This mode of passing over rivers, though carefully
translated, is by no
means obviously described. I am apt to suppose that the leathern bags,
besides holding the apparel and other valuables, were large enough to
be blown up with air so as to serve as floats, like those used by the
ancient Macedonians; a practice which they may have learnt from the
Scythians. The Latin of Vincentius Beluacensis appears to have been
translated from the French original of Carpini, from the following
circumstance: What is here translated their other baggage is, in the
Latin, alias res duriores; almost with certainty mistakenly rendered
from the French leurs autres hardes.—E.
How the Tartars ought to be resisted.
No single kingdom or province can resist the Tartars, as they gather men for war from every land that is subjected to their dominion; and if any neighbouring province refuses to join them, they invade and lay it waste, slaughtering the inhabitants or carrying them into captivity, and then proceed against another nation. They place their captives in the front of battle, and if they do not fight courageously they are put to the sword. Wherefore, if the princes and rulers of Christendom mean to resist their progress, it is requisite that they should make common cause, and oppose them with united councils. They ought likewise to have many soldiers armed with strong bows and plenty of cross-bows, of which the Tartars are much afraid. Besides these, there ought to be men armed with good iron maces, or with axes having long handles. The steel arrow-heads should be tempered in the Tartar manner, by being plunged, while hot, into water mixed with salt, that they may the better be able to penetrate the armour of the Tartars. Our men ought likewise to have good swords, and lances with hooks to drag them from their saddles, which is an easy matter; and ought to have good helmets and armour of proof for themselves and horses: And those who are not so armed ought to keep in the rear of those who are, to discharge their arrows and quarrels over the heads of their companions.
Our armies ought to be marshalled after the order of the Tartars, already described, and under the same rigorous laws of war. Whoever betakes himself to plunder before victory is perfectly ascertained, should suffer death. The field of battle ought to be chosen, if possible, in a plain, where every thing may be seen around. The army should by no means be drawn up in one body, but in many divisions, not too distant. One band ought to be dispatched against those who first advance, while another remains prepared to assist in time of need. Scouts ought to be sent out on every side, to give notice of the approach of the enemy; that band may always be sent to meet band as they come on, as the Tartars are always