Essay on Marco Polo and William of Rubruck

Essay on Marco Polo and William of Rubruck

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The wide spread writings of Marco Polo and William of Rubruck provide an early account of world travel during the 13th Century. These dual accounts give readers a different perspective of the Mongol’s way of life, their social hierarchy, and their method of commerce. The Mongols, whether beheld as barbaric conquerors or as an Empire for its multiplicity, were transcribed in the writings of Polo and Rubruck. Details are important to establish a sense of place and their surrounding peoples as well as a personal view of foreign people. Polo’s lack of makes Rubruck’s account equally more reliable with his daily interactions with the social life and his descriptive nature of his trips.
William of Rubruck, who was a Franciscan Monk, took upon a mission in hopes for promoting the conversion of Christianity to the Mongol peoples. Though his primary focus was the Nestorian Christians and their practices, he as well provides a unique portrayal with helpful information about the Mongol customs, their food and how they loved to drink, to religious practices and their surrounding daily life. His careful account recorded intimate encounters that provide readers how the Mongolian people reacted and interacted with European foreigners. For example we know some of the customs of the Nestorian Christians from Rubruck’s account, “ they prostrated themselves, with their foreheads touching the ground in the Nestorian fashion, and next touched all the images with the right hand, always kissing the hand after they had done so; and then they preferred the right hand to all those who stood round about in the church,” (Rubruck 189). From this example Rubruck’s provides a personal account that there were some Christians in Mongolia and how ...


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...er knowledge as Rubruck when describing the women and how they were supposed to act, women were to act with strict decorum and if they do go out to places, it must be to a respectable one such as a temple with the company of there mother’s.
What these two travelers provide is unique information through foreign eyes. Though Rubruck provides a more reliable, hands on experience through his writings, his records of the daily interactions from the many people he’d encountered as well as their strange customs. Polo lacks a true form of travel writings because he is on the outside, observing as he passes by, only proving information that he has learn from someone else, such as the Queen of Bayan. Even though they speak of Mongol life, it is only in Rubruck’s account where we get a true sense of what people were really like instead of what Polo presented them to be.

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