Giovanni de' Marignolli
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Born at Florence about 1290; place and date of death unknown. When quite a youth he received the Franciscan habit at the convent of Santa Croce, Florence; later on, as he himself tells us, he held the chair of theology at the University of Bologna. Nothing more is known of his religious life until Benedict XII sent him with other Franciscans on a mission to the Emperor of China, as a result of the Chinese embassy which arrived at Avignon in 1338. Marignolli became one of the greatest travellers in Asia, and has left an account of his itinerary much studied today by geographers of the extreme East. In Dec., 1338, he left Avignon, arriving at Naples, on 10 Feb., 1339, and on 1 May reached the Court of Andronicus III at Constantinople, where he treated in vain with the clergy concerning the reunion with Rome. From there he passed to the Crimea and thence to Sarai, carrying papal letters to Usbek, Khan of Kiptchak, who sent an escort with him as far as Armalec, where he arrived in the winter of 1340. Towards the end of 1341 he left Armalec and crossed the desert of Gobi to Peking, where he was received with great honours at the Chinese Court. After three years at Peking he travelled through the greater part of southern China as far as Columbum (Quilon) and Cape Comorin. He visited Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, and other islands of the Indian Ocean, and then returned to the Coromandel Coast. There he embarked for Malabar, and thence took the route to Europe by the Persian Gulf, Ormuz, Gezd, Ispahan, and then by Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, arriving at Naples in 1353. From there he went to Florence and arrived at Avignon after fifteen years' absence. In March, 1354, the pope named him Bishop of Bisignano; and in 1356 Florence sent him as papal legate to Avignon. In 1357 Emperor Charles IV called him to be his councillor with the office also of court historian. Some years afterwards he compiled his "Chronicon Bohemiæ", in which he described his eastern travels. The work was edited by Dobner in "Monumenta historica Bohemiæ" (Prague, 1768).
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