Johann Beckmann (ed.): Litteratur der älteren Reisebeschreibungen. Nachrichten von ihren Verfassern, von ihren Inhalten, von ihren Ausgaben und Übersetzungen; nebst eingestreuten Anmerkungen über mancherley gelehrte Gegenstände, 8 vols., Göttingen: Röver 1807–1810, vol. 1 (1807)
Signature: Ff 44-4070/1 raro IV
Figures: Pp. 165-171
In his book, published in 1807, Beckmann offers a comprehensive review of past travelogs, notable amongst them the one written by the Venetian merchant and diplomat Giosafat Barbaro (1413–1494). Beckmann discusses several aspects, including the book’s editorial history and details related to Barbaro’s life, in so doing also referring to other authors and different editions of the manuscript he had consulted, before moving to critically report on Barbaro’s travelog covering his journey to Eastern Europe. Barbaro moved to the Tartar city of Tanais in 1436, then a trading post run by Genoese and Venetian merchants.
Barbaro’s travelog is meaningful to understand the history of these territories during the 15th century, also due to the attention he pays to the diverse array of ethnic groups living in the area – their customs, religious beliefs, and interrelations – be these peaceful or not.
Beckmann analyses the reliability of Barbaro’s travelog by comparing the events narrated by Barbaro with other examples of local historiography. Secondly, and more importantly, Beckmann reconstructs Barbaro’s travels and his stay in the area, as well as the descriptions of the land of the Tartars (the term used by Barbaro for the locals, indicating a Turkish-speaking ethnic group from Central Asia). [FM]