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Savages, Romans, and DespotsThinking about Others from Montaigne to Herder$
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Robert Launay

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226575254

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226575421.001.0001

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The World Turned Upside Down: Mandeville

The World Turned Upside Down: Mandeville

(p.14) Two The World Turned Upside Down: Mandeville
Savages, Romans, and Despots

Robert Launay

University of Chicago Press

The Travels of John Mandeville are often contrasted to Marco Polo’s account. Both books are medieval narratives of travel to Cathay and to the Indies. Until the recent revival of interest in Mandeville, his book has often been reviled as fanciful if not mendacious, a compilation based on other narratives rather than on personal experience. His very existence, not to mention his travels, has been called into question. However, as a world view that systematically incorporates images of distant others, the book furnishes an apt comparison to later early modern attempts at comparison. Jerusalem, not Europe, is the center of the world, and Mandeville’s imagined community is Christendom rather than Europe. Mandeville’s narrative, structured around the ideas of restructuring Christian piety, presents a forceful critique of his own world and particularly the Roman Catholic clergy.

Keywords:   John Mandeville, Marco Polo, Christendom, medieval, piety, Roman Catholicism

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