ODORICO DI PORDENONE

ODORICO DI PORDENONE. 1265/74/86 — Udine 14.1.1331. Italian Franciscan and Traveller in Asia. From Pordenone in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Wrote a famous account of his journey to China and Central Asia. Started for his journey between 1314/18, together with James of Ireland, and remained several years in the East. By ship Friuli–Constantinople–Trebizond, then Erzerum–Tabriz–Sultanieh, by ship to Thana (1321 or 1322), by ship through Sumatra, Java and Champa to Canton, from there Zaitun–Fuchow–Hangchow–Nanking–Yangchow–Peking (c. 1325). Remained there three years, then returned via Central Asia and Iran. In 1330 dictated his journal in Padova, then left for Avignon to ask papal permission to return to China, but became ill and died. Beatified in 1755. His journal was much read, but rarely relied on, e.g. Purchas accused him for copying Mandeville, when the truth was the opposite. Only Yule was able to rehabilitate his work. It included a brief description of Tibet, though most probably never visited the country.

Publications: The travel account — Peregrinatio — is preserved in several Latin manuscripts and in Medieval translations in Italian, French and Middle High German, in abridged versions, etc. Main version was published in English translation by H. Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither. 1. Hakluyt Soc. L. 1866.

The Old French version ed. by H. Cordier, P. 1891.

Sources: I. de Rachewiltz, Papal Envoys to the Great Khans. Stanford, Calif. 1971, 179-186; Wikipedia with picture.

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