no memory” of the many other odd animals he observed, he recalls seeing serpents soaring back and forth between water and land, poisoning humans unlucky enough not to have the antidote: ashes from palm trees or a plant called “choral,” which grows at the site, marked by four stones, where Moses led the children of Israel
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through the Red Sea. Once in Hermopolis, Witte visits places associated with the domestic life of the Holy Family, each of which is characterized by a marvel (water from the fountain where the Virgin Mary washed her “things” continues to cure people). From its beginning, the Itinerarius establishes a pattern of linking wondrous events that occur in the present—many of which concern healing, purification, and vision—with moments in Christian history.

Witte proceeds to Amram (32), an otherwise unattested port city from which he sails back across the Red Sea, then walks for a week until he reaches the monastery of Saint Catherine at Mt. Sinai. Here thirteen canons regular live austerely, each associated with a lamp that burns of its own accord until he dies, whereupon it goes out and rekindles itself when a replacement is chosen. The body of Saint Catherine emits some kind of oil, but much less than it used to. Birds participate in cloister life by flying in with olive branches, whose use is unspecified. In the desert, some four days’ journey from Mt. Sinai, is the field of Elim (“Helym” [50]), the site of a crumbling altar and seventy-two palm trees, all the work of Moses, as well as twelve fountains, whose water permanently protects anyone who drinks it from blindness. Venomous animals poison the nearby “river of Marach” (58-59) every night after sunset, but each morning a unicorn detoxifies the stream with its horn, a marvel Witte specifically claims to have witnessed. Not far away he sees a holy hermit who feeds on manna from heaven. The Sinai peninsula, traversed by many medieval pilgrims who recall its place in Old Testament history, is here a territory where marvels occur on a daily basis.

Now around one-fifth of the way into his narrative, Witte follows a bizarre route through the desert for fifteen days, then through the land of the Urcaldees (“per terram Urcaldeorum” [71-72]), home to people he calls Red Jews, until he reaches the Nile, which he follows for a day until he arrives at Damietta (“Damiad” [74]). Here he boards a ship and sails without benefit of the Suez Canal, to Ethiopia, also known as Lower India (“inferior India” [76]), the land evangelized by the apostle Bartholomew. He claims at this point to be not in the Red Sea but in the great “Sea-Ocean” (“mare Occeanum” [75]), the name medieval geographers gave to the expanse of water surrounding the oikoumene, the known landmass of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Somewhat farther down the coast, he reports, vegetarian pygmies, who live in caves and conch shells, battle storks for survival, a conflict he specifically states he did not see, as if this disclaimer (like the reference to the mission of Saint Bartholomew) will make up for the problematic geography of the previous sentences. Witte now appears to encounter real danger for the first time as he maneuvers past the “Liver and Sandy seas” (“maria Iecoreum et Arenosum” [85-86]. The first of these has a floor of lodestone, which attracts vessels carrying any iron, and the second is sand that ebbs and flows, made even more precarious by the local one-eyed cannibals (“Monoculi” [92]) who prowl for fish and unwary sailors.
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Despite their eerie nocturnal labors and gleaming eyes, these Monoculi are definitely human, since they may be governed. Their king is named Grandicanis, a corruption of “Great Khan” (magnus Canis), a name much bruited in Europe since the 1240s but a title abolished when the Ming dynasty came to power in China in 1368.

Witte survives these several hazards and sails on to Middle India (“ad mediam Indiam” [99]), where Grandicanis rules at the imperial pleasure of Prester John, the legendary Christian priest-king whom many sought, between the mid-1100s and the mid-1500s, but only Witte found in his full grandeur. It is fitting, then, that his first port of call in this territory should be “Andranopolis” (101), a place known (in this context) to no other traveler. According to Witte, the city, evangelized by Saint Thomas, is inhabited by many Christians and characterized by a bustling international harbor, a towering lighthouse, five hundred stone bridges, buildings so tall that streets remain always in shadow, and a Franciscan monastery where Christian pilgrims are buried. A northern European of the late 1300s would have found this first landfall in eastern Asia no more alienating than Venice.

Not far from here, however, trouble strikes. Witte is taken prisoner by henchmen of Grandicanis and is brought to a fortress called Compardut (a corrupt form of the early Mongol capital of Khanbaliq [modern Beijing]). Here he remains for eight weeks. This is a pivotal event in the Itinerarius, because in relating the experience, Witte casually drops two pieces of important information. His verb forms subtly shift from first-person singular to first-person plural, indicating that he is not traveling alone.9 Moreover, he now has a destination: when Grandicanis himself arrives at Compardut, Witte tells him—and, thus, the reader—that he and his companions are pilgrims underway to the shrine of Saint Thomas, the apostle to whom Christian tradition ascribes the evangelization of India. At this news the great ruler instantly releases his prisoners and, after wining and dining them for seven days, arranges an escort to take them to the city of “Eleap” (127), some twelve days’ journey away, at the frontier of Upper India (the territory is not named until line 150).10 The entourage continues the voyage for well over a month, and the route to the more remote devotional goal becomes increasingly dangerous. Witte sails through a pitch black, three-mile-long natural tunnel at whose far end is a terrifying waterfall; he sees the
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valley where pepper grows, describing how the fields are set ablaze to drive away serpents so that the precious commodity can be harvested; and he reports on the horrible clamor that emanates from a nearby passageway in the mountains through which a stream runs, also for three miles, carrying with it great boulders and echoing with frightful noise (we never learn if the travelers had to negotiate this second peril). At length, the vessel reaches “Gadde” (146), where Prester John has his customs house.

Witte’s strenuous efforts are rewarded at last when, two weeks later, he arrives at Edissa (148-49), Prester John’s capital, which is twenty-four times the size of Cologne.11 Dominating the city, at its center, is the square imperial dwelling (“habitacio” [152]), measuring two miles on each side and resting on what would seem a relatively flimsy foundation of nine hundred columns, some of them elaborately carved or even part of a mechanical contraption. This area provides a large open space for public gatherings. Within the palace is a plaza decorated with images of the popes and the Roman emperors, together with some queens. The building’s architecture, which mirrors the emperor’s extraordinary wealth and piety, as well as his existence purely in the realm of imagination, is the subject of approximately one-quarter of the Itinerarius (152-266). Each of its seven stories is larger than the last, and five hundred steps—every one guarded by two lions, who (“it is said”) kill all intruding heretics and pagans—lead merely to the entrance.

The levels of the monumental palace are dedicated to different spiritual entities, whose holiness increases with height, as does the size of the building. In ascending order Witte describes: 1) the “Palace of Prophets,” decorated with precious fabrics and gilded sculptures of “all the prophets” (174-80); 2) the “Palace of Patriarchs,” where Abraham’s body lies, a clock announces the presence of any stranger, and a library attracts scholars (181-90); 3) the “Dwelling of Holy Virgins,” which houses the dining room for lay people and servants (191-93); 4) the “Dwelling of Holy Martyrs and Confessors,” where lords eat and sleep (194-96); 5) the “Choir of Holy Apostles,” site of a beautiful church, Prester John’s marvelous dining table (lightweight, though made of precious stones, it automatically purifies poisoned food or drink), a fountain, a bell commissioned by Saint Thomas (it drives away evil spirits), and bedrooms for important prelates (197-219); 6) the “Choir of the Holy Virgin Mary and the Angels,” where Mass is sung daily after sunrise in a special chapel and where Prester John’s counselors meet in a special vaulted, revolving palace (220-27); and 7) the “Choir of the Holy Trinity,” the location of an even more beautiful chapel than the others (Mass is sung here daily before sunrise) and Prester John’s private quarters, which include a mechanical model of the universe, a magic
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mirror, an elaborate representation of Christ in Majesty, a giant who guards Prester John from enemies who have somehow evaded the lions and the clock on the lower levels, and twenty-four revolving rooms (228-60). Atop this dizzying wonder of engineering stand twenty gilded towers. There is more—much more—but Witte claims that he is simply unable to record anything else. The palace’s organization and interior design reflect a European’s imagination rather than any informed knowledge of Asia, and yet its hierarchical arrangement—with the upper levels given over to the higher echelons of “Indian” society—runs counter to medieval domestic architecture. The royal residence is thus much more a mental construct than a mirror of actual European building design.

Before moving on, Witte makes several observations about the local landscape and society. The palace stands over the “Tigris,” one of the four rivers of Paradise mentioned in Gen. 2:10-14 (267-68); a few paragraphs later, he claims that the “Phison,” “Gyon” (Nile), and “Eufrates” are there as well (293-97).12 Outside the huge structure stands a sign proclaiming in golden letters that thirty thousand people eat there daily. Prester John’s wardrobe receives attention: in keeping with his status as a sacerdotal emperor, he dresses like a pope in the morning and a king in the afternoon. The people wear silk and leather garments, not wool “as we do” (280-81). In what seems an odd afterthought, Witte points out that only men live there; women inhabit the nearby Land of Females (“Terra Feminarum” [285]) and negotiate the four-day voyage three times a year, their schedules adjusted to the Latin ecclesiastical calendar, in order to become pregnant.13 Daughters remain with their mothers, but sons join fathers at the age of three.

With only one-third of his narrative remaining, Witte finally reaches what he told Grandicanis was his destination: the shrine of Saint Thomas, located in the city of “Hulna” (310) on an island four days away from Edissa and two miles off shore.14 The apostle is commemorated in a great church to which pilgrims, after demonstrating profound devotion by fasting and confession, walk from the mainland on dry ground, because the sea parts for a week before and after his feast day; for some reason, non-Christians are unable to make the crossing. Witte focuses on the events of two days during this fortnight, his attention directed largely on liturgical matters. While the ritual he describes is distinctly Latin, some of his report accords with what is known about medieval Indian Christianity: the unusually
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communal and participatory character of worship, the emphasis on self-denial, and the reckoning of solemn days by beginning them on the previous evening.15

On the vigil of the feast of Saint Thomas, between first and second vespers (not a very long time), the apostle’s body is placed on a great gilded throne before the high altar; crowds of pilgrims watch and pray under the vigilant eyes of more than one thousand armed guards. On the festival day itself, Prester John arrives with the patriarch, archbishops, bishops, and other prelates, who participate in many religious ceremonies. The day’s climax comes when the patriarch celebrates High Mass: Saint Thomas’s face is uncovered, and, as the host is elevated three times, it literally changes complexion, from the pallor of a corpse to the rosy cheeks one might associate with a Dutch child. As Prester John, the clerics, and the pilgrims come forward to receive the sacrament, the patriarch places each wafer in the apostle’s hand, which, held by two archbishops, in turn offers it to worthy communicants and refuses it to sinners. As if aware that readers may begin to wonder at the annual supernatural events, the universally harmonious devotion, and the sheer amount of time it would take to administer the host individually to such a throng, Witte intervenes here to testify that when he was present on the feast day—in 1391—he saw three people rejected by the omniscient hand, although after many prayers of intercession from the whole congregation they eventually warranted its approval. Then he reports on additional miracles of healing. Prester John and the other priests return Saint Thomas’s body to its fabulous reliquary, which is shut up in a tower for another year, surrounded by inextinguishable lamps. Precious stones, gleaming in the five lofty towers above the church, act as beacons for sailors far off in the sea. In a coda to the marvels of the pilgrimage to Hulna, Witte observes that the magi, whose remains were venerated at Cologne, once lived in these eastern lands, but then he retreats from this suggestion of correspondence between East and West to mention some commonplaces of Oriental exoticism: Asia has perpetual summer, dangerous vipers, and a towering mountain that divides the world into night and day.

Although Witte has attained his spiritual goal, he is far from home, and his adventures are far from over. The last one-sixth of the Itinerarius consists of brief vignettes that summarily describe the range of pleasures and perils travel can offer, particularly when governed by the imagination.16 After receiving permission from Prester John and other rulers to depart,
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Witte and his companions sail for ten days before reaching a small tropical island, replete with flowers and birds; he goes ashore with eleven others and the ship’s captain, who forbids them to bring anything away with them. They are so overcome with the local splendor that what they believe to be a three-hour stroll turns out to have lasted for three days, as they learn from the mates who stayed behind; this slowing of, but not complete release from, time is appropriate for a place called “Root of Paradise” (“Radix Paradisi” [378-79]). Twelve days sailing from here, Witte says, one finds Mount “Edom” (380), location of the inaccessible Earthly Paradise, whose walls reflect the setting sun’s light like a star. Only a mile farther is the mountain where Alexander the Great, identified as a Roman emperor, once was. For a medieval writer to claim sufficient holiness to warrant a glimpse of Eden, even in fiction, would have been audacious—would have repeated Alexander’s arrogance—and Witte’s avoidance of first-person verbs in these two vignettes (he uses the passive voice instead) suggests that even he has his limits.

Witte is now “in the remotest parts of the sea,” from which navigating in any direction would be a “return” (390-91). After approximately one more month at sea, he approaches the rocky island of Purgatory, where, amid the crying of souls, he says a mass for the dead on each of three days, thus securing the release of three of them, as a loud voice triumphs. Four months later he and his companions go ashore on an island that turns out to be Jasconius, an inhospitable whale that submerges when they light a fire to prepare dinner, causing them to lose both pots and food but no lives. Given the pseudo-geography of this book, landing on the satanic leviathan described in medieval bestiaries is almost to be expected of someone who has just sailed past Paradise and Purgatory (motion that somewhat ominously reverses Dante’s).

The last stops on Witte’s itinerary expose him to human and animal wonders, although they are quite tame in comparison to the crew of creatures that inhabit the edges of the Ebstorf, London Psalter, or Hereford mappaemundi. Three months after they flee Jasconius, Witte and his companions encounter a black monk who entertains twelve of them graciously while asking questions about Saint Thomas; his island is home to sheep and goats that grow to be the size of cattle because they are permanently put out to pasture. Deviating to the north from an otherwise easterly course, Witte sails for six days between smoking mountains and reaches an island inhabited by naked wild men and various strange animals that are not described. On another island live apes the size of yearling calves. Four months later, near a second smoking mountain, he and his companions hear sirens (but are not drawn into danger) and see horrible monsters that terrify them (but the source of their frightfulness is not stated, and in any event nothing happens). An ensuing storm drives them into a gulf where, for five days, they remain in total darkness. The weather improves, and, setting a course to the east for a month and returning to the great Sea-Ocean, they
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reach a land called Amosona, whose queen bears this same name (434-35). In one final geographical portrait that underscores his penchant for outlandish, ambiguous, and evasive descriptions, Witte notes that local people are black and white, they have two faces (one in front, one in back), and Gog and Magog, an entity associated elsewhere with Antichrist and apocalypse, are said to be imprisoned between two mountains. Although he supposedly rested here for eight days, Witte writes so imprecisely that we cannot know if he is referring to one, two, or several population groups; indeed, employing verbs in the imperfect passive and the present subjunctive, he leaves open the possibility that no one at all lives currently in Amosona, except, of course, its queen.

Witte’s sudden return to Jerusalem after another quarter year of navigation “toward the territory in the east past many islands” (440) is in every way a surprise. First of all, in a single sentence it snaps the reader back from the edges of the earth and the fringes of language to a site that for medieval Europe was the center of the world and of faith. Second, by following an easterly route to the very end of his narrative, Witte has managed to circumnavigate an earth with three continents.17 Finally, with this eager pilgrim having returned to the place he left in the first sentence, a reader may expect at least some attention to the Holy City’s sacred sites. Instead, Witte refuses to say anything about them because, as he abruptly and somewhat vaguely concludes, “how things may be laid out there is known to many. The end.”

3. The Genre of the Itinerarius

Readers, like Johannes Witte de Hese, will have good reason to wonder at the world of this Itinerarius. As the next chapter will document, the book’s first audiences, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, appear to have accepted it as a source of generally factual information, but since the eighteenth century many scholars—its only remaining public—have dismissed it as a not particularly well written travel lie, and then felt free to turn over the leaf and choose another tale. While the work is not reliable history or moving literature, it has an important place within the context of early European travel writing. First of all, the Itinerarius is evidence that by 1400, the action of travel could drive fiction: Witte’s journey is the plot of the story, not a device employed to unify otherwise disparate narrative elements, as is the case in The Divine Comedy or The Canterbury Tales.
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Owing in part, perhaps, to its author’s limitations as a writer, the book (in its original form) emphasizes linear, first-person narrative, causing it to resemble the writings of other medieval travelers more than do the sprawling informational works ascribed to Marco Polo and John Mandeville.18 At the same time, the Itinerarius is neither a report about pious journeying—a conventional pilgrimage itinerary, a guide book to holy places, or an account of missionary ventures—nor an encyclopedia of the world’s wonders. Instead, it is a hybrid, distinct from most earlier travel books. Witte’s single mission is to visit sites made sacred because of their role in Christian history, and he manages to locate them all around the world. Devotion does not evolve into curiosity as he moves from Jerusalem to Hulna; instead, the two attitudes temper each other all along, so that he reports seeing a unicorn near Mt. Sinai and saying Mass off the coast of Purgatory with the same measured treatment of marvels.

The hybrid form that results from Witte’s extension of the pilgrim’s horizon to include all of Asia suggests several parallels with The Book of John Mandeville, which also begins with the pilgrimage to the Holy Land (but, unlike the Itinerarius, exhaustively treats shrines from Constantinople to Cairo to Mt. Sinai to Palestine), then moves east to describe central Asia, the great khan’s empire, and Prester John’s land. Because scholars remain puzzled by questions relating to the Book’s authorship, style, and purpose, Witte’s analogous—if less substantial—text may contribute to the search for answers.

The Book was probably written near Liège about one generation before the Itinerarius appeared, very likely in the nearby Rhineland.19 Both works depend on other sources for much of their content, although the author of the Book copied directly, if also deftly, from an eclectic set of fairly sophisticated texts, while Witte culled information from written and perhaps oral reports in so general a way that borrowings can seldom be
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specifically identified.20 Some critics who admit that the Book’s author produced an unoriginal “pastiche of tales and lore” nevertheless have praised his invention of the persona of “John Mandeville, knight” to tell the story.21 Johannes Witte de Hese also appears to be a fiction, bringing to the Itinerarius the voice of a priestly guide who organizes the chaotic experience of a journey and authenticates it by occasional assurances of his reliability. The significance of this invention should not be overlooked. Iain Macleod Higgins observes that the first-person claims by John Mandeville echo “the ‘quasi-juridical’ formula of fourteenth-century French chroniclers and historians” and, in turn, present “a layman’s contribution to geographical knowledge.”22 E. V. Gordon, in his edition of the dream-poem Pearl, found it necessary to attempt to date the appearance of “the purely fictitious ‘I,’ . . . a first person feigned as narrator who had no existence outside the imagination of the real author.”23 In Witte, Mandeville has a likeness that is more than just rhetorical: these two narrators share a mind that is, to quote Christian K. Zacher’s assessment of Mandeville, “at once naive, inquisitive, ironic, self-deprecating, and serious.”24 Six centuries later, they remain alive in the imagination as travelers eager to go places, able to learn
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from observation, attentive to marvels but not given to awe, and willing to admit fear and forgetfulness. They are not frauds or lunatics but emblems of Englishmen and Germans born under the sway of the inconstant moon, driven, in John Gower’s words, to “travaile in every lond.”25

At times, however, Witte seems outrageous. We do not need to turn to zoology textbooks or medieval bestiaries to discredit his description of preparing to cook dinner on a whale’s back. Of course, it is difficult to prove—and even harder to assess—a medieval “lie.” It might be argued that Witte did in fact travel a great distance but mistook or misunderstood what he saw, that he compromised actual observations to accommodate what books instructed him to see, or that he embellished his experience in order to amuse readers without intending to commit fraud. Still, the Itinerarius is not just suspect; it is flagrant in its claims. Yet for this very reason its author should be given credit for recognizing, as did the writer of The Book of John Mandeville and as would Jonathan Swift, that the success of a travel book depends on a thread of faith extending from narrator to audience. Only when a traveler’s experience is accepted at least tentatively as legitimate can travel’s lessons—whether meant to be informative or entertaining—be learned.

The very fact of its fictionality is the most important reason to examine Witte’s Itinerarius: this book is evidence of the existence, or at least the nascence, of travel writing as a literary genre in the later Middle Ages. Witte’s fiction would be impossible without a public’s sense of the real thing. The issue is complicated and important. Surviving medieval European accounts of journeys—whether to Jerusalem or Cathay—vary greatly in style and content, taking forms that include itineraries, letters, histories, and geographical encyclopedias. In an attempt to lend exactitude to the discussion, several scholars have suggested different taxonomies. If travel books may be said to constitute a distinct style of writing at all in medieval Europe, Jean Richard argues, it is at best “un genre multiforme,” with at least seven different modes of expression: guidebooks, pilgrimage accounts, crusaders’ records, reports by ambassadors and missionaries, works by adventurers and explorers, descriptions by merchants, and imaginary voyage narratives. In any one text, the traveler’s perspective and circumstances are key matters that enable readers to distinguish among these modes, yet recognize a generic coherence, however tentative it may be.26


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Gerd Tellenbach, taking a more topical approach to the problem, focuses on content rather than authorship. He catalogs common themes in travel writing, such as the measurement of distance, a delight in monstrosity or grotesquerie, fear of storms and shipwreck, and descriptions that seek to elucidate unfamiliar phenomena by comparing them to familiar things. Tellenbach’s analysis is somewhat distorted, however, by a preponderance of examples from the fifteenth century, by which time anecdote and autobiographical detail had become relatively common features in texts as varied as Hans Schiltberger’s captivity narrative and Felix Fabri’s pilgrimage accounts.27

Mary B. Campbell applies the term “exotic travel writing” equally to a letter about the Holy Land and a report from the New World; for her the difference between the pilgrim Egeria (in the late fourth century) and the explorer Ralegh (in the late sixteenth century) is a matter of rhetorical strategy. Admitting that each of the eight texts she examines in depth “could be said to represent a subgenre of the corpus” of travel writing, Campbell nevertheless argues that they share common linguistic features. Narrators reveal their subconscious attitudes toward “self and other, Home and the Other World” in the words they use to “[bear] witness to an alienated experience.” Individuals writing over a period of twelve centuries necessarily employ different language to describe their confrontations with grotesquerie, geographical margins, marvels, and other characteristics of “the eastern Elsewhere,” but they all must make certain rhetorical choices, which may include silence, and this fact unites them.28 The distinctly different taxonomies proposed by Richard, Tellenbach, and Campbell underscore how various are medieval travel writings and, as a result, how difficult it is to treat them as generic.29

In a study of twenty-three first-hand descriptions of Mongol Asia written between 1238 and 1360, Michèle Guéret-Laferté attempts to demonstrate
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how they all may be considered examples of travel narratives (“récits de voyage”) despite their differences in length, intended audience, language, purpose, method of composition, and point of view.30 Her careful analysis of these texts enables her to argue that they share (in varying degrees) characteristic rhetorical strategies consistent with a literary genre, or at least of a “form of discourse.”31

For example, travelers organize their accounts along two lines of development: one is progressive, consisting of spatial and temporal markers; the other is digressive, interrupting the record of movement with geographical, historical, and ethnographic information, as well as with anecdotes (“micro-récits”) gained first- or second-hand.32 Both progression and digression give the narrator—even if not identical with the traveler—opportunities to underscore the verity of the text by recounting specific instances of witness (“témoignage”): things seen, heard, or otherwise experienced (or, indeed, not experienced, since such “lapses” reinforce the legitimacy of all other claims).33 The need to establish credibility is fundamental for the medieval traveler who has been to Asia and who therefore faces the problem of presenting a radically different world to his audience at home. Writers “speak of the Other,” as Guéret-Laferté identifies this problem, by employing a specific vocabulary, including specific language to denote marvels (“mirabile/mirabilia”) and a “rhetoric of alterity,” which consists of at least eight features: ellipsis (signaling the omission of information), negation (emphasizing the absence abroad of something familiar at home), inversion (ascribing to foreigners a set of values that reverses what is familiar), comparison (establishing a commonality that makes what is odd seem customary), parallelism (describing a foreign practice in light of a familiar one), superlatives (privileging a particular over everything else in its category), numerical measurements (offering an assessment that, even
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when hyperbolic, is a finite tally), and exotic vocabulary (employing foreign words, with familiar equivalents).34 These rhetorical practices are only the tools with which medieval travel writers make a larger, intellectual maneuver—a “rationalization of the marvelous”—appropriating and integrating what is novel (strange humans, strange customs and beliefs, strange nature) into the existing body of Christian tradition and revelation. By applying to the East a historiography that spans from Adam to Antichrist, both of whom are Asians, Europeans prepare themselves to accept whatever majesty or monstrosity they may find there.35

Guéret-Laferté means not to scold medieval travelers but, rather, to identify organizational practices, stylistic features, and rhetorical strategies that characterize the narratives they wrote or dictated. The fact that many of these characteristics can also be found in the fictional Itinerarius indicates that, by around 1400, a writer and, presumably, some readers had a sense of what “belongs” in a travel book, such that they form a kind of “textual community” with an implicit understanding of genre.36 To employ Guéret-Laferté’s taxonomy, Witte’s narrative development alternates between “horizontal” progression (“And sailing farther . . . ” [Et ulterius navigando]) and “vertical” digression (“And there . . .” [Et ibidem]). The former extends along a series of place-names and idealized units of time; the latter punctuates movement with (usually brief) observations about local zoology, nature, ethnography, architecture, and liturgy. The integrity of authorial witness in the Itinerarius rests on the general experience of the
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entire voyage, reinforced by a few deliberate assertions.37 Perhaps more important, Witte evokes the alterity of Asia with much the same rhetoric found in authentic travel accounts. He stresses the region’s “marvelous” qualities.38 He employs ellipsis (“in [Prester John’s palace] there are yet more marvels and wonders that I do not recollect just now” [264-66]); negation (“they have no houses . . . [or] bread” [79-81]); inversion (“[The Monoculi] eat other humans. . . . And they always work at night” [96, 98]); comparison (“[Edissa] is more than twenty-four times the size of the city of Cologne” [150-51] and “sheep and goats in that place are as big as oxen [here] [412-13]); parallelism (“Prester John goes around . . . like a pope” [274-75]); superlatives (“a very high mountain” [“mons altissimus”] [364]); and numerical measurement (“[Prester John’s palace is] two German miles long and the same in width as well. . . . And it stands atop [900] columns” [152-55]). The only feature of Guéret-Laferté’s “rhetoric of alterity” missing from the Itinerarius is a word, other than a toponym, in any Asian language.39

This absence is suggestive, for Witte’s fictional Itinerarius translates Asia into Latin more fully than does any one of the factual works Guéret-Laferté examines to develop her taxonomy. Prester John’s palace is measured in German miles, Indian pepper is harvested and amazonian women come to Edissa to be impregnated on schedules that follow the Roman church’s ecclesiastical calendar, the sequence of masses on the feast of Saint Thomas recalls liturgical practice at the cathedral of Cologne (adding only a patriarch and the relic), and almost nowhere does Witte seem to be in territory outside the bounds of Christendom. When he reaches Middle India, “where Grandicanis rules,” he is surrounded by Christians, lay and clerical.40 The effect is to subdue the alienating effect one might expect the East to have on this priest and his audience in the West.


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At the same time, the Itinerarius begins and ends on the border of exoticism. Already in his second sentence Witte is watching weird fish flying over the surface of the Red Sea, and in his final glimpse of Asian landscape before his return to Jerusalem he sees Janus-faced people “mirabiliter dispositi” (437). Prester John may dress up like the pope, but his people wear “fabrics made of silk” and leather garments rather than wool “as we do” (274-75, 280-82), a distinction of consequence to medieval readers, for whom clothes truly made the man. On his unusual pilgrimage, Witte sees one-eyed cannibals, towers that would dwarf modern skyscrapers, and gargantuan sheep. His “India”—so vast a territory that it must be divided into three parts for him to speak of it—may boast Franciscan monasteries, but it is also alien space.41 If he concludes by refusing to describe Jerusalem because the city is a matter of public knowledge, by implication the rest of the Itinerarius conveys privileged information.

Medieval Europeans would have learned nothing new from this fictional travel book, but in it they would have found many of their assumptions about Asia confirmed.42 Describing “India” in his widely disseminated Imago mundi (ca. 1110), Honorius Augustodunensis writes:

Next comes India, named for the Indus river, which has its source in the north on Mount Caucasus and, flowing to the south, empties into the Red [recte Arabian] Sea; it closes off India in the west, and from it the Indicus Ocean gets its name. . . . In it is the island Taprobanes, celebrated for its ten cities. Here there are two summers and two winters each year, and it is always green. . . . There are also mountains of gold here, which are inaccessible because of dragons and griffins. Mount Caspius, after which the Caspium Sea is named, is in India; here the terribly ferocious nations of Gog and Magog, who eat human flesh and uncooked animals, are said to have been imprisoned by Alexander the Great. India has forty-four provinces with many races of people—the Garmanos, the Orestas, and the Coathras, whose trees touch the sky [tangunt ethera]. In the mountains are the Pigmeos, people two cubits tall, who fight constantly with cranes, and who give birth at age three and are old at eight. In their territory grows a very white pepper, but when they use fire to drive away the poisonous snakes that live there, the flames turn the pepper black. In addition, here are the Macrobios, who are twelve cubits tall and fight against griffins, which have the body of a lion and the wings
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and talons of an eagle. . . . In addition, other people here kill their parents when they get old, cut them up, and serve their flesh at a banquet, regarding as impious all those who do not do this. There are others who eat raw fish and drink from the salty sea.43

India so teems with oddity that Honorius can hardly focus his attention. Although he begins with an etymology, some cardinal directions, and a reference to famous cities—thus giving his readers a sense of origins, orientation, and history—he cannot fix his eye on the landscape for its many intrusive monsters, and when he starts to enumerate the various peoples of India, he gets distracted by enormous trees. From the European perspective this is a land of extremes: it is always summer or winter, humans may be tiny or huge, their eating habits range from the disgusting to the forbidden, and their difference is emphasized by their scorn for anyone who does not behave as they do, an inversion that leaves the reader, who may have begun the paragraph drawing a mental map, quite disoriented. Time’s extremities are here as well: Alexander, the hero who centuries before had effected the translatio imperii—the movement of the center of divinely ordained world power—from Asia to Europe, has allegedly confined Gog and Magog near the Caspian Sea, from which they will emerge to join Antichrist in the days preceding the apocalypse, according to Rev. 20:8.44

Witte imposes a kind of order on the wonders of his India—several of which occur in the passage from Honorius—by subjugating them to the schedule of his itinerary or by locating them on different levels of Prester John’s palace. Neither his assimilationist tendencies to “translate” this foreign territory nor his tone of restraint can completely tame Asia, however.
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It would not be in the nature of things for him to do so.45 In his scriptorium, the writer of the Itinerarius, like Honorius Augustodunensis, mentally approaches the East. As Todorov puts it:

he knows in advance that he will encounter Cyclopes, men with tails, and Amazons. . . . [He] performs a “finalist” strategy of interpretation, in the same manner in which the Church Fathers interpreted the Bible: the ultimate meaning is given from the start (this is Christian doctrine); what is sought is the path linking the initial meaning (the apparent signification of the words of the biblical text) with this ultimate meaning.

If Witte overexerts his imagination, his book still offers a valuable medieval witness to the other world, one that shares a “strategy of interpretation” with Todorov’s subject: “he,” of course, is Christopher Columbus, who also imagined himself in Asia.46

4. Sources for Exoticism in the Itinerarius

Approaching Asia in that scriptorium, Witte weaves together bits of information and stories that circulated in the literature of northern Europe
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during the fourteenth century, but he seldom appears to be copying from an open book. His journey’s goal is also his text’s principal achievement: he sets out to report on both Prester John and Saint Thomas, whose names were analogous with India in medieval Europe. As temporal and sacerdotal emblems of God’s power, they attained legendary status by separate routes and were the subjects of independent traditions brought together coherently, if fantastically, for the first time in the Itinerarius.47 Both traditions, which circulated in written (and almost certainly in oral) form, perpetuate an image of Asia that emphasizes the exoticism detailed above. Witte manages to combine them with yet a third tradition, one that has its roots in hagiography and that locates wonders north and west of Europe, in India’s antipodes. This is the literary “matter” of Saint Brendan, whose name does not appear in the Itinerarius and whose adventures Witte claims for himself. Each of these three textual traditions warrants at least brief discussion.

Prester John first appears in European literature in the Historia de duabus civitatibus (ca. 1147), Otto of Freising’s chronicle of universal history. Otto witnessed a meeting on 18 November 1145 at Viterbo between Pope Eugenius III (1145-53) and Bishop Hugh of Jabala, a small town on the Syrian coast (modern Jebele). Hugh informed the pope that, not long before, a Nestorian Christian and descendant of the magi named “Presbyter Johannes,” after defeating an army in Persia, had been on his way to assist crusaders at Jerusalem but found himself unable to cross the Tigris and returned home. (Hugh’s report was meant to emphasize the vulnerability of Eastern Christians and to convince the pope to call a crusade, as indeed Eugenius did in 1147.)48 Otto’s chronicle, although it had a respectable circulation and reception, never would have brought Prester John to the attention of Europe; it was the delivery, sometime around the year 1160, of a letter “to various Christian kings” that did that.

The origin of the Epistola Presbyteri Johannis (Letter of Prester John) remains a mystery despite efforts of scholars who have scrutinized the text and other sources for linguistic, literary, and historical clues. It is addressed to the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenos (1143-80), but references to his authority and the Greek Church do not exude respect; later versions of the Letter include the Holy Roman emperor, Frederick I Barbarossa (1152-90), in the salutation only. In one respect the Letter was effective: it provoked a response from Pope Alexander III (1159-81), although nothing is known of the fate of the embassy of “magister Philippus,” who left Venice in the 1170s with correspondence to Prester John, among other things an invitation for him to join all the world’s Christian authorities at a Lateran council in 1178. This council, which took place in 1179, consolidated
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papal authority and enacted ecclesiastical legislation mandating excommunication for any Christian who traded with Muslims. Philip, whom Leonardo Olschki reckons as Marco Polo’s first precursor, made the earliest recorded attempt to establish a West/East contact, traveling out of an “inspiration drawn from literature and from imagination” rather than any mercantile interest.49

In his study of some one hundred Latin manuscripts of the Letter, Friedrich Zarncke isolated an original and five interpolated versions.50 Although earlier scholars argued that the work was composed in Greek, Vsevolod Slessarev notes that its Hellenic elements are found exclusively in loanwords and titles. He believes the Letter to be the Latin composition of “a twelfth-century West European who must have spent at least part of his life in the Near East where he became imbued with vague notions about India, the Christians of St. Thomas, and Prester John.” Slessarev further contends that the Letter does not belong to the genre of utopian literature, as some have claimed, but is an attempt to give “scanty and fragmentary material” a traditionally acceptable form by casting it in the form of a letter, like the pseudonymous epistles of Alexander to Aristotle.51

Witte carries over a general sense of Prester John’s wealth, piety, and munificence into the Itinerarius, but he borrows few details. Whereas the Letter enumerates the rare woods, precious metals, and spectacular gems found in the imperial palace, specifically describing lavish processions in war and peace, Witte is more interested in the building’s floor plan than its materials, and his Prester John is a rather anemic public personality. The landscape, too, is different: a new Canaan, flowing in milk and honey, free of crime, poverty, and snakes in the Letter, becomes an urban space with lions guarding the steps of a four-square-mile palace in the Itinerarius. Witte may get ideas for his pygmies, Sandy Sea, pepper fields, and Land of Females
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from the Letter, but what he says about them is uniquely his.52 In a sense, he adopts more of his source’s methodology than its content: like the writer of the Letter in Slessarev’s view, Witte has brought organization to shards of information by giving them coherent literary form in a travel report.

At approximately the same time that the Letter of Prester John appeared, a treatise known as De adventu patriarche Indorum ad Urbem sub Calixto papa secundo (On the Arrival of the Patriarch of the Indians at Rome under Pope Calixtus II) began to circulate in Europe. The anonymous author of this brief account alleges that a certain “Patriarch John” of India, having made his way to Constantinople to be invested with the pallium, asked to accompany an entourage of emissaries to Calixtus II (1119-24), arriving at Rome in 1122 or early 1123. To the assembled curia, John described the city of Hulna, the extraordinary capital of India and seat of his patriarchate, and the nearby church of Saint Thomas, located atop a mountain in the middle of a lake whose waters part once a year to allow pilgrims to visit the shrine. In the text based on this “description,” considerable attention is devoted to liturgical ceremony surrounding the pristine body of the saint, especially to the administration of the Eucharist with Thomas’s right hand, which retracts from sinners, who either repent or fall down dead. The treatise concludes abruptly.53

This news about Saint Thomas was welcome, if not entirely surprising. As early as the fourth century, in the apocryphal Acts of St. Thomas, the apostle was credited with having brought the Gospel to India; at about this time, Egeria observed that few visitors to Jerusalem neglected to make the relatively short journey to Thomas’s burial site at Edessa.54 Despite this early popularity, almost no pilgrim mentions Saint Thomas again for a millennium, nor does he seem to have excited much interest in Europe until the mid-1100s, when De adventu (and the Letter of Prester John) appeared. It was at about this time, between 1127 and 1143, that Sigelmus, bishop of Sherburn, reportedly visited the saint’s shrine in India and returned with reports of that region’s splendid exotica, a matter that William of Malmesbury thought worth recording.55


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By the time the Itinerarius was written, travel between Europe and India, though uncommon, was hardly unprecedented. When separate delegations of priests claiming to be Saint Thomas Christians arrived at the papal curia in 1403 and 1407, they were received suspiciously not because anyone questioned the possibility of such a journey but because earlier visitors had misrepresented themselves as having come from distant places.56 During the century before the Itinerarius was written, Marco Polo, Odoric of Pordenone, several Franciscan missionaries in China, and The Book of John Mandeville all reported on the church of Saint Thomas, but Witte is demonstrably familiar only with the much older De adventu, from which he generally derives his description of pilgrims’ access to the shrine and the liturgy of the Mass. As is the case with his use of the Letter of Prester John, his borrowings echo rather than quote their source.57

Episodes in the last quarter of the Itinerarius show that Witte also knew the Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Voyage of St. Brendan), although here again his use of the text is tentative and occasional.58 The island of giant sheep, the deceptive whale Jasconius, a florid corner of Paradise where it is never night and time nearly stands still—these places are common to Brendan’s and Witte’s voyages, but they could hardly be located in more contrary worlds. They are not necessarily geographical opposites, since
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Witte has been sailing east for so long when he enters Brendan-territory that he may indeed imagine himself in the western Atlantic (he continues to sail east to Jerusalem). But every location and movement in the Navigatio has a spiritual significance: Brendan reaches a harbor where he finds flocks of sheep just in time for Maundy Thursday dinner, Jasconius plays his devilish trick on Holy Saturday, the sailors spend Easter in the Paradise of Birds, and the gorgeous island that appears near the end of the seven-year voyage is a sign of what God has promised faithful Christians. Brendan follows the cycles of the ecclesiastical year. What he sees is important only for what it means, not for what it is; indeed, he himself admits that he is traveling because God wants to show him things. For Witte, on the other hand, islands are chance landfalls. He is on a trip around a world in which things, however outlandish, are what they seem, and the one place where allegory would be most appropriate—Jerusalem—is the single location he refuses to describe. In addition, the persona of the traveler undergoes a seachange when the abbot of Clonfert becomes a cleric from the diocese of Utrecht. Whereas Brendan is the hero of the story, blessed with foresight (he knows better than to disembark on a great fish) and deserving of unusual counselors (a talking bird or an old hermit), Witte is an observer—and the narrator—who must make whatever sense he can of passing scenery. In the Navigatio, a saint is at the helm; in the Itinerarius, one of us climbs into the crow’s nest.

5. The Itinerarius in the Context of Western Travel Literature 59

There is good reason to believe that Aglaus of Psophis’s contentment would have impressed Pliny’s original audience no more than it does many readers today (particularly since they and we encounter Aglaus amid a catalog of the wonders of “India and Africa”60). According to Lionel Casson, human beings have been actively involved in marine travel since the construction of the first reliable boats around 3000 B.C. Tourism to established “places of interest” in the eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea areas was common by 1500 B.C., when visitors to Egyptian buildings that were already one thousand years old left graffiti records of their names, hometowns, and experiences on the road. By the second century B.C., according to Greek sources, travelers and traders provided a steady enough source of income to sufficient numbers of robbers and pirates that the tourists of the
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day, on their way to see sites associated with Plato and Alexander, were forced to go in groups.61

Descriptions of remote places fueled a small literary industry. Some writers, especially those interested in the East, eschewed the potential contributions of eyewitnesses in acquiring information, emphasizing the fantastic instead. Hellenistic literature had what James S. Romm calls a genre of “paradoxography or ‘marvel-writing,’ a pseudoscientific precursor of our own ‘believe-it-or-not’ collections,” which grew out of the wealth of geographical data brought back to Greece after Alexander’s campaign in Asia.62 Alexander’s own admirals were criticized for doctoring their observations with lurid, albeit popular, tales. By comparison, Strabo (ca. 63 B.C.-A.D. 21), for all the cartographical sophistication he displays in his Geography, was hardly the world traveler he claimed to be. In his description of Asia he ignored facts any experienced person would have known; according to Donald F. Lach, he did not even “deign to learn from the merchants about distant places,” relying instead on such literary sources as Homer.63 Around A.D. 40, Pomponius Mela finished his Chorographia—it is the first world geography known to have been written in Latin—in which he finds homes for pygmy-stealing griffons, Amazons, and headless people. An anonymous handbook for merchants known as Periplus of the Erythraean Sea appeared at the end of the first century, describing wonders along the Indian coast and concluding with a glance at the unexplored regions of the Far East.64 Casson contends that Herodotus, in the fifth century B.C., set an enduring standard for the travel writer in the classical world: “to be articulate, well-informed, a skilled raconteur; to include in what he tells a fair share of the unusual with a dash of the exotic; to tell it all with infinite zest.”65

Sacred sites in the eastern Mediterranean continued to attract the pious and curious during this same period; guidebooks to shrines constituted an altogether different form of literary expression from the more fabulous descriptions of the Far East. Pausanias (fl. A.D. 160-80) wrote a Baedeker to Greece in which he paid particular attention to temples and other monuments.
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Eusebius of Caesarea66 (ca. 260-ca. 339) did much the same in his Vita Constantini for churches erected in the Holy Land under imperial patronage; his Onomasticon, translated and revised in Saint Jerome’s De situ et nominibus locorum Hebraicorum one century later, is a digest of biblical place-names that connects specific locations with the events of spiritual significance that happened there. The hundreds of pilgrimage accounts written over the course of a millennium after Egeria’s epistolary peregrinatio of the late 300s traditionally identify loci where faith becomes evident because of sites seen. Journeys on which places are made to fit the verbal contours of a sacred text turned the Holy Land, in Mary B. Campbell’s exact formulation, into “a spectacularly effective rosary,” whose every bead urges the pilgrim to recite a prayer or a passage of Scripture, thereby to raise “raw sense experience into a form of communion” with the world of the spirit.67

In both descriptions of the Far East and accounts of the Holy Land, then, an individual’s observation was subordinated to traditional subject matter. Most people who had been to Asia during the Middle Ages, Lach contends, “brought little information to Europe besides fables and idle stories”—indeed, like everyone at home, “merchants and mariners learned much of their oriental lore from the legends and stories told or read aloud in the public square.”68 Pilgrims, for their part, balanced the need to assert their own authority as eye-witnesses in time against the necessity of focusing on the eternal significance of the Terra Promissionis, suppressing in their itineraries almost any autobiographical detail.

Certainly for much of the Middle Ages, however, Asia and Jerusalem—what Campbell calls the Matter of the East and the Matter of the Holy Land69—remained separate concerns. Their merger first may have been anticipated in the early 1200s by Jacques de Vitry in his significant historical works. Thought to have been a master at the University of Paris, Jacques preached the Fifth Crusade and, as the resident bishop of Acre, attended the Christian army at Damietta from 1218 to 1221. He was the author of companion histories of what he called the eastern and western worlds; an intended third volume, about events after 1179, never materialized. The first book, Historia Orientalis (also known as Historia Hierosolymitanae), opens with an elegy for territories in Palestine that Christians recently had lost to the Muslims, then paints an unfavorable picture of
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Islam before achieving its principal goal: a description of the cities, shrines, and religious groups of the Holy Land. Like many writers of the period, Jacques believed that the immorality of Latin Christians was responsible for the loss of Jerusalem, and in his second book, Historia Occidentalis, he offers a severe review of Western behavior before treating the religious orders and sacraments of the Roman Church, including its new, invigorating spiritual movements. This expansive work’s most remarkable moment, however, comes in its middle, when the focus is about to shift from Orient to Occident. After Jacques treats some of the Levant’s peculiar animals—such as the basilisk and the amphisbaena—he points to lands located even more remotely in Asia and enumerates societies that are not mentioned in pilgrimage accounts, moving from Amazons and Gymnosophists, humans whose social customs were foreign enough for a medieval European, to a stunning array of “monstruosi populi,” humanoids whose peculiar physiques stretched to the limit the idea of creation in the image of God. Readers who could not believe in the literal existence of these races were asked at least to accept their potentiality as a sign of God’s power. Jacques’s argument is academic and old-fashioned; his information comes from Pliny and Solinus, Augustine and Isidore, historical accounts and a map of the world—but not from his own experience in the East.70 Still, by casting his vision beyond Jerusalem, using an account of the Holy Places to segue to the weird and wondrous parts of Asia, Jacques suggested a means by which travelers could write with new scope.

When he died in 1240, Jacques de Vitry had been living for over a decade at Rome. Fearing that Jerusalem might never be recovered, he had left the Holy Land in 1225 and resigned his episcopal office three years later. His death, however, occurred at a time when the West was utterly unable to forget about the East—indeed, it was facing one of the most formidable, direct attacks ever to come from the outside. Unrest in Asia had been commanding Europe’s attention some years before Mongol incursions into Poland and Hungary in 1241. At St. Albans the chronicler Matthew Paris blamed an economic disaster in the local fishing industry on the fall of cities in northern Russia: with the Frisian and Swedish competition
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too frightened to leave home in 1238, the year’s enormous herring catch went entirely to markets in England, causing prices there to fall to ruinous levels.71 Jacques, in his encyclopedic register of worlds orientalis and occidentalis, had overlooked the skilled equestrians whose crushing attacks would shortly thereafter devastate Russia and cripple eastern Europe so rapidly that they seemed loosed from hell, or Tartarus, itself. The medieval West had its first serious encounter with the Far East—with people who were called “Tartars”—willy nilly.72

Uncertainty characterized European politics. The Mongols were victorious at Legnica in Silesia (9 April 1241) and, two days later, they defeated Hungarian King Béla IV (1235-70); he later dispatched Dominican emissaries to the unknown enemy. Kraków and Pest were burned, and the enemy assembled near Vienna by midsummer. Meanwhile, Frederick II (1192-1250) was engaged in a campaign in Lombardy, and the papal see stood vacant for more than a year after the death of Gregory IX on 21 August, except for the ensuing three-week reign of Celestine IV. When Innocent IV became pope on 25 June 1243, the Mongol prince Batu, general of the Western armies, already had retreated a year before, after the death of Ögedei khan threatened to lead to factional squabbles at home. In addition, Batu’s forces, which numbered only around four thousand, were exhausted after years of warfare and hardly could hope to exercise control over yet another continent.73

Innocent (1243-54) convoked the Council of Lyons in 1245, the principal items on his agenda being the imperial question (he deposed Frederick II), Church unity (he sought to improve relations with the Eastern Church), and the Mongol threat. In an effort to learn more about this unknown antagonist, and if possible to convert the khan to Christianity, the new pope commissioned two embassies to undertake a “Mongol mission.” He sent the Franciscan John of Plano Carpini on Easter Sunday (16 April) and—probably around the same time—the Dominican Ascelin of Lombardy to the court of the great khan, in George Painter’s estimation, “to urge the merits of baptism, but primarily to spy upon [Mongol] resources and intentions.”74


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Ascelin and his companion, Simon of Saint-Quentin, never even made it to the Caspian Sea,75 but John returned to the curia in November 1247 and almost immediately thereafter circulated his Ystoria Mongalorum, compiled from notes he took during his thirty-month-long journey from France to the khan’s capital at Karakorum. John’s unflattering picture of Mongol society was intended to sound a clear warning about an evil empire’s determination to conquer the world, posing an obvious threat to Christian society, but he also seems eager to debunk the assumption that this enemy force was insurmountable. Unlike most travel reports, which are arranged chronologically, the Ystoria proceeds topically, covering, in order, Mongol geography, sociology, ethnology, religion, ethics, politics, and military might (and vulnerability). John evidently wrote his book on the road, because he read parts of it to eager audiences on the way home from Kiev; according to Salimbene, he was a popular and garrulous dinner guest after his return to France.76 Sometime before his death in 1252, John produced a second edition of the Ystoria, changing little of the original text but expanding the final chapter to include information about the routes, conditions, and hardships of the journey. Even in this revised version of the book, however, the traveler, while himself observant, is largely invisible.77


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In May of 1253 another Franciscan set out for Karakorum. Although some of his contemporaries—and many scholars since then—believed William of Rubruck to be an ambassador from France’s King Louis IX (1226-70), by his own report he was a missionary who traveled with royal blessing in order to minister to Christians whom the Mongols had displaced. While in Asia he hoped to preach the Gospel, perhaps even to Möngke khan himself, but he was discouraged by the political and religious chicanery he encountered. Unable to muster enough diplomacy to mask his antagonism, he asked the khan for permission to go home, a request that was immediately—one gathers happily—granted. Having weathered a 4,000-mile return journey to Acre, only to be detained by a Franciscan minister who wanted to capitalize on his rare knowledge, William wrote King Louis a long letter describing his adventures and petitioning to return to Paris.78 Although they are products of similar experiences within a decade of each other, William’s Itinerarium could hardly be more different from John’s Ystoria. The letter is replete with poignant vignettes: a gloomy crossing of Asia in alien company, a nervous tasting of Mongol alcohol, assiduous care for a sick traveling companion, the vehement denunciation of a mountebank masquerading as an Armenian monk, an attempted theological debate with Muslims and Buddhists. These pictures bring to this account a keener sense of the observations and persona of a traveler than can be found in any other book written in Europe before 1400. William was clearly a man who forged his own way; no wonder he disliked the caravan journey east. In his letter he not only refuses to cater to a Western taste for Oriental exoticism but also unhesitatingly contradicts prevailing opinion, questioning Isidore’s and Solinus’s catalogs of monstrous humans, reducing the legendary Prester John to the status of a political footnote, and portraying the Mongols as crude bullies who could be beaten easily if only the king, captured at El Mansûra during the Sixth Crusade just a few years before, would take up the cross against them.79 William’s opinionated and strident
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account demonstrates the strength that an insightful guide with intriguing stories can bring to a travel narrative.

