chapter
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INTRODUCTION

Hayton's survey of the geography of Asia - apart from a fairly terse account of India - was largely confined to the lands under Mongol rule. He began with Cathay, describing it as 'the noblest and wealthiest of all the kingdoms in the world'. Professor Larner argues persuasively that during the first few decades, when Latin merchants were free to travel within the Mongol realms, they provided corroboration of the written accounts. The distinguished French medievalist, Jacques Le Goff, has proposed that the Indian Ocean, for instance, represented for Latin Christians an 'oneiric horizon' - the frontiers of a world that was dreamed about, a world of fabulous riches, of anti-nature, of liberation from the shackles of civilization. The majority of other texts were likely to dismiss Nestorians and other non-Latin Christians out of hand. Some fourteenth-century writers went further, with the assertion that the Nestorians had fallen away from Christianity altogether.