OF THE REALM OF THARSE AND THE LANDS AND KINGDOMS TOWARDS THE SEPTENTRIONAL PARTS, IN COMING DOWN FROM THE LAND OF CATHAY
THIS land of Cathay is in Asia the deep; and after, on this half, is Asia the more. The kingdom of Cathay marcheth toward the west unto the kingdom of Tharse, the which was one of the kings that came to present our Lord in Bethlehem. And they that be of the lineage of that king are some Christian. In Tharse they eat no flesh, ne they drink no wine.
And on this half, toward the west, is the kingdom of Turkestan, that stretcheth him toward the west to the kingdom of Persia, and toward the septentrional to the kingdom of Khorasan. In the country of Turkestan be but few good cities; but the best city of that land hight Octorar. There be great pastures, but few corns; and therefore, for the most part, they be all herdsmen, and they lie in tents and they drink a manner ale made of honey.
And after, on this half, is the kingdom of Khorasan, that is a good land and a plenteous, without wine. And it hath a desert toward the east that lasteth more than an hundred journeys. And the best city of that country is clept Khorasan, and of that city beareth the country his name. The folk of that country be hardy warriors.
And on this half is the kingdom of Comania, whereof the Comanians that dwelled in Greece sometime were chased out. This is one of the greatest kingdoms of the world, but it is not all inhabited. For at one of the parts there is so great cold that no man may dwell there; and in another part there is so great heat that no man may endure it, and also there be so many flies, that no man may know on what side he may turn him. In that country is but little arboury ne trees that bear fruit ne other. They lie in tents; and they burn the dung of beasts for default of wood. This kingdom descendeth on this half toward us and toward Prussia and toward Russia.
And through that country runneth the river of Ethille that is one of the greatest rivers of the world. And it freezeth so strongly all years that many times men have fought upon the ice with great hosts, both parties on foot, and their horses voided for the time, and what on horse and on foot, more than 200,000 persons on every side.
And between that river and the great sea Ocean, that they clepe the Sea Maure, lie all these realms. And toward the head, beneath, in that realm is the Mount Chotaz, that is the highest mount of the world, and it is between the Sea Maure and the Sea Caspian. There is full strait and dangerous passage for to go toward Ind. And therefore King Alexander let make there a strong city, that men clepe Alexandria, for to keep the country that no man should pass without his leave. And now men clepe that city, the Gate of Hell.
And the principal city of Comania is clept Sarak, that is one of the three ways for to go into Ind. But by that way, ne may not pass no great multitude of people, but if it be in winter. And that passage men clepe the Derbent. The tother way is for to go from the city of Turkestan by Persia, and by that way be many journeys by desert. And the third way is that cometh from Comania and then to go by the Great Sea and by the kingdom of Abchaz.
And ye shall understand, that all these kingdoms and all these lands above-said unto Prussia and to Russia be all obeissant to the great Chan of Cathay, and many other countries that march to other coasts. Wherefore his power and his lordship is full great and full mighty.