Een stukje dat we gewoon gaan kopiëren omdat het te mooi is om te vertalen...
Maria of Pozzuoli
from "The Voice of the Middle Ages in Personal Letters 1100-1500" Edited by Catherine Moriarty ISBN 1 85291 051 8, Lennard Publishing.
"From Petrarch to Cardinal Giovanni Colonna. 23 November 1343
Of all the wonders of God,'who alone doeth great wonders,' he has made nothing on earth more marvelous than man. Of all we saw that day, of all this letter will report, the most remarkable was a mighty woman of Pozzuoli, sturdy in body and soul. her name is Maria, and to suit her name she has the merit of virginity. Though she is constantly among men, usually soldiers, the general opinion holds that she has never suffered any attaint to her chastity, whether in jest or earnest. Men are put off, they say, more by fear than respect.
Her body is military rather than maidenly, her strength is such as any hardened soldier might wish for, her skill and deftness unusual, her age at its prime, her appearance and endeavor that of a strong man. She cares not for charms but for arms; not for arts and crafts but for darts and shafts; her face bears no trace of kisses and lascivious caresses, but is ennobled by wounds and scars. Her first love is for weapons, her soul defies death and the sword.
She helps wage an inherited local war, in which many have perished on both sides. Sometimes alone, often with a few companions, she has raided the enemy, always, up to the present, victoriously. First into battle, slow to withdraw, she attacks aggressively, practises skilful feints. She bears with incredible patience hunger, thirst, cold, heat, lack of sleep, weariness; she passes nights in the open, under arms; she sleeps on the ground, counting herself lucky to have a turf or a shield for pillow.
She has changed much in a short time, thanks to her constant hardships. I saw her a few years ago, when my youthful longing for glory brought me to Rome and Naples and the king of Sicily. She was then weaponless; but I was amazed when she came to greet me today heavily armed, in a group of soldiers. I returned her greeting as to a man I didn't know. Then she laughed, and at the nudging of my companions I looked at her more closely; and I barely recognized the wild, primitive face of the maiden under her helmet.
They tell many fabulous stories about her; I shall relate what I saw. A number of stout fellows with military training happen to have come here from various quarters. (They were diverted from another expedition.) When they heard about this woman they were anxious to test her powers. So a great crowd of us went up to the castle of Pozzuoli. She was alone, walking up and down in front of the church, apparently just thinking. She was not at all disturbed by our arrival. We begged her to give us some example of her strength. After making many excuses on account of an injury to her arm, she finally sent for a heavy stone and an iron bar. She then threw them before us, and challenged anyone to pick them up and try a cast. To cut the story short, there was a long, well-fought competition, while she stood aside and silently judged the contestants. Finally, making an easy cast, she so far outdistanced the others that everyone was amazed, and I was really ashamed. So we left, hardly believing our eyes, thinking we must have been victims of an illusion.
The story goes that Robert [of Naples], that noblest of kings, was once sailing along these shores with a great fleet, and, tempted by the stories of this woman, he came ashore at Pozzuoli only to see her. This does not seem very likely, since, living so nearby, it would seem easier for him to summon her. But perhaps he landed for some other reason and was eager to inspect this great novelty. He has a very curious mind.
Let the tale-tellers bear the responsibility for the truth of this story, as of many others we have heard. For me the sight of this woman makes more credible not only the tales of the Amazons and their famous feminine kingdom, but also those of the Italian virgin warriors, led by Camilla, whose name is celebrated above all. For what hinders us from believing of many what I could hardly have credited of one, if I had not seen it? And that ancient Camilla was born not far from here, at Piperno, at the time of the fall of Troy; while our modern girl was born at Pozzuoli. I wanted to give you this report in my little letter.
Farewell and Prosper."
(info given by Jim Deakin)