During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries religious zeal nourished by the mendicants’ sense of purpose motivated Dominican and Franciscan friars to venture far beyond Europe’s cultural frontiers to spread their Christian faith into the farthest reaches of Asia. Their incredible journeys were reminiscent of heroic missionary ventures in earlier eras and far more exotic than evangelization during the tenth through twelfth centuries, when the western church Christianized Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. This new mission effort was stimulated by a variety of factors and facilitated by the establishment of the Mongol Empire, and, as the fourteenth century dawned, missionaries entertained fervent but vain hopes of success within khanates in China, Central Asia, Persia and Kipchak. The reports these missionaries sent back to Europe have fascinated successive generations of historians who analyzed their travels and struggled to understand their motives and aspirations. The essays selected for this volume, drawn from a range of twentieth-century historians and contextualized in the introduction, provide a comprehensive overview of missionary efforts in Asia, and of the developments in the secular world that both made them possible and encouraged the missionaries’ hopes for success. Three of the studies have been translated from French specially for publication in this volume.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Bibliography; Part I The Crusade and The Mission: The First Crusade and the conversion of the 'pagans', Jean Flori; The Latin Church and the Crusader states, Bernard Hamilton; Missionaries and Crusaders, 1095-1274: opponents or allies?, Elizabeth Siberry; Crusade and conversion after the Fourth Lateran Council (1215): Oliver of Paderborn's and James of Vitry's missions to the Muslims reconsidered, Jessalynn Lea Bird. Part II Discovering Asia: Eastern missions of the Hungarian Dominicans in the first half of the 13th century, Mary Dienes; Simon of Saint-Quentin and the Dominican mission to the Mongol Baiju: a reappraisal, Gregory G. Guzman; Western views of the origin of the ’Tartars’: an example of the influence of myth in the second half of the 13th century, Charles W. Connell; The opening of the land routes to Cathay, Eileen Power; Italian merchants in the Mongol empire, Luciano Petech; Brother Jordan of Sévérac, Arthur C. Moule. Part III The Missions Within the Mongol Empire: The Yangchow Latin tombstone as a landmark of medieval Christianity in China, Francis A. Rouleau; The conversion of the Alani by the Franciscan missionaries in China in the 14th century, Frank W. Ilké; The Il-khans of Persia and the princes of Europe, John Andrew Boyle; An unknown letter of Hulagu, Il-Khan of Persia, to King Louis IX of France, Paul Meyvaert; Christian wives of Mongol Khans: Tartar queens and missionary expectations in Asia, James D. Ryan; The Mongols and the faith of the conquered, Peter Jackson; The missions to the north of the Black Sea (13th-15th centuries), Jean Richard; Index.
James D. Ryan is Professor emeritus, City University of New York, USA.