Letter from Mongol Leader from Kuyuk Khan to Pope Innocent IV.

By the power of the Eternal Heaven, we are the all-embracing Khan of all the Great Nations.  It is our command: This is a decree, sent to the great Pope that he may know and pay heed. After holding counsel with the monarchs under your suzerainty, you have sent us an offer of subordination which we have accepted from the hands of your envoy. If you should act up to your word, then you, the great Pope, should come in person with the monarchs to pay us homage and we should thereupon instruct you concerning the commands of the Yasak.

Furthermore, you have said it would be well for us to become Christians. You write to me in person about this matter, and have addressed to me a request. This, your request, we cannot understand. Furthermore, you have written me these words:  “You have attacked all the territories of the Magyars and other Christians, at which I am astonished. Tell me, what was their crime?” These, your words, we likewise cannot understand. Chinggis Khan and Ogatai Khakan revealed the commands of Heaven. But those whom you name would not believe the commands of Heaven. Those of whom you speak showed themselves highly presumptuous and slew our envoys. Therefore, in accordance with the commands of the Eternal Heaven, the inhabitants of the aforesaid countries have been slain and annihilated. If not by the command of Heaven, how can anyone slay or conquer out of his own strength? And when you say:  “I am a Christian. I pray to God. I arraign and despise others,” how do you know who is pleasing to God and to whom He allots His grace?  How can you know it, that you speak such words? Thanks to the power of the Eternal Heaven, all lands have been given to us from sunrise to sunset. How could anyone act other than in accordance with the commands of Heaven?

Now your own upright heart must tell you:  “We will become subject to you, and will place our powers at your disposal.” You in person, at the head of the monarchs, all of you, without exception, must come to tender us service and pay us homage; then only will we recognize your submission. But if you do not obey the commands of Heaven, and run counter to our orders, we shall know that you are our foe. That is what we have to tell you. If you fail to act in accordance therewith, how can we foresee what will happen to you? Heaven alone knows.

This letter was written in the year ~1246.

This page is part of a ‘Gospel to the Mongols’ article series which begins here.

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