January 23, 2007

A comparison

It was very interesting to compare all of the cities. Polo, Battuta and Diaz all seemed to have a couple common themes. Although these themes are probably true of all cities it was interesting to compare them to one another. I think some of you may have already touched on some of these, but they all talked about marketplaces, guards, and some body of water.


Polo: “ … the waters, by a number of canals, large and small, are made to run through every quarter of the city, carrying with them all the filth into the lake, and ultimately to the sea. This furnishes a communication by water, in addition to that by land, to all parts of the town.? (50)

Battuta: “…It is (the city) enormous in magnitude and divided into two parts, between which there is a great river in which there is a flow and ebb of tide just as in the wadi of Sala in the country of the Maghrib? (54)

Diaz: “…and we saw the fresh water that comes from Chapultepec which supplies the city, and we saw the bridges on the three causeways which were built at certain distances apart through which the water of the lake flowed in and out from one side to the other, and we beheld on that great lake a great multitude of canoes...? (57)

So…about water. It is present everywhere. It is a means of both communication and economy. Even when dirty and filthy, whether it be a lake or river, it aids in the community of the city.


Polo: “There are within the city ten principle squares or market-places, besides innumerable shops along the streets…warehouses built of stone, for the accommodation of the merchants who arrive from India and other parts with their good and effects. They are conveniently situated with respect to the market places. In each of these, upon three days in every week, there is an assemblage of from forty to fifty thousand persons, who attend the markets and supply them with every article of provisions that can be desired.? (51) He goes on to talk about the plethora of fruits and other foods and crafts found throughout the markets. This part of the city appears to be quite community based.

Battuta: Speaking of the city on the east side of the river, called Astanbiil: “…Its bazaars and streets are spacious and paved with flagstones, and the members of each craft have a separate place, no others sharing it with them. Each bazaar has gates which are closed upon it at night, and the majority of the artisans and sellers in them are women.? (54) On the west side there are also bazaars and trading occurs. “The bazaars in this section are good, but overlaid with all kinds of filth, and traversed by a small, dirty and filth-laden stream? (54).

Diaz comments a great deal on the marketplace. “When we arrived at the market-place, called Tlaltelolco, we were astounded at the number of people and the quantity of merchandise that it contained, and at the good order and control that was maintained, for we had never seen such a thing before.? (55)

About the market-place: Clearly the marketplace is a section of the city that builds economy, but it also provides a huge deal of community. Everyone requires an entry into the marketplace because everyone is a consumer and so this public place is vital to the city. In all of these cities, the market place large and so it makes sense that the market place would cater to all kinds of lifestyles.


Polo: “By a regulation which his Majesty has established, there is a guard of ten watchmen stationed, under cover, upon all the principle bridges, of whom five do duty by day and five by night.? (52) I thought it was interesting that these watchmen (well some of them) were technically human clocks! Others played more of a “patrolling? role, but their military guardsmen appeared later on in the reading… “In cases also of tumult or insurrection amongst the citizens, the services of this police guard are necessary; but independently of them, his Majesty always keeps on foot a large body of troops, both infantry and cavalry, in the city and its vicinity, the command of which he gives to his ablest officers.? (52)

Battuta: “When we reached the first of the gates of the king’s palace, we found it guarded by about a hundred me who had an officer of theirs with them on top of a platform…? (53) Although they wouldn’t let them in at first, I felt very interested in the fact that throughout the reading, Battuta conveyed a level of respect, or reassurance that everyone in Constantinople showed him.

Diaz: “Gazing on such wonderful sights, we did not know what to say, or whether what appeared before us was real, for on one side, on the land, there were great cities, and in the lake ever so many more, and the lake itself was crowded with canoes, and in the Causeway were many bridges at intervals, and in front of us stood the great City of Mexico and-we did not even number four hundred soldiers.? (55)

About guards: It was interesting how the authors gave such diverse descriptions of the guard/patrol people and yet as a reader you got the essence that each guards group was huge and uniform. I could just picture each man walking into the city and approaching these large uniformed and overpowering groups of militarized men. Hmm…

Although the other authors touched on religion or church, it was Albrecht who really themed his description, in my opinion on religion. “The Church of our Lady (the Cathedral) at Antwerp is so lvery large that many masses are sung in it at one time without interfering each other…The churchhas many devout services, much stone-work, and in particular a beautiful tower.? (57) As he continues on with the procession, each of his characters relates some part of the city but the primary characters are those of the church. He does talk about the marketplace and also of troops but does so as he describes the people of the procession and only mentions that they exist.