TOP-10 travelers of the Middle Ages

Julian Hungarian

"Columbus of the East" is a Dominican monk who went in search of Great Hungary, the ancestral home of the Hungarians. By 895, the Hungarians had settled in Transylvania, but they still remembered the distant lands of their ancestors, the steppe regions east of the Urals. In 1235, the Hungarian prince Bela equipped four Dominican monks on a journey.

After a while, two Dominicans decided to go back, and the third companion of Julian died. The monk decided to continue on his way alone. As a result, having passed Constantinople, passing along the Kuban River, Julian reached Great Bulgaria, or Volga Bulgaria. The return path of the Dominican ran through the Mordovian lands, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir, Ryazan, Chernigov and Kiev. In 1237, Julian of Hungary set off on a second journey, but already on the way, reaching the eastern lands of Russia, he learned about the attack on Great Bulgaria by Mongol troops.


The description of the monk's travels became an important source in the study of the history of the Mongol invasion of the Volga Bulgaria.


Gunnbjorn Ulfson

You've probably heard of Eirik the Red, a Scandinavian navigator who first settled on the shores of Greenland. Thanks to this fact, many people mistakenly think that he was the discoverer of the giant ice island.

But no - before him there was Gunnbjorn Ulfson, who was heading from his native Norway to Iceland, whose ship was thrown to new shores by the strongest storm. Almost a century later, Eirik the Red followed in his footsteps — his path was not accidental, Eirik knew exactly where the island discovered by Ulfson was.


Rabban Saum

He is called the Chinese Marco Polo, was the only native of China who described his trip to Europe. As a Nestorian monk, Rabban embarked on a long and perilous pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 1278. Moving out of the Mongol capital of Khanbalik, that is, present-day Beijing, he crossed all of Asia, but already approaching Persia, he learned about the war in the Holy Land and changed his route. In Persia, Rabban Sauma was warmly received, and a few years later, at the request of Argun Khan, was equipped with a diplomatic mission to Rome.

First, he visited Constantinople and King Andronicus II, then he visited Rome, where he established international contact with the cardinals, and eventually ended up in France, at the court of King Philip the Fair, offering an alliance with Argun Khan. On the way back, the Chinese monk received an audience with the newly elected pope and met with the English king Edward I.


Guillaume de Rubuk

The Franciscan monk, after the end of the Seventh Crusade, was sent by King Louis of France to the southern steppes in order to establish diplomatic cooperation with the Mongols. From Jerusalem, Guillaume de Rubuc reached Constantinople, from there to Sudak and moved towards the Sea of ​​Azov.

As a result, Rubuk crossed the Volga, then the Ural River and eventually ended up in the capital of the Mongol Empire, the city of Karakorum. The great khan's audiences did not give any special diplomatic results: the khan invited the king of France to swear allegiance to the Mongols, but the time spent in overseas countries was not in vain.

Guillaume de Rubuc described his travels in detail and with his characteristic humor, telling the inhabitants of medieval Europe about the distant eastern peoples and their lives. He was especially impressed by the religious tolerance of the Mongols, unusual for Europe: in the city of Karakorum, pagan and Buddhist temples, a mosque, and a Christian Nestorian church peacefully coexisted.


Afanasy Nikitin

Tver merchant, in 1466, went on a commercial voyage, which turned into incredible adventures for him. Thanks to his adventurism, Afanasy Nikitin went down in history as one of the greatest travelers, leaving behind the heartfelt notes “Voyage across the Three Seas”.

As soon as they left their native Tver, the merchant ships of Afanasy Nikitin were plundered by the Astrakhan Tatars, but this did not stop the merchant, and he continued on his way - first reaching Derbent, Baku, then to Persia and from there to India. In his notes, he colorfully described the customs, manners, political and religious structure of the Indian lands. In 1472, Afanasy Nikitin went home, but never reached Tver, having died near Smolensk. Afanasy Nikitin became the first European to overcome the path to India.


Chen Chen and Li Da

Chinese travelers who made a dangerous expedition across Central Asia. Li Da was a seasoned traveler, but he did not take travel notes and therefore did not become as famous as Chen Chen. Two eunuchs set off on a diplomatic journey on behalf of Emperor Yong-le in 1414.

They had to cross the desert for 50 days and climb along the Tien Shan mountains. After spending 269 days on the road, they reached the city of Herat (which is located on the territory of modern Afghanistan), presented gifts to the Sultan and returned home.


Odoriko Pordenone

Franciscan monk who visited India, Sumatra and China in the early 14th century. Franciscan monks sought to increase their presence in the countries of East Asia, for which purpose missionaries were sent there. Odorico Pordenone, leaving his native monastery in Udine, proceeded first to Venice, then to Constantinople, and from there to Persia and India.

The Franciscan monk traveled extensively in India and China, visited the territory of modern Indonesia, reached the island of Java, lived in Beijing for several years, and then returned home, passing Lhasa. He died already in a monastery in Udine, but before his death he managed to dictate rich impressions of his travels. His memoirs formed the basis of the famous book "The Adventures of Sir John Mandeville", which was read in medieval Europe.


Naddod and Gardar

Vikings who discovered Iceland. Naddod landed off the coast of Iceland in the 9th century: he was on his way to the Faroe Islands, but a storm brought him to a new land. After examining the surroundings and not finding signs of human life there, he went home. The next to set foot on Iceland was the Swedish Viking Gardar, who circled the island along the coast on his ship. Naddod named the island "Snow Land", and Iceland (ie "land of ice") owes its present name to the third Viking, Floki Wilgerdarson, who reached this harsh and beautiful land.


Benjamin Tudelsky

Rabbi from the city of Tudela (Kingdom of Navarre, now the Spanish province of Navarre). The path of Benjamin of Tudel was not as grandiose as that of Afanasy Nikitin, but his notes became an invaluable source of information about the history and life of Jews in Byzantium. Benjamin of Tudelsky left his hometown for Spain in 1160, passed Barcelona, ​​traveled through southern France.

Then he arrived in Rome, from where, after a while, moved to Constantinople. From Byzantium, the rabbi proceeded to the Holy Land, and from there to Damascus and Baghdad, bypassed Arabia and Egypt.


Ibn Battuta

Battuta is famous not only for his wanderings. If his other "colleagues" set out on a journey with a trade, religious or diplomatic mission, then the muse of distant wanderings called the Berber traveler - he covered 120,700 km solely for the love of tourism. Ibn Battuta was born in 1304 in the Moroccan city of Tangier in the family of a sheikh.


The first point on the personal map of Ibn Battuta was Mecca, where he got, moving by land along the coast of Africa. Instead of returning home, he continued his journey through the Middle East and East Africa. Having reached Tanzania and finding himself without funds, he ventured on a trip to India: it was rumored that the Sultan in Delhi was incredibly generous. Rumors did not disappoint - the sultan supplied Ibn Battuta with generous gifts and sent him to China for diplomatic purposes.

However, on the way he was plundered and, fearing the Sultan's wrath and not daring to return to Delhi, Ibn Battuta was forced to hide in the Maldives, visiting Sri Lanka, Bengal and Sumatra along the way. He reached China only in 1345, from where he headed towards the house. But, of course, he could not sit at home - Ibn Battuta made a short trip to Spain (then the territory of modern Andalusia belonged to the Moors and was called Al-Andalus), then went to Mali, for which he needed to cross the Sahara, and in 1354 settled in the city Fez, where he dictated all the details of his incredible adventures.


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