The word here used in the Latin, balistais,
corrupted in transcription for balistariis; and may either mean
cross-bow-men, or men for working balistae, the ancient artillery, if
the expression be allowable. Arcubalistarii is the appropriate middle
age Latin for men armed with cross-bows.—E.
 Our good minorite seems in this chapter to have
old proverb, fas est ab hoste doceri; but except in the leading
political advice of the section, he might have been better employed in
following the adage of ne sutor ultra crepidam.—E.
Of the Journey of Friar John de Plano Carpini, to the First Guard of the Tartars.
Setting out, by command from the apostolic See, upon our journey to the Tartars, lest there might arise danger from their proximity to the church of God, we came first to the king of Bohemia, with whom we were acquainted, and who advised us to travel through Poland and Russia, because he had kinsmen in Poland, through whose assistance we might be enabled to travel in Russia; and he supplied us with recommendatory letters and passports, giving us free passage as his charges through his dominions, whence we proceeded to the court of Boleslaus, duke of Silesia, his nephew, who was likewise known and friendly to us. He treated us in the same hospitable manner, and transmitted us free of expense to Conrad, duke of Lautiscia, or Masovia, where, by God’s grace, Wasilico, duke of Russia, then was, from whom we fully learned the arts of the Tartars, as he had sent messengers to them who were already returned. Learning that it was necessary for us to make presents, we caused some skins of beavers and other animals to be purchased with part of the money which had been given us in charity