CAMBALUC, the name by which, under sundry modifications, the royal city of the great khan in China became known to Europe during the middle ages, that city being in fact the same that we now know as Peking.
The ruins of the retrenched northern portion of Kublai's great rampart are still prominent along their whole extent, so that there is no room for question as to the position or true dimensions of the Cambaluc of the middle ages; and it is most probable, indeed it is almost a necessity, that the present palace stands on the lines of Kublai's palace.
The city, under the name of Cambaluc, was constituted into an archiepiscopal see by Pope Clement V.
Maps of the 16th and 17th centuries often show Cambaluc in an imaginary region to the north of China, a part of the misconception that has prevailed regarding Cathay.
All agree with the etymology in calling it Cambaluc, which should be accented Cambaluc.
His great successor, Kublai Khan (1280-1294), rebuilt the town, which he called Yenking, and which became known in Chinese as Ta-tu, or "great court," and in Mongolian as Khanbalik (Cambaluc), or "city of the khan."
Passing northward by Nanking and crossing the Yangtsze-kiang, Odoric embarked on the Great Canal and travelled to Cambalec (otherwise Cambaleth, Cambaluc, &c.) or Peking, where he remained for three years, attached, no doubt, to one of the churches founded by Archbishop John of Monte Corvino, at this time in extreme old age.
Marco Polo in the latter part of the 13th century, and Friar John of Montecorvino, afterwards archbishop of Cambaluc, in the beginning of the 14th, speak of the descendants of Prester John as holding territory under the great khan in a locality which can be identified with the plain of KukuKhotan, north of the great bend of the Yellow river and about 280 m.
Hangchau), and Khanbalik (Cambaluc or Peking).