Circa 1316-1330 AD: Odoric Mattituzzi from Pordeone

Odoric Mattituzzi from PordeoneOdoric Mattituzzi (1286-1331) was an Italian Franciscian friar and missionary explorer who travelled to India and China.

Odoric journeyed via Constantinople and the Black Sea to reach Persia, and from there by ship to India in the early 1320s. In India, he embarked on a ship that took him around southeast Asia to the coast of China.

After living for several years in Beijing, Odoric travelled mostly overland to get back to Venice. He claimed to have gone through Tibet, but if this is actually true remains unclear.

Many of the marvelous stories included in John Mandevilles highly successful book “The Travels of Sir John Mandeville” are fanciful and embroidered tales based on Odoric’s texts.

1325-1354 AD: Shams al-Din Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Battuta

This was an explorer of Tangier origin who travelled across North Africa, through Euroasia and all the way to China and back in 1325-1354. Afterwards, he dictated his experiences and knowledge to Ibn Djuzayy who wrote it down in the year 1354-1357. His tales from Anatolia, the lands of the Golden Horde, and southern India are considered especially valuable.

1339-1353 AD: Giovanni de’ Marignolli

Giovanni de' MarignolliThis was a Franciscan from Florence who was sent by the Pope as a delegate to the Yüan (Mongol) Emperor of China.

Giovanni de’ Marignolli travelled through the Golden Horde lands via the Black Sea, and then onwards to Beijing and Shang-tu, arriving in August 1342. His exact route remains unclear, but it probably went south of the Aral Sea at Urgench and then north of the Taklamakan Desert.

After three years in China, Giovanni travelled onboard a ship to Hormuz and then overland to the Levant.