Volume 1, Chapter 8 -- The Travels of John de Plano Carpini and other Friars, sent about the year 1246, as ambassadors from Pope Innocent IV, to the great Khan of the Moguls or Tartars.
*Section 1* -- Introductory Epistle by John de Plano Carpini
*Section 2* -- Of the first Mission of Friars Predicants and Minorites to the Tartars
*Section 3* -- Of the Situation and Quality of the Land of the Tartars, from Carpini
*Section 4* -- Of the Appearance, Dress, and Manner of Living of the Tartars
*Section 5* -- Of their Good and Bad Customs
*Section 6* -- Of the Laws and Customs of the Tartars.
*Section 7* -- Of their Superstitious Traditions
*Section 8* -- Of the Beginning of their Empire
*Section 9* -- Of the Mutual Victories of the Mongals and Cathayans
*Section 10* -- Of the Wars of the Mongals against the Greater and Lesser India
*Section 11* -- Of Monstrous Men like Dogs, and of the Conquest of Burithabeth
*Section 12* -- How the Mongals were repulsed at the Caspian Mountains, by Men dwelling in Caves.
*Section 13* -- Of the death of Zingis, and concerning his Sons, and the Tartar Dukes or Princes
*Section 14* -- Of the Power of the Emperors, and of his Dukes
*Section 15* -- Of the Election of the Emperor Occoday, and of the Expedition of Duke Bathy
*Section 16* -- Of the Expedition of Duke Cyrpodan
*Section 17* -- Of the Military conduct of the Tartars
*Section 18* -- How the Tartars ought to be resisted
*Section 19* -- Of the Journey of Friar John de Plano Carpini, to the First Guard of the Tartars
*Section 20* -- Of his first Reception by the Tartars
*Section 21* -- His Reception at the Court of Corrensa
*Section 22* -- The Reception of Carpini at the Court of Baatu
*Section 23* -- The Journey through the Land of Comania, and of the Kangittae
*Section 24* -- The arrival of Carpini at the first Station of the new Emperor
*Section 25* -- The Arrival of Carpini at the Court of the Emperor elect
*Section 26* -- Of the Reception of the papal Nuncios at the court of Kujak, or Cuyne-Khan
*Section 27* -- Of the Exaltation of Cuyne as Emperor
*Section 28* -- Of the Age and Demeanour of Cuyne, and of his Seal
*Section 29* -- Of the Admission of the Papal and other Envoys to the Emperor
*Section 30* -- Of the Separation between the Emperor and his Mother, and of the Death of Jeroslaus Duke of Russia
*Section 31* -- How the Friars, in the presence of the Emperor, interchanged Letters
*Section 32* -- The Papal Envoys receive a Licence to depart
*Section 33* -- The return of the Papal Envoys to Europe



In the collection of early Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries, by Hakluyt, published originally in 1599, and reprinted at London in 1809 with additions, there are two separate relations of these travels. The first, in p. 24, is the journal of John de Plano Carpini, an Italian minorite, who, accompanied by friar Benedict, a Polander, went in 1246 by the north of the Caspian sea, to the residence of Batu-khan, and thence to Kajuk-khan, whom he calls Cuyne, the chief or Emperor of all the Mongols. The second, in p. 42, is a relation taken from the Speculum Historiale of Vincentius Beluacensis, lib. xxxii. ch. 2. of the mission of certain friars, predicants and minorites in the same year, 1246, to the same country; and in p. 59. of the same collection, there is a translation by Hakluyt into antiquated English of this second account. From this second narrative it appears, that Vincentius had received an account of the journey of the second mission from Simon de St Quintin, a minorite friar belonging to the party; and that he had worked up along with this, the whole of the narrative which had been separately published by Carpini of his journey; which indeed forms by far the larger and more interesting portion of the work published by Vincentius. This latter edition, therefore has been considered as sufficient for the present collection, because to have given both would have been an unnecessary repetition; and it is here translated from the Latin of Hakluyt, I. 42.

The object of this mission or embassy seems to have been as follows: A prodigious alarm was excited in Europe, by the victorious and destructive progress of the Mongals or Tartars; who, under the command of Tuschi-khan, and of Batu-khan, the son of Tuschi, advancing through Kipzhak, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, all of which they had most horribly ravaged and laid waste, had penetrated even into Silesia; while by the eastern side or the Caspian, penetrating through Transoxiana and Persia, under the command of Zagatai-khan, likewise a son of Zingus, and Holagu-khan, a nephew of Zagatai, they had made their appearance on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. In this alarming conjuncture, it was thought advisable by Pope Innocent IV. in a convocation of the clergy at Lyons, in 1245, to send ambassadors to these formidable conquerors, to endeavour to pacify them, and induce them to turn the destructive tide of their conquests in some other direction, and perhaps partly in the hope of endeavouring, if possible, to convert them to the Christian faith, and inducing them to direct their arms against the Turks and Saracens, who oppressed the Holy Land. For this purpose, six monks were selected from the new and severe orders of predicants and minorites. John de Plano Carpini and Benedict travelled through Bohemia and Poland to Kiow in Russia, and thence by the mouth of the Dnieper to the camp of Korrensa, or Corrensa, a general of the Mongals; whence, crossing the Don and Wolga or Volga, they came to the encampment of Bata-khan, called also Baty and Baatu, who sent them to Kajuk-khan, the emperor of the Mongals, whom they call Cuyne. The other ambassadors were Asceline, with Friars Alexander, Albert, and Simon de St Quintin: who went by the south of the Caspian, through Syria, Persia, and Chorassan, to the court of Baiju-Nojan, or as they call him Bajothnoy: but of the particulars of this journey very little has been preserved by Vincentius, so that in fact, the travels here published belong almost exclusively to Carpini.

