André de Longjumeau

André de Longjumeau (also known as Andrew of Longjumeau in English) was a 13th-century Dominican missionary and diplomat and one of the most active Occidental diplomats in the East in the 13th century. He led two embassies to the Mongols: the first carried letters from Pope Innocent IV and the second bore gifts and letters from Louis IX of France to Güyük Khan. Well acquainted with the Middle-East, he spoke Arabic and "Chaldean" (thought to be either Syriac or Persian).[1]

Mission for the holy Crown of ThornsEdit

Andrew went to Constantinople to obtain the Crown of Thorns bought by Louis IX from Baldwin II. It is preserved today in a 19th-century reliquary, in Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris.

Andrew's first mission to the East was when he was asked by the French king Louis IX to go and fetch the Crown of Thorns which had been sold to him by the Latin Emperor of Constantinople Baldwin II in 1238, who was anxious to obtain support for his tottering empire.[1] Andrew was accompanied on this mission by brother Jacques.

Papal mission to the Mongols (1245–1247)Edit

Andrew of Longjumeau led one of four missions dispatched to the Mongols by Pope Innocent IV. He left Lyon in the spring of 1245 for the Levant.[2] He visited Muslim principalities in Syria and representatives of the Nestorian and Jacobite churches in Persia, finally delivering the papal correspondence to a Mongol general near Tabriz.[3] In Tabriz, André de Longjumeau met with a monk from the Far East, named Simeon Rabban Ata, who had been put in charge by the Khan of protecting the Christians in the Middle-East.[4]

Second mission to the Mongols (1249–1251)Edit

At the Mongol camp near Kars Andrew had met a certain David, who in December 1248 appeared at the court of King Louis IX of France in Cyprus. Andrew, who was now with Saint Louis, interpreted David's message to the King, a real or pretended offer of alliance from the Mongol general Eljigidei, and a proposal of a joint attack upon the Islamic powers of Syria. In reply to this the French sovereign dispatched Andrew as his ambassador to Güyük Khan; with Longjumeau went his brother Jacques (also a Dominican) and several others – John Goderiche, John of Carcassonne, Herbert "Le Sommelier", Gerbert of Sens, Robert (a clerk), a certain William, and an unnamed clerk of Poissy.[5]

The party set out on 16 February 1249, with letters from King Louis and the papal legate, and rich presents including a chapel-tent lined with scarlet cloth and embroidered with sacred pictures. From Cyprus they went to the port of Antioch in Syria, and thence traveled for a year to the Khan's court, going ten leagues (55.56 kilometers) per day. Their route led them through Persia, along the southern and eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, and certainly through Talas, north-east of Tashkent.[5]

On arrival at the supreme Mongol court – either that on the Imyl river (near Lake Alakol and the present Russo-Chinese frontier in the Altai), or more probably at or near Karakorum itself, south-west of Lake Baikal – Andrew found Güyük Khan dead, poisoned, as the envoy supposed, by Batu Khan's agents. The regent-mother Oghul Qaimish (the "Camus" of William of Rubruck) seems to have received and dismissed him with presents and a dismissive letter for Louis IX. But it is certain that before the friar had left "Tartary", Möngke, Güyük's successor, had been elected.[6]

Andrew's report to his sovereign, whom he rejoined in 1251 at Caesarea in Palestine, appears to have been a mixture of history and fable; the latter affects his narrative of the Mongols' rise to greatness, and the struggles of their leader Genghis Khan with Prester John; it is still more evident in the position assigned to the Mongols' homeland, close to the prison of Gog and Magog. On the other hand, the envoy's account of Mongol customs is fairly accurate, and his statements about Mongol Christianity and its prosperity, though perhaps exaggerated (e.g. as to the 800 chapels on wheels in the nomadic host) are based on fact.[7]

Mounds of bones marked his road, witnesses of devastations which other historians record in detail. He found Christian prisoners from Germany in the heart of "Tartary" (at Talas), and was compelled to observe the ceremony of passing between two fires, as a bringer of gifts to a dead Khan, gifts which were treated by the Mongols as evidence of submission. This insulting behaviour, and the language of the letter with which Andrew reappeared, marked the mission a failure: King Louis, says Joinville, "se repenti fort" ("felt very sorry").[7]


The date and location of Andrew's death is unknown.[8]

We only know of Andrew through references in other writers: see especially William of Rubruck's in Recueil de voyages, iv. (Paris, 1839), pp. 261, 265, 279, 296, 310, 353, 363, 370; Joinville, ed. Francisque Michel (1858, etc.), pp. 142, etc.; Jean Pierre Sarrasin, in same vol., pp. 254–235; William of Nangis in Recueil des historiens des Gaules, xx. 359–367; Rémusat, Mémoires sur les relations politiques des princes chrétiens… avec les… Mongols (1822, etc.), p. 52.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Roux 1985, p. 96
  2. ^ Gregory G. Guzman, "Simon of Saint-Quentin and the Dominican Mission to the Mongol Baiju: A Reappraisal" Speculum, Vol. 46, No. 2. (April., 1971), p. 235.
  3. ^ Igor de Rachewiltz, Papal Envoys to the Great Khans (Stanford University Press, 1971), p. 113.
  4. ^ Richard, p. 376.
  5. ^ a b Beazley 1911, p. 972.
  6. ^ Beazley 1911, pp. 972–973.
  7. ^ a b c Beazley 1911, p. 973.
  8. ^ Dorcy, Sr. Mary Jean (24 November 1990). St. Dominic's Family: Over 300 Famous Dominicans. TAN Books. p. 62. ISBN 9781505103465. Retrieved 15 February 2018.