The Spanish Mandevile of Miracles

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Introductory notes

The Spanish Mandeville of Miracles was published in 1600. It was written by Antonio de Torquemada. It is written in the form of a dialogue between two characters talking about various water bodies. De Torquemada was born around 1507. He was a Spanish writer of the Renaissance. From 1528 to 1530 he was in Italy where he was the secretary of the count of Benavente. He died in the year 1569. The Spanish Mandeville of Miracles is notable for the emphasis it gives on water bodies in different parts of the world and diverse points of view with regard to them. Primary Reading de Torquemada, Antonio, The Spanish Mandeville of Miracles, I.R. Suggested Reading van Linschoten, Jan Huygen, John Huighen van Linschoten, John Widet, 1598

uile of Miracles.
OR The Garden of curious
Wherin are handled sundry points of Humanity, Philosophy, Divinitie, and Geography beautified with many strange and pleasant Histories. First written in Spanish, by Anthonio De Torquemeda, and out of that tongue translated into English.
It was dedicated by the Author, to the Right honourable and reverent Prelate, Don Diego Sarmento de soto Maior, Bishop of Astorga. &c.
It is devided into sixe Treatises, composed in manner of a Dialogue, as in the next page shall appeare.
Printed by I. R. for Edmund Matts, and are to be solde at his shop, at the signe of the hand and Plow in Fleetstreete. 1600.

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1. The second Discourse, contayning certaine properties and vertues of Springs, Rivers, and Lakes: with some opinions touching terestriall Paradice; and the foure Rivers that issue out from thence: withall in what parts of the world our Christian beleefe is professed.


God hath given to many things different force and qualitie, so that few or none are without theyr particuler vertues, if wee were able to attaine to the knowledge of them, but chiefely hath he enriched the water, (over and above the generall vertue as beeing one of the 4 Elements concurring in the generation of all things created) with sundry proper and particuler gifts, vertues, and operations, the diversities of which, by experience we finde in Rivers, Springs, Fountaines, Ponds, Lakes, and Floodes: the cause whereof is, (though the water be all one, & proceed wholy from one beginning & originall) that the Sea passing through the veynes and concavities of the earth, taketh and participateth the vertue, nature, and propertie of the same earth and minerals through which it passeth, whereof it commeth, that some Springs are hote, some cold, some bitter, som sweet, some salt and brackish, and others of so many different tastes & properties, that it is unpossible to reckon them. There are many Authors which write of theyr different vertues and conditions, some of the which are recited by Pedro Mexias, in a chapter of his booke entitled, The Forrest of Collections, which (seeing you may there finde at large, when it shall please you to peruse him) I will spend no time in rehearsing.


You say he collected some, whereby I imagine there are other some by him unremembred, of which you shoulde doe us great favour to give us notice and understanding.


