WILLIAM OF RUBRUK (Guglielmus de Rubruquis, Ruysbroeck, Risbroucke). 1215/20 — after 1255. Flemish Traveller, a Franciscan Monk. Head of the embassy sent by Louis IX of France to the Mongol Khan in order to win him into Christianity. Departing in 1253 went via Constantinople and South Russia to Batu and further between Aral and Balkhash Seas to Karakoram. After the unsuccesful mission he returned in 1254 going north of Balkhash to the mouths of Volga and via Armenia to Cyprus. His Latin Itinerarium is exceptionally good, containing many good observations on customs, religions, writing, etc. of different nations. He attempted to identify places mentioned by Ptolemy and gave a good account of Karakoram, describing its Buddhist, Muslim and Christian inhabitants. He even collected materials on the history of Mongols and definitely showed that the European dream of their impending conversion was unfounded.
Publications: the itinerary was published by Hakluyt in 1599, English translation e.g. by Yule in Cathay and the Way Thither.
– 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.
Sources: I. de Rachewiltz, Papal Envoys to the Great Khans. Stanford, Calif. 1971; Wikipedia.