Rabban Sauma 

Rabban Bar Sauma (c. 1220 -1294) is the Marco Polo of the East, and yet is relatively unknown. He was a Turkic/Mongol monk, turned diplomat of the Nestorian Christian faith. He is known for embarking on a pilgrimage from Mongol-China to Jerusalem with one of his students, Rabban Markos. Due to the military unrest along the way, they never reached their destination, but instead spent many years in Mongol-controlled Baghdad. Markos was eventually chosen as Nestorian Patriarch, and later suggested his teacher, Rabban Bar Sauma, very sent on another mission, as Mongol ambassador to Europe. The elderly monk met with many of the European monarchs, as well as the Pope, in attempts to arrange a Franco-Mongol alliance. The mission bore no fruit, but in his later life in Baghdad, Rabban Bar Sauma documented his lifetime of travel. His written account of his journey is of unique interest to modern historians, as it gives a picture of medieval Europe at the close of the Crusading period, painted by a keenly intelligent, broad-minded and statesman like observer. His travels occurred prior to the return of Marco Polo to Europe, and his writings gave a reverse viewpoint of the East, looking to the West.


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