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This great book makes two important points:
1. The young Khan prince used communications and tributes from the West (Europe) to cemment his position with his army, who were all christians, and more importantly
2. The pictures and scrolls sent by the Khan to the Pope started the changes in art that led to perspective, landscapes, and three dimensional figures and paintings. This was the beginning of the Renaissance!
Lauren Arnold has gone to primary sources to gather a story that is broad, sweeping, and detailed in its reach from Medieval Europe to the China of one of the earliest Kahns. From this evidence she reconstructs how a gift from the Pope to the Kahn was misinterpreted by the members of the Khans court, and is celebrated in paintings and poems from that time. She also looks at how a gift from the Kahn, recorded in the 1304 inventory of the Papal Treasury, may have started the Renaissance in Europe by introducing the new ideas of perspective and depth into the paintings by Giotto when he did a decoration for the Pope in the main church in Assissi.