John da Pian del Carpine
JOHN DA PIAN DEL CARPINE
Better known as John of Plano Carpini, the first European to give detailed information on the Mongols; b. probably Piano della Maggione (formerly Pian di Carpini), near Perugia, c. 1180; d. probably Italy, Aug. 1, 1252. An early companion of St. Francis, John became a Franciscan warden in Saxony in 1222, and provincial of Germany in 1228. On April 16, 1245, he left Lyons as head of one of the three embassies sent by Innocent IV to contact the Mongols and deliver to them the letters Dei Patris immensa and Cum non solum. His mission successfully accomplished, John wrote a voluminous report—Istoria Mongalorum quos nos Tartaros appellamus. The first part of this work is a masterly description of the country of the Mongols, the customs of the inhabitants, their character, and their history. It is a sober, objective, concise report, a masterpiece of its kind. The second part of the Istoria is a short record of the journey to Mongolia undertaken in the company of benedict the pole. In Mongolia John assisted at the enthronement of the Great Khan Güyük (Aug. 24, 1246), by whom he was received on several occasions. He left the Khan's court on November 13, and almost six months later he reached the Khan's uncle Batu, in the region of the Volga. Via Kiev and Hungary he returned to Lyons in November 1247. Soon afterward John was installed as archbishop of Bar (Antivari). The journey of this sexagenarian monk to the Mongols ranks among the finest journeys of exploration; his report is one of the best sources on the Mongols of the 13th century.
Bibliography: f. sorelli, "Per Regioni Diverse: Fra Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, " in I Compagni di Francesco e la Prima Generazione Minoritica (Spoleto 1992), 259–83. p. daffina, Giovanni di Pian di Carpine (Spoleto 1989), bibliography.