I am perswaded that he left them out, not for want of remembrance or knowledge of them, but onelie that hee wrote those, which he accounted the principallest, & of greatest wonder. For what greater or more incredible strangenes may there be then that of the Fountaine of Epirus, into the which putting a Torch or a candle lighted, it quencheth and extinguisheth the flame thereof, and putting it in dead, it kindeleth and enflameth the same: and that which he writeth of other Rivers & Lakes, which burned the hands of those that had falsly sworne beeing put into them, and others that filled them ful of leprosie; and of the Fountaine Elusidis, which in sounding a Flute or other musicall instrument, beginneth to swel & buble up in such quantity as though it would flow oover, the which in ceasing the sound, appeaseth it selfe againe, & sinketh & setleth it selfe into a quiet estate as it was before. There are so many like unto these written & reported, that to go about to rehearse them all would be an endlesse work. I will only therfore recite some of them recited by Pliny, in his second booke cap. 103. & som other mentioned by other authors of great authority, gravity and credit, which I imagine you have not heard, neither are they in the collections of the before-sayd Author remembred. First therfore to begin, how strange & miraculous is that of Jacobs Well in Sichar, where Sychen the son of Emor died, by signes and tokens of which, the inhabitants knowe in what sort the River Nilus shall overflowe that ensuing yere (for it hapneth yerely once) at which time they faile not with all diligence to observe the tokens thereof, especially how high the water riseth, wherby they assuredly know in what sort the Nile shall rise, and how far he shall overflowe that yere: by which observation, they know if the yere shalbe scarse & barrein, or plentiful & abundant, according to which they make their provisions, fetching from other parts thinges necessary for their sustenaunce, if there be any apparance of dearth. Of the Lake which Pedro Mexias sayth is in Ethiopia, in the which those that bathe themselves, come forth as it were annoynted and besmeared with Oyle: Pomponius Mela & Solinus make mencion, whom hee alleageth for authors, saying that the water thereof is so subtile, delicate and and pure, that a feather falling therein, goeth straight without any let downe into the bottome, which is no small cause to wonder at, that being in shew greasie and full of grossenesse, the effect thereof should bee so above reason contrary. The selfe same property writeth Gaudencius Merula of a Lake which is in India, called Silias, into the which, casting the lightest thing that may be, it sinketh presently to the bottom. The which according to the Philosophers opinion, proceedeth of the great purity and thinnesse, which is very neere to be converted into ayre. There are also in a vally of Jury (as wryteth Josephus in his booke of the captivity of the Jewes, alleaged by Nicholaus Leonicus, neer a place called Macherunte, a great number of Springs, of the which some are sweet & of a most pleasing tast, and others unsavory and bitter in extremity, being all wreathed, & as it were mingled one with another. Not far from thence there is a Cave, into the which there issue out of a Rocke two fountaines, so neere together that they seeme to be both but one, and yet are in their effects most different & contrary, for the one is extreame colde, and the other hote, so that between them both they make there a lake of most singuler temperature, healing those that bathe themselves therein of divers infirmities. And seeing it commeth to passe to count the wonderful things of this vally, though we digresse a little from the order of our discourse, concerning the property of waters, I will tell you what the same Authour writeth of the property of an herbe which there is found, called Baharas, taking his name of that part of the valley where it groweth. It hath the colour of a bright & shining flame, by the glistering discovered far of by night, but the neerer you approche unto it, the more it loseth of his brightnes, which when you come to take it, vanisheth, leaving deluded & deceaved the handes of those that seeke it. Neither can it be found, unlesse you first cast upon it the urine of a woman that hath her flowers, beeing corrupted and poured downe all at once upon it, which beeing done, it discovereth it selfe presently to the viewe of those that seeke it, who die at the very instant, unlesse they have a peece of the roote of the same herbe gathered before, bounde to theyr arme, having which, they remaine secure, & may gather it without any perrill or danger.


Beleeve me, the vertues of the water are no lesse then theyrs: for as the herbes sucke and draw theyr propertie and vertue out of the earth, which nourisheth and produceth them, yeelding moisture and sustenaunce to their rootes: so likewise the water draweth to it selfe, the propertie of the earth & minerals through which it passeth, participating with them, of their vertues; which beeing so deepe in earth, are from us hidden & unknown. But I know not whether the vertue of a Spring which Aristotle writeth to be in Sycilia in the Country of the Palisciens, proceede of thys cause, for the misterie which it contayneth is farre greater, and so sayth Nicholaus Leonicus, that it is a thing verie hardly credible: for he affirmeth the propertie thereof to be such, that who so taketh a solemne oath, and the same oath be written in Tables, and cast with certaine solemnities into the Fountaine: If the oath contained therein be true, the Tables remaine floating aloft upon the water, but if it be false, they sink incontinently downe to the bottome: And he which tooke the same, is burned presently in the place, and converted into ashes, not without damage many times of those that were present: They called this the holy Fountaine, and appointed the charge and custody thereof to Priests, which suffered no man to sweare, unlesse that hee first put in sureties, that hee would content himselfe to passe by this triall.


The selfe same Nicolaus Leonicus, writeth of another Fountaine, in the Country of the Elyans, nere to the River Citheros, into the which, all the water that ranne there out, degorged. There stood by this Fountaine a sacred house, the which they constantly affirmed to have beene the habitation of foure Nimphs, Caliphera, Sinalasis, Pegaea, and Jasis. All manner of diseased persons that bathed themselves in this Fountaine, came there out whole and sound. The like is written of two other Rivers, the one in Italy called Alteno, and the other called Alfeno in Arcadia: But of no lesse wonder then all the before rehearsed is, that which is written of the Lake in Scithia, in the Country of the Dyarbes, neere to the Citty Teos, the which besides the mervailous plenty of fish in which it aboundeth, hath a property most admirable: for in calme and warme weather, there apeareth above the water great aboundance of a kind of liquor like unto oyle, which the inhabitants in Baotes made for the same purpose, skimme off from the water and apply the same to their uses; finding it to be as good and profitable, as though it were very oyle in deede. There is likewise in the Province of Lycia, nere a Citty called Pataras, a Fountaine, the water that floweth from which, looketh as though it were mingled with blood: The cause whereof, as the Country men say, is through one Telephus, who washing therein his wounds, it hath ever since retained the colour of blood: But the likeliest is, that it passeth through some veine of red clay or coloured earth, with the which mixing it selfe, it commeth forth stained with that colour: the Author hereof is Nicolaus Leonicus. And Athenaeus Naucratites sayeth, that in an Iland of the Cyclades called Tenaeus, there is a Fountaine whose water will agree by no means to be mingled with wine, alwayes, howsoever it be mingled or poured with wine into any vessell, it remaineth by it selfe a part, so that it is to be taken up as pure & unmedled, as when it was poured forth, yea, though all possible diligence were used to joyne and mingle them.


