Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The State of Prester John
By Sir John Mandeville
THIS Emperor Prester John, when he goeth in to battle, against any other lord, he hath no banners borne before him: but he hath three crosses of gold, fine, great and high, full of precious stones: and every of the crosses be set in a chariot, full richly arrayed. And for to keep every cross, be ordained 10,000 men of arms, and more than 100,000 men on foot, in manner as men would keep a standard in our countries, when that we be in land of war. And this number of folk is without the principal host, and without wings ordained for the battle. And when he hath no war, but rideth with a privy retinue, then he hath borne before him but a cross of tree, without peinture, and without gold or silver or precious stones; in remembrance, that Jesu Christ suffered death upon a cross of tree. And he hath borne before him also a platter of gold full of earth, in token that his noblesse and his might and his flesh shall turn to earth. And he hath borne before him also a vessel of silver, full of noble jewels of gold full rich, and of precious stones, in token of his lordship and of his noblesse and of his might. He dwelleth commonly in the city of Sus-a; and there is his principal palace, that is so rich and so noble, that no man will trow it by estimation, but he had seen it. And above the chief tower of the palace, be two round pommels of gold; and in every of them be two carbuncles great and large, that shine full bright upon the night. And the principal gates of his palace be of precious stone, that men call sardoin: and the bordure and the bars be of ivory: and the windows of the halls and chambers be of crystal: and the tables whereon men eat, some be of emerald, some of amethyst and some of gold, full of precious stones; and the pillars, that bear up the tables, be of the same precious stones. And the degrees to go up to his throne, where he sitteth at the meat, one is of onyx, another is of crystal, and another of jaspar green, another of amethyst, another of sardoin, another of cornelian, and the seventh that he setteth on his feet, is of chrysolite. And all these degrees be bordured with fine gold, with the tother precious stones, set with great pearls orient. And the sides of the seat of his throne be of emeralds, and bordured with gold full nobly, and dubbed with other precious stones and great pearls. And all the pillars in his chamber, be of fine gold with precious stones, and with many carbuncles, that give great light upon the night to all people. And albeit that the carbuncle give light enough, natheless at all times burneth a vessel of crystal full of balm, for to give good smell and odour to the Emperor, and to void away all wicked airs and corruptions.