Intrepid and articulate as they were, these mendicant travelers never achieved the fame or notoriety enjoyed in his own day and since by the Venetian merchant Marco Polo, who reportedly spent twenty-six years in Asia. The knowledge he gained during this time is what he “caused . . . to be recorded” in 1298 by Rustichello of Pisa, a professional writer of French romances who was in prison with Marco at Genoa and who assumes the role of narrator in this “description of the world” (the book’s original title, Divisament dou monde, more accurately reflects this subject than does the more popular Travels). The work, composed in an Italianate French, begins with a succinct summary of two mercantile ventures to the court of Kubilai khan undertaken (between 1260 and 1269, and 1271 and 1295) by Maffeo Polo, his brother Niccolò, and Niccolò’s son Marco, who accompanied them on the second journey. This summary, which forms a prologue to the Divisament, has entered the Western imagination; it is hard to imagine that those who praise the book for its verve or adventure have read much beyond it (Ronald Latham noted regretfully that neither Marco nor Rustichello “was a literary genius”). According to the prologue, however, Marco is a gifted young man—a keen observer, a master of Asian languages, a skilled raconteur—and he manages to impress Kubilai himself, who anticipates the boy’s development into a “man of experience and discretion.”80

The three Polos depart for China from the Holy Land, where Kubilai has allegedly asked them to obtain oil for him from the great lamp in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Despite this pious detail, the Divisament bears no resemblance to a pilgrimage account but instead focuses the reader’s attention almost immediately on lands far to the east of Jerusalem,
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beyond Jacques de Vitry’s wildest imagination. Nor is this work a saga of the Polo family or of Marco himself. Following the brief prologue, the Divisament is structured as several lengthy itineraries, permitting the narrator to describe sequentially the political allegiance, religious persuasion, and economic base of hundreds of Asian towns and regions.81 The encyclopedic quality of the Divisament stresses the East’s plenitude; it abounds with bridges, fabrics, intrigues, metals, women, spices, macho fighters, and animal life, but monstrous humans and zoomorphic beasts are almost nowhere to be found. Despite an occasional comment about Marco’s success as a trader, linguist, or administrator, he is generally absent from the work as well. Hundreds of first-person singular pronouns and verbs apply to the narrator, Rustichello, rather than to Marco, and some of the book’s truth-claims are interpolations added by scribes and translators over the course of its complicated textual history. Still, less than half a century after the Franciscans returned unimpressed from Karakorum, the Divisament extolled Asian splendor while it implicitly honored the experience of an non-aristocratic, secular man of the road. Moreover, the Divisament’s relatively wide diffusion—over one hundred manuscripts survive in several medieval European languages—helped, in Pierre Chaunu’s words, “to fix in the minds of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Christendom the obsolete picture of Asia as it had been at the precarious peak of the great Mongol empire.”82

Meanwhile, accounts of pilgrimages to the Holy Land proliferated.83 The last European to write about actual Latin Christian possessions in Palestine was Burchard of Mount Zion, who composed what he called a descriptio in ca. 1283. A German who probably lived for several years in or near Jerusalem, he possessed the inquisitive discrimination of William of Rubruck and a system of locating places conceptually superior to Marco Polo’s. Rather than describe towns and regions sequentially, as one might find them along a road or coastline, Burchard divides the Holy Land into four discrete regions. He then moves mentally over the territory, quarter
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by quarter, identifying important towns and topographical features from Dan to Beersheba; in fact, he refuses to describe any place outside these traditional boundaries of Palestine, although he mentions having traveled to Armenia and Egypt. Burchard’s system grows unwieldy in the area of Jerusalem (despite his subdivision of this fourth quarter into smaller units), but still, by requiring the reader to formulate a mental map, it constitutes an important innovation in the literary treatment of space.84 Burchard’s learned empiricism is also notable. He emphasizes how carefully he has performed his research, inspecting everything from mountain summits to sewer systems to relevant books in his attempt to establish, as Witte puts it in the last words of the Itinerarius, “how things [are] laid out there.” He resolves rival claims to a historical site and does not hesitate to question authority, in one case even disputing a passage in the Book of Isaiah. Unafraid to wade in a marsh inhabited by crocodiles and unashamed to use iron tools to chip off a piece of rock where Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, Burchard brings to the pilgrimage account the voice of a confident, courageous guide.85

During the spring and summer of 1291, not long after Burchard finished his Descriptio, the Egyptian sultan al-Ashraf conquered Acre and adjacent coastal areas, leaving the West without a share in the Land of Promise. One century later, according to Steven Runciman, women in the eastern Mediterranean were still wearing mourning black for the lost Latin kingdom once known as Outremer.86 A papal ban on transportation from Cyprus to any port in Palestine effectively halted travel to Jerusalem, or at
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least publications about it, for a generation.87 Pilgrims went instead to the city of St. Peter, where, in 1300, Boniface VIII guaranteed these “romers” the same plenary indulgence that had once applied to those who visited Jerusalem. The crush of people during Holy Week of this Jubilee year, we know from the poetic masterpiece it temporally defines, led to what may be the first instance of organized one-way traffic in western Europe.88

Conditions in the Holy Land remained tense in the 1330s, judging from the pilgrimage accounts of Jacopo of Verona,89 William of Boldensele,90 and Ludolph of Suchen.91 When they include autobiographical detail, it often emphasizes the dangers or vagaries of travel: a frightening sea squall, access denied or graciously granted to a holy shrine, an encounter with Europeans who had been held hostage for forty years. These writers, like Jacques de Vitry, pause on their pilgrimages to glance eastward; William and Ludolph compute the time it would take to travel from Cairo to the il-khan of Persia.92

At about this same time, near the middle of the fourteenth century, two men claim to have traversed this distance and returned to tell the tale.
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If the number of manuscripts known today is a reliable indicator of a text’s popularity during the Middle Ages, the most successful travel books of the period describe the journeys of a friar and a knight, each of which combines sacred and secular lore. In an account dictated in May of 1330, not long before he died, Odoric of Pordenone—also known as Odoric of Foro Julii or Friuli—recounts his experiences as a Franciscan missionary for perhaps as many as sixteen years in east Asia. His narrative combines faith and the fabulous. At first, Odoric seems to be writing hagiography, for early in his book he relates the martyrdom in 1321 of four minorite friars in India and his own role in transporting their relics to China. Language and vignettes throughout the account borrow from the register of romance, however, as his journey takes him to an island on whose shores fish beach themselves in homage to the local potentate, through a perilous valley of dead souls, and into the magnificent presence of the khan. Like Marco Polo in the Divisament dou monde—and Witte in the Itinerarius—Odoric fits the Orient into paragraph capsules. While the merchant assesses a region’s value based on its commodities, however, the Franciscan fingers each locale as if it were itself a pearl, admiring its curious inexplicability. With his other hand he clutches a cross, which he often uses as a weapon after recounting a society’s peculiar behavior, branding a place abominable or calling a people pestiferous. The cross, too, emblematizes the accuracy of his word, which was taken seriously and widely disseminated. Odoric has the distinction of being one of only two medieval travelers recommended for sainthood.93

Jerusalem and Xanadu are also on the same road for the traveler known as Sir John Mandeville, although he probably did not ride out of the gates of St. Albans in England, as we are told, but sprang from the imagination of a cleric who had covered considerable territory in books. The Book of John Mandeville is a geographical and ethnographical encyclopedia, a collection of information about Christian shrines in the Holy Land and life at the court of the great khan, as well as much in between and beyond, purportedly assembled by an adventuresome Englishman who left Europe in 1322 on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Overcome by a desire to see the world’s diversity, “John Mandeville, . . . knight,” as he styles himself
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in his prologue, did not return for thirty-four years, by which time he was a veteran of the armies of the Egyptian sultan, the great khan, and (in some manuscripts) Prester John.94

As is now well known, the writer of the Book borrows literally and carefully from many sources, among them Jacques de Vitry’s Historia, William of Boldensele’s Liber, Odoric of Pordenone’s Relatio, and several scientific, theological, and historical texts. Accusations that the product is a fraud or a plagiarism, however, overlook the sophistication of its assembly: its compiler was a master at gathering, emending, recasting, and presenting information. Although John Mandevilles appear in fourteenth-century English sources, attempts to link any one of them to the Book have been unsuccessful. He never fought with the khan against the king of Manzi, as he says he did, because those wars were over by the end of the 1200s; he was not the father of English prose, as Dr. Johnson says he was, because the book was composed in French (although in Anglo-Norman rather than Continental French). The Mandeville of the Book is a curious knight whose heroism in battle is never recounted; instead, his valor is undercut by an Egyptian sultan who hectors him for the sins of Europe, by companions who refuse to circumnavigate the globe with him, even by our last glimpse of him, surrendering to gout and old age. In the end, Mandeville is an affable fiction, his persona that of an agreeable Latin Christian whose tolerance for other societies was unusual in a medieval European, although his intense and frequently articulated dislike of Jews made him more typical. Not the digest of personal witness it claims to be, the Book made such literary sense that hardly a European language and, in some parts of England and Germany, hardly a library, it seems, could be without it. Mandeville’s identity, nationality, and the extent of his travels may never be certain, but he is, recalling Mistress Quickly’s epitaph for another fine fiction, “in Arthur’s bosom, if ever man went to Arthur’s bosom.”95

If the compiler of The Book of John Mandeville could offer a picture of Asia not based on personal experience, another author who wrote at first hand about Asia did so almost without self-reference. Jordanus Catalani (Cathala), also known as Jordan of Sévérac, served as a Dominican missionary in India during the 1320s; in August 1329 he was named Bishop of Quilon, a see that comprised all of southern India and that was created for him. At about that same time, after a decade or so in the subcontinent,
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Jordan wrote an exuberant, if rather hectic, account of Asian wonders, appropriately known as Mirabilia descripta. He immediately makes clear his interest in marvels rather than geography; in fact, he begins his book in Europe, describing a whirlpool in the Straits of Messina, before turning his attention to Greece and Armenia. It is not long before he reaches India, whose three divisions (Inferior, Superior, and Tercia) offer ample grist for his mill. Jordan’s marvels tumble from the page as brief paragraph items with little connection to each other; in one short section he moves, in order, from five-headed serpents to the cockatrice, parrots, the childlike fighting behavior of Indian soldiers, precious gems, and the practice of suttee. However scattered Jordan’s approach may be, his Asia is certainly “wonderful,” to use his favorite word.96

As this sketch indicates, medieval travel reports vary greatly in style. No wonder scholars like Richard, Tellenbach, Campbell, and Guéret-Laferté have found the issue of genre so interesting and vexing. As texts, most are unprecedented surprises, like the historical circumstances that led to their composition in the first place. This is true of Johannes Witte de Hese’s Itinerarius, which recounts both a pilgrimage and a voyage to Asia, yet refuses to speak of Jerusalem and never mentions Cathay. Like John of Plano Carpini and Marco Polo, Witte is a narrator given more to observation than self-reference. As is the case with any visitor to holy places, Witte seems motivated by piety, but he deviates considerably from the regular pilgrimage route. Like Mandeville, he does not write from carefully digested experience but derives his information from a variety of literary works—though his borrowings are far more paraphrases than citations. In contrast to the breathless Jordanus, Witte writes about the wonders he sees at the church of Saint Thomas with the same matter-of-factness with which he recounts how two archbishops hold the patens during High Mass. Finally, like most medieval travelers (and as the next chapter will demonstrate), Johannes Witte de Hese has a name that is not unusual for his time or home country, but the only word we have confirming his existence is his own.

In a letter sent to Augustine of Canterbury soon after his arrival in England in 597, Pope Gregory I, cautioning the missionary that ecclesiastical custom could become stale, encouraged him to adopt practices he had witnessed at various churches during his journey through Europe. Things, wrote the pope, “should not be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things.”97 In a sense, Gregory was articulating the idea of space found in the story of Saint Brendan’s voyage. Writing over 650 years
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later and in quite another context, Roger Bacon urged the study of geography because “the things of the world cannot be known except through a knowledge of the places in which they are contained.”98 Despite its geographical inaccuracies and unremarkable Latin, Johannes Witte de Hese’s Itinerarius, in purporting to relate how one man learned about remote places and by implying that such knowledge is valuable, navigates Bacon’s new world.

Endnotes

 [* ] Full citations for works abbreviated in footnotes may be found in the bibliography, unless otherwise noted.

 [1 ] Beazley, The Dawn of Modern Geography, 1:40. Accounts of Aglaus’s happiness are in Pliny, Natural History, 7.46.151 (Book 7 is largely a catalog of wonders in Asia and Africa); and Solinus, Collectanea rerum memorabilium, 1.127, p. 31. Mommsen knew of 153 Latin manuscript copies (pp. xxix-lii) and many incunable and early printed editions (pp. lvi-lvii) of Solinus’s work. The only translation into English is Arthur Golding’s, published in 1587; see the facsimile The Excellent and Pleasant Worke Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium, ed. George Kish. Kish discusses Solinus’s “unabated popularity for over a thousand years” in the first three paragraphs of his unpaginated introduction (pp. 1-2). He concludes that it is “indeed safe to say that no other work had remained as popular as Solinus,” even long after Europeans “possessed first-hand information on the countries he wrote about” (p. 3).

 [2 ] Campbell, The Witness and the Other World, p. 1; for similar imagery describing Adam and Eve’s “journey from Paradise into History” see Higgins, Writing East, p. 1. On wayfaring concepts in medieval discourse (with some attention to their roots in the classical world) see Ladner, “Homo Viator: Mediaeval Ideas on Alienation and Order.”

 [3 ] In Ovid’s great creation myth, the first humans are happy because they know only their own shores; see Metamorphoses 1.89-162, esp. 94-96. Medieval readers would have found similar associations between the sedentary life and happiness in other standard works by classical and Christian authors, including Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue and Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy (II. met. 5). Classical philosophers, often the antagonists of poets, turned such historiography around, seeing the expansion of human horizons as coinciding with progress from savagery to civilization.

 [4 ] On the Alexander legend generally see Cary, The Medieval Alexander, and The Medieval Alexander Legend and Romance Epic, ed. Noble, Polak, and Isoz.

 [5 ] Higgins’s Writing East elegantly sorts out the complicated textual and interpretative issues raised by the Book. This study and Deluz’s Le Livre de Jehan de Mandeville largely replace Bennett, The Rediscovery of Sir John Mandeville, although her appendices contain valuable information on manuscripts and printed editions. Deluz (in her studies of both 1998 and 2000) follows Bennett in numbering ca. 250 surviving manuscripts; Higgins’s total of “nearly 300” is more accurate (Writing East, p. 8; see also Table 1, pp. 22-23). On the Book’s history over time and how it suffered gradual vulgarization see Moseley, “The Metamorphoses of Sir John Mandeville.” For other critical studies see bibliography entries under Bovenschen, Greenblatt, Guéret-Laferté, Haraszti, Howard, Letts, and Warner.

 [6 ] As will quickly become obvious, the Itinerarius is a work of fiction, and I indicate in chapter 2 that Johannes Witte de Hese, while a plausible name around 1400, does not appear to be documented outside of this book. I have chosen not to call attention to this fact by using distracting punctuation (referring to the protagonist as “Witte”) or by employing a distinction that would be cumbersome to maintain throughout this discussion (“Witte-pilgrim” vs. “Witte-author”), although I recognize the value of such discrimination in studies of other medieval works that employ the persona of a “traveler” (including The Divine Comedy, The Canterbury Tales, and The Book of John Mandeville). Higgins, in distinguishing between “the Mandeville-author” and “his textual stand-in, Sir John,” believes the writer of the Book to be “irretrievably encrypted” in his derivative text (Writing East, p. 8). My references throughout this book to Witte’s itinerary or his Itinerarius should not be misconstrued as suggesting that he was an actual traveler, cleric, or writer.

 [7 ] All references to the Itinerarius, unless otherwise noted, correspond to the Latin critical edition (employing the English translation) published in this volume. Specific passages are identified by line number for the Latin text (between parentheses); each variant is cited by the lemma number it has been assigned in the apparatus. References to the Middle Dutch also follow the text of the edition printed here (line and lemma numbers are preceded by the letter D). See the list of abbreviations (pp. xxi-xxiii) for sigla used to identify manuscripts, early printed editions, and scholarly editions of the Latin and Middle Dutch texts. For Witte’s claims here see commentary 1-3, 3-4, and 4-6.

 [8 ] That the Jordan emptied into the Dead Sea and the sultan of Egypt resided in Cairo (frequently called Babylon) were commonplaces of fourteenth-century pilgrimage narratives (for possible sources of the confusion see commentary 3-4).

 [9 ] He never numbers his companions, but near the end of his account he says he is one of twelve men who go ashore with their ship captain while some mates remain aboard ship (372-77); he is again one of twelve chosen ones at 410.

 [10 ] “Eleap” would seem to derive from Aleppo, which, if geographical precision is to be invoked within Witte’s murky world, lies well to the west, not east, of “Middle India.” The Itinerarius, in locating a sizable Christian population in Asia and depicting the great khan as sympathetic to Christian piety, accords with an image of the East that the Latin Church encouraged and a romanticized picture of the Mongols that developed in fourteenth-century Europe; see commentary 99-109 and 117-19.

 [11 ] For the lengthy description of this city and its palace, the Itinerarius borrows, but indistinctly, from the Letter of Prester John; see discussion on pp. 22-24 below.

 [12 ] These identifications of the rivers of Paradise are those found in many medieval geographical works and do not represent current biblical exegesis; the Phison has been variously identified over time with the Ganges, the Indus, and the Oxus (Amu Darya).

 [13 ] Witte appears to mean that only Edissa—and not surrounding territory—is populated exclusively by men, but his language is, as elsewhere, ambiguous.

 [14 ] For the description of Hulna and the feast of Saint Thomas (300-60), the Itinerarius relies (indistinctly) on De adventu patriarche Indorum; see discussion on pp. 24-25 below.

 [15 ] See commentary 300-60 and Atiya, A History of Eastern Christianity, pp. 359-88, esp. 384-85. The Saint Thomas Christians also employed Syriac in their liturgy, had a distinctive episcopal crown, and used bells and cymbals in worship, none of which enters into the Itinerarius (pp. 385-86).

 [16 ] Some of what Witte sees as he returns “to these parts” (390) comes from the Legend of St. Brendan; see discussion on pp. 25-26 below.

 [17 ] The second claim in European history to have voyaged around the world—one that includes the Americas and proceeds west to east—was implicitly made by another figment of the imagination, Raphael Hythloday, in 1516, six years before members of Ferdinand Magellan’s crew actually accomplished this feat (Thomas More, Utopia, trans. Paul Turner [Harmondsworth, Eng., 1961; repr. 1985], p. 39).

 [18 ] Campbell observes that Rustichello of Pisa and Marco Polo consciously arrange the sequences of descriptions in their Divisament dou monde (ca. 1298) to create “a book . . . that exploits the linear and sequential path of the person who turns the pages . . . [or] listens to a story being told.” In so doing, “the authorial ‘I’ . . . [takes] us on a journey” (Witness, p. 98). Zacher speaks of a “linear narrative” in The Book of John Mandeville: “the devout pilgrim metamorphoses into the wide-eyed curious wanderer”; see Curiosity and Pilgrimage, p. 131. Setting aside the complicated questions of Rustichello and Marco’s collaboration (for which the only evidence is in “their” book’s preface) and the authorial voice (which seldom conveys a traveler’s point of view), I should emphasize that I am speaking here more literally of a narrative that proceeds along a (relatively consistent) spatial and temporal continuum, directed by the (relatively consistent) voice of the (real or fictional) person whose experience endorses the information. This “linear” shape is different from what Zacher sees in Mandeville’s Book (see the last sentence in this paragraph).

 [19 ] Deluz, Le Livre de Jehan de Mandeville, pp. 272-75; see also chapter 2 below.

 [20 ] On the Mandeville-author’s range of source-texts—and his subtle manipulation of them—see Deluz, Le Livre de Jehan de Mandeville, pp. 39-72 (esp. 57-59, and also passim), and Higgins, Writing East, pp. 9-14, 265-66 (and also passim). Witte’s borrowings are discussed below and in the commentary.

 [21 ] See Howard, Writers and Pilgrims, pp. 54 (for quotation), 59-67. Howard turns what others have called Mandeville’s “fraud” or “hoax” into a virtue: “In choosing to play the eyewitness, Mandeville sacrificed the bookish stance of citing authorities: though he had a library of travel books before him as he wrote, he concealed it, making little display of book-learning” (pp. 55, 59). Moseley calls the “building up” of Mandeville’s persona “the key to the book’s success” (Intro. to The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, pp. 17-18). In a forthcoming study of one of the Mandeville-author’s principal sources, William of Boldensele’s Liber de quibusdam ultramarinis partibus (1336), I argue that the “personality” of John Mandeville actually draws heavily on William’s self-presentation. The charge that the Book is a plagiarism, while certainly anachronistic, applies to Mandeville’s assumption not just of words but also of identity. On Witte’s historicity see chapter 2 below.

 [22 ] Higgins, Writing East, pp. 52, 53. While Mandeville’s (like Witte’s) persona anticipates the much more “present” witness of the literary travel book, it may also descend from the “dramatizing” voice found in some medieval historical writing. Rosamund Allen observes that in the Brut of Wace (1155)—and, by implication, in Laʒamon’s Brut as well (ca. 1199-1225)—repeated phrases such as “if you had been there you would have seen” and “I do not know” create “an impression of realism” by granting characters in a narrative “their own lives and motives” (Intro. to Lawman: Brut [London, 1992; repr. 1993], p. xvi).

 [23 ] Pearl (Oxford, 1953; repr. 1988), p. xiv (Gordon cites “ ‘Sir John Mandeville’ ” as a literary example of the “fictitious ‘I’ ” in the 1300s, but he doubts that such a figure is found in contemporary dream visions).

 [24 ] Zacher, Curiosity, p. 131. For a lengthier discussion of similarities between the Book and the Itinerarius see my “Two Routes to Pleasant Instruction in Late-Fourteenth-Century Literature.”

 [25 ] This line concludes Gower’s discussion of lunar influence on northern Europeans in Confessio Amantis 7.746-54. The author of the Book claims that the moon makes him—and all the English, in the words of the Cotton Version—“for to meve lyghtly and for to go dyuerse weyes and to sechen strange thinges and other dyuersitees of the world”; Mandeville’s Travels, ed. Seymour, p. 120. The passage (and all quotations from the Book in this study, unless otherwise noted) is in the original French; see Le Livre des Merveilles du Monde, ed. Deluz, p. 313, and Mandeville’s Travels, ed. Letts, 2:321.

 [26 ] Richard, Les récits de voyages et de pèlerinages, pp. 8, 15-36. Efforts to develop a similar discourse for travel in more traditional literature—including imaginary voyages, allegorical journeys, and chansons de geste—have mixed success in a collection of conference papers assembled by Taviani et al., Voyage, quête, pèlerinage dans la littérature et la civilisation médiévales; see the pertinent assessment by D. H. Green in Modern Language Review 74 (1979), 232-35.

 [27 ] Tellenbach, “Zur Frühgeschichte abendländischer Reisebeschreibungen.”

 [28 ] Campbell, Witness, pp. 6, 7, 3, 82-83. Campbell elsewhere maintains that a “vanished or invisible past [remains] the object of the traveler’s attention” from Egeria through the period of “secular travel,” which becomes the subject of texts with the First Crusade; see her “ ‘The Object of One’s Gaze’: Landscape, Writing, and Early Medieval Pilgrimage,” in Discovering New Worlds. Campbell’s attentiveness to what might be called the dialectic of travel writing has a grammatical analogue in Deluz’s analysis of “vocabulaire géographique” in The Book of John Mandeville and other texts that circulated in French from the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries; see Deluz, Le Livre de Jehan de Mandeville, esp. pp. 127-46, 383-98. She conducts a similar, more restricted study of William of Boldensele’s language in “Liber . . . de Guillaume de Boldensele. . . .”

 [29 ] Within “the body of writings devoted to the Jerusalem pilgrimage,” Howard distinguishes among logs, guides, and narratives (Writers and Pilgrims, p. 18).

 [30 ] Guéret-Laferté, Sur les routes de l’Empire mongol, pp. 9-17. Intending to examine every text from this period that contains an eye-witness account of the East, Guéret-Laferté includes testimony from three non-Europeans; she maintains that the seventeen clerics and six laymen who are her sources share an essentially uniform “vision du monde” (pp. 9-10). (See also my review of this book in Speculum 72 [1997], 1179-81.)

 [31 ] The phrase “forme du discours” (p. 363) is borrowed from Paul Zumthor. She concludes her book by comparing her corpus of texts to a laboratory in which we see the beginnings of a literary form (p. 381).

 [32 ] Guéret-Laferté, Sur les routes, pp. 49-76, esp. 49-50; she calls the progressive line a horizontal, or syntagmatic, axis and the digressive line a vertical, or paradigmatic, axis (“axe syntagmatique” and “axe paradigmatique”). See also pp. 163-69, for “personal” and “impersonal” forms of the horizontal axis.

 [33 ] Guéret-Laferté, Sur les routes, pp. 169-87; assurances of witness share the fragility of any truth-claim, she maintains, and they often appear in a text, such as The Book of John Mandeville, when its fictitiousness is at greatest risk of exposure (pp. 182-85). Her observation applies significantly to the Itinerarius in light of the interpolations in manuscripts CDE described in chapter 3.

 [34 ] Guéret-Laferté, Sur les routes, pp. 215-24 (on the “vocabulary of the marvelous”), 225-55 (on the “rhetoric of alterity”).

 [35 ] Guéret-Laferté, Sur les routes, pp. 257-82, 287-88, 323-57. In a somewhat different context (that of the colonist relating to the colonized), Todorov distinguishes between two responses to “the experience of alterity”: emphasizing similarity (and in projecting one’s own values on others, making them identical to oneself) and stressing difference (establishing a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority). These apparently contradictory moves “are both grounded in egocentrism,” since both deny “the existence of a human substance truly other [than oneself]” and identify “our own values with values in general, . . . in the conviction that the world is one”; see his The Conquest of America, pp. 42-43.

 [36 ] The phrase “textual community” is Brian Stock’s, which I employ here in a somewhat wider sense than he does: “microsocieties organized around the common understanding of a script,” whose formation requires “a text [written or oral, not necessarily singular], an interpreter, and a public.” Stock’s subtle analysis of the influence of growing literacy in medieval Europe has applications here. An increasing number of texts and readers enabled a wide range of social groups, from heretics to pilgrims, “to define the norms of their behavior” so that “the individual participants in collective activities like the pilgrimage and the crusade” acquired a “common understanding of their action’s significance.” In a less literal but more literary sense, the Itinerarius could not have been written without a shared awareness of the significance of travel, and thus it is a text that may repay careful listening. See Stock’s Listening for the Text, pp. 23, 37, 38, 48, 14.

 [37 ] “I saw fish flying. . . . I had some of these fish to eat” (7, 10); “I also saw serpents flying” (13); “And I saw this [unicorn]” (64-65); “I saw this hermit” (69); “[in 1391,] I saw that the hand of Saint Thomas withdrew the Sacrament from three men” (335-37); “I said three Masses for the Dead [at Purgatory]” (395-96). Witte underscores his reliability by admitting, “I did not see [pygmies fighting storks]” (83). The confession is timely, coming amidst a route that is a geographical muddle and a description that adds several new, and odd, elements to the medieval image of pygmies.

 [38 ] See usages of mire (26, 198, 200, 241, 261, 351); mirabiliter (185, 437); and mirabilia (266). Witte refers once to miracula (347).

 [39 ] Witte does not explain how he was able to read a sign outside Prester John’s palace or the salutation with which the emperor begins his official correspondence (271-73, 277-79).

 [40 ] Obviously, any traveler, fictional or not, will need to adopt spatial and temporal measurements that his audience will understand. Yet Witte nowhere suggests that there is any real difference between miles or holy days here and there: he shows no awareness that the feast of Saint Thomas is celebrated on different days in the Roman, Greek, and Syriac churches. Particularly telling is his observation that the women of Terra Feminarum visit their husbands “before Septuagesima” (287), a date that can be established only after determining when Easter falls, long one of the better known disagreements between Roman and Orthodox Christians.

 [41 ] Although medieval geographers usually identify “Asia” as one of the earth’s three “partes” (or, somewhat anachronistically, “continents”), they did not limit “India” to the region of the subcontinent as we do today. The best modern English translation of the term (despite the Eurocentric perspective that underlies it) is probably “Far East.” Even this translation obscures the fact that Egypt—and sometimes territory to its south—was included in medieval “Asia.”

 [42 ] Wright, The Geographical Lore of the Time of the Crusades, pp. 270-88, 303.

 [43 ] “Honorius Augustodunensis. Imago Mundi,” ed. Flint, p. 53 (I.10); my translation (following the spelling of proper nouns in the text). The Imago mundi was for medieval Europeans perhaps the most generally known book with an extended, if rudimentary, discussion of geography; it also has sections on astronomy, time, and history. At least 160 manuscript copies survive, and they circulated widely—from Wales to Hungary—between the early 1100s and 1500. Isidore of Seville includes an overview of world geography in book 14 of his Etymologies, an important source for Honorius’s text and for the assumption that things can, in a sense, be intellectually “controlled” by knowing the derivation of the words that name them.

 [44 ] Honorius describes the Garden of Eden and its four rivers just before he turns to India, further establishing the historical importance of this part of the world (Flint, p. 52 [I.8-9]). Among the influential writers who contributed to making the concept of translatio imperii foundational in medieval historiography were Orosius (418) and Otto of Freising (ca. 1147). The movement of power was usually configured as running from Babylon to Persia (sometimes Egypt) to Greece to Rome; it has the biblical authority of Dan. 7. On the complicated issue of Gog and Magog see Gow, “Gog and Magog,” and my “Against Gog and Magog.”

 [45 ] I mean “in the nature of things” quite literally. Medieval geographers, influenced both by zonal theory (the division of the earth into temperate and intemperate regions) and the scientific properties of the four elements, assigned different qualities to different parts of the world. While the entire oikoumene lay within the northern temperate zone, between the frigid pole and the steaming equator, territory adjacent to one or the other of these intemperate regions was affected by nearby conditions. Thus Europe, being in the north and west, was relatively cold and moist while much of Asia was hot and moist. Animals and plants were in turn affected by meteorology, Asia spawning “choleric” and even monstrous life forms. See, for example, William of Conches, De philosophia mundi (ca. 1130), esp. I.23 and IV.2-3 (PL 172, cols. 55-56, 85-86); and Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum (1237/1240), Prol. and Book 4 (“De animalibus quadrupedibus”) (ed. Boese, pp. 5, 102-74). Thomas writes:

Oriens calidus et humidus est, occidens vero frigidus et humidus; meridies calidus et siccus est, aquilo vero frigidus et siccus. Nunc autem, si omnes quatuor plage unius qualitatis essent et calor solis orbem totaliter occuparet: unde illud quod eius vehementie per contrarium obviaret? Crede ergo, lector, quia et complexiones in animalibus et effectus in herbis secundum qualitatem acris variantur (Prol. 81-90 [p. 5]).

For this latter reference I am grateful to the Medieval Academy’s anonymous reader of my manuscript. Ranulph Higden, shortly after making the remark that serves as the epigraph to this book, notes that marvels are common in the “vtter parties” of the world; his examples are many (Polychronicon, ed. Babington, 2:186-211).

 [46 ] Todorov, The Conquest of America, pp. 16-17 (he focuses here particularly on Columbus’s Third Letter, which contains the explorer’s claim to have come very close to the Earthly Paradise). Campbell observes that Columbus’s letters “acted as a prism through which an old cosmography was refracted into the colors of romance” (Witness, p. 204). A glimmer of that rainbow may be traced in the Itinerarius.

 [47 ] Other works—including Polo’s Divisament dou monde and The Book of John Mandeville—mention both Prester John and Saint Thomas, but Witte makes them part of a single story.

 [48 ] Otto of Freising, The Two Cities, pp. 439-44.

 [49 ] Olschki, Marco Polo’s Precursors, pp. 19-22, 16.

 [50 ] Zarncke, “Der Priester Johannes,” 7:827-1028, 8:1-186. For English translations of two versions of the letter see Slessarev, Prester John: The Letter and the Legend, pp. 67-79; and E. Denison Ross, “Prester John and the Empire of Ethiopia,” in Travel and Travellers of the Middle Ages, ed. Newton, pp. 174-78. Manuel, who was twice married to Latin princesses, was reportedly intrigued by the West and not a likely candidate to enter an Asian potentate’s household, as the Letter suggests he do. The Letter can be found today in over 250 manuscripts in Latin, Old French, Middle High German, Hebrew, Italian, Scottish, Slavonic, and Welsh. Since only five German manuscripts are known, it is likely that Witte read the work in Latin.

 [51 ] Slessarev, Prester John, pp. 38-47, 55, 5. Slessarev’s study is a cogent summary of the Prester John and Saint Thomas legends in medieval Europe. See also The Hebrew Letters of Prester John, ed. Ullendorff and Beckingham; and Knefelkamp, Die Suche nach dem Reich des Priesterkonigs Johannes. Romm believes the “wonder-letters” of Prester John and Alexander to be similar because they “purport to describe the wonders of the East for the benefit of the political and scientific leaders of the West”; see his “Alexander, Biologist,” p. 16.

 [52 ] The four examples follow this order in the Letter: Land of Females, pygmies, pepper fields, and Sandy Sea (amid remarks on centaurs, unicorn-killing lions, desert-dwelling giants, the phoenix, the river Ydonis, an herb used to conjure the devil, and a Fountain of Youth, none of which appears in the Itinerarius).

 [53 ] Odo of Reims, abbot of St. Remy (1118-51), wrote a simplified version of De adventu, which replaces the lake with a treacherous river and makes no mention of the repentance or death of sinners (thus it cannot have been Witte’s source). Both texts are in Zarncke, “Priester Johannes,” pp. 837-46.

 [54 ] See commentary 148-50. Bones, purportedly those of Saint Thomas, were removed from Edessa to Ortona in Italy in 1258; see L. W. Brown, The Indian Christians of St. Thomas (Cambridge, Eng., 1956), p. 58.

 [55 ] Since medieval Europeans did not have a geographically precise (or narrow) sense of “India,” the extent of Sigelmus’s journey is open to question. William describes it in the most general terms, as proceeding “trans mare Romam, et ad Sanctum Thomam in India.” He continues: “cum magna prosperitate, quod quivis hoc seculo miretur, Indiam penetravit; inde rediens, exoticos splendores gemmarum, et liquores aromatum, quorum illa humus ferax est, reportavit”; see De Gestis Rerum Anglorum, ed. William Stubbs, 2 vols. (London, 1887), 1:130. An entry, dated 883, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that Sigehelm and Athelstan were entrusted to go to Rome “and also to India to St Thomas and to St Bartholomew, [with] the alms which king Alfred had vowed to send thither when they besieged the host in London.” The passage’s authenticity, however, is doubtful: it appears only in the Laud Chronicle, written between 1121 and 1154, which includes many interpolations, some of them about foreign policy; see The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, trans. and ed. G. N. Garmonsway (New York, 1953; repr. 1975), pp. 79, xxxix. R. H. Hodgkin believes the entry to be spurious: A History of the Anglo-Saxons, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (London, 1952), 2:636-41.

 [56 ] Muldoon, Popes, Lawyers, and Infidels, p. 95. On the travel to India of Italian merchants, records about whom are almost always a matter of chance, and on Niccolò de’ Conti’s assertion in the fifteenth century that Venetian ducats were circulating in parts of anterior India, see White, “Indic Elements in the Iconography of Petrarch’s Trionfo della Morte,” esp. pp. 218-20.

 [57 ] See commentary 300-60. Paul Devos follows several strands of the Saint Thomas legend in works that circulated in medieval Europe, including De adventu and the Itinerarius, which he calls a “fastidieuse rapsodie”; see his “Le miracle posthume de Saint Thomas l’Apôtre,” Analecta Bollandiana 66 (1948), 231-75 (for Witte, pp. 247-48). S. G. Pothan, The Syrian Christians of Kerala (Bombay, 1963), cites ancient Syriac sources linking Saint Thomas to India (pp. 3-39). Berthold Spuler, Die Morgenlandischen Kirchen (Leiden, 1964), has pertinent comments about what happened to the Saint Thomas Christians (pp. 108-21 [enumeration at foot of page]). See also Brown, Indian Christians (n. 54 above), pp. 43-66.

 [58 ] See Carl Selmer, ed., “Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis”; John O’Meara, trans., The Voyage of Saint Brendan; and Gerritsen et al., eds., De reis van Sint Brendaan.

 [59 ] What follows is only a sketch. I try here to provide a context for Witte’s Itinerarius, not to write a history of travel. Fuller treatment is in Campbell, Witness; Phillips, The Medieval Expansion of Europe; and my “A Critical Edition . . . with an Introduction to European Accounts of Travel to the East . . . ,” pp. 1-248.

 [60 ] Pliny, Natural History, Book 7; Romm describes this “wonders-catalogue” as a “hypertrophy of facts and images” (“Alexander, Biologist,” p. 20).

 [61 ] Casson, Travel in the Ancient World, pp. 21, 71-74, 233-35.

 [62 ] Romm, The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought, pp. 92-94 (quotation from p. 92). A stylistic feature of such works—the catalog in which “item after item is ticked off with formulae” (such as “In Egypt there is . . .” [p. 92])—recurs in the “Et ibidem . . .” and literal “Item” repetitions in the Itinerarius.

 [63 ] Lach, The Century of Discovery, vol. 1 (in two books) of Asia in the Making of Europe, pp. 13-15. See also Aujac, “Greek Cartography in the Early Roman World,” pp. 173-75.

 [64 ] Casson, Travel in the Ancient World, pp. 292-99; for an English version of the text see The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, ed. and trans. G. W. B. Huntingford (Cambridge, Eng., 1980).

 [65 ] Casson, Travel in the Ancient World, p. 111.

 [66 ] Casson, Travel in the Ancient World, p. 296.

 [67 ] Campbell, Witness, pp. 32-33. Three bibliographies provide indispensable information about medieval accounts of the Jerusalem pilgrimage, with records (dated but still valuable) of manuscript copies and printed editions: Tobler, Bibliographia Geographica Palaestinae; Röhricht, Bibliotheca Geographica Palaestinae; and Cox, A Reference Guide to the Literature of Travel, esp. vol. 1.

 [68 ] Lach, Century, p. 29.

 [69 ] Campbell, Witness, pp. 7-8; she maintains this distinction throughout her book.

 [70 ] Jacques de Vitry, Libri Duo, pp. 198-222, esp. 215:

Haec predicta que partim ex historijs orientalium, & mappa mundi, partim ex scriptis beati Augustini & Isidori, ex libris etiam Plinij & Solini, praeter historie seriem, praesenti operi adiunximus, si forte alicui incredibilia videantur, nos neminem compellimus ad credendum, vnusquisque in suo sensu abundet. Et tamen credere que contra fidem non sunt vel bonos mores, nullum periculum aestimamus. Scimus enim quod omnia Dei opera mirabilia sunt.

A “mappa mundi” could designate a written text with no cartographical design whatever; Hugh of St. Victor gave his verbal geographical text the title Descriptio mappe mundi (1130/1135), and “Mappa mundi” is the title of Honorius Augustodunensis’s Imago mundi in several manuscripts; see Woodward, “Medieval Mappaemundi,” pp. 287-88. See also the discussion of “monstruosi populi” in general and Jacques’s treatment of them in Friedman, The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought, pp. 42, 76-77, 163-64, 169-71.

 [71 ] Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Henry Richards Luard, 7 vols. (London, 1872-83), 3:488-89.

 [72 ] Matthew rushed to apply the etymology “Tartarus” to what he considered to be the infernal Mongols; their tribal name was, more correctly, “Tatars.”

 [73 ] Gumilev, Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom, pp. 180-81, 184, 186.

 [74 ] George D. Painter, “The Tartar Relation,” in The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation, ed. Skelton, Marston, and Painter, pp. 34-35; and Dawson, The Mongol Mission, pp. xv-xxi. Soranzo adds to Innocent’s personal agenda the reform of the Western Church and the recovery of the Holy Land, noting that Innocent, who was from Genoa, employed civic ideals in pursuing his religious goals; see his Il papato, l’Europa cristiana e i Tartari, pp. 77-125, esp. p. 78. On relations between medieval Europe and the Mongols generally see Bezzola, Die Mongolen in abendländischer Sicht; Jean Richard, La papauté et les missions d’Orient au moyen âge; Olschki, Marco Polo’s Precursors, pp. 31-46; and Muldoon, Popes.

 [75 ] Simon, also a Dominican, wrote an account of Ascelin’s mission that survives only in passages incorporated by Vincent of Beauvais in his Speculum historiale; the two returned to Lyons in the summer of 1248. See Guzman, “Simon of Saint-Quentin and the Dominican Mission to the Mongol Baiju: A Reappraisal,” and his “The Encyclopedist Vincent of Beauvais and His Mongol Extracts from John of Plano Carpini and Simon of Saint-Quentin.” At least two other monks were dispatched to the Mongols: the Dominican Andrew of Longjumeau traveled as far as Tabriz, and the Franciscan Dominic of Aragon apparently got no farther than Cilician Armenia. Both returned in the spring of 1247, and Andrew made a second journey in 1249-51 (Phillips, Medieval Expansion, pp. 122-23, 125-26).

 [76 ] Salimbene, Cronica Fratris Salimbene de Adam, ed. Oswald Holder-Egger, MGH Scriptores 32[1] (Hannover, 1905), 206-13.

 [77 ] For John of Plano Carpini see the careful Latin critical edition of the Ystoria, including variant readings from the first edition, in van den Wyngaert and the translation of this text, “by a nun of Stanbrook Abbey,” in Dawson, Mission to Asia. John’s companion, Benedict the Pole, dictated a brief, rather disorganized account of the experience, known as the “Relatio Fratri Benedicti Poloni,” to a chronicler in Cologne; it is also edited by van den Wyngaert and translated in Dawson. A third record of the Franciscans’ experiences, “The Tartar Relation,” is the transcription in Latin of what Painter speculates was a lecture or “press conference” held in eastern Europe, at which Benedict spoke in Czech or Polish. The copyist-editor, known only as “C. de Bridia,” completed the “Relation” on 30 July 1247. It is described, edited, translated, and published in facsimile by Painter, in The Vinland Map, ed. Skelton, Marston, and Painter, pp. 21-106. Guéret-Laferté believes that the added chapter to the Ystoria is what actually makes it a travel book—its necessary “seal of authenticity,” without which it is “incomplete”—and suggests that John urged Benedict to write his narrative to give a similar “seal” to C. de Bridia’s text; see her Sur les routes, pp. 26, 30, 31-32.

 [78 ] See William of Rubruck, Itinerarium, in van den Wyngaert’s Itinera (where the letter is entitled Itinerarium after the rubric in one manuscript copy) and the translation in Dawson, Mission to Asia. William’s fate is uncertain, but he must have made it back to the West because Roger Bacon claims to “have examined this book with care, and . . . [to] have conferred with its author” and other travelers to the Orient in preparing his own encyclopedia; see The ‘Opus Majus’ of Roger Bacon, ed. Bridges, 1:305; and Opus Majus, trans. Burke, 1:324. See also Olschki, Marco Polo’s Precursors, pp. 49-66.

 [79 ] William of Rubruck, Itinerarium, in van den Wyngaert, Itinera, pp. 216-21, 189, 250 and 275, 266 and 273-74, 292-97, 269, 206-7, 330-31; and Dawson, Mission to Asia, pp. 129-33, 107-8, 155 and 174, 168 and 173-74, 189-94, 170, 122, 219-20. For Olschki, who holds that religious tolerance was a politically savvy trademark of Mongol rule in Asia, the remarkable theological disputation William arranges in front of Möngke khan—pitting Christians, including Nestorians, against Muslims and Buddhists—was a “rare and isolated” event, so unusual that the negative reaction William claims his opponents registered may in fact have been murmuring against the khan (Marco Polo’s Precursors, pp. 24-25).

 [80 ] For the text of the Divisament see Luigi Foscolo Benedetto’s critical edition Il Milione; the most reliable English translation, based on Benedetto, is The Travels of Marco Polo, trans. Latham (for passages quoted here, see Benedetto, pp. 3, 10; Latham, pp. 33, 17, 41). Rustichello’s “prologue,” is on pp. 3-13 of Benedetto’s 243-page edition (pp. 33-45 in Latham, where the full text runs 312 pages). Thus, it forms only a small part of the Divisament. The prologue is largely omitted in the Latin translation that Fra Pipino completed in the first decade of the 1300s; in medieval Europe this was the more widely known version of the book, which may explain why some of Marco’s experiences are seldom mentioned in early sources. The intricate textual tradition is described in Benedetto’s and Latham’s introductions, and in the landmark study by Moule and Pelliot, who attempt “to weave together all, or nearly all, the extant words which have ever claimed to be Marco Polo, and to indicate the source from which each word comes” (Marco Polo: The Description of the World, 1:5). Other editions and translations, including a fifteenth-century version in German (Bavarian dialect), are noted in the bibliography under Polo, Marco. The count of total manuscript copies varies: Charles W. Connell believes there to be 80 from before 1500 (“Marco Polo,” in Friedman, et al., p. 374), while John Larner estimates some 150 (Marco Polo, p. 3).

 [81 ] The discussion is somewhat rambling, but I count four itineraries: the Polos’ trek from Acre to Beijing, a roundtrip journey between Beijing and Bengal (via Tibet), an itinerary within eastern China between Beijing and Zaiton (Ch’üan-chau or Quanzhou), and an account of coastal regions between China and Ethiopia, focusing on India, part of which functions as the narrative of the journey home. The final chapters contain anecdotes about Mongol wars in north-central Asia. Larner divides the Divisament into ten parts (Marco Polo, pp. 91-104).

 [82 ] Chaunu goes on to say that, thanks to Marco Polo, “it was thirteenth-century Asia which Christopher Columbus was looking for”; see European Expansion in the Later Middle Ages, trans. Katharine Bertram (Amsterdam, 1979), p. 76.

 [83 ] Röhricht records over 150 different Holy Land pilgrimage accounts, guidebooks, and descriptions written between 1200 and 1400 (Bibliotheca, pp. 45-101; see also Tobler, Bibliographia, pp. 23-44).

 [84 ] Burchard anticipated the even cleverer grid system of the Venetian Marino Sanudo, whose Liber secretorum fidelium crucis (Book of Secrets for True Crusaders), written between 1306 and 1321, was intended to encourage another crusade. In around 1320, Sanudo commissioned the Genoese cartographer Pietro Vesconte to draw a series of maps that correspond to his text, among them a map of Palestine, oriented to the east, with an overlay of lines that divide the territory into square leagues (in most copies, 77 running vertically [east to west] and 29 running horizontally [north to south]). Sanudo can thus both describe a place and fix its location by assigning it a “box number.” His system not only brings more precision than ever before to measuring space in the Holy Land but also marks an innovation in cartography, whereby a map, “though secondary to the [adjacent] text, was [and is] essential for its interpretation”; see J. B. Harley, “The Map and the Development of the History of Cartography,” in Harley and Woodward, Cartography, p. 7. See also Sanudo, Part IV. of Book III. of Marino Sanuto’s Secrets. On the medieval understanding of coordinate systems see Patrick Gautier Dalché’s illuminating “Connaissance.”

 [85 ] No critical edition of Burchard’s Descriptio exists; Röhricht lists over one hundred manuscript copies (Bibliotheca, pp. 56-60). For the Latin text see J. C. M. Laurent, Peregrinatores, pp. 3-99; the only English translation is Aubrey Stewart’s. For passages specifically referred to here see Laurent, pp. 21, 90-93, 67, 83, 69; and Stewart, pp. 4, 106-9, 71, 94, 73.

 [86 ] Runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3:412-23.

 [87 ] On travel restrictions after 1291 see Röhricht, Deutsche Pilgerreisen nach dem Heiligen Lande, pp. 7-8, 39 (nn. 34-35). The Dominican Ricold of Monte Croce expanded his description of the Holy Land by describing his experiences, after 1288, in Tabriz and Baghdad, where he preached the Gospel quite freely; he returned to Florence in 1301. Ricold’s Itinerarius is found in Kappler, Pérégrination, and Laurent, Peregrinatores, pp. 103-41 (details mentioned here are on pp. 105-13, 122-23, 124-26); there is no English translation, but a French one was completed in 1351 by Jean le Long of Ypres, a monk (later abbot) of Saint-Bertin at Saint-Omer. On papal efforts to send Dominicans on preaching missions to Asia in the early fourteenth century see Loenertz, La Société des Frères Pérégrinants.

 [88 ] Inferno 18.28-33.

 [89 ] See the Latin edition by Ugo Monneret de Villard; no English translation exists. Three complete manuscript copies are known to exist (two of them in German); the single copy of the Latin text immediately precedes Witte’s Itinerarius in A the basis for the edition printed here (see appendix).

 [90 ] For an introduction and a Latin version see Grotefend “Die Edelherren von Boldensele oder Boldensen”; Christiane Deluz’s “Liber de Quibusdam” includes an edition that takes into account some of the twenty-three Latin and six French manuscript copies. I am preparing a critical edition of the Latin and French texts that accounts for all known manuscripts, as well as the fragment in Low German treated by Hartmut Beckers, with an English translation (none currently exists, although some of the text has indirectly entered the language through borrowings in The Book of John Mandeville). The French translation, like that of Ricold’s Itinerarius, is by Jean le Long (1351).

 [91 ] Quite different Latin versions of Ludolph’s work are found in editions by Deycks and Neumann; a fourteenth-century Low German translation was edited both by Kosegarten and von Stapelmohr. The only English translation is Aubrey Stewart’s, based on Deycks.

 [92 ] Grotefend, “Die Edelherren,” pp. 246-47; Ludolph of Suchen, “De Itinere,” ed. Deycks, pp. 56-58; and Ludolph von Suchen’s Description, trans. Stewart, pp. 72-76. Ludolph’s measurement is in fact taken from William, as are whole sections of his book, although he, unlike the author of The Book of John Mandeville, has never been accused of plagiarism.

 [93 ] No reliable census of Odoric’s Relatio exists, but the combined evidence of several bibliographical sources indicates that approximately 111 manuscripts preserve the text today in several languages: the original Latin (69), Italian (23), French (9), Middle High German (9), and Spanish (1). Charles W. Connell, however, counts only 63 (“Marco Polo,” in Friedman, et al., p. 374). For the Latin text see van den Wyngaert, pp. 381-495; for the German see Strasmann. Jean le Long’s French translation (1351) was edited by Henri Cordier, which greatly supersedes the untrustworthy text printed by Louis de Baecker [Backer]. The best available English translation remains Yule’s (with additions by Cordier). Jandesek’s valuable Der Bericht des Odoric da Pordenone has a good bibliography. Odoric was beatified by Benedict XIV on 2 July 1755, but he has never been canonized. Jordan of Sévérac also was beatified (see n. 96 below).

 [94 ] A few manuscripts date Mandeville’s travels between 1332 and 1366; the date of his return also is given variously as 1356 or 1357.

 [95 ] French, Middle English, and Middle High German editions of the Book are noted in the bibliography under “Mandeville”; some 300 manuscript copies representing ten medieval languages are known. Bennett devotes considerable space to records of Mandevilles in late medieval England; for recent, sophisticated scholarship, especially by Deluz and Higgins, see n. 5 above. On the language of composition see Deluz, Le Livre des Merveilles, pp. 33-36 (see “Mandeville” in bibliography). See also pp. 228, 230 below.

 [96 ] For the Latin text see Eugène Coquebert de Montbret, ed., Mirabilia descripta, 37-64; the English translation is by Sir Henry Yule, Mirabilia Descripta, pp. 19-20.

 [97 ] Venerable Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, ed. Charles Plummer (Oxford, 1896; repr. 1975), p. 49; and A History of the English Church and People, trans. Leo Sherley-Price, rev. R. E. Latham (Harmondsworth, Eng., 1968), p. 73.

 [98 ] ‘Opus Majus,’ ed. Bridges, 1:300-301; Opus Majus, trans. Burke, 1:320. Bacon goes on to discuss how important is this “knowledge of the places of the world” in converting others to Christianity and anticipating the appearance of Antichrist.



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2

Authorship and Reception of the Itinerarius

1. What’s in the Name *

Except for an occasional item in a surviving record—court rolls, lists of university students or members of a monastic community, manuscript colophons—details about medieval authors, including matters that seem so basic today as year of birth or date of death, are frequently unknowable.1


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This lack of information is especially frustrating in the case of travel literature, in which the personality of the narrator contributes vitally to the substance and success of a text. Playing the key role of guide to an unknown place—whether it be the Sinai desert, Mongol Karakorum, or Brobdingnag—the narrator must sound experienced and reliable. Medieval travelers underscored their experience and reliability by means of the detail, the aside, the anecdote that has the air of spontaneity and thus validity. Yet these moments of personal witness do not originate or function similarly. A pilgrim, while taking pains to rivet attention on sacred shrines, nevertheless operates as the reader’s route of access to blessing and may justifiably, if humbly, mention a mass celebrated at Nazareth or graffiti left behind in the church of the Holy Sepulcher.2 A traveler with more secular concerns must find other means to establish credibility. Sometimes this comes at the expense of pitting actual observation against erroneous but widely accepted authority.3 The burden of establishing a credible narrative voice rests equally on writers of real and fictional travel: on Burchard of Mount Zion as on John Bunyan, on William of Rubruck as on Johannes Witte de Hese.4 Thus, although pilgrimage accounts and travel narratives have different contents and purposes, both depend for their textual lives on the voice of someone who pauses occasionally to assert: Et hoc vidi.

Most medieval travelers—pilgrims, missionaries, envoys, merchants—have relatively unremarkable backgrounds; while unusual in being literate, they generally do not seem to be deeply learned or particularly literary. As a result, the account each wrote—in almost every case, that individual’s only known work—is often the only direct witness we have of the author’s existence. Some travelers apparently were unable to exercise final control
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over their story because they dictated it, at times under inconvenient circumstances: Marco Polo allegedly sat in prison, for example, and Odoric of Pordenone lay on his deathbed (although for these very “facts” we are, again, dependent on the works themselves). The lack of independent documentary evidence and the presence of a narrative voice that relates unusual personal experience renders both understandable and perilous the reader’s temptation to build an identity for the traveler based on claims found exclusively in that person’s book.5

The first sentence of the Itinerarius furnishes about as much autobiography as can be expected from any medieval text: the narrator supplies his full name, area of origin, vocation and place of work, and a specific date of departure on his adventure. Although the Middle Dutch translation transforms Johannes Witte de Hese into Johan/Jan Voet and delays his departure from 1389 to 1398, this version also accomplishes the important function of recording the voice of a credible informant. Even when the narrative moves from first to third person in two later manuscripts and the first printed edition, the text asserts its reliability.6 In either language and from either perspective, this itinerary’s beginning is so matter of fact that the reader of the opening sentence has no reason to suspect that the pious priest being introduced will, before very long, try to cook dinner on the dorsal side of a whale. Moreover, although it has proved impossible to corroborate that a Johannes Witte de Hese (or a Jan Voet) ever lived, this absence of information proves nothing—no more, in fact, than if a necrology in Gelderland recorded the name without mentioning any literary accomplishment. The search for a flesh-and-blood Johannes Witte de Hese can become a Mare Iecoreum—the sea with the magnetic bottom that mires iron-bearing ships—since pursuing the question of authorship can be a
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kind of trap.7 At the same time, the search for Witte may yield clues that explain why early readers apparently accepted the Itinerarius as truthful. In any event, it offers an opportunity to correct some longstanding errors in the scholarship.

