me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Monks and Mongols

Some of you know I'm planning a thriller set partly in Mongolia, and to that end I'm reading a lot of background research material. Some of you -- maybe the same ones -- also know I've spent 2 weeks in August for the last 3 years in Assisi, leading a writing workshop. Which, incidentally, I expect you all to come to this coming August, Art Workshop International's 30th anniversary. Well, I just found this in Jack Weatherford's GENGHIS KHAN AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD (an excellent book, linked here to Amazon but as usual I urge you to buy it from an independent bookstore):

"In May 1288...Pope Nicholas IV issued a papal bull calling for construction of a new mother church at Assisi for his Franciscan order. As the first Franciscan pope, Nicholas IV...seemingly wanted to proclaim the coming of age of the order. For this project, they wanted imagery that not only proclaimed their new status but highlighted the accomplishments of the order. The Franciscans had the closest ties of any Europe group to the Mongol court. Among others, the monks in the delegation of Plano di Carpini, who had served as the first envoy to the Mongols...and William of Rubruck...had all been Franciscans. The artists borrowed themes and techniques from Chinese and Persian art brought in by the Mongols...In addition to simple silks, they portray the elaborate brocades the Mongols liked and sent to the pope and kings as gifts. The artists placed Mongols in a variety of Christian paintings with their distinctive clothing, headgear, and bows. Horses began to the style of Chinese drawings made popular through Mongol commerce."

It goes on like that. My big discovery as I've been doing this research has been what a bad rap the Mongols have gotten, how sophisticated they really were, how far into Europe they reached, and what a tremendous interest and belief they had in commerce, the movement of goods, people, and ideas. Plus, they were big on religious freedom. But Assisi? The Basilica? Who knew?

Can't wait to go back and look!

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