Except for Marco Polo (whose book entitled, The Million, meaning a million lies about a fabulous China), Europeans knew very little about China. When the Mongols pushed out of China in their conquests to the west, suddenly the Europeans were faced with a veritable threat. In 1241, Mongols had killed more than 100,000 knights and soldiers in Russia, Poland and Hungary. In addition, the invaders laid waste to the land like no other force in history. Pope Gregory IX, understanding too well the threat of doom, was helpless because Europe knew nothing about those invaders; worse, there was no standing army to meet the challenge. The Pope put together a team of missionaries to go to China with the secret mission of gathering appropriate intelligence to bring back. Friar Giovanni Carpini did exactly that. He went to China, gathered the information, wrote them down in Latin, and presented them to the Pope. His extensive report, however, was never published. The present English translation by Hildinger is the first ever to be published in English, and may still be one of a kind in the world.