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Author: Denise Aigle

Abstract

This paper deals with the Great Khans and Ilkhans’ letters, and with the question of their authenticity. Generally, these letters were written in Mongolian, but very few of the original documents have come down to us. The author analyses three letters sent by the Mongols to the Latin West. This paper points out the leading role of the Eastern Christians in the translation of the letters, and their hope for an alliance between the Ilkhans and the Latin West. In these letters the Mongols emphasised the protection afforded to the Christians, the legend of Prester John and the possibility of returning Jerusalem to the Franks. But the offer of collaboration went unheeded.

In: Inner Asia
Author: Denise Aigle

Abstract

Mongol law, the jasaq, has provided the basis for a long tradition of studies which were inaugurated by Petis de la Croix in 1710. He was the first to define a list of precepts of the jasaq, but without taking into consideration either the chronology or their origins. Most subsequent scholars dealing with the question revived this same vision of the jasaq. Debate was especially focused on whether or not the Mongols possessed a written code of laws. But, until now, little discussion has taken place concerning what the jasaq represented for the Mongols themselves and how this Mongol law was perceived by Mediaeval authors who, on the whole, confused the imperial edicts (jasaq) with customs (yosun). The present article is an attempt to clarify these issues. The author examines the jasaq in its politico-cultural context and, in particular, the analysis of the precepts takes into consideration shamanism, the Mongol system of representations. Reasons for the lack of understanding by Muslims of certain customs in disharmony with Islam are thereby highlighted, reasons which led them to see, in the jasaq, an equivalent of the sharī'a: a Mongol order imposed on populations which had fallen under their domination. La loi mongole, le jasaq, a donné lieu à une longue tradition d'études qui fut inaugurée par Petis de la Croix au XVIIe siècle. Il fut le premier à dresser une liste des préceptes du jasaq, sans tenir compte de la chronologie des sources et de leur provenance. Les chercheurs qui se sont penchés par la suite sur cette question ont repris, pour la plupart d'entre eux, cette vision du jasaq. Le débat s'est surtout focalisé sur l'existence ou non d'un code de loi écrit chez les Mongols. Mais, jusqu'à présent, il a été peu discuté de ce que le jasaq représentait pour les Mongols eux-mêmes et comment cette loi mongole a été perçue par les auteurs médiévaux qui confondaient, la plupart du temps, les édités impériaux (jasaq) et les coutumes (yosun). Cet article fait le point sur ces questions. L'auteur examine le jasaq dans son contexte politico-culturel et, en particulier, il prend en compte, dans l'analyse des préceptes, le système de représentations des Mongols, le chamanisme. Il met ainsi en lumière les raisons de l'incompréhension, de la part des musulmans, de certaines coutumes en désaccord avec l'islam, ce qui les a conduits à voir dans le jasaq l'équivalent de la sharī'a: un ordre mongol imposé aux populations tombées sous leur domination.

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient