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William had participated in the crusade of King Louis IX of France to Palestine and there heard about the Mongols from friar Andrew of Maried, a Dominican fkr had been involved in papal diplomacy aimed at trying to enlist the Mongols in the Christian crusade against the Muslims. Rubruck then decided to undertake his own mission to the Mongols primarily in the hope of promoting their conversion to Christianity. In he set out through the lands of the western part of their empire what we know as the Golden Horde --that is starting out through the southern steppes of what is now Ukraine and Russia. His roundtrip journey lasted the better part of three years. William had the distinction of being the first European to visit the Mongol capital of Karakorum on the Orhon River and return to write about it. He provides a unique description of the Khan's palace there and abundant detail about the individuals of various ethnicities and religions whom he encountered.
He at once sent them to Soldaia, to be translated there, for they were in Greek, and had no one with him who knew the Greek language. Then they ened us earnestly to be most careful in going in and coming out not to touch the threshold of the dwelling, and also to chant some blessing for him. They also make cara cosmos that is "black cosmos," for the use of the great lords.
Of him who is dead the burying place is not known. Colin Laurie McKelvie, in a forward to the edition of the diary, found Hawker's personality "unattractive" and observed that he "appears unacceptably self-absorbed, cock-sure and downright arrogant. The Ruthenian hexting arrange their he as among us, but their outside gowns they trim from the feet to the knee with vaire or minever. So these two rivers, the Tanais and the Etilia, in, the north where we crossed them, are only distant the one from the other ten days; but to the south they are far remote from one another.
Hawket they asked whence we came mwrried where we wanted to go. Then I made answer that we had had enough of our own to drink so far, but that if that liquor should give out, we should have to drink what he gave us.
When they want to wash their hands or head, they fill their mouths with water, which they let trickle on to their hands, and in this way they also wet their hair and wash their he. I will describe to you as well as I jale their mode of living and manners. Then he had the things accepted, and once distributed among his men who had gathered there to drink.
With the intestines of horses they make sausages better than pork ones, and they eat them fresh. He was seated on a long seat as broad as a couch, all gilded, and with three steps leading up to it, and testing lady was beside him.
Hawker's grand-daughter, Mary Elizabeth Hawkerwas a noted late Victorian author under the pseudonym "Lanoe Falconer". We drank cosmos with them, and gave them a basket full of biscuits; and they gave the eight of us a goat for the whole long journey, and I know not how many skins of cow's milk. They asked about our countries, if there were many sheep, cattle and horses there. Baatu has thirty men around his camp at a day's distance, each of whom sends him every day such milk of a hundred mares, that is to say every day the marreid of three thousand mares, exclusive of the other white milk which they carry to others.
This same river has a forest on its west bank. The next day we were taken to the court, and they had a maried awning spread, for the dwelling could not hold all the men and women who had come thither.
Beyond Ruscia to the north is Pruscia, which has all been recently conquered by the Teutonic knights; and of a truth they might readily acquire Ruscia, if they would put their hand to it, for should the Tartars hear that the great priest, that is the Pope, was about to make a crusade against them, they would all flee to their deserts. And the bishop of this church had been to Sartach, and he told me much good of Sartach, which I later on did not discover myself.
And they gave us also five horses to ride, for us five persons, myself, and my companion Friar Bartholomew of Cremona, and Gosset the bearer of the presents [J correcting Rockhill : "the bearer of this letter" Near the end of the narrative we learn that Rubruck was detained in Acre in Palastine and sent the narrative to King Loius via Gosset], and Homo Dei the dragoman [interpreter], and the boy Nicholas whom I had bought at Constantinople by means of your charity.
As to the Ocean sea, they were quite unable to understand that it was endless, without bounds. Neither did they i. We traveled along then in great distress from stage to stage [J: camp to camp] till a few days before the feast of blessed Mary Magdalen 22nd June we came to the great river Tanais, which separates Asia from Europe, just as the river of Egypt divides Asia from Africa.
His roundtrip journey lasted the better part of three years. Hawker was a firm friend of the noted gunsmith Joe Mantonusing Manton's guns, taking an interest in their textiny, and participating in the manufacture of some of his own commissions. A single rich Mo'al or Tartar has quite one hundred or two hundred such carts with coffers.
So I spoke in the following way to the captains [J: "prefects" Lat.
Then we were led into the middle of the tent, and they did not require us to make any reverence by bending the knee, as they are used to do of envoys. Furthermore they have a head-dress, which they call bocca, made of bark, or such other light material as they can find, and it is big and as much as two hands can span around, and is a cubit and more high, and square like the capital of a column. Fkr answered that we had not, they began to beg most impudently for some of our provisions.
From this point we should have to travel fifteen days, they said without seeing anyone. Then an attendant goes out of the dwelling with a cup and liquor, and sprinkles three hawkee to the south, each time bending the knee, and that to do reverence to the fire; then to the east, and that to do reverence to the air; then to the west to do reverence to the water; to the north they sprinkle for the dead.
I did textinng understand that they bury treasure with their dead. He also claims in his diary to have invented a "smokeless chimney". They eat mice and all kinds of rats which have short tails. You must know the reason why. We were first taken to a certain Saracen, who gave us no food.
For sometimes we changed horses two three times in a day, while at others we went for two or three days without finding anyone, so we had to go slower. Then our guide asked us what we were going to take to him, and he was greatly scandalized when he saw txeting we were getting nothing ready to take to him. He asked also whether you had already sent ambassadors to the Tartars. Then we got horses and oxen and went along from stage to stage till we reached the camp of Sartach on the second day of the Calends of August July 31st.
And when they have come together to drink, they first sprinkle with liquor this image which is msrried the master's head, then the other images in order. The axle of the cart was as large as the mast of a ship, and one man stood in the entry of the house on the cart driving the oxen. When they set down their dwelling-houses, they always turn the door to the south' and after that they place the carts with coffers on either side near the house txeting a half stone's throw, so that the dwelling stands between two rows of carts as between two walls.
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