Giovanni da Pian del Carpine

John of Plano Carpini's great journey to the East. His route is indicated, railroad track style, in dark blue

Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, variously rendered in English as John of Pian de Carpine, John of Plano Carpini or Joannes de Plano (ca 1185[1] – 1 August 1252), was a medieval Italian diplomat, archbishop and explorer and one of the first Europeans to enter the court of the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.[2] He is the author of the earliest important Western account of northern and central Asia, Rus, and other regions of the Mongol dominion. He was the Primate of Serbia, based in Antivari, from 1247 to 1252.

Life before the journey

Giovanni appears to have been a native of Umbria, in central Italy. His surname was derived from Pian del Carpine (literally "Hornbeam Plain"), an area known later as Magione, between Perugia and Cortona. He was one of the companions and disciples of his near-contemporary and countryman Saint Francis of Assisi.

Highly-esteemed within the Franciscan order, Giovanni had a prominent role in the propagation of its teachings in northern Europe, holding in succession the offices of warden (custos) in Saxony and provincial (minister) of Germany. (He may also have held positions in Barbary, Cologne and been provincial of Spain.)