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Giovanni da Pianô Carpine

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Born at Pian di Carpine (now called della Magione), near Perugia, Umbria, 1182; died probably in 1252. Having entered the Franciscan Order he was a companion of Cæsar of Spires, the leader of the second mission of the Franciscans to Germany in 1221. He took a leading part in founding various new establishments of the order, and was several times provincial in Saxony and once in Spain. In 1245 Innocent IV, in compliance with the resolutions passed at the first council of Lyons, entrusted Carpine with an embassy to the princes and people of Mongolia or Tatary with a view to checking the invasions of these formidable hordes and eventually effecting their conversion. Carpine set out early in 1246; among his companions were Brothers Stephen of Bohemia and Benedict of Poland, who were to act as interpreters. They were hospitably entertained by Duke Vasilico in Russia, where they read the pope's letters to the assembled schismatic bishops, leaving them favourably disposed towards reunion. They reached Kanieff, a town on the Tatar frontier, early in February. The Tatar officials referred them to Corenza, commander of the advance guards, who in his turn directed them to Batu, Khan of Kipchak etc., then encamped on the banks of the Volga. Batu commissioned two soldiers to escort the papal envoys to Karâkorum, the residence of the Great Khan. They reached their destination in the middle of July after a journey of indescribable hardships. The death of the Great Khan Okkodai made it necessary to defer negotiations till the end of August when Kuyuk, his successor, ascended the throne. After much delay Kuyuk finally demanded a written statement of the pope's propositions. His letter in reply is still preserved. Its tone is dignified and not unfriendly, but independent and arrogant. In it he says in substance : "If you desire peace, come before me! We see no reason why we should embrace the Christian religion. We have chastised the Christian nations because they disobeyed the commandments of God and Jenghiz Khan. The power of God is manifestly with us." The superscription reads; "Kuyuk, by the power of God, Khan and Emperor of all men — to the Great Pope !" Carpine procured a translation of the letter in Arabic and Latin. On their homeward journey the envoys halted at the former stations, arriving at Kieff (Russia) in June, 1247. They were enthusiastically received everywhere, especially by the Dukes Visilico and Daniel, his brother, Carpine's proposals for reunion had been accepted in the meantime, and special envoys were to accompany him to the papal Court. From a political and religious aspect the mission to Tatary proved successful only in a remote sense, but the ambassadors brought with them invaluable information regarding the countries and peoples of the Far East. Carpine's written account, the first of its kind and remarkable for its accuracy, was exhaustively drawn upon by such writers as Cantù and Huc ("Travels in Tatary, Thibet and China ", 2 vols., 1852). It has been published by d'Azevac: "Jean de Plan de Carpin, Relation des Mongols ou Tartares" in "Recueil de voyages", IV (Paris, 1839), and later by Külb: "Geschichte der Missionsreisen nach der Mongolei", I (Ratisbon, 1860), 1-129. Salimbene, who met Carpine in France, found him "a pleasant man, of lively wit, eloquent, well-instructed, and skilful in many things". Innocent IV bestowed upon him every mark of esteem and affection. Having been sent as papal legate to St. Louis, King of France, Carpine was shortly afterwards named Archbishop of Antivari in Dalmatia.

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