The fact that Witte can almost be identified befits the Itinerarius, which makes such an effort to sound true. As Josephine Waters Bennett showed almost reluctantly in looking for the real Sir John Mandeville of St. Alban’s, a writer whose chief mode of travel is the imagination needs first to assume a local habitation and a name.8 Anyone attempting to find Johannes Witte de Hese must first reckon with a babel of nomenclature that manuscript scribes, printers, bibliographers, and literary historians have introduced into the discussion, making him seem ubiquitous and nowhere at the same time. Encyclopedias and library data bases list him under Esius, Hees, Hese, Hesius, Hess, Hesse, Heze, Jean, Joannes, Johannes (sometimes alphabetized under I), and Voet. In the National Union Catalog his entry appears under Hese; the British Library prefers Joannes. The surname “Witte” appears exclusively in the three manuscript copies of the Itinerarius that are closest to the original state of the text (ABC). The other Latin manuscripts and all the printed editions attribute the book to “Johannes de Hese” or some orthographic version of that name.9 The Middle Dutch translator of the Itinerarius may have mistaken the name “Witte” for a Latinism: he has the traveler introduce himself as Jan Voet, admittedly a fitting name for a peripatetic priest.10


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Several localities named Hees, Hese, and Heze existed in the Lower Rhine area during the Middle Ages. Since in his opening sentence Witte calls himself a cleric “in the diocese of Utrecht” (“presbyter Traiectensis dyocesis”), his name most likely refers to a place identified as Hees in the parish of Soest, near Utrecht.11 An eighteenth-century history of the prominent citizens of Utrecht includes at least nine different men named “de Wit,” “de Witte,” or “Witte” who had various civic responsibilities between 1402 and 1412. The name, in its various spellings, was fairly common—enough so that a Witte who was active in local politics might append his father’s name to be more specifically identified. In the first year of record, both “Jan de Wit” and “Jan de Wit Gysberts zoen” are listed as councilmen. These lists display the flexible orthography of the time; they also indicate that “Wit(te)” could be treated as a location, and that Jan was regularly used in vernacular records for the Latin “Johannes.”12 Johannes Witte was a canon of the cathedral at Utrecht who played a significant role in 1393 in the choice of Frederik of Blankenheim to be bishop of Utrecht.13 Although the general piety of the Itinerarius befits a cleric, so distinguished a man is unlikely to have written in such rudimentary Latin or to have
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styled himself merely “presbyter.” “Jo. Witte” was the scribe of one of four theological works in a manuscript of unknown provenance that dates from around 1426 or 1427.14

An intelligent young man from the Low Countries probably would have been educated at Cologne, which had long been a center of learning. Utrecht and Cologne also were closely united in ecclesiastical politics and enjoyed a flourishing economic relationship as towns linked by the Rhine. Lists of the matricula of the University of Cologne survive from the time of its founding, in 1388; they provide more evidence that Wit(te) and Hese/Hees were name elements in circulation during the late 1300s, although they offer no record of a Johannes Witte de Hese.15 This silence is inconclusive, since even if the author of the Itinerarius had used his actual name and not a pseudonym, and even if he had studied at Cologne, he presumably would have completed his education before 1389, the date of his putative pilgrimage to Jerusalem (assuming that the work is not a schoolboy effort). A considerable percentage of the university population was engaged in religious study and, like Witte, is identified in the matricula as “presbyter.”16


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2. Misidentifying Johannes Witte de Hese

Little attention has ever been paid to Johannes Witte de Hese or his Itinerarius. Since 1500, notices—generally brief—have appeared first in the catalogs of libraries assembled by Renaissance humanists and then in encyclopedias and literary histories; patterns of misunderstanding or error in these notices prove that scholars generally have copied from each other and only rarely consulted the book itself. Biographical information advanced about Witte has generated more confusion than light: his name, the date of his pilgrimage, and his place of origin have been incompletely or erroneously reported. Differences in the name—as noted above, they range from Johannes Witte de Hese to Ioannes Hesius to Jan Voet—result from the absence of a stable spelling system during the Middle Ages, the loss of the surname early in the manuscript tradition, and, evidently, a misunderstanding of the Latin text by the Dutch translator.17 A mistake in the first sentence of printed editions ghj—changing the date of Witte’s presence in Jerusalem from 1389 to 1489—underlies repeated misrepresentation of the Itinerarius as a book written in the late fifteenth century (the Middle Dutch translation has him begin his journey in 1398, an error that also has been consequential).18 Sixteenth-century bibliographers probably initially were misled by one of the three editions with the wrong date; they may in turn be the source of mistakes made by later scholars who consulted reference works and not the Itinerarius and who have misdated the journey (or the book’s publication) to 1489.19


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A third significant mistake concerns Witte’s origin. All the Latin manuscripts and printed editions describe the narrator of the Itinerarius as a “presbyter Traiectensis dyocesis”—a cleric from the diocese of Utrecht [emphasis mine]—and the Dutch translation appears originally to have employed an equivalent toponym.20 It should first be noted that the word “presbyter” does not necessarily mean that he was a parish priest: Benedictines called each other “presbyter” rather than “monachus,” for example, although a religious might be expected to identify his specific order or monastery (and perhaps to explain what he was doing away from it).21 The more significant words in this phrase, however, are Traiectensis dyocesis, a medieval ecclesiastical territory that was coterminous with nearly all of what is today the Netherlands (except, of course, for land since reclaimed from the sea). Thus, this toponym describes much more than just the city of Utrecht, which was its principal urban center. The geographical spread of the diocese of Utrecht and adjacent territory (ca. 1400) is shown on the map in Figure 1.

The earliest references to the Itinerarius tend to overlook the significant word diocese, however, and almost everyone who refers to Johannes Witte de Hese associates him with a city. By the early nineteenth century, some scholars had shifted his home to Maastricht, a mistake that presumably arose out of linguistic confusion, since both cities are known in Latin as “Traiectum,” Maastricht usually designated as “Traiectum ad Mosam” [on the Maas/Meuse] and Utrecht as “Traiectum ad Rhenum” [on the Rhine].22 The church of Saint Servatius at Maastricht possessed a relic of Saint Thomas, which also may have encouraged people to think that Witte left from this town on a pilgrimage whose goal was the apostle’s shrine in India.23 Local pride probably influenced scholarship as well.


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Figure 1. Map of the diocese of Utrecht and adjacent territory around the year 1400

Figure 1. Map of the diocese of Utrecht and adjacent territory around the year 1400.


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In 1836, Hamal de Becdelièvre, using unspecified sources, noted the death in 1396 of “Jean Hésius,” a Maastricht-born canon at the collegiate church of Saint Servatius, whom he identified as the writer of an autobiographical “account in Latin” of travel, begun in 1389, to Jerusalem, Arabia [sic], Ethiopia, and even more remote places.24 The connection was reiterated in 1845—this time more influentially—by Mathias de Vries, later a distinguished professor at the University of Leiden. In the introduction to his edition of the Middle Dutch translation of the Itinerarius, de Vries argues that the author could not have come from “the diocese of Utrecht” but rather “of Maastricht.”25 De Becdelièvre’s brief biography was developed in 1911 by P. M. H. Doppler, the archivist for the Dutch province of Limburg, whose capital is Maastricht. In his catalog of the canons of Saint Servatius, Doppler traces to 1368 the first mention of “Johannes Hesius (de Heze),” described as the offspring of a patrician family from the village of Hees in Belgian Limburg and the author of a Latin book of “impressions” gathered on “a journey to Palestine in 1389”; this work was “translated into Dutch, probably in 1398, by a certain Father Johan Voet.”26 Both de
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Becdelièvre and Doppler contradict the text of the Itinerarius, to say nothing of late medieval ecclesiastical hierarchy and geography. Witte introduces himself as “presbyter,” not “canonicus,” a title he certainly would have used after holding it for over twenty years. Moreover, had a canon from the cathedral at Maastricht ventured as far as India or even been associated with an account alleging as much, it is unlikely that the rather ample surviving church records about him would be silent about such an unusual exploit (the connection between the canon at Saint Servatius and the author of the Itinerarius was first made by de Becdelièvre). A canon also would probably have been a more accomplished writer of Latin.27 In point of fact, Maastricht can be ruled out for the simple reason that the city belonged to the diocese of Liège until the mid-1500s, only then becoming an episcopal center in its own right. Any attempt to connect Johannes Witte de Hese (or Jan Voet) to Maastricht ignores the specific political meaning of “Traiectensis dyocesis” during the later Middle Ages.28

3. Evidence from the Book and Its Reception

Surviving manuscripts and copies of early printed editions provide no specific biographical information about Johannes Witte de Hese, but they do offer historical evidence of some value. His book apparently began to circulate with no title or identifying rubric; its earliest readers thus would have had no extratextual preparation for what they were about to read, depending on context alone for a sense of its “identity.” The work’s first publisher, Johann Guldenschaff, was probably the first to style it the Itinerarius: the pragmatic demand of the printed book’s title page called for more than what a manuscript required.29 Although Nicholas Mameranus used Peregrinatio Ioannis Hesei in his edition of 1565 (k), the title apparently invented by Guldenschaff has been adopted by almost all scholars and bibliographers.

The Itinerarius first circulated in the Lower Rhine region, where its Dutch protagonist presumably generated local interest. Manuscript A (probably 1424), the oldest copy of the text, was copied by Johannes of
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Purmerend, and by mid-century it was at the Benedictine abbey of Saint Heribert at Deutz.30 The work was circulating in the vernacular in Holland by around 1450.31 By 1473 the Itinerarius had reached southern Bavaria. Its original audience appears to have been monastic, but as a book printed at Cologne, Antwerp, Deventer, and Paris it reached other readers.32

Scribes and early readers left little indication of their responses to the book. Marginalia (except for corrections) are rare or absent in all manuscripts except E which has fairly frequent notations that generally are restricted to textual summary, although the scribe directs specific attention [“Nota . . .”] to the layout of the palace of Prester John, the description of Hulna, the unveiling of the face of Saint Thomas on his feast day, the healings that occur on this occasion, and Jasconius the whale.33 Oswald Nott, the scribe of D urges readers to “note well” the entire description of Prester John’s capital of Edissa.34 In G an index finger points to the passage on the women of Terra Feminarum.35 The lack of any pejorative comments suggests—but certainly does not prove—that literate audiences generally took the work seriously. This suggestion is strengthened by the fact that when the Itinerarius was gathered before 1550 in a single codex with other texts, it joined chronicles, theological manuals, geographical treatises, and other travel accounts that were accepted as true at the time. Exemplars of the eleven printed editions show a similar regard, although
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at least two late sixteenth-century readers entered hostile judgments into the book itself: one wrote “This author was a downright fabulist” on a title page, while another left bilingual repudiation (“Note well! Reader, watch out for shameless lies,” “oh, go on,” and “pure nonsense”) in the margin adjacent to the description of Prester John’s palace.36 I know of no manuscript or printed copy of the Itinerarius bound before 1600 that was conjoined with works then generally believed to be fictional.

Since some of Witte’s experiences and observations are taken silently from other books, it perhaps is fitting that the first writer to borrow from the Itinerarius should do so without attribution. More important, the context of this “loan” indicates that the book was accepted as factual. A Dutch sailor who accompanied Vasco da Gama on his second voyage to India (1502-3) published an account of his adventure a year after returning home. His descriptions of flying fish at the equator and of the shrine of Saint Thomas in India closely follow passages in Witte’s work.37 The first scholarly notice of Witte’s book gives it considerable credit. In prefatory material to his edition of the work, published in 1565, Nicholas Mameranus, who had been poet laureate at the court of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1519-58), recalls learning about the Itinerarius while himself on a journey.38 He reports that the text contains things “unknown and unheard-of in these parts,” but in preparing it for publication he felt a need to eradicate certain Latin barbarisms that the “good priest” had committed. Indeed, in a poem accompanying his preface, Mameranus salutes “the priest of Christ / Who had such great love of traveling” for wanting to see so much of the world, judging the report worthy of a wider audience, which might find inspiration in it.39

Other readers were less enthusiastic. In a discussion of the unicorn written in the early 1600s, the Spanish naturalist Francisco Fernández de Córdova quotes Witte’s claim that he saw the splendid beast purifying a
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stream in the Sinai, then dismisses it along with the rest of what he calls the book’s innumerable wild lies and fables.40 More commonly, however, the Itinerarius appears in a neutral or benign context, perhaps due to the fact that it seldom was the subject of extended critical study. Indeed, it may have been read less frequently than it was mentioned: any one scholar’s reference to, or judgment of, the Itinerarius is likely to reappear in the work of several others, a pattern of copying information and misinformation that continues to the present day.

Josiah Simler mentions without comment a copy of the Itinerarius (dated 1489) in his catalog of the library of the Zurich bibliophile and “father of zoology” Konrad Gesner (1516-65), published after Gesner’s death. Simler’s aim was not to evaluate books but simply “to record their titles as an aid to people with libraries.”41 Similarly, Franciscus Sweertius included “Ioannes de Hese, siue Hesivs, Presbyter Traiectensis” in a list of Dutch writers, adding only that the book described “the wondrous things of all India.”42 Valerius Andreas, in another bibliographical encyclopedia, identified “Ioannes Hesivs, Presbyter Trajectensis” as the author of a book
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about travel in 1389 to Arabia [sic], India, Ethiopia, and other remote regions of the world, “in which many things are related that far exceed the truth, owing to the credulity of that age.”43 While these scholars give little indication of having read past the title page of the Itinerarius, Gerard Joannes Vossius seems to have concentrated on the book’s last sentence: noting that Witte observed the marvels of the Indies, he continues: “he returned from there to Jerusalem, but about Jerusalem, in fact, he refused to write because many others had already taken it upon themselves to do so.”44

The important contributions these men made to the new science of bibliography benefited writers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who inherited facts and misinformation as well as prejudice. In 1629, Pierre Bergeron published an introduction to his edition of travel narratives written between 1100 and 1500, which ranks as one of the earliest scholarly essays about medieval European accounts of Asia. Bergeron groups Witte with Odoric of Pordenone and John Mandeville, accusing them all of writing accounts that were full of fables owing to their inability to distinguish between what they had heard and what they had actually seen for themselves, something he considered a common failing during the Middle Ages. He is especially critical of the Itinerarius for including stories for their entertainment value, to say nothing of its many geographical absurdities and errors.45


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Another early study of travel narratives, considerably more extensive than Bergeron’s, was undertaken in the early nineteenth century by Johann Beckmann, a professor of economics at the University of Göttingen. In his two-volume Litteratur der älteren Reisebeschreibungen, Beckmann summarizes and analyzes selected narratives, describes different editions, offers information about the travelers, and provides valuable chronological and geographical indices. It is an impressive, if largely forgotten, work of scholarship. Beckmann was the first person to recognize several problems in the reception of the Itinerarius that have been rehearsed here. He faults Nicholas Mameranus not so much for “improving” the text’s Latin in his edition of 1565 as for failing to provide a critical apparatus with original readings. He attempts, albeit unsuccessfully, to unravel the interrelationship of the printed editions, and he recognizes variants in the spelling of “Hese” (he never mentions “Witte”) and the writer’s departure date from Jerusalem (he recognizes 1489 to be a misprint).46 For all the attention he devotes to the Itinerarius, however, Beckmann sees it primarily as a bibliographical curiosity. “Other than its venerable age,” he writes, “I know of nothing that could lend this little travel narrative any value.” He complains about the text’s brevity, its garbled topography, and its stock of “old fables.”47


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Beckmann’s judgment was echoed by other nineteenth-century writers, who repeated the charge, now two hundred years old, that Witte was guilty of typical medieval gullibility and worthy more of neglect than attention.48 In his historical survey of travelers from the Low Countries, Jules de Saint-Génois calls the Itinerarius one of the more curious journey narratives in existence, but he ultimately dismisses it as a collection of naïve tales, marvelous legends, and popular stories—a sign of how credulous literate people remained “at the end of the fifteenth [sic] century.”49 The Baron de Reiffenberg, in a rambling and mostly irrelevant explanatory note to a passage in M. de Barante’s Histoire des Ducs de Bourgogne de la Maison de Valois, appreciates that the pilgrimage described in the Itinerarius (dated 1489) was occasioned by piety, but he goes on to cite scholars who dispute the work’s extravagant claims. He begins a French translation of the text but abandons it less than a quarter of the way through, leaving Witte facing the cannibalistic Monoculi in the Sandy Sea (98).50 Joseph J. C. Nève sounds a rather sinister note in his fairly lengthy treatment of the Itinerarius: he contends that the marvels “Jean de Hese . . . claims to have seen are so extraordinary, and the fables he relates so very absurd, that one cannot attribute it all to his extreme naïvete.” Indeed, while “Jean” may “embellish his subject a little” in claiming to have eaten flying fish from the Red Sea, he is no longer just an “incredibly credulous traveler” when he describes Prester John’s palace or the island of Gog and Magog. Nève ends on a happier note, wondering whether the book is not just a fantasy from beginning to end, and whether the author, in writing it, would ever have had need to leave his own back yard.51


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Dutch literary historians have treated the Itinerarius more charitably, noting its imaginative content and laconic style.52 Philippus Christianus Molhuysen (1852) calls the travel narrative of “Jan de Hese” a “rare and peculiar book” full of “unbelievable things,” reminiscent of A Thousand and One Nights, but he speculates that the work may have influenced late fifteenth-century Portuguese exploration with its description of the land of Prester John, the oddities of which no other writer had described so nicely and amusingly.53 A. J. van der Aa’s contemporaneous and nonjudgmental estimation of “Johannes Hesius or Hees, . . . famous for his travels
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in 1398 [sic],” entered an encyclopedia that was frequently reprinted.54 Jan te Winkel believes much of the narrative to be imaginary and calls the author’s occasional claims to have seen (or not to have seen) something odd rather intrusive; still, he defends the Itinerarius against charges of mendacity by insisting that it only repeats what other writers had (or might have) said—after all, India was a wonderland generally for medieval Europeans. To bolster this claim but also to enlarge the stature of the Itinerarius, te Winkel cites several sources, including Honorius Augustodunensis and a German version of Marco Polo.55 W. J. A. Jonckbloet was the first scholar to compare the Itinerarius and the Book of John Mandeville on literary grounds (te Winkel treated them in succession, referring to the Dutch Reysen . . . van ridder Jan van Mandeville that circulated in late medieval Holland). According to Jonckbloet, since Witte’s clipped stories form an “itinerary” rather than a coherent narrative, his book has an appropriate title (Jonckbloet was unaware that the name Itinerarius is evidently not authorial). Nevertheless, he wryly concludes that Witte, despite his brevity, concedes nothing to the more garrulous Mandeville in churning out wonders.56The complaints and the comparisons are justified. Witte’s text—in Latin or in Middle Dutch—seldom describes landscapes or actions in vibrant, appealing language. Its stylistic strengths include a terseness that steers the narrative clear of breathless enthusiasm and a vagueness that
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leaves some of the narrator’s claims—of having seen Eden or Gog and Magog, for example—tantalizingly ambiguous. While the Book achieved much greater literary distinction than did the Itinerarius, John Mandeville and Johannes Witte de Hese are both, in all likelihood, figments of the imagination of two anonymous authors who managed to fashion a traveler with a name, a vocation, and a set of experiences that sounded authentic enough for readers to credit his words, at least for a time.

Endnotes

 [* ] Full citations for works abbreviated in footnotes may be found in the bibliography, unless otherwise noted.

 [1 ] Even the most famous medieval writers may remain largely in shadow. In the preface to his 600-page study Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World, Donald Howard admits to having recanted his earlier belief that “ ‘no real biography of Chaucer has ever been written or can be written. We do not know enough’ ” (New York, 1987), p. xv. Beginning his own life of Chaucer, Derek Pearsall feels obligated first to answer the objection that such a task “cannot be done” owing to the paucity of data; he wittily acknowledges that medieval writers are appropriate subjects for post-modern critics who attempt “to get rid of authors whom they find difficult enough to locate in the first place” (The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Critical Biography, Blackwell Critical Biographies 1 [Oxford, 1992; repr. 1993], pp. 2, 4). Unsurprisingly, both Howard and Pearsall must occasionally rely on indirection to find direction out.
Even apparently reliable testimony must be carefully evaluated. One of the earlier and more accurate copies of William of Boldensele’s Liber de quibusdam ultramarinis partibus is Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 523 (ca. 1350-75), which concludes with the notation that the text was written in 1332, and that “this same William later died at Cologne, in 1336, and was buried there in front of the choir in the church of the Dominicans, with great respect from all the clergy and the citizens of Cologne” [millesimo cccmo xxxij. Idem dominus wilhelmus obijt postea colonie anno domini xxxvi. Sepultus est in ecclesia predicatorum ibidem ante Chorum cum maxima Reverencia tocius cleri et populi Civitatis Coloniensis (fol. 32v)]. The information, which sounds definitive, is proven false by incontestable evidence that William dispatched a letter from Avignon on 29 September 1337; he was probably in the Holy Land in 1334-35 (Grotefend, “Die Edelherren von Boldensele oder Boldensen,” p. 237; Westrem, “Critical Edition,” pp. 40-41, n. 8).

 [2 ] About Egeria, for example, Campbell writes: “her literary task is somehow to depress the reader’s interest in herself and the course of her journeying, while at the same time maintaining the presence of that inviting and intercessory first person which makes her meditative tool effective” (Witness, p. 25).

 [3 ] A prime example is the pilgrim William of Boldensele’s insistence, based on evidence from the scene, that the huge pyramids south of Cairo are not the granaries of Pharaoh (as “fools” assert [and as medieval Europeans, reading Gen. 41:48-49, had assumed for centuries]) but monuments to the dead (Grotefend, “Die Edelherren von Boldensele oder Boldensen,” pp. 250-52). Generally a faithful copier of William’s intelligent account, the writer of The Book of John Mandeville here departs from his source, claiming that while some think that the structures are tombs, their appearance proves them to be Joseph’s storehouses (Deluz, Le Livre des Merveilles, pp. 155-56; Seymour, Mandeville’s Travels, pp. 37-38).

 [4 ] Louise O. Vasvari distinguishes between the first-person narrator in imaginary travel literature, who “pretends to have returned from a trip,” and the “I-speaker” of works like the audacious Land of Cockaigne, who “purposely shatters the illusion of the credibility of his narrative either by declaring outright that he is lying or, conversely, by exaggerated insistence on his truthfulness” (“The Geography of Escape and Topsy-Turvy Literary Genres,” in Westrem, Discovering New Worlds, pp. 178-92, quotation from pp. 179-80).

 [5 ] Readers of fiction always face the temptation of conflating an actual author with a created persona. Medieval writers, already shrouded in mystery, may invite this error because their first-person narrators often relate pious subject matter. Pearsall points out the danger of drawing conclusions about Chaucer’s life based on the “narrative voice” we hear in a given poem or on simplistic assumptions about when he might have written a work with a particular theme—for example, that the Parson’s sobriety and focus on penitence marks his tale as the product of an author “declining into orthodox piety as death approached” (p. 228). The fallacy is not new. Noticing that Odoric of Pordenone’s Relatio and The Book of John Mandeville both include passages that describe the narrator’s journey, with an entourage, through a perilous valley, but not considering that Odoric’s words might have been appropriated by a later writer, some fifteenth-century readers and manuscript scribes claimed that Odoric and Mandeville were traveling companions. Michel Velser, who translated the Book into German in the 1390s, introduces this claim into the text of his version of the Book in what Iain Higgins calls an “authenticating intervention” (Writing East, pp. 219-20).

 [6 ] Manuscripts DE relate much—but not all—of the pilgrimage in the third person yet add three brief interpolations emphasizing the historicity of “Johannes de Hese” as “the aforementioned priest,” “this very same [man],” and “[my] lord” (lemmata 29, 905, 989).

 [7 ] Witte’s supreme fiction, ironically, was lost on his original audience, which could not have appreciated the achievement of sailing east from India to Jerusalem without encountering more than a few odd islands along the way.

 [8 ] Bennett, pp. 181-216; on the basis of her painstaking study of fourteenth-century property grants, wills, and land tenure records, Bennett observes that “there was no lack of John Mandevilles in England and in the vicinity of St. Albans at this time” and that they came from “families capable of knighthood.” She is forced to conclude, however, that “[i]n the end we know no more about him than he tells us in his book” (The Rediscovery of Sir John Mandeville, pp. 197, 199, 216).

 [9 ] Manuscript D calls the traveler “johannis [de] hess” (lemmata 3-5; see n. 29 below). The printed editions give several variants of his name: “iohannes hese,” “iohannes de hesen,” “iohannes de heze,” and “Ioannes Heseus”; printed editions ab once call him “iohannes presbiter predictus,” which confuses him somewhat with Prester John (“Presbyter Johannes”), who later enters the narrative (lemmata 29, 184). On “Johannes de Hese” as the “master” of the third-person narrator in E see n. 6 above.

 [10 ] Witte is a perfectly acceptable Dutch surname (an English equivalent would be “Whyte”; “Voet” may be rendered “Foote”). The Dutch literary historian Jan te Winkel believes that Voet is a corruption of Witte (see n. 55 below). In his edition of manuscript L Mathias de Vries argued that “Johan Voet” was either a pseudonym or the nickname by which “Joannes de Hese” was known within a monastic community; see “Fragment,” p. 9 (full citation under V in list of abbreviations).

 [11 ] The existence of this community is recorded (as “Hesi”) as early as 838. Maurits Gysseling lists “Hées” near Arras in France; three other communities named “Hees” (one near Düsseldorf, one in Limburg, and one in Drenthe); two called “Hese” (a woods near Düsseldorf and an unknown site in the north Rhine area); and five identified as “Heze” (near Liège, near Turnhout, and in Brabant). Hees in Limburg is cited by scholars who mistakenly associate Witte with Maastricht, an error discussed below; see Toponymisch Woordenboek van België, Nederland, Luxemburg, Noord-Frankrijk en West-Duitsland (vóór 1226), 2 vols., Bouwstoffen en Studiën voor de Geschiedenis en de Lexicografie van het Nederlands 6 (Brussels, 1960), 1:463, 489, 493-94. Gysseling lists no place-name closely related to “Witte” or “Voet.”

 [12 ] Kaspar Burman, Utrechtsche Jaarboeken van de Vyftiende Eeuw, Vervattende het Merkwaardige in het Gesticht, en Voornamentlyk in de Stadt Utrecht, zedert den Jare 1402, 3 vols. (Utrecht, 1750), 1:2-111. As the title makes clear, Burman’s history begins in 1402. Jan de Wit is also called Jan die Witte and later is joined by (or, perhaps, is more precisely identified as) Jan die Witte Francken zoen. Henric de Witte, an alderman in 1402, may reappear as Henric Witte in 1408 among several aldermen (“schepenen”). Only the saddler William de Haze adopts a place-name similar to Hese (1:2, 3, 78, 79). During this same decade, a price is put on the head of Jan de Witte de Louwer (there is “geld op zyn lijf gezet”), who was part of a gang that tried to take over Utrecht (1:370).

 [13 ] J. C. J. Kleijntjens, “De Verkiezing van Frederik van Blankenheim tot Bisschop van Utrecht,” in Archief voor de Geschiedenis van het Aartsbisdom Utrecht 54 (1930), 204-39. On 22 April 1393, 30 of 83 canons walked out of a church council to protest the role assumed by the pope in the naming of a new bishop. “Johannes Witte, canonicus” was one of three clerics who managed to secure general support for the papal candidate, Frederik, who was then bishop of Strasbourg (pp. 206, 211, 212, 225). Johannes is mentioned in other archives but never in connection with any absence or travel (Archief 55 [1931], pp. 126, 154, 159, 163, 165, 168).

 [14 ] Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 69. 20. Aug. 2°, fol. 197v. “Jo. Witte,” as he signs himself, copied Conrad of Soltau’s Questiones circa quatuor libros sentenciarum (fols. 52r-197v); the colophon begins “Et sic est finis,” a typical scribal conclusion, one also found in manuscripts A and D of the Itinerarius. The scribe Witte’s work comes between texts dated 22 March 1427 and 12 February 1426. See Otto von Heinemann, Die Augusteischen Handschriften, vol. 6[3] of Kataloge der Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. Die Alte Reihe: Nachdruck der Ausgabe 1884-1913 (Wolfenbüttel, 1898; repr. Frankfurt am Main, 1966), p. 353.

 [15 ] Hermann Keussen, Die Matrikel der Universität Köln, vol. 1, 1389-1475, 2nd ed., Publikationen der Gesellschaft für rheinische Geschichtskunde 8[1] (Bonn, 1928). “Joh. de Hees” was enrolled between 9 January 1389 and 7 January 1390, but he came from the diocese of Liège (p. 21). “Joh. Voit de Delfte,” from the diocese of Utrecht, was at the Augustinian chapterhouse of Saint Maria after 25 March 1391 (p. 60). Beginning in the 1440s, entries show increasing numbers of entries for young men who are fully identified as “Johannes Wit(te) de —” (see vol. 3, Nachträge 1389-1559 [Bonn, 1931], p. 1053).
Among the students at the University of Heidelberg at this same time were “Johannes de Hees” (in 1387), “Johannes Wit” (in 1399-1400), and “Libertus de Hese” (in 1401-2), all from the diocese of Liège (and hence probably from Hees/Hese in Limburg), although many natives of the diocese of Utrecht are recorded; see Gustav Toepke, 1386-1553, vol. 1 of Die Matrikel der Universität Heidelberg von 1386 bis 1662 (Heidelberg, 1884), pp. 21, 70, 85.

 [16 ] Keussen’s data show that, in 1389-90, 152 of 842 students (18%) at Cologne held the title of “presbyter”; between 1391 and 1395, the number dropped to 19 of 352 (5%). For the period from 1396 to 1400, the figure increased to 50 of 362 (14%). The overall percentage for 1389-1465 (928 out of 13,051 students) is 7.1% (1: Table II 190*). Natives of the diocese of Utrecht made up a sizable proportion of Cologne’s student population: 12% in 1389-90 (100 out of 842), 22% in 1391-95 (77 out of 352), and 18% in 1396-1400 (66 of 362) (1: Table I 170*-71*).

 [17 ] Some scholars identify Jan Voet as an entirely separate, historical figure. Ben A. J. Wasser believes that “Jan Voet van Utrecht” translated into Middle Dutch a Latin account by “Johannes de Hese, . . . [a] priest from the diocese of Maastricht” and that Voet undertook a pilgrimage himself in 1398. Wasser offers an erroneous summary of the Itinerarius, claiming that it describes “islands, monsters, and violent natural phenomena” in the Mediterranean and treats the various Christian sects in the Holy Land. None of this is in any Latin or Dutch version of the book; see Wasser’s “Die Peregrinatie van Iherusalem,” 9-10.

 [18 ] Printed edition k, which is a revision of h, omits the date entirely; the later date in gh appears to be a deliberate change by two printers (see discussion in chapter 3). Witte’s later observation that he was at the church of Saint Thomas in 1391 is found in AB, is corrupted in C, and is missing in DE and all printed editions and their manuscript copies (lemma 906). Although all three Middle Dutch manuscripts begin with Voet/Witte leaving Jerusalem in 1398, K nevertheless places him in India in 1391 (L breaks off before this point; M probably has the date 1391 [see description in the appendix]).
In the early eighteenth century, Bernard Pez cited manuscript D, then at Tegernsee, and mistakenly gave the date of the pilgrimage in the Itinerarius as 889 (reading DCCCLXXXIX for MCCCLXXXIX), but this error has not led later scholars astray [note, however, p. 102 n. 157 below]; see Dissertatio Isagogica (Vienna, 1721), 1:lxxxvii.

 [19 ] Of the ninety-five copies I have located of the eleven printed editions, some 40% have the later date (8 of g, 11 of h, and 15 of j; another 8 are of k, which gives no date). They may have had somewhat larger print runs than editions with the correct date. In discussing the reception of the Itinerarius below, I note where the date of the pilgrimage is erroneously given.

 [20 ] The syntax in C makes Johannes Witte a “presbiter” from Hese in the diocese of Utrecht (lemma 6). L refers to Witte as “priester uten ghesticht van Utrecht” (“priest from the diocese of Utrecht”), while K reads simply “van Utrecht” and M “van vtert” (lemmata D3-4). It is easier to imagine the loss, rather than the addition, of the diocesan connection.

 [21 ] Miller, Mappaemundi, 1:1-2, citing references to “Bede presbyter.” The passage from the Middle Dutch translation in the previous note assumes that Witte was a priest, as has every scholar who has specifically mentioned Witte’s vocation.

 [22 ] By the sixteenth century Utrecht was being called “Utraiectensis” or “Ultraiectensis.” In Nicholas Mameranus’s edition of the Itinerarius, printed in 1565 at Antwerp, Witte identifies himself in the first sentence of his book as “Ioannes de Hese Presbyter Traiectensis diœcesis” (sig. A5r), but in a prefatory poem lauding the exploits of the pilgrim-adventurer, Mameranus observes that “this priest of Christ was from Utrecht” (“Vtraiectensis Christi fuit ille sacerdos” [sig. A2r]), and in his introduction he relates how he discovered the narrative by the “Utrecht priest” (“Ioanne de Hese Vttraiectensis [sic] sacerdotis”; sig. A3v). On Mameranus’s edition (k) see chapter 3.

 [23 ] Saint Servatius, founded in the sixth century, is the oldest church in the Netherlands. Arnold von Harff, on a tour of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome on Easter Sunday (26 March) 1497, records “item an arm of St. Thomas the Apostle which I have seen in very truth at Mackeron in the kingdom of India. I have also seen the arm of St. Thomas in the sacristy of St. Servas Church at Maastricht.” Later, on Rhodes, he notes wryly in yet another catalog of relics: “Item an arm of St. Thomas the Apostle, of which I have seen many” (The Pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff, trans. Letts, pp. 20, 87).

 [24 ] Becdelièvre, Biographie Liégeoise, ou Précis Historique et Chronologique de Toutes les Personnes qui se sont Rendues Célèbres . . . dans l’ancien diocèse et pays de Liége . . . et la Ville de Maestricht, 2 vols. (Liége, 1836), 1:119:

1396. HÉSIUS (Jean), naquit à Maestricht, et fut chanoine de l’église collégiale de St.-Servais. Il entreprit en 1389, le voyage de Jérusalem dont il a donné une relation en latin; et parcourut non-seulement la Judée, mais l’Arabie, l’Ethiopie et d’autres contrées encore plus éloignées [emphasis in original].

With this summary, Becdelièvre does not seem to have read much more than the first quarter of the Itinerarius—that is, the excerpt Baron de Reiffenberg had translated into French and published in 1835-36 (see n. 50 below). His notion that the book describes travel in Arabia may come from Mameranus (see n. 39 below).

 [25 ] “Fragment,” pp. 7-8. De Vries argues that Witte/Voet compares the Asian city of Edissa to Cologne (lines 159-60) rather than Utrecht, which he would have chosen if he “really was a priest” in that diocese (as, indeed, the text clearly states [“uten ghesticht van Utrecht”]): therefore, he must have come from the vicinity of the less cosmopolitan Maastricht. The reasoning is anachronistic and hypothetical.

 [26 ] The text in the original reads:

1368. Johannes Hesius (de Heze), afstammeling eener patricische familie, die haren naam ontleent aan het dorp Hees, gelegen in Belgisch Limburg, niet ver ten westen van Maasricht [sic], voor het eerst als kanunnik vermeld in 1368. In 1389 ondernam hij eene reis naar Palestina, welker indrukken hij in het latijn beschreef. Dit werk werd waarschijnlijk in 1398 in het Dietsch vertaald door zekeren pater Johan Voet [emphasis in original].

See “Lijst der Kanunniken van het Vrije Rijkskapittel van Sint Servaas te Maastricht (1050-1795)” In Publications de la Société Historique et Archéologique dans le Limbourg à Maestricht 74 [3rd ser. 19] (1938), 33-174 (at pp. 139-40): Doppler himself (in his n. 330) attributes his reference to “Father Johan Voet” to a history of Dutch literature by W. J. A. Jonckbloet (Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Letterkunde [see n. 56 below]); he shows no sign of having read the Itinerarius in either Latin or Middle Dutch.

 [27 ] See the discussion of Johannes Witte, the influential Utrecht canon (n. 13 above). On barbarous Latin attributed to influential clerics, however, see chapter 3, n. 35.

 [28 ] Maastricht was an episcopal see from 382 to 721; te Winkel, Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Letterkunde, 1:570, n. 1.

 [29 ] Of the five manuscripts that pre-date the first printed edition of Witte’s book, ABCE have no title or introductory rubric whatever. Oswald Nott, the scribe of D, produced at Tegernsee in 1473, gave the text this heading: “The narrative of master Johannes of Hess, priest in the diocese of Utrecht, on the lands across the Mediterranean to the ends [of the earth],” which is modified slightly on the manuscript’s title page (fols. 166r, 2r; full Latin texts of both titles are in the appendix). No manuscript copy has an explicit that gives a title or the author’s name. On the appropriateness of the title Itinerarius see n. 56 below.

 [30 ] Manuscript B probably originated in the Rhineland. “Johannes de Purmereynde” was the scribe of fols. 1r-187r in vol. 2 of manuscript A including The Book of John Mandeville (in Latin), the Liber peregrinationis of Jacopo of Verona, and Witte’s Itinerarius (see the appendix for colophons and dates). The Cologne matricula list a “Joh. Purmar de Hollandia” as a “pauper” ca. 1432; a “Joh. de Hoet de Pirmer” of the diocese of Utrecht paid living costs (“solvit medium”) ca. 1434; and a “Joh. Johannis de Slusa de Purmareyn” from the same diocese achieved “artium” on 27 August 1442 (Keussen, 1:361, 389, 453; and 3:847; see n. 15 above). I have not found “Johannes de Purmereynde” in any catalog of colophons.

 [31 ] One copy of the Middle Dutch translation (K) is attributed to “Heerick van Rhemen” (see colophon to Middle Dutch edition); Rhemen is located approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Utrecht.

 [32 ] The three other manuscripts that were not copied from printed editions also seem to have been in German monasteries by the later fifteenth century: C was probably in the Dominican monastery at Soest in Westphalia in ca. 1470; on D see n. 29 above; and E was in the Benedictine house at Butzbach in Hessen before 1483. Early printed editions (of the Latin text) appeared between ca. 1490 and ca. 1507 at Cologne (4), Deventer (4), Antwerp (1), and Paris (1); a second Antwerp printer published it in 1565.

 [33 ] For marginalia in E see TN VI passim (esp. 174-76, 307-8, 323, 348-49, 398-99).

 [34 ] The marginal comment in D—“note these things well, for the next two leaves” [nota hec bene usque post duo folia]—appears at Witte’s arrival at Edissa (see TN VI 149-50), at the top of fol. 109v; the two “folia” presumably begin with fol. 110r. The description of the palace is nearly complete at the bottom of fol. 111v (at the mention of the vigilant giant [258]). A later (eighteenth-century?) hand has added “NB” in the margin of B at the mention of Edissa (148-49; fol. 3v).

 [35 ] TN VI 283-84 (G is a copy of printed edition a).

 [36 ] Trier, Stadtbibliothek, Inc. 2284 8°: “Dieser author ist ein leibhaffter fabularius gewesenn” (printed edition b); Heidelberg, Universitatsbibliothek, A 672: “NB Attende lector impuden[s] mendacium,” “fahr nur fort,” and “merae nugae” (all on fol. A4r of edition h at lines 180, 186, 210 [additional negative comments here and on fol. A4v]). In my dissertation I describe the contents of all the manuscripts and half of the 95 located copies of early printed editions; see Westrem, “Critical Edition,” pp. 331-93 (manuscripts) and 394-469 (printed editions).

 [37 ] On Calcoen, originally published at Antwerp around 1504, see commentary 7-11, 300-60.

 [38 ] Johannes Franciscus Foppens described Mameranus as a man of wit who was given to jesting (“vir facetus et jocosus”) in Bibliotheca Belgica, 2 vols. (Brussels, 1739), 2:914.

 [39 ] In his edition k Mameranus revised the text of h His introduction (sigs. A2v-A4v), dated 19 January 1565, follows the poem in which Mameranus shows appreciation for “Johannes Hesius’s” love of travel (“Quem peregrinandi magnus habebat amor”; sig. A2r). Mameranus twice states that the narrator is from the city of Utrecht; he never uses the word “diocese” (see n. 22 above).

 [40 ] Fernández de Córdova, Didascalia Multiplex (London, 1615), p. 113. He refers to “Ioannes de Hese presbyter Traiectensis in suo Itinerario (quod tamen totum innumeris ac portentosis illis quidem scatet mendaciis fabulísque).” He quotes in its entirety Witte’s description of the unicorn detoxifying water in the Sinai desert (lines 60-65). He knew the text from a printed edition: not a, b, or k but possibly d (which alone reads “bōa” for “bona” [64] and may explain his single error in transcription [“bouina”]). Fernández de Córdova puts Witte in good company—he also cites Strabo, Pliny, Solinus, Marco Polo, and Ludovico di Varthema—noting that the unicorn’s “horn is often seen around here, but never the animal, for which reason it is thought by many today to be fantastical” [Cornu . . . visum sæpe in his partibus est, animal tamen nunquam: qua de causa fabulosum hodie creditum à multis (p. 110)].

 [41 ] Simler, Bibliotheca Institvta et Collecta Primvm a Conrado Gesnero, Deinde in Epitomen Redacta & Nouorum Librorum Accessione Locupletata (Zurich, 1574), p. 382b and Dedication, p. 2. This work is the expanded, third edition of Gesner’s own four-volume Bibliotheca Vniversalis (Zurich, 1545-49), which lists some ten thousand book titles, the Itinerarius not among them. The zoologist Gesner makes no mention of Witte’s book in his Historia animalium, 3 vols. in 4 (Zurich, 1551-87). One might expect a reference in his discussion of the unicorn or simian creatures in vol. 1, De Quadrupedibus viviparis (1551), pp. 781-86, 957-81. The unusual title Simler supplies (Itinerarium de mirabilibus rerum totius Indiæ) and the date 1489 reappear, ascribed to “Ioan. de Hesse,” in Israel Spach’s Nomenclator Scriptorvm Philosophicorvm atque Philologicorvm (Strasbourg, 1598), p. 544. Spach seems unaware that this book is the same as the “perigrinatio” [sic] by “Ioan. Hesei” (edition k) he lists on p. 424.

 [42 ] Sweertius, Athenæ Belgicæ sive Nomenclator infer. Germaniæ Scriptorvm (Antwerp, 1628), pp. 437-38. Sweertius characterizes the Itinerarius’s contents as treating of “mirabilibus rerum totius Indiæ”; he offers brief bibliographical information for edition k whose title page could have furnished him with everything found in this entry, but he knows that this is not a unique printing (he cites publisher and date, then adds “& alibi”; he also dates the pilgrimage to 1489, but k mentions no year).

 [43 ] Andreas, Bibliotheca Belgica (Louvain, 1643), p. 515; Andreas characterized the book as one “in qua multa fidem exsuperantia, ex ævi illius credulitate, narrantur,” and thus he does not clearly characterize it as a fiction. Like Sweertius, he cites only edition k yet he must have known of another copy since he dates the journey (correctly) as beginning in 1389. His entire entry was copied verbatim by Hugo Franciscus van Heussen in Historia Episcopatuum Foederati Belgii; utpote Metropolitani Ultrajectini, 2 vols. (Antwerp, 1733), 1:126; and nearly so (“multa mirabilia fidemque exsuperantia”) by Foppens in Bibliotheca Belgica, 2:658 (see n. 38 above). Johannes Albert Fabricius repeated the comment but credited Andreas; he identifies Witte as “Joannes de Hees sive de Hese, Presbyter Trajectensis,” who traveled in 1389, adding references to one of the Deventer editions (fghi) and j (Bibliotheca Latina Mediæ et Infimæ Ætatis, 21 books in 6 vols. [Hamburg, 1734-46], 3:581-82 [book 8 in vol. 3 was published in 1735].

 [44 ] Vossius, De Historicis Latinis, 3 vols. (Leiden, 1651), 3.3.539-40: “Joannes de Hese, presbyter Trajectensis, descripsit iter suum ab Hierusalem in Indias, quæque mirabilia observavit, donec Hierosolymam rediret. De ipsis enim Hierosolymis scribere se velle negat, quia alii multi hoc præstitissent.” This summary is repeated almost verbatim (with Vossius credited) by Casimir Oudin, Commentarivs de Scriptoribvs Ecclesiæ Antiqvis, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1722), 3: col. 1240; Oudin dates the writing of the Itinerarius “around 1390” and claims that the writer was “celebrated on account of his travels” (“Joannes de Hees, Presbyter Trajectensis, circa 1390, celebris ob peregrinationes . . .”).

 [45 ] Bergeron, Traicté de la Navigation et des voyages des descovverte & conqueste modernes (Paris, 1629); see the later edition in Voyages faits principalement en Asie, 1: cols. 51-52. Bergeron, echoing Valerius Andreas, dismisses the entire fourteenth century for its gullibility; Odoric’s account, like Mandeville’s, is “remplie de beaucoup de choses fabuleuses, n’aians pas assez bien distingué ce qu’ils avioent ouï dire d’avec ce qu’ils avoient vû eux-mêmes; qui est la faute ordinaire de tous ceux de ce siècle-là.” “Jean de Hese,” whom he calls a “Prêtre d’Utrecht,” went in 1489 to Asia,

où il rapporte plusieurs fables & contes faits à plaisir, outre les absurditez & erreurs qu’il commet en Geographie. Car entr’autres, comme la plûpart des autres écrivains de ce tems là, il confond les pais du Prêtre-Jean d’Asie, avec ceux de celui d’Ethiopie ou des Abissins [emphasis in original].

Bergeron’s accusation of geographical absurdity is not without its irony. He reflects early modern opinion in asserting that Prester John was a historical ruler in Ethiopia; nineteenth-century historians would identify him with various Asian leaders. Bergeron also evinces what has become scoffing intolerance among Western scholars for the medieval belief that Ethiopia was part of India, even though such an association makes political and cultural—if not continental—sense. During the early years of the Cold War, according to Rogers, the United States failed to recognize that Moscow considered Addis Ababa to be in its Asian sphere of interest, with deleterious results for foreign policy (Quest, pp. 65-66).

 [46 ] Beckmann, Litteratur, 2:390-99, 561-62. Beckmann may be the first modern scholar to have studied a manuscript copy of the Itinerarius: he refers to the location of Saint Thomas’s shrine at “Ulua,” a variant found only in E which was in the University of Giessen library by 1771. He reproduces the title pages of printed editions d, i, and k and he refers to manuscript D and edition h whose erroneous departure date (1489) he corrects. He also points out other inconsistencies in the bibliographical record. Beckmann’s own small mistakes in reproducing roman numerals (2:392, n. 4) are carried over into J. G. T. Graesse’s classic Trésor de Livres Rares et Précieux, 7 vols. in 8 (Dresden, 1859-69), 3:262, where he is silently copied.

 [47 ] Beckmann’s text (with what are now unusual spellings) reads: “Außer dem ehrwürdigen Alterthum, weis ich nichts, was dieser kleinen Reisebeschreibung einen Werth geben könte. Alles ist kurz; überal nur einzelne Brocken. Die berührten Oerter sind sehr unverständlich angezeigt worden. Vieles besteht aus den alten Fabeln der sogenanten heiligen Oerter” (2:395). Beckmann observes that the content of the Itinerarius and the texts printed with it will cause some readers to think they have a copy of A Thousand and One Nights in front of them (2:399), an idea repeated by subsequent scholars (see n. 50 below).

 [48 ] Witte’s exemplification of “typical medieval credulity” became standard fare in encyclopedias during the early 1800s. The 52-volume Biographie Universelle (Paris, 1811-28) pronounced that “Cette relation respire le goût du merveilleux et la crédulité du temps” (13:307 [s.v. “Esius”], published in 1815; the entry is by “Marron”). An anonymous contributor to the Belgian Biographie Universelle (Brussels, 1843-47), 9:306, precisely identified “Jean de Hese” as a “prêtre du diocèse d’Utrecht,” but after summarizing the content of the Itinerarius concluded that the book’s rarity was its sole virtue (“La rareté de ce livre fait son seul mérite”).

 [49 ] Saint-Génois, Les Voyageus [sic] Belges, 2 vols. (Brussels, 1846-47?), 1:36-37; the Itinerarius is “un recueil de récits naïfs, de légendes merveilleuses, de contes populaires et de poétiques mensonges, qui prouvent combien les clercs mêmes étaient encore crédules à la fin du XVe siècle” (p. 36).

 [50 ] 6th ed., 10 vols. (Brussels, 1835-36), 5:425-37; the reference to the Itinerarius appears in a lengthy note in an appendix to a discussion of relations between the duke of Burgundy and the emperor at Constantinople in 1443. Like Beckmann, the Baron de Reiffenberg (p. 432), Saint-Génois (1:36), and Philippus Christianus Molhuysen (see n. 53 below) compare the Itinerarius to A Thousand and One Nights.

 [51 ] Biographie Nationale de Belgique, 28 vols. (Brussels, 1866-1944), 9: cols. 314-17; this volume was published in 1886-87. Nève writes, “Les merveilles qu’il déclare avoir vues sont si extraordinaires, les fables qu’il raconte sont tellement absurdes, qu’on ne peut les mettre toutes sur le compte de son extrême naïveté.” Of the flying fish he states, “on comprend que son imagination l’ait emporté à embellir un peu son sujet,” but then he adds, “Ce n’est encore qu’un voyageur excessivement crédule, lorsqu’il énumère les merveilles du palais du Prêtre-Jean.” Finally he asks: “C’est à se demander si tout le livre n’est pas, d’un bout à l’autre, une fable et si l’auteur, pour le composer, a dû sortir de chez lui” (cols. 315, 316, 316-17).
Nève’s analysis echoes the entry by A. de Lacaze in the Nouvelle Biographie Générale, 46 vols. (Paris, 1855-66). He reported that “Jean de Hese” arrived [sic] at Jerusalem in 1489, and that he made a pilgrimage throughout the Holy Land (“il arriva à Jérusalem en mai 1489, et visita la plus grande partie de la Palestine”), information that does not indicate a close reading of the book. De Lacaze went on to quote Andreas on “credulousness” (see n. 43 above), then surmised that the Itinerarius is so characterized by marvels and confusions in distance and location that “one may doubt whether the narrator actually left his own parish” (“La relation du voyage de Hese . . . présente un tel caractère de merveilleux et de crédulité, une telle confusion des distances et des localités, que l’on peut douter si le narrateur a réellement quitté son presbytère” [21: cols. 557-58]).

 [52 ] Recent studies pay no attention to the book, however. Frits Pieter van Oostrom, who focuses on the literary taste of the Dutch aristocracy (the original audience of the Itinerarius appears to have been monastic) never mentions the book, although he observes that two copies of Marino Sanudo’s pilgrimage narrative (lavishly decorated) were owned by the House of Holland-Hainaut (van Oostrom, Court and Culture, pp. 26-28). The Itinerarius is also ignored in Erik Kooper’s collection of essays, which has no place for pilgrimage accounts or wonder books, although one contributor focuses on the legend of Saint Brendan, from which Witte draws material for the last quarter of his book (Medieval Dutch Literature in Its European Context, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 21 [Cambridge, Eng., 1994], esp. Clara Strijbosch, “The Middle Dutch ‘Voyage of St. Brendan’,” pp. 191-207). Josephie Brefeld’s reference to the Itinerarius—“Johannes did travel through Palestine, but Holy Places were not visited, let alone described”—suggests that she did not read it (A Guidebook for the Jerusalem Pilgrimage in the Late Middle Ages, p. 36). See also Wasser, “Die Peregrinatie van Iherusalem.”

 [53 ] Molhuysen, “Eene Wereldkaart uit de Middeneeuwen,” 29-36. Molhuysen, who pays almost no attention to the mappamundi of his article’s title, does little more than summarize the Itinerarius (pp. 31-34). He appears to have read “dit zeldzame en zonderlinge boek,” with its “ongelooflijke dingen,” in edition f, printed at Deventer [pp. 30-31, n. 1]); on Sindbad and his claim that no one had previously described “de regering en de merkwaardigheden van het rijk van Paap Jan zoo fraai en vermakelijk” see p. 34.

 [54 ] Van der Aa, Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden, 7 vols. (Haarlem, 1852), 3:218.

 [55 ] Te Winkel, Geschiedenis, 1:569-72:

Dat hij de vele wonderbaarlijkheden, waarvan hij gewag maakt, noch zelf uitgedacht heeft, noch zelf voor onwaarschijnlijk behoefde te houden, mag men gerust aannemen, daar men dezelfde dingen ook door andere schrijvers zóó of een weinig anders ter goeder trouw verhaald vindt. Trouwens Indië was in de middeleeuwen het wonderland (pp. 570-71).

Te Winkel, who knew of manuscripts B and D, as well as five printed editions, had researched his subject diligently enough to report that “Johannes de Hese” was a priest in the diocese of Utrecht whose family name was “Witte”; he believed this name to have been corrupted to “Voet” in the Middle Dutch translation (p. 570, n. 2).

 [56 ] Jonckbloet, Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Letterkunde, 4th ed., 6 vols. (Groningen, 1888?-92), 2:404-5. Jonckbloet writes: “Hoewel dit verhaal, dat eigenlijk meer een reiswijzer is, veel beknopter uitviel dan dat van Mandeville, geeft Hesius dezen niets toe in het opsnijden van wonderen.” To be fair to Mandeville, Jonckbloet should be criticized (as should many others) for allowing one chapter in the Book—the infamous catalog of “monstrous races”—to characterize the entire narrative. To Mathias de Vries, who called the Itinerarius simple but entertaining, Jonckbloet replies that he found the work simple enough but far less enjoyable to read than its early publishers must have (“eenvoudig en helder is de taal zeker, maar de afgebroken stijl van den vertaler maakt, mijns inziens, de lezing niet zoo onderhoudend als den eersten uitgever voorkwam” [p. 405]). In Geschiedenis van de Ouden Middelnederlandsche Letterkunde (Antwerp, 1928), Jonaz van Mierlo also points out similarities between Witte and Mandeville (pp. 284-85).



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3

The Textual Tradition of the Itinerarius *

1. The Threatened Text

In addition to occupying a key position in the history of Western travel literature, Witte’s Itinerarius underwent a complicated textual development and dissemination, which deserves attention for the light it sheds on what could happen to a book written in northern Europe around 1400. The Latin text is found in eight recovered manuscripts, of which the oldest, A (probably copied in 1424), is closest in content to the original and serves as the basis for the critical edition printed here.1 Seven incunable editions and four other early publications of the Latin text appeared between ca. 1490 and 1565, found today in at least ninety-five exemplars; three of the recovered manuscripts are, in fact, copies of one of these printed books. By the second half of the fifteenth century, the Itinerarius also was circulating in Middle Dutch, as records of three exemplars of a single translation testify. Comparison of all these versions of the book indicates that at least five additional manuscripts—three in Latin and two in Dutch—are unrecovered at present (see Figure 2 for a hypothetical stemma). Witte’s Itinerarius, in other words, reached a modest audience during the 1400s and early 1500s.2


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Figure 2. A stemma for Latin manuscripts and printed editions and for Middle Dutch manuscripts of the Itinerarius

Figure 2. A stemma for Latin manuscripts and printed editions and for Middle Dutch manuscripts of the Itinerarius.


