The object of this mission or embassy seems to have been as follows: A prodigious alarm was excited in Europe, by the victorious and destructive progress of the Mongals or Tartars; who, under the command of Tuschi-khan, and of Batu-khan, the son of Tuschi, advancing through Kipzhak, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, all of which they had most horribly ravaged and laid waste, had penetrated even into Silesia; while by the eastern side or the Caspian, penetrating through Transoxiana and Persia, under the command of Zagatai-khan, likewise a son of Zingus, and Holagu-khan, a nephew of Zagatai, they had made their appearance on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. In this alarming conjuncture, it was thought advisable by Pope Innocent IV. in a convocation of the clergy at Lyons, in 1245, to send ambassadors to these formidable conquerors, to endeavour to pacify them, and induce them to turn the destructive tide of their conquests in some other direction, and perhaps partly in the hope of endeavouring, if possible, to convert them to the Christian faith, and inducing them to direct their arms against the Turks and Saracens, who oppressed the Holy Land. For this purpose, six monks were selected from the new and severe orders of predicants and minorites. John de Plano Carpini and Benedict, travelled through Bohemia and Poland to Kiow in Russia, and thence by the mouth of the Dnieper to the camp of Korrensa, or Corrensa, a general of the Mongals; whence, crossing the Don and Wolga or Volga, they came to the encampment of Bata-khan, called also Baty and Baatu, who sent them to Kajuk-khan, the emperor of the Mongals, whom they call Cuyne. The other ambassadors were Asceline, with Friars Alexander, Albert, and Simon de St Quintin: who went by the south of the Caspian, through Syria, Persia, and Chorassan, to the court of Baiju-Nojan, or as they call him Bajothnoy: but of the particulars of this journey very little has been preserved by Vincentius, so that in fact, the travels here published belong almost exclusively to Carpini.
The full title given by Hakluyt to this relation is worth preserving as a literary curiosity, and is as follows: