Pope Innocent IV wanted to find out more about the Mongols. The church also had intentions of spreading Christianity to the East. The church, therefore, sent some emissaries for that task. When John of Plano Carpini got there, he found them to be a people who hold firmly to their customs and traditions. His visit also coincided with the election of Cuyuk as the next Emperor.
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The king was prepared to receive them, and they treated them with respect as compared to the other envoys. It could mean that they were willing to have a working relationship with the Pope. The warm reception by an incoming Emperor showed that they would have a fairly good start with the authorities. They also got to learn of the other rulers who had come or sent their envoys to pay their tribute.
Tartars and Their Leaders
In the first paragraph, del Carpini starts off by referring to the Tartars as “These men.” The statement seems to indicate that he had seen a unique habit in them. He wondered how they only held their leaders in high esteem and did not do the same for religious or other secular leaders. Later on, he states that Cuyuk had already made arrangements for them to have a special tent (del Carpini, 8).
The writer also sees the men as the most arrogant people he had ever met (del Carpini, 3. He says that they look down on all people (del Carpini, 3). In his writing, one does not see a situation where they looked down on others. What they were doing was to practice their customs that others did not understand. If they behaved differently, then they could not have allowed them to come for the ceremony. Other envoys could not also have had a chance to visit the territory.
The writer finds himself in a nation that holds dear its customs. Although they have strict laws to instill discipline, they do not believe in Christianity (del Carpini, 1). He could have been amazed at the way the people can have good attributes that align with Christian principles, yet they were not Christians.
Writer’s View on Tartars
The writer was a Franciscan monk. When he says that the people were not supposed to waste food because they considered it a great sin, he means it was evil. As he illustrates in writing, it seems that having a meal was a great blessing because there were times when they lacked food entirely. So no one was supposed to waste any food (del Carpini, 4).
He also reports the way he does because he comes from a distant nation. When he arrives among the Mongols, he finds a new way of life that he learns with excitement. He is trying to pass a message with clarity so that the Pope can understand how he feels about them. When they make a decision to bring Christianity to the region, they can know how to do it (del Carpini, 11).
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The Tartars are exciting people. They go about their lives practicing their traditions. They also have a life of their own and customs. The writer recounts what he sees in a manner that would help the reader to understand the Mongols better. In his account, he states word by word what he sees, what he hears, and what he thinks.
Apart from the political intentions, the writer goes ahead to describe their daily activities. He gives an account of what they eat and drink and what they value. From the writings, one can quickly learn their laws and know how they appreciate each other. The story also illustrates the great honor they bestow upon their leaders. It is, therefore, quite clear that in order to engage with the community, one must seek the leadership’s approval.