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What readers and auditors confronted was by no means a stable text—not that any work produced during the Middle Ages was verbally “fixed”—and the history of the transmission of the Itinerarius brings other intriguing contours to a study of the work. In her survey of the records left by twenty-three men who claim to have journeyed within Asia between 1238 and 1360, Michèle Guéret-Laferté maintains that “the purity and integrity of the [travel book] text are continually threatened” by a series of factors, including scribal errors, editorial decisions, and the formation of manuscript codices, in which the way one work is read may be partly determined by the material that accompanies it.3

The Itinerarius is an excellent example of the threatened text. First, the original Latin version was distinctly and successively revised three times, effecting marked changes in narrative voice and style. Substantive changes are not frequent, but they include interpolated assurances by the “narrator” that his account is reliable, as well as shifts of verb forms to the subjunctive mood that enable scribes or printers to distance themselves somewhat from certain textual claims. At least one major revision was made while the work was still in manuscript form; its first two printers probably were responsible for the third and fourth stages of the text. Second, scribes worked with the fifteenth-century Middle Dutch translation in a different way, producing orthographically and syntactically dissimilar versions of the vernacular, in part to accommodate their own dialectal preferences. The translator evidently was more relaxed about additions—and scribes about omissions—than were copyists and printers of the Latin text. Third, a direct line of descent can be traced from the first to the eleventh printed edition, and no publisher either credited his source or disguised his appropriation of it. Some evidence indicates competition or collaboration in getting the text into circulation. Fourth, although the content and style of the Itinerarius may not impress many modern readers, its early audiences appear to have taken it seriously, given the frequency with which it was joined, before the mid-sixteenth century, to theological works, chronicles,
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and geographies in manuscript codices and bound collections of printed books. Finally, as the printing press introduced many texts with a regional appeal to larger audiences, the Itinerarius, which initially circulated in Germanic-speaking areas (almost exclusively in the Rhineland), began to appear throughout Europe. Editions were published in Antwerp (between 1497 and 1499) and Paris (ca. 1507), and Renaissance humanists and scientists from the Low Countries to Switzerland to Spain cite the book, though not always approvingly.4

This chapter’s delineation of the textual transmission of the Itinerarius demonstrates that, of all the recovered copies of the book, manuscript A is lexically closest to the unrecovered autograph version. Variants in other manuscripts and printed editions—omissions, interpolations, changes in substance and style—place them successively farther away from the original. Yet A does not represent what is often called a “best text”: a composition teacher in fact might rank it the worst. Moreover, it is not a “best text” in the more traditional sense that it preserves an author’s—and therefore an authoritative—intended set of words. As Ralph Hanna III trenchantly has argued, the belief in and quest for a “best text” may lead to either “mystified nostalgia” or “overly sophisticated [editing] habits.” Thus, A is not the basis for the edition printed here either to provide modern readers with “at least as good a text as any medieval reader had” or to facilitate “the creation of a non-medieval text corrected on the basis of [compared readings in] all manuscripts”—two separate, if not always conscious, aims of modern editors who strive to reestablish a work’s “original audience.”5

The textual history of the Itinerarius turns some editorial assumptions on their head, since more difficult or more trenchant readings, usually considered to be a writer’s “intended”—and therefore “truer”—expressions, are in the case of this book often signals of emendation. The conventional treatment of variants as constituting “a vocabulary of degeneration” does not apply to the Itinerarius, a work in which at times “the scribe [or printer] seems to have participated on a footing nearly equal to that of the author,” if not, in terms of Latin competence, actually superior to him.6 Witte is
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seldom responsible for the lectio difficilior or durior in any sense, and what in another case might be called textual corruption is here frequently literary improvement. Moreover, if the Itinerarius exerted an “influence” over an audience—by conveying knowledge, however flawed, or stimulating readers to undertake their own journeys—it no doubt did so with greater success in its later, stylistically more sophisticated stage as a printed book (the five early manuscripts were originally most likely in monastic libraries). Manuscript A is the basis for this edition because of all the recovered copies of the Itinerarius, it represents the earliest state of a text that underwent considerable change, and that change is best described and measured by presenting it in discrete variants.7

As the number and substance of these variants testifies, Witte’s original narrative was “threatened,” as Guéret-Laferté would say, most directly by the impulse of its transmitters to improve it. Manuscripts A and B (ca. 1460) present similar versions of the Itinerarius, in repetitious and prolix Latin that seldom rises above the sophomoric (an exception is lines 26-30). Since other texts—they happen also to be later—record the narrative in increasingly more stylish language, AB must represent most closely its autograph version. Manuscript C (ca. 1470) contains several readings that otherwise are found only in A, and it preserves much of the redundancy of the original. Many of its variants, however—changes in vocabulary, interpolated truth claims, and incoherent readings—threaten the narrative not just by garbling it but also by intruding on it in several passages that affect Witte’s voice. The nearly contemporaneous manuscripts D (1473) and E (ca. 1480) are independent copies of an unrecovered manuscript (or two very similar ones) that had brought the Itinerarius to a second stage of development by revising the beginnings of some independent clauses to reduce tedious polysyndeton, by placing much of the narrative in the third person, and by reordering one extended sequence of events for better dramatic effect. The first printed edition of the work (a), published by Johann Guldenschaff at Cologne around 1490, shares these features, adding to them a thorough revision of vocabulary and syntax that fundamentally alters the text for a second time. Manuscripts F and G are copies of printed edition a, which Curt Bühler points out was common practice; their accurate renderings of Guldenschaff’s published book reveals an exactitude
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that no other scribe, except perhaps for Johannes of Purmerend in A, shows for a manuscript copy text.8

Cornelius of Zyrickzee’s first printed edition (b), also produced at Cologne (ca. 1497), is an elegant revision of a that returns the entire narrative to the first person and continues Guldenschaff’s skilful editorial work, although it is marred by dozens of typographical errors. The Itinerarius here reaches its fourth and final stage of development: the nine subsequent printed editions (c through k) follow a clear linear descent even as they appear on presses away from Cologne—at Antwerp, Deventer, and Paris. An eighth recovered manuscript (H [ca. 1500]) is a careful copy of e (which itself almost exactly reproduces Zyrickzee’s second edition [c]). Three publications, g (1499), h (1504), and j (ca. 1507), erroneously—and at first, it seems, intentionally—give the date of Witte’s departure from Jerusalem as 1489. Edition k (1565) omits the year entirely and introduces many semantic and syntactical emendations. The text of this last premodern publication of the Itinerarius, at the far end of the series of revisions, at times departs so radically in vocabulary and style from that of A as to seem a completely different narrative.

2. The Autograph Text, Manuscript , and Unrecovered Manuscripts A

The autograph copy of the Itinerarius presented Johannes Witte de Hese as an unusually experienced traveler but an unremarkable writer. His Latin is capable of getting him from Jerusalem to Paradise and back, but it does so by means of almost chronic repetition, a limited vocabulary, dangling gerundives, infrequent use of subordinate clauses, and unimaginative transitions (many beginning “Et ulterius” or “Item”). These stylistic characteristics, found in ABC and the Middle Dutch translation, appear less and less often in the series of texts running DEa[FG]bc[e{H}]df[i]gh[jk] (bracketed sigla are copies of their immediate predecessor in this list), which successively introduce more sophisticated syntactical and grammatical forms. Thus, the quality of any one text’s Latin is a measure of its relative distance from the original. In the manuscripts that preserve the Itinerarius in its earliest state, omission, interpolation, and garbled readings are also important markers, proving that B and C are less accurate versions of the autograph text than is A, which thus serves as the basis for the critical edition presented here. At the same time, variants in BC bring to each manuscript intriguing—rather than “inferior” or “corrupt”—readings that
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warrant attention for what they reveal about the production and dissemination of a medieval text. This attention deservedly extends to all the manuscripts and early printings that preserve versions of the Itinerarius.

Of all the recovered texts of the Itinerarius, manuscript A in the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota, both records the narrative in its most original state and presents it in what students of medieval travel and geography likely will find to be its most interesting context. The manuscript is a remarkable anthology of works, almost all of which treat the matter of Asia, especially pilgrims’ and crusaders’ activities in the Holy Land. These include Theoderic’s Libellus de locis sanctis (1169-74), Hayton of Armenia’s Flos historiarum terre orientis (dictated in French in 1307 to Nicholas Falcon, who that same year prepared this Latin translation), Jacopo of Verona’s Liber peregrinationis (ca. 1335/1340), William of Boldensele’s Liber de quibusdam ultramarinis partibus (1336), and two copies of The Book of John Mandeville in Latin (composed in French, ca. 1360; these preserve the “Vulgate” version, which appeared after 1396). One copy of the Book and Jacopo’s Liber, each signed and dated 1424 by Johannes of Purmerend, precede Witte’s Itinerarius, which is written in Johannes’s neat, distinctive hand but lacks a colophon.9 The manuscript was in the monastery of Saint Heribert at Deutz, across the Rhine from Cologne, by the mid-1400s. A copy of the Itinerarius thus can be located in the Rhineland a generation or so after the purported journey it describes, in a state close to that of the original and in the context of other travel books.

Johannes of Purmerend appears to have been a careful scribe, despite one scholar’s tepid assessment of his abilities.10 He made few certain errors, neatly correcting those he noticed. In this critical edition I have felt obligated to make only seven emendations: four to correct obvious orthographical mistakes, one to improve grammar, and two to add a word that is crucial
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to the meaning of a sentence.11 All the other Latin texts differ from A on ten additional occasions. Some of these seem to offer “better” readings in terms of clarity and sense, but a central argument of this chapter is that clearer or more sensible constructions often indicate textual revision in the Itinerarius. Moreover, since my aim is not to present confidently a reconstructed “original,” I have not emended A. The ten instances are quite minimal: 1) in a reference to “good [animals]” A omits animalia (it is present in the previous sentence and thus may be understood in this one, a style followed in reverse by printed editions b-k [lemma 165]); 2) A omits nos in a sentence in which the word is not crucial but would be in keeping with four other first-person plural pronouns or verbs in a fairly brief paragraph; 3) A omits tantum in a sentence to which the word brings nice, but not necessary, balance; 4) A refers to a statue being fashioned at “a certain” (quamdam) rather than at “any old” (quamlibet) column, neither reading being demonstrably more sensible and either likely to have been caused by a mistaken reading of an abbreviation; 5) A notes that lamps burn in Prester John’s palace “at night” (de nocte) instead of “by day, as well as night” (die ac nocte), either of which could be original; 6) A locates Saint Thomas’s reliquary “in front of” (ante) and not “at” (ad) a particular tower, neither of which is necessarily more precise; 7) A fails to number the lamps that burn at this same site (all other Latin texts stipulate that there are twelve, but nothing requires enumeration); 8) A claims that the distance from Eden to Purgatory is a sailing distance of thirty-four days (the numeral is arabic), and not twenty-four, the latter being more in keeping with the metaphorical numbers (three, four, seven, twelve, twenty-four) used elsewhere; 9) A refers to “wild, hairy people” and various “other” animals, the latter word being omitted in the other texts, which thus maintain a distinctly human category for the wildman; and 10) A employs the subjunctive voice to place two-faced people in Amosona, which links them to Gog and Magog as people “said” to inhabit the region.12


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Since the readings in A are plausible and at least one is found in the Middle Dutch translation, variants common to BCDEa-k cannot definitively be regarded as original to the Itinerarius: they may accurately preserve readings in the autograph copy or they may all record variants that entered the text in an unrecovered manuscript—one that is farther removed from the autograph than A—from which they all descend. How many unrecovered manuscripts there may be is impossible to ascertain: DEa certainly share (ultimately) a common ancestor, but other clusters of texts emerge from the variant readings that cannot all be explained by hypothesizing lost manuscripts.13

3. Manuscript B

The version of Witte’s Itinerarius preserved in B is close to that of A, but its variants and its scribe’s occasional sloppiness place it at a farther remove from the original and rule it out as the (sole) source for any other known text in Latin or Middle Dutch.14 Its similarities to A are not only textual: B probably was copied (ca. 1460) in the Rhineland, perhaps at Cologne, and it combines the Itinerarius with two thematically related works, The Letter of Prester John and a brief treatise on territories held by the Sultan of Egypt, written during the pontificate of John XXII (1316-34).15

Differences between A and B are relatively minor. Indeed, the two manuscripts share key pieces of information missing elsewhere, including the full name of the author (although B lacks the emphatic autobiographical ego of the first sentence) and a date that authenticates Witte’s presence at
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the church of Saint Thomas (although they disagree on the year).16 Several substantive omissions in B are the most obvious proof of its textual isolation.17 Additions to the narrative are relatively few, are limited to one or two words, and generally supply a preposition or information that clarifies a reading in A: stipulating that the women of Terra Feminarum join the men of Edissa “three times per year” or that the inhabitants of the native land of the magi fight “serpents and other poisonous animals” slightly improve sense but for this very reason seem markers of scribal emendation.18

Differences in vocabulary generally lead either to synonymous readings of equal sense (lucidum for nitidum) or to less apt ones (the children of Israel “come together” (convenerunt) rather than “rest” (quieverunt) at Elim, the Cyclopes have “eyes” rather than one dreadful oculum, and a numerable “twelve” evil spirits flee the bell of Saint Thomas).19 Grammatical
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variants largely are restricted to verb forms, but they show no pattern of change, such as a preference for the subjunctive over the indicative mood: some may arise because the scribe has misunderstood abbreviatory marks in the copy text.20 The syntax of A is virtually unchanged in B which has only six instances of word transposition.21 Non-substantive omissions unique to B although rather numerous, are by and large trivial.22 One missing word is consequential, however: the absence of non in a passage about Grandicanis (the great khan) places him at home, rather than away, when Witte and his companions are imprisoned after arriving in his kingdom.23

The more principled revisions—semantic and syntactical—found in other Latin texts (discussed below) do not characterize B. The beginnings of only eight independent clauses are reworded, four times excising the word item.24 One usage of unum as an indefinite article is deleted.25 The B-scribe lacked Johannes of Purmerend’s scribal skills—misspellings, careless use of abbreviatory marks, and corrections written over mistakes occur throughout B—but attempts to make the narrative more accessible include a rubric found in no other text drawing attention to the description of Mt. Sinai. Large initials in the last third of the narrative identify paragraph units.26


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4. Manuscript C

Lambertus Brocker, probably a lector at the Dominican monastery at Soest in Westphalia, copied the mostly theological and historical texts that make up C around 1470 (brief additions came later). The codex as a whole has an unruly quality. Excerpts from four works by Jacobus of Jüterbog, for example, are jumbled together on fols. 26ra-99vb, with two separate chapters from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History included at fols. 81rb-82vb. Parts of the manuscript have the character of a commonplace book. The Itinerarius appears, disjointed, approximately halfway through a series of generally brief passages from Gobelinus Person’s Cosmidromius (fols. 177ra-214va): it begins on fol. 198ra and continues to the end of fol. 200vb (near the end of the description of the pilgrimage to Saint Thomas), at which point readers are told to “go back six folia” to the place (following the third line of fol. 194vb) where a special symbol designates the text’s continuation. At the foot of this column another notation indicates that that “more on this subject” can be found following another symbol in the “second column to follow”; it appears at the top of fol. 195rb, at the bottom of which a third instruction (“turn the page and where you will find this sign—char-like—there read [and so forth]”) sends readers to the middle of fol. 196ra for the remainder of the work, which concludes, without a formal explicit, eight lines from the end of the next column.27 Approaching the text sequentially, then, readers of manuscript C learn first about the beacons that shine atop the church of Saint Thomas and Witte’s experience at the “Root of Paradise,” then, on the next folio, about the voyage from Eden to Jasconius; they move on, three columns later, to the murky landfalls that precede the voyage’s conclusion at Jerusalem, and must skip three full pages before reaching the first line of the account, which begins without any rubric identifying “Anno domini Mo ccco 89” as the incipit of a new text.

The version of the Itinerarius found in C shares some of the idiosyncratic, cobbled-together quality of Brocker’s presentation of it. The first sentence, for example, departs six times from that in A, and these variants characterize the ways in which the narrative in C differs from that in the earlier manuscript. Out of sequence, but in order of significance, the variants, each unique to C, are as follows: 1) the addition of the phrase veni et cetera (“I came, and so forth”) after Witte’s arrival in Egypt, one of several interpolations apparently intended to underscore the truthfulness of the account (its very spuriousness suggested by the perfunctory et cetera); 2) the omission of the phrase et per Jordanem (“and along the Jordan”) from Witte’s description of his route to Egypt, which is both an informational
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and a geographical loss; 3) the omission of fui (“I was”), which leaves the text without a crucial word and prompts a kind of dissonance that is not resolved satisfactorily by the addition of veni, noted above; 4) the replacement of vocatam (“called”) with the nearly synonymous nominatam (“named”); 5) the syntactical revision from de Hese presbyter Traiectensis dyocesis to presbiter de hese dyocesis traiectensis, which may simply be a transposition within a cluster of words or may significantly alter the content of Witte’s self-identification (this is discussed below); and 6) the addition of the words ihesu christo (“Jesus Christ”) after Domino nostro (“our Lord”), which contributes little except an air of piety and arguably some redundancy to the account.28 The three latter variants are instances of an apparent scribal tendency to make changes for their own sake without clear or consistent editorial policy, such as can be discerned in DEa-k. Many changes in vocabulary are not so trivial as that in the fourth variant discussed above, considerably confusing or distorting the text as we know it from all other recovered versions.29

The several additions to the Itinerarius found in C, particularly those in which Witte speaks in the first person, are more significant than the manuscript’s hundreds of other variants. Found nowhere else, they are one indication of C’s relative isolation, and they aid in constructing a textual stemma. More consequentially, they constitute attempts to ensure that the Itinerarius be read as the true record of an individual’s exotic experience. As such these interpolated truth claims deserve special attention since they may mark moments in the text that prompted a scribe to want to reassert Witte’s reliability. (They also should caution readers against assuming that first-person claims in other travel books are necessarily authorial.) To be sure, in some instances (such as the insertion of veni [lemma 14]), the added claim is unemphatic, amounting to the simple introduction of a first-person verb or an apparently minor grammatical variation.30 On three occasions, however, the interpolation in C is a deliberate endorsement of Witte as trustworthy witness. His description of Prester John’s gargantuan and
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wonder-filled palace concludes with a sentence in which he insists that “everything written above I expressly saw myself, and [so did] that party of nobles we were in league with on the pilgrimage to St. Thomas”; he elaborates on the sensory delight he experienced at the “Root of Paradise”; and he testifies that he learned the truth about the island-whale Jasconius from “those who have information about this matter.”31 It is difficult to imagine that the architectural, natural, and zoological spectacles preceding these interpolations did not encourage a scribe to insert a claim of truth where the ring was less audible. Other additions more subtly use Witte’s voice to impart information that is found in no other Latin or Middle Dutch version: Prester John is the best of all Christians, part of his palace is a marvelous architectural model of the heavens, and Gog and Magog “were and are” imprisoned in Amosona.32

As is the case with interpolations, omissions in C demonstrate that this version of the Itinerarius varies considerably from the other known texts. Several of these entail the loss of more than just a few words or a phrase: C lacks two sentences about the field of “helim” [Elim], most of the sentence describing the twenty-cubit plummet at the exit of a dangerous marine passageway near the Indian pepper fields, Witte’s admission of bafflement over the working of a marvelous clock in Prester John’s palace, his note that the palace contains many wonders that he has not recorded, the entire description of the individual rivers of Paradise, two sentences on the fecundity of animals and the limit of inhabited territory in India, a sentence on the liturgical role played by archbishops at the feast of Saint Thomas, and the assertion that night never falls at the “Root of Paradise.”33 Some apparently minor omissions nevertheless alter the narrative: C leaves out Witte’s observations that lepers are healed in the balsam garden in Egypt, that pygmies are small, that evil spirits flee the sound of the marvelous bell
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commissioned by Saint Thomas, that the altar in Prester John’s chapel is made of ivory, that apostles figure in a complicated sculptural program, and that the two archbishops who hold the hand of Saint Thomas do not govern its movements (in this version, they do).34 Several dozen other lapses in C affect the meaning of the Itinerarius less consequentially; many of them appear to reflect scribal attempts to purge the text of what late fifteenth-century scholars were calling the barbarisms of medieval Latin.35 Deletions include several usages of unus/una/unum employed as an indefinite article,36 multiple verbs or nouns in instances where one might serve,37 and pleonastic or other arguably verbose constructions.38

The omission of fui in the first sentence is only the first example of a missing word that leaves C with puzzling or even nonsensical readings. The cannibals along the Ethiopian coast have their single eye “in the middle of [a?] carbuncle” rather than “in the middle of their forehead, shining like a carbuncle”; the great khan reigns under an emperor whose name is not supplied; and the huge sheep and goats of a remote island “are as large as”—but the comparison stops there.39

Changes in the vocabulary or syntax of the Itinerarius—not additions or omissions but rewordings—make the text of C unique in another way.
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Many of these alterations seem innocuous—the reading nominatam for vocatam, noted above, for example—and amount to little more than the substitution of a synonym40 or a minor change in grammar, such as an alternative noun/verb form or a preposition.41 In a fair number of cases, the narrative’s style profits from the introduction of a more exact word, although occasionally the effect is pedantic: according to C the body of Saint Catherine once emitted oil in great “quantity” (quantitate) not “abundance” or “fulness” (copia), the first level of Prester John’s palace is illuminated at night by “little torches” (faculis) rather than “lanterns” (lanternis), that a multitude feasts every day in the palace refectory is “written” (scriptum) instead of “indicated” (signatum) outside the building, during the morning Prester John “processes” (incedit) rather than “goes around” (transit) like a pope, the women of the Land of Females do not “send” (mittunt) but “direct” (dirigunt) little boys to their fathers, and Witte and his colleagues “took a walk” (ambulavimus) on a paradisal island that according to other texts they “passed through” (transivimus).42 On occasion, the revision improves the sense as well, such as when Prester John’s afternoon apparel is described as that of an “emperor” rather than a mere “king” or when the narrator seeks to establish the “cause” and not the “reason” of a marvel.43


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More frequently, however, C distinctly alters—sometimes completely distorts—the text as it appears elsewhere: Moses is himself a “lord” rather the builder of an altar to “the Lord,” a “diverse” and not the “Divine” office is held daily before Prester John, food placed on the emperor’s dining table remains fresh for a full month and not just a day, the Mass of the Blessed Virgin is said “before” rather than “after” sunrise, and a black monk does not question Witte and his companions about Saint Thomas but, like a professor, “examine[s]” them “on a variety of matters.”44 In all its versions the Itinerarius reveals considerable authorial naïvete in matters of geography, but the situation is aggravated in C, where place-names and terminology are at times corrupt, uncertain, or illegible.45 Similarly, several quantitative variants are found only here, and there is some evidence of scribal difficulty reading either roman or arabic numerals.46 On a few occasions, changes may be owing to some difficulty reading a copy text.47

Finally, two other readings in the first sentence of the Itinerarius that are found uniquely in C suggest that many variants in this manuscript result from a scribal decision to effect change for its own sake. First, the syntactical revision recorded in lemma 6 is only one of many rearrangements of words, most of which leave the meaning of the text unchanged and its style
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unimproved.48 Changes at the beginnings of independent clauses are infrequent—this characteristic of the printed editions is not evident in C—and they are often alterations in word order and/or minor omissions (usually of et or item).49 Second, the occasional addition of a pious adjective or name in a reference to a holy person further exemplifies the degree to which the text of the Itinerarius presented in C had undergone scribal tinkering.50

People who read or heard Lambertus Brocker’s copy of the Itinerarius encountered a text that preserved key features of the book as we know it from its earlier Latin versions (AB) and the Middle Dutch translation: the first-person narrator and his full name, a date for the visit to Hulna, and sentence order in the description of the feast of Saint Thomas. At the same time, the many differences in C—from interpolations attesting to the narrator’s truthfulness to pervasive, sometimes distorting revisions in vocabulary and syntax—reveal that its audiences would have formed an impression of Witte’s account they could not have obtained from any other recovered manuscript or printed copy.

5. Manuscripts and and the Early Printed Editions D E

Manuscripts D and E record versions of the Itinerarius that vary from A in many fewer instances than does C; their changes appear much more deliberate than do most in B. Nevertheless, these extremely similar texts—possibly copies of the same unrecovered exemplar—alter the original narrative in ways so significant that it is accurate to speak of DE as representing the first major revision of the Itinerarius. Their most significant change is the near removal of Witte from the account: his surname is omitted (all
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subsequent Latin texts refer to “Johannes de Hese”), but this is a minor matter compared to the recasting of most of the account in the third person. A second major alteration reorganizes the passage describing the celebration of the feast of Saint Thomas (lines 330-46), in which an editor has brought greater dramatic force to a somewhat jumbled scene in the original. Both changes are carried over into the book’s first printed edition, a, although neither D nor E was Johann Guldenschaff’s copy text.

DE, while they preserve similar versions of the Itinerarius, differ considerably as manuscript codices. The former is a miscellany of works, written by at least twelve scribes, on German history, ecclesiastical administration, the volatile political situation in the eastern Mediterranean in the mid-1400s, Asian geography, astronomy, and miracles of the Virgin Mary. By 1473 the manuscript was in the Benedictine monastery at Tegernsee, near Munich, a major center of book production in fifteenth-century Europe (it was most likely produced here). In the library’s catalog, completed in 1484, the Itinerarius appears under the title Narraciones . . . de transmarinis partibus by “Iohannis Hess presbiteri.” It is one of eight texts in the manuscript copied by a prolific scribe, Oswald Nott of Tittmannig, whose other contributions in D include a letter describing the destruction of Constantinople in 1453, Marco Polo’s description of Asia (given a title nearly identical to Witte’s narrative), and a treatise on a comet that appeared in 1472. Nott’s work is careful: he makes a deliberate effort to correct mistakes, several times entering a preferred reading in an adjacent margin. His single marginal gloss suggests a particular interest in Witte’s description of Prester John’s palace.51

The works collected in manuscript E treat mostly theological subjects—from a commentary on Raymond of Pennaforte’s Summa de casibus to a manual for priests printed at Mainz in 1476—although the last third of the 200-folia codex consists of more dramatic fare in the Gesta Romanorum moralisata followed by Witte’s Itinerarius, copied by the same scribe, who produced two other texts in E, probably around 1480. The manuscript was once at the monastery of Saint Mark at Butzbach, near Giessen, a Benedictine foundation run by the Brethren of the Common Life after 1483. Although E predates their arrival, the carefully formed words and approachable format of the Itinerarius text exemplifies the kind of book the Brethren produced.52


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As noted above, in making most of the Itinerarius a third-person rather than a first-person narrative, DE change the text significantly. This revision also characterizes edition a, constituting one piece of firm evidence that the person who set the print worked from a text close to DE. The move does not entail many variants—only eighteen verbs and two pronouns are affected—nor is it consistent, since the first person is retained for the captivity scene and frightening tunnel voyage (lines 120-35), and the final one-fifth of the book, recounting the return from India to Jerusalem (lines 367-442). This latter change in narration prompted Oswald Nott to add in D: “Next item: the honorable Johannes de Hese says these [following] words in his own person, namely. . . . ”53

The printed editions also follow DE in restructuring Witte’s dramatic account of the distribution of the eucharist at the church of Saint Thomas. The original version of the story is doubtless the one found in ABC, which relate information in this order:

  • 1)  The hand of the apostle Thomas is half closed and partly raised.
  • 2)  Christians receive the sacrament from the hand, which opens up to the worthy and withdraws from sinners.
  • 3)  Everyone approaches the sacrament with devotion and fear.
  • 4)  Witte himself saw the hand deny the sacrament to three men, who did penance and ultimately received the host.
  • 5)  Two archbishops hold Thomas’s hand but do not control it.
  • 6)  Thomas looks just as he did when alive.
  • 7)  Two other archbishops hold the patens beneath Thomas’s hand.
  • 8)  Two more archbishops hold a priceless napkin.

DE adopt a more logical sequence of events by beginning with a general statement about the apostle’s hand and its miraculous ability to assess each communicant’s state of grace (2), then describing the congregation’s move to the altar (3), the position of the hand (1) and the appearance of the body as well as the roles played by various prelates (5-8), before completing the vignette with Witte’s personal witness of the hand’s omniscience (4), which is rendered more effective by its placement at the end of the story rather than its middle. In edition a Guldenschaff revised the second sentence and omitted the third but otherwise retained the order in DE.54


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Many minor variants further demonstrate the textual similarity between DE and the printed editions. Some common omissions, such as usages of unum as an indefinite article or blatant redundancies, may result from editorial decisions made independently by an alert scribe and a printer.55 Other deletions in DEa-k—such as the specific mention (in ABC) of Christian “pilgrims” being buried at Andranopolis or the exact date of Witte’s visit to Hulna—suggest that these texts are related.56 Further evidence is found in interpolations underscoring the fact that “the aforementioned priest Johannes [de Hese]” sampled flying fish from the Red Sea and visited the church of Saint Thomas,57 and in several minor additions.58 Some changes in vocabulary probably reflect a scribe’s decision (recorded in the common source text for DEa) to replace one word with a synonym, but others constitute quite different readings, such as Witte’s saying masses for the dead “in the sea” (in mari) rather than “in the boat” (in navi) off the shore of Purgatory, or the stipulation that the Indian patriarch gives the sacrament to the apostle Thomas and not to himself.59 Revisions in phrasing and syntax are relatively uncommon.60

Despite these many similarities, however, neither D nor E was Guldenschaff’s copy text when he prepared a for publication, as readings found exclusively in these two manuscripts prove. Their common omissions include a sentence stating that the authorities of Andranopolis convene in the town lighthouse and a phrase explaining how Witte escaped being becalmed in a gloomy gulf. Others involve less substantial but meaningful losses of text.61 Their shared additions alter the narrative very little (except for the
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stipulation that only “three” devout men live in the monastery at Andranopolis); indeed, some may be said to contribute to the account’s verbosity.62 DE both record some thirty unique readings in vocabulary and grammar, although few of these alter the narrative considerably.63 They also begin the anecdote about the water-purifying unicorn by establishing sentence boundaries that obscure the sense of the original.64 DE largely preserve the syntax of A: simple transpositions and changes of word order (occasionally with revised vocabulary) are relatively rare.65 Three geographical variants common to DE further prove that they are closely related copies of a common source: the place-names badde for gadde, ulna or ulua for hulna, and goch et magoch for gog and magog.66

Despite these similarities D and E each exhibits unique readings that rule out either one as the copy text for the other or for edition a. These are fewer and less significant in D than in E.67 Of twelve omissions in D, a couple seem intended to make the text less prolix, but several generate confusion and are probably Oswald Nott’s mistakes.68 Four minor additions
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to the text are unnecessary.69 Several changes in vocabulary are recorded, some semantic70 and others grammatical.71 Four minor word transpositions72 and two emended beginnings of independent clauses also distinguish D from other Itinerarius texts.73

Variants unique to E, slightly more numerous than those found only in D, indicate both scribal lapses and interventions in the text. Four omissions result in the absence of an important sentence element, but several others improve the text slightly by reducing wordiness.74 However, except for the clarification that the Monoculi are “human,” three additions in E seem superfluous.75 Most changes in vocabulary simply replace a word with its synonym, but several suggest scribal difficulty reading the copy text or understanding abbreviations.76 Except for having Prester John attend “patriarchs,” rather than a single supreme prelate, and placing two present-tense verb forms rather incongruously in the future tense, E exhibits few unique differences in grammar.77 The same is true of syntax.78


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6. Edition and Manuscripts and a F G

Edition a

Johann Guldenschaff’s publication of the Itinerarius at Cologne around 1490 was a signal event in the history of this travel narrative. Although the first printed version of the account contains essentially the same information found in manuscripts ABCDE and follows DE in relating most of the pilgrim’s adventures in the third person, the text has undergone a thorough stylistic revision, reaching its third distinct stage of development.79 The following example—from the description of a marvelous alarm clock in Prester John’s palace (lines 185-88)—shows in parallel text how the text of A has been revised in Guldenschaff’s a, where livelier vocabulary, two added participles, and revised syntax present the wonder with heightened drama:

A Et ibidem est       orlogium mirabiliter factum, quia si quis alienus ibidem intraverit,
a Est etiam ibidem horologium mirabiliter factum, dans horribilem sonum ad introitum
A orlogium dat sonum horribilem, sic quod ibi fit concursus populi videndo et
a cuiuslibet alieni.             excitans sic       concursum populi
A apprehendendo             illos propter quos       fit talis sonus.
a ad apprehendendum illum vel illos propter quem vel quos huiusmodi fit sonus.
A Et qualiter hoc sit nescio.
a quomodo autem hoc fiat nescitur.

The release of edition a has more than just textual significance. As a book purporting to relate first-hand information about the Indies, the Itinerarius no doubt had more immediate appeal to readers a century after its composition. Some market for it clearly existed, since Guldenschaff’s edition served as the basis, directly or indirectly, for nine more publications by five different printers within approximately seventeen years. Even as a fictional narrative the book may have served a practical purpose in Europe’s expanding knowledge of world geography. In a lucid discussion of mappaemundi in early printed books, Elizabeth L. Eisenstein has observed that “[b]efore the outlines of a comprehensive and uniform world picture could emerge, incongruous images had to be duplicated in sufficient quantities to be brought into contact, compared and contrasted.”80 As Witte’s depiction of Asia circulated at the turn of the sixteenth century, his incongruities
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would only have underscored the value of data in contemporaneous accounts based on actual experience.

Several practical matters related to the production of printed books changed the text in significant ways. The need for a title page may have driven Guldenschaff to identify the narrative as the Itinerarius, a word first recorded in a. In addition, the account here is divided distinctly into three parts, with rubrics introducing the description of Prester John’s palace and the pilgrimage to Hulna, bringing the central concerns of the work into clearer focus.81 Guldenschaff also made the Itinerarius part of an anthology of works about the East, linking it with a treatise on the ten sectarian units (or “nations”) of Christianity, a letter from a putative “Sultan John” to Pope Pius II (1458-64), and a brief papal response to that letter, thereby creating what Francis Rogers called “a chain of truly remarkable documents.”82 All subsequent printers adopted Guldenschaff’s choice of material, which was expanded slightly in bcdefghij and again in k to include two other treatises that purportedly offered readers a true picture of Asia at the dawn of Europe’s “age of reconnaissance.” In all eleven early printed editions, the Itinerarius is the lead text and dominates the title page.

Born into a patrician family at Mainz, Guldenschaff served as apprentice to the printer Ulrich Zell there before establishing his own printing press at Cologne, where city records and evidence from type fonts show him to have been active from 30 April 1477 until at least 1494. He published several works closely connected to the city of Cologne, including three editions each of the Historia 11000 Virginum and Johannes of Hildesheim’s Historia Trium Regum (Witte shows some awareness of the latter book, and he estimates Prester John’s capital city to be twenty-four times larger than Cologne).83 Guldenschaff’s edition of the Itinerarius evidently enjoyed some commercial success since manuscript copies of it were produced in central Europe (probably in Austria and Bohemia) around 1500, and it survives in more exemplars than have been located of any other printing.

The several hundred variants that distinguish printed edition a from manuscripts ABCDE reveal a coherent plan for revising the text that was perhaps carried out in Guldenschaff’s printing shop.84 The editor’s foremost goal was to eliminate the polysyndeton and pleonastic constructions
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that characterize the Itinerarius in its original form, in which sentences repeatedly begin with Et or Item, resulting in whole paragraphs that consist of relatively brief independent clauses relentlessly linked by coordinating conjunctions. This lackluster Latin would not have appealed to educated readers in the late fifteenth century, so it is unsurprising that the editor responsible for a brings considerable variation to the text by revising the beginnings of more than half of the work’s sentences.

For example, the passage that extends from Witte’s arrival at Gadde to his first mention of Prester John’s palace at Edissa (lines 145-54) consists of eight independent clauses, each beginning with the word Et, in the early manuscripts. Emendations in a exemplify the editor’s procedure and techniques. In the first sentence, which begins Et ulterius navigando—a phrase that has become a cliché by this point in the narrative—he simply omits the first word. Then he establishes a subtler linkage to the detail of the second sentence by using an enclitic to change Et ibi stat castrum to Ibique stat castrum. Starting the description of his ensuing voyage to Edissa, Witte repeats Et ulterius navigando, which in a becomes the more graceful transitional De predicto portu ulterius navigando. The next independent clause, starting Et illa civitas, remains unchanged, but its successor, et est sita, is trimmed to sita, thus subordinating Edissa’s location to its status as Prester John’s capital city. The subsequent sentence’s opening, Et illa civitas, also stands unemended, but the move to the topic of the imperial palace—Et habitacio—acquires greater rhetorical force when the coordinating conjunction is replaced by a corroborating adverb to read Habitatio vero (the editor frequently employs particles both to reduce the account’s redundancy and to underscore its veracity, other added words being autem, igitur, itaque, and namque). The last of these eight independent clauses, describing the palace’s size, is made subordinate to the previous one, which first mentions the structure, by substituting the participle habens for Et habet bene.85 Examined individually, these emendations—a simple omission, an added enclitic or particle, a verb form altered to link two independent clauses86—appear to be minor, even trivial, but the collective effect of more than 150 revised independent clauses throughout the Itinerarius is considerable.87


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The editor responsible for a took other steps to make Witte’s narrative more economical. Many omissions delete unnecessary words or phrases: Where else but “over the water” can fish fly? If two rocks are said to be found on either bank of the Red Sea marking the exodus of the Israelites, why stipulate that there are “four” of them? What reason is there to repeat altar when an existing relative pronoun sufficiently conveys the meaning of the word?88 On occasion, however, a omits significant information, including notations that Witte did not witness storks killing pygmy boys, that the Monoculi are subservient to Grandicanis, that a marvelous mechanism may be found among the columns that support Prester John’s palace, that Indian animals have two litters annually, that the Saint Thomas Christians receive the eucharist with devotion and fear, and that the queen of Amosona bears her land’s name.89 It is impossible to know whether deletions were accidental or intentional. Some may be evidence of the editor’s eagerness to make changes for their own sake, since most of the additions in a are the very same words and phrases that are omitted elsewhere.90
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Edition a also interpolates a truth-claim that “the aforementioned priest Iohannes” (“iohannes presbiter predictus”) saw a hermit in the Sinai desert.91 Similarly, emendations in vocabulary—such as dictam for vocatam, ideo for propterea, or apostoli for sancti Thome—often seem more capricious than improving.92

Other semantic changes are more consequential. These range from word substitutions (“merchants” rather than “people” from around the world attend fairs in Edissa) to more nuanced revisions (scholars at Prester John’s court do not “gaze” into a mirror and “see” everything occurring around them (“inspiciendo speculum vident omnia”) but “contemplate” it and “know” all (“intuendo ipsum omnia sciunt”), the stress on cognition in a making the marvelous object seem less like a gimmick.93 The number of elders in a sculpted scene of Christ in Majesty, of revolving rooms in the palace at Edissa, and of kings enfeoffed to Prester John are reduced (the first two from twenty-four to nine, the last from seventy-two to eighteen).94

Dozens of syntactical variations appear in a, often in combination with semantic revision, and they presumably were intended to bring a more
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graceful style to the Itinerarius. The editor clearly preferred adjectives and pronouns to precede the nouns they modify, and verbs to follow their objects, although these preferences are not consistently or slavishly put into practice.95 While many other manipulations of word order seem arbitrary,96 several introduce clarity or elegance to the text.97 Twice the order of sentences is reversed, and to good effect: in one, information about a miraculous parting of the sea is made to precede the claim that the Saint Thomas Christians walk to the island of Hulna with dry feet; in the second, a general description of Mount Edom comes before the focus on the Terrestrial Paradise at its summit.98 Changes in grammar by and large seem to be stylistic niceties; the editor has an obvious distaste for the author’s frequent use of gerundives and verbs in the imperfect tense.99 One of the more interesting grammatical emendations in a is the subjunctive form given to several verbs that the early manuscripts record in the indicative mood, resulting in readings that distance the narrative voice from such claims as the curative power of the waters at Elim and the capacity of Prester John’s dining table to emit sparks.100 In sum, the stylistic overhaul of the Itinerarius that is evident in Guldenschaff’s edition is so thorough that it is fair to say that readers who encountered the work in a printed book read a text that was very different from the one its author wrote.


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Manuscripts F and G

Two manuscripts, both almost certainly produced in central Europe and dating from around 1500, are copies of edition a, providing evidence that Guldenschaff’s publication circulated well beyond the Rhineland, where Witte’s book had its origins and first audience. While variants in manuscripts CDE and edition a demonstrate that some transmitters of the Itinerarius felt free to make sometimes consequential changes as they worked, the scribes of manuscripts F and G reproduced their copy text almost exactly, even carrying over Latin abbreviations and punctuation from the printed page.101

Manuscript F is a collection of theological treatises copied by one scribe who mostly worked from incunable editions. The Itinerarius and the three other works that comprise edition a are found in a single gathering (fols. 140r-51v); they are somewhat anomalous among texts that address spiritual and practical matters relevant to the daily life of clerics.102 Produced in the early sixteenth century—perhaps as late as 1513—F was in the Austrian Court Library (which later became the Nationalbibliothek) by 1576.

Discrepancies between a and F prove that the manuscript was copied from the printed book rather than the reverse. Four minor omissions are probably scribal oversights (two result in confused readings), and two additions are inconsequential.103 Five alterations in vocabulary may reflect flashes of scribal independence, as may the change of two verbs from the subjunctive to the indicative mood.104 In general, however, the scribe produced an extremely careful copy of Guldenschaff’s printed edition.

The scribe of G was responsible for a similarly exact reproduction of a, whose four constituent texts make up the whole of this manuscript,
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which itself was copied ca. 1500 in a distinctly humanist hand and rebound some three hundred years later. It may have belonged to a monastic library, because when it was catalogued in the early nineteenth century at the Royal Academic Library of Prague (today the National Library of the Czech Republic), it was grouped with manuscripts acquired from secularized religious houses in Bohemia.

Only one variant in G alters the text of a in any consequential way: the precious “stones” (lapides) found in Prester John’s wondrous, all-revealing mirror are here “lamps” (lampades), an error that is easy to explain. Otherwise, the scribe once adds a word (ibi [returning the text to its reading in A]), twice substitutes fit for sit and bulna[m] for hulna[m] (doubtless misled by characters in Guldenschaff’s type font), turns que into quedam and regnant into regnantur, and makes two other minor grammatical changes.105

7. Editions bcd

Edition b

When the second printed version of the Itinerarius appeared at Cologne in the mid-to-late 1490s, the narrative reached a fourth stage of development: the text once again had been significantly altered, and its context was also different, the popular twelfth-century Letter of Prester John and a geographical treatise on India being added to the four works published together in a. Just as the extensive revisions in a cannot be definitively attributed to Johann Guldenschaff, changes in b are not known with certainty to have been introduced by its printer, Cornelius of Zyrickzee, or someone in his shop, although evidence of several kinds points strongly in this direction. First, Zyrickzee’s Itinerarius is indisputably based on edition a, but the narrative has returned to the first person, with several awkward passages suggesting that the text was being revised as the type was set.106 Moreover, Zyrickzee published the book three times, and variants in his second and third printings (c and d) follow the same editorial principles
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that are evident in b.107 Two characteristics of b deserve particular attention because they offer important insight into how Zyrickzee worked. The text is riddled with typographical errors—it may have been prepared for publication either with great haste or by a novice typesetter—and revisions in edition c indicate that Zyrickzee did not check his mistakes against a when he made corrections. In addition, over twenty changes in b restore textual readings found in the early manuscripts but emended in a; the revisions are so minor, however, that they offer no reliable evidence that Zyrickzee had access to any copy of the Itinerarius besides Guldenschaff’s printed book.108

Cornelius of Zyrickzee, a native of a town on the island of Schouwen in Zeeland (modern Zierikzee), founded a printing shop in around 1497 at Cologne, across from the Dominican cloister in the Stolkgasse. He enjoyed a prolific and varied career, producing some fifty books in just over a decade on subjects from theology to classical poetry to witchcraft; his Latin edition of The Book of John Mandeville appeared before 1501. In all likelihood, the Itinerarius was one of Zyrickzee’s first publications because his third edition of the book (d) was the copy text for edition f, which has a colophon dated 1499. He remained active at Cologne until 1509, when he returned to Zeeland, where he died, at Middelburg, on 11 August 1516.109

The editorial principles that characterize edition b recall those already observed in a. The beginnings of independent clauses continue to be revised in an ongoing effort to invest the narrative with a more elegant style, especially
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by reducing even further the repetitious usage of et and item.110 Approximately forty words or phrases are omitted, almost all of them presumably judged to be verbose.111 The few additions in b are by and large minimal and insubstantial.112 Changes in vocabulary recall those in a: some improve the diction marginally (such as iterum for econverso or longinquis for remotis), but most seem the product of whimsy (such as vocatur for dicitur or dicitur for vocatur) or formality (ad parvam ab illo loco distantiam for ibi prope).113 One substitution alters the text slightly but notably: Prester John’s magic mirror, with its three inlaid stones fostering three different kinds of perception, is now attended by an additional, fourth scholar.114 In contrast to the many changes in sentence structure that appear in the first printed edition, b introduces no changes in the syntax of a
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beyond twenty-four transposed word units.115 Similarly, grammar is little affected, although the shift of five verbs from the subjunctive to the indicative mood removes some of the sense of contingency in edition a.116

As noted above, the text of b contains a remarkable number of typographical errors: there are nearly seventy in the Itinerarius alone, and the nine mistakes on the title page forced Zyrickzee to print a second version of it (making only six corrections). An entire sentence is set twice, the repeated one including a misspelling.117 Why the text should be so flawed is unclear. Zyrickzee may have rushed to get the book into print at a time when several European nations were eagerly seeking a route to Asia, creating an interested audience for the kind of material he gathered in this volume. He and Johann Guldenschaff appear not to have been simultaneously active in the Cologne printing trade, so competition was evidently not a factor. Inexperience might have played some role, although Zyrickzee’s two subsequent editions, each with type completely reset, appeared within a year or two of b, and they were more carefully proofread. In preparing the text of c he shows no sign of having checked puzzling readings against Guldenschaff’s edition, as the evolving reading of this passage (at lines 115-16) indicates:

ABCDEa lampades ardentes in nocte sic quod
b lapades ardentes n sic quod
cdefghij lapides ardentes sic quod.118

In edition b Zyrickzee restored the first-person narrative to the Itinerarius, and he continued Guldenschaff’s efforts to achieve a more elegant style. His subsequent versions, c and d, both introduce additional changes, as do the seven later publications by other printers, making it possible to demonstrate a direct line of descent in the textual tradition. Although some of these changes are significant—three editions move the action of the
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Itinerarius ahead one century to 1489, and Nicholas Mameranus made additional stylistic revisions in k—the text of Witte’s narrative effectively had reached its final stage of development around 1497 in Cornelius of Zyrickzee’s printing shop at Cologne.

Editions c and d

When he printed the Itinerarius a second time (c), Zyrickzee made close to thirty changes, most of them minor. Almost all these emendations are carried over into the subsequent editions, including one omission,119 six additions (including ego, twice),120 two misguided changes in vocabulary,121 four replacements of ibidem with ibi,122 seven word transpositions,123 and three alterations in grammar.124 Five readings raise difficulties in sense or grammar that later editions attempted to correct.125 The preposition in, restored to a sentence from which it had been omitted in b, is not found in any edition published after c.126 Zyrickzee evidently did not wish to release another book replete with mistakes: edition c has a total of three typographical errors in the text of the Itinerarius.127

Emendations in edition d, more so than those in c, recall Zyrickzee’s practice as the presumed editor of the text in b. The beginnings of six more independent clauses are revised, reducing further the number of sentences opening with et.128 Two minor omissions may be said to trim the text efficiently,129 although two others delete a word that is required for sense.130 The addition of et twice brings greater coherence to a sentence.131 Two
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changes in vocabulary are consequential, several others less so.132 Two grammatical emendations seem stylistic niceties.133 A pair of words is transposed in three sentences.134 Zyrickzee’s third publication of the Itinerarius contains seventeen typographical errors—not so many as b but more than in c—suggesting that this third printing escaped his closest scrutiny.135

8. Edition and Manuscript e H

Edition e

The fifth printed edition of the Itinerarius—and the first to be published outside of Cologne—appeared at Antwerp between 1497 and 1499. This work of Govaert Bac reproduces almost exactly the text of Zyrickzee’s edition c and was itself the copy text for an elegant manuscript assembled for an influential cleric at Gent around 1500.

Bac was among the first printers to establish himself at Antwerp, which in the late fifteenth century was beginning to rival Cologne in size, distinction, and cultural richness; by the 1520s, it had become the center of book production in the Low Countries. Bac married the widow of Mathias van der Goes, an Antwerp printer who died in 1492, taking over his shop with its precious fonts and launching a “long and brilliant career” with the production of a grammar in July 1493, the year that he was admitted to the printer’s guild of Saint Luke. Linguistically versatile and interested in geography and history, he published a Latin edition of The Book of John Mandeville on 19 June 1494, a French version of Aristotle’s Secretum Secretorum before 16 January 1495, and many Dutch texts.136 He lived and worked out of “The Bird House” (“tVogelhuys”), and most of the nine
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printer’s devices found in his publications feature a bird cage similar to the one in e on sig. D4v, an identifying emblem he is known to have used after 3 July 1496. Bac maintained his business until 1511, when he apparently quit after his wife’s death; he remarried in 1514 and died three years later.137

Manuscript H

Edition e changes the text of c only seven times; each of these variants is also found in H, which must therefore be a copy of Bac’s publication, not Zyrickzee’s. These discrepant readings comprise one minor omission, one minor addition (of etiam, frequently omitted in other texts), three changes in vocabulary, one transposition of a word pair, and one grammatical emendation.138

Manuscript H was prepared by two scribes for the remarkable library of Raphael de Marcatellis (1437-1508), abbot of the monastery of Saint Bavon at Gent. Its lovely, traditional orthography and decoration make H the most visually impressive text of the Itinerarius. The codex is an anthology of works related to travel and geography, including Ludolph of Suchen’s pilgrimage account, Marco Polo’s description of the world (in Latin), and a table of distances between cities on important trade routes originating at Bruges. Despite the antique appearance of H, however, its contents largely were copied from incunable editions, and the text of the Itinerarius suggests that its scribe had a better hand than head for Latin.139 Two of three omissions were very likely caused by an eye-slip, two minor additions are sensible but not strictly necessary, and a pair of words is
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transposed so that the verb follows its object.140 The scribe strengthens Witte’s claim to have witnessed the feast of Saint Thomas by replacing ipse Johannes de hese with ego Johannes de hesen, but in so doing he evidently turns the Dutch traveler into a German.141

9. Editions fghi

Edition f

Although Witte claimed to have come from the diocese of Utrecht, the first version of the Itinerarius known to have been produced on what is today Dutch soil did not appear until about one century after the book was written. It was published at Deventer four times in nearly eight years by two printers who patently borrowed each other’s work and whose relationship appears to have been collegial. The first of these editions (f) was released sometime after 10 April 1497 by Jacob de Breda, who copied Zyrickzee’s edition d with minor changes; in 1499, de Breda’s text was in turn used by Richard Pafraet to bring out his own version of the work (g), which gives Witte’s adventures a greater sense of immediacy for the original reading public by changing the date of his departure for India from 1389 to 1489. De Breda printed the Itinerarius again in 1504 (h), this time incorporating readings that had been introduced by Pafraet, including the later date. One year later, Pafraet also republished the text (i), once again basing it on de Breda’s first printing and restoring the original date. The last two links in the concatenation of texts of the Itinerarius—editions j and k—are separate copies of de Breda’s edition h.

Although Deventer never enjoyed the commercial success of Antwerp, by the late 1400s it was “one of the three cultural centres in [the northern Rhineland], the other two being Cologne and Münster.”142 Famous for its school and monastery operated by the Brethren of the Common Life, the town attracted Pafraet from Cologne, who brought type fonts and capital with him and who helped to establish the Deventer printing trade with the stunning publication in 1477 of Pierre Bersuire’s Liber Bibliae moralis, a text running nearly one thousand pages. He legally established himself at Deventer in 1481, and in 1485 he employed as an accountant Jacob de Breda, who had become a citizen there two years earlier. Almost immediately de Breda began publishing under his own name but with Pafraet’s type fonts; the two printers maintained separate shops, but
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both were near the school. Neither ever developed a type font of his own, but, after 1489, each began making changes in format and letter styles that the other soon copied. Their contributions to the market were more various. According to Wytze and Lotte Hellinga, Pafraet “was guided in his choice [of texts] by the publishers of Cologne,” and he brought out many classics as well as works by medieval theologians and philosophers. De Breda printed on a more modest scale, preferring smaller quarto editions, and thus “introduced into Deventer a type of book that was to characterize this town’s whole printed output.”143 The degree to which the two printers worked together—or competed—remains somewhat uncertain, but the Hellingas conclude that they were collaborators, at least to some degree.144 While the four editions of the Itinerarius printed at Deventer are, in both size and subject matter, more representative of de Breda’s marketing strategies than Pafraet’s, the interconnections among fghi offer textual support to the Hellingas’ claims, which are based on mechanical evidence.145 Indeed, the two printers appear to have taken turns publishing the book.

In printing the Itinerarius for the first time, de Breda worked directly from a copy of Zyrickzee’s third edition of the work: not only do the variants introduced in d also appear in f but also at least two changes in the latter come about because of obscurity on the printed page of the copy text.146 Three words are omitted in f (and all subsequent editions).147 De Breda makes Ethiopia a region of interior, not inferior, India, and he increases the distance from Gadde to Edissa (now a journey of twenty-four
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rather than fourteen days); his other changes in vocabulary appear to be either mistakes or attempts to clarify a puzzling reading in edition d.148 Deventer’s humanist atmosphere registers itself in the more classical spellings of Latin words that enter the printed text in f, such as hortus (for ortus), idola (for ydola), and imagines (for ymagines or himagines).149

Edition g

Pafraet changed the text of edition f very little when he used it to print g, with one notable exception. Minor changes include an omission of et (leading to some incoherence), the addition of three words (signa, et, and autem [the first with semantic consequence, the second making better sense]), and two minor changes in vocabulary (not including numerals).150 Three emendations attempt to make sense of obscure passages in f—Pafraet clearly did not attempt to resolve them by examining a copy of d—while several others introduce ungrammatical or incoherent readings.151

What seems a series of unremarkable revisions may in fact shed light on the most significant change Pafraet makes in g. The number of palm trees reportedly growing on the plain of Elim is reduced from seventy-two (lxxii) to seventy (septuaginta), bringing Witte’s observation into line with Holy Scripture (Exod. 15:27); Prester John’s eighteen vassal kings are counted even more deliberately (decem et octo for octodecim or xviii); and in almost every instance numbers are spelled out as Latin words rather than given as roman numerals.152 Given Pafraet’s general meticulousness and his unusual attention to matters of measurement, the postdating of this pilgrimage, from 1389 (M.ccc.lxxxix) to 1489 (M.cccc.lxxxix), in the first line of the narrative is unlikely to be an innocent oversight.153 It cannot be known whether Pafraet changed the date, in 1499, out of a sincere belief that a European only recently could have succeeded in reaching India by
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boat (thus concluding that the date in f was incorrect) or out of hope that a journey purportedly begun only a decade before his edition appeared would seem more newsworthy (thus meaning to achieve greater commercial success). Whatever the case, de Breda’s desire to retain this later date in his edition h is less surprising than Pafraet’s decision to return the narrative to the fourteenth century when he reprinted it in 1505.154

Edition h

In preparing h, his second edition of the Itinerarius, published on 24 January 1504, de Breda relied entirely on the text printed by Pafraet in 1499, ignoring his own first edition (f) and the copy text he had used to produce it (d). He emended the text of g only eight times—not always improving it—omitting one word, changing five others, slightly altering the spelling of one place-name, and moving one verb from the subjunctive into the indicative mood.155 All of these variants recur in edition j, and most are found in k, proving that h was the source for those later publications.

