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The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger

Author Johannes Schiltberger
Category
Translator Dr. Ahmed Ibeche
Publish Year
ISBN 9789948234098

Description

Educated readers in the Arab world have rarely heard of Johann Schiltberger's book, despite its importance and its direct links to the history of our Arab Muslim world. It details his journeys, which have led some researchers to call him the "German Marco Polo." This author bequeathed us this book of his memoirs which tell the story of his imprisonment first by the Ottomans and later by the Mongols for a period over 32 years. During this time, he roamed across numerous countries in Europe, Asia and Africa (among them Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula) between 1394-1427 CE. It was a critical time when our Arab East was destroyed by the Mongol scourge at the beginning of the fifteenth century CE. They laid waste to whatever they could, leading to momentous political changes. The Mongol invasion set back the conquest of Constantinople by half a century and coincided with the dawn of the Burji Mamluk dynasty in Egypt.
After the decisive battle of Nicopolis, Schiltberger was captured and enslaved for a long period of time, but this did not prevent him from leaving behind a valuable reference work. It is indispensable to anyone researching the history of that period, describing countries and the goings-on of their leaders and kings. Although written mostly in simple colloquial language, this does not detract from the fact that the work is an impulsive and honest eyewitness account. He described what he saw, heard and witnessed, or what he was told by others, in a vivid, exciting, and enjoyable account that complements what we already know from the writings of Muslim historians of the period in question. These include Niẓām al-Dīn Shāmī, Ibn Taghrī Bardī al-Atābakī, Ibn Qāḍī Shuhba, Ibn ‘Arabshāh, Ibn Khaldūn and Ibn al- Ṣayrafī. All of these historians embellished the story of the Mongol invader Tamerlane.