PAPER 5 - Kosta Leontarakis Western Civilization I...

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Kosta Leontarakis Western Civilization I Professor Petrie 11/14/06 Paper #5- William of Rubruck William of Rubruck was a Franciscan monk from Flanders. In 1253, King Louis IX sent William to the Mongols and then on crusade. Upon his return, he explains various parts of the Mongols character and culture to the king. He writes accounts about their commerce and conquest, food, the animals they eat, hunting, clothing, shaving requirements, and the roles of women. This was clearly written to provide the king with vital information about the Mongol’s. He is interested in their ways, culture, and character. In Williams’s writings, we learn how he truly feels about the Mongols and their ways. When William is asked to leave, we see a period of conflict between himself, and Mangu (The Chan). We later go on to read that it was just a simple interpretation miscommunication. It seems that William’s stay with the Mongols were tolerated and somewhat embraced until the waking moments before he leaves, where we see a little bit of tension. The commerce and conquest of the Mongols is elaborated on in great detail. We learn about the society of these people very quickly. “Baatu has twenty-six wives…” (William of Rubruck, Brophy 488). This tells us that it is accepted for men to marry multiple women, and have several wives and reap the benefits from doing so. William
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writes about the man Baatu’s house. Each wife has their own large house not including the small ones which are used by the attendants. We learn that each wife has a rank, and her rank determines where she places her dwelling. The chief wife places her dwelling at the extreme west end and after her the others according to their rank, so that the last wife will be at the far east end. (William of Rubruck, Brophy 488). This provides a clear picture of how “house-life” is set up in the Mongol culture. A rich Mongol’s settlement looks like a large town even though not many people live in the actual dwelling; it is one man and all of his wives properties all clustered together. Later, William goes on to describe what the Mongols alcohol tendencies consist of throughout the various seasons. In the winter, they make a drink made up of rice, millet, wheat and honey, which serves as their idea of wine. Actual wine is consumed only when they obtain it from distant regions.
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