Solinus discoursing of the Iland of Cerdonia, saieth, that it containeth many wholsome waters & Springs, & amongst the rest, one whose water healeth all infirmity of the eyes, & withall serveth for a discovery of theeves: for whosoever by oath denieth the theft which he hath committed, in washing him selfe with that water, loseth incontinent his fight; & if so be that his oath be true, his eye siight is therby quickned & made more sharp & lively: but whosoever obstinately persisteth in denying his fault, remaineth blind for ever. But of this Fountaine there is now no notice at all, for I have beene long resident in that Iland, during which time, I never heard any such matter. Many the like unto these are written of by divers Authors, the which for their uncertainty, I wil not weary my self in rehearsing: only I wil tell you of a Lake, which is in the Spanish Iland called S. Domingo, in a mountaine very high & uninhabited. The Spaniards having conquered that Country, found round about this mountaine no habitation of people, through the cause of a hideous noise, which was therein continually heard, amazing & making deafe the hearers therof, the hiden cause & secret mistery wherof, no man being able to comprehend, three Spaniards resolutly deliberated to goe up into the height thereof, & to discover if it were possible the occasion whence this continuall roaring proceeded: so that providing themselves of all things necessary, for the difficulty & ragged sharpnes of the way, being ful of craggy rocks & shruby trees & bushes, stopping their eares fast & close with pelets of wax, & taking some few victuals with them, put themselves onward in their enterprize, not without exceeding wearines & travel, in somuch that the one fainting by the way, was forced to bide behind. The other two with chereful labor & vertuous alacrity, overcomming all difficulties, cam at last with much ado unto the top of the mountain, wher they found a great Plain without any trees, & in the midst a lake, the water of which was obscure & black as inke, boiling & bubling up, as though all the fire in the world had been flaming under it, making a noise so terible & thundring, that though they had stopped their eares with all possible care & diligence: yet the intollerable roring noise thereof, wrought such a humming and giddines in their heads, that they were constrained with all possible hast to returne, without bringing any certaine relation then this which you have heard.


Let us leave these secrets of Nature to him onely which hath made them, for though we through some causes represented in our understanding, would seeke to yeeld reasons thereof: yet when we thinke to hit the white, we shall finde ourselves far wide: returning therefore to our former matter of Springs & Waters, me thinks it were not reason, that speaking of things so farre off, we should overslip these which we have heere at home in our owne Country, having in this our Spaine two Fountaines, whose effects are not a little to be admired at, the one of which is in a Cave called de la Judia, by the Bridge of Talayuelas, neere the Castle of Garcimunios, which though I myselfe have not seene, yet I have been thereof so certified, that I assuredly know it to be true: It yeeldeth a water which in falling congealeth, and becommeth hard, in manner of a stone; which hardnes it alwayes after retaineth without dissolving, in such sort, that they apply it to theyr buildinges.


It were neede of great Philosophy to know the mistery of this, that water should in such sort harden, that it should never afterwards dissolve: the contrary reason whereof we see in great heapes of Ice, which how hard so ever they be, yet change of weather, maketh them to dissolve and melt.


This is because the heat undoeth that which is done by the cold, as in snow, haile, & ice; which seeing it worketh not the like effect in these stones, we may thereby gather that, not the cold but some other secret to us hidden & unknown, is the cause of this obduration & hardnes. I have heard with great credite affirmed, that there is also neere the towne called Villa Nueva del obyspo, a Fountaine, in which during sixe moneths of the yeare, from such time as the sunne entreth into the signe of Lybra, which beginneth about the midst of September, called the Equinoctiall of the Autumne, till the middest of March, there is no one drop of water, and all the other halfe yeare, there runneth a most cleere & abundant streame: and thys is every yere ordinary. Of thys Fountaine maketh mention also Lucius Marineus Siculus. Sinforianus Campegius wryteth of another in Savoy, which breedeth by miraculous operation stones of exceeding vertue.


