chapter  18
Shifting Alterity: The Mongol in the Visual and Literary Culture of the Late Middle Ages†
ByMaurizio Peleggi
Pages 19

This chapter details the shift in the nature of cultural representations of the Mongols that were articulated in Europe from the mid-thirteenth to the mid-fourteenth centuries by means of literary and visual texts. By examining reports of Franciscan missionaries to the court of the Khans, Marco Polo's famous travelogue Description of the World, and a fresco by the Sienese painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Missionary reports are the earliest loci of representation of the Mongols. Preaching the Gospel abroad was made a central tenet of the practice and ideology of the Order of the Friars Minor, or Franciscans, practically since its foundation at the onset of the thirteenth century. The chapter shows that European cultural constructions of Otherness long predate the age of imperialism hut also that such constructions eschewed a homogenous pattern as they issued from, and reinforced, the varied cultural identities harboured in late medieval Europe.