Latin Christendom and the East: Religion and Myth In the West's Interpretation of the Far East after the Mongol Invasions
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The Western world, particularly western Europe has always viewed the Far Eastern regions of Asia through a socially constructed lens that Edward Said coined Orientalism. Yet, this scholarly attribute to the West's view of the Far East is a fairly modern and post-colonial notion. The purpose of this essay is to investigate how the medieval Western Europe, or Latin Christendom, viewed the Far East. Europe gained unprecedented access to the Far East after the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century. What ensued was a clash of pre-conceived notions and direct experience. Both elements from the classical world (Rome and Greece) and contemporary Catholic values dominated Europe's interpretation of the Far East. This medieval view of the Far East is known as proto- Orientalism and will be explored in this essay.