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 , born c. The Polos were likely shrewd, alert, and courageous; they traded with the Middle East and acquired considerable wealth and prestige. Marco Polo was 17 or 18 when he began his journey from Venice to the farthest reaches of the Mongol empire. The wealth of new geographic information recorded by Polo was widely used in the late 15th and the 16th centuries, during the age of the great European voyages of discovery and conquest. He escorted a Mongol princess, with his father and uncle, by sea to Hormuz, and by land to Khorasan, during his return voyage to Venice. The family had traded with the Middle East for a long time, acquiring considerable wealth and prestige. Although it is uncertain if the Polos were of the nobility, the matter was of little importance in Venice , a city of republican and mercantile traditions.
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.
Who Was Marco Polo?
Marco Polo to January 8, was a Venetian explorer known for the book The Travels of Marco Polo , which describes his voyage to and experiences in Asia. Polo traveled extensively with his family, journeying from Europe to Asia from to and remaining in China for 17 of those years. Around , he left China, acting as consort along the way to a Mongol princess who was being sent to Persia. Just a few years after returning to Venice from China, Marco commanded a ship in a war against the rival city of Genoa. He was eventually captured and sentenced to a Genoese prison, where he met a fellow prisoner and writer named Rustichello. As the two men became friends, Marco told Rustichello about his time in Asia, what he'd seen, where he'd traveled and what he'd accomplished. The book made Marco a celebrity.
In Polo's day and even today, there has been some doubt about whether Polo really went to China. However, most experts agree that he did indeed make the journey. Marco Polo was born around into a wealthy Venetian merchant family, though the actual date and location of his birth are unknown. His father, Niccolo, and his uncle Maffeo were successful jewel merchants who spent much of Marco's childhood in Asia. Marco's mother died when he was young; therefore, young Marco was primarily raised by extended family. They expanded long-distance trade and people began to expect accessibility to the foreign goods they brought. Merchants, like the Polo family, became increasingly wealthier.