Joannes de Plano Carpini, a Franciscan monk, was the head of one of the missions despatched by Pope Innocent to call the chief and people of the Tatars to a better mind.
At nearly the same time Hayton, king of Armenia, made a journey to Karakorum in 1254, by a route far to the north of that followed by Carpini and Rubruquis.
Sent a Franciscan friar, Joannes de Piano Carpini, to the Mongols of southern Russia, and despatched a Dominican mission to Persia.
Nothing came of either of these missions; but through them Europe first began to know the interior of Asia, for Carpini was conducted by the Mongols as far as Karakorum, the capital of the great khan, on the borders of China.
When one remembers that missionaries like Piano Carpini, and traders like the Venetian Polos, either penetrated by land from Acre to Peking, or circumnavigated southern Asia from Basra to Canton, one realizes that there was, about 1300, a discovery of Asia as new and tremendous as the discovery of America by Columbus two centuries later.
It performed something at least of what should have been (but apparently was not) done by Lawrence (Lourenco) of Portugal, who was commissioned as papal envoy to the Mongols of the south-west at the same time that Carpini was accredited to those of the north (1245).
P. d'Avezac's Introduction to Carpini, PP 4 0 4-4 0 5, 433-434, 4 6 4-4 6 5, of vol.
277, and Carpini and Rubruquis, 269-270.