3. Diplomats and Explorers. Travels to Ukraine in the 16th Century

In the 16th century, the politically tense situation in Eastern Europe drew several important diplomats to areas belonging to present-day Ukraine. Such journeys were made possible not least by the growing number of itineraries to this region, of which Jörg Gail’s (1520-28–1584) Reißbüchlin is one of the earliest examples. Sigmund von Herberstein (1486–1566), for instance, was committed to peace between the Grand Duchy of Moscow and Poland-Lithuania on behalf of the Habsburgs, while Marcin Broniewski (Broniovius; c. 1568–1624) worked for an alliance with Khan Mehmed II Giray (1532–1584) of Crimea at the behest of Stephan Báthory (1533–1586), king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and prince of Transylvania. Kahn Mehmed II was to be persuaded to focus his Eastern European raids on Tsarist Muscovy, with which Poland-Lithuania was also at war. Broniewski’s Tartariae descriptio (Eng. 1625, pp. 632–643), published posthumously in Latin in 1795, describes this journey (1578–1579) and is considered one of the classic sources of early modern cultural history of Crimea. Refraining from depicting this region as barbaric, as often done in older literature, he describes the peninsula in his report as a predominantly peaceful country shaped by Muslim, Christian and Byzantine cultures, unlike The True Travels, Adventures and Observations … ( 1630 , chap. XII-XIV ), the travelog of the English explorer (and the alleged lover of Pocahontas) John Smith (1580–1631), which revives many of the old stereotypes. [TT]