The Travels by Marco PoloMarco Polo (1254-1329) has achieved an almost archetypal status as a traveller, and his Travels is one of the first great travel books of Western literature, outside the ancient world. The Travels recounts Polos journey to the eastern court of Kublai Khan, the chieftain of the Mongol empire which covered the Asian continent, but which was almost unknown to Polos contemporaries. Encompassing a twenty-four year period from 1721, Polos account details his travels in the service of the empire, from Beijing to northern India and ends with the remarkable story of Polos return voyage from the Chinese port of Amoy to the Persian Gulf. Alternately factual and fantastic, Polos prose at once reveals the medieval imaginations limits, and captures the wonder of subsequent travel writers when faced with the unfamiliar, the exotic or the unknown.
11 Things You May Not Know About Marco Polo
In , they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time. The three of them embarked on an epic journey to Asia, returning after 24 years to find Venice at war with Genoa ; Marco was imprisoned and dictated his stories to Rustichello da Pisa , a cellmate. He was released in , became a wealthy merchant , married, and had three children. He died in and was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Venice. Though he was not the first European to reach China see Europeans in Medieval China , Marco Polo was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experience.
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant believed to have journeyed across Asia at the height of the Mongol Empire. He first set out at age 17 with his father and uncle, traveling overland along what later became known as the Silk Road. Upon reaching China, Marco Polo entered the court of powerful Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, who dispatched him on trips to help administer the realm. Marco Polo remained abroad for 24 years. Though not the first European to explore China—his father and uncle, among others, had already been there—he became famous for his travels thanks to a popular book he co-authored while languishing in a Genoese prison. Marco Polo was born around into a prosperous merchant family in the Italian city-state of Venice.
In , three years after he returned from his journey, Polo was captured after leading a Venetian galley into battle against the rival Italian city-state of Genoa. While in prison he encountered Rustichello of Pisa, a fellow captive who was known as a talented writer of romances. Eager to document his years as a traveler, Polo dictated his life story to Rustichello, who acted as a kind of ghostwriter. By the time of their release in , the two men had completed the book that would make Marco Polo a household name. Marco Polo may be the most storied Far East traveler, but he certainly was not the first. Other Catholic emissaries would later follow, including William of Rubruck, who traveled east in the s on a quest to convert the Mongols to Christianity. These early missionaries were largely inspired by the myth of Prester John, a legendary king who was believed to rule over a Christian empire in the East.
How Marco Polo Changed the World!
He inspired future travelers, including Christopher Columbus. Born presumably in the Republic of Venice around , Marco Polo played an important role in cartography. While in Constantinople, the Polos foresaw a political shift in and headed for the Volga River, reaching the court of Berke Khan, the sovereign of the western territories of the Mongol Empire. These skillful merchants doubled their assets while in Bolghar and also became friends with Kublai Khan, the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. Marco Polo only met his father and uncle in , when the Polo brothers returned to Venice. After the death of his mother, Marco was raised by his aunt and received education in trade-related subjects such as foreign currency and managing cargo ships. In , the Polo family decided to embark on a long, adventurous journey in Asia, travelling around 15, miles and passing through China, Japan and India.
Marco Polo was an inmate in the Genoese prison at the Palazzo di San Giorgio from to , arrested for commanding a Venetian galley in a war against Genoa. While there, he told tales of his travels through Asia to his fellow prisoners and the guards alike, and his cellmate Rustichello da Pisa wrote them down. Once the two were released from prison, copies of the manuscript, titled The Travels of Marco Polo , captivated Europe. Polo told tales of fabulous Asian courts, black stones that would catch on fire coal , and Chinese money made out of paper. Ever since people have debated the question: Did Marco Polo really go to China , and see all of the things he claims to have seen?