The full title given by Hakluyt to this relation is worth preserving as a literary curiosity, and is as follows:

"The long and wonderful voyage of Friar John de Plano Carpini, sent ambassador, by Pope Innocent IV. A.D. 1246, to the great Can of Tartacia; wherein he passed through Bohemia, Polonia, Russia, and so to the city of Kiow upon Boristhenes, and from thence rode continually post for the space of sixe moneths through Comania, over the mighty and famous rivers, Tanais, Volga, and Jaie, and through the countries  of the people called Kangittae, Bisermini, Karakitay, Naimani, and so to the native country of the Mongols or Tartars, situate in the extreme north-eastern partes of all Asia; and thence back again the same Way to Russia, and Polonia, and so to Rome; spending in the whole voyage among the sayd Tartars, one whole year, and above four moneths: Taken out of the 32 booke of Vincentius Beluacensis his Speculum Historiale."
[1] Hakluyt. I. 24. and 42. for the Latin of the two relations; and p. 59. for the old English translation of the second.


Volume 1, Chapter 8, Section 1 -- Introductory Epistle by John de Plano Carpini.

To all the faithful in Christ, to whom this writing may come, I friar John de Plano Carpini, of the order of minorites, legate and messenger from the Apostolic see to the Tartars and other nations of the east, wish the Grace of God in this life, and glory in the next, and perpetual triumph over all the enemies of the Lord.  Having learnt the will of our lord the Pope, and the venerable Cardinals, and received the commands of the holy see, that we should go to the Tartars and other nations of the east, we determined to go in the first place to the Tartars; because we dreaded that the most imminent and nearest danger to the Church of God arose from them. And although we personally dreaded from these Tartars and other nations, that we might be slain or reduced to perpetual slavery, or should suffer hunger and thirst, the extremes of heat and cold, reproach, and excessive fatigue beyond our strength, all of which; except death and captivity, we have endured, even beyond our first fears, yet did we not spare ourselves, that we might obey the will of God, according to the orders of our lord the Pope, that we might be useful in any thing to the Christians, or at least, that the will and intention of these people might be assuredly known, and made manifest to Christendom, lest suddenly invading us, they might find us unprepared, and might make incredible slaughter of the Christian people. Hence, what we now write is for your advantage, that you may be on your guard, and more secure; being what we saw with our own eyes, while we sojourned with and among these people, during more than a year and four months, or which we have learnt from Christian captives residing among them, and whom we believe to, be worthy of credit. We were likewise enjoined by the supreme pontiff, that we should examine and inquire into every thing very diligently; all of which, both myself and friar Benedict of the same order, my companion in affliction and interpreter, have carefully performed.



Volume 1, Chapter 8, Section 2 -- Of the first Mission of Friars Predicants and Minorites to the Tartars.

At the same period, Pope Innocent IV. sent Friar Asceline of the order of friars predicants, with three other friars from different convents, with apostolical letters to the army of the Tartars, exhorting them to desist from slaughtering mankind, and to adopt the true Christian faith; and from one of these lately returned, Friar Simon de St Quintin, of the minorite order, I have received the relations concerning the transactions of the Tartars, which are here set down. At the same period, Friar, John de Plano Carpini of the order of minorites, with some others, was sent to the Tartars, and remained travelling among them for sixteen months. This Friar John hath written a little history, which is come to our hands, of what he saw among the Tartars, or learnt from divers persons living in captivity. From which I have inserted such things, in the following relation, as were wanting in the accounts given me by Friar Simon.



Volume 1, Chapter 8, Section 3 -- Of the Situation and Quality of the Land of the Tartars, from Carpini.

