Giovanni da Pian del Carpini
(c. 1180 - 1252)
A disciple and contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi, Giovanni da Pian del Carpini was dispatched on a Catholic mission to Central Asia by Pope Innocent IV four years after European forces had suffered a loss against Mongol invaders at the Battle of Liegnitz. He was over the age of sixty when he set out in April 1245, returning with a letter from the khan in November 1247. Giovanni became the archbishop of Antivari in Dalmatia and died in 1252. His best known book, History of the Mongols Whom We Call the Tartars, was not published in full until 1839.