Sir John Mandeville

Benedicitee, good readers all!

Allow me to introduce myne-self. I am Sir John Mandeville, knyght, though that I unworthy am. Yow myght have read myne best-sellyng travelogue, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (that is I!), the which recounts mine aventures beyond the see, whych first I passed whan I had but xv winteres age. Yt is nat overweening to claim that myne travelogue ys y-flying off the shelves; oonly our holy writ hath y-sold more copies, but (and I mene no disrespecte to the evangelistes!) holy writ hath not the chilles and spilles of myne travel boke.

So yow may be wonderynge, what is Sir John Mandeville, raconteur par excellence, best-sellynge travel writer, and gentilman aventurer, doing on this blogge? Scholde he nat be elleswhere, preparynge another bestsellyng volume of the wonders he hath y-seen? Or scholde he nat be away in the service of t'emperour Prester John or the sultan of Egypte? Be there nat some actes of derring-do with which Sir John must concern himselfe?

Nay, nay, good readeres, mine dayes of travel in the easte, they are y-done. After xxv yeeres in the orient I have retourned to Engelonde, to serve myne owne kyng and native countree. I am an Englishmanne, born and bred of St Albans, and I am ryght glad to be home agayn. Besides, the food abroad is nat very goode, and the privees on the continent been right drasty —in Fraunce they ne have ne seats, and in Allemagne there be verray shelves in the privees upon which one relieves oneself. What the helle is thatte aboute? Anyway, yt is good to be home agayn.

Whan that I returned from beyond the see I presented myselfe to the king’s pleasure att his court, and in his graciousness he hath retained me in his service. Thus I am the kinges gofer, with specialle charge to traverse the lengthe and breadthe of Engelonde collecting informacioun about our liege lord the kynges greet-grandsire, Kyng Edward the Secounde, the same kynge whom our lord Kinge Richard is beseeching our hooly father the pope in Rome to canonize. I have been in the kynges employ for but three dayes, and I have already two reports of myracles that I must investigate. So must I away to Kent and to Yorkshire to investigate these marvells, the which I schal share with yow, the gode readers of Maister Geoffrey Chauceres mooste excellent blogge.

But how, you ask, Sir John, do yow knowe our maister Geoffrey Chaucer? We have made acquaintance this verray month, in London, the which greet citee ys all abuzz at the sytting of parlement. Herk ye, and I schall relate the tale of how I met the good Chaucer.

--

I was walkyng around the Kinges Cross one evening, lookyng for a good tyme, whan that I saw a poster uppon a walle. "2d. all-yow-can-drynk at the Bell Tavern" it said. Gracious me, I thought! I have two pence! I am parched, verily! And ys nat wyne good for myne heart? Yt is what the sultanes physician y-told me in Babylon. Thys is a ryght blessed finding! And so I walked yn-to the Bell Tavern.

O, the chaos! O, the wylde turbulence! There I was the oonly gentil who hath more than xvi yeeres of age! Gangs of yowths were all besmotered with ale, and broken crispes were uppon the flore so that I ne could nat walk withouten makynge crunchynge noises! Natheless, I strode towards the bar, t'inquire of the 2d. special, when one of the yowths, all red and slurred of speche for drynkyng, yelled at me, "Wot you doing 'ere, grampa?" I looked round mine-self, seekyng some olde man. Litle dyd I know that he spoke of me, Sir John Mandeville hym-selfe! Dyd he nat knowe to whome he spake? "Surely yow meene nat I," quoth I. "I am Sir John Mandeville, knyght of Sainte Albans, best-sellying author of The Travels of John Mandeville."

"I've 'eard a that," quoth one of the yowths. "It is bollocks the lot of it. Ain't nuffink true about no dog 'eaded men or Prester John." "Yeah," quoth another. "Far as you've ever travelled is the library!" "O fals churls," said I, "yow knowe nat of what yow speke, and I have a mynde to teche yow some courtesie!" Atte this I recched for myne swerd, but atte this the yowths began to throw at me--Sir John Mandeville!--pint glasses, crips packets, and sundry botles empty and half-full.

O wretched yobbes and chavvs! Oon of the accursed yowths hyt me ryght above mine lefte eye-browe with a bottle of J2O, leaving quite the gash, and I was y-pelted wyth all other manere of bottles and rubbyshhe. Discretioun is the better part of valour some-tymes, and I supposed yt nat terribly chivalrous to sley teenagers, so I yelled at the yowths that I wolde prey for their soules as I betoke myself from thatte pub with some haste.

So thar I was, reekynge of apple-mango J2O, bleedynge from myne foreheed, pryde verray much injured. I espyed a pub across thatte same street, a darke little taverene yclept The Winchester. I walked in and satte at the bar.

"A, good sire," said a lytle man seated uppon a stool neare me, whose elfysshe presence I had noticed nat. "Yow looke lyke yow have seen better dayes."