The land of Mongolia or Tartary is in the east part of the world, where the east and north are believed to unite;[1] having the country of Kathay, and the people called Solangi on the east; on the south the country of the Saracens; the land of the Huini on the south-east; on the west the province of Naimani, and the ocean on the north. In some parts it is full of mountains, in other parts quite plain; but everywhere interspersed with sandy barrens, not an hundredth part of the whole being fertile, as it cannot be cultivated except where it is watered with rivers, which are very rare. Hence there are no towns or cities, except one named Cracurim,[2] which is said to be tolerably good. We did not see that place, although within half a day's journey, when we were at the horde of Syra, the court of their great emperor. Although otherwise infertile, this land is well adapted for the pasture of cattle. In some places there are woods of small extent, but the land is mostly destitute of trees; insomuch, that even the emperor and princes, and all others, warm themselves and cook their victuals with fires of horse and cow dung. The climate is very intemperate, as in the middle of summer there are terrible storms of thunder and lightning, by which many people are killed, and even then there are great falls of snow, and there blow such tempests of cold winds, that sometimes people can hardly sit on horseback. In one of these, when near the Syra Horde, by which name they signify the station of the emperor, or of any of their princes, we had to throw ourselves prostrate on the ground, and could not see by reason of the prodigious dust.  It never rains in winter, but frequently in summer, yet so gently as scarcely to lay the dust, or to moisten the roots of the grass. But there are often prodigious showers of hail; insomuch, that by the sudden melting of one of these, at the time when the emperor elect was about to be placed on his throne, at which time we were at the imperial court, above an hundred and sixty persons were drowned, and many habitations and much valuable things were swept away. In summer there are often sudden and intolerable heats, quickly followed by extreme cold.

[1] This strange personification of the East and North, as if they were stationary geographical terms, not merely, relative, only means that Mongalia lay in the most north-easterly part of the then known world.--E.
[2] Called likewise Karakum, or Caracorum, and said to signify the Black Sand.--E



Volume 1, Chapter 8, Section 4 -- Of the Appearance, Dress, and Manner of Living of the Tartars.

The appearance of the Mongols or Tartars is quite different from all other nations, being much wider between the eyes and cheeks, and their cheeks are very prominent, with small flat noses, and small eyes, having the upper lids opened up to the eyebrows, and their crowns are shaven like priests on each side, leaving some long hair in the middle, the remainder being allowed to grow long like women, which they twist into two tails or locks, and bind behind their ears. The garments of the men and women are alike, using neither cloaks, hats, nor caps, but they wear strange tunics made of bucram, purple, or baldequin. Their gowns are made of skins, dressed in the hair, and open behind. They never wash their clothes, neither do they allow others to wash, especially in time of thunder, till that be over. Their houses are round, and artificially made like tents, of rods and twigs interwoven, having a round hole in the middle of the roof for the admission of light and the passage of smoke, the whole being covered with felt, of which likewise the doors are made. Some of these are easily taken to pieces or put together, and are carried on sumpter-cattle; while others are not capable of being taken to pieces, and are carried on carts. Wherever they go, whether to war, or only travelling to fresh pastures, these are carried with them. They have vast numbers of camels, oxen, sheep, and goats, and such prodigious multitudes of horses and mares, as are not to be found in all the rest of the world; but they have no swine. Their emperor, dukes, and other nobles, are extremely rich in gold and silver, silks, and gems. They eat of every thing that is eatable, and we have even seen them eat vermin. They drink milk in great quantity, and particularly prefer that of mares. But as in winter, none but the rich can have mare's milk, they make a drink of millet boiled in water; every one drinking one or two cups in the morning, and sometimes having no other food all day; but in the evening, every one has a small quantity of flesh, and they drink the broth in which it was boiled. In summer, when they have abundance of mare's milk, they eat little flesh, unless it is given them, or when they catch venison or birds.



Volume 1, Chapter 8, Section 5 -- Of their Good and Bad Customs.

[Illustration: Map of the Western part of Tartary & Adjacent Countries]

Some of their customs are commendable, and others execrable. They are more obedient to their lords than any other people, giving them vast reverence, and never deceiving them in word or action. They seldom quarrel; and brawls, wounds, or manslaughter hardly ever occur. Thieves and robbers are nowhere found, so that their houses and carts, in which all their treasure is kept, are never locked or barred. If any animal go astray, the finder either leaves it, or drives it to those who are appointed to seek for strays, and the owner gets it back without difficulty. They are very courteous, and though victuals are scarce among them, they communicate freely to each other. They are very patient under privations, and though they may have fasted for a day or two, will sing and make merry as if they were well satisfied. In journeying, they bear cold, or heat with great fortitude. They never fall out, and though often drunk, never quarrel in their cups. No one despises another, but every one assists his neighbour to the utmost. Their women are chaste, yet their conversation is frequently immodest. Towards other people they are exceedingly proud and overbearing, looking upon all other men with contempt, however noble. For we saw, in the emperor's court, the great duke of Russia, the son of the king of Georgia, and many sultans and other great men, who received no honour or respect; so that even the Tartars appointed to attend them, however low their condition, always went before them, and took the upper places, and even often obliged them to sit behind their backs. They are irritable and disdainful to other men, and beyond belief deceitful; speaking always fair at first, but afterwards stinging like scorpions. They are crafty and fraudulent, and cheat all men if they can. Whatever mischief they intend they carefully conceal, that no one may provide or find a remedy for their wickedness. They are filthy in their meat and drink, and in all their actions. Drunkenness is honourable among them; so that, when one has drank to excess and throws up, he begins again to drink. They are most importunate beggars, and covetous possessors, and most niggardly givers; and they consider the slaughter of other people as nothing.


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