Edited By Flocel Sabaté
Travelling in the Orbis Christianus and beyond (Thirteenth – Fifteenth Century): What makes the difference?: Felicitas Schmieder
Fern-Universität in Hagen
“Now on the third day after we left Soldaia, we encountered the Tartars; and when I came among them I really felt as if I were entering some other world (aliud saeculum)”1 – in 1253 the Franciscan, William of Rubruk, even felt as though he had met with demons2 when travelling among Mongols (whom he, as well as most of his fellow Latin Europeans, called Tartars) from the Crimea through Central Asia to as far as Karakorum in Mongolia. William travelled deep into regions where people looked differently, lived differently, and most importantly, had different beliefs. He could describe his impressions only in terms of opposition to his own, as entirely foreign to what he was used to – he had left the then Latin Christian Constantinople and thus the familiar Orbis Christianus – the Christian world.
Being a Christian was, in the European Middle Ages, much more than adhering to a certain religion – it was the defining feature of identity, at least when Christians surveyed the whole world and all mankind. ← 41 | 42 →
It meant being part of the only group of humans in possession of the ‘true faith’, which had to be defended against those from outside – a group, nevertheless, that was bound to grow and whose faith had to be spread to outsiders – until, towards the end of the world, it included all mankind. Christians were chosen by God to leave their own sphere and...
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