Edition i

On 26 April 1505 Pafraet published the Itinerarius for a second time (i), using de Breda’s first edition (f) as his copy text. Except for one grammatical correction, no changes introduced in g and h are found in i—the pilgrimage occurs once again in the late 1300s—and other emendations are minimal, comprising two omissions, one addition, three changes in vocabulary, one transposition of a word pair, and one alteration in grammar.156 Although only two copies of edition i have been located today, it was known to Gottlieb Heinrich Stuck, who recorded it in his late eighteenth-century index to travel narratives once under the heading, “HESE (I. de)
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Itinerarium hierosolymitanum &c. Daventriae 1505. 4°.” and later as “HELT (Io. de) itinerarius in Hierusalem. Daventr. 1505. 4°.” As a result of Stuck’s error, the doubly-fictitious pilgrim “Johannes de Helt” has gained a place in several scholarly studies.157

10. Edition j

Robert Gourmont, who brought out the Itinerarius at Paris around 1507 using de Breda’s edition h as his copy text, appears to have been the last person to treat this travel narrative as a relatively contemporary book. When Nicholas Mameranus edited it some sixty years later, he presented an ancient document, more valuable for its age than its information. Gourmont was active in the Parisian printing trade between 1499 and 1518, working on assignment for Oliver Senant, who operated between 1505 and 1526 out of a shop in the rue Riche-Jacques under the sign of Saint Barbara. Two different title pages for j exist, one with a line break and no hyphen after “Oli” of Senant’s first name, the other (presumably later) one with the name kept integral. In 1507 Senant first used the printer’s device found in edition j on sig. D4v; filling a page that follows six generally fanciful treatises about the world from Egypt to Eden, its motto—“En le monde fault bien tirer / Qui en paradis veult monter”—offers a slightly ironic valediction to the reader.

In a sense, Gourmont’s edition marks the transition of Witte’s narrative from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Itinerarius appears here for the first time in roman type with printed initials; the nine previous publications were in Gothic fonts, with the first letter of three key sentences—the very first one, the one beginning the description of Prester John’s palace, and the transition to the church of Saint Thomas—left blank for possible decoration by hand. The typesetter may not have had much Latin, since several perplexing emendations introduced in h go uncorrected here—even the typographical error claditur for clauditur is reproduced, with more than thirty added—and changes that enter the text in j generally lead to less coherent readings.158 Three omissions (two of et and one of
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directe), two changes in vocabulary, and the use of a singular verb with “Gog and Magog” are more defensible, if not improving. A defective printing of facte in h appears sacre in j, indicating that Gourmont set his text directly from de Breda’s printed page.159

11. Edition k

After Gourmont’s edition appeared around 1507, the Itinerarius and its associated texts, having been printed ten times within some fifteen years, were not published again for nearly six decades. By the early sixteenth century, eyewitness accounts by European explorers, sailors, and missionaries—quite a few in a European vernacular rather than in Latin—were coming off presses from Rome to Copenhagen and from Lisbon to Dresden. Some, though not all, called into question Johannes Witte de Hese’s claims about the inhabitants of east Africa, the splendor of Prester John’s empire, and the terrestrial location of Eden and Purgatory. Readers in northern Europe, where the Itinerarius enjoyed its principal success, had other reasons to find it a suspect text by the early 1500s. The religious climate had changed significantly during the previous century, and a book whose narrator is a priest and whose subject is a pilgrimage, however bizarre, would have struck many as theologically, not just geographically, unreliable. Josephine Waters Bennett offers this as an explanation of a simultaneous torpor in the publishing history of The Book of John Mandeville:

In England and Germany the Reformation seems to have brought the [Book], for a time, into disrepute. The scarcity of English editions between 1510 and 1568 is matched by a similar gap in the sequence of German editions between 1507 and 1580. Mandeville’s accounts of saints and relics, his reminiscences of the Crusades, and concern with pilgrimages and miracles would naturally bring him into disfavor in the Protestant countries.160


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The Itinerarius returned to public attention in Nicholas Mameranus’s edition k. Alone among the early scribes and printers who copied, and sometimes revised, the book, Mameranus wrote a prefatory account, dated 19 January 1565 (“14. Calend. Februarij”), explaining how he discovered the text and why he thought it merited its publication, by Johannes Withagius at Antwerp. In a thirty-line poem and five pages of prose that offer an introduction to the same set of works that appear in editions b-j (plus an appended treatise on world geography), Mameranus focuses almost exclusively on Witte’s narrative. He reveals his own acquaintance with the ordeal and loneliness of travel by describing a journey of his own through the bitter snow and ice of the Ardennes forest in December 1563. En route he spent Christmas cheered by friends, one of whom tells him about an old book: the autobiographical record by “Ioannes de Hese, a priest from Utrecht” of the “great marvels and stupendous, almost unbelievable things” he saw while on a pilgrimage that took him throughout “Arabia, Egypt, India, and Ethiopia.” Mameranus, a cross between Edmund Spenser and the Gawain-poet’s King Arthur, claims to have developed a yearning for things old and unusual rather than modern and familiar. Furthermore, he delightedly reports, in the Itinerarius he has found an ancient text that offers an auspicious beginning to a new year: it is “A new portent for this time, recently dug up from the past,” the work of a cleric who “seeks diverse shores / And strives to see much of the world.”161 Witte has become an inspiration.

The book’s reverend age presents the single problem of its style. Living in a “barbaric time,” the “good priest” who wrote it could not purge his Latin of barbarism, so Mameranus has taken it upon himself to clarify absurd and abstruse passages in the Itinerarius. He shows no sign of having seen any version of the narrative except for de Breda’s edition h, in which the style recorded in the early manuscripts had already been vastly improved; one can only speculate what he would have thought of the Latin text in A. Mameranus’s idea of barbarism may extend to appearances: he employs a “modern” Roman typestyle in place of de Breda’s Gothic, which he may have considered quaint, and he expands almost all
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 105 ]] 
abbreviations, adds printed initials, and uses diacritical marks and the digraph æ.162

Mameranus leaves his mark on the text in other ways as well, although half of his approximately 150 revisions are variations in vocabulary that affect the book’s content relatively little. Johann Guldenschaff and Cornelius de Zyrickzee—if they were responsible for the changes in editions a and b—were far more consequential editors. Despite several references in his introductory poem and essay to the antiquity of the Itinerarius, Mameranus neglects to give any date for the journey of “Ioannes de Hese.” The resulting temporal vagueness is the most telling effect on the text that any of his omissions have.163 His meaningful additions are also few, although like interpolations in CDE they endorse the text’s verity: he has the narrator stipulate that precisely four candles burn in the lighthouse towers at Andranopolis, describe more explicitly the parting of the ocean that enables pilgrims to reach the church of Saint Thomas, give plausibility to this miracle by comparing it to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, and point out that the Indian patriarch personally offers the eucharist to Prester John.164 Changes in vocabulary, in contrast, are abundant, yet they also amount to little more than the replacement of one word or phrase with a close synonym: exchanging multiplicantur for quotificantur, honorat for adorat, or altissimus for nimis altus only minimally affects meaning.165
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Grammatical revisions are usually more subtle than substantial.166

Mameranus’s manipulation of syntax in the Itinerarius recalls editorial interventions already described, particularly in editions ab. The beginnings of another eleven independent clauses undergo rewording; five of these involve the deletion of the word et.167 Seven word pairs are simply transposed.168 Somewhat more extensive revisions occur in another six sentences, but they further demonstrate that Mameranus concerned himself with matters of style much more than with content in what would become the narrative’s last publication for some three hundred years.169

12. Variations in the Latin Textual Tradition

A peculiar and often threatening animal population inhabits the Asia of Witte’s Itinerarius. He claims to have seen poisonous fish flying over the Red Sea and, even more outlandishly, to have mistaken a whale for an island, gone ashore to prepare dinner, and nearly drowned when his port of call submerged after he lit a cooking fire. Descriptions of these two perils—they come near the beginning and the end of Witte’s journey—appear without meaningful omission in every Latin manuscript and printed edition of the narrative, but variants that enter a couple of sentences in each episode characterize the ways in which scribes and printers produced different versions of the Itinerarius. That this book’s early audiences did not all read or hear the same story is evident in the following comparison of these sentences as they appear in manuscripts AB, with their simple, often
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 107 ]] 
pleonastic formulations; in C, with its interpolated truth-claims and gratuitous revisions; in DE, with their third-person narrative and occasional stylistic improvements; and in the printed editions from a to k, with their considerable, successive changes in vocabulary and syntax, and with the return of a first-person narrative voice in b.170

Passage 1 (lines 11-18)
A Et vidi            plura alia rara animalia de quibus non habeo memoriam.
B Et vidi            plura animalia rara de quibus       non habeo memoriam.
C Et vidi ibidem plura alia animalia rara de quibus non habeo memoriam.
DE Et vidit           plura animalia alia rara      quibus non habuit memoriam.
a Et vidit ibidem plura animalia rara quorum          non habuit memoriam.
b-j Et vidi ibidem plura animalia rara quorum           non habui memoriam.
k Et vidi ibidem multa animalia rara quorum           non habui noticiam.
   
A Eciam vidi in dicto mari             rubro serpentes volantes ad terram,   revertentes
B Eciam vidi in dicto mari             rubro serpentes volantes ad terram et revertentes
C Eciam vidi in dicto mari             rubro serpentes volantes ad terram et revertentes
D Eciam vidit in dicto mari scilicet rubro serpentes volantes ad terram,    revertentes
E Eciam vidit in dicto mari            rubro serpentes volantes ad terram,    revertentes
a Eciam vidit in dicto mari                      serpentes volantes ad terram,   revertentes
b-j Eciam vidi in dicto mari                       serpentes volantes ad terram,    revertentes
k Eciam vidi in dicto mari                       serpentes volantes ad terram et revertentes
   
ADE econverso ad mare rubrum. Et sunt valde nocivi hominibus eos intoxicando.
B econtra     ad mare rubrum. Et sunt valde nocivi hominibus eox intoxicando.
C econverso ad mare rubrum. Et sunt valde nocivi hominibus eos intoxicantes.
a econverso ad mare rubrum, qui sunt valde nocivi hominibus eos intoxicando.
b-j iterum       ad mare rubrum, qui sunt valde nocivi hominibus eos intoxicando.
k iterum            mare rubrum, qui sunt valde nocivi hominibus eos intoxicando.
   
ABCDE Contra quos habetur cinis de palma combusta, crescens  ibidem et in terra sancta,
a-k Contra quos habetur cinis de palma combusta, crescente ibidem et in terra sancta,
   
Aa et            eciam                                                herba quedam, choral nuncupata,
B et            eciam                                                quedam herba, coral   nuncupata,
C                eciam habetur contra huius serpentes quedam herba, coral   nuncupata,
D et            equo                                                  herba quedam, choral nuncupata,
E et            eciam                                                herba, quedam, thoral nuncupata,
b-j et            eciam                                                 herba,              coral   nuncupata,
G et            eciam                                                 herba, que         coral  nuncupata,
k Conducit eciam                                                 herba                coral   nuncupata,
   
AB crescens    in mari rubro in loco per quem moyses perduxit populum israeliticum.
C crescens    in mari rubro in loco per quem duxit moyses      populum israeliticum.
DE crescens    in mari rubro in loco per quem moyses duxit      populum israeliticum.
abce que crescit in mari rubro in loco per quem moyses duxit      populum israeliticum.
dfghijk que crescit in mari rubro in loco per quem duxit moyses      populum israeliticum.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 108 ]] 
Passage 2 (lines 401-5)
ADE Et incenso ibidem igne,    submersit se illa insula, nobis            ad navem
B Et incenso ibi        igne,    submersit se illa insula, nobis            ad navem
C Et incendimus ibi   ignem, submersit se illa insula, nobis            ad navem
a Incenso itaque igne,          insula illa se submersit, nobis iterato ad navem
b-k Incenso itaque igne,          insula      se submersit, nobis iterato ad navem
   
ABC                        fugientibus,      cibaria      nostra cum ollis ibidem relinquendo.
DE                        fugientibus,      cibaria      nostra cum ollis ibidem relinquentibus.
a quamcitius       confugientibus, cibariaque nostra cum ollis ibidem relinquentibus.
b-j quamcitius        fugientibus,      cibaria      nostra cum ollis ibi       relinquentibus.
k quàm celerrimè fugientibus,      cibaria      nostra cum ollis ibi       relinquentibus.
   
ABDEa Et dicebatur                                                                     quod illa insula
C Et dicebatur nobis ab illis qui huius rei noticiam habuerunt quod illa insula que
        nobis talis videbatur
b-k Et dicebatur nobis                                                           quod illa insula
   
A        fuit                quidam piscis vocatus Jasconius  qui, percepto igne,
B        fuit                quidam piscis vocatus Jasconius  qui, precepto igne,
C non fuit insula sed quidam piscis vocatus iastronius  qui, percepto igne,
DEa-k        fuerat            quidam piscis vocatus iaschonius qui, percepto igne,171
   
ABDE se submersit                                        cum nostris cibariis.
C se submergit quia sustinere unde potuit cum nostris cibariis.
a-k cum nostris cibariis                                         se submersit.

13. Editions O and Z

Two nineteeth-century German scholars printed versions of the Itinerarius, which they included as a kind of appendix to studies of the legend of Prester John. In 1864 Gustav Oppert reproduced, almost without error, de Breda’s second edition (h); he made no changes in the text of the Itinerarius in the second edition of his work (1870). In 1883 Friedrich Zarncke printed the text of manuscript B, which he called a “trustworthy” and complete version of the original, along with notes that identify some of his emendations and offer occasional alternative readings in “the printed editions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,” although there is little evidence that he compared B to anything but h as printed by Oppert. Zarncke silently normalizes many orthographical variants in B. In a brief introduction, he dismisses the Itinerarius as “fiction from beginning to end” and focuses his attention on its borrowings from the Letter of Prester John. Aware that the printed editions revise the original text in “nearly every sentence,” Zarncke is content to give five sample comparisons since his principal purpose is to present the text of B, and thus “das Küchenlatein des Originals.” Neither Oppert nor Zarncke examined Witte’s book in the
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 109 ]] 
context of travel narratives, analyzed it as a text in its own right, or presented it in even a limited critical edition.172

14. Manuscripts KLM

By the mid-1400s, the Itinerarius was circulating in a Middle Dutch translation. This is unsurprising: the narrative concerns a priest from the Netherlands, and for two centuries it interested scribes and printers in the Lower Rhine region where, according to Walter Hoffmann, the vernacular had already taken hold as a written language by the late fourteenth century. Hartmut Beckers notes a burgeoning interest, starting around 1350 in the vicinity of Cologne, for works in German about Asian geography and culture.173

Records exist of three versions of this translation: a transcription from around 1690 (K), an edition published in 1845 (L), and notes written as recently as 1961 describing a manuscript in a private collection (M), although no fifteenth- or sixteenth-century exemplar has been located for this study. At one remove from actual medieval artifacts, these records nevertheless offer insight into the methods of a late medieval translator, reinforce several conclusions about the development of the Latin text, and provide linguistic data.174 They demonstrate that the Itinerarius was composed in Latin and translated into Middle Dutch rather than the reverse. This translation is based on a text very similar but not identical to A, and thus it must have been produced from an unrecovered Latin manuscript whose existence cannot be hypothesized from the evidence of BCDEa-k. Finally, at least two Middle Dutch manuscripts must once have been in circulation in addition to the three for which there are records: the autograph version of the translation and the copy text for the transcription (K).
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The considerable differences among the Middle Dutch texts make it unlikely that each was copied directly from the original, indicating that yet more manuscripts in the vernacular must once have been in circulation. These differences do not prove that the Itinerarius was translated into Middle Dutch more than once; on the contrary, orthographic, semantic, and syntactical variants result from scribal editorializing (as in the Latin tradition), the unestablished state of late medieval vernacular languages, and the power of dialect.

Of the three records of the Middle Dutch translation, only K offers a complete text (albeit with significant omissions); it is the basis for the critical edition printed here. Currently in the Staatsbibliothek at Berlin, K is a transcription made around 1690 by Antonius Matthaeus (1635-1710), a lawyer and author of books on pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Dutch history. The amount of orthographical variation within K recommends it as a trustworthy copy of the unrecovered original, although Matthaeus seems not to have noticed that a date in the first sentence (1398) conflicts with one in the description of a later experience (1391), or that both make it impossible for an earlier copy text text to have been produced in 1373, as the colophon states. K, appropriately enough, once belonged to the library of a director of the Dutch East India Company in the 1700s.

The second record of the Itinerarius in Middle Dutch is L, an edition, published in 1845, of a fragmentary manuscript that breaks off before the description of Prester John’s capital concludes (Latin line 271). The manuscript was last recorded seen in 1864. Its editor, Mathias [Mathijs] de Vries, was at the beginning of a prolific career as an editor, linguist, and lexicographer. He claims to have produced his text faithfully from five sheets of paper, plainly written in a hand “approximately of the early fifteenth century.” The edition seems reliable, although its fairly consistent spellings and “standard,” dialectally muted Middle Dutch suggest some editorial manipulation.175

The pre-modern copy of the Middle Dutch translation that seems most likely to resurface is M. This manuscript, probably copied during the early 1500s, was owned by Dr. J. F. M. Sterck of Aardenhout at his death in 1941, and is known from a careful description of it made by a distinguished professor of paleography at the University of Leiden in 1936, with an additional note by his equally talented successor in 1961. Since then no record has been found despite the efforts of some of the finest contemporary Dutch paleographers and bibliophiles.


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 111 ]] 

Striking similarities among these Middle Dutch texts indicate that they are all copies of a single translation, which was circulating by around 1450.176 All identify the traveler and narrator as Johan (or Jan) Voet, which rather curiously appears to translate the already Dutch name Witte, and they give 1398 (rather than 1389) as the date of his departure from Jerusalem, even though K and (in all probability) M place him subsequently in India in 1391.177 That the three texts descend from a single translation is also obvious from their concordant readings, exemplified in this description of Witte’s encounter with flying fish on the Red Sea (lines 7-10 [Latin]; 8-10 [Middle Dutch]):

A Et in mari rubro predicto vidi pisces
K Ende in den roeden meer, daer die stadt by licht, daer sach ick ynne vissche, die
L Ende inden roeden meer, daer die stat by leghet, daer sach ick in vissche, die
M Ende inden roeden mere daer de stat bỵ lÿt, daer sach ic in vỵschen, de
A volantes super aquas ad spacium tantum quantum balista posset sagittari;
K weren roet van verwen ende vlogen
L waren roet van verwen ende waren meer dan twe voet lanck. Die vische vlogen
M roet waren van varwen ende vlieghen
A et illi pisces sunt rubei coloris, habentes in longitudine ultra duos pedes. . . .
K boven water wal so veer als men mit enen boghe sceten mochte, . . .
L boeven den meer alsoe verre alsmen myt enen boeghe scieten mach; . . .
M boeüen dat water wel so veer als men mit j boghe mocht schyten, . . .
A De quibus piscibus comedi.
K tende daer van heb ick gegeten.
L ende desen visch heb ic af gheten.
M ende daer heb ic aff gheten.

In this passage, an occasional omission (such as that shared by KM in the second line) or a slight change in vocabulary (water for meer in KM in the third line) cannot distract from the fact that all three texts construe predicto to mean “near which the city lies,” translate the Latin in [the sea] twice, and reverse the order in which the flying distance and the color of the fish are described. KL also have several passages in common that are not found in any known Latin text: these further explicate the meaning of stones on the Red Sea coast, locate a single productive tree in the balsam garden, explain what happens to the olive branches birds bring to Mt. Sinai, embellish the story of the desert saints Anthony and Paul the Hermit, stipulate
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 112 ]] 
that storks kill young pygmies “with their long beaks,” tell more about Prester John’s veronica, place balsam-burning lamps at his bedside, and transform one of the imperial bodyguard giants into a hollow mechanical marvel.178

Several characteristics of medieval translation practice further show that Latin was the language of composition for the Itinerarius. These include synonymic pairs, Latinisms, and strained syntax that presumably reflects a translator’s difficulty with a foreign language.179 Representative examples are found in Table 1, in which Latin words and phrases, given in italics, correspond to Dutch renderings in K and L; at right are line numbers from the editions printed here, Latin first and Middle Dutch between brackets.

The Middle Dutch translation recalls the simple, sometimes monotonous style that characterizes the earliest stage of the Latin text: many sentences begin “Ende daer” or “Voert so wandert men [toe schepe],” echoing similar constructions with “Et ibidem” and “Ulterius [navigando]” in the original. This is the most obvious evidence that the translator worked from a version of the Itinerarius very similar to that in manuscripts AB, although neither of these can have been the copy text. Of the ten readings described earlier in this chapter (p. 68) as being unique to A, only one is definitely rendered into Middle Dutch, which in at least five of the cited passages reflects the wording of BCDEa-k; however, variants found in B (especially the omissions) seldom figure in the translation.180 In locating a plaza with sculptures of emperors above (boven) hundreds of columns at Edissa, the Middle Dutch follows B (super) or C (supra); A and all other


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 113 ]] 
TABLE 1. Markers of Translation in the Middle Dutch Text
1. Synonymic Pairs
verbs
ardentes bernet unde luchtet (K); luchten ende barnen (L) 37 [37]
intoxicant te valschen unde to fenynen (K); te velschen ende te fenijnen (L) 61 [66-67]
expellendo toe suveren ende to gansen (K); te suveren ende te gansen (L) 63-64 [69-70]
periclitando naves die schepen toe hinderen ende toe verderven (K); die schepe te hijnderen ende te verderven (L) 92-93 [111-12]
nouns and adjectives
ramos twyge ende rysen (K); twigen ende riser (L) 46 [49]
victoriam saghe ende winninghe (K); seghe ende verwinninghe (L) 56 [61]
laycorum weerliker ende leeker luyde (K); waerliker luden ende leker luden (L) 193 [200]
pulchritudinis sierheyden ende schoenten (K); sierheyden ende schoenheyden (L) 200 [206-7]
adverb
velocissime snel ende gerade (K); sneel ende gheringhe (L) 141 [159]
2. Latinisms in Dutch
liberia liberye (K); liberie (L) 189 [196]
dormitorium dormiter (K); dormter (L) 196, 218 [204, 227]
3. Difficulty Understanding Latin Text
que regio dicitur inferior India genoemt dat uterste eylant off dat uterste eynde (K)
ghenoemt dat nederste eylant of dat nederste Indyen (L) 75-76 [88-89]

Latin texts read sub.181 The translated text thus testifies to the existence of an unrecovered Latin manuscript that cannot be hypothesized from ABCDEa-k, but it offers no definitive proof of which variant readings
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 114 ]] 
within the Latin tradition are original. In describing Prester John’s stone dining table as being “as [light as] if it were of gold,” KL mistakenly render the original, which compares its weight to a wooden object.182

Although KLM derive from a common source, their differences suggest that a vernacular text was especially vulnerable to change. Latin scribes and printers made many stylistic emendations in the Itinerarius, but copyists of the Middle Dutch translation omitted, added, and revised material in ways that cannot always be attributed to error, misunderstanding, or desire to improve the quality of presentation. To be sure, some differences between K and L—records of M being too fragmentary to include it in this discussion—recall the kind of editorializing that the Latin text underwent. Fourteen usages of Item to make a transition in L are canceled in K (two more disappear in lengthier omissions); K also trims many coordinating conjunctions (and, but), adverbs (there), and conventional pieties (blessed, holy, Saint), and on eighteen occasions it leaves out half of a synonymic pair found in L.183 In some twenty instances, however, four or more words that convey a substantial idea in L (and the Latin) are missing in K. Of these, six passages are lengthy: the descriptions of poisonous flying fish in the Red Sea (69 words), cannibalistic Cyclopes near Ethiopia (65 words), the astronomy tower at Adrianopolis (152 words), statuary outside the imperial palace at Edissa (204 words), Prester John’s magic mirror (56 words), and the palace’s twenty-four revolving towers (69 words). In addition, K lacks information found in the Latin text after L breaks off (at Latin line 271), regarding Terra Feminarum, fecundity in Asia, devotion among Indian Christians, the liturgy and miraculous healings on the feast of Saint Thomas, proscribed behavior on the insular Root of Paradise, and
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 115 ]] 
the whale Jasconius.184 The omissions in K reveal no clear editorial policy—they affect neither the most nor the least stupendous of Witte’s claims—but they do suggest that the transcriber Matthaeus or, more likely, an early scribe was not overly exercised to preserve the integrity of the Middle Dutch narrative.

Substantive lexical discrepancies between K and L reveal further complications. With unusual frequency the two disagree in reporting numbers—from the tally of lamps that burn at the monastery of Saint Catherine to the distance between Mt. Sinai and Elim. Some of these probably result from the misreading of roman numerals (confusing “IV” and “IX” or “VII” and “XII”); in any event, they indicate that measurements (including the year “1398” found in all three Middle Dutch texts) are especially vulnerable to copying errors in the translation.185 Other variants must result from mistakes in transcription, but they occur in both texts; thus the original Latin is closer to some readings in L:

A K L
maria manieren meren (Latin line 93; D lemma 141; E lemma 76)
raptores raet ruteren (Latin line 120; D lemma 166; E lemma 103)
surditatem droefheyt doefheyt (Latin line 239; D lemma 320; E lemma 222)
artificialiter costelick consteliken (Latin line 244; D lemma 329; E lemma 232)

and others in K:

A K L
pilosa ruwen graeuwen (Latin line 70; D lemma 110; E lemma 55)
ducti gevoert gheweert (Latin line 121; D lemma 168; E lemma 105).186

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 116 ]] 

At times, K records a Latinism that would logically be the more original translated reading:

A K L
lapide adamante adamanten diamanten (Latin line 89; D lemma 137; E lemma 72)
benedicta Benedictus ghebenedijt (Latin line 211; D lemma 280; E lemma 191)

but the reverse is also true:

A K L
pavimentata geschieert ghepaveydt (Latin line 236; D lemma 317; E lemma 220).

A passage unique to K—emphasizing the ferocity of Prester John’s guardian lions, which tear apart any “Jews and heathens” who approach the imperial palace—is probably an interpolation.187

Not only does a comparison of these readings indicate, unsurprisingly, that the unrecovered autograph copy of the translation more accurately and more literally rendered the Latin than does K or L (or M) but also it rules out the choice of either text as the one more likely to record an original reading when variants are synonymous. Such variants may reflect lexical preferences or even caprice—both of which seem to characterize many emendations in the Latin tradition—but no pattern emerges that would allow K or L reliably to be privileged over the other. Representative examples of such different readings include:

A K L
construxit getimmert stichte (Latin line 50; D lemma 79)
populum [Israel] die kinderen dat volck (Latin line 18; D lemma 26)
filii [Israel] die kinderen dat volck (Latin line 52; D lemma 82)
aquam dat water den vloet (Latin line 61; D lemma 92)
preciosissimis costelen duerbaren (Latin line 180; D lemma 236).188

In the second and third examples above, the two consistent readings—“children of Israel” in K or “people of Israel” in L—cannot both be original: at least one must be a “translation” by a Dutch scribe of volck to kinderen or vice versa. (Since the original most exactly would have rendered populum as volck and filii as kinderen, K and L may each record such a
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 117 ]] 
scribal “translation.”) In the fourth example, volet in L may represent a copyist’s effort to avoid repeating water, which appears in the previous sentence, but this parallel to a scribal practice in the Latin textual tradition is at best a surmise.189 Syntactical variants provide no evidence to prefer K to L or to do the opposite.

Most of the variants among the three Middle Dutch texts reflect not errors or editorializing by scribes but, rather, dialectal differences.190 This kind of linguistic variation posed a significant problem for late medieval and Renaissance translators. William Caxton, who in 1490 published his English version of the Aeneid, styled the Eneydos, recounted the difficulty of his task in prefatory remarks that attribute dialectal disparity—as others did the urge to travel—to stellar influence. His remarks highlight the kind of problem that faced both the Middle Dutch translator of the Itinerarius and the scribes who transmitted that work:

[My] lorde abbot of westmynster ded do shewe to me late certayn evydences wryton in olde englysshe, for to reduce it into our englysshe now usid. And certaynly it was wreton in suche a wyse that it was more lyke to dutche than englysshe. I coude not reduce ne brynge it to be understonden. And certaynly our langage now used varyeth ferre from that which was used and spoken whan I was borne. For we englysshe men ben borne under the domynacyon of the mone, whiche is never stedfaste, but ever waverynge, wexynge one season and waneth and dyscreaseth another season. And that comyn englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from another. . . .


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 118 ]] 

[C]ertaynly it is harde to playse every man by cause of dyversite and chaunge of langage. For in these dayes every man that is in ony reputacyon in his countre wyll utter his comynycacyon and maters in suche maners and termes that fewe men shall understonde theym.191

Few readers who compare the Middle Dutch texts of the Itinerarius will fail to recognize their linguistic diversity. The Middle Dutch in K displays distinct markers of eastern Netherlandic (Oostnederlandsch), and Matthaeus’s transcription preserves the work of someone who was probably native to Gelderland in the later fifteenth century. Characteristic Oostnederlandsch words that appear in K but not in L include gegeten, stranck, syde (for neder, ‘low’), and woe (for wie or hoe, ‘how’).192 Vocabulary is less dialectally peculiar in L, but even allowing for some normalization of spelling by the editor Mathias de Vries, its orthography and grammar represent the Middle Dutch of the western province of Holland. At present, only the incipit and explicit of M are known, but this fragmentary evidence suggests that while the text resembles K in its content, its dialect is closer to that of L (it may also date from around a century later). Thus, while the precise linguistic character of the original Middle Dutch text remains uncertain, its manifestations in KLM reveal medieval scribes not merely copying a work but translating it into their individual dialects. Table 2 shows phonological, semantic, and grammatical markers of eastern and western dialects of Middle Dutch, as well as specific instances of their appearance in KL[M]. All numbers designate lines in the Middle Dutch critical edition printed here. While orthography varies in each text of the translation, the phenomena shown here are quite consistent throughout each one.193


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 119 ]] 
TABLE 2. Dialectal Markers in the Middle Dutch Texts
Phonology
a and ae
an (K); aen (L) 14, 54, 73, 85, 88, 106
wal (K); wael (L) 144, 152, 158, 171, 210+
a and e
saghe (K); seghe (L) 61
valschen (K); velschen (L) 66
a and o
afgaden (K); afgode (L) 26
adevaren (K); odevaren (K) 98
e and ee
belden (K); beelde (L) 176, 210, 263
gewest (K); gheweest (L) 177
i and ei/ey
hillige/r (K); heylighe/r (L) 3 (heijlighen M), 33, 44, 202, 206, 242, 245, 250, 263
oo and oe
woonde (K); woende (LM) 6
door (K); doer (L) 53, 83
oo and o
eenhoorn (K); eenhoren (L) 68
woonen (K); wonen (L) 94, 104, 119, 130
groote/n/r (K); groten/r (L) 116, 117, 133, 135, 153, 172, 196, 206
u and o
druncken (K); droncken (L) 65
wulfinne (K); wolfinnen (L) 75
gewulft (K); ghewolft (L) 233, 246, 255
l before a dental
golde (K); gout/goude (L) 212, 264
solde (K); soude (L) 214, 272
olders (K); ouders (L) 266
s and sc
sloech (K); scloech (L) 47, 64
slept (K); scleept (L) 80
slangen (K); sclanghen (L) 151, 153
g for gh, especially in prefixes, is general in K

This chapter has attempted to demonstrate how multifarious were the versions of Johannes Witte de Hese’s Itinerarius that reached audiences in two languages during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as readers who were more wary of Turks than of Mongols and more interested in trading with India than investing it with unapproachable exotica sought information about the East. Scribes and editors of the Latin text attempted to improve the work stylistically, even to underscore its reliability, although they did little actually to make substantive changes in detail. A translator with access to an early version of the Itinerarius rendered it faithfully into Middle Dutch, in which it circulated in different dialects and degrees of completeness. Despite some of Witte’s astonishing claims, however, none of his editors, even those who most actively manipulated his language, presented his pilgrimage account as imaginary.


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 120 ]] 
Grammar
Third-person singular verb endings in e/en
Moses leyde (K); Moeyses leyden (L) 13
Paulus woende (K); Paulus woenden (L) 76
Third-person singular verb endings in t/n
sint (K); sijn (L) passim (28 instances)
gaet (K); ghaen (L) 183
Adjective endings in e/er
IV. groote steyne (K); vier groter steen (L) 14
vele guede crude (K); vele goeder crude (L) 62
Adjective endings: uninflected/en
suverlick/wonderlick/verveerlick (K); suverliken/wonderliken/ververliken (L) 192-93
Noun Plurals
kinderen (K); kijnder (L) 13, 65, 99
rysen (K); riser (L) 49
loeven (K); lover (L) 96
duvels (K); duvelen (L) 27
droppels (K); droppen (L) 46
vogels (K); voghele (L) 48, 51
cooplieden (K); coeplude (L) 165
belden (K); beelde (L) 177, 210, 263
graden (K); grade (L) 180
coningen (K); coninghe (L) 262
sanghen (K); sanghe (L) 267
Contracted Syllables in L
wasset (K); west/wast (L) 21, 150
steket (K); steecht (L) 68
gecledet (K); ghecleet (L) 81, 82
gevestet (K); ghevest (L) 42
rusteden (K); rusten (L) 57
soeticheit (K); suetheyt (L) 65
lopet (K); loept (L) 159
Contracted Words in K
int (K) in dat (L) 69
dats (K); dat is (L) 89

Endnotes

 [*] Full citations for works abbreviated in footnotes may be found in the bibliography, unless otherwise noted.

 [1 ] Harrison Hayford urged his students, including me, to describe manuscripts as “recovered” and “unrecovered”—rather than “surviving” and “lost”—partly to guard against anthropomorphizing them but also to allow for the distinct possibility that other copies of a book are found in collections that are insufficiently cataloged (or unknown to the editor).

 [2 ] See the list of abbreviations for manuscripts and editions. Details in this chapter about the date, provenance, and contents of each manuscript are documented in the appendix. The most recent survey of Itinerarius texts is in Carasso-Kok, Repertorium, pp. 332-33 (s.v. “Johan de Hees”). Her inventory of medieval Dutch books, an enormous undertaking, overlooks manuscripts AC and five printed editions.
As the discussion below will demonstrate, the three unrecovered Latin texts are: 1) the autograph copy; 2) a common source for DEa; and 3) the copy text used by the Middle Dutch translator. The autograph copy of the translation and the copy text for K (a transcription produced ca. 1690) also remain unlocated. The considerable variation among the recovered texts makes it highly unlikely that ABC and the source for DEa are all copies of the autograph Latin manuscript (or the copy text used by the translator), or that DEa all descend from the same manuscript, or that KLM all are copies of the autograph Middle Dutch manuscript. Thus, although it cannot be definitively proved, several other manuscripts in both languages almost certainly have been destroyed or are unrecovered.

 [3 ] Guéret-Laferté, Sur les routes, pp. 13-14 (“la pureté et l’intégrité du texte se trouvent continuellement menacées”).

 [4 ] The successive dependence of one printer on the work of another is detailed below. Witte’s reputation among humanist scholars is discussed in chapter 2. The “threat” to the text need not be seen as ominous. As Stephen G. Nichols puts it in his lucid introduction to the special issue “The New Philology” in Speculum 65 (1990), 1-108: “If we accept the multiple forms in which our artifacts have been transmitted, we may recognize that medieval culture did not simply live with diversity, it cultivated it” (pp. 8-9).

 [5 ] “Problems of ‘Best Text’ Editing and the Hengwrt Manuscript of The Canterbury Tales,” in Manuscripts and Texts: Editorial Problems in Later Middle English Literature, ed. Derek Pearsall (Cambridge, Eng., and Wolfeboro, N.H., 1987), pp. 87-94, esp. p. 88.

 [6 ] Dan Embree and Elizabeth Urquhart, “The Simonie: The Case for a Parallel-Text Edition,” in Manuscripts and Texts (n. 5 above), pp. 49-59, esp. pp. 52-53. No one in the history of the Itinerarius “rewrite[s]” its text as radically as Embree and Urquhart show scribes did to the poem in their title.

 [7 ] The claims made in this chapter are based on evidence in the form of variants that accompany the editions printed here. Each variant corresponds to a glossed word or passage in the base text, and each lemma is numbered; the lemmata are, in turn, organized by type (omission, addition, change in vocabulary, grammatical or syntactical revision, and so forth). At the end of the chapter, when the discussion turns to the Middle Dutch translation, lemma numbers are sometimes preceded by a letter to identify which text best records the reading being cited: L for Latin, D for Middle Dutch, and E for English.

 [8 ] Bühler claims to have learned through experience “that every manuscript ascribed to the second half of the fifteenth century is potentially (and often without question) a copy of some incunable”; The Fifteenth-Century Book (Philadelphia, 1960), p. 16.

 [9 ] On Johannes of Purmerend see chapter 2, n. 30; part of this composite manuscript was copied (but none of Johannes’s work) from an exemplar now in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek at Vienna (Cod. 3529). The Itinerarius in A also lacks a conventional incipit with a title, but this is true of BCE as well.

 [10 ] In his edition of Jacopo’s Liber, of which MS 1424/Co contains the only currently recovered copy in Latin, Ugo Monneret de Villard observed that Johannes was not “un copista molto accurato,” owing to his occasional omissions, “profoundly altered” forms of proper nouns, inconsistent spellings, and obscure passages (p. xi). A scribe working from a single copy text cannot be blamed for stumbling over illegible words or ambiguous abbreviations; were it possible to show that he had independently “corrected” a nonsensical reading, he would deserve a different censure. Requiring a fifteenth-century scribe to spell proper nouns—especially toponyms—“accurately” is anachronistic and naively assumes that medieval Europe had a common lexicon for political, biblical, and geographical terms. In the event, Johannes seems an unusually careful scribe: he draws a map of Mt. Sinai, presumably found in Jacopo’s autograph text (see Figure 3), and on at least one occasion, in The Book of John Mandeville, he left a blank space for geographical material about eastern Europe that he either could not decipher or knew to be corrupt (vol. 2, fol. 2r).

 [11 ] The spelling lapses (such as sepseptimana for septimana) are recorded in TN II 44, 89, 177, 301; the word appellatam is emended appellatum to agree with its subject claustrum, not its object Mariam (TN II 118); and est and non are added because they are necessary for sense (lemmata 256, 285). Johannes’s own tidy corrections in A (twenty minor ones) are recorded in TN II.

 [12 ] These variants are noted at lemmata 171, 371, 426, 439, 490 (slightly different in C), 947, 958, 1057, 1136, and 1187 (manuscripts CE employ the abbreviation s’t, which is usually expanded sunt but may also stand for sint). In addition, A uniquely reads videt (640), where the other texts have one of two different tenses of this verb (except C which has a completely different word); substitutes rotulos for rotulas (674), a noun that may be construed as masculine or feminine; and repeats a form of the verb sanare twice in a row (71), where the other texts have a form of mundare (except C, which omits the latter). The Middle Dutch translation, based on an early state of the Itinerarius, generally supports readings found in BCDEa-k: it shares them for variants numbered 1, 2, 8, 9, and 10; it agrees with A for variant 5; and it is ambiguous for variants 3, 4, and 6. It numbers the lamps at the church of Saint Thomas but gives their total as seven rather than twelve (variant 7). The fragmentary manuscript L lacks the text in which variants 6-10 occur, and K omits passages with variants 4 and 5.

 [13 ] See also n. 2 above. In addition to BCDEa-k, the following clusters appear to result from shared readings indicated in the lemmata: BCDa-k (958, 1123), BDEa-k (220, 599, 757, 793), BEa-k (755), Ba-k (834, 858, 1165 [possibly omissions at 445 and 450]), and CDEa-k (839, 877 and 879 [omissions]; 34, 520, 854, 940 [additions]; 345, 484, 690, 966 [semantic changes, the first and last differences in number]). Particularly provocative are twenty-five shared (or similar) variants in Ca-k that suggest a common source, including omissions (155, 283, 618, 663, 744, 838, 936, 1145, 1150), additions (307, 576, 606, 769, 772, 802, 883, 1084), a transposition (20), and simple semantic changes (33, 122, 424, 577 and 578, 636, 825). Since many other substantive variants prove that a-k share a common source with DE, and since these twenty-five variants do not appear in either of these two manuscripts, at least some of the common readings in Ca-k must be circumstancial rather than proof of a common source.

 [14 ] Variants in B—especially omissions—are considerable enough to make it highly unlikely that it was used in conjunction with another copy of the Itinerarius to produce a recovered or hypothesized text.

 [15 ] As the description in the appendix indicates, B was once the sixth gathering (fols. 60-71) in a manuscript codex.

 [16 ] The full name and part of the date are also found in C. Witte was in India in 1391, according to A and Middle Dutch K; B places him there in 1390, but this seems to be a correction of an original reading of 1391 or 1392; see lemmata 2, 4, 906, and TN II 336 L906.

 [17 ] B leaves out: 1) Witte’s second crossing of the Red Sea; 2) a key phrase in the description of sculpted figures of a king and queen at Prester John’s palace (rendering the sentence meaningless); 3) notice of a revolving chapel in the palace; 4) the statement that Indian animals bear two litters annually; 5) part of the explanation of how Christians walk through the dry sea to get to the church of Saint Thomas; and 6) the surmise that there is never night at “Radix Paradisi.” The first four and the sixth of these are almost certainly attributable to a scribal eye-slip in passages with word repetition (the fourth is also missing in Ca-k; the last is not in C); the fifth may have been caused by the scribe’s leap from sic quod to siccis; the fourth is also missing in Ca-k and the last in C only. The final sentence of the Itinerarius, which may be a scribe’s addition, is not in BC and is worded quite differently in Ea-k. See lemmata 91, 445, 630, 792, 821 and 824, 1027, and 1199. On other kinds of omission see nn. 22 and 24 below.

 [18 ] For these two additions see lemmata 755 and 980 (the former is also found in Ea-k; the latter, with slightly different grammar, is in C). For clarifying prepositions or other parts of speech see 524, 604, 763, 789, and 868 (the addition at 518 is more redundant than helpful). The B-scribe evidently wanted saints to be identified as such and thus adds pious titles to names at 388, 758 (but see 757), and 816. Conjunctions such as et and etiam are added about as often as they are omitted and thus do not reflect the editorial policy of the printers to curb Witte’s redundant usage of these words: for additions see 42, 215, 684, 848, and 1046 (and et cetera at 116); for omissions see n. 22 below. The addition of septem (338)—inelegantly altering “we were detained for eight weeks” to “eight [of us] were detained for seven weeks”—is probably a result of scribal carelessness (confusing septem and septimanis).

 [19 ] For the examples here see lemmata 264, 139, 262, and 562. Variants that not only alter but also (arguably) obscure or corrupt the text are at 56, 189 (turning Jews [Judei] into Indians [indei]), 355, 430, 754, 794, 889 (having the Saint Thomas Christians receive the eucharist from the “hands of the patriarch” rather than from the apostle’s disembodied hand), 910, 931, and 1189. Other semantic variants (almost all of them unique to B) are less consequential: 43, 113, 249, 335, 395, 402, 429, 449, 505, 516, 671, 765, 783, 795, 827, 850, 878, 913, 946, 960, 973, 979, 987, 1095, 1105, 1112. If the B-scribe generally prefers to write ibi for ibidem (9, 99, 148, 354, 513, 594, 662, 747, 977, 1086, 1116), the reverse is also attested (557, 635, 679, 911; see also 188). Three changes in vocabulary are especially noteworthy: a great plaza “stands atop” rather than below columns (472); Witte’s presence in India is given as 1390 in B but 1391 in A (906 [see n. 16 above]); and Witte’s boat is blown into a gulf where he can see neither day nor “the moon” (lunam) rather than “light” (lumen [1165]): although this latter reading is also found in the printed editions, DE support the reading in A, and C is ambiguously abbreviated.

 [20 ] Some verbs in the indicative mood in A appear in the subjunctive in B (lemmata 286, 476, 556, 764, 858, 1123 [and CDa-k]), but the reverse is also true (109, 342, 1023, 1187); a verb in the present subjunctive is mystifyingly changed to the future indicative (897). For other variants in verb forms see 79, 141, 169, 303, 1051, and 1077. For variant forms of adjectives, pronouns, and nouns see 226, 248, 279, 318, 718, and 1123. Grammatically incorrect errors are listed in TN V.

 [21 ] Lemmata 50, 95, 897, 911, 1051, 1142.

 [22 ] These trivial omissions—of words such as de, eciam, est, et, ibi, ibidem, and sunt—are recorded in lemmata 72, 96, 244, 477, 503, 529, 539, 558, 591, 727, 945, 1083, 1106, and 1178. Some of these are also lacking in other texts, but this probably results from independent revisions. Other omissions arguably alleviate the text of some of its repetitiveness (36, 96, 208, 209, 267, 834 [also in a-k]), but a few obscure its sense (891, 900 and 902, 1012, 1013). For words omitted at the beginning of a sentence see n. 24 below.

 [23 ] Lemma 332.

 [24 ] Lemmata 117, 537, 747, 775, 797, 971, 1100, 1163. With the exception of 747, which adds a phrase to the text, these simply cut rather than revise words.

 [25 ] Lemma 395.

 [26 ] See TN II for many examples of scribal correction, seldom with any attempt to erase and sometimes—because one word is written over another—leading to a nearly illegible reading; seventeen grammatical errors are recorded in TN V. Several place-names are also given obscurely (see TN I) by a scribe who had a generally idiosyncratic sense of Latin spelling (see TN III, e.g., sepiliuntur [109], rivolus [141], calumpnas [154, 155, and passim], lapedibus [156]). For the rubric see TN VI 42-43 L116.

 [27 ] Brocker’s Latin instructions to his manuscript’s readers are recorded at TN VI 355, 380, and 406.

 [28 ] These six variants are found, respectively, in lemmata 14, 10, 7, 12, 6, and 15.

 [29 ] Many spellings in C are idiosyncratic, taking such forms as transsitur, milliare, apperit, and allia (consonants are frequently doubled); see TN III 33, 66, 89, 141, 332, 365, and passim.

 [30 ] Only in C does Witte unequivocally state that “I came” to Ethiopia and “we sailed through” the marine passageway through a mountain near the pepper fields of India (lemmata 200, 366-67). Some additions are more significant, including his assurances that he himself read a sign outside Prester John’s palace and saw the miraculously changing complexion of Apostle Thomas’s face (734, 865). This latter claim acquires extra force from C’s recasting of present-tense verbs in the preterite, which makes Thomas’s facial revivification not so much a recurring wonder as a personal anecdote: whatever the general rule may be, the saint “had” three different likenesses and “appeared” first like a dead man, on that particular occasion when Witte saw it (866, 867). The collapsing of navigando . . . navigavimus to navigamus (1127) eliminates redundancy but unites separate geographical ideas.

 [31 ] Lemmata 712, 1011, 1092-93 (see also 1086 for the change of an ablative absolute construction to a first-person plural verb).

 [32 ] Lemmata 682, 699, 1184 (the information about Gog and Magog, in the subjunctive mood in A, is in the indicative in C [as well as BFbe]). Only in C does Witte identify people going in and out of Prester John’s refectory as “servants to those” dining there or exclude only women from the churches of Edissa (720, 763). The “multitude of people” who assemble on Saint Thomas’s feast day is more exactly described as “a countless multitude of Christians,” and the two sinners denied the eucharist there are moved “instantly” to repentance (842, 909). In the Jasconius episode, C deletes a reference to lost cooking pots, replacing it with a sympathetic observation that the whale submerged in order to save its own life (1096). C also more knowingly claims that large domesticated beasts on a remote island never “suffer any kind of adversity” (1125). A couple of minor additions are sensible (769, 980); for less significant ones see nn. 36, 38, and 48 below.

 [33 ] Lemmata 152 and 153, 375, 511, 704, 785 (the deleted information on the rivers of Paradise is replaced by a reference to monthly irrigation in Prester John’s land [776]), 796, 929, 1027 (also omitted in B); of these omissions, scribal eye-slips probably led to the first (campum repeated) and seventh (archiepiscopi repeated) and may have caused the one in lemma 10 (see n. 28 above).

 [34 ] Lemmata 71, 207, 562-63, 634, 668, 916. Information is also lost in omissions noted in 531, 838-39, 844, 942, 943, 952, 960, 999, 1054, and 1115. The magi are identified without number as “reges” here, but this is also the case in Ea-k (974). Like B, C omits the narrative’s last sentence (1199).

 [35 ] Their complaints continue to be raised. Coquebert de Montbret, the editor of Jordan of Sévérac’s description of India, could not believe that a bishop could write such bad Latin (see Jordan of Sévérac, Mirabilia, p. xvii). O’Meara bemoans the quality of language in the popular Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Voyage, pp. xviii-xix): “[P]ronouns . . . are imprecise; coepit has become almost an auxiliary verb; praedictus usually signifies little more than the definite article, and quidam little more than the indefinite. Weakening of syntax is occasionally of staggering proportions.”

 [36 ] Unique to C are omissions in lemmata 75, 194, 579, and 942; others are also missing in other texts (155, 350, 514, 517, 808). Deletions seem to have been somewhat indiscriminate, as lemma 579 testifies (unum diem is not “a day” but “one day”). Nor is this editorial policy consistent: indefinite articles are added at 1060 and 1098.

 [37 ] Lemmata 55, 697, 739, 813 and 814.

 [38 ] Lemmata 28, 30, 68, 170, 171, 277, 283, 309, 394, 416, 420, 421, 504, 572, 586, 590, 614, 618, 621, 622, 649, 686, 726, 729, 745, 753, 756, 766, 767, 775, 827, 914, 936, 946, 982, 1006, 1040, 1073, 1119-21, 1128, 1146 (with substituted word), 1174, 1188, 1189. Also edited out are words or phrases such as aforementioned (63), as it is said (162, 223, 988, 1054), et cetera (477), and a variety of adverbs (82, 120, 137, 178, 252, 426, 675, 725, 737, 877, 926, 931, 1079, 1116, 1145) and conjunctions (48, 186, 426, 440, 522, 873, 1070). At the same time, many additions in C are themselves arguably wordy: 42, 49, 70, 164, 165, 217, 237, 286, 450, 451, 466, 483, 524, 583, 600, 604, 623, 643, 676, 684, 687, 688, 733, 756, 760, 868, 883, 941, 951, 965, 968, 985, 1022, 1042, 1044, 1067, 1072, 1157, and 1187. C intensifies a description or dramatic scene at 396, 576, 610, 1064, and 1069.

 [39 ] Lemmata 266, 271, 1118. For other omissions that lead to some semantic or grammatical confusion see 493, 531, 555, 568, and 1049.

 [40 ] Lemmata 12, 41, 65, 104, 119, 171, 250, 257, 259, 287, 386, 422-23, 496, 507, 534, 536, 542, 555, 556, 637, 670 (also in B), 705, 715, 860, 872, 963, 1018, 1033, 1045, 1123, 1135, 1142, 1189. These synonyms include pronouns substituted for nouns (usually to avoid repetition). A rather trivial change evidently reflects another scribal stylistic preference: starting about one-quarter into the narrative, C frequently reads ibi for A’s ibidem (327, 462, 485, 501, 503, 513, 719, 744, 787, 833, 841, 853, 962, 1005, 1021, 1062, 1086, 1183), although the reverse also occurs (545, 651, 911, 1026, 1133, 1190).

 [41 ] Lemmata 182, 240, 241, 339, 358, 360, 751, 774, 800, 803 and 805, 852, 910, 1017, 1099, 1116, 1176. Changes in C from the subjunctive to the indicative mood are less trivial since they confirm Witte’s claims as definitive and first-hand (109, 897, 1123 [also in BDa-k], 1184, 1187 [uncertain, because an abbreviation], 1197); one substitution of the future tense makes for an awkward sentence (768). Other generally minor grammatical variants are recorded in lemmata 23, 33, 46, 66, 79, 80, 226, 279, 364, 433, 553, 735, 788, 897, and 1058.

 [42 ] Lemmata 122 (the change to quantitate is also found in a-k), 489, 716, 724, 771, 1009. For similar substitutions see 103 (where ardent is superior to vivunt but has been used earlier in the sentence), 111, 150, 161, 214, 218, 414, 508, 523, 566, 711, 759, 829, 831, 885, 965, 1014, 1054, and 1058. Flashes of a more refined Latin are occasionally evident (640, 1034, 1054, 1153 [the last three of these may be a scribe’s conscious flourish at the end of a copying job). In C, Witte must sail “through” (per), and not “below” (infra), two dangerous seas, bringing to the narrative a keener sense of space: the latter reading (in ABDE) suggests someone looking at a mappamundi rather than recalling an actual experience (253 [but not 228]). On the other hand, the alteration of “farther” (ulterius) to “after that” (ex tunc) makes time win out over space (1131; see also 1156). C twice replaces a word with et (343, 490).

 [43 ] Lemmata 731, 1119. The variant recorded in lemma 892, similar to a change in DEa-k, may make better sense to some readers, but it is a distinct change from the reflexive pronoun in AB. See also 147 and n. 46 below.