Turning to our discourse of Fountaines, I am persuaded that there are many of rare and great vertues, utterly to us unknowne, and sometimes it hapneth, that the vertue of the water, worketh through the ayde of some other thing, joyntly together, matters verie admirable, as that which Alexander writeth in his booke De diebus genialibus, that in those partes of England which bende toward the West, when any shyps are broken, and the ribbes or planches of them remaine a while in the water, that with the continuall moystnes, they engender & bring forth certaine Puscles like Mushromps, which within fewe dayes seeme to be alive and to have motion: and by little and little grow & gather feathers. That part wherewith they are fast to the rotten tymber is like unto a waterfoules bill, which comming lose of it selfe, thys miraculous foule beginneth to heave it selfe up, and by little and little in short space of time to flie and mount into the ayre. Pope Pius, whose name was Aeneas Silvius, rehearseth this in another sort, saying, that in Scotland, upon the bankes of a River, there growe certaine Trees, whose leaves falling into the water and putrifying, ingender in them a certaine worme, which by little and little becommeth great and feathered, and at last lifteth up the wings and flieth into the ayre. Cassaneus in his Catalogue of the glory of the world, in the twelfth part repeateth thys otherwise. In times past, sayth he, there grew in England upon a Rivers side a strange and wonderfull tree, that brought forth a fruite like unto Ducks, the which being ripe and falling of, those which fell on the Land side, rotted and perished, but those which fell into the water receaved presently lyfe, recovering feathers and wings, and in short space became able to flie. Others write that there were many of these Trees, and so by consequence many such foules in great number. But whether there be any such nowe or no, I know not. Besides these Authors. I remember that I read in an Epitaphe which is written in the Map of the world, printed by a Venetian called Andreas Valuasor, that one Andrew Rosse, cittizen of the same towne, had at that present two of these foules, about the bignes of two little Ducks, the which were brought him out of Spayne, but I think there was an error in the writing, and that he should have written England or Scotland: for a thing so miraculous as this is, cold not in Spayne be obscure & unknown.

Of no lesse admiration are those trees of which Pigaseta in his relation to the Pope maketh mention, whose leaves falling downe, presently move & go, as it were upon 2. poynts, which they have on the one side like feete, seeming to have life: he affirmeth to have seen this himselfe. Therefore, whatsoever is said and affirmed by grave Authors, we ought to beleeve that it may be, for though some have a fault in overreaching, yet others will not register any thing but that which is true. Turning therefore to our purpose of waters, let us not in silence passe over the greatnes of such Rivers as have beene in our times discovered: for till now Nylus, Ganges, Danubius, and Boristhenes have bin accounted great, but at this present, the greatest that is in all Asia, Affricke, or Europe, is but a little streame in comparison of those, which by Navigation are newly found out in the West Indies, scarcely to be beleeved, were they not sufficiently authorized by the infinite number of so manie witnesses: As for example, the river of Orellana, so called, by the name of him that first discovered it, is so great, that it beareth fifty leagues of breadth at the mouth where it entereth into the Sea, and through the extreame furie with which it forciblie passeth, it pierceth in such sort through the waves of the salt water, that the Saylers call that Coast the Sweete water Sea. The River Dela plata, nowe inhabited by our Spanyards, there as the Sea receaveth it, containeth xxv leagues in breadth, and the Rivers of Maranion fyfteene. There are also many others, of infinite largenesse, whereby we may conjecture, that there is a greater quantity of Lande them that which is already discovered, for it is not possible that such mighty Rivers shoulde rise out of any Spring, but that many other Rivers shoulde fall into them, and that out of divers Regions, but let us leave this till we meete another time, when we shal have more leysure.

The opinion of Aristotle and others that imitate him, is, that the Rivers are engendred in the hollowe and hidden parts of the earth, where the ayre, through the great moysture & coldnes converteth it selfe into water, the which running along the veynes of the earth, commeth at last to the height thereof, where not being fully perfected, it taketh thicknesse and issueth out, discovering it selfe as well in great Rivers as in little streames and Fordes such as wee see, Anaximander and many other Phylosophers with him affirmed, that the earth hath within it selfe and in the midst thereof a belly full of water, out of which breake forth all these Fountaines, Rivers, and Springs: but the surer opinion, and the truth indeed is, that all Rivers, streames, and Fountaines, and Lakes that come of flowing waters, issue & proceed out of the Sea, as sayth Ecclesiastes in the first Chapter by these wordes. All Rivers enter into the Sea, and the Sea for al that encreaseth not, and the Rivers returne to the same place out of which they issued, and begin to runne anew.

This is a selection from the original text


flood, lake, pond, river, spring

Source text

Title: The Spanish Mandevile of miracles

Author: Antonio de Torquemada

Publisher: I. R.

Publication date: 1600

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 24135 Physical description: [6], 158, [2] leaves Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: STC / 361:05

Digital edition

Original author(s): Antonio de Torquemada

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) selections from the second discourse


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > non-fiction prose > travel narratives and reports

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