I’ve been in Mongolia the past two weeks helping a friend write a book and seeing as much of this Central Asian nation as I possibly can. I say “central” because the ethos of this place is high steppe, not the coastlines of the Far East.
English-language media are almost non-existent here, but I have found one: Montsame, a government-run national news agency, that ran a tiny piece last week about letters between Mongol emperors and medieval popes during the 1200s.
Is that breaking news? Maybe not. But today we will focus on new information.
St. Francis had been dead about 20 years when all this started. Marco Polo was being born (in 1254). A photo I’ve included with this entry shows how folks (minus the 21st century interlopers) dressed during this time.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME — On July 9, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received official copies of letters of khans of the Ilkhanate to the Popes.
Copies of letters from Pope Innocent IV to Guyuk Khan (March 13, 1245), Pope Urban IV to Khulegu Khan May 23, 1263, Abaqa Khan to Pope Clement IV (summer of 1268), Pope Nicholas III to Abaqa Khan (April 1, 1278), a travel permit given to the envoys of Roman Catholic Church by Abaqa Khan, two letters from Pope Nicholas IV to Argun Khan (April 2, 1288) and the letter from Argun Khan to Pope Nicholas IV were received.
Never knew the 13th century had so much ecumenical activity, did you?
The letters were copied according to the official agreement with the Vatican Secret Archives established with the support of the officials of Mongolian Embassy in Italy headed by Ambassador of Mongolia to Italy Ts. Jambaldorj.
This is pretty stilted, but there’s a fascinating story behind it all.