 [44 ] Lemmata 135 and 136, 538, 580, 593, 1115. For other consequential changes—we cannot know if they result from conscious revision or scribal confusion, although the latter often seems likely—see 91, 93, 125, 159, 167 (the unicornus is a unus cornuus), 195, 284, 305, 415, 459, 472 (a change in architecture similar to a variant in B), 538, 567, 836, 850, 939, 949, 950 (Saint Thomas’s reliquary hangs not at a “beautiful choir [chancel]” [chorum pulchrum] but at a “tomb” [sepulchrum]), 972, 1002, 1026, 1039, 1067, 1096, and 1141.

 [45 ] Lemmata 41, 87, 88, 90, 191, 202, 230, 243, 245, 274, 983, 1180 (on significant omissions see also 10, 785). Two toponyms are added to C, presumably for clarity’s sake (714, 848; see also several garbled readings of place-names recorded in TN I, passim).

 [46 ] Lemmata 100, 140, 696. Variants in quantitative terms that are spelled out as words (770, 818) are particularly difficult to explain. The number of men who go ashore at the Root of Paradise is increased by one (1007). Like printed editions ghjk, C makes the number of trees Witte observes at Elim (70 rather than 72) accord with the figure given in Exod. 15:27, which may be a studied change (147). The presentation of the year in which Witte began his pilgrimage, 1389 (written “Mo ccco 89”), is a hybrid of the two competing systems for representing numbers during the later Middle Ages; a second date, marking his visit to Hulna seems only to give the century: “Mo 3” (906 [according to A it was 1391]). Generally speaking, C spells out the declinable word for one, uses arabic numbers for two through four, gives roman numerals for eight through one hundred (seven is once spelled out, once a roman numeral, and once an arabic number), and spells out numbers over one hundred. See TN IV, passim.

 [47 ] Problems reading the copy text may explain such peculiar variants as versa for una (105), oleum for olim (121), et for ut (127), unus for nilus (191), iuda for india (202), longe for longum (208), sepe for semper (220) ducenti for detenti (338), and ductu for ducatu (356). (As the lemma numbers indicate, these problems cluster in the first third of the text, suggesting a scribe was becoming better able to read a copy text.) C is itself obscure on occasion (1165, 1187, and TN II, passim).

 [48 ] For simple word transpositions and rearrangements see lemmata 20, 50, 53, 138, 169, 172, 233, 234, 251, 269, 336, 342, 394, 431, 437, 456, 469, 474, 565, 597, 599, 608, 625 and 627, 638, 652, 661, 667, 691, 872, 881, 911, 914, 1013, 1066, 1074, 1085, 1141, and 1151. Some of these are found in other versions of the Itinerarius (see n. 13 above), but they may be examples of two scribes making the same change independently since no other pattern can be discerned. For more complicated syntactical revisions that usually build on the same word units see 60 and 61, 76 and 78, 92, 220, 221, 239, 280, 394, 410, 423-23, 681, 707 and 709, 724, 763, 813 and 814, 825, 885 and 890, 944 and 946, 956 and 959, and 1172-73.
The transposition in lemma 6 is anomalous in that it may affect the way one understands the opening sentence, although the lack of punctuation makes a definitive reading impossible. By placing de hese after the word presbyter, C may be disassociating the placename from the priest’s name. The protagonist in this pilgrimage could be “Johannes Witte de Hese, a priest in the diocese of Utrecht” (as my translation reads), but he also might be “Johannes Witte, a priest at Hese, in the diocese of Utrecht.” Indeed, the reading in C calls into question our ability definitely to name this traveler.

 [49 ] Lemmata 86, 123, 146, 405, 721, 743, 747, 748, 765, 846, 1047. Compare nn. 87, 110, and 167 below.

 [50 ] Lemmata 15, 78, 595, 816, 901. See also the addition of corpus Christi, suggesting a need to clarify a liturgical description (864).

 [51 ] See TN II for Nott’s corrections and TN VI 149-50 for his instruction that the reader “note these matters well, for the next two leaves.” See also chapter 2, n. 34.

 [52 ] This is the only manuscript to include glosses throughout the Itinerarius (see TN VI). The scribe uses roman numerals only twice (once for the date in line 1, again at lemma 958); elsewhere he employs arabic numbers, even for two-digit figures, writes the Latin word for the number, or combines a word with an arabic number (such as ∧° due for “seventy-two” [see TN IV 55 and passim]).

 [53 ] For the change to third-person verbs see lemmata 7, 18, 29, 34, 37, 39, 173, 179 (see 184 for a-k), 190, 192, 198, 206, 222 (omitted in a-k), 232, 272, 511, and 905 (where the shift occurs in two verbs). The first-person pronoun ego and the surname “Witte” are omitted from the first sentence in DEa (B also omits ego); printed edition b returns the narrative to the first person and restores ego but not the surname (2, 4); see n. 106 below. For Nott’s interpolation see 989 (where a phrase added in E also suggests a scribe’s recognition of the grammatical shift in the text).

 [54 ] Lemmata 893, 896, 897, 904.

 [55 ] For indefinite articles see lemmata 291 and 336; for omissions in arguably repetitious or wordy phrases see 59, 61, 85, 346, 347, 465, 510, 621, 766, 1093, and 1143.

 [56 ] Lemmata 296 and 906, as well as 507, 535, 680, 928.

 [57 ] Lemmata 29, 905; DEa-k also add a phrase enumerating how many non-Christian kings rule under Prester John, although DE report the number as sixty-one while the printed editions set it at seven (742). See also lemma 173, which traces how an interpolated ipse goes from emphasizing the traveler in the third-person in DE to underscoring the first-person narrator’s veracity in b-k.

 [58 ] Lemmata 237, 380, 406, 427, 465, 518, 546, 585, 649, 854 (also in C, with transposed word order in E), 919, 955, 988, 1019, 1031, 1194; some of these are modified in later printed editions.

 [59 ] For the two examples see lemmata 1071 and 892; for other instances of single word substitutions see 53, 148, 193, 311, 312, 331, 352, 403, 458, 511, 569, 662, 671, 732, 793, 960, 984, 1027, 1091, 1110, and 1191. Such changes in vocabulary are more frequent in C. Only two verb forms are altered (600, 1093).

 [60 ] Lemmata 25, 110, 223, 289, 391, 548, 650, 819 and 821, 895, 897, 959, 1010; simple transpositions are recorded in lemmata 129, 294, 383, 589, and 603. DE show little effort to reduce the frequency with which the coordinating conjunction et begins an independent clause. In one instance, DE create a new sentence (adding Et est) out of an apposition (541); this and some other variants noted here undergo further change in a-k.

 [61 ] For the two examples cited see lemmata 308 and 1169; for less consequential omissions see 108, 158, 223, 443, 444, 446, 448, 477, 628, 652, 654, 762, 806, 815, 897, 1085, 1103, and 1152. The word et is deleted at 301, 442, 457, 638, and 849 (but see 850).

 [62 ] Lemma 326; other additions unique to DE are recorded in lemmata 21, 273, 391, 424, 473, 492, 520 (also in C), 526, 565, 762, 772, 815, 870, 872, 874, 898, 932, and 936. The latter two emphasize the marvelous character of Prester John’s palace; one employs unam as an indefinite article (273), and others are wordy (424, 473, 565, 772, 870 and 874, 872). For a significant interpolation about “Johannes de Hese” taking leave of Prester John (lemma 989) see n. 53 above.

 [63 ] For substitutions of one word for another (such as magnitudo for multitudo or acceperunt for receperunt) see lemmata 71 (also in Ba-j), 92, 265, 339, 447, 452, 602, 632, 634, 790, 828, 842, 850, 903, 912, 1039, 1112 (also in B), and 1129. To avoid redundancy, presumably, De replace Grandicanis with talis rex (270). For changes in grammar see 403, 438, 487, 579, 856, 897, and 1187. These show no pattern: one verb in the indicative mood in A appears in the subjunctive in DE (856), but the opposite also occurs (403, 897, 1187 [E reads s’t, which may be expanded sint or sunt]). In addition, DE make Hulna a location that is a four-day journey “before” (ante) rather than “away from” (a) Prester John’s capital (802) and they introduce a result clause (sic quod) to replace an inconsequential et (377). DE, like C, prefer ibi for ibidem (123, 354, 520, 558 [others carried over in the printed editions are at 148, 458, 569, 662, 793]), but the opposite is also recorded (638, 931, 976).

 [64 ] Lemma 162.

 [65 ] For transpositions see lemmata 63, 339, 426 (DE vary), 529, 545, 553, 557, 866, 879, and 1107. Note that these lemma numbers indicate two clusters of transposed word units. For other syntactical revisions see 24, 171, 286, 327 (DE vary slightly), 376, 637, 744, 896-97 (a significant change), and 952.

 [66 ] Lemmata 408, 804 and 821 (n and u, both formed by two minims, are sometimes nearly indistinguishable), 1185. The word eidem is spelled iidem in DE and in B (250).

 [67 ] D alone identifies the writer of the Itinerarius as “johannis de hess” (lemmata 3, 4, 5).

 [68 ] Lemmata 348, 376, 390, 551, 570, 631, 636, 664, 674, 986, 1016, 1194. While the omission of ignis after incenditur (390), for example, sensibly reduces prolixity (with what but fire could the pepper field “be ignited”?), rotulos/rotulas and veniebamus (674, 1194) are essential to the integrity of two sentences.

 [69 ] Lemmata 40, 276 (ista civitas is also in the printed editions), 671, 676.

 [70 ] Lemmata 49, 239 (confusingly reading of the boat for of the sea), 381, 520 (changing stairs to dwellings is consequential), 582, 794 (reading in die for Indie), 843, 995, 1119, 1175. The place-name Amosona is spelled amosana (1180). D emends ibidem to ibi (719, 1183) as often as it does the opposite (537, 635).

 [71 ] Lemmata 68, 163, 216, 318, 371, 583 (this plural form “[of the] patriarchs” is also found in the printed editions but contradicts references elsewhere to a single Indian patriarch), 607, 703, 843, 1077, 1123, 1150. The indicative mood of A is three times replaced with the subjunctive (318, 371, 1123 [also in BCa-k]), but the reverse also occurs (1123).

 [72 ] Lemmata 160, 441, 520, 880.

 [73 ] Lemmata 123, 558.

 [74 ] The four significant omissions are recorded at lemmata 136 (perhaps a scribal eye-slip caused by the repetition of altare), 186, 958, and 1020 (a-k also omit); for others see 519, 523, 669, 694, 873, 886, 899, and 926 (the printed editions follow E at 873, 886, 926). Several revised beginnings of independent clauses lead to the omission of at least one word (123, 558, 582; see also 957).

 [75 ] Lemmata 260 (for homines), 755 (also in Ba-k), 955, 1022; the scribe adds et cetera five times (676 [also repeating deo], 795, 885, 970, 1198).

 [76 ] For synonyms see lemmata 791, 840, 856, 935, 937, and 954. For other more significant changes see 51, 64, 133, 542, 584 (also found in the printed editions), and 922; the readings dicenti for detenti (480) and orant for curantur (561) are nonsensical in their context and must be copying errors. The field named “Helym” is spelled elÿm (134). E changes ibidem to ibi five times (99, 146, 787, 1154, 1157).

 [77 ] For the three cited examples in order see lemmata 848, 112, and 809; see also 262 (the Monoculi are also given plural “eyes” in B), 718, 908, 951, 1058 (also Ca-k), and 1194 (also a-k).

 [78 ] For word transpositions see lemmata 74, 181, 401, 536, 701, 791, 974, and 1027. Sentence order is once completely changed (1024), perhaps a scribe’s attempt to mask an eye-slip, and once revised for economy (1119).

 [79 ] Guldenschaff was apparently untroubled about two passages of first-person narrative (lines 120-35 and 367-442): twice he revises the text to underscore this sense of direct witness (992, 1030). See n. 91 below. On Guldenschaff’s responsibility for the text, however, see n. 84 below.

 [80 ] Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Eng., 1979), 2:513.

 [81 ] See TN VI 147 L410 and 300 L797. On a rubric in B see n. 26 above.

 [82 ] Rogers, Quest, p. 81.

 [83 ] Ernst Voulliéme, Die deutschen Drucker des Fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts, 2nd ed. (Berlin, 1928), p. 48; Ferdinand Geldner, Die deutschen Inkunabeldrucker: Ein Handbuch der deutschen Buchdrucker des XV. Jahrhunderts nach Druckorten (Stuttgart, 1968), 1:93-94. On Johannes of Hildesheim see commentary 21-25 and 249-55; Witte mentions Cologne at lines 150-51.

 [84 ] The discussion below credits an “editor” rather than Guldenschaff (or his shop) for the work because it cannot be known definitively that the revisions found in a did not already exist in its copy text.

 [85 ] Lemmata 405 (C also omits Et), 409, 411, 417, 422, 424 (C also changes Et habet bene to habens).

 [86 ] Independent clauses are also linked by ablative absolutes (339, 937 and 938), relative pronouns (600, 689, 752, 810, 855, 1035), and conjunctions such as nam or ut (458, 481).

 [87 ] Cornelius of Zyrickzee, who published the Itinerarius three times in the 1490s, further revised Guldenschaff’s edition; in the following list of lemmata recording independent clauses whose opening words are emended in a, those marked with an asterisk represent readings that undergo additional change in b (see n. 110 below for original emendations in b); those that enter the text in subsequent editions are listed in the individual discussions of cdefghijk below: 16, 45, 86, 91, 101, 114, 117, 118*, 142*, 146*, 151*, 153, 166, 174, 177*, 180, 185*, 205, 207, 242, 259, 269, 276*, 281*, 290, 298*, 304*, 328*, 339*, 344, 347, 354, 379*, 382*, 395, 405, 409, 411, 422, 435, 439, 452, 455, 458*, 461*, 469, 470, 478*, 479, 480, 491*, 498*, 501, 511, 519, 521, 524*, 529, 533, 536 (change to participle also in C), 537, 539, 547, 548, 549*, 555, 557, 558, 562 and 563*, 567, 569, 574, 579, 582, 585, 591 and 592, 600, 601*, 604, 608*, 624, 631, 633*, 635, 636 and 637*, 642, 646*, 662*, 670, 671*, 679, 685*, 689, 700 and 702, 705*, 721*, 722, 728, 752, 762, 765, 748*, 767, 771, 786*, 797, 807*, 810, 815*, 817, 826, 828*, 832, 846*, 855, 857, 863, 876*, 880, 891, 894*, 905, 918, 922, 931*, 937 and 938, 950, 953, 957*, 977, 981*, 989, 1005, 1025, 1029, 1035, 1041, 1052, 1055, 1062, 1065*, 1069, 1071, 1074, 1078, 1083, 1086, 1097*, 1108, 1116, 1131, 1133, 1138, 1144, 1154*, 1156, 1157*, 1163, 1166*, 1178, 1187*, 1192, 1196*, 1199. Occasionally a appears to revise the beginning of an independent clause found in DE but not ABC (427, 541, 897).

 [88 ] For the examples cited here see lemmata 19, 57, and 136. For other omissions of arguably repetitious or pleonastic constructions see 17, 41, 97, 98, 113, 149, 183 (here John the Baptist is no longer called “blessed,” but later printed editions call him “saint”), 340, 386, 421, 436, 460, 570, 655, 657, 696, 710, 723, 725, 739, 749, 778, 780, 782 and 783, 813, 827 (with addition of adverb), 834, 868, 871 (see 872), 873, 881, 882, 886, 911, 926, 970, 996, 997, 1027, 1037, 1040, 1063, 1086, 1106 (also omitted in B), 1109, and 1145. Usages of unus/una/unum as an indefinite article are deleted at 407, 514, 635, 942, 948, 950, 1081, 1160, and 1193. Other omissions occur in the revisions recorded in n. 87 above.

 [89 ] Lemmata 222, 268, 450, 792, 896 and 904, 1181. The absence of a word or two can alter the text’s content in small but meaningful ways: the scholars selected to gaze into Prester John’s magic mirror are not “extremely worthy” (659); the fact that thirty thousand people dine within the palace at Edissa is not recorded outside the building “in golden letters” (717); and Witte does not rather indelicately point out that the women from Terra Feminarum spend their occasional days in Edissa “copulating” with their husbands (761). Other losses of information due to omission are recorded in 463, 482, 543, 611, 621, 643, 648 (astronomical data lost to concision), 661, 850, 883, 936 (also omitted in C), 943, 1001, 1004, 1020, 1053, and 1134. Canceling the identification of Alexander the Great as a “Roman emperor” removes a historical inaccuracy (1050).

 [90 ] For such arguably unnecessary additions see lemmata 78, 111, 171, 215, 236, 310, 316, 331, 335, 385, 425, 428, 453, 486, 526, 566, 573, 609, 615, 676, 755 (also in BE), 760, 836, 865, 879, 882, 884, 932, 952, 954, 974, 1068, 1117, 1167, and 1177. Other additions improve style or clarify ambiguities (164, 215, 237, 261 [unum used as a numeral], 311, 361, 384, 544, 549, 571, 672, 725, 732, 734, 769, 773, 835 [needed because of transposed sentence order], 851 [but see 850], 1030, 1061). A few do add to the text’s clarity or substance (307, 467, 530, 560, 561, 798 and 799, 847, 907, 953, 974 [identifying the three kings as “magi,” although a generally omits appositions) 1088).

 [91 ] The addition also makes up for an omission, in effect reversing the order of sentences so that the hermit is fully described before the assertion of the truth-claim; see lemmata 179 and 184. The name “priest Iohannes” is expanded to “iohannes de hese” in b, probably to avoid confusion with “Prester John” (“Presbyter Johannes” in Latin). The phrase is in the first-person singular in c-k. The addition ad nos (1107) and the change of fuit to the more appropriate venimus (1139) reassert Witte’s status as witness even though most of edition a is in the third person. See n. 79 above.

 [92 ] For examples cited here see lemmata 12 (C reads nominatam), 255, 907, and 915. For similar changes see 31, 94, 119 (also in C), 120, 122 (also in C), 172, 213, 221, 287, 318, 343, 366, 376, 378, 391, 413, 435, 466, 489, 564, 587, 613, 620, 644, 645, 678, 721, 730, 841, 897, 912, 920, 924, 934, 961, 973, 997, 1011, 1014, 1039, 1073, 1076, 1123, 1124, 1128, 1130, and 1183. Two indefinite articles are replaced with more stylish equivalents (176, 194). Some revisions—such as et omnia genera languorum for infirmi (934)—might be judged either more eloquent or verbose. Two variant spellings are noteworthy: unicornis for unicornus (167) and brandicanus for grandicanis (270, 339).

 [93 ] Lemmata 464, 660. It is difficult to classify many of the semantic changes in a since stylistic improvement and altered sense are not always easily distinguishable. The voice that “came” (veniebat) to Witte at Purgatory in ABCDE “resounded” (insonuit) in the printed editions, bringing heightened drama, but little else, to the story (1075); on the other hand, describing images of the prophets as being “sculpted” (sculpti) rather than “made” (facti) of precious stones gives specific form to art of uncertain appearance (485), while locating in Prester John’s palace a “chancel” (chorus) dedicated to Abraham, rather than the patriarch’s “body” (corpus), which readers of pilgrimage accounts knew to be buried at Hebron, rescues the text from apparent error (497). For similar changes see 89, 108, 143, 228, 253, 289, 300, 304, 398, 403 (emending a double negative introduced in DE), 432, 471, 540, 583 (also in E), 933, 1119, 1164 and 1165 (also in B), 1171, 1189, and 1198 (conscripserunt for est notum underscoring how “textual” a world Europe was becoming by the late 1400s).

 [94 ] Lemmata 673, 696, 740 and 742 (lemma 966 is discussed above in connection with CDE). On the elders and vassal rulers see commentary 249-55 and 276-80.

 [95 ] For simple word transpositions (asterisks mark the “inconsistent” reversals) see lemmata 20, 58, 66, 73, 74, 207*, 271, 351, 392, 400, 408, 434, 453, 454*, 465* (a revision of DE), 474, 481, 488, 532, 575, 605, 693*, 701, 741, 779, 793*, 869*, 872* (with change in vocabulary), 910, 917* (with change in vocabulary), 921, 923, 943, 948, 964, 1027, 1032*, 1075, 1076, 1087, 1107* (with minor addition), 1137, 1155, 1161, and 1179.

 [96 ] Style is little affected by making the two fountains in Prester John’s palace “hot and cold” instead of “cold and hot” (lemma 684); see also 221, 596, 825, 856, 1021 and 1023, 1073, 1089, and 1096.

 [97 ] Lemmata 286, 376, 394, 479, 495, 506, 509, 533, 552, 554, 560-65, 578 and 581, 617 and 623, 641, 653, 744 and 746, 835 and 845, 885, 907, 952, 958, 986, 1139, 1141, 1153, 1158. Distinguishing between arbitrary and elegant changes in style is sometimes a close call, especially since the focus here is on isolated bits of text: the overall effect of revisions in a is the production of a narrative that is stylistically much more sophisticated than what may be found in any manuscript copy.

 [98 ] Lemmata 835, 1033; edition a reverses the order of two other sentences in the course of adding to the text (179 and 184; see n. 91 above), and it further revises the substantial reorganization of sentences in DE (893).

 [99 ] For gerundives see lemmata 887, 992 (the revision in turn requires another at 991), 969, 1109, 1111, 1113, and 1170 (but a gerundive is added at 1132); for verbs in the imperfect tense see 275, 371, 1018, 1059, 1080, 1101, 1107, 1154, 1173, and 1194. The change of crescens to crescente corrects a grammatical error in ABCDE (47). For changes in other verb forms see 22, 52, 239, 398, 403, 480, 508, 513, 708, 862, 930, and 965. For emendations in other parts of speech see 440, 466, 703, 882, 1058, and 1085.

 [100 ] For cited examples see lemmata 145 and 146, and 555 and 556; see also 70 (twice) and 71, 258, 718, 858 (also in B), and 1018. By contrast, two usages of the subjunctive in A are in the indicative in a, but these variants are found in other manuscripts as well (1123, 1187).

 [101 ] Punctuation in a is rudimentary, but it has three instances of parentheses, which recur in F (not G); see TN III 154, 177, and 208-10.

 [102 ] F includes copies of works by Jacobus Gruitroede and Saint Bonaventure published in the late 1490s.

 [103 ] For omissions see lemmata 88, 300 (the absence of mire slightly lessens the wonder of the lighthouse at Andranopolis), 311 (est, abbreviated ē, is set together with the next word, elevata, in a and would thus be easy to overlook), and 968. For additions see 318 (the scribe, moving his eye from one line to the next after eam, perhaps was misled by sic near the beginning of that same line) and 677.

 [104 ] For vocabulary see lemmata 32 (reading nos for eos emphasizes Witte’s personal experience but conflicts with the third-person narration), 145, 403 (reading also in G), 466, and 1124; for grammar see 144 and 1184 (more definitively locating Gog and Magog). Of these variants, two in one sentence are noteworthy: in reporting on the miraculous virtue of the water at Helym, F states that if anyone “will have drunk” from them (like ABCDE, reading biberit, a future perfect indicative, for biberet, the imperfect subjunctive in a), he will not be “castrated” rather than “blinded” (execarentur for excecarentur) that day (144, 145); see also n. 132 below. One place-name and one proper noun are slightly modified (134, 1149). The scribe’s eight mistakes in spelling or grammar—as well as his reproduction of one incorrect verb form in Guldenschaff’s edition—are recorded in TN V; typographical errors in a (see TN VII) are silently corrected in the apparatus of the Latin critical edition here.

 [105 ] See (in the order cited) lemmata 653, 497 (for ibi and one usage of fit), 1197, 807, 821, 50, 739, 403 (also in F), and 1151. The scribe of G does not adopt the parentheses found in a and F (see n. 101 above) and regularly drops the letter h in all forms of the word pulcher, but otherwise he closely follows the copy text, even reproducing most of its abbreviations (for a few aberrations see TN III). The passage describing how the women of Terra Feminarum regularly visit the men of Edissa is marked for special attention (TN VI 283-92).

 [106 ] Lemmata 29, 184, 905, all of which combine a reference to the “aforementioned” or the “very same” priest “Iohannes” with a first-person verb (in the first two cases edition c [as well as defghijk, which are based on it] adds the word ego). See n. 53 above for eighteen verbs that are changed to the third person in DEa; about half of these are restored to their original first-person forms (the plural replaces the singular in three cases [190, 192, 198], the third-person singular passive is introduced three times [206, 232, 272], one instance of the same is unchanged [511], and one verb disappears with a deleted sentence in a-k [222]).

 [107 ] These principles are detailed below in the discussion of editions c and d. Zyrickzee also carries over several of Guldenschaff’s peculiar spellings, such as immunitatem and vnicornis (TN III 47, 63).

 [108 ] On typographical errors see n. 117 below. Around half of these “restored” readings involve revised beginnings of independent clauses and/or the replacement of ibidem with ibi or vice versa (lemmata 118, 142, 378, 379, 382, 461, 498, 557, 646, 931, 957); of these, only the change of In ipso autem in a to Et in isto (the reading in ABCDE) seems a noteworthy coincidence (498). In addition, b omits a single word (310, 466, 744), transposes two words (685, 1161), replaces the enclitic que with et (815, 981, 1089, 1148), moves two verbs from the subjunctive to the indicative mood (70-71), and changes nam to quia (343). The restored readings similia for consimilia (678) and fugientibus cibaria for confugientibus cibariaque (1089) probably reflect Zyrickzee’s failure to recognize the abbreviation for con in a and his dislike of the enclitic que rather than his familiarity with an earlier version of the text. Edition b also returns the Itinerarius to the first person, making the narrative voice consistent and increasing the book’s implicit trustworthiness; Guldenschaff’s copy text, which was similar to manuscripts DE, was almost certainly in the third person.

 [109 ] Geldner, Die deutschen Inkunabeldruker, pp. 106-7 (see n. 83 above); Ernst Voulliéme, Der Buchdruck Kölns bis zum Ende des Fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts, Gesellschaft für Rheinische Geschichtskunde 24 (Bonn, 1903), pp. lxxv-lxxvii; and Severin Corsten, “Zur Person des Kölner Druckers C. von Zierickzee,” in Kölner Schule: Festgabe zum 60 Geburtstage von R[udolf]. Juchhoff (Cologne, 1955), pp. 9-17.

 [110 ] See n. 87 above, which records over 150 reworded openings to independent clauses in a, approximately one-third of which are further revised in b. For eighteen additional revisions introduced in b see lemmata 130, 225, 233, 247, 321, 368, 387, 522, 651, 665, 713, 738, 743, 747, 775, 971, 1047, and 1126.

 [111 ] Only a few omissions entail (minor) loss of information: in b it is not “necessary to sail” between the Sandy and Liver seas (lemma 254); the twenty towers atop Prester John’s palace are not “gilded” (692); and the sun does not set brilliantly “shining” on Mount Edom (1043). In three instances of word pairs in a, one unit is cut ([mirabilia] et rara [702], [vigilantes] et orantes [845], and [altus et] directus [1037]); see also 263, 1196. Otherwise, deletions contribute to a leaner text; see 50, 128, 196, 251, 284, 310, 334, 362, 374, 392, 395, 398, 399, 402, 419, 466, 471, 494, 641, 647 (resulting in a somewhat confused reading), 695, 703, 744, 784, 801, 807, 837, 853, 932, 934, 1000, 1008, 1056, 1087, 1111, and 1119. The tally of some forty omissions does not include words left out in the course of revising the beginning of an independent clause, or deleted usages of unus/una/unum as an indefinite article (175, 350, 517, 808, 1147, 1174). The loss of in at lemma 750 leads to confusion, and the word is restored in edition c.

 [112 ] By supplying ego in the first sentence, b restores a lost reading (lemma 2); an expanded phrase stipulates that pilgrims come to the cloister at Andranopolis from all over the world (328). Otherwise the introduction of a word pair such as [devoti] et religiosi (325) or of such particles as scilicet (204), vero (331), and eciam (380) adds the kind of verbiage that is elsewhere targeted for omission. The identification of Prester John as “emperor of the Indies” (410) simply repeats information offered in lines 99-100; similarly, that signs of life appear in the facial complexion “of Saint Thomas” is obvious from the context (865). See also 124, 183, 322, 348 (that the conduct is “safe” is implicit), 777, and 1092.

 [113 ] For examples cited see lemmata 43, 465, 156, 1179, and 329. The emendation of memoriam to notitiam might seem emblematic of Europe’s transition from an oral to a scribal culture—assuming notitiam to have its later meaning ‘note’ or ‘notice’—but the phrase non habui notitiam probably means “I had no knowledge [of the other strange animals]” (37-38). For other changes in vocabulary see 83 (altered meaning), 168, 171, 182, 236, 250, 287, 289, 319, 322, 324, 495, 554, 649, 706, 718, 751, 799, 807, 820, 822, 827, 875, 883, 925, 963, 1014, 1043 (with textual loss), 1089, 1104, and 1149. The word ibidem is changed to ibi six times (295, 485, 557, 719, 721, 1090). The city of Hermopolis is twice given as hermipoli[s] (13, 63), and Amram has become amra (88 [see also TN VII 32]).

 [114 ] Lemma 658; the number is spelled out, tres, in a and all but one manuscript (TN IV 247), so the emendation cannot be a misreading of roman numerals.

 [115 ] For transpositions (excluding several that occur in the course of revising the beginning of an independent clause) see lemmata 81, 197, 203, 221, 254, 293, 302, 311, 385, 456, 527, 581, 653, 693, 721, 736, 865, 978, 994, 999, 1073, 1107, 1159, and 1161.

 [116 ] Lemmata 70 and 71, 109, 1018, 1184; the subjunctive replaces the indicative mood twice (172 [but any question about whether animals drink from a fountain detoxified by a unicorn is put to rest by Witte’s immediately following claim to have seen it happen], 812). For other changes in verb forms see 181, 372, 506, and 862; for changes in other parts of speech see 879, 1006 (affecting sense), and 1033. This last change (Super illo monte to Super illum montem) is an editorial improvement, replacing an ablative construction more appropriate to a temporal context with the accusative, which befits the discussion of space here.

 [117 ] See TN VII passim and lemma 455. Zyrickzee made no changes in the text of the Itinerarius in copies of b with the second title page.

 [118 ] Lemmata 314 and 315; edition k restores the word lampades (which makes better sense with ardentes) but not in nocte. On the problem of lapades in b see TN VII 115-16. That Zyrickzee did not return to a to resolve lexical problems is further indicated by the series of readings recorded in lemma 843.

 [119 ] Lemma 315 (occasioned by an error in b; see previous note).

 [120 ] Lemmata 29, 184, 241, 269, 549, 927.

 [121 ] Lemmata 314 (a wrongheaded attempt to correct an error in b, itself corrected in k), 698 (the more sensible original reading is restored in jk).

 [122 ] Lemmata 376 (words transposed), 501, 679, 931.

 [123 ] Lemmata 361, 376 (wording slightly changed), 385 (further emended in k), 589, 662 (at the beginning of a sentence), 830, 1122

 [124 ] Lemmata 79, 363, 1184 (the latter change, from the indicative sunt to the subjunctive sint, in the description of Gog and Magog, is carried over into all subsequent editions except ek).

 [125 ] Only d follows c in reading vigila (lemma 843); d and e identify the Sandy Sea as mare arenosam, treating mare as a feminine noun (243); and e repeats three other problematic readings (102, 174, 888). The realm of Amasonia is spelled amazonia in cdek (1180).

 [126 ] Lemma 1056.

 [127 ] See TN VII 279, 327, and 416.

 [128 ] Lemmata 62, 211, 840, 1015, 1028, 1047 (slight revision already in b); two more independent clauses starting with other words—both already changed in an earlier text—are also reworded (74, 1041).

 [129 ] Lemmata 1023, 1056 (also omitted in b).

 [130 ] Lemmata 369 (leaving the sentence without a verb; est is restored in later editions), 1114 (also missing in fi).

 [131 ] Lemmata 196, 317.

 [132 ] People who drink the water at Elim are protected against being castrated (execarentur) rather than going blind (excecarentur); see lemma 145 and n. 104 above for the same in F. The chambers on the second floor of Prester John’s palace are beautifully arranged (ordinata) rather than decorated (ornata [500]). For other changes in vocabulary see 197 and 888 (improving an obscure emendation in c). Mount Edom is spelled edum in dfghij (1032).

 [133 ] Lemmata 393 (in plus the accusative case having the sense of “towards [the end]”), 609 (the relative pronoun qui makes the whole chorus, not just the capella, the antecedent for the ensuing phrase).

 [134 ] Lemmata 53, 207, 1027.

 [135 ] For typographical errors see TN VII passim; one appears to set in type the nonsensical reading legiquam, which is emended in fghijk (line 395 L1071).

 [136 ] P.-C. Vander Meersch, “Histoire de ceux, qui composent des livres, des bibliophiles, des imprimeurs et des libraires,” Le Bibliophile Belge 2 (1845), 236-49, esp. 237 (for citation) and 244-45; Elly Cockx-Indestege, “Godvaert Bac,” in Le Cinquième centenaire de l’imprimerie dans les anciens Pays-Bas. Catalogue [de la Exposition à la Bibliothèque Royale Albert Ier 11 September-27 October 1973] (Brussels, 1973), pp. 466-78; and Wytze and Lotte Hellinga, The Fifteenth-Century Printing Types of the Low Countries, trans. D. A. S. Reid, 2 vols. (Amsterdam, 1966), 1:75, 96.

 [137 ] Hugh William Davies, Devices of the Early Printers 1457-1560 (London, 1935), pp. xxx; and Rudolf Juchhoff, Drucker- und Verlegerzeichen des XV. Jahrhunderts in den Niederlanden, England, Spanien, Böhmen, Mähren, und Polen (Munich, 1927), p. 9 (see also pp. 7, 12-13). On the evidence of this device, most modern bibliographical records for edition e date it “3 July 1496-1499,” but since Zyrickzee evidently did not publish c before 1497, e must necessarily have been printed later.

 [138 ] Lemmata 1056 (the word in is also omitted in bdfghijk), 212, 571, 620 (perhaps a misleading abbreviation; see TN VII 233), 843 (an attempt to make sense of a confused reading in c), 220, 1184 (sunt for sint more definitively locates Gog and Magog in “amazonia” [1180; this spelling is also in cdk]). Bac’s twelve minor typographical errors are recorded in TN VII passim; H corrects all of these except for the nonsensical periditando in line 92, the retention of which is further evidence that the manuscript is copied from e.

 [139 ] Grammatically problematic readings are recorded in lemmata 115 (turning an adverb into an adjective, resulting in strained sense), 192 (moving the narrative into the present tense), 279 (found also in BC), 281, 440, 485, 992, and 1003; some changes in grammar or spelling are defensible or even improving (102, 521, 698). Two variations in vocabulary make for difficult readings as well (656, 919), but in reporting that Gog and Magog are imprisoned behind mountains (1186), the reading in H (inclusi for conclusi) employs the verb more frequently found in medieval map legends that mention the apocalyptic people (see Westrem, “Against Gog and Magog,” pp. 71 and 74-75 nn. 30, 39). Other scribal slips are recorded in TN III 73 L194, 107, 128, and 223, and TN V 103, 104, 197, 219, 294-95, and 315.

 [140 ] Lemmata 349 (the loss of a phrase probably due to the repetition of diebus), 1023 (on the loss of ibidem see TN VII 377), 476, 647, 742, 897. One scribal correction offers additional evidence that H is a copy of e (TN VII 206 L555).

 [141 ] Lemma 905 (the change to hesen is not made in the first sentence).

 [142 ] Wytze and Lotte Hellinga, Fifteenth-Century Printing Types (n. 136 above), 1:39.

 [143 ] Fifteenth-Century Printing Types (n. 136 above), 1:39-40, 108-11; and Wytze and Lotte Hellinga, “Richard Pafraet” and “Jacobus de Breda,” in Le Cinquième centenaire (n. 136 above), pp. 403-4 (first citation from p. 403), 307-10 (second citation from pp. 307-8). The edition of Bersuire’s book includes a colophon identifying the printer as “Richardus paffroet de Colonia.” Pafraet possessed a Greek font, a rarity for the late fifteenth century, and although he used it only for words or phrases in texts in other languages, someone in his shop must have been competent to set the type.

 [144 ] Le Cinquième centenaire (n. 136 above), p. 310; ten years earlier they wrote that there is “no way of telling if they were collaborators or rivals” (Fifteenth-Century Printing Types [n. 136 above], 1:111).

 [145 ] Pafraet also published shorter quarto volumes with more popular appeal: indeed, after around 1488 he seems to have undertaken less ambitious projects, although he remained, like de Breda, remarkably prolific. Pafraet’s edition of the Letter of Prester John and two other short works appeared in 1490; see Margaret Bingham Stillwell, Incunabula in American Libraries: A Second Census of Fifteenth-Century Books Owned in the United States, Mexico, and Canada (New York, 1940), p. 291 (J358).

 [146 ] Lemmata 201, 1071; for explanations see TN VII 76 L201 and 395 L1071. The spelling of two place-names—beleap for heleap (352) and amazoma for amazonia (1180)—also may be due to problems in reading edition d (the letters b and d are very similar in Zyrickzee’s font, and the letter i in amazonia is not dotted).

 [147 ] Lemmata 683, 836, 1139 (the deletion of venimus leaves the sentence with a gerundive for its verb).

 [148 ] Lemmata 201, 413 (the voyage is lengthened from “xiiij” to “xxiiij” days, which may be a typographical error [a clear preference for roman numerals in f is clear from TN IV]). More obvious mistakes are de Breda’s replacement of sculpti with sepulti without changing the preposition de (485), his emendation of lapides to lampades without correcting resulting grammatical errors in the next two words (965), and his obscure reading in for inde (1013). All are further emended in g; the first and third return in Pafraet’s edition i. De Breda resolves one semantic problem in d (843) and improves or defensibly alters grammar three times (243, 856, 1077). Edition f registers only four typographical errors (TN VII 147, 281 L744, 288, 291).

 [149 ] See TN III passim. De Breda also adopts the more classical spelling hierusalem (8, 1195).

 [150 ] Lemmata 475, 932, 1114 (restoring a word lost in dfi), 1191, 114, 1005.

 [151 ] For resolutions see lemmata 485, 965, and 1013; for added problems see 826, 848, and 1189. The reading chorum for chorus (588) is carried over into h; in die, run together as indie, is no doubt a typographical error and appears nowhere else (304).

 [152 ] Lemmata 147, 740; for the presentation of numerals see TN IV.

 [153 ] Lemma 1.

 [154 ] The later date given in editions ghj has led many scholars to treat “Johannes de Hese” mistakenly as a fifteenth-century traveler (see chapter 2, esp. p. 47).

 [155 ] Lemmata 426 (the deletion of tantum muddles sense somewhat but nearly restores the text of A), 245 (replacing arena with terra), 341 (a confusing usage of a present-tense verb), 365 (the change from “through which it was necessary for us [nos] to sail” to “through which it is not [non] necessary to sail” renders harmless a frightening feature of the Indian coast), 394, 418 (ungrammatically using ad with the ablative case), 352 (Beliab for beleab), 718.

 [156 ] Lemmata 965 (a change in f introduced an obvious grammatical error that all subsequent editions correct), 383, 618 (the loss of et audit missam makes for a muddle), 676, 154 (the nonsensical change from est to et is probably a typographical error), 330 (styling the great khan “Brandicano”), 485 (the confusing sepulti [de], an emendation in f, returns to sculpti [de], the reading in d, a change dictated by context and the preposition [but misspelled]), 224, 715. The word et, missing in f in lemma 1114 (with resulting incoherence), remains lost.

 [157 ] Stuck, Verzeichnis von Aeltern und Neuern Land- und Reisebeschreibungen, 2 vols. (Halle, 1784-87), 1:244 (number 672) and 2:52 (number 2622). Helt appears, among other places, in F[elix?]. Geisheim, Die Hohenzollern am Heiligen Grabe zu Jerusalem (Berlin, 1858), p. 55; Tobler, Bibliographia, p. 63; Röhricht, Bibliotheca, p. 160 (with reservations); Cyr Ulysse Joseph Chevalier, Répertoire des sources historiques du moyen âge (Paris, 1877-86), p. 1198 (s.v. Jean Hess), with the pilgrimage incorrectly dated 889 (see p. 47, n. 18, above). More misunderstanding followed. Under the heading “ESIUS” in the Biographie Universelle (1815), an Iter Hierosolymitanum, printed at Deventer in 1505, is attributed to one “Frédéric de Hése.”

 [158 ] For the emendations in h see n. 155 above; for claditur see TN VII 354 (and TN VII passim for other typographical errors); for problematic changes in j see lemmata 394 (condonantur may be a typographical error in h), 395, 609, 629 (stellari cannot be in the genitive, as the grammar requires here). Abbreviations in j can be difficult to expand: the same one is used for qui and que. Turning the “extremely high” (nimis altus) Mount Edom into something “less high” (minus altus [1036]) robs a sentence of drama as well as sense (the letters i in nimis are dotted in edition h).

 [159 ] Lemmata 528, 598, 1138, 107, 145, 1184; on facte/sacre see 474 and TN VII 171 L474.

 [160 ] Bennett, Rediscovery, p. 243. In 1604 Heinrich Canisius, a professor at the University of Ingolstadt, brought out the first published edition of William of Boldensele’s pilgrimage account (under the title Hodoepiricon ad Terram Sanctam), together with a collection of theological and hagiographical works, calling his work a reaction to the “discord” set in motion by “Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and others of this sort: deceivers as well as imposters”; see Antiqvæ Lectionis, 5 vols. (Ingolstadt, 1601-4), 5:A4v-B1r (for Boldensele see 5[2]:95-142).

 [161 ] Additional details about Mameranus are in chapter 2. His poem is found in edition k on sig. A2r and his prose account on sigs. A2v-A4v (sig. A3r is misnumbered “A5”); citations here are from sigs. A3v, A4r, and A2r. In the poem Mameranus salutes “the priest of Christ / Who had such great love of traveling” [Christi . . . sacerdos / Quem peregrinandi magnus habebat amor] for wanting to see so much of the world. The book, he concludes aptly, “has it all” in terms of marvels [Mira . . . hic cuncta libellus habet]; see sig. A2r. A list of places visited by “Ioannes de Hese” includes Arabia (sig. A3v), a place-name not mentioned in the actual text but cited repeatedly by scholars.

 [162 ] Mameranus revised the text of h although since three surviving manuscripts are copies of incunabula, he did not necessarily have it in the form of a printed book.

 [163 ] Lemma 1; that the bridges of Andranopolis are “stone” and the towers atop Prester John’s palace are “beautiful” goes unstated here (lemmata 288, 691). Otherwise, as has frequently been the case in the history of this text’s revising, omissions arguably improve matters by reducing wordiness: see 44, 48, 186, 199, 204, 219, 224, 237, 255, 320, 394 (a confusing reading in h), 525 and 526, 592, 987, and 1040.

 [164 ] Lemmata 313, 821, 826, 891; one addition makes sense of an otherwise absurd reading introduced in edition h (365 and 367), and another explains that public meetings in Edissa are held to resolve “lawsuits and controversies” (459). Elsewhere additions are insignificant, even wordy (42, 177, 292, 395, 609, 1060, 1082, 1102). The attachment of que as an enclitic makes sense of an obscure reading in h (475), but in two other instances it is only a stylistic nicety (851, 943).

 [165 ] Lemmata 495, 682, 1036; emending lapides to lampades corrects a typographical error that entered the text in edition c and restores an original reading (314; other original readings return in k at 391 and 413). For similar substitutions, several of which eliminate redundancy, see 35, 126, 161, 168, 238, 246, 278, 306, 322, 368, 376, 389 (fires are “heaped up” rather than “ignited”), 394, 406, 426, 497, 499, 515 (bibliotheca for liberaria is a sign of the increasing influence of Greek), 542, 555, 556, 626, 629, 666, 823, 941, 947, 964, 975, 986, 990, 998 (superlative for positive adjective), 1045, 1048, 1079, 1088, 1099, 1102, 1140, 1146, 1158, and 1199. On the possible difference between deformes and difformes see commentary 78-84. Mameranus exhibits certain stylistic preferences, including the substitution of an indefinite pronoun (such as quedam) for unus/una/unum employed as an indefinite article (11, 299, 359, 994); a more elegant way of describing intervals of days, especially in measurements of distance (133, 967, 993, 1030, 1068 [but compare 193, 231]); and the usage of ut rather than quod as a conjunction introducing a substantive clause (235, 257, 370, 384, 550, 555, 811, 822, 861, 1038). This latter choice, in turn, grammatically requires that six verbs in the indicative mood be changed to the subjunctive (235, 371, 385, 552, 825, 1039). He alters ibidem to ibi once (99) but does the reverse twice (597, 1014). See also spelling changes at 167, 241, 983, 1032, 1180 (the latter three are toponyms); the reading at lemma 1041 is an error (also recorded in TN VII 383).

 [166 ] Most emendations in grammar affect the form of a verb: lemmata 69, 71, 554, 555, 773 (a particularly stylish fine tunning), 862, 930, 1003, 1132, 1182. Several changes from the indicative to the subjunctive mood occur (220, 341, 403) but in contexts that display Mameranus’s proficiency in Latin rather than his doubt about the text’s claims (several others are necessitated by the change from quod to ut; see previous note). For grammatical shifts in other parts of speech see 77, 108, 165, 328, 433, 435, 715, 894, and 1189 (correcting a mistake that entered the text in edition g).

 [167 ] Lemmata 16, 48, 54, 114, 282, 295, 533, 585, 608 (adding Et and nearly restoring the original reading), 612, 1047.

 [168 ] Lemmata 210, 344, 412, 465, 787, 799, 1071 (some of these occur near the beginning of an independent clause).

 [169 ] Lemmata 70, 223, 289, 527, 555, 986.

 [170 ] The second passage is found in the first person in all manuscripts and printed editions. Another section of text that demonstrates the variety within the textual tradition is at lines 300-10 and lemmata 797-827.

 [171 ] See lemma 1094 for orthographical variants in the spelling of the whale’s name, which is capitalized in manuscripts AB.

 [172 ] Zarncke’s introduction runs just over three pages (“Der Priester Johannes,” pp. 159-62). Errors or alternative readings in Oppert and Zarncke, as well as a record of Zarncke’s emendations, are recorded in the Textual Notes to the Latin edition in my dissertation; see “Critical Edition,” pp. 505-37.

 [173 ] Walter Hoffmann, “Deutsch und Latein im spätmittelalterlichen Köln,” Rheinische Vierteljahrsblatter 44 (1980), 117-47. Hoffmann notes that the vernacular rather abruptly and regularly began to be used after 1395 in and around Cologne for records of commerce. By this time, German was already the language of official city and cloister records (pp. 140, 144). For Beckers see “Der Orientreisebericht Wilhelms von Boldensele in einer ripuarischen Überlieferung des 14. Jahrhunderts,” Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter 44 (1980), 148-66: “Seit rund 1350 läßt sich in Köln ein spürbares Interesse an deutschsprachigen Schriften über die geographischen, völkerkundlichen, wirtschaftlichen, politischen und religiösen Verhältnisse des Orients feststellen” (p. 150 n. 7). Among the many known Middle Dutch texts are translations of works that were popular at Cologne.

 [174 ] I describe the Middle Dutch translation in greater detail in “A Medieval Book’s Editors and Translators,” pp. 153-80. In that article I employed different manuscript sigla from the ones that appear in this volume.

 [175 ] De Vries’s article appeared while he was working on a three-volume edition, Jan van Boendale’s Der leken spieghel (1330) (Leiden, 1844-48). One passage of this lengthy poem (III. 15) invokes Lady Grammar to teach her cleric-servants how “to write and spell correctly” and exactly from a text.

 [176 ] Common, generally consistent orthographical features that distinguish the Middle Dutch of KL[M] from Modern Dutch include preferences of s for z (except for zee), qu for kw, terminal ch or ck for g, terminal t for d, the suffix lick for ig, and r for z in the past participle (gecoeren/ghekoren for gekozen at Dutch line 39).

 [177 ] A bookseller’s catalog from 1926, offering M for sale, includes the date 1391 in a description of the manuscript’s contents. See Dutch line 337.

 [178 ] The interpolations (at Dutch lines 15-16, 21-22, 50-51, 74-78, 99-100, 251, 269-70, 273-75) are translated into English at lemmata E19, E23, E37, E53, E66, E224, E247, E250. These interpolations may also be in M, but the record of it includes only the incipit and explicit. K emphasizes the independence of Saint Thomas’s hand in a passage after L has broken off (Dutch lines 341-43; E304).

 [179 ] By “synonymic pair” I mean a translator’s use of two words or phrases to render one in the original language, a phenomenon also called “doubling.” The designation is Leslie C. Brook’s, who believes that synonymic pairs “enrich the prose” of an original in that a “translator gives good value to his reader . . . by using two terms to translate one Latin one”; see “The Translator and His Reader: Jean de Meun and the Abelard-Heloise Correspondence,” in The Medieval Translator II, ed. Roger Ellis, Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 5 (London, 1991), p. 110. I would not argue so enthusiastically about the virtues of verbal pairing in this Middle Dutch translation.

 [180 ] See nn. 12, 17, 19 above. The reading alle nacht (Dutch line 186 and D237) reflects de nocte in A (Latin line 180) rather than die ac nocte or die et nocte in BCDEa-k (L490). Similarly, the Middle Dutch pleghen te gaen (Dutch line 197 and D252) reflects the ambiguous transeunt in A (also in C; BDEa-k add a predicate [line 190 L518]). These Middle Dutch readings are in L only. Omissions in B recorded in lemmata 267, 792, 1027 (the last also missing in C) are likewise lacking in the Middle Dutch.

 [181 ] See Dutch lines 174-75; Latin line 171 and L472. The Middle Dutch does not translate et per jordanem, which is omitted in C (L10; E5) and has Witte/Voet entertained for twelve, not seven, days at the great khan’s palace (Dutch line 138), a variant also recorded in CDEa-k (L345; E111 [scribes might independently mistake “vii” and “xii”]). The reading und der doctoren (Dutch line 232) follows the grammar in BDEa-k and not AC (L599; E205).

 [182 ] See Dutch lines 211-12 and Latin line 203. The source of the error probably exists within the Middle Dutch tradition. All Latin texts agree that the table is as light as if it were of “wood” (lignea), which is difficult to mistake for “gold” (aurea). In Middle Dutch, however, wood (hout/hold) and gold (gout/gold) might much more easily be confused, probably all the more so if the text were dictated. While “as light as gold” may seem oxymoronic, the following sentence, about the table’s reflective quality, makes the metallic simile more plausible; still, the passage does not quite make sense, and so its almost complete omission in K suggests that to be a later reading (lemmata D267-68).
In KL, the Virgin Mary flees “with her [blessed] child” to Egypt, where she enters a pagan temple; the comparable sentence in Latin makes no mention of Jesus but has her “first” (primo) going into the building. Perhaps the translator’s Latin text included an abbreviation (p’o) that he misunderstood to mean puero, resulting in a mistake rather than an interpolation (Dutch lines 26-27 and D38; Latin lines 27-29).

 [183 ] Lemmata D35, D61, D64, D66, D68, D86, D124, D127, D190, D195, D205 (two instances), D218, D230, D287, D288, D299, D324. K sometimes reduces prolixity in the Middle Dutch (D27, D31, D303, D313, D353, and the trimming of one element in synonymic pairs). The phrase als men [daer] seghet (ut dicitur [ibidem]) is left out at least seven times (D42, D84, D91, D231, D329, E268, E324).

 [184 ] For omissions of text found in L see lemmata D23, D144, D159, D216, D329, and D348; for omissions after L ends see E265, E270, E274 and E283, E306 and E307, E326, and E340. Less extensive but nevertheless substantive omissions in K of material found in L are at D11 (also missing in M), D15, D17, D18, D91, D124, D175, D214, D268, D277, D287, D289, D293, D296, and D318; see also E291, E309, E329, E330, E332, E345, and E356. For its part, L omits six passages of four or more words that are found in K and in the Latin (D114, D198, D200, D302, D333, D337): the first and third of these are almost certainly eye-slips triggered by word repetition. Some loss of text is owing to a hole de Vries reports in the manuscript (D250).

 [185 ] For cited examples see lemmata D53 (K is emended) and D77; see also D182, D215, D300, and D341 (in all these instances, L agrees with the Latin text). K varies twice from the Latin after L breaks off (E316, E319 [E332 records a reading shared with BCDEa-k] but not A). Three times and in three consecutive sentences, K accurately follows the Latin in recording a number that is omitted or misread in L (D327, D331, D336); K is missing several numbers within larger lacunae (D11 [M also omits], D15 [M also omits], D214, D329, D348 [twice]). Like CDEa-k, KL state that the great khan entertained Witte/Voet for “twelve” days, not “seven” as reported in AB (L345; D176; E111).

 [186 ] In L, the head of flying fish is compared to a barrel (vat), no doubt a copying error for cat (the Latin reads cattus); the sentence is missing in KM (Latin line 10, D17).

 [187 ] Lemmata D228-30 and E160.

 [188 ] The Latin text is occasionally no help in determining which of two semantically different variants is the more original in Middle Dutch: the “cathedris” Prester John’s scholars sit on (Latin line 213) are more than just “chairs,” but whether the translator made them “stately” (werdelicken in K) or “wide” (weydeliken in L) cannot be known (D282). In the Latin version, the great khan “esteems” (diligit) pilgrims on their way to Saint Thomas (Latin line 124): in K he apparently “worships” (eren) them, while in L he more appropriately “furthers” (vorderen) their cause (D174); the former reading may simply have lost the first four letters in L or its copy text.

 [189 ] On the variants heydenen and lelicken (D122) for difformes see commentary 78-84. In descriptions of two marine passageways through mountains (Latin lines 128-35 and 140-44), six usages of the word foramen are consistently rendered hol in L and gat in K (D183, D186, D190, D191, D202 [reading hol ende gat in K], D204).

