Past Perfect: A Knight in Bethlehem?
The prologue of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville begins in old-fashioned English, “I, John Mandeville, Knight, albeit I be not worthy, that was born in England, in the town of St. Albans, and passed the sea in the year of our Lord Jesu[s] Christ, 1322, in the day of St. Michael.” Although it has been widely read ever since its publication around 1360, modern scholars believe that the book was not actually an account of Mandeville’s own travels through the Holy Land, Turkey, Armenia, Persia, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Africa and India; nor do they believe he was a knight.
Written in Latin, the popular book was quickly translated into Anglo-Norman French, English and several other languages. Mandeville may be responsible for some of these translations. He continues in his prologue: “And ye shall understand, that I have put this book out of Latin into French, and translated it again out of French into English, that every man of my nation may understand it.”