William of Ruisbroek (Ruysbroeck)
WILLIAM OF RUISBROEK (RUYSBROECK)
(Ruysbroeck), Franciscan pioneer missionary and diplomat; fl. mid–13th century. Having heard rumors that Sartach, a Mongol ruler in the Volga region, was a Christian, William set out from Constantinople in 1253, accompanied by Bartholomew of Cremona, a fellow Franciscan, and three or four others, intending to establish a mission in Sartach's kingdom. When he had presented his credentials, including a letter from King louis ix of France, at Sartach's court (July 21, 1253), he was obliged to proceed first to the headquarters of Batu, Sartach's father, and thence, accompanied only by Bartholomew, two Nestorian priests, and a guide, to the court of the great Khan Mangu at Karakoram (December 1253–January 1254). At Karakoram William found a colony of Europeans, mostly captives and artisans, that included the Parisian goldsmith William Boucher and his wife, and many Hungarians, as well as Russians, Alans, Georgians, and Armenians. Although his vehemence once disturbed the Khan, the friar was permitted to preach occasionally and he baptized some 60 persons. William left in August 1254, and in May 1255 he reached Acre, whence he sent his report to King Louis. He was a careful observer of persons and places, and his detailed account of his travels added much to Europe's knowledge of Asia and contained suggestions for further missionary endeavor.
Bibliography: The Journey of William of Rubruck …, ed. w. w. rockhill (London 1900). Sinica franciscana, ed. a. van den wyngaert, 5 v. (Quaracchi–Florence 1929–54) v.1. c. dawson, ed., The Mongol Mission (New York 1955). c. schollmeyer, "Die Missionsfahrt Bruder Wilhelms von Rubruk," Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft und Religionswissenschaft 40 (1956) 200–205.
[m. w. baldwin]