Book Series Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, vol. 38

Matthew Paris on the Mongol Invasion in Europe

Zsuzsanna Papp Reed

  • Pages: 469 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:12 b/w, 1 col., 2 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, Latin
  • Publication Year:2022

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59552-8
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59553-5
  • E-book
  • Available

The volume provides detailed analysis of the entirety of the Mongol-related texts in Matthew Paris's Chronica majora.


Zsuzsanna Papp Reed is a literary historian and medievalist, currently teaching at the Central European University, Vienna.


This is a novel, interdisciplinary study of the Mongol military campaign in Eastern Europe (1241–1242) — the North, as thirteenth-century Europeans saw the region — in the works of contemporary English chronicler, Matthew Paris of St Albans Monastery. Tracing the journey of his sources, the volume explores thirteenth-century information networks against the backdrop of the struggle between Emperor Frederick II and Pope Innocent IV.

Parallel to the history of information, the subject of the study is the Chronica majora and its afterlife, Matthew’s chronicle world where the sometimes fictitious (and often very real) episodes of the Mongol story unfold. Tracing major landmarks in the meta-history of the Chronica majora, the author wishes to emancipate Matthew Paris as a historian — one in the series of a multitude of others who continue to write and rewrite the history of the Mongol invasion across centuries of historiography.

The volume is a handy companion both to scholars of English historiography and those who want to read critically the oft-cited primary sources of the history of the Mongol military operations in Europe.


List of Illustrations, Abbreviations


Chapter 1. Inside the Book

  • Mise-en-abîme Within and Without
  • The North by the Northwest
Chapter 2. Outside the Book

  • The Book in the Scriptorium
  • The Scriptorium in England
  • England in the European Networks
Chapter 3. Fright: Mongols in the North and East (1237-1240)

  • 1237: Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, and Armenians
  • 1238: Northbound to Hungaria major
  • 1239: Dacia, Gothia, Frisia
  • 1240: False Alarm and Irruption
Chapter 4. Fight: Mongols in the Middle (1241)

  • Holy War on the Mongols
  • The First 1241 Cluster
  • The Second 1241 Cluster
Chapter 5. Flight: Rivaling Stories of Retreat (1243-1248)

  • 1243: The Tartar Khan’s Englishman
  • 1244: Frederick’s Triumph
  • 1244: The Man from Russia
  • 1245-1248: Endgame
Chapter 6. Letters from the Afflicted Lands in the Additamenta

Chapter 7. The Afterlife of Matthew’s Mongol Story

  • Chronicles and their Afterlife
  • Back to the Future: Modern historiography
  • Vice prologi
Appendix 1: List of Manuscripts

  • Manuscripts containing the Chronica majora and its fragments / continuations
  • Manuscripts containing Matthew Paris’s Flores historiarum, and its fragments / continuations
  • Flores manuscripts listed in medieval catalogues
  • Notes on transcription
  • Further appendices


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