Ibn Battuta was a famous traveler and explorer of the Middle Ages. He was born towards the end of the Abbasid Caliphate’s rule, and died just a century or so before the rise of the Ottomans.
Ibn Battuta’s life story is one of the most famous in history, and its record was a piece of literature which gained international attention in the 1900s.
Ibn Battuta is important to historians because he was one of the most well-travelled men of the medieval world.
Originally born in Islamic Morocco, Ibn Battuta grew up in a Muslim family, and was educated in an Islamic school that taught him how to read, write, and understand the legal system of the Empire.
Ibn Battuta was a very curious child, and this curiosity did not leave him after he grew up. At the age of 21, he decided it was time to complete the Hajj, a Muslim rite of passage which involves making a pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
From his home in Morocco, the trip to Mecca was thousands of miles long. He travelled first across Northern Africa with a merchant caravan, and visited many great cities along the way like Alexandria, Cairo, Damascus, and Jerusalem. It took him a year-and-a-half to reach Mecca, and the journey inspired him to want to travel the world.
And over the next three decades, Ibn Battuta did just that. First, he explored the Middle East using parts of the Silk Road, and visited cities like Baghdad and Moscow on his way. After completing his exploration of Asia, he returned to Africa and explored its east coast.
Then, he went on to explore Eastern Europe, India, China, and finally returned to Morocco in the middle of the 1300s to work in law. During his travels, Ibn Battuta worked as a judge for the Sultan of Delhi (the ruler of India at the time) and was even graced with meeting the Mongol Khan, the ruler of China.
This afforded him an insight into the political systems of two very different countries, and the information provided about these countries in his writings is a very valuable source to historians.
Towards the end of his life, Ibn Battuta completed his exploration of Africa, and settled down as a judge in Morocco for the last 15 years of his life. The story of his adventures was written down in a book called the “Rihla”. He died in the year 1369, at the age of 65.
Ibn Battuta’s detailed accounts of various medieval cities has provided historians with an excellent image of what life was like across the different continents during his lifetime.
The truth of some of these accounts has been called into question – however, they’re generally accepted as truth.
The Rihla was first popularized in the 19th century, after being rediscovered by a group of German scholars, and is recognized as one of the oldest pieces of writing to offer details of the bubonic plague during the Black Death.
– A traveler and explorer of the Middle Ages.
– The Sultan of Dehli, and the Mongol Khan.
– The Rihla.
– He was one of the most well-travelled men of the medieval world, and his life story offers an insight into the differences between many regions of the time.