Syro-Mongolian greetings for the King of France. A note about the letter of Hülegü to King Louis IX (1262).


  • Pier Giorgio Borbone


The Ilkhan Hülegü, Mongol ruler of Iran, sent from Maragha a letter
in Latin (10 April 1262) to the King of France, Louis IX, proposing
a military alliance against the Mamluk sultanate. The Latin text was
most probably written by «Richardus notarius ac interpres latinorum
[to Hülegü]». In the salutation to the addressee, an exotic word is found:
«Barachmar», which scholars considered a mistakenly written, shortened
form of some Perso-Arabic expression. Here we suggest instead
that it originates from the Syriac greeting formula barrek mār! (brk mry), «O Lord, bless me» (lit. «Bless, my Lord!»), which according to
Bar ‘Ebroyo (1225/6-1286) had been borrowed by the Mongols already
at the time of Güyük Khan reign (1246-1248). It is noteworthy that
comparative evidence is lacking, greetings being usually absent from
the letters (in Mongolian and in Persian language) sent by Mongol rulers
in the thirteenth-fourteenth century.