chapter  15
Tartars, Jews, Saracens and the Jewish—Mongol 'Plot' of 1241
BySophia Menache
Pages 24

This chapter examines what most historians consider a 'non-event' in Matthew Paris's narrative: namely, the Jewish-Mongol 'plot' of 1241. One premise of the research is that Matthew Paris was receptive to the mental climate of mid-thirteenth-century England. From an historical perspective Shakespeare's reference to Tartars and Turks in the same concoction hardly seems fortuitous, since these peoples had represented different facets of the collective fears of Christendom for generations. And yet, albeit outside the historical process, Jews found their meeting point with Tartars, if not with Turks, in the world of myth, where they supposedly joined forces to threaten the survival of Christian society. The Jewish-Mongol 'connection' was first revealed during the early 1220s, when the west rather optimistically associated the Mongols with the mythical figure of Pester John, the warrior-priest who was expected to lead the eastern Christian princes in their final, victorious battle against the Saracens.