Mongols Called the Tartars: Outsiders Beware!
The Mongols, or as the Western Europeans called them, the Tartars, were a nomadic, militant people that dominated the battlefield during the pre-industrial time period (“Tartars” 7). Over the span of the 13th century, from the Central Asian steppes in the east to the Arabian lands to the west, the Tartars subdued the unfortunate inhabitants and expanded their empire vastly. To the fear and dismay of the Western Europeans, the Tartars desired to triumph over all of Eurasia; therefore, the Western Europeans were to be conquered next. News of the imminent Tartarian attack rapidly spread through West Europe like a wildfire, and the powerful Holy Roman Church contended to prepare a strategy against the onslaught. In the year 1245, Pope Innocent IV, the head of the Church at the time, sent a group of Friars led by Giovanni da Pian del Carpini to gather some knowledge about the Tartars. It was a dreaded mission, one that would probably end in a terrible death, since the Tartars were a cruel people towards outsiders. Nevertheless, Carpini valiantly ventured into the unknown darkness, and returned to his homeland with valuable information about the Tartars. Through the insight he gained during his travels, he wrote his account of the Tartars in a report called the “Historia Mongalorum” (“Tartars” 19), which is known today as “The Story of the Mongols Whom We Call the Tartars”.
This essay will first describe and analyze the feature of Tartarian society that Carpini was seemingly most interested in. Secondly, it will logically create conclusions about what Carpini’s society was probably like, based on his report, while investigating whether Carpini really understood the Tartars or not. Third...
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