CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN ROMAN POPE AND MONGOL GREAT KHAN
A Letter from Pope Innocent IV to the King of the Tartars
Seeing that not only men but even irrational animals, nay, the very
elements which go to make up the world machine, are united by a certain
innate law after the manner of the celestial spirits, all of which God
the Creator has divided into choirs in the enduring stability of
peaceful order, it is not without cause that we are driven to express
in strong terms our amazement that you, as we have heard, have invaded
many countries belonging both to Christians and to others and are
laying them waste in a horrible desolation, and with a fury still
unabated you do not cease from stretching out your destroying hand to
more distant lands, but, breaking the bond of natural ties, sparing
neither sex nor age, you rage against all indiscriminately with the
sword of chastisement.
We, therefore, following the example of the King of Peace, and desiring
that all men should live united in concord in the fear of God, do
admonish, beg and earnestly beseech all of you that for the future you
desist entirely from assaults of this kind and especially from the
persecution of Christians, and that after so many and such grievous
offences you conciliate by a fitting penance the wrath of Divine
Majesty, which without doubt you have seriously aroused by such
provocation; nor should you be emboldened to commit further savagery by
the fact that when the sword of your might has raged against other men
Almighty God has up to the present allowed various nations to fall
before your face; for sometimes He refrains from chastising the proud
in this world for the moment, for this reason, that if they neglect to
humble themselves of their own accord He may not only no longer put off
the punishment of their wickedness in this life but may also take
greater vengeance in the world to come.
On this account we have thought fit to send to you our beloved son
[Giovanni DiPlano Carpini--see Strayer, p. 336] and his companions the
bearers of this letter,
men remarkable for their religious spirit, comely in their virtue and
gifted with a knowledge of Holy Scripture; receive them kindly and
treat them with honour out of reverence for God, indeed as if receiving
us in their persons, and deal honestly with them in those matters of
which they will speak to you on our behalf, and when you have had
profitable discussions with them concerning the aforesaid affairs,
especially those pertaining to peace, make fully known to us through
these same Friars what moved you to destroy other nations and what your
intentions are for the future, furnishing them with a safe-conduct and
other necessities on both their outward and return journey, so that
they can safely make their way back to our presence when they wish.
Lyons, 13th March 1245
A Letter from Kuyuk Khan to Pope Innocent IV
By the power of the Eternal Heaven, we are the all-embracing Khan of
all the Great Nations. It is our command:
This is a decree, sent to the great Pope that he may know and pay heed.
After holding counsel with the monarchs under your suzerainty, you have
sent us an offer of subordination which we have accepted from the hands
of your envoy.
If you should act up to your word, then you, the great Pope, should
come in person with the monarchs to pay us homage and we should
thereupon instruct you concerning the commands of the Yasak.
Furthermore, you have said it would be well for us to become
Christians. You write to me in person about this matter, and have
addressed to me a request. This, your request, we cannot understand.
Furthermore, you have written me these words: "You have attacked
all the territories of the Magyars and other Christians, at which I am
astonished. Tell me, what was their crime?" These, your words, we
likewise cannot understand. Chinggis Khan and Ogatai Khakan revealed
the commands of Heaven. But those whom you name would not believe the
commands of Heaven. Those of whom you speak showed themselves highly
presumptuous and slew our envoys. Therefore, in accordance with the
commands of the Eternal Heaven, the inhabitants of the aforesaid
countries have been slain and annihilated. If not by the command of
Heaven, how can anyone slay or conquer out of his own strength?
And when you say: "I am a Christian. I pray to God. I arraign and
despise others," how do you know who is pleasing to God and to whom He
allots His grace? How can you know it, that you speak such words?
Thanks to the power of the Eternal Heaven, all lands have been given to
us from sunrise to sunset. How could anyone act other than in
accordance with the commands of Heaven? Now your own upright
heart must tell you: "We will become subject to you, and will
place our powers at your disposal." You in person, at the head of the
monarchs, all of you, without exception, must come to tender us service
and pay us homage; then only will we recognize your submission. But if
you do not obey the commands of Heaven, and run counter to our orders,
we shall know that you are our foe.
That is what we have to tell you. If you fail to act in accordance
therewith, how can we forsee what will happen to you? Heaven alone