Giovanni DiPlano Carpini

Overall Rating: 6
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Author: Giovanni DiPlano Carpini
Title: The Story Of The Mongols Whom We Call The Tartars
Time: 1245-1247
Destination: France to Mongolia
Length: 2 years
Type: caravan
Rating: 6/10

The papal spy

The story: A few years after the Mongol attacks on Eastern Europe, the Pope decided to send a cleric to the court of the Khan. That cleric was GDC, and his mission (unlike that of Guillaume de Rubrouck a few years later) was to find out what the Mongols wanted, and how to defend Christianity against them. GDC thus traveled through what was left of the Kievan Rus’ and then continued on his way to Karakorum.

Giovanni DiPlano Carpini – envoy to Mongolia

This book is rather short and fact-bound, and it is very strictly organized. GDC devised chapters that dealt with various aspects of Mongol life (customs, politics, warfare, etc.) and tried to convey as much information as possible. You will still find one or two mentions of weird creatures here and there (almost like in the account of Odorico da Pordenone), but there is not as much every-day detail as in Guillaume de Rubrouck’s travelogue (which makes that one so outstanding).

diplomatic misunderstandings

One thing is funny though, and it’s good to know this before reading the book: GDC is equipped with a papal letter demanding peace with the Mongols. Well, apparently in those days, the Mongol word for “peace” was essentially the same as “submission”. You can only imagine their confusion when the pope seemed to offer submission without coming in person or sending any of the appropriate gifts with his emissary!

An okay read, but I would have liked more personal detail : 6/10.

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