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By Peter Jackson, David Morgan

Sooner than the thirteenth century the horizons of Western Christians prolonged no extra than the principalities of what's now ecu Russia and the Islamic powers of the close to East. past lay an international of which they'd simply the haziest impressions. the idea that Christian groups have been to be chanced on the following used to be nurtured within the twelfth century via the expansion of the legend of Prester John; yet another way Asia was once peopled within the Western mind's eye by way of big races borrowed from the works of overdue Antiquity. the increase of the Mongol empire, despite the fact that, and the Mongol devastation of Hungary and Poland in 1241-2, introduced the West into a lot nearer touch with internal Asia. Embassies have been being exchanged with the Mongols from 1245; Italian retailers started to cash in on the economic possibilities provided by way of the union of a lot of Asia lower than a unmarried energy; and the newly rising orders of preaching friars, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, who have been energetic in japanese Europe and within the Islamic global because the 1220s, came across their box of operations tremendously accelerated. The Franciscan William of Rubruck, who travelled throughout the Mongol empire in 1253-55, composed the earliest document of one of these missionary trip that has come right down to us. Couched within the kind of a protracted letter to the French king Louis IX, this amazing rfile constitutes an exceptionally necessary resource at the Mongols in the course of the period in their greatness. Rubruck used to be additionally the 1st Westerner to make touch with Buddhism, to explain the shamanistic practices during which the Mongols and different steppe peoples set such shop, and to make precise observations at the Nestorian Christian church and its rites. His feedback on geography, ethnography and fauna (notably the ovis poli, which he encountered a iteration sooner than the extra celebrated Venetian adventurer from whom it takes its medical identify) provide him an extra declare to be one of many keenest of medieval ecu observers to have travelled in Asia. This new annotated translation is designed to supersede that of W.W. Rockhill, released by means of the Society in 1900, through touching on Rubruck's testimony to the wealth of fabric on Mongol Asia that has turn into available in different resources during the last 9 many years.

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Extra info for The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck: His Journey to the Court of the Great Khan Möngke, 1253-1255

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400-3. There is a briefer treatment in Ratchnevsky, Cinggis-Khan, pp. 107-20; J. A. Boyle, 'Dynastic and political history of the Il-Khans', in CHI, V, 303-8, 311-22; D. O. Morgan, Medieval Persia 1040-1797 (London, 1988), pp. 48-50, 57-8, and The Mongols, pp. 52-4, 67-71. 2 On this raid, see Boyle, 'Dynastic and political history', pp. 308-11. For the defeat of the Russians and Cumans, see John Fennell, The crisis of medieval Russia 1200-1304 (London, 1983), pp. 63-8. 13 THE MISSION OF WILLIAM OF RUBRUCK the Sultan at Kosedagh in June 1243.

Giles, I, 131) or 'Tartar' (IV, 78; tr. -hist. Kl. (1956), no. 6, p. 181; by Thomas of Spalato, in A. F. ), Catalogus Fontium Historiae Hungaricae (Budapest, 1937-8), p. 2239; and by Carpini, Ystoria Mongalorum, quos nos Tartaros appellamus, V, 2, ed. Anastasius Van den Wyngaert, in Sinica Franciscana, I. Itinera et relationes fratrum minorum saeculiXIII et XIV (Quaracchi-Firenze, 1929), 51-2, and tr. ), The Mongol mission. Narratives and letters of the Franciscan missionaries in Mongolia and China in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (London 16 INTRODUCTION far as military activity was concerned, the response proved less than adequate.

73 4. The mission is examined by G. G. Guzman, 'Simon of SaintQuentin and the Dominican mission to the Mongol Baiju: a reappraisal', Speculum, XLVI (1971), 232-49. 3 Nicholas of Carbio, 'Vita Innocentii Papa IIII', in L. A. Muratori, Rerum Italtcarum Scriptores, III, i (Milan, 1723), col. 592e; quoted in Pelliot, Papaute, p. 75. 31 THE MISSION OF WILLIAM OF RUBRUCK adjoining Syria at just the point when King Louis was about to sail for the Near East. That the French king and his entourage were aware of the poor reception Baichu had accorded Ascelin and his party is evident from the earliest report that has come down to us from the period of the crusade.

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