Start page

Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

Personal site



Nicholas Zharkikh

Written whole book on Rubruk, I will briefly summarize those new elements of knowledge which it contain. The first and most important conclusion – that no revolution in our views on Rubruk is necessary, the existing perception of him generally true. At the same time:

1. Drawn a broad historical background, from which follows the features of Rubruk's mission compared to other Catholic embassies to the Mongols.

2. Filed new curriculum features:

  • Rubruk's acquaintance with astronomy;
  • Rubruk's acquaintance with medicine;
  • Rubruk's partisipation in the Egyptian campaign of 1249;
  • Rubruk's acquaintance with Roger Bacon in 1257..1265's;

3. Detected written sources of Rubruk's work:

  • found all biblical quotations (they found 13). There are other cases cited (not defined) texts of religious content;
  • 6 times mentioned Isidore of Seville; full amount of debt from his work can not yet be set – it does take a full comparison of texts;
  • one can not yet determine whether the quotations from Roman authors (Solin, Virgil) made directly or through Isidore's work;
  • found that Rubruk used the "Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius";
  • the "Akatron's prophecy" cited by Rubruk analysed and found that this work was written in Armenia in 1230..1250-s;
  • found that Rubruk used a written report of the Hungarian Dominicans Julian from a journey to Bashkortostan in 1236;

4. Compiled chronological table of all the instructions and all given the translation in the days and months; the number of dates clarified.

5. Analyzed the measures used by Rubruk. The most important of these was the "day of the way", which ranges from 15 to 52 km.

6. Analyzed French realities that Rubruk recalled to explain what he saw.

7. Analyzed Rubruk's news about Rus' and the Russians captured in Mongolia. The number of prisoners clearly decreases in the direction from west to east.

8. Reviewed in detail about the Rubruk's news on Sudak, found that Sudak at that time had no fortifications and did not play the role of Western European trade.

9. Historical information in a Rubruk's work clearly fall into three groups:

  • information from biblical and ancient times;
  • information from the time of early Christianity. They have a few (4 episodes), but all surprisingly accurate;
  • information from recent history and the present (the end of 12 – 1 half of 13th century)
  • constructed diagram of coexistence of historical figures, which shows that the oldest data mentioned by Rubruk were 1170-ies;
  • a new interpretation provided: Con-ham – a Yelü Zhilugu (1177 – 1211) and King John – Kuchluk (1211 – 1218);
  • dated and, if necessary, commented (with some refinements) all historical news in Rubruk;

10. Geographic information by Rubruk quite abundant, he mentions more than 300 place names.

  • traced in detail the route of Rubruk's trip, tentatively set intermediate points and speed in some areas;
  • suggested that the Rubruk's way in Kazakhstan passed through the spine Upytau;
  • found that a large river, which disappears in the sand – it is not Talas, as previously thought, but Chu;
  • suggested localization of Bolat – modern Axi gold fields in the far west of China;
  • found that a large city Cailac is Ghulja (modern Yining) in the far west of China, rejected previously proposed variant of Rubruk's route north of the Dzungarian Alatau and the proposed new southern route;
  • supposedly found a place where Rubruk met Möngke's court (325 km south of modern Ulan Bator);
  • proposed permutation of two paragraphs in description so that travel along the river Aras acquires harmony and consistency;
  • found that Rubruk visited the city of Ani in Armenia;
  • suggested that the town Marsengen in Rubruk – is modern Kağızman and Camath – modern Kemah (Turkey);
  • based on these refinements designed maps of Rubruk's journey.

11. Rubruk's ethnographic observation concerning 54 nations, he recalled six religious systems, 10 different languages, 8 systems of writing. Systematization of data on the basis of belonging to the world's religions shows the following order (from own to others): Christians – Nestorians – Muslims – Buddhists – Mongols.

12. Given a reasoned criticism of the fantastic concept of "yellow crusade" of Mongols in Near East.