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Edward I and the Mongols

Anthony Bryer describes how, during the second half of the thirteenth century, the ruler of the Mongols discussed with Edward I of England a joint attempt to recover Jerusalem from the Turks.

The Mongol cavalry pursuing their enemy.From time to time in medieval history, Europeans were reminded how small was their corner of the world. Rumours would come out of the east of a land that reached the very edge of the earth. It was inhabited by centaurs, restless clans of herdsmen who live on their horses. The men are squat and sliteyed: they drink the sour milk of mares. Every few centuries there is an upheaval; the clans unite into hordes, desert their pastures and seek the soft life of Mesopotamia or of China.

Thus came the Seljuk Turks within sight of Constantinople in the eleventh century: it was found that “they worship the wind and live in the wilderness... They have no noses.” The Franks met this terrifying people after 1099 when the First Crusade won Jerusalem. Thus came the Mongols to China.

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