Marco Polo, Odorico of Pordenone, the crusades, and the role of the vernacular in the first descriptions of the Indies
Medieval and Renaissance studies, 2009, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 201-222
GARCIA ESPADA, Antonio, Marco Polo, Odorico of Pordenone, the crusades, and the role of the vernacular in the first descriptions of the Indies, Medieval and Renaissance studies, 2009, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 201-222 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/63488
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
In contrast to the notion most historians have advanced of a “primitive” literary phenomenon, this article demonstrates that the first “descriptions of the Indies,” which at the turn of the fourteenth century were elaborated by Marco Polo, Odorico of Pordenone, and other mendicants traveling toward the Far East, deserve to be examined as an autonomous field of inquiry closely connected with the definitive loss of the Holy Land in 1291. The need for accurate knowledge about the Indian Ocean and the Mongols was a strategic necessity that Crusade theorists introduced in the highest political circles. Benefitting from a non-elitist language that complied with tradition and simultaneously marked a departure from it, Marco Polo and his peers contributed significantly to meeting this need. In spite of the superficial identification with the prestigious and ancient tradition of the allegorical East, the “descriptions of the Indies” challenged long-standing assumptions about medieval Orientalism and presented the lands beyond the Dar al Islam as a tangible geopolitical entity that would enable comparison with—and even the enlargement of—the political and spiritual horizons of the Latin West.
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/63488
Full-text via DOI: 10.1484/J.VIATOR.1.100351
ISSN: 0083-5897; 2031-0234
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