WILLIAM OF RUBRUCK (Guglielmus de Rubruquis, Willem van Ruysbroeck, Risbroucke). 1215/20 — after 1255. Flemish Traveller, a Franciscan Monk. Probably born in Rubrouck in French Flanders. Head of the embassy sent by Louis IX of France to the Mongol Khan in order to win him into Christianity. Departing in April 1253 he went via Constantinople and South Russia to Sartaq Khan (the son of Batu) and further between Aral and Balkhash Seas to Karakorum. After the unsuccesful mission he returned in 1254 going north of Balkhash to the mouths of Volga and via Armenia to Cyprus and Palestine. His Latin Itinerarium is exceptionally good, containing many observations on customs, religions, writing systems, etc. of different nations. He attempted to identify places mentioned by Ptolemy and gave a good account of Karakorum, describing its shamanist, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian (Nestorians and others) inhabitants. He even collected materials on the history of Mongols and definitely showed that the European dream of their impending conversion was unfounded. His itinerary is a long letter adressed to Louis IX. Nothing is known about his later life.

Publications: The itinerary was published by Hakluyt in 1599 in English translation; Latin original e.g. in A. van den Wyngaert, Itinera et relationes Fratrum Minorum saeculi XIII et XIV. Sinica Francescana 1. Florence 1929, 164-332.

The Journey of William of Rubruck to the Eastern parts of the World 1253–55. Transl. by W. W. Rockhill. 56+304 p. London, Hakluyt Soc. 1900; Peter Jackson (with D. Morgan), The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck. L. Hakluyt Soc. 1990.

Sources: M. Gosman, Literature of Travel and Explor. 3, 2003, 1034-1036; I. de Rachewiltz, Papal Envoys to the Great Khans. Stanford, Calif. 1971; Wikipedia.