Primary Source

The Foreign Travels and Dangerous Voyages of Sir John Mandeville, 14th Century

A woodcut of a man with no head and a face in his chest.


This image shows a print from the 1568 version of the Voyages and travailes of Sir John Mandevile, knight. Sir John Mandeville’s Travels is believed to have been first published in the mid-14th century and rereleased many times in subsequent decades. It was reedited anonymously and released in 1725. It was one of the most popular travel narratives to circulate England and Europe in the time it was first released. In particular the book was known for its descriptions of fantastical people and creatures including the description on the woodcut here that reads “And in another isle dwell men that have no heads, and their eyes are in their shoulders and their mouth is in their breast.” Elsewhere Mandeville describes people who ‘drinke gladly mans blood’ and ‘dwell in caves’ and ‘speake not, but … make such a noyse as adders doe’ Sir John Mandeville was likely fictional and the narrative based on a compilation of previously published travel narratives woven together by a number of different contributors throughout its publishing. Sir John Mandeville is also listed as the supposed author of the original publication. Despite the mysteries surrounding its origin, its popularity has endured for many centuries and it has inspired many travelers to venture out into the world. How did this narrative influence the rise of the Age of Discovery for some European countries which spanned from 1400-1600?  How did it influence the travelers as well as those that provided the financial support for the travels and how did this narrative shape their expectations of their future travel experiences?

This source is a part of the Analyzing Travel Records methods module.


Sir John Mandeville, The Voiage and trauayle of syr Iohn Maundeuile, Knight, which treateth of the way toward Hierusalem, and of maruayles of Inde, with other Ilands and Countryes, 1568.

How to Cite This Source

"The Foreign Travels and Dangerous Voyages of Sir John Mandeville, 14th Century ," in World History Commons, [accessed September 29, 2023]