Daniel the Traveller

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Daniel the Traveller (or Daniel the Pilgrim or Daniel of Kiev, Russian: Даниил Паломник), was the first travel writer from Kievan Rus.[1][2][3] Some have identified him as the Daniel, who was Bishop of Suriev, from 1115 CE to 1122 CE.[4]


Map Crusader states 1135-en.svg

The Archimandrite Daniel journeyed to the West from the Rus monastery where he lived as an igumen in the twelfth century. This monastery was probably near Chernihiv in Ukraine, in the Land of Chernihivshchyna.[5] He began his travels in the early 12th century and was likely in Constantinople around 1106 CE to 1108 CE.[3][5][6][7] While Daniel was not the first traveler to leave Rus, his travels were the first which there are written records of.[5] There were warriors, merchants, and earlier pilgrims who had traveled from Kievan Rus to the outside world before the twelfth century — however none left written records that have come down to the present day.[5] Daniel was one of the first European travelers to travel long distances on foot and keep a written account of his travels ("travelog").[5]

Daniel's journeys took him to Constantinople, then by way of Cyprus to the Holy Land.[5] Daniel stayed in the Jerusalem area for over a year and took various trips around Palestine.[5] During this time he explored the Dead Sea, Hebron, and Damascus. He learned much of the regions from his three major excursions to the Dead Sea and Lower Jordan (which he compares to the Snov River), Bethlehem and Hebron, and Damascus.[5] Daniel wrote his journeys in narratives he titled Puteshestive igumena Daniila[6] and also known as Zhytiye I khodinnya Danyla, Ruskoyi zemli ihumena — Life and Pilgrimage of Danylo, Hegumen from the Land of the Rus.[5]

Daniel's narratives begin at Constantinople. His description of the Holy Land preserves a record of conditions that are peculiarly characteristic of the time.[7] He describes the Saracen raiding almost up to the walls of Christian Jerusalem and the friendly relations between Roman and Eastern churches in Syria. Daniel visited Palestine in the reign of Baldwin I of Jerusalem and apparently soon after the crusader capture of Acre, Israel (1104 CE). He claims to have accompanied Baldwin on an expedition against Damascus (c. 1107 CE).[4][7] Daniel's narratives show that Baldwin treated him with much friendliness.[5]

Daniel's account of Jerusalem is descriptive and accurate.[7] His observant and detailed record of Palestine is one of the most valuable medieval documents that exist.[7] Daniel had some knowledge of both Greek and Latin and so was able to use interpreters. He writes, It is impossible to come to know all the holy places without guides and interpreters. He writes of a holy man of great learning, well advanced in years, who had lived in Galilee for thirty years that had accompanied him in Palestine. Daniel visited about sixty places in the area,[5] however he made some major mistakes in topography and history.[7]

Daniel's narratives are also important in the history of the Old East Slavic language and in the study of ritual and liturgy of the time (i.e. description of the Easter services in Jerusalem and the Descent of the Holy Fire).[7] Daniel records that several of his friends from Kiev and Old Novgorod were present with him at the Easter Eve "miracle" in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. There are seventy-six manuscripts of Daniel's narratives of which only five are before the year 1500 CE.[7] The oldest of his narratives is dated 1475 CE of which three editions still exist in Saint Petersburg at the Library of Ecclesiastical History.[4]


  1. ^ Anzovin, p. 201, item 3391: "The first Russian travel-writer was Daniel of Kiev, called in Russian Daniel Kievsky."
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster, p. 298 Daniel, the Pilgrim, also called Daniel of Kiev, (fl. 12th century). The earliest known Russian travel writer, whose account of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land is the earliest surviving record in Russian of such a trip.
  3. ^ a b "The Oldest Monument of Russian Travel": 175–185. JSTOR 3678151. "Daniel is the earliest Russian author, sacred or secular, who has described a journey from his country to any other part of the outer world."
  4. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBeazley, Charles Raymond (1911). "Daniel of Kiev". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Danylo, the Ukrainian 12th-century pilgrim". Retrieved 2008-09-04.
  6. ^ a b Anzovin, p. 201, item 3391
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Merriam-Webster, p. 298


  • Anzovin, Steven, Famous First Facts', H. W. Wilson Company (2000), ISBN 0-8242-0958-3
  • C. R. Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, ii. 155–174. (C. R. B.), has the account of Daniel.
  • I. P. Sakharov's (St Petersburg, 1849), Narratives of the Russian People, vol. ii. bk. viii. pp. 1–45.
  • Me B. de Khitrovo, Itineraires russes en orient, (Geneva, 1889) (Societe de l'orient Latin) in French.
  • Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, Merriam-Webster (1995), ISBN 0-87779-042-6
  • C.W. Wilson, ed., The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel to the Holy Land, 1106-1107 A.D. (London, 1895).

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