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0407 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 407 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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and often present at those festivals of theirs ;1 for we Minor Friars have a place assigned to us at the emperor's court, and we be always in duty bound to go and give him our benison. So I took the opportunity to make diligent inquiry from Christians, Saracens, and all kinds of idolaters, and likewise from our own converts to the faith, of whom there be some who are great barons at that court, and have to do with the king's person only. Now these all told me with one voice as follows : that the king's players alone amount to xiii Winans; that of those others who keep the dogs and wild beasts and fowls there be xv tumans ; of leeches to take charge of the royal person there be four hundred idolaters, eight Christians, and one Saracen. And all these have from the king's court whatever provision they require.3 [And there be never more nor fewer, but when one dies another is appointed in his place.] 4 As for the rest of the establishment it is past counting. [In short, the court is truly magnificent, and the most perfectly ordered that there is in the world, with barons, gentlemen, servants, secretaries, Chris-

1 MIN. RAM., "in company with the Minor Friars, who have a monastery there ; and they used to send us from the court supplies enough for a thousand friars ! And, by the true God, there is as great a difference between that prince and those of Italy, as between a very rich man and a beggar."

2 These great courtiers may have been some of the Christian Alans of whom we hear some years later in connection with the legation of Marignolli.

3 The Sultan of Dehli about this time was said to have 10,000 falconers, 1200 musicians, 1200 physicians, and 1000 poets ! (Notices et Extraits, xiii, 185).

It is not inappropriate to these statistics which Odoric puts forward so solemnly, to refer to a passage in the history of Yesontimur, the Emperor at this time. Alarmed by evil prognostics, he called for an honest report as to what fault in his administration could have excited divine displeasure. The report, after blaming the superstitious cherishing of Bonzes and Fo-worship, goes on; Whilst the palace is crammed with eunuchs, astrologers, physicians, women, and other idlers, whose entertainment amounts to exorbitant sums, the people are plunged in extreme misery, etc., etc. (Deguignes, iv, 206 ; Gaubil, p. 259) .