Medieval History

Rabban Bar Sauma 2: Ilkhanid Infighting, Ilkhanid Envoy

Arghun Khan of the Ilkhanate

In this episode, our monkish friends attempt to navigate the violent waters of Ilkhanid Mongol politics, and Bar Sauma himself embarks on another long journey, this time heading for Rome.(MP3)


  • The Monks of Kublai Khan, translated by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge. The Religious Tract Society, 1928.

  • Aigle, Denise. The Mongol Empire Between Myth and Reality: Studies in Anthropological History. Brill Academic Pub, 2014.

  • Benjamin, Sandra. Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History. Steerforth Press, 2010.

  • Grousset, René. The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, translated by Naomi Walford. Rutgers, 2002. 

  • Jackson, Peter. The Mongols and the Islamic World. Yale University Press, 2017.

  • Jackson, Peter. The Mongols and the West: 1221-1410. Pearson Longman, 2005.

  • Kolbas, Judith. The Mongols in Iran: Chingiz Khan to Uljaytu 1220–1309. Routledge, 2006.

  • Pfeiffer, Judith, "Reflections on a 'Double Rapprochement': Conversion to Islam among the Mongol Elite during the Early Ilkhanate," in Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan, edited by Linda Komaroff. Brill Academic Pub, 2006.

  • Rose, Susan. Medieval Naval Warfare, 1000-1500. Routledge, 2002.

  • Rossabi, Morris. Voyager from Xanadu: Rabban Sauma and the First Journey from China to the West. Kodansha International, 1992.

Marco and the Polos 7: Marco Polo Comes Home

Venice, Niccolo da Poggibonsi

On this, the last episode of my Marco Polo series, Marco comes home to Venice. I touch on a bit of the history of the book (or books), The Travels of Marco Polo, and we follow Marco as he disentangles himself from the stifling embrace of Kublai Khan, encounters many things new and strange to him on the coast of India, and finds himself mixing with Ilkhan royalty. Thanks for listening!


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  • The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian, translated by William Marsden, edited by Thomas Wright. George Bell & Sons, 1907.

  • The Travels of Marco Polo: The Complete Yule-Cordier Edition, translated by Henry Yule and revised by Henri Cordier. Courier Corporation, 1993.

  • Bergreen, Laurence. Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu. Vintage Books, 2008.

  • Lambton, Ann K. S. Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia. The Persian Heritage Foundation, 1988.

  • Larner, John. Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World. Yale University Press, 1999.