 [190 ] The discussion below depends especially on these important studies: Eelco Verwijs and Jacob Verdam, et al., Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, 11 vols. (The Hague, 1885-1952); Jacob Verdam, Middelnederlandsch Handwoordenboek (The Hague, 1911); Ludger Kremer, Mundartforschung im ostniederländisch-westfalischen Grenzgebiet, Beschreibende Bibliographien 7 (Amsterdam, 1977); Klaas Hanzen Heeroma, “De Taalgeschiedenis van het Oosten,” Driemaandelijkse Bladen NS 2 (1950): 21-32; Heeroma, “Hauptilinien der Ostniederlandischen Sprachgeschichte,” Niederdeutsches Jahrbuch 80 (1957): 51-65; Willy L. Braekman, Medische en Technische Middelnederlandse Recepten (Gent, 1975); and Norbert Richard Wolf, Regionale und überregionale Norm im späten Mittelalter (Innsbruck, 1975), esp. pp. 18-20 (manuscript descriptions), 77-100 (parallel texts), and 241-67 (philological study). In Wolf’s study of dialectally different versions of Francis of Assisi’s Regula bullata in Low German/Middle Dutch, the text of Breslau Universitätsbibliothek [Wrocław, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka] MS IV. D. 5 [“Br”; dated 1486; provenance eastern Netherlands] closely resembles Matthaeus’s transcription in K (in orthography, uncontracted syllables, and the frequent appearance of the letter l before a dental); the dialect of The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Cod. 75 G 63 [Wolf’s MS Hg] is similar to L here. For information on late medieval dialectal forms in German and Dutch, I am also much indebted to Prof. Hartmut Beckers at the University of Münster.

 [191 ] Caxton produced his Eneydos from a French paraphrase of the Latin epic. The citation is from Nellie Slayton Aurner, Caxton: Mirrour of Fifteenth-Century Letters (London, 1926), pp. 286-87; some punctuation and orthography has been modernized here. Daniel Defoe noted with astonishment the scene of a schoolboy in Somerset, who looked at a copy of the Authorized Version of the Bible and read it out in the local dialect: “How the dexterous Dunce could form his Mouth to Express so readily the Words, (which stood right printed in the Book) in his Country Jargon, I could not but admire”; A Tour Thro’ the whole Island of Great Britain, 4 vols. (London, 1724-27), 3:78.

 [192 ] For the examples cited and the alternative readings in L see D18 (for gegeten LM both read af[f] g[h]eten), D68, D86, D189, D250 (M replaces woe at D365). The Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek defines the words stranc (v. strange) as “Arm van de zee” (7: col. 2270) and syde as neder (7: col. 1052); each of these words in the Gelderland dialect has been exactly so “translated” in L (D86, D189). Other dialectalisms include purede and march, but these confuse ideas more accurately conveyed in L (D85, D88). Oostnederlandsch words included in text not found in L include stalle, alinge ende ongeschoert, geschien, mynren, and oerloff (Dutch lines 319, 343-44, 347, 356, 366).

 [193 ] Additional examples in each category are recorded in Table 6 in Westrem, “A Medieval Travel Book’s Editors and Translators,” pp. 170-71.



 [[ Print Edition Page No. 121 ]] 

4

The Latin Text of the Itinerarius

1. A Critical Edition of the Latin Text

For reasons set out in chapter 3, the base text for the critical edition of the Itinerarius is University of Minnesota, James Bell Ford Library, MS 1424/Co, vol. 2, fols. 177r-187r (A). The following principles apply to the presentation of the text as it appears in A:

  • • sentence and paragraph boundaries are editorially established;
  • • all abbreviations are expanded;
  • • modern punctuation is employed;
  • • modern style is used in spelling words with the characters i/j and u/v;
  • • numerals are represented in the format—roman, arabic, or spelled out—in which they appear in A;1
  • • the foliation of A is given in the text between square brackets following two vertical lines (except in the first line);
  • • corrections of misspellings and scribal errors appear between square brackets (see chapter 3 on emendations to the text).

The analysis in chapter 3 of the textual development of the Itinerarius focuses on the extensive revisions—substantive and stylistic—that scribes and printers introduced into the narrative. In order to facilitate that discussion and to identify particular passages or constructions that were successively or regularly changed—such as interpolations in C the use of third-person narrative in DEa, and the rewording of the beginnings of independent clauses in a-k—this edition displays all semantically and
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 122 ]] 
grammatically defensible variants in discrete, brief textual units. The following principles apply to their presentation:

  • • superscripted numbers in the text, which are also given for each line in the right margin of each page, correspond to numbered lemmata at the foot of the page, which repeat a word or passage in the base text and give the different readings for that lexical unit found in other Latin manuscripts or early editions (thus, lemma 2 indicates that the word ego in manuscript A is omitted in manuscripts BDE and edition a; the reader can infer that the word is found in manuscript C and editions b-k);
  • • some additions to the text are indicated by the statement that they come “after” a certain word (see 14-15);
  • • changes in sentence order are specifically identified (see 835, 893, 1033);
  • • orthography and punctuation in each lemma follow that found in the text, with i/j and u/v normalized and abbreviations expanded but without other change (see 6);2
  • • multiple variants within a unit of text covered by a single lemma are recorded according to this hierarchy: ABCDEaFGbcdeHfghijk (see 426);
  • • when the same variant occurs in more than one manuscript or edition, orthography and punctuation follow the reading in the first witness according to this same hierarchy (thus lemma 53 records the reading duxit moyses, the reading in C although Moyses is capitalized in hjk);
  • • spelling variations in toponyms and personal names (but not i/j variants in Johannes) are recorded here (see 3-5, 8, 13, 184); all other orthographic variants are found in TN III;
  • • each manuscript copied from an edition (FG from a and H from e) is so exact a reproduction of its copy text that the sigla FGH are included in a lemma only when they record readings not found in the copy text;
  • • when readings in the closely related manuscripts DE or editions a-k (and manuscripts FGH, which are copied from a or e) differ only in a single word, that variant is indicated between square brackets immediately following the word affected (see 27, 311 [see also one transposition at 1027]);
  • • some variants in two or more manuscripts or editions are more clearly recorded in multiple lemmata that present different portions of the
     [[ Print Edition Page No. 123 ]] 
    same unit of text; all such lemmata are cross-referenced (see 60-61, 304-8, and 893-930).

Scribal corrections, orthographical peculiarities (but not diacritical marks or digraphs in k), marginalia, and grammatical mistakes that a reader or copyist would likely have emended—as well as all typographical errors in the editions—are recorded in one of the seven categories of Textual Notes, which follow the Latin critical edition. A lemma that ends with an asterisk (*) contains a variant that is further described in the section on scribal corrections (TN II); one that ends with a dagger (†) has explanatory material in the list of typographical errors in the early printed editions (TN VII).


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 124 ]] 

[177r] Anno Domini Mccclxxxnono,1 ego2 Johannes3 Witte4 de Hese,5
presbyter Traiectensis dyocesis,6 fui7 in Jherusalem8 in Maio, visitando ibi-
dem9 sancta loca, peregrinando ulterius versus Jordanem, et per Jordanem10
ad mare Rubrum, ad partes Egipti, ad unam11 civitatem vocatam12 Her-
mopolis,135 que dicitur capitalis civitas Egipti,14 ubi beata Virgo septem annis
morabatur cum filio suo, Domino nostro.15

Et in mari16 Rubro predicto17 vidi18 pisces volantes super aquas19 ad
spacium tantum20 quantum21 balista posset sagittari;22 et illi pisces sunt rubei
coloris, habentes in longitudine ultra duos pedes,23 habentes eciam24 caput
10 rotundum ut25 cattus26 et rostrum ut27 aquila. De quibus piscibus28 comedi.29
Et sunt pisces30 grossi, propterea31 oportet ipsos32 diu bulire.33 Et vidi34
plura35 alia rara animalia de quibus36 non habeo37 memoriam.38

Eciam vidi39 in dicto mari40 Rubro41 serpentes volantes ad terram,42
revertentes econverso43 ad44 mare Rubrum. Et45 sunt valde nocivi homini-
bus,
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 125 ]] 
15eos intoxicando.46 Contra quos habetur cinis de palma combusta, cres-
cens47 ibidem et in Terra Sancta, et48 eciam49 herba quedam,50 choral51 nun-
cupata, crescens52 in mari Rubro in loco per quem Moyses perduxit53
populum Israeliticum. Et ille54 locus—seu via55—cognoscitur56 per qua-
tuor57 magnos lapides nigros stantes in ripa58 maris,59 duo ab una parte
20 maris60 et duo ab alia parte.61

Et62 in civitate Hermopolensi predicta63 || [177v] est ortus in quo mora-
batur beata Virgo,64 et in illo est fons in quo beata Virgo65 lavit sua66 ne-
cessaria. De cuius fontis67 aqua68 dicitur quod69 ceci vident ipsis accipien-
tibus, et infirmi sanantur,70 et leprosi sanantur.71 In quo orto eciam72 crescit
25 balsamum.73

Eciam in civitate predicta est74 una75 ecclesia mire magnitudinis, con-
structa76 in honore77 sancte Trinitatis et gloriose Virginis,78 que prius fuerat79
templum ydolorum, in quod,80 cum beata Virgo81 primo82 venit ex metu83
Herodis in Egiptum fugiendo,84 demones fugierunt et ceciderunt ydola in
30 templo, ut dicitur ibidem.85


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 126 ]] 

Et de illa86 civitate Hermopolensi87 sunt viij diete usque ad civitatem
Amram,88 que iacet supra89 mare Rubrum.90 Et ibidem iterum transnavi-
gatur per directum per mare Rubrum,91 et transitur pedester septem die-
bus92 ad montem Synay, in quo iacet corpus beate Katherine virginis in
35 claustro canonicorum regularium devote93 vivencium et nisi94 semel in die95
comedencium. Quorum sunt96 13 in97 numero, et98 sunt eciam ibidem99 13100
lampades ardentes que numquam possunt extingwi, sed101 absque aliquo102
augmento semper vivunt.103 Sed cum unus104 canonicorum moritur, tunc
una105 seipso106 extingwitur tamdiu donec107 iterato ad locum alius108 eliga-
tur,10940 et tunc lampas seipso110 sine aliquo adiuvamento111 incenditur,112
econverso.113

Et illud claustrum114 est fortissime115 munitum propter animalia no-
civa.116 Et117 || [178r] de sepulchro118 sancte119 Katherine stillant in qualibet
[sep]timana nisi120 tres gutte olei quod olim121 in magna copia122 stillare con-
swevit.45 Et eciam ibidem est123 lapis quem Moyses percussit, et fluxerunt aque
filiis Israel. Et ibi sunt volucres portantes in ore124 ramos olivarum, ponen-
tes illos infra125 emunitatem126 claustri. Et sunt ille aves ut127 turtures in128

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 127 ]] 
magnitudine, habentes alba capita et colla.129

Item:130 De131 monte Synay sunt quatuor diete132 per desertum usque133
50 ad campum Helym,134 in quo Moyses construxit135 altare Domino, quod
altare136 iam137 corruit; et iacent adhuc lapides ibidem138 de illo. Et in eodem
campo quieverunt139 filii Israel per xl140 dies quando Moyses accepit141 le-
gem. Et142 in eodem campo sunt duodecim fontes de143 quibus si quis bi-
berit144 numquam excecantur eius oculi, ut dicitur.145 Et sunt eciam ibidem146
55 septuagintadue147 palme quas Moyses ibidem148 plantavit et cum quibus
semper149 obtinuit150 victoriam. Et ad illum151 campum non possunt venire
animalia venenosa. Et crescunt ibidem multe bone species.152

Et prope illum153 campum est154 unus155 fluvius qui dicitur156 Marach,157
valde amarus, in quem Moyses percussit virga et accepit dulcedinem;158 de159
60 quo filii Israel160 biberunt. Et adhuc hodiernis temporibus,161 ut dicitur,162
animalia venenosa intoxicant163 illam aquam post occasum solis,164 quod
bona animalia exinde165 bibere non possunt. Et || [178v] de mane166 post or-
tum solis venit unicornus,167 ponens cornu suum ad dictum168 fluvium,
expellendo venenum169 ex illo,170 sic quod bona de die171 accipiunt po-
tum.172
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 128 ]] 
65Et hoc vidi.173

Et ulterius174 per unum175 magnum miliare est habitacio unius176 sancti
heremite ubi sanctus Paulus, primus heremita, et sanctus Anthonius habi-
tabant. Et idem heremita177 adhuc178 hodiernis temporibus pascitur manna
celesti; quem heremitam vidi.179 Et dormit180 super lapidem, et est vestitus181
70 veste pilosa secundum182 modum beati183 Johannis baptiste.184

Et ulterius transeundo bene per quindenam185 per desertum et per
terram186 Urcaldeorum,187 ubi188 Rubei Judei189 habitant, veni190 ad fluvium
Nylus191 in quo navigavi192 per unum diem193 ad unum194 portum195 maris196
ad civitatem quandam197 vocatam Damiad. Et ibi intravi198 navem, navi-
gando75 per mare Occeanum bene199 per tres menses200 ad Ethiopiam, que
regio dicitur inferior201 India,202 ubi sanctus Bartholomeus predicabat. Et
ibi morantur203 Ethiopes,204 nigri homines.

Et205 ulterius navigando, veni206 ad Pigmeos. Et sunt parvi homines,207
habentes in longum208 longitudinem209 unius ulne,210 et sunt difformes. Et211

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 129 ]] 
80non utuntur domibus, sed morantur in cavernis moncium, et212 in speluncis,
et in conchis; nec213 utuntur pane214 sed herbis speciebus215 lacticiniis216 ut217
bruta. Et dicitur ibidem quod218 Pigmei219 pugnant contra syconias sepe,220
et syconie interficiunt pueros eorum aliquando;221 sed hoc non vidi.222 Et
vivunt ad maius duodecim annis, ut dicitur,223 et non224 ultra. || [179r]

85Et225 ulterius navigando de mari226 Ethiopie227 infra228 maria Ieco-
reum229 et Arenosum230 per quatuor dietas,231 veni232 ad terram Monoculo-
rum. Et mare Iecoreum233 est talis nature234 quod attrahit235 naves236 propter
ferrum in navibus,237 quia238 fundus illius maris dicitur quod sit239 lapideus
de lapide adamante,240 qui est attract[ivus].241 Et ex alia242 parte est mare
90 Arenosum,243 et est244 arena245 fluens, ut246 aqua crescens et decrescens. Et247
in illo mari248 capiuntur pisces per Monoculos, qui intrant pedestres.249 Et
iidem250 Monoculi transeunt eciam251 aliquando252 sub aqua, periclitando
naves. Et propter ista duo maria, infra253 que navigare oportet, est pericu-
losissimum
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 130 ]] 
navigare; 254et propterea255 necesse [est]256 quod257 habeatur bo-
nus95 et directus ventus si homo debet258 salvari. Et illi259 Monoculi sunt
breves,260 grossi, et fortes; et comedunt alios homines. Et habent261 ocu-
lum262 in medio frontis,263 nitidum264 ad265 modum266 carbunculi. Et sunt
sub dominio regis267 Grandicanis.268 Et laborant semper in nocte.

Et ulterius navigando269 ad mediam Indiam, ubi Grandicanis270 regnat
100 sub imperio Johannis Presbyteri,271 veni272 ad273 civitatem magnam que vo-
catur Andranopolis,274 quam sanctus Thomas primo ad fidem converte-
bat.275 Et in illa civitate morantur boni Christiani et multi religiosi. Et276 est
sita in277 litore maris, et ibidem est portus ubi278 multe279 naves de diversis
mundi partibus280 conveniunt. Et sunt ibidem domus multum281 alte, et282
105 platee sunt283 satis stricte sic284 quod homines [non]285 senciunt solem, ||
[179v] neque habent in plateis.286 Et sunt in eadem civitate ultra287 quingenti
pontes lapidei288 sub quibus fluunt rivuli.289 Et ibidem est290 unum291 claus-
trum292 minorum, quorum ecclesia facta est293 de puro alabastro,294 et ibi-
dem295 sepeliuntur peregrini296 Christiani.297


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 131 ]] 

110Et in eadem298 civitate prope litus maris est una299 turris magne300 al-
titudinis et pulchritudinis quam de nocte astronomi et301 litterati302 ascen-
dunt, futura prenosticando.303 Et de die304 domini civitatis305 et maiores306
habent eorum consilia.307 308 Et in summitate illius309 turris stant quinque
turres de lapidibus preciosis et de auro,310 quarum media est magis elevata311
115 quam relique312 quatuor, in qua stant candele313 et lampades314 ardentes in
nocte315 sic quod naute remotissime videntes316 lucem317 secundum hanc se
regunt,318 applicando se319 civitati predicte.320 Et prope illam321 civitatem est
unum claustrum322 appellat[u]m323 “Ad Sanctam Mariam,” ubi324 habitant
devoti325 homines.326 Et ibidem est327 peregrinacio magna peregrinorum.328

120Et ibi prope329 eramus capti per raptores Grandicanis,330 ipso331 non332
existente in partibus,333 et334 ducti ad335 castrum unum336 vocatum Compar-
dut,337
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 132 ]] 
ubi detenti eramus viij338 septimanis. Sed cum rex Grandicanis ve-
niebat339 ad partes,340 eramus liberati eo quod fueramus341 peregrini sancti
Thome, quos diligit quamvis ipse sit342 paganus, quia343 maxime timet vin-
dictam125 sancti Thome. Et cibavit nos344 vij345 diebus in eodem.346 Et postea
fecit347 nobis dari348 conductum per suos bene xij || [180r] diebus349 ad unam350
civitatem magnam,351 Eleap nuncupatam.352 Et ibi terminatur media India.353

Et ibidem354 intravimus navem355 navigando sub ducatu356 Grandi-
canis357 predicti viij diebus, veniendo358 ad unum359 montem altissimum pe-
trosum130 iacentem in mari, habentem360 subtus unum foramen361 per spa-
cium362 trium miliarium363 per quod364 nos365 transnavigare366 oportuit.367 Et
illud foramen368 est369 ita tenebrosum quod370 semper oportebat371 habere
candelas ardentes. Et in exitu foraminis oportebat372 navem descendere no-
biscum373 bene374 ad spacium viginti cubitorum, quia ibidem mare375 res-
pectu135 foraminis est ita bassum.376 Et377 maxime ibidem378 timebamus.


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 133 ]] 

Et ibi379 prope in terra380 crescit piper inter381 duos montes. Et ibidem382
tot sunt383 serpentes quod384 piper colligi non potest385 absque igne,386 sed387
circa festum388 Michaelis incenditur389 ignis390 sic quod serpentes fugiunt,391
et tunc colligitur piper.392 Et isti duo montes in fine393 ubi terminantur prope
140 mare coadunantur.394 Et fit subtus unum395 foramen tenebrosum ad spacium
trium miliarium,396 et per illud397 foramen transit rivulus velocissime cur-
rens398 sic399 quod ducit secum magnos400 lapides. Et in illo foramine au-
diuntur horribiles soni,401 ut402 tonitrua et clamores diversi horribiles, sed
quid significet nescitur et nullus403 intelligit.404

145Et405 ulterius navigando406 per mensem, venitur ad unum407 portum
qui Gadde vocatur.408 || [180v] Et ibi409 stat castrum ubi mercatores dant theo-
lonium Presbytero Johanni.410

Et411 ulterius navigando412 per xiiij dies,413 venitur414 ad civitatem Ed-
issam ubi Presbyter Johannes moratur. Et illa civitas est415 capitalis tocius416
150 regni sui, et est417 sita in418 superiori India in fine419 terre habitabilis. Et illa

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 134 ]] 
civitas420 est maior quam essent421 xxiiijor civitates Colonienses.

Et habitacio422 Presbyteri Johannis est sita in medio civitatis.423 Et ha-
bet bene424 in longitudine425 duo miliaria teutonica, et eciam bene426 in la-
titudine, quia est quadratum.427 Et428 stat supra429 columpnas, quarum430
155 sunt, ut dicitur,431 ixc in numero.432 Et media inter istas columpnas433 est
maior434 aliis, et ad hanc435 sunt facti quatuor magni gygantes de lapidibus
preciosis et436 deauratis, stantes inclinatis capitibus437 subtus palacium ac si
portent438 totum palacium. Et ad quamdam439 aliam columpnam sunt eciam
facte440 ymagines: ad unam441 ymago regis et ad442 aliam ymago regine, ha-
bentes160 ludos et cyphos deauratos443 in manibus suis. Videlicet, cum444
ymago regis habet ludum in manibus suis,445 tunc446 ymago regine habet
cyphum aureum in manibus suis, sibi447 propinando, et sic448 econverso.449
Et iste ymagines sunt450 de lapidibus preciosis451 deauratis.

Et ita452 sub palacio est magnus453 transitus ad quem populi multitudo
165 convenit.454 Et ibidem455 fiunt iudicia spiritualia et secularia456 omni die, et457
consilia dominorum civitatis. Et ibidem458 est commune459 forum civitatis.460

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 135 ]] 
Et || [181r] in principio461 cuiuslibet mensis sunt ibidem462 nundine, sive ded-
icaciones,463 ad quas homines464 de diversis mundi partibus conveniunt,465
et precipue prima466 die Augusti.467 Item: Idem palacium custoditur omni
170 nocte mille viris armatis.468 469 Item: In palacio est unus pulcher470 ambitus
stans eciam471 sub columpnis472 ad quas473 sunt facte474 ymagines paparum
et imperatorum475 Romanorum qui fuerunt,476 et aliquarum reginarum—
scilicet Helene et cetera.477

Item:478 Ascendendo palacium sunt quingenti gradus veniendo ad pri-
mam175 habitacionem, et in quolibet gradu sunt479 duo vel plures leones vi-
ventes detenti ibidem.480 Et481 si aliqui hereticorum vel paganorum482 pre-
dictos gradus ascenderent, a leonibus interficerentur, u[t] dicitur.483 Et
istud484 palacium infimum vocatur palacium prophetarum, quia omnes pro-
phete sunt ibidem facti de485 lapidibus preciosis et deauratis. Et486 est or-
natum487180 pannis preciosissimis488 et lanternis489 de490 nocte ardentibus.

Item: Ascendendo491 secundum492 palacium493 sunt adhuc494 plures gra-
dus, quia quanto plus ascenditur tanto plus palacium ampliatur.495 Et is-
tud496
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 136 ]] 
palacium dicitur palacium patriarcharum, et dicitur quod ibi sit cor-
pus497 Abrahe. Et in isto498 palacio sunt plures499 camere et dormitoria
185 pulcherrime ornata.500 Et ibidem est501 orlogium mirabiliter factum, quia si
quis502 alienus ibidem503 intraverit, orlogium504 dat sonum horribilem, sic
quod ibi fit505 concursus506 populi videndo et507 apprehendendo508 illos
propter quos509 fit talis510 sonus. || [181v] Et qualiter hoc sit nescio.511 Item:512
Dicitur quod ibidem sit513 una514 magna liberia515 in516 una517 camera ad
190 quam doctores transeunt.518

Item: Ascendendo ad terciam519 habitacionem, ubi adhuc sunt plures
gradus,520 dicitur habitacio sanctarum virginum. Et ibidem521 est pulcher-
rima capella, et522 ibidem est523 refectorium laycorum et familiarium.

Item: Ascendendo quartam524 habitacionem,525 dicitur526 habitacio
195 sanctorum martyrum et confessorum.527 Et528 ibidem eciam est529 capella
530 et531 refectorium dominorum et dormitorium.532


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 137 ]] 

Item: Ascendendo ad quintam habitacionem, ibi533 est534 chorus sanc-
torum535 apostolorum. Et ibi est ecclesia536 mire pulchritudinis, et ibi te-
nentur537 divina538 officia coram Presbytero Johanne. Et ibidem est539 refec-
torium200 Presbyteri Johannis,540 longum et latum541 ac mire542 pulchritudinis,
in quo sunt multe543 preciose ymagines de lapidibus preciosis et deauratis.544
Et ibi est545 mensa Presbyteri Johannis.546 Et est de lapide precioso facta,547
et tamen est ita levis548 ac si esset lignea. Et ita pulchra549 et lucida quod550
facies551 speculatur in eadem.552 Et habet talem virtutem553 quod si predicte
205 mense apponerentur cibaria venenosa554 nulli nocerent. Et si illa mensa fri-
catur digito aut alio instrumento, tunc555 scintille ardentes saltant ex
eadem.556

Et ibi eciam est557 fons largissime currens. Et ibidem eciam est558 cam-
pana quam sanctus Thomas fieri fecit, quam cum559 obsessi audiunt,560 cu-
rantur,561210 et562 spiritus maligni fugiunt,563 nec564 animalia venenosa possunt

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 138 ]] 
audire eandem.565 Et dicitur566 campana benedicta, et illa pulsatur567 ante
prandium Presbyteri Johannis, et in medio prandii, || [182r] et eciam568 facto
prandio. Et ibidem sedent569 in cathedris570 octo doctores qui legunt in pran-
dio Presbyteri Johannis571 diversas materias pulchras572 valde573 delectabiles.
215 Et habet574 in prandio vasa preciosissima575 aurea, argentea, et de lapidibus
preciosis576 in magna quantitate. Et ibidem sunt vasa quod,577 si578 cibaria
starent per unum579 diem et amplius in eisdem, numquam580 putrescerent
nec sapor mutaretur.581 Et ibidem est582 dormitorium patriarche,583 archi-
episcoporum,584 et aliorum prelatorum.

220Item:585 Ascendendo ad sextam habitacionem,586 que dicitur587 cho-
rus588 sancte Marie Virginis589 et angelorum.590 Ibidem est591 capella pul-
cherrima, et de592 mane omni die post593 ortum solis cantatur ibidem594 missa
de beata Virgine595 solempniter.596 Et ibi est597 speciale palacium Presbyteri
Johannis; et598 doctores ibi599 tenent consilia. Et illud potest volvi600 ad
225 modum rote, et est testudinatum ad modum celi. Et sunt ibidem601 multi

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 139 ]] 
lapides preciosi lucentes in nocte ac si esset clara dies. Et iste602 due ultime
habitaciones—scilicet quinta et sexta—sunt maiores et laciores603 aliis.

Item: Ulterius ascendendo604 habitacionem septimam,605 que est
summa,606 dicitur chorus607 sancte Trinitatis. Et ibi est capella608 pulcher-
rima609—pulchrior230 aliis610—et parva.611 Et ibi612 celebratur omni die613 missa
de sancta Trinitate mane614 ante ortum solis, quam615 semper audit Presbyter
Johannes, quia mane616 post mediam noctem surgit,617 et postea || [182v] audit
missam subtus618 de beata Virgine,619 et postea620 summam missam, que sem-
per celebratur621 in choro sanctorum622 apostolorum.623 Et ista capella624
235 est625 nimis626 alte testudinata,627 et est628 rotunda ad modum celi stellati,629
et transit circumeundo ad modum630 firmamenti. Et est631 pavimentata de
ebureo,632 et altare est factum633 de ebureo et de634 lapidibus preciosis. Et
ibi est una635 parva campana, quam quicumque audit non incurrit illo die636
surditatem, ut ibidem credunt.637 Et ibi est eciam638 facies veronice,639 quam

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 140 ]] 
240quicumque illo die videt640 non deficiet visu, ut dicunt.641

Et ibi642 prope est dormitorium Presbyteri Johannis mire pulchritu-
dinis et magnitudinis et643 testudinatum et644 stellatum ad modum firma-
menti.645 Et ibidem est646 sol et647 luna cum septem speris planetarum te-
nentes cursus suos ut in celo;648 et hoc649 est artificialiter factum.650 Item:
245 Ibi est651 speculum in quo sunt positi652 tres lapides preciosi,653 quorum654
unus dirigit et655 acuit visum, alter656 sensum, tercius experienciam. Ad quod
speculum657 sunt electi tres658 valentissimi659 doctores qui, inspiciendo spe-
culum, vident omnia660 que fiunt in mundo, ut ibidem dicitur.661

Item: Sunt ibidem662 artificialiter663 facti664 ix chori angelorum, et665 in
250 hiis choris666 sunt facte ymagines pulcherrime angelorum,667 patriarcharum,
prophetarum, apostolorum,668 martyrum, confessorum, Trium Regum,
atque virginum, de lapidibus preciosis || [183r] et de669 auro. Item:670 In su-
premo—scilicet throno671—sedet672 Maiestas, cui serviunt vigintiquatuor673
seniores et summi archangeli tenentes in manibus suis rotulos,674 tam-
quam675
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 141 ]] 
255cantantes, “Gloria in excelsis,”676 “Sanctus,”677 et similia.678

Item: Sunt ibi679 tres cruces preciosissime prope lectum680 quas Pres-
byter Johannes681 semper adorat.682 Et sunt ibi duo fontes, quorum unus
est683 frigidus, alter calidus.684 Item: Stat ibi685 magnus gygas fortiter arma-
tus, et dicitur quod si aliquis686 inimicus687 intraret post occasum solis quod
260 gygas illum688 interficeret.689

Item: Supra690 isto septimo et ultimo palacio sunt 20 turres mire alti-
tudinis et pulchritudinis691 deaurate,692 sub quibus totum palacium conclu-
ditur et tegitur.693 Et in isto ultimo694 palacio695 sunt eciam 24696 palacia—
seu697 camere—que possunt circumvolvi ad modum698 rote.699 Et ita istud
265 totum palacium habet septem habitaciones prius narratas in quibus700 adhuc
sunt701 plura mirabilia et rara,702 quibus iam703 non recordor.704

Item: Istud totum palacium705 est situm super uno706 flumine quod
dicitur Tigris,707 veniente708 de Paradiso709; de quo flumine710 proicitur711
aurum.712 Item:713 Extra civitatem714 sunt xij claustra que sanctus Thomas

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 142 ]] 
270suis temporibus fieri fecit in honore715 Christi et xij apostolorum.

Item: Ante palacium Presbyteri Johannis est signatum716 aureis lit-
teris717 quod omni die comedunt718 ibidem719 xxxM hominum, exceptis in-
gredientibus et egredientibus.720 Item: Ibidem nisi semel in die comeditur.721

Item: Presbyter722 Johannes transit de mane723 ante prandium724 ut
275 papa—scilicet725 cappa || [183v] longa,726 rubea, et727 preciosissima. Et728 post
prandium transit729 ut730 rex,731 equitando et terram suam gubernando.732 Et
scribit se733 in litteris suis:734 “Johannes Presbyter, divina gracia dominus
dominancium omnium que735 sub celo sunt,736 ab ortu solis usque737 ad
Paradisum Terrestrem.” Item:738 Sub eo sunt et regnant739 septuagintaduo740
280 reges, quorum sunt undecim741 Christiani.742 Item:743 Homines non utuntur
ibidem vestibus de lanis factis744 ut nos, sed vestiuntur745 pannis factis de746
cerico et pelliculis rubicundis.

Item: Ibidem non morantur747 mulieres sed solummodo viri; sed748
mulieres morantur remote ultra mare per quatuor dietas navigando749 in750
285 una insula vocata751 Terra Feminarum, et752 est753 fortiter circummurata.754

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 143 ]] 
Et ille mulieres tribus vicibus veniunt755 ad viros pro756 prole generanda,
scilicet ante Septuagesimam, ante festum beati757 Johannis Baptiste, et ante
festum758 Michaelis. Et sunt simul759 tribus diebus et760 noctibus coeundo,761
et tunc762 non intrant ecclesias sed763 audiunt764 missas per fenestras. Et
290 eciam hiis765 diebus fiunt sponsalia inter ipsos.766 Et tunc quarta die767 re-
vertuntur ad terram suam. Et si pariunt filium768 nutriunt769 per triennium770
et tunc mittunt patri;771 si772 femellam tunc773 manet cum ipsis.774

Item: Sunt ibi775 quatuor flumina Paradisi,776 quorum777 Tigris dat au-
rum, ut dictum est; et secundum, scilicet778 Phison, emittit lapides precio-
sos;779295 et tercium, scilicet780 Gyon,781 dat dulcedinem aquarum; et quartum
flumen,782 scilicet783 Eufrates, dat fertilitatem terre784 || [184r] semel in quolibet
mense,785 et propterea786 colligunt ibidem787 fructum788 bis789 in anno.
Item:790 Animalia procurant bis791 fetum in anno.792 Et ibidem est793 finis
Indie et794 terre habitabilis.795 796


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 144 ]] 

300Item: Ad visitandum797 sanctum Thomam,798 qui iacet799 quatuor die-
tis800 eundo pedester801 a civitate predicta802 in civitate v[o]cata803 Hulna,804
iacente805 per806 duo miliaria in mari807 in uno808 magno monte. Et antequam
fiat809 transitus ad sanctum Thomam,810 oportet quod811 homines se pre-
parent, ieiunando per quindenam, et abstinendo se812 a carnibus et piscibus,
305 et omni die confitendo, ieiunando,813 et devote vivendo.814 Et fit nisi815 semel
transitus in anno, viij diebus ante festum Thome816 et viij diebus post, et
per illam817 quindenam818 stat mare apertum819 per illa820 duo miliaria ante
predictam civitatem Hulnam,821 sic quod822 Christifideles per mare823 ad
civitatem824 transeunt siccis pedibus.825 Et tenet se mare ab utraque parte ut
310 duo parietes;826 per quod eciam mare pagani transire non possunt.827

Et intrando civitatem predictam,828 venitur829 ad ecclesiam sancti
Thome. Et in vigilia sancti Thome830 ponitur corpus suum ad cathedram

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 145 ]] 
magnam deauratam, factam de lapidibus preciosis,831 ante summum altare,
et stat832 ibidem833 a primis vesperis usque ad secundas vesperas.834 Et835
315 custoditur plusquam836 mille viris837 armatis illis quindecim diebus838 civitas
et ecclesia.839 Et convenit840 ibidem841 populi multitudo842 vigilantes843
nocte844 et orantes.845

In die846 sancti Thome venit Presbyter Johannes cum847 patriarcha,848
|| [184v] archiepiscopis, et849 episcopis ac850 prelatis851 ad cantandum divina
320 officia,852 et cantantur ibidem853 plures misse antequam summa854 incipiatur.
Et ad summam missam855 preparat se patriarcha illam cantando;856 et857 cum
venit ad canonem,858 discooperitur facies apostoli859 ita860 quod861 ab om-
nibus videtur.862 Et863 in elevacione864 facies ipsius865 triplicem habet866 ap-
parenciam: primo apparet867 facies868 pallida ut mortui hominis,869 2o870 alba

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 146 ]] 
325et viva871 ut viventis hominis,872 et873 3o874 rubicunda875 ut rosa. Et patriar-
cha876 conficit ibi877 sacramentum in878 magna copia.879

Et missa finita,880 accedit ad sacramentum Presbyter Johannes881 cum
archiepiscopis, prelatis,882 religiosis, et devotis883 hominibus,884 se flexis ge-
nibus, inclinando humiliter,885 et886 accipiendo887 sacramentum de888 manu
330 apostoli.889 890 Et patriarcha891 porrigit sibi892 sacramentum ad digitos.893 [1] Et
stat manus apostoli894 semiclausa et elevata aliquantulum.895 [2a] Et accipiunt
Christifideles digni sacramentum,896 [2b] quibus se aperit manus et indignis
retrahat.897 [3] Et sic omnes898 accedunt ad sacramentum899 et900 de manu
apostoli901 accipiunt902 cum magna903 devocione et timore.904


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 147 ]] 

335[4] Et vidi tempore quo ego eram ibi,905 scilicet anno Domini
Mcccxcprimo,906 quod manus sancti Thome subtraxit sacramentum tribus
hominibus907 qui908—penitencia909 ducti flendo amare,910 et omnibus ibi ex-
istentibus911 pro ipsis orantibus—postea de manu apostoli sacramentum
receperunt.912 [5] Et ob913 reverenciam duo archiepiscopi apponunt manus
340 suas914 ad brachium sancti Thome,915 non tamen916 manum apostoli re-
gendo.917 [6] Et iacet ibi corpus918 integrum et illesum cum crinibus,919 barba,
et vestimentis920 || [185r] suis quibus utebatur vivus,921 sed est922 coopertum
pannis preciosissimis.923 [7] Eciam ad dictam924 ministracionem corporis
Christi925 serviunt eciam926 duo alii archiepiscopi tenentes pathenas sub
345 manu apostoli. [8] Item:927 Serviunt928 duo alii archiepiscopi929 tenentes map-
pam preciosissimam.930

Et fiunt ibi931 miracula varia932—leprosi mundantur, ceci vident,933 in-
firmi934 curantur,935 et plura alia.936


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 148 ]] 

Et postea secundis vesperis completis,937 tunc938 Presbyter Johannes et
350 alii prelati ponunt939 corpus940 ad locum suum: ad941 unam magnam942 cap-
sam preciosissimam mire pulchritudinis943 factam944 de auro et de945 lapi-
dibus preciosis946 ante947 unam turrim fortissimam948 retro949 ecclesiam ad
unum chorum pulchrum. Et950 pendet951 capsa alte in quatuor cathenis au-
reis.952 Et tunc clauditur turris953 nec aperitur nisi954 in vigilia955 Thome.956
355 Et ante capsam sunt957 continue lampades958 ardentes que numquam ex-
tingwuntur nec incenduntur nec959 dirimuntur, ut dicitur.960

Et supra961 istam962 capellam stant963 quinque turres alte nimis964 in
quibus splendent lapides preciosi ita quod videntur965 in mari per 14966 die-
tas.967 Et secundum hoc968 naute se regunt, applicando se ecclesie969 sancti
360 Thome predicte.970


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 149 ]] 

Item:971 Ad partem orientalem sunt972 regna ubi973 sancti Tres Reges974
morabantur, et sunt totaliter975 montosa. Et ibi976 numquam est hyemps, ut
dicitur. Et ibidem977 homines pugnant978 contra serpentes979 et animalia ve-
nenosa.980 Et ibi est981 mons altissimus || [185v] qui982 vocatur Arabum,983 ubi
365 quando ab984 una parte est nox,985 ab alia parte est dies,986 et econverso,987
ut dicitur.988

Et tunc accipiendo989 licenciam990 Presbyteri Johannis et aliorum do-
minorum, intravimus991 navem, ulterius navigando992 per x dietas993 ad unam
insulam994 pulcherrimam et planam,995 habentem spacium996 quatuor mi-
liarium,370 et997 plenam arboribus pulchris998 cum fructibus et aliis diversis
speciebus,999 et1000 floribus ornatam,1001 et pluribus1002 volatilibus dulciter
cantantibus1003 repletam.1004 Et exeundo1005 navem nostrorum1006 12 cum1007
patrono nostro,1008 transivimus1009 in eadem insula,1010 videndo illa or-
nata.1011 Et patronus noster inhibuit nobis1012 ne aliquid inde1013 abstulere-
mus.1014375 Et fuimus1015 ibidem,1016 ut nobis videbatur, circa1017 tres horas, sed

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 150 ]] 
cum rediebamus1018 ad navem dixerunt1019 socii nostri in navi1020 quod ibi-
dem fuimus1021 tribus diebus et1022 noctibus.1023 1024 Et1025 ibi non erat1026 nox,
et ita credo quod numquam ibi fuit nox.1027 Et vocatur1028 illa insula Radix
Paradisi.

380Et1029 ulterius navigando per 12 dietas1030 ad montem1031 Edom.1032 Su-
per illo monte1033 dicitur esse Paradisus Terrestris.1034 Et ille mons1035 est
nimis altus1036 et directus1037 ad modum turris, ita quod1038 nullus potest esse
accessus1039 ad illum montem.1040 Et circa horam1041 vesperarum, cum sol
descendit1042 splendens ad1043 montem,1044 tunc videtur1045 murus Paradisi in
385 magna claritate et pulchritudine1046 ad modum stelle.

Et prope per1047 spacium unius miliaris est mons ubi1048 dicitur
fuisse1049 Alexander magnus, Romanorum imperator1050 qui subiugavit
sibi1051 totum mundum et voluit habere tributum || [186r] a Paradiso,1052 ut

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 151 ]] 
dicitur ibidem.1053 1054

390Modo ad reditum1055 nostrum ad partes: navigando per mare in1056
extremis partibus maris per 341057 dietas prospero ventu,1058 veniebamus1059
ad insulam1060 valde horribilem1061 lapidosam. Et ibidem dicitur1062 esse Pur-
gatorium. Et illa1063 est arida et tenebrosa.1064 Et prope illam insulam1065
fecimus moram1066 tribus diebus et1067 noctibus.1068 Et audivimus clamores
395 varios1069 et1070 gemitus animarum. Et legi in navi1071 tres missas1072 pro de-
functis illis tribus diebus.1073 Et tercia die,1074 finita missa, veniebat1075 vox
cunctis audientibus, dicens: “Laus Deo omnipotenti de istis1076 tribus missis
quia liberate1077 sunt tres anime de Purgatorio.”

Et1078 ulterius navigando bene per quatuor1079 menses, veniebamus1080
400 ad unam1081 insulam1082 planam ad spacium unius miliaris. Et ibi1083 exivi-
mus1084 preparando nostra cibaria.1085 Et incenso ibidem igne,1086 submersit
se illa insula,1087 nobis ad navem1088 fugientibus, cibaria1089 nostra cum ollis

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 152 ]] 
ibidem1090 relinquendo.1091 Et dicebatur1092 quod illa insula fuit quidam1093
piscis vocatus Jasconius1094 qui, percepto1095 igne, se submersit cum nostris
405 cibariis.1096

Et ulterius navigando1097 per quartale1098 anni, habuimus multa obsta-
cula pre montibus et ventis.1099 Et1100 veniebamus1101 ad insulam1102 magnam,
magnis1103 arboribus repletam, ubi1104 fecimus moram1105 per diem et noc-
tem. Et ibi1106 veniebat niger monachus1107 diligenter nos || [186v] examinando,
410 et accepit nostrorum 12,1108 ducens nos ad claustrum suum, dando nobis
sua1109 cibaria et largiter1110 nobis ministrando,1111 et1112 interrogando1113 nos
de sancto Thoma et1114 aliis diversis.1115 Et ibidem sunt1116 oves et capre ita
magne sicut1117 boves.1118 Et racio quare sunt ita magne1119 dicitur esse1120
ista: quia1121 semper transeunt1122 in pascuis, nec constringat eas1123 hyemps
415 neque1124 estas.1125

Et1126 ulterius navigando1127 ad partem septentrionalem, navigavi-
mus1128 inter1129 duos montes fumosos bene per1130 sex dies. Et ulterius1131

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 153 ]] 
veniebamus ad unam insulam,1132 et ibi videbamus1133 homines silvestres
pilosos1134 absque vestimentis1135 et diversa alia1136 animalia rara.1137

420Et ulterius directe1138 navigando, fuit quedam insula1139 ubi1140 mo-
rantur solummodo symee; et1141 sunt valde magne1142 bene ad quantita-
tem1143 vituli unius anni.

Et1144 ulterius navigando bene1145 per1146 quatuor menses, prope
unum1147 montem fumosum et lapidosum1148 audivimus cantantes Syre-
nes1149—proprie425 Merminnen1150—que1151 semper attrahunt naves suo
cantu1152 ad periclitandum.1153 Et ibidem videbamus1154 plura monstra hor-
ribilia,1155 et fuimus1156 in magno timore. Et oriebatur ibidem1157 magna tem-
pestas proiciens nos1158 de via recta1159 ad unum1160 angulum tenebrosum1161
in montibus.1162 Et ibi1163 fuimus quinque diebus non videndo diem1164
430 neque lumen.1165 Et postea1166 sexta die1167 venit ventus1168 conveniens1169
ducens nos de illo periculo ad || [187r] mare.

Et tunc navigando1170 per mensem ad1171 partem orientalem1172 ad mare

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 154 ]] 
Occeanum, veniebamus1173 ad unam terram1174 ubi1175 morabantur1176 ho-
mines1177 nigri et quidam valde albi. Et ibi1178 quievimus octo diebus. Et
435 vocatur terra illa1179 Amosona;1180 et ibidem est regina sic vocata.1181 Et di-
citur quod1182 ibidem1183 sint1184 Gog et Magog1185 conclusi1186 inter duos
montes, et ibidem sint homines1187 mirabiliter dispositi, habentes duas facies
in uno capite,1188 unam a parte ante, aliam a parte post.1189 Et ibi1190 est aer
valde1191 calidus et terra montosa.

440Et ulterius1192 navigando ad partem orientalem per multas insulas bene
per quartale unius1193 anni, veniebamus1194 Jherusalem1195 unde exivimus. Et
qualiter ibi1196 sit1197 dispositum pluribus est notum.1198 Et sic est finis.1199


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 155 ]] 

2. Textual Notes for the Latin Edition

Seven Categories

The Textual Notes for the Latin critical edition are divided into seven categories in order to focus attention on various textual issues that are not accounted for in the lemmata (except for the toponyms grouped together in TN I).

Textual Notes I (TN I) records variants in the spelling of place-names and proper nouns based on place-names (such as Israeliticum) mentioned in any copy of the Itinerarius, either Latin or Middle Dutch (this is the only section in these Textual Notes in which the Middle Dutch translation is accounted for). TN I thus functions as a complete gazetteer for the work. All texts are accounted for: manuscripts and printed editions that are not identified with a variant reading agree with A, as shown in the lemma. The information assembled here calls attention to the difficulty of transmitting geographical data accurately in a manuscript culture, a problem not solved by the invention of the printing press. Relatively minor differences in the value scribes assigned to individual characters (i/j, i/y, or u/v, for example) and to abbreviatory marks could lead to considerable variation in the recording of toponyms. A scribe also might use multiple spellings for the same word within one text. New knowledge was especially endangered precisely because it was unfamiliar, as the example of Compardut (lemma 337) testifies. Variants here (but not elsewhere in the Textual Notes) account for all orthographic discrepancies, including distinctions between the letters i and j (iordanem versus jordanem) and the letters i and y (sinai versus synay). Typographical errors, shown between brackets at the end of any string of variants, are repeated in TN VII. Abbreviations are expanded when grammar dictates what that expansion must be (versus jordanē et per jordanē in A at line 3) or when there is no doubt about precisely which letters are missing; they are retained in other cases (see the second entry for line 2). Variants are listed according to this hierarchical order: ABCDEaFGbcdeHfghijkKLM.

Textual Notes II (TN II) lists scribal corrections in the Latin manuscripts of the Itinerarius, as well as readings in A that have been emended in the presentation of the base text (all emendations are shown between square brackets). Paleographical material contained here reveals scribal habits (such as Johannes of Purmerend’s attentiveness in A and the copyist’s relative carelessness in B). The following terminology is used in this section:

  • •  “canceled” designates material that has been lined out on the page in the ink used to record the text, unless otherwise indicated (“canceled in red”);
  • •  “corrected” applies to characters, words, or phrases written over an original reading, which is supplied when it is legible.

Textual Notes III (TN III) contains a record of orthographic variants in the manuscripts and printed editions, not including toponyms (found in
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 156 ]] 
TN I) and typographical errors (found in TN VII). The variants include all spelling discrepancies except for these letters, which generally held identical value and, in some scribal hands, are sometimes impossible to distinguish: c/t (eciam versus etiam or noticiam versus notitiam), i/j (iohannes versus johannes), and u/v (ut versus vt). Differences between i and y are noted except in the frequently employed (and often abbreviated) word presbiter/presbyter. Words in which a consonant is variously single or double are recorded except in the case of pallacio, which is consistently spelled palacio in ABC, pallacio (occasionally pallatio) in DEa-j, and palatio in k Orthographical variants generally demonstrate corrupt Latin forms in BE, the influence of German especially in CDE, and humanist influence in f (and its descendant printed editions). TN III also records two other textual phenomena that complicate the editing of any medieval work: 1) sentence boundaries that are clearly different from those established in the base text (such as C at lines 15-16); and 2) readings that are uncertain, owing to the condition of a manuscript, a scribe’s handwriting, or an ambiguous abbreviation (see notes to lines 10, 16, 18, 23).

Textual Notes IV (TN IV) lists variant presentations of numerals to show where principal competing systems of recording a number—with roman and arabic numerals or by spelling out a word—were employed. The notes preserve older forms given arabic numerals: the looped-l (ℓ) is the modern “4” and the upside-down V (∧) the modern “7”). Manuscripts A and E show a marked preference for the arabic system, and C may indicate considerable difficulty understanding it; variants throughout the textual tradition highlight the problems inherent in the use of roman numerals. Alfred W. Crosby underscores the importance of a reliable method of quantification for the development of modern science and perspectives.1

Textual Notes V (TN V) records and describes grammatical errors in the manuscripts and printed texts that a copyist or reader is likely to have corrected; thus, they are not recorded as variants in the lemmata to the critical edition.

Textual Notes VI (TN VI) accounts for scribal marginalia, rubrics not found in A, and instructions to the reader (especially important in C [see p. 72 above]).

Textual Notes VII (TN VII) contains an inventory of typographical errors, with occasional explanations of how they result in a variant reading in a descendant text, thereby providing proof that a printer worked from a particular edition.

The following principles apply to the presentation of information throughout the Textual Notes:


 [[ Print Edition Page No. 157 ]] 
  • •  each entry is preceded by a line number from the Latin text printed here and, when the word or passage in question is found only in a variant, the relevant lemma number (abbreviated “L”);
  • •  all abbreviations are expanded unless it is impossible to do so confidently (this is an issue particularly in TN I and TN III, where orthography is at issue);
  • •  orthography and punctuation (including the use of upper-case letters) follow that found in the cited text, with i/j and u/v normalized (except in TN I);
  • •  multiple variants within a note are recorded according to this hierarchy: ABCDEaFGbcdeHfghijk, with FG and H assumed to follow readings in a and e respectively, unless otherwise noted;
  • •  ı denotes a minim (the simple downstroke used in the letters i, m, n, and u) in uncertain readings (see TN I 32);
  • •  # denotes an illegible character;
  • •  = denotes a hyphen found at the end of a line in the text in question;
  • •  / denotes the end of a line in the manuscript or printed edition.

Textual Notes I: A Gazetteer

The notes below account for readings in L only until Latin line 271, when its text breaks off, and for M only at lines 1-12 and 441-42, which is the sole part of the manuscript currently available.

2 Traiectensis] Utrecht KL; vtert M.
2 Jhrl’m] ihrl’m CEa-eG; irl’m D; Jhrl’m H; hirl’m f; hierusalem ijk; hierusalē g; hierl’m h; Iherusalem K; Jherusalem L; jherüsalem M.
3 {versus} jordanem] iordanem Da-k; Jordanem H; iordanen K; Jordanen LM.
3 {per} jordanem] iordanem BDEa-k; Jordanem H [omit CKLM].
4 Egipti] egypti Bacdefghij; egipti b; Ægypti k; egypten K; Egipten LM.
4-5 hermopolis] hermipolis bcefghik; hermipollis dj; hermopolus M.
5 Egipti] egypti BDacdefghi; egipti bj; Ægypti k; egypten K; Egipten LM.
7 mari rubro] mari rubo E; roeden meer (‘red sea’) KL; roeden mere (‘red sea’) M.
13 mari rubro] mari rubeo C; mari rubo E [omit K; voernoemden mer {‘aforementioned sea’} L].
14 mare rubrum] omit KL.
17 mari rubro] mari rubo E; roeden meer (‘red sea’) L [omit K].
18 isrl’iticum] jsraheliticum B; israheliticum CDEabdfgi; israeliticum cehk; Israelticum j; kinderen van Israel (‘children of Israel’) K; volck van Ysrahel (‘people of Ysrahel’) L
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 158 ]] 
21 hermopolensi] hermopolim C; hermopoli a; hermipoli b-k; Hermopolis L [omit K].
29 Egiptum] egyptum BDGacefghij; egiptum F; Aegyptum k [omit KL].
31 hermopolensi] hermopolim C; hermopoli a; hermipoli bcdefghik; Hermipolli j; Hermopolis KL.
32 Amram] tuuram (probably timram) C; amra b-k; Anyna K; Amnam L.
32 mare rubrum] mare rubro C; roede meyr (‘red sea’) K; rode mer (‘red sea’) L.
34 Synay] Synai BCDa-jK; sinai Fk; synay H.
46 isr’l] israhel DFgi; israel abfhjk; isral’ d; Israel K; Ysrael L.
49 Synay] Synai BCDa-k; sinay E; Sinai K.
50 helym] helim Ck; elÿm G; Elim K; Elym L.
52 isr’l] israhel Dgi; israel abcdehjk; Ysrael L.
58 Marach] Marath Da-k; march (‘swamp’) K.
60 isr’l] israhel agi; isr’l G; israel bcdhjk; Israels K; Ysrael L.
70 L184 hese bfghijk; heze cde; hesen H [interpolation not found in ABCDEaKL].
72 vrcaldeorum] vr caldeorum DE; hur caldeorum acdefghijk; hurcaldeorum b; Ur Caldæorum K; Ur Caldeorum L.
72 Judei] See TN III.
73 Nylus] nylis B; unum C; nilus DEK; nilū abcdfi; nilum eghjk; nylum H; Nilus K (see TN II 73).
74 damiad] damaad (?) B; Damiaten K [omit L].
75 occeanum] oceanum f-k; zee (‘sea’) KL.
75 Ethiopiam] Ethyoopiam (?) B; Æthiopiam k; moerlant KL.
76 (L201) inferior Jndia] inferior iuda (less likely inda) C; inferior india abcde; interior india fghijk; uterste eynde (‘farthest end’) K; nederste Indyen (‘lowest Indyen’) L (see TN VII 76).
77 Ethiopes] Ethyopes B; Æthiopes k; Maren K; Moren L.
85 Ethiopie] Ethyopie BD; ethiope C; Æthiopiæ k; moerlant KL.
85-86 Jecoreum] jctoreū (or jctoren̄ for jctorensis ?) B; iccoreum D; ÿccorium E; iecoreum ac-k; levermeer (‘liver sea’) KL [ieeoreum b].
86 arenosum] venosum C; santmeer (‘sand sea’) KL.
87 jecoreum] ictoreū (or ictoren̄ for ictorensis ?) B; iccoreum D; yccoreum E; iecoreum a-k; jecoreum H; Levermeer (‘liver sea’) KL.
90 mare arenosum] mare wenosum C; mare arenosam cde; sant meer (‘sand sea’) K; Zantmer (‘sand sea’) L.
99 Jndiam] indiam BCDEa-k; Jndiam H; Indien K; Yndien L.
101 Andranopolis] andriplis C; yndronopolis DE; andronopolis abcefghijk; ādronopol’ d; Adrianopolis K; Andropolis L.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 159 ]] 
121-22 Compardut] Cōparduc B; 9peduc C; conpstrokLCdoth D; conperduth E; cōpardit abcdefghi; compardit jkH; Canwaduck K; Campaduck L.
127 Eleap] eleab DE; heleap abcde; beleab fgi; Beliab hjk; Cleap KL.
127 Jndia] jndea B; india CDa-k; Jndia H; Indien KL.
146 Gadde] badde DE.
148-49 Edissam] Edissa KL.
150 jndia] Jndea B; india CDa-k; Indien K; Yndien L.
151 Colonienses] Coelen L [omit K].
172 Romanorum] rhomanorum abce; romanorum dfghijkFH; Romen KL.
268 (L707, 709) tigris] tÿgris E; tygris a-kK.
268 paradiso] paradyso Dcdefghijk; paradiso H; paradyse K; paradise L.
269 L714 after civitatem add edissam C.
279 paradisum terrestrem] paradysum terrestrem Db-j; paradisum terrestrem H; Paradyse K [paradysum terrstrem c].
293 paradisi] paradysi b-j; Paradyse K.
293 tigris] tygris Ea-k; tigris H [omit C].
294 phison] phÿson E; physon cehjk; Physeen K [omit C].
295 gyon] Geon BDEK; gÿon F; Gion k [omit C].
296 Eufrates] omit C.
299 (L794) Judie] in die BDa-k; Jndie H; Indien K.
300 L798 add hulna a-k.
301 L802 add edissa Ca-k.
301 (L804, 807) hulna] vlna D; ulua E; bulna G.
308 hulnam] vlnam D; Vluam E; bulnam G [omit BK].
335 L905 hese DEa-k] hesen H.
364 Arabū] arabs seu arabū C; arabum DEaghij; arabū FG; Arabon k.
379 paradisi] paradysi cefgh; paradisi H; Paradyses K [padysi i; pararadysi j].
380 Edom] edum dfghij.
381 paradisus] ppstrokLCdysus c; paradysus efghik; paradisus H; Ertsche (‘Earthly’) Paradys K [paradvsus j].
384 paradisi] paradysi Dceghij; Paradyses K.
387 Romanorum] Romen K [omit a-k].
388 paradiso] paradyso cefghijk; paradiso H; Paradyse K.
392-93 purgatorium] Vegevuyr K.
433 occeanum] oceanum f-k; zee (‘sea’) K.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 160 ]] 
435 Amosona] amosōna (amosonna?) B; amasonū C; amosana D; amasonia ab; amazonia cdek; amazoma fghij; Amazoria K.
436 gog et magog] See TN III.
441 Jhrl’m] jerl’m B; ihrl’m CEabcde; ierusalē D; hierusalem fghijk; Iherusalem K; jerüsalem M.

