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Where he is discussing that which he actually saw, Friar John's account ("History of the Mongols"/Historia Mongalorum) is "the first direct authentic description of Asia" (Olschki) and one of the most perceptive and detailed accounts we have of the Mongols in the thirteenth century.Considering his European Christian perspective, it is surprisingly unbiased. William (Guillaume/Willem) of Rubruck (Ruysbroeck). Franciscan missionary from Flanders who traveled through the Black Sea and the territories of the Golden Horde to the court of the Great Khan Mngke at Karakorum.
Traveled through the dominions of Khan Batu (ruler of the "Golden Horde") to the vicinity of Karakorum, where they witnessed the proclamation of Gyg as the new Great Khan.
In certain cases, we will include descriptive accounts of the Silk Road even if the authors or compilers may not actually themselves have traveled in the areas described.
Well-known travelers such as Marco Polo or Ibn Battuta often describe places we know they did not visit.
This account is not to be confused with a descriptive narrative of the Near East written by Hayton's nephew of the same name. Its geographical information is inferior to that of Ch'ang Ch'un. Our knowledge of their travel is from Marco's book. A Venetian, Marco dictated his account to a professional writer of romances while imprisoned by the Genoese on his return.
It is important to remember he was not keeping a diary.
Once we are somewhat farther along in our coverage, we will post a list of additional individuals whom we intend to include; at that point we will be pleased to receive suggestions about significant omissions.
We have chosen primarily travelers who left accounts based on their travels and whose accounts are generally considered to provide valuable historical and cultural information.
Our main concern is with overland travel, although in some instances we include accounts about the sea routes around south Asia to the Middle East.
Although we are starting with "early" travelers, the list eventually will include important explorer/travelers from modern times (down into the twentieth century).
Although we might not think of him as a traveler, an individual such as Ibn Khurdadbeh (who was "postmaster general" of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 10th century) deserves to be included here as well, since he tapped into the expertise of individuals who had in fact traveled on the routes he describes.
We include travelers whose accounts are available in Western languages.
On his recovery he became a monk and lived in Gandhara and Kashmir, not returning to China until 790 Read the bibliography. Only an abridged version of his narrative survives, known especially from Yaqut's geographical dictionary. Although the account we have is not the original report, it has great value, since Ibn Fadlan "possessed extraordinary powers of observation." (Canard). Traveled with Genghis Khan and his army to Central Asia in 1219. A Dominican and papal envoy to the Mongols, traveled from the Holy Land to vicinity of Tabriz (N. On the second, accompanied by several others including his brother William, went much farther (his route is not well documented) to the inner Asian dominions of the Mongols, where he arrived during the regency of Oghul Qaimish, the widow of Khan Gyg. Bretschneider indicates the "narrative is of little importance." Read the bibliography. The route went through the Altai and Tienshan mountains, the southern parts of today's Kazakhstan, through Kyrgyzstan, to Samarkand and then down into NE Iran and Afghanistan.