Benedict of Poland
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He accompanied Giovanni da Pian del Carpine in his journey as delegate of Pope Innocent IV to the Great Khan Güyük of the Mongol Empire in 1245-1247. He was the author of the brief chronicle De Itinere Fratrum Minorum ad Tartaros (On the travel of Franciscan friars to the Tatars), published only in the 1839 in France (and a year later in Poland) and a longer work Historia Tartarorum (The history of the Tatars), discovered and published only in 1965 by the academics of Yale University. This journey preceded that of Marco Polo.
The report of Benedict is important because it includes a copy of the letter of the Great Khan to the Pope.
Little is known about the life of Friar Benedict beyond the story of the journey. He was educated and spoke and wrote Latin. He had become a monk in the Franciscan monastery in Wroclaw about 1236. This was the first major stop of Friar Giovanni after leaving on the mission from Lyon in April 1245. Benedict was chosen to accompany him as an interpreter because he had also acquired a knowledge of the Old East Slavic language and the first part of their journey was to Kiev. Benedict made his accounts of the journey during and after their return in 1247. After returnig from the voyage he probably settled in the Franciscan monastery in Kraków where he spent rest of his life. Later he was also a witness at the canonization of Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów in 1252.
- Edward Kajdański: Długi cień Wielkiego Muru, Warsaw, 2005 (in Polish)
- Biography of Benedict (in Polish)
Palkiewicz, Jacek and Petek, Krzysztof Benedykt Polak : pierwszy polski podroznik Warszawa : Narodowe Centrum Kultury, 2015 ISBN 9788379820740
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