I looked at the man--a man knowne well to readers heere!--and studyed his visage. Yow knowe hym welle; I need nat describe hym here save to maken mencioun that his woolen hatte was drypping wette. "Whatte happeend to youre hatte, good sire?" asked I.

"The chavs across the streete poured beere upon myne heed and made funne of myne weight," said he. "And now, I have namoore monie for to spend at the pub. I hadde but two pence for the whole of the nyght, the whych I have used heere. Allas and welaway! I am sytting in Kinge Richardes parlement, and I have already y-spent this weekes allowance buying olde bokes on the Charing Cross Road."

"King Richardes parlement?" quod I. "I am ryght new retained by hys majestie on his privee busynesse! I am a kynges man also!" We thus fell ynto talkynge, he and I, and I was moost happy to keep the ale y-flowynge. We talked of many a murie thynge long ynto the nyght. What became of thys talkynge? Muchel of our discussioun touched uppon matteres of wrytynge--of whych I schal nat bore yow heere--but I learned also of thisse blogge, the which the goode Chaucer hath invited me to poste from tyme to tyme as travel editour and raconteur-atte-large.

Well, I must away to Dungeness in Kent, there to see yf Edward II's face has appeared in a breaded snakke of grilled cheese. Stay tuned for myne updates about thatte mattere! Also stay tuned for myne exposee about a notorious and filthy liar whose verray soule is polluted with falsenesse and who in lyf was given to wilde exageraccioun--I mene Marco Polo, that wankere. Any-way, more aboutte that when I retourn from Kent.

A bientot,

Sir John

12 comment "Sir John Mandeville"

  1. Alexander PittsburgiensisOctober 20, 2006 at 9:51 PM

    O ye indignatioun! Le jeunesse épouvantable! Bon chance, Sir Jehan. Ich awaite eagerlie pour thine exposee.

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  2. Ich am righte gladde to have encountered thee here, Sir Johane, as myn maistre Prestre Johan, hath strictly ordered me to secure thy return to Hys reaulme regarding certaine mattyrs involving makying with childe a princesse roialle. Ich shall undo gode Kynge Richard maken representaciouns, and ich am certain that hee will hearken vnto mee as Prestre Johan hath vnto him muchel goold ylent.

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  3. Myne Leeve Sir Johne! With swich wit an humoure dost thou writ. Therto, woost yonne wel kowthe, thou shul greveth naught ov'r dronken soundry folke, fir naught ev'n th'effect o yonne sworde may hem hath holpen for hem art of harlotrious courages.

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  4. Alexander: Grantmerci!

    Haile: Herkneth me, I did nat have sexual relaciouns with thatte woman, the princesse roialle. I nevere told noone to speke falsenesse, nat a syngle tyme--nevere. These allegaciouns are false. And I neede to gette backe to werke for the kynge.

    Ladye Danielle: Verily, I am mooste chuffed that ye lyketh my lytel poste. Chekke backe soone to heere of the wonders of Dungeness!

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  5. Would Master Chaucer and friends consider syndicating their site so those of us with readers could catch up each and every day?? Little subscription buttons are available from places like FeedBurner and then I could get you right after the NYTimes...

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  6. drdebs gives her humble apologies to Sir John and Master Chaucer. She has now read the fine print in Master Chaucer's profile and found the feed, for which she thanks you. Academic life is dull. This blog is not.

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  7. Woe! Anothyre of Chaucers drykingge buds appeare to beknight us weth fantastick tayles! And Sir Johne Mandebelle, at that!

    I quoth from his wrytings: "...where the folk be great giants of twenty-eight foot long, or of thirty foot long. And they have no clothing but of skins of beasts that they hang upon them. And they eat no bread, but all raw flesh; and they drink milk of beasts..."

    Tweny-eight foot? Thirty? And I am yclept the Quene of Romany, fals one! Verily, the meade floweth in thy very veins and thou'rt addlepated! And thou mak'st mock of the noble Marco Polo, a true traveller?

    Fie!

    Ralph Lauren Polo

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  8. Sir Johan: Myn dread and puissant lorde and maistre, Prestre Johane biddeth me saie unto thee that thart an recreant and foresworne knighte. The princesse roialle, the lighte of myn sovran's eies, gave birthe vnto a childe the which resembleth thee at euery pointe. He biddeth thee nat to listen to thyn manne of lawe, Gulliemus de Clintone.

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  9. Polo: Oh ye of that accursed house of Polo, ye have fforsworn yourself. Ich have y-seene these verray thirty-fote folk, sothely. But did I neglect to mencioun that I speke of metric feete, the which been 1 and a quartere Englisshe feet?

    Haile: Putte any babye yn armour and yt looketh like me. Mayhap yt ys Polo's child, though I doubte ryght well he hath the coillons.

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  10. Sir Johane: Myn grete and puissant lorde biddeth mee saie vnto thee thatte thou camest vnto the princesse roialle cladde nat in armour butte in fals amour.

    For myne owne parte, ich wolde knowe moor of howe it beth possible to come vnto an mayden in armour ycladde.

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