Viam agnoscere veritatis (1248)
Viam agnoscere veritatis is the name of a letter written by Pope Innocent IV to the Mongols. It was written on November 22, 1248, and was Pope Innocent's reply to a message from Mongol commander Baiju. Innocent IV had previously sent two letters to the Mongols in 1245, Cum non solum and Dei patris immensa.
The letter was probably transmitted from the Pope via Mongol envoys Aïbeg and Serkis, was dated November 22, 1248, and was the Pope's reply to a letter from Baiju. Some historians refer to it as "Viam agnoscere veritatis" and some as "Viam cognoscere veritatis" (both "agnoscere" and "cognoscere" are Latin for "to know"). According to historian Denis Sinor, the letter "stated that Innocent IV had acted out of a sense of duty to let the true religion be known to the Mongols, and that he regretted the Mongols' perseverance in their errors and adjured them to cease their menaces."
"Better that you humble yourself before [Christ], face to face, and recognize His great forbearance, Who for so long has endured your destructive actions: that in waiting obligingly, you may be turned from errors to truth, and be able to fear Him, lest He provoked for too long a time should threaten you with the lash of His anger, since you do not recognize His omnipotence."
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- Les registres d'Innocent IV publiés ou analysés d'après les manuscrits originaux du Vatican et de la Bibliothèque nationale, ed. Élie Berger, II (Paris, 1887), no. 4682, p. 114, Bibliothèque des Ecoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome. Original Latin: "sed potius coram eo humiliare vos ipsos, et recognoscere multam patientiam ejus, qui tamdiu in vestris noxiis desideriis et actibus toleravit, expectando benigne ut errorum semitas relinquentes ad tramitem convertamini veritatis, propter quod recte formidare potestis ne in vos, si suam non agnoscatis omnipotentiam, sue flagellum iracundie tanquam nimium provocatus immittat."
- Roux, Histoire de l'Empire Mongol, p.316: "Sergis et Aibeg were finally sent back on November 22, 1248, with an answer, known as Viam agnoscere veritatis" (Original French quote: "Serbeg et Aibeg furent finalement congédiés le 22 Novembre 1248 avec une réponse, la lettre connue comme Viam agnoscere veritatis").
- Sinor, in Setton, p.522 "The Pope's reply to Baidju's letter, Viam agnoscere veritatis, dated November 22, 1248, and probably carried back by Aibeg and Sargis" Note that Setton refers to the letter as "Viam agnoscere" though the actual letter uses the text "Viam cognoscere"
- Grousset, René, Histoire des Croisades, III, Tempus, 2006 edition, ISBN 2-262-02569-X
- Jackson, Peter (2005), The Mongols and the West, 1221-1410, Pearson Education, ISBN 0-582-36896-0
- Rachewiltz, I, Papal Envoys to the Great Khans, Stanford University Press, 1971.
- Roux, Jean-Paul, Histoire de l'Empire Mongol, 1993, Fayard, ISBN 2-213-03164-9
- Runciman, Steven, History of the Crusades, III, Penguin Books, 2002 edition, ISBN 0-14-013705-X
- Kenneth Meyer Setton, "A History of the Crusades"