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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 01.

While I remained in the country, a Russian duke, named Andrew[1], being accused before duke Baatu, of conveying Tartar horses out of the country and selling them to other nations, was put to death, although the fact was not proved against him.  After this, the widow and younger brother of Andrew came to Baatu, supplicating that they might not be deprived of the dukedom, upon which Baatu commanded them to be married according to the Tartar custom; and though both refused, as contrary to the religion and laws of Russia, they were compelled to this incestuous union.  After the death of their husbands, the Tartar widows seldom marry, unless when a man chooses to wed his brother’s wife or his stepmother.  They make no difference between the son of a wife or of a concubine, of which the following is a memorable example.  The late king of Georgia left two sons, Melich and David, of whom the former was lawful, and the other born in adultery; but he left part of his dominions to his bastard.  Melich appealed to the Tartar emperor for justice, and David went likewise to the court, carrying large gifts; and the emperor confirmed the will of their father, even appointing David to have the superior authority, because eldest born.  When a Tartar has more than one wife, each has her own house and establishment, and the husband eats, drinks, and sleeps, sometimes with one and sometimes with another.  One is considered as principal wife, and with her he resides oftener than with the others; and though they are sometimes numerous, they very seldom quarrel among themselves.

[1] In the previous account of the travels of Carpini, Hakl.  I. 27. this
    Andrew is said to have been duke of Sarvogle, or Seirvogle, perhaps
    meaning Yeroslave.—­E.

SECTION VII.

Of their Superstitious Traditions.

In consequence of certain traditions, they consider many indifferent actions as criminal.  One is, to thrust a knife into the fire, or any way to touch a fire with a knife, to take meat from the pot with a knife, or even to hew any thing with an axe near a fire; as they consider all these things as taking away the force of the fire.  Another is, to lean upon a whip, for they use no spurs, or to touch arrows with their whip, to strike their horse with their bridle, to take or kill young birds, or to break one bone upon another.  Likewise, to spill milk, or any drink, or food, on the ground, or to make water in a house; for the last offence, if intentional, a man is slain, or he must pay a heavy fine to the soothsayers to be purified; in which case, the house, and all that it contains, has to pass between two fires, before which ceremony no person must enter the house, nor must any thing be removed from it.  If any one takes a bit of meat that he cannot swallow and spits it out, a hole is made in the floor of the house, through which he is dragged and put to death.  If any one treads on the threshold of a house belonging to one of their dukes, he is put to death.  Many such things they account high offences.

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