Rabban Bar Sawma

Rabban Bar Sawma was a Uyghur (or possibly Ongud) monk of the Nestorian Church of the East at the time of the Yuan Dynasty established by Kublai Khan. He was born near Zhongdu (Beijing).   Bar Sawma was fluent in Chinese, Turkic and Persian, and could read Syraic. He made two journeys to the West. The first was earlier than Marco Polo's journey to the East.   He attempted a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the 1260s. He reached the Kingdom of Georgia, where he was warned the route to Jerusalem was too dangerous. He turned back to the Mongol Ilkhanate, where he remained. His companion on this journey was his young student Rabban Markos, later Patriarch of the Church of the East.   His second journey, in 1287, saw him head a diplomatic mission to Europe from the Il-khanate Arghun.. Arghun proposed a military alliance with the West against Egypt. He travelled overland to Armenia, then by boat to Constantinople. He met Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos and visited Hagia Sophia.   He then travelled by ship to Rome. He witnesses Mount Etna erupting on 18 June 1287 as his ship sailed past Sicily. He reached Rome shortly after the death of Pope Honorious IV, visted St Peter's Church, and met with cardinals. He wintered in Genoa, then travelled to paris, where he spent a month with King Phillip the Fair of France, who asked him to take French representatives back to the Il-khanate.   Bar Sawma met English king Edward II in Bordeaux, Gascony, who was too busy fighting thr Welsh and Scots to consider joining the alliance against Egypt.   He returned to Rome in 1288, where Phillip the Fair's representatives joined him, and retuned to the Ilkhanate in 1288 bearing lettersdd and gifts from European leaders, but without the alliance Arghun sought.
Date of Death
1220 AD 1294 AD 74 years old


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