Textual Notes II: Scribal Corrections and Emended Readings

10 L29 predictus comedit] “commedit” predictus with hatch marks signalling word reversal F.
15-16 crescens follows c canceled at end of previous line A.
21-22 morabatur corrects morebatur B.
25 L73 balsamum followed by caret signaling crescit above caret in outer margin F.
26 mire follows mag (g lacks descender) canceled E.
27 fuerat follows ∫ (ascender for f) canceled G.
29 ceciderunt ydola corrects in darker ink tenderunt ydolo B.
31 vsque corrects by erasure vfque D.
37 lampades follows lapides canceled G.
42-43 nociua follows nocua canceled G.
44 septimana follows sep uncanceled at end of previous line A.
46-47 ponentes follows po(t?) canceled F.
48 alba follows magna canceled G.
51 altare corrects adtare B.
51 ibidem de illo] “de illo” ibidem with hatch marks signaling word reversal A.
53-54 L144
54 excecantur follows exs canceled C.
58 unus corrects by erasure unius A.
61 aquam corrects aquem B.
63-64 L169 ad added superscript over caret B.
64 potum follows bonum dotted beneath to signal deletion F.
70 veste pilosa follows p(?) canceled E.
72 rubei corrects rubri G.
72 L189 indei appears to correct original iudei by extending the right stroke of the second character below the line B (see 76 below).
73 nilus in outer margin emends nyli in body of text D.
74 vocatam corrects vacatam B.
74 intravi corrects navi = / gavi canceled in red C.
75 Occeanum] occeanum with a superscript over caret F.
76 india corrects indea with i over e dotted beneath for deletion (see 72 L189 above) B.
78 parvi corrects perui with a over e dotted beneath for deletion B.
81 conchis] conchis corrects c?nchis B; contis E; chonchis F.
81 lacticiniis corrects lac?ecinijs B.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 161 ]] 
82 quod superscript over caret E.
83 pueros added below line in bottom margin D.
85 Ethyopie corrects Ethyopee B.
87 et corrects est D.
87 L236 fundum propter follows propter canceled in red F.
89 attractivus] attractativus A.
90 crescens et decrescens corrects cre(s?)ens et defrescens F.
91 Monoculos corrects monosculos E.
91 pedestres corrects pedeste(r?) A.
92 transeunt follows in = / trant canceled A.
97 frontis corrects frontes E.
98 dominio corrects domineo B [domineo C].
103 portus follows corpus canceled in red and black F.
105 quod corrects quo with uo erased and abbreviatory sign added B.
108 ecclesia follows eciam canceled G.
109 peregrini corrects peregeini B.
110 turris corrects through erasure turri#s B.
113 quinque follows tuit (after stant = at end of previous line) canceled C.
115 relique] reliqua with e over a neither canceled A.
115 candele corrects candale G.
116-17 L318 eam sic se regant] sic appears on the page directly below sic [quod naute] F.
118 appellatum] appellatam A.
119 L325 et superscript H.
120 (L331) non in inner margin signaled by caret following ipso vero C.
124 thome follows tl or th (?) canceled C.
124 L342 quamquam] quāȝiā [quamqueiam?], the apparent, meaningless reading may be quāquā poorly corrected B.
127 terminatur corrects terminantur C.
128 navem] navem navem neither canceled H.
128 ducatu corrects by erasure ducatus B.
129 unum corrects mon (?) B.
129-30 petrosum] pe = / tr#trosum with tr# canceled A.
133 descendere corrects dēscendere with abbreviatory mark canceled D.
134 ibidem corrects ibidēm with abbreviatory mark canceled B.
137 piper follows per canceled D.
141 foramen corrects foramine B.
143 et added above line A.
143 diuersi corrects diuersa B.
146 castrum corrects through erasure claustrum B.
149 presbyter follows pb canceled in red F.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 162 ]] 
150 {sui} et] et superscript over caret B.
150 sita follows ita with three dots beneath to indicate deletion B.
150 superiori] suppstrokLCiori indistinctly (and unnecessarily) corrected supe’iori B.
150 habitabilis] habitaculis (?) with cu (?) dotted three times beneath for deletion, leaving habitalis B.
151 ciuitates follows illegible canceled word D; civitates corrects ciuitastes with first s canceled in red and black and ast underscored in black F.
153-54 latitudine corrects longitudine with u rewritten in red B.
156 ad added above line signaled by caret A.
159 ymago regine follows yg (yȝ?) canceled C.
163 lapidibus corrects lapibibus G.
165 ibidem fiunt follows f(?) canceled D.
166 est added above line D.
167 mensis corrects menses E.
168 ad quas follows q canceled C.
174 Ascendendo] ascendo [sic] follows asf canceled F.
177 ut] vi A.
179 lapidibus corrects lapedibus B; lapidibus follows p canceled E.
191 terciam follows terram canceled C.
199 Johann# with final letter corrected indistinctly (Johanni?) B.
200 longum superscript over caret B.
200 latum follows altum canceled G.
202 lapide corrects lapidibus following de added above line C.
205 illa follows obscure letter (∫? f?) uncanceled D.
209 obsessi corrects obcessi B (see TN III 209).
212 L568 et in medio prandii, et eciam] et in medio et in medio et in uncanceled C.
212 prandium follows ante far into inner margin (on verso page) B.
214 delectabiles corrects delectatiles B.
215 preciosissima corrects preciosum B.
215 lapidibus corrects lapedibus B.
223 ibi corrects ubi B.
224 tenent corrects tenentur with abbreviatory mark canceled G.
225 L601 eciam sunt follows sunt canceled G.
229 dicitur corrects an erased, illegible six-letter word B.
230 pulchrior] pulcherior (with e above line) B.
235 testudinata] testuinata with dot over u as if one minim were a second i G.
235 rotonda ad followed by caret with no words following or added (see omission in L630) B.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 163 ]] 
237 lapidibus with l correcting e (?) and a (see omission in L634) C.
242 testudinatem corrects through erasure tes##udinatum F.
244 ut superscript over et canceled C.
244 celo follows down stroke of f, h, l, orcanceled E.
253 cui follows m ∫ canceled in red and black C.
258 frigidus corrects friggidus A.
259 aliquis] a’s may abbreviate alius A.
263 palacia corrects palacio A.
264 modum corrects molui (?) F.
267 flumine follows v# (for vno?) v erased and fl written over original B.
269 xij corrects v(?)ij A.
277 divina corrects devina B.
287 festum added above line, signaled by caret G.
288 simul follows simil canceled F.
292 femellam corrects famellam A.
295 gyon corrects Seon with g above S canceled and y written over e A.
296 fertilitatem corrects facilitatem with r added above line B.
300 visitandum corrects vi#itandum D.
301 vocata] vacata A.
302 iacente follows ia canceled A.
306 transitus follows semel far into outer margin (on recto page) B.
313 preciosis follows prefis canceled G.
324 palida corrects palidi B.
328-29 L885 genuis follows genibus canceled C.
331 semiclausa corrects semiclausi B.
333 retrahat follows ∫ (for sacramentum?) canceled A.
333 et de manu follows ad canceled in red with two vertical strokes in black (see L899 for omission of ad sacramentum) E.
336 L906 Mcccxcprimo] Mo ccco xco corrects Mo ccco x#i with carets following ccco in text and beneath xc in red in center margin B.
338 de manu follows [orantibus postea] orantibus with the latter word canceled D.
339 duo follows sacramenti canceled in red and black C.
340 manum follows tamen canceled (see L916 for omission of non [!] tamen) C.
352 ecclesiam corrects ecllesiam B.
358 splendent corrects speendent B.
358 ita quod written over illegible word erased B.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 164 ]] 
361 sancti superscript over caret B.
362 hyemps] hiemps follows y canceled in black and red D.
365 dies follows düs (?) canceled C.
369 habentem in outer margin (of recto page) superscript over caret with second caret in text following planam B.
370 pulchris] pulcher followed by horizontal mark in darker ink connected to following word B.
376 rediebamus follows d canceled twice in black, once in red B.
380 dietas follows diebus canceled C.
383 illum montem] “montem” illum with hatchmarks signaling word transposition D.
390 partes follows illegible erasure beginning par (paradiso?) D.
391 dietas corrects diebus (?) B.
391 ventu] ventu corrects vento D (see TN V 391); vento (?) E.
394 noctibus follows tercia die finita missa (see line 396) canceled A.
395-96 profunctis with de superscript before f C.
396 veniebat corrects venieba# B.
400 planam corrects plauam with u canceled and n superscript F.
401 preparando follows prepatam canceled in red C.
401 cibaria follows r## erased B.
401 L1086 incendimus ibi follows incenco ibi canceled in red C.
403 ibidem corrects ibibem F.
403 relinquendo follows relinquentibus canceled in red (see L1091) C.
404 submersit follows igne sub with the latter word canceled and followed by caret signaling se in inner margin E.
409 monachus corrects monichus B.
409 examinando corrects ex#minando E.
412 capre follows b###s (boves?) canceled B.
417 fumosas (mis)corrects fumosos F (see TN V 417).
424 lapidosum corrects lapid#sum (lapidam?) B.
427 timore corrects tim#re B.
430 L1167 videlicet die follows d canceled F.
431 illo follows l canceled B.
437 L1183, 1184 ibi follows canceled downstroke (first character of sunt?) and precedes sunt superscript over caret F.
438 a parte] apstrokLCte in both instances AB (a vertical line follows a in both instances in A).
439 montosa] monstosa with first s canceled E.
441 quartale written over qr̄l# C; quartale follows quartalle canceled F.
442 L1196 autem written twice, second instance canceled F.
442 notum followed by et cetera canceled in red C.

 [[ Print Edition Page No. 165 ]] 

Textual Notes III: Orthographic Variants, Alternative Punctuation, and Uncertain Readings

2 dyocesis] diocesis Bcdeghij.
2 Maio] mayo CDEH.
8 rubei] rubii E.
9 caput] capud C.
10 rotundum] rotondum B.
10 cattus] cactus B(?)C.
10 L27 rostra] rustra E.
10 comedi] 9medi (probably commedi) BC.
10 L29 comedit] commedit D.
11 oportet] opportet G.
11 L33 bulliri] buliri Ffghij [bulilri d].
15 intoxicando] intoxsecando M.
15-16 crescens ibidem et in Terra Sancta] crescens ibidem. Et in Terra Sancta C.
16 Choral] Coral BCb-k; thoral E.
16-17 nuncupata] nunccupata E.
18 cognoscitur] 9gosci2 (probably congnoscitur) C.
19 ripa] rypa E.
21 ortus] hortus f-k.
23 cuius has one minim too many (cııııııs) B.
24 orto] horto f-k.
28 ydolorum] idolorum hjk.
29 ydola] idola f-k.
33 transitur] transsitur C.
34 Katherine] katharine C; Catharinæ k.
36 comedencium] commedencium BCDE.
37 numquam] nūquā B; nūqȝ Ccdef; nunqȝ abghij; nunquam k.
37 extingwi] extigwi E; extingui BCa-k.
39 extingwitur] extigwitur E; extinguitur BCa-k.
43 Katherine] katharine C; Catharinæ k.
44-45 conswevit] consuevit BCDEa-k.
46 olivarum] olyvarum B.
47 emunitatem] immunitatem ab.
54 numquam] nūqȝ CbcdHf; nunqȝ aeghij; nunquam k.
60 L161 hodierno may read hodierna (but scribe construes dies as masculine noun at line 73) C.
63 L167 unus corunus given the pattern of minims two words later in cornu C; vnicornis abk.
65 hoc] oc E.
66 miliare] milliare C.
71 transeundo] transseundo C.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 166 ]] 
72 rubei Judei] rubei indei B; rubei iudei Ca-k; rubij iudei E (see TN II 72 L189, 76).
73 L194 quendam] quandam H.
74 navem] nauim CE.
81 conchis] contis E; chonchis F.
82 syconias] ciconias BCD; cyconias Ea-k.
83 syconie] ciconie BCDb; cyconie Eac-k.
84 L223 hii] hi eHh.
84 L223 maius] magis E (see 151).
85-86 ictoreū may read ictoren̄ [ictorensis] B (see 87).
87 ictoreū may read ictoren̄ [ictorensis] B (see 85-86).
87 attrahit] adtrahit D.
89 L241 attractivus] attractiui C; adtractiuus D; actractiuus F; attratiuus b [attractatiuus A; attrectiuus k].
89 alia] allia C.
92 transeunt] transseunt C.
96 comedunt] 9medunt (probably commedunt) BCDE.
97 carbunculi] caruunculi E.
98 dominio] domineo C (see TN II 98).
99 Grandicanis] grandicanus C [brandicanus a-k; talis rex DE].
102 Christiani] cristiani B.
103 litore] littore BCDEa-k; litore H.
107 lapidei] lapidij B; lapidee H.
107 rivuli] rivoli C.
109 sepeliuntur] sepiliuntur B.
109 Christiani] cristiani H [christianorum C].
110 litus] littus Ea-k.
111 pulchritudinis] pulcritudinis G.
111 astronomi] astronimi BD.
111 litterati] lrāti ACDEafi; literati k.
112 prenosticando] prenosticendo B; pronosticando acdefghij; p̄nosticādo (probably prenosticando) H; prognosticando k [prnosticando b].
113 consilia] concilia k.
120 Grandicanis] Gradicanis D; brandicani abcdefghjk [Brandicano i].
120 L330 Brandicano is punctuated as part of following sentence, thus disassociating the raptores from the khan (“captured by bandits, that same Brandicanus not being in the area”) i.
122 Grandicanis] grandicanus C; brandicano abcefgijk [bradicano d].
128 (L355) navem] navim C; navem navem H [novem B].
128-29 Grandicanis] grandicani C; brandicani acdefghijk [brandidicani b].
138 Michaelis] michahelis CD.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 167 ]] 
141 transit] transsit C.
141 rivulus] rivolus B.
146-47 theolonium] theolofourioverbar C; thelonium E; theoloneum abcdefghij (see TN VI 147 L410); telonium k.
151 maior] magor E (see 84 L223 above).
153 teutonica] teutunica CE; theutonica acde [reutonica j].
154 (L432) columpnas] calumpnas B; [super] columnis a-k with ut dicitur between parentheses in aF but not G [columpnis D].
155 columpnas] calumpnas B; colupnas G; columnas a-j; columna k [omit C].
156 gygantes] gigantes BCDk.
156 lapidibus] lapedibus B.
158 (L440) columpnam] calumpnam B; colupnam E; columnarum a-j; columniarum H.
159 ymagines] hymagines a; ymagines b; himagines ce; ymagines H; imagines dfghijk.
160 cyphos] ciphos CD [omit a-k].
162 cyphum] ciphum CD [omit a-k].
163 lapidibus] lapedibus B.
164 transitus] transsitus C.
166 consilia] concilia B.
170 pulcher] pulcer h.
171 columpnis] [super] calumpnas B; columnis a-k.
171 ymagines] hymagines ab; himagines cde; imagines f-k; ymagines H.
177 ut dicitur between parentheses aF (not G).
185 orlogium] orilogium B; horalogium CDEbcdefi; horologium aghjk [omit C].
186 orlogium] horalogium DE [omit Ca-k].
189 liberia] libraria Cai; liberaria DEcdefghj; liberia b [bibliotheca k].
190 transeunt] transseunt C; transiunt E.
193 capella] cappella H.
193 laycorum] laicorum Dabcek.
195 martyrum] mr̄m AGH; martirum BCDEbei.
198 apostolorum] appostolorum E.
198 pulchritudinis] pulcritudinis G.
199 coram] choram b.
200 pulchritudinis] pulcritudinis H.
201 ymagines] hymagines ab; himagines ce; imagines dfghijk; ymagines FH.
206 scintille] sintille BCbcdefghj.
208-10 [campana] quam ... curantur within parentheses aF (not G).
209 obsessi] obcessi Cabcde (see TN II 209).
214 pulchras] pulcras f.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 168 ]] 
217 unum] unam D; vm E.
217 numquam] nunqȝ afghjk; nūqȝ cde [namquam G].
223 solempniter] solepniter E; solemniter a-j; soleimiter [soleıınıter ?] H; solenniter k.
224 consilia] concilia Bk.
224 potest] p̄t (potest? posset? possit?) C.
229-30 pulcherrima] pulcerrima Gh.
230 pulchrior] pulcherior B; pulcrior Gh.
230 parva] perua B.
230 L613 quotidie] cotidie bcde; quottidie fghij.
236 transit] transsit C.
238 quicumque] quicūqȝ abcefghij; quicumque H; q’cūqȝ d; quicunque k.
240 quicumque] quicūqȝ adfhij; q’cūqȝ d; quicunque cekG [quicumque g].
246 experienciam] experigenciam D.
250 hiis] his a-j.
250 ymagines] hymagines ab; himagines ce; imagines dfghijk; ymagines FH.
250 pulcherrime] pulcerrime G.
251 martyrum] martirum BCDbH; mr̄m EG [matyrum a].
253 throno] trono E.
254-55 tamquam] tanqȝ aghiH; tāqȝ bcdef; tanquam jk.
258 calidus] callidus hj.
258 gygas] gigas Cb.
260 gygas] gigas DE [omit a-k].
262 pulchritudinis] pulcritudinis GH.
264 modum] motum cdefghi; modum H.
264 L699 dimite may read divinite, Odimite, or even Averimite C.
268 proicitur] proiicitur a-k.
272 comedunt] commedunt BCDE; cōedant a [comedant bcdefgiG].
273 comeditur] commeditur BDE; comeditur ACacdefghijkZ [coeditur b].
274 prandium] prandeum C.
275 rubea] rubia D.
276 prandium] prandeum C.
280 Christiani] xpristiani b.
282 cerico] serico CDEa-k.
288 Michaelis] michahelis C.
303 transitus] transsitus C.
306 transitus] transsitus C.
308 Christifideles] cristifideles H.
309 transeunt] transiunt E [transeant k].
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 169 ]] 
309 ab] vb D.
310 transire] transsire CD.
311 L829 transsitur C.
312 cathedram] kadhedram C; kathedram E.
324 pallida] palida C.
326 sacramentum] sac2ramentum (= sacraramentum?) B.
328 L884 christianis] xpristianis b; xpianis H.
328-29 genibus] genubus E.
329 L885 humillime] humilime bfghjH.
332 aperit] apperit C.
337 penitencia] penetenciam B.
344 pathenas] patenas BDEa-k.
350 corpus] cor9 [= corus?] C.
353 cathenis] catenis bk.
354 L953 seris] ceris bcdefghj.
355 capsam] cappsam C.
355 L958 kartine may possibly read kontinue C.
355 lampades] lampas B.
355 numquam] nūqȝ Ccdfe; nunqȝ abghij; nunquā k.
355-56 extingwuntur] extinguuntur BCabcdefghik; extigwuntur E; extinguntur j.
356 incenduntur] incenguntur B.
356 dirimuntur] demi / müüntur B.
357 capellam] cappellam B; cāpellā (= campellam?) b.
362 montosa] montuosa Ca-j.
362 numquam] nūqȝ Ccdef; nunquam abghijk.
362 hyemps] hiemps D; yems E; hyems abfghijk; hÿems F; hyēs ce; hyemps H; hiēs d.
363 pugnant] pungnant B.
365 alia] allia C.
368 navem] navim E.
369 pulcherrimam] pulcerrimam G.
370 pulchris] pulcris H.
374 inhibuit] in ibuit C.
374 aliquid] aliquit B.
376 dixerunt] dixernnt G.
378 numquam] nunqȝ abghijk; nūqȝ cde.
383 L1039 nunquam] nūqȝ C.
384 splendens] spendens B.
385 pulchritudine] pulcritudine G.
387 Alexander] Allexander BCE.
393 arida] arrida F.
401 L1084 navem] navim C.
401 submersit se] submerse B.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 170 ]] 
402 navem] navim C.
404 Jasconius] iascronius C; iaschonius D; ÿasconius E; iasconius a-k; Jasconius H.
406 L1097 autem] aut j.
406-7 obstacula] obstaculo B.
408 L1105 moram] morem B.
413 sicut] sicud C.
414 transeunt] transseunt C; transiunt E.
414 hyemps] hiemps D; yemps E; hyēs acde; hyēps b; hyems fghijkGH.
416 septemtrionalem] septentrionalem DakZ; septētrionalem CEbcdefghiG; septemtrionalem H.
418 silvestres] sylvestres k.
421 Symee] syrene C; simee Dabj; sÿmee E; Simiȩ k.
422 L1143 sicud C.
424-25 Syrenes] sirenes D; syrenis F.
425 Merminnen] mermynnē B; mermȳnen; D; mere mȳne E [omit Ca-k].
426-27 horribilia] horibilia h.
436 Gog et Magog] gog et magoc C; goch et magoch DE.
439 montosa] montuosa a-j.

Textual Notes IV: Numerals

1 Mccclxxxnono] Mo ccco lxxxixo BDE; Mo ccco 89 C; M.ccc.lxxxix. abcdefi; M.cccc.lxxxix. ghj; omit k.
5 septem] ∧tem E; vij fi.
18-19 quatuor] ℓ;or C.
31 viij] octo BCDEa-k.
33 septem] ∧tem D; vij b.
36 13] xiij CDbcdefi; tredecim Eaghjk.
36 13] tres [!] C; xiij Dbcdefi; tredecim Eaghjk.
44 tres] 3s CE.
49 quatuor] ℓ;or CDEF; iiij H [quartuor h].
52 xl] ℓor [!] C; quadraginta DEaghjk.
53 duodecim] xij bcdefi; 12 F.
55 (L147) septuagintadue] lxxij Bbcdefi; lxx [!] C; ∧o. due E; septuaginta duo F; septuaginta [!] ghjk.
75 tres] 3s CE.
84 duodecim] xij BCfh.
86 quatuor] 4or CEF; iiij i [quattuor with upsidedown a h].
106 quingenti] ccccci D.
115 quatuor] ℓor CE.
119 L326 tres] 3s E.
122 viij] septem [!] B; octo DEa-k.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 171 ]] 
125 (L345) vij] septem B; xij [!] CDbcdef; 12 [!] E; duodecim [!] aghik; duocī [!] j [omit H].
126 xij] duodecim DEghjk.
129 viij] octo BDEa-k.
134 viginti] xx Dbcdefi [omit C].
148 L413 xiiij] quatuordecim E; xxiiij [!] fi; vigintiquattuor [!] ghj; viginti quatuor k.
151 xxiiijor] xxiiij Cbcdefi; viginti ℓor DE; vigintiquatuor ak; vigintiquattuor ghj.
155 (L432) ixc] nonaginta CE; xc D; nongentis a-k.
156 quatuor] ℓor CDE; iiijor H.
174 quingenti] ccccci D.
181 secundum] 2m C.
191 terciam] 3m DE.
194 quartam] ℓtam D [quarta jk].
210 L562 xij B.
228 septimam] ∧am C; vij b.
245 tres] 3s E.
246 tercius] 3us CDE.
247 (L658) tres] 3s C; quattuor [!] b-k.
249 ix] novem BCDEac-k; ix G.
253 (L673) vigintiquatuor] xxiiijor BD; xxiiij C; novem a-k.
256 tres] 3s C.
261 20] xx BCDbcdefi; viginti Eaghjk.
263 (L696) 24] xxiiij B; xx [!] C; xxiiijor D; viginti 4or E; novem [!] a-k.
266 (L702) septem] vij CDdefi;tem E; viji [!] b; septem H.
269 xij] duodecim Eaghjk.
270 xij] duodecim CEaghjk.
272 xxxM] triginta milia CEabcde; triginta millia ghjk; xxx milia fi.
279 (L740) septuagintaduo] lxxij BCD; octodecim [!] abcde; xviij [!] fi; decem et octo [!] ghjk.
280 undecim] xj BCbcdefi.
280 L742 sexaginta DE.
280 L742 septem abcdeghjk; vij fi.
284 quatuor] ℓor CDEF.
293 quatuor] iiij B; ℓor CE.
294 secundum] 2m E [omit C].
295 tercium] 3m DE [omit C].
300 quatuor] ℓor C; iiij bcde.
306 viij] octo BCDEa-k.
306 viij] octo BCDEac-k [octa b].
310 duo] due B (see TN V 310).
314 secundas] 2as CE.
317 (L845) quindecim] xv bcdefi.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 172 ]] 
324 2o] Secundo Ba-k.
325 3o] tercio Ba-k.
336 L906 Mcccxcprimo] Mo ccco xco B; Mo 3 [with a red slash running vertically through 3] C [date omitted DEa-k] (see TN II 336 L906).
349 secundis] 2ıs CE.
353 quatuor] ℓor CEF.
355 L958 xij BCEabcdefi; duodecim Dghjk.
357 quinque] v.e H.
358 (L966) 14] xiiij B; novem [!] CDEa-k.
361 Tres] 3s E.
368 x] decem BCDEghjk.
369 quatuor] ℓor CDE [quartuor h].
372 12] xij BCFbcdefi; duodecim DEaghjk.
375 tres] 3s E.
377 L1022 tribus] iij b.
380 12] xij Bbcdefi; duodecim CDEaghjk.
391 34] xxiiij [!] BCDabcdefi; viginti quatuor [!] Eghjk.
395 tres] 3s CE.
396 tercia] 3a CD.
398 tres] 3es C; 3s E.
399 quatuor] ℓor CEF.
410 12] xij BCbcdefik.
423 quatuor] ℓor CDE [quattuar d; quatttuor i].
430 sexta] vj; bfi; sexto cdeghjk.

Textual Notes V: Errors Not Recorded in the Critical Edition

19 una] uno F.
23 aqua] aq̄ (aque?) D.
29 fugierunt] fugerunt a[FG] (perhaps mistaking the third conjugation verb fugio for a fifth conjugation verb).
47 ille] illi B (misconstruing avis as masculine noun).
60 filii] filiis F.
63 ponens] pones F.
64 L172 potum accipiunt] potunt (?) accipiunt (a nonsensical reading) C.
103 multe] multi BCHZ (misconstruing navis as masculine noun).
104 L281 in copying domi for domus, the scribe of H acceptably construes the word as a second declension noun.
104 alte] alti B (misconstruing domus as masculine noun).
112 L305 civitatis] civitates in C may stand for citizens (“on [each] feast day, the citizens and leaders hold their counsels”); see TN VII 112 L305.
128 ducatu] ductu C; ducato D (presumably misconstruing ducatus, a fourth declension noun, as a second declension noun).
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 173 ]] 
129 predicti] predictam D.
131 L364 quem in C is an awkward construction that presumably takes masculine mons rather than neuter foramen as antecedent.
133 navem] novem B.
154 columpnas] columpnis D (not recognizing that supra takes the accusative?).
167 mensis] menses F (see TN II 167).
171 facte] facti BZ (misconstruing ymago as masculine noun).
176 L480 detinentur] detnientur or detninetur F.
180 lanternis] laternis E.
187 L508 apprehendendum] apprehendum F.
197 L533 qua] quo H.
201 multe] multi C (misconstruing ymago as masculine noun); see next note.
201 preciose] preciosi Ca (misconstruing ymago as masculine noun and omitting multe); see previous note.
202 precioso] preciosa BC.
217 numquam] namquam G.
219 aliorum] alium H.
250 facte] facti B (misconstruing ymago as masculine noun).
253 cui] sui (?); initial letter is not scribe’s c C.
286 generanda] generando C (misconstruing prole as masculine noun).
291 pariunt] pareunt B (incorrectly making pario follow the conjugation of eo).
294-95 preciosos] preciosa H (misconstruing lapis as neuter noun in the accusative plural).
310 duo] due B.
315 armatis] armatibus H (misconstruing armatus as a third declension adjective).
316 vigilantes] vigilantis D.
323 facies] faciem B.
329 sacramentum] sacrament’ (= sacramentis?) B.
353 L951 pendet] pendit E (acceptable third-person singular form of pendo; all other texts record a form of the more common pendeo).
354 L953 fortissimis] fortissinis F.
354 L955 vigilia] vigiliam is a pedantic use of accusative after usque G.
362 morabantur] morebantur B (misconstruing moror as a second conjugation deponent verb).
371 ornatam] ornatum B (forgetting the antecedent insulam in line 369?).
391 ventu] vento C; vento (?) E (see TN II 391).
407 pre montibus] prementibus B.
417 fumosos] fumosas corrects fumosos [!] F.
424 fumosum] fumosam B.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 174 ]] 
428 angulum] angelum B.
436 duos] duo H (final character of duos imperfect in e).
437 duas] duos B (misconstruing the feminine noun facies as masculine).

Textual Notes VI: Marginalia, Added Rubrics, and Instructions to the Reader

6-7 De hermopoli ciuitate in margin E.
9-10 De piscibus volantibus in margin E.
33-34 de monte sÿnai in margin E.
42-43 L116 et cetera followed by underscored rubric De sepulchro sancte katherine B.
49 Elym in margin E.
78 De pigmeis in margin E.
90-91 De monoculis in margin E.
99 De ciuitate Jndronopoli in margin E.
121-22 Castrum conperduth in margin E.
128-31 de monte alto et foramine tenebroso in margin E.
136-37 De terra ubi crescit piper in margin E.
147 L410 indorum imperatori] in̄dorum imperatori b (this addition not found in a). These rubrics follow: De pallacio presbiteri iohannis in superiori india. et de eius septem mansionibus et diuerso ornatu earundem a (as a separate paragraph), F (as the last sentence in a paragraph before the large heading DE), G (as a sub-heading with generous indentation and spacing); De pallacio presbiteri iohannis in superiori india. et eius vii mantionibus et diuerso ornatu earum b; De pallacio presbiteri iohannis in superiori india. et eius septem mansionibus [mansioinbus f] et diuerso ornatu c-j; De Palatio Presbyteri Ioannis in superiori India, et septem mansionibus eius diversoq́ue ornatu k.
148-50 Edissa ciuitas presbyteri johannis in margin E.
149-50 nota hec bene vsque post duo folia added by scribe in left margin of fol. 109v D.
174-76 Nota de intersticiis pallacij iohannis presbyteri et de primo in margin E.
181 de 2° in margin E.
191 de 3° in margin E.
194 de 4to in margin E.
197 de vto in margin E.
202 de mensa johannis presbyteri in margin E.
208-9 de campana sancti thome in margin E.
220 de vjto in margin E.
228 de vijo Jntersticio et ultimo in margin E.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 175 ]] 
245 de speculo quodam in margin E.
271-73 de numero edencium in pallacio iohannis presbyteri in margin E.
277-79 tÿtulus iohannis presbyteri in margin E.
277-79 Johannes . . . terrestrem underscored B; underscored in red F.
283-84 De terra feminarum siue jnsula in margin E.
283-92 The passage Item ibidem . . . cum ipsis is underscored; a left hand, forefinger raised, adjacent to lines 283-84, in outer margin G.
293 de iiijor fluminibus paradisi in margin E.
300 Modus visitandi sanctum thomam in margin E.
300 L797 The following rubrics precede Visitando in the printed editions: De ciuitate et ecclesia in qua est corpus sancti Thome apostoli a; De ciuitate [ciuitace b] et ecclesia in qua est corpus beati [beatī i] Thome in magna reuerentia b-k.
307-8 Ulua ciuitas Nota in margin E.
323 Nota in margin E.
348-49 Nota in margin E.
355 after ardentes (on fol. 200vb) this note: reverte sex folia ubi tale habes figuram char-like et incipit que nunquam [nūqȝ] et cetera; the symbol, above the words que nunquam [nūqȝ] is found on the fourth line of fol. 194vb C.
361-62 De mora trium regum in margin E.
380 after navigando (on fol. 194vb) this note: Et vero ulterius de eadem materia in a eadem sexterna ubi last four [sic] words canceled invenies tale figuram ⊕ secunda columpna proxima; the symbol, and text, beginning per duodecim, is found at the top of fol. 195rb C.
380-81 locus paradisi in margin E.
391-92 locus purgatorij in margin E.
394-96 quod anime liberauit per missas in margin in a later hand E.
398-99 Nota in margin E.
404-5 ÿasconius piscis in margin E.
406 after anni (on fol. 195vb) this note: verte folium et ubi inveni[e]s tale signum char-like et lege habuimus; the symbol, beside the word habuimus is found in mid-column on fol. 196ra C.

Textual Notes VII: Typographical Errors and Oddities in the Early Editions

In the notes below, typographical errors in a and e are corrected in FG and H, respectively, unless otherwise noted.

10 L29 Joannes] Joaāes h.
11 L33 bulliri] bulilri d.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 176 ]] 
18 Israeliticum] Israelticum j.
21-22 morabatur] morobatur d.
27 Trinitatis] trinitatatis j.
31 civitatem] ciuita = / etm a.
32 L88 amra] in some copies of incunable b, a dot of ink over final a suggests that the type was set to read amrā (= amram), but that the abbreviatory bar did not adequately print.
33 L91 directe] direccte a (Guldenschaff’s typeface included a ct ligature, which is occasionally—and mistakenly—set after a c; see also 66, 234 L624, 266 L702)
36 eciam] itiam g.
38 cum] cō h.
39 tamdiu] cam diu h.
40 adiuvamento] adiumento j.
45 Moyses] noyses a.
49 quatuor] quartuor h.
50 campum] cā / pō [campom] j.
57 bone] boue e.
59 dulcedinem] dulnedinem b.
63 solis] sollis b.
63 fluvium] fluuin̄ d.
66 L176 cuiusdam] cuiudam d.
66 sancti] sanccti a (see note to 33 L91).
69 L181 vestitur] vestit without abbreviatory mark i.
73 L194 quendam] quēda b.
74 L197 quendam] q̄udā (queudam?) b.
76 L201 inferior] the imperfect ascender on f in inferior causes indistinct impression resembling a t in edition d; interior f-j [inferior O].
77 homines] honines b.
81 speciebus] fpeciebus d.
83 L221 quandoque] qn̄qȝ with liberally inkedresembling ∫i [quasique] d.
84 ultra] vlra b.
85 navigando] nauiganda i.
85-86 Iecoreum] ieeoreum b.
86 ad] ed g.
87 L236 profundum] profuddum b.
88 L239 esse] cē d (at line 94, necesse is abbreviated nccē in d).
89 L241 attractivus] attratiuus b.
90 fluens] fliuēs b.
92 periclitando] periditando eH.
93 propter] propier b.
93-94 periculosissimum] pericuiosissimum j.
100 Presbyteri] presbyterij j.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 177 ]] 
100 L272 venit] veint a.
100-101 vocatur] vacatur b.
104 mundi] mudi b.
107 L289 in quibus est flumen] iu quibus est fllumen b.
112 prenosticando] prnosticando b.
112 L304 in die] indie g.
112 civitatis] civitates i (this reading also in C; see TN V 112).
112 maiores] moiores a; maioresi b.
113 quinque] quiuque b.
114 lapidibus] alpidibus b.
114 preciosis] pciosis b.
115 quam] quem k.
115-16 L314-15 lapades ardentes n b (a dot of ink over the first a of lapades suggests that Zyrickzee set lāpades but that the abbreviatory bar did not print adequately); the reduction of in nocte to n explains lapides c-j.
117 L318 regant] regnāt [regnant] e.
117 applicando] appllcando a.
119 L328 visitatio] visitato b.
119 L328 longinquis] longi nquis b; loginquis H.
120 eramus capti] eramuscapiti with first i making only faint impression in edition i.
122 eramus] eramns b.
122-23 L339 brandicano] brādicāo with first abbreviatory mark especially faint b; bradicano d.
126 L347 faciens] facieus e; omit H.
128 intravimus] intrau mus b.
128-29 L357 brandicani] brandidicani b.
129 montem] mō / rem i.
130 foramen] foromen a.
133 candelas] candellas j.
133 foraminis] foraniī;s [foraninis] a.
133 descendere] descenaere b.
136 crescit] erescit b.
139 colligitur] collgitur b.
145 navigando] nauigā b.
146-47 theolonium] theoloniuɯ b.
147 L410 indorum] in̄dorum b.
147 mansionibus in added rubric] mansioinbus f (see TN VI 147).
148 ulterius] vltertus h.
153 teutonica] reutonica j.
156 facti] facta hj.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 178 ]] 
157 preciosis] preciosiis a, with si [∫i] a ligature; preciosus F; preciosiis with final i superscript over caret G.
163 lapidibus] lapidbus b.
164 L453 quidem] quidam j.
165 convenit] eonvenit j.
165 L455 transtus b (in a phrase that repeats the preceding one).
166 consilia] consila j.
167 principio with final i above line (the last several characters in the top two lines on sig. A4r show type to be unstable) e.
167 cuiuslibet] cuiu∫∫ibet h.
169 Augusti] angusti e.
171 sub] snb j.
171 L474 facte] in some copies facte is overinked and slightly defective (resembling ∫), and t is broken at top in edition h; hence sacre j.
175 leones] leōnes a.
176 hereticorum] herecticorum j.
177 ascenderent] ascenderet h.
179 L485 sculpti or sepulti] scuplti i.
179 L486 pallacium] pallcium b.
188 L509 {illum} vel] ve e.
188 L509 huiusmodi] hmōi bcde; huiōi h.
196 dormitorium] dormicorium a.
202 Presbyteri] prespyteri j.
204 facies] faices b.
206 instrumento follows (inexplicable) n in space between lines following vel (see L555) k.
206 L555 fricaretur] frica ends sig. A4r; ret’ follows at the top of sig. A4v in e; fricatur with re superscript H.
206 L555 quovis] quo vis d; quo / vis i.
206 ardentes] aroentes e.
211 benedicta] bndica b.
218 L581 contineantur] contineautur e.
222 cantatur] cantatut j.
223 solempniter] solenniter k.
229-30 pulcherrima] pchl’errīa b.
232 audit] aubit c.
233 L620 deinde] dein̄ acdf; dcthreeioverbar e; dictū H.
234 L624 predicta] prediccta a (see 33 L91).
235 testudinata] testubinata a; testidunata e.
236 firmamenti] firmameuti e.
243 luna] luūa b.
244 artificialiter] artifitialiter a.
246 experienciam] experientitiam b.
249 in] io b.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 179 ]] 
250 chori] choei b.
251 martyrum] matyrum a.
255 excelsis] excesis a.
255 L677 sanctus sauctus a.
258 alter] altir g.
259 occasum] oceasum h.
260 interficeret] interficiret g.
261 mire] mirre j.
264 circumvolui] circumuolni i.
266 L702 predictis] predicctis a (see note to 33 L91 above).
266 recordor] recodor a.
273 comeditur] coeditur b.
274 Presbyter] Prebiter a.
279 Terrestrem] terrstrem c.
281 L744 vestiuntur] vestuntur f.
282 pelliculis] pellculis d.
284-85 L749-50 una begins a line following dietas at end of line, perhaps explaining omission of in in edition b.
285 circummurata] cir cūmmurata b; circum murata k.
286 veniunt] veinunt a.
287 Johannis] Jahannis d.
288 diǝbus f.
291 per] pei f.
293 L777 veluti] vǝluti h.
297 L786 idcirco] idcrco g.
297 in] ni (first word on sig. B1v) j.
300 Thomam] Tho b.
301 Hulna] Guldenschaff employs a type font in which h and b are very similar; hence bulna in G (see L807).
304 carnibus] caruibus d.
305 confitendo] confitedo b.
306 diebus {ante}] diehus b.
306 festum] festnm j.
306 viij for octo] [et] octa b.
306 diebus {post}] die- / dus b.
308 civitatem] eiuitatem b.
309 siccis] siccīt b.
312 ponitur] ponitnr k.
316 L843 vigilantes] vigilā b; vigila cd; vigilia e; vigilans f-k.
321 L855-56 ad quam cantandum] ad qua cantiandum b.
326 copia] eopia b.
326 L879 communione] eommunione [eō / munione] b.
327 Presbyter] presbīter b; presbxter c.
327 Johannes] Ioanues j.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 180 ]] 
329 sacramentum] sacramentm b.
330 porrigit] porrgit b.
330 L890 apostolo] aoostolo j.
332 indignis] indigns d.
333 sacramentum] sacramentm b.
336 manus] mauns e.
337 ducti] ductus b.
341 L918 apostoli] apoftoili d.
345 apostoli] apostoi b.
346 preciosissimam] preciocissimam e.
354 clauditur] claditur hj.
354 vigilia] vigilio j.
359 sancti] saucti j.
367 Johannis] Joānes i.
367 licenciam] licentitam j.
374 aliquid] alliquid h.
374-75 L1014 caperemus] capereemus h.
376 cum] cn̄ j.
377 L1021, 1023 fuerimus ibi tribus diebus et noctibus in H, a reading also found in dfghijk but not in edition e, may result from the fact that ibidem is the first word on sig. A6v in e.
378 credo quod] credo qȝ (= credoque?) b.
379 Paradisi] padysi i; pararadysi j.
381 Paradisus] paradvsus j.
382 altus] alta d.
383 accessus] accessns j.
383 horam] horum k.
386 unius] vnns j.
388 mundum] mndum b.
392 ad] ab e; ad H.
394 clamores] cltmores k.
395 L1071 legique] legi q̄ȝ [legiquam] d; legi qof; legi qoȝ [= quoue?] i.
395 missas] imssas a.
401 cibaria] cibarea b.
402 L1088 quamcitius] quam sitius j.
408 magnis] mgnis b.
409 diligenter] dilgigenter j.
414 semper] sempet j.
416 navigando] nouigando c.
420 directe] dercē f.
423 ulterius] Vltirius b.
426 L1153 periclitare] periclitari i.
421-22 quantitatem] quātttē b; qmacrstrokLCti = / tem possibly quantitem j.
 [[ Print Edition Page No. 181 ]] 
423 quatuor] quattuar d; quatttuor i.
434 qstrokLCuim9 (queuimus) j.
435 L1179 dicitur] d’rt̃ [= diciturtur] b.
436 duos] final character imperfect in e; duo H.
437 mirabiliter] mirabilitet d.
437 facies] faces j.
438 L1189 posteriori] postteriori b; posteriore ghj.
440 L1192 autem] aut i.
440 orientalem] orietalem d.
440 insulas] īe∫ulas [= inesulas] d.
441 L1194 venimus] veuimus b.

Endnotes

 [1 ] On the importance of representing numbers with roman or arabic numerals see Crosby, Measure of Reality, pp. 41-47.

 [2 ] Some abbreviations cannot be expanded with assurance (see 337). Printers of editions a-i did not set the first letter of the word that begins each of three principal sections of the Itinerarius; these letters are supplied between square brackets (1, 411, 797).

 [1 ] Anno Domini Mccclxxxnono] [A]nno domini. M.cccc.lxxxix. ghj; omit k.

 [2 ] ego] omit BDEa.

 [3 ] Johannes] johannis D.

 [4 ] Witte] omit DEa-k.

 [5 ] Hese] hess D (see next lemma).

 [6 ] de Hese, presbyter Traiectensis dyocesis] presbiter de hese dyocesis traiectensis C (see preceding lemma).

 [7 ] fui] omit C; fuit DEa.

 [8 ] Jherusalem] hierusalem f-k.

 [9 ] ibidem] ibi B.

 [10 ] et per Jordanem] omit C.

 [11 ] unam] quandam k.

 [12 ] vocatam] nominatam C; dictam a-k.

 [13 ] Hermopolis] hermipolis bcefghik; hermipollis dj.

 [14 ] after Egipti add veni et cetera C.

 [15 ] after nostro add ihesu christo C.

 [16 ] Et in mari] In mari namque a-j; In mare autem k.

 [17 ] predicto] omit a-k.

 [18 ] vidi] vidit DEa.

 [19 ] super aquas] omit a-k.

 [20 ] spacium tantum] tantum spacium Ca-k.

 [21 ] after quantum add cum DE.

 [22 ] sagittari] sagittare a-k.

 [23 ] ultra duos pedes] duorum pedum C.

 [24 ] habentes eciam] et habentes DE; et habent a-k.

 [25 ] caput rotundum ut] rotunda capita sicut DEa-k.

 [26 ] cattus] cactus B[?]C; catti a-k.

 [27 ] et rostrum ut] Et habentes rostra sicut [velut E] DE; rostra autem velut a-k.

 [28 ] piscibus] omit C.

 [29 ] comedi] johannes presbyter predictus de hese comedit DE; iohannes presbiter predictus comedit a; iohannes presbiter predictus comedi b; ego iohannes hese predictus comedi cdefgi; ego Joannes hese predictis comedi hj; ego Ioannes Heseus comedi k.

 [30 ] pisces] omit C.

 [31 ] propterea] propter quod a-k.

 [32 ] eos a-k; nos F.

 [33 ] bulire] bulliri Ca-k.

 [34 ] vidi] vidi ibidem Cb-k; vidit DE; vidit ibidem a.

 [35 ] plura] multa k.

 [36 ] alia rara animalia de quibus] animalia rara de quibus B; alia animalia rara de quibus C; animalia alia rara quibus DE; animalia rara quorum a-k.

 [37 ] habeo] habuit DEa; habui b-k.

 [38 ] memoriam] notitiam b-k.

 [39 ] vidi] vidit DEa.

 [40 ] after mari add scilicet D.

 [41 ] Rubro] rubeo C; omit a-k.

 [42 ] after terram add et BCk.

 [43 ] econverso] econtra B; iterum b-k.

 [44 ] ad] omit K.

 [45 ] Et] qui a-k.

 [46 ] intoxicando] intoxicantes C.

 [47 ] crescens] crescente a-k.

 [48 ] et] omit C; Conducit k.

 [49 ] eciam] equo D; after eciam add habetur contra huiusmodi serpentes C.

 [50 ] herba quedam] quedam herba BC; herba b-k; herba que G.

 [51 ] choral] Coral BCb-k; thoral E.

 [52 ] crescens] que crescit a-k.

 [53 ] Moyses perduxit] duxit moyses Cdfghijk; Moyses duxit DEabce.

 [54 ] Et ille] Qui k.

 [55 ] seu via] omit C.

 [56 ] cognoscitur] agnoscitur B.

 [57 ] quatuor] omit a-k.

 [58 ] stantes in ripa] in ripa stantes a-k.

 [59 ] maris] omit DEa-k.

 [60 ] maris] omit C (see next lemma).

 [61 ] parte] omit DEa-k; after parte add maris C (see preceding lemma).

 [62 ] Et] omit dfghijk.

 [63 ] civitate Hermopolensi predicta] civitate hermopolim C; predicta civitate hermopolensi DE; civitate hermopoli [hermipoli b-k] predicta a-k.

 [64 ] beata Virgo] virgo maria E.

 [65 ] beata Virgo] ipsa C.

 [66 ] lavit sua] sua lavabat C; sua lavit a-k.

 [67 ] De cuius fontis] habens virtutem illam ut C (see next lemma).

 [68 ] aqua] omit BC (see preceding lemma).

 [69 ] dicitur quod] dicuntur k.

 [70 ] vident . . . sanantur] vident infirmi curantur ab infirmitatibus suis aquam ipsam accipiens C; accipientes de ea recipiant visum. infirmi sanentur a; accipientes de ea recipiunt visum. infirmi sanantur b-j; visum recipere, infirmi sanari k.

 [71 ] et leprosi sanantur] et leprosi mundantur BDEb-j; omit C; et leprosi mundentur a; et leprosi mundari k.

 [72 ] eciam] omit B.

 [73 ] crescit balsamum] balsamum crescit a-k.

 [74 ] Eciam in civitate predicta est] Eciam in predicta civitate est Eabce; In predicta civitate est etiam dfghijk.

 [75 ] una] omit C.

 [76 ] constructa] omit C (see 78).

 [77 ] honore] honorem k.

 [78 ] after Virginis add Marie a-k; add marie constructa C (see 76).

 [79 ] fuerat] fuit BCc-k.

 [80 ] quod] qua C.

 [81 ] cum beata Virgo] beata virgo cum b-k.

 [82 ] primo] omit C.

 [83 ] metu] motu bcdefghjk.

 [84 ] in Egiptum fugiendo] fugiens in egyptum a-k.

 [85 ] ceciderunt ydola in templo, ut dicitur ibidem] ydola ceciderunt ut dicitur DEa-k.

 [86 ] Et de illa] Et in illa C; De illa vero a-k.

 [87 ] Hermopolensi] hermopolim C; hermopoli a; hermipoli bcdefghik; Hermipolli j.

 [88 ] Amram] tuuram [probably timram] C; vocatam amram a; amram F; vocatam amra b-k.†

 [89 ] supra] super a-k.

 [90 ] Rubrum] rubro C.

 [91 ] Et ibidem iterum transnavigatur per directum per mare Rubrum] omit B; Et ibidem transnavigatur per mare rubrum predictum C; ubi iterum transnavigatur directe per mare rubrum a-k.†

 [92 ] pedester septem diebus] septem dies pedester C; pedester septem dietis DE; itinere pedestri septem diebus k.

 [93 ] regularium devote] regulariter C.

 [94 ] nisi] tantum a-k.

 [95 ] semel in die] in die semel B.

 [96 ] sunt] omit B.

 [97 ] in] omit a-k.

 [98 ] et] omit a-k.

 [99 ] ibidem] ibi BEk.

 [100 ] 13] tres C.

 [101 ] sed] que a-k.

 [102 ] aliquo] aliqua ce; aliquo H.

 [103 ] vivunt] ardent C.

 [104 ] unus] aliquis C.

 [105 ] una] versa C.

 [106 ] seipso] seipsa C; de lampadibus DEa-k.

 [107 ] donec] durat j.

 [108 ] ad locum alius] alius DE; alius in loco a-j; alius in locum k.

 [109 ] eligatur] eligitur BCb-k.

 [110 ] seipso] econverso C (see 113); per semetipsam DEa-k.

 [111 ] adiuvamento] adiutorio C; after adiuvamento add iterum a-k.

 [112 ] incenditur] incendetur E.

 [113 ] econverso] econtra B; omit Ca-k (see 110).

 [114 ] Et illud claustrum] Claustrum namque istud abcdefi; Claustrum namque illud ghj; Claustrum autem illud k.

 [115 ] fortissime] fortissimum H.

 [116 ] after nociva add et cetera B.

 [117 ] Et] omit Ba-k.

 [118 ] after sepulchro add autem a.

 [119 ] sancte] beate Ca-k.

 [120 ] nisi] omit C; tantum a-k.

 [121 ] olim] oleum C.

 [122 ] copia] quantitate Ca-k.

 [123 ] Et eciam ibidem est] Eciam ibidem est C; Et eciam ibi est D; Eciam ibi est E; Et est ibidem a-k.

 [124 ] after ore add suo b-k.

 [125 ] infra] ultra C.

 [126 ] emunitatem] munitionem k.

 [127 ] ut] et C.

 [128 ] in] omit b-k.

 [129 ] capita et colla] colla et capita DEa-k.

 [130 ] Item] omit b-k.

 [131 ] De] in B.

 [132 ] diete] dietæ itineris k.

 [133 ] usque] postquam E.

 [134 ] Helym] helim Ck; elÿm E; elym F.

 [135 ] Moyses construxit] construxit moyses dominus C (see next lemma).

 [136 ] Domino, quod altare] quod altare C; omit E; domino quod a-k (see preceding lemma).

 [137 ] iam] omit C.

 [138 ] lapides ibidem] ibidem lapides C.

 [139 ] quieverunt] convenerunt B.

 [140 ] xl] 4or C.

 [141 ] accepit] acceptavit B.

 [142 ] Et] omit a.

 [143 ] de] ex a-k.