You are probably familiar with Marco Polo’s famous book about his time in the Mongol Empire. But have you ever heard of Polo’s contemporary, Simon of Saint-Quentin, or his book – History of the Tartars (Historia Tartarorum)?
It’s available in English for the first time, right here: http://www.simonofsaintquentin.org
Simon was one of the very first ambassadors of the pope to deliver a message to the Mongols in 1247. The embassy proceeded so badly that it almost cost the papal representatives their lives, with Simon’s group of Dominican friars refusing to bow down to the khan’s own representative. The result was that Simon wrote an admittedly very biased and very hostile account of his hosts. The book itself is lost but chapters of it survived in medieval encyclopedia. Yet these were never translated into English until some CEU medieval studies folk got together and said, “Why not?”
Keeping with the spirit of our times, the translation is on a website, available freely to the public. For one thing, it can reach more interested people that way. But another great thing about websites over printed books is that authors can always go back, fix, and update it if need be.
Thus, we welcome you, our dear listeners at CEU Medieval Radio, whose imaginations wander over medieval byways, to accompany Simon and hear his many grievances about the Mongols – while taking his depiction of his nomadic foes with a grain of salt of course.