| Chapter 4
OF THE CITY OF CONSTANTINOPLE, AND OF THE FAITH OF GREEKS
AT Constantinople lieth Saint Anne, our Lady's mother, whom Saint
Helen let bring from Jerusalem. And there lieth also the body of
John Chrisostome, that was Archbishop of Constantinople. And there
lieth also Saint Luke the Evangelist: for his bones were brought
from Bethany, where he was buried. And many other relics be there.
And there is the vessel of stone, as it were of marble, that men
clepe enydros, that evermore droppeth water, and filleth himself
every year, till that it go over above, without that that men take
Constantinople is a full fair city, and a good, and well walled;
and it is three-cornered. And there is an arm of the sea
Hellespont: and some men call it the Mouth of Constantinople; and
some men call it the Brace of Saint George: and that arm closeth
the two parts of the city. And upward to the sea, upon the water,
was wont to be the great city of Troy, in a full fair plain: but
that city was destroyed by them of Greece, and little appeareth
thereof, because it is so long sith it was destroyed.
About Greece there be many isles, as Calliste, Calcas, Oertige,
Tesbria, Mynia, Flaxon, Melo, Carpate, and Lemnos. And in this
isle is the mount Athos, that passeth the clouds. And there be
many diverse languages and many countries, that be obedient to the
emperor; that is to say, Turcople, Pyncynard, Comange, and many
other, as Thrace and Macedonia, of the which Alexander was king.
In this country was Aristotle born, in a city that men clepe
Stagyra, a little from the city of Thrace. And at Stagyra lieth
Aristotle; and there is an altar upon his tomb. And there make men
great feasts for him every year, as though he were a saint. And at
his altar they holden their great councils and their assemblies,
and they hope, that through inspiration of God and of him, they
shall have the better council.
In this country be right high hills, toward the end of Macedonia.
And there is a great hill, that men clepe Olympus, that departeth
Macedonia and Thrace. And it is so high, that it passeth the
clouds. And there is another hill, that is clept Athos, that is so
high, that the shadow of him reacheth to Lemne, that is an isle;
and it is seventy-six mile between. And above at the cop of the
hill is the air so clear, that men may find no wind there, and
therefore may no beast live there, so is the air dry.
And men say in these countries, that philosophers some time went
upon these hills, and held to their nose a sponge moisted with
water, for to have air; for the air above was so dry. And above,
in the dust and in the powder of those hills, they wrote letters
and figures with their fingers. And at the year's end they came
again, and found the same letters and figures, the which they had
written the year before, without any default. And therefore it
seemeth well, that these hills pass the clouds and join to the pure
At Constantinople is the palace of the emperor, right fair and
well-dight: and therein is a fair place for joustings, or for
other plays and desports. And it is made with stages, and hath
degrees about, that every man may well see, and none grieve other.
And under these stages be stables well vaulted for the emperor's
horses; and all the pillars be of marble.
And within the Church of Saint Sophia, an emperor sometime would
have buried the body of his father, when he was dead. And, as they
made the grave, they found a body in the earth, and upon the body
lay a fine plate of gold; and thereon was written, in Hebrew,
Greek, and Latin, letters that said thus; JESU CHRISTUS NASCETUR DE
VIRGINE MARIA, ET EGO CREDO IN EUM; that is to say, 'Jesu Christ
shall be born of the Virgin Mary, and I trow in him.' And the date
when it was laid in the earth, was two thousand year before our
Lord was born. And yet is the plate of gold in the treasury of the
church. And men say, that it was Hermogenes the wise man.
And if all it so be, that men of Greece be Christian yet they vary
from our faith. For they say, that the Holy Ghost may not come of
the Son; but all only of the Father. And they are not obedient to
the Church of Rome, ne to the Pope. And they say that their
Patriarch hath as much power over the sea, as the Pope hath on this
side the sea. And therefore Pope John XXII. sent letters to them,
how Christian faith should be all one; and that they should be
obedient to the Pope, that is God's Vicar on earth, to whom God
gave his plein power for to bind and to assoil, and therefore they
should be obedient to him.
And they sent again diverse answers; and among others they said
thus: POTENTIAM TUAM SUMMAM CIRCA TUOS SUBJECTOS, FIRMITER
CREDIMUS. SUPERBIAM TUAM SUMMAM TOLERARE NON POSSUMUS. AVARITIAM
TUAM SUMMAM SATIARE NON INTENDIMUS. DOMINUS TECUM; QUIA DOMINUS
NOBISCUM EST. That is to say: 'We trow well, that thy power is
great upon thy subjects. We may not suffer thine high pride. We
be not in purpose to fulfil thy great covetise. Lord be with thee;
for our Lord is with us. Farewell.' And other answer might he not
have of them.
And also they make their sacrament of the altar of Therf bread, for
our Lord made it of such bread, when he made his Maundy. And on
the Shere-Thursday make they their Therf bread, in token of the
Maundy, and dry it at the sun, and keep it all the year, and give
it to sick men, instead of God's body. And they make but one
unction, when they christen children. And they anoint not the sick
men. And they say that there is no Purgatory, and that souls shall
not have neither joy ne pain till the day of doom. And they say
that fornication is no sin deadly, but a thing that is kindly, and
that men and women should not wed but once, and whoso weddeth
oftener than once, their children be bastards and gotten in sin.
And their priests also be wedded.
And they say also that usury is no deadly sin. And they sell
benefices of Holy Church. And so do men in other places: God
amend it when his will is! And that is great sclaundre, for now is
simony king crowned in Holy Church: God amend it for his mercy!
And they say, that in Lent, men shall not fast, ne sing Mass, but
on the Saturday and on the Sunday. And they fast not on the
Saturday, no time of the year, but it be Christmas Even or Easter
Even. And they suffer not the Latins to sing at their altars; and
if they do, by any adventure, anon they wash the altar with holy
water. And they say that there should be but one Mass said at one
altar upon one day.
And they say also that our Lord ne ate never meat; but he made
token of eating. And also they say, that we sin deadly in shaving
our beards, for the beard is token of a man, and gift of our Lord.
And they say that we sin deadly in eating of beasts that were
forbidden in the Old Testament, and of the old Law, as swine, hares
and other beasts, that chew not their cud. And they say that we
sin, when we eat flesh on the days before Ash Wednesday, and of
that that we eat flesh the Wednesday, and eggs and cheese upon the
Fridays. And they accurse all those that abstain them to eat flesh
Also the Emperor of Constantinople maketh the patriarch, the
archbishops and the bishops; and giveth the dignities and the
benefices of churches and depriveth them that be unworthy, when he
findeth any cause. And so is he lord both temporal and spiritual
in his country.
And if ye will wit of their A.B.C. what letters they be, here ye
may see them, with the names that they clepe them there amongst
them: Alpha, Betha, Gama, Deltha, e longe, e brevis, Epilmon,
Thetha, Iota, Kapda, Lapda, Mi, Ni, Xi, o brevis, Pi, Coph, Ro,
Summa, Tau, Vi, Fy, Chi, Psi, Othomega, Diacosyn.
And all be it that these things touch not to one way, nevertheless
they touch to that, that I have hight you, to shew you a part of
customs and manners, and diversities of countries. And for this is
the first country that is discordant in faith and in belief, and
varieth from our faith, on this half the sea, therefore I have set
it here, that ye may know the diversity that is between our faith
and theirs. For many men have great liking, to hear speak of
strange things of diverse countries.
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