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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Nicholas Zharkikh

Political results of the Rubruk's journey were extremely disappointing. The Mongols not only had no intention to accept Christianity from the hands of Roman priests, but proudly declared: "We are not Christians but Mongols". They don't be in a hurry to fall at the feet of the pope, but on the contrary, they explicitly demanded obedience from Catholic rulers. There was no any hope to enlighten them by the cross, and Rubruk advised to rely more on "enlighten by sword":

Of a truth, if it were allowed me, I would, to the utmost of my power, preach throughout the world war against them (Ch. 31).

For should the Tartars hear that the great priest, that is the Pope, was about to make a crusade against them, they would all flee to their deserts (Chapter 15).

The Mongols, for their part well known that Catholics have to fight them wherever their troops will met. The Mongols understood that due to the exclusivity of their own religion, political allies on confessional principle are impossible for them, and always relied solely on their own weapon.

How then to assess the concept of "yellow crusade"? Vigorous advocate of it was Lev Gumilev. Followed by him it was popularized by the Eurasians of different generations of weapons.

This concept is in the following theses:

1. Mongolian wars were planned by Christians-Nestorians, Mongolian troops consisted mainly (or largely) with the same Christian Nestorians.

2. Hulagu's campaign in Iran had a special purpose – to destroy the Islamic state and apply the hand of brotherly help of the Christian Crusaders in Palestine.

3. This campaign in the event of its success opened the prospect of formation of a unified Christian state, which would have stretched from the Atlantic Ocean up to the Pacific, and provide defenseless expansion of Catholicism – besides the Pacific Ocean.

4. The Mongols of the 13th century were essentially peace-loving people, and all their wars were the cause of bad neighbors, who did not give the Mongols safely feed their sheep in the spaces between the Altai and Khingan.

The comparison of this concept with Rubruk's data allow us to evaluate it as a fiction without the slightest traits of scholarship. From the Rubruk's book implies the following:

1. The political leadership of the Mongolian Empire was the prerogative (exclusive right) of princes-Chingizides led by Khan. None of them was not just Christian, but even Nestorian – they all professed his own, Mongolian genotheistic faith.

2. Talking about the impact of Nestorians in Mongolian politics have been exaggerated and distorted echo of Nestorians' participation in drinking koumiss at the court. Influence of Nestorians in public affairs was not significant, it can be seen from the fact that the Mongols for their state needs adopted Uighur writing, and not Nestorian (Syrian).

3. The number of Nestorians in Mongolia was not great, and no significant numerical people was not entirely Nestorian. So many soldiers they could not expose.

4. Nestorians do not consider themselves Christians, and none of the Christians did not consider them members of the Christian community.

5. Hulagu's campaign was no more like "Crusade" than campaign of Jebe in 1220 – 1224 or Batu in 1236 – 1242. We do not know any case, where the Mongols and their opponents began to cuddle on the battlefield and say: "We are brothers, Christians! We have one faith". In reality, the Mongols – as well as Rubruk – had no hopes on the miraculous power of the cross, and more – on the miraculous power of the sword.

6. Crusaders in Palestine, seeing such unwanted helpers, reasoned they can out of the Mamluk frying pan fall into the Mongol fire, and don't hurry to kiss slipper of Nestorians Patriarch of Baghdad. There was no ground for political union of Catholics with Mongols.

7. The idea of Mongols policy in the 13th century was to conduct offensive (aggressive) war on all fronts – until this attack is not faced with strong resistance. Exploration fight, held by Batu 1241 – 1242's in Poland, Czechia and Hungary showed that resistance resources of Western Europe are very large and winning on this front does not justify the effort applied. Similarly, a reconnaissance campaign of Kitbuqa in Palestine in 1260 showed that Mamluk not give themselves easily kill.

As for bad neighbors, neither Croatian bans or Hungarian kings, nor the Armenian kings or the Caliph of Baghdad, nor Turkish sultan or Galician Prince Daniel Romanovich could threaten vital centers of the Mongols, for the simple reason that they could not reach these centers (in Mongolia). As the Mongols managed to throw a large army through the empty steppes of the Gobi, Xinjiang and Kazakhstan – remains secret (know-how) of Mongolian generals. No other commander then this ability not proved.

Rubruk's journey via Transcaucasia and Asia Minor (including visits in the capitals of Rum sultanate and Cilician Kingdom) gave him material to plan a new crusade. Presentation of the plan is dedicated to all the latest, the 53rd chapter of book. To operate aggressive war, according to Rubruk, was easy:

Beyond Ruscia to the north is Pruscia, which has all been recently conquered by the Teutonic knights; and of a truth they might readily acquire Ruscia, if they would put their hand to it (Chapter 31).

Remembering that the king gave an honest Christian word not to fight against Egypt (in fact, in areas where he could meet the Mamluks), Rubruk offered to the King to raise a new crusade to help the Latin Empire in Constantinople (as we recall, such plan already existed in 1249). The campaign had to be directed against "schismatics" – Bulgarian kingdom and the Nicene Empire. After their conquest ought to win Rum sultanate and "help" (conquer?) Cilician Armenia.

Pope at the time (in 1250's) from time to time called for crusades against "tatars and schismatics", or against "schismatics and Tatars". Significant difference – for each administrator knows: what is after "and" never be completed. Rubruk better than anyone in Europe knew that the campaign against the Tatars – is an empty phrase, which is impossible for purely geographical reasons, but schismatics – is more realistic.

Daniel of Galicia understood this too. For some time he agitated pope for such a campaign. He realized that crusaders still can not reach Tatars and will do them nothing, but they can capture his principality as Constantinople in 1204. Fortunately for Daniel, such a campaign was never started, and Roman's dynasty did not share the fate of dynasty of Angels.

Rubruk's letter to the King was completed and sent, and it stopped our news about the author. Last pertinent fact from his biography – stay in the Franciscan Monastery in Acre (1255). Later Rubruk again returned to France and, perhaps, again won a place at the court of King.

The English scholar Roger Bacon (ca. 1214 – ca. 1292) in his "Opus Majus" wrote that he met Rubruk in Paris, carefully reviewed the Rubruk's book and used data from it for Asian geography in his work.

When could this be?

Bacon, as well as Rubruk belonged to the Franciscan Order. In his biography was a period (1257 – 1265 years), when General Order forbade him to teach at Oxford and put him under surveillance to the Monastery in Paris. If so, then the better occasion to make acquaintance with Rubruk could not be – because they met every day for common prayer and meals.

In 1265 the new Pope Clement 4 ordered the release Bacon, and in 1267 he sent his «Opus Majus» to Pope. Consequently, his familiarity with Rubruk happened before 1267 (and most likely in 1257 – 1265).

Where and when Rubruk died and was buried – no instructions are not preserved, and the assumptions of researchers, as we saw above, is very controversial. We can say that this remains unknown.

In the village Rubruk in France is now the museum of greatest native of this village. And this museum enjoyed visiting delegation from Mongolia. Plans of crusades deposited in the archives, and the name of the traveler and writer promotes understanding of people from all over the globe.