Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Travelling the World before Columbus

Questions

  • What features do the authors of the bestiaries and medieval encyclopedias see in nature? On the basis of reading them, what do you conclude constitutes a useful description of the natural world?
  • How did Europeans imagine the world before 1500?
  • What sorts of peoples, practices and things did Polo and Mandeville describe, or expect to see? How do they present themselves as 'authoritative'?

Primary Sources

 
READ EITHER:

  • Mandeville, John, The Voyages and Travels of Sir John Mandeville, available electronically via the Warwick Library Catalogue

OR

  • Polo, Marco, The Description of the World, ed. and trans. A.C. Moule and Paul Pelliot (London, 1938)--or read any other edition.

AND IN ADDITION READ/VIEW:

  • T-O world map from Isidorus, Etymologiae, 1472, Foundations of Western European Cartography in Texas Collections, A Special Collections Exhibition, http://libraries.uta.edu/SpecColl/Exhibits/weuromaps/tms1-T-O-map.jpg
  • The Auguries of Nature, Selections from two Medieval Bestiaries, in Robert M. Torrance, ed., Encompassing Nature: A Sourcebook, Counterpoint (Washington D.C., 1998), pp. 579-584.
  • The Nature of Things in the World, Selections from Two Medieval Encyclopaedias, in Robert M. Torrance, Encompassing Nature: A Sourcebook, Counterpoint (Washington D.C., 1998), pp. 584-589.

Secondary Readings

  • Beckingham, C.F., Between Islam and Christendom: Travellers, Facts, and Legends in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Variorum (London, 1983).
  • Campbell, Mary B., The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel writing, 400-1600, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, 1989).
  • Chritchley, J., Marco Polo’s Book, Ashgate (Aldershot, 1992).
  • Euben, Roxanne L., Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge, Princeton University Press (Princeton, 2006).
  • Friedman, John, ‘Cultural Conflicts in Medieval World Maps’, in Stuart Schwartz, ed., Implicit Understandings: Observing, Reporting and Reflecting on the Encounters between Europeans and Other Peoples in the Early Modern Era, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1994).
  • Friedman, John, The Monstrous Race in Medieval Art and Thought (London, 1951).
  • Greenblatt, Stephen, Marvellous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, Clarendon Press (Oxford, 1991), Chapter 2.
  • Higgins, Ian Macleod, Writing East: the Travels of Sir John Mandeville, University of Philadelphia Press (Philadelphia, 1997).
  • Howard, D. R., Writers and Pilgrims: Medieval Pilgrimage Narratives and their Posteriority, University of California Press (Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, 1980).
  • Le Beau, B., and Mor, M, Pilgrims and Travellers to the Holy Land, Omaha Creighton University Press (Omaha, 1996).
  • Olschki, Leonhard, ‘Main Topics in Marco Polo’s Description of the World’, in Herbert M. Evans, Men and Moments in the History of Science (New York, 1959), pp. 143-161.
  • Park, Katharine, ‘The Meaning of Natural Diversity: Marco Polo on the “Division” of the World’, in Edith Sylla, and Michael McVaugh (eds), Text and Context in Ancient and Medieval Science, Brill Publishers (Leiden-Cologne-New York, 1997), pp. 134-147.
  • Phillips, Seymour, ‘The Outer World of the European Middle Ages’, in Stuart Schwartz, ed., Implicit Understandings: Observing, Reporting and Reflecting on the Encounters between Europeans and Other Peoples in the Early Modern Era, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1994).
  • Reichert, Folker, Erfahrungen der Welt: Reisen und Kulturbegegnung im späten Mittelalter’, W. Kohlhammer (Berlin-Cologne-Stuttgart, 2001).
  • Ryan, J.D., ‘European Travellers Before Columbus: The Fourteenth-Century’s Discovery of India’, Catholic Historical Review 79 (1993).
  • Rubies, J.P., ‘Travel writing as a genre: facts, fictions and the invention of a scientific discourse in Early Modern Europe’, Journeys 1 (2000), 5-33.
  • Tzanaki, Rosemary, Mandeville’s Medieval Audience: A Study on the Reception of the Book of Sir John Mandeville (1371-1559), Ashgate (Aldershot, 2003).
  • Wittkower, R., ‘Marvels of the East – A Study in the History of Monsters’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 5 (1942), 159-197.
  • Zacher, C.K., Curiosity and Pilgrimage: The Literature of Discovery in Fourteenth-Century England, John Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, 1976).