Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Overview
Marco Polo (ˈmɑrkoʊ ˈpoʊloʊ; ˈmarko ˈpɔːlo; c. 1254 – January 9, 1324) was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 whose travels are recorded in Il Milione
The Travels of Marco Polo
Books of the Marvels of the World or Description of the World , also nicknamed Il Milione or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing the...

, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo
Niccolò and Maffeo Polo
Niccolò and Maffeo Polo were the father and uncle respectively of Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer. Before the birth of Marco, the two became merchants, and established trading posts in Constantinople, Sudak in the Crimea, and in a western part of the Mongol Empire...

, travelled through Asia and apparently met Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

. In 1269, they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Marco Polo'
Start a new discussion about 'Marco Polo'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Marco Polo (ˈmɑrkoʊ ˈpoʊloʊ; ˈmarko ˈpɔːlo; c. 1254 – January 9, 1324) was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 whose travels are recorded in Il Milione
The Travels of Marco Polo
Books of the Marvels of the World or Description of the World , also nicknamed Il Milione or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing the...

, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo
Niccolò and Maffeo Polo
Niccolò and Maffeo Polo were the father and uncle respectively of Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer. Before the birth of Marco, the two became merchants, and established trading posts in Constantinople, Sudak in the Crimea, and in a western part of the Mongol Empire...

, travelled through Asia and apparently met Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

. In 1269, 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
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

; Marco was imprisoned, and dictated his stories to a cellmate. He was released in 1299, became a wealthy merchant
Merchant
A merchant is a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit.Merchants can be one of two types:# A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant...

, married and had 3 children. He died in 1324, and was buried in San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo, Venice
San Lorenzo is a church building in the sestiere of Castello of Venice, northern Italy.The church dates to the 9th century, and became attached to the neighboring Benedictine monastery. It was rebuilt in 1580-1616 to designs by Simone Sorela. The high altar was partly sculpted by Giovanni Maria da...

.

Their pioneering journey inspired Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 and others. Marco Polo's other legacies include Venice Marco Polo Airport, the Marco Polo sheep
Marco Polo sheep
The Marco Polo sheep is a subspecies of argali sheep, named after Marco Polo. Their habitat is the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Marco Polo sheep are distinguishable mostly by their large size and spiraling horns. Their conservation status is "near threatened" and efforts have been made to...

, and several books and films. He also had an influence on European cartography, leading to the introduction of the Fra Mauro map
Fra Mauro map
The Fra Mauro map, "considered the greatest memorial of medieval cartography" according to Roberto Almagià, is a map made around 1450 by the Venetian monk Fra Mauro...

.

Early life and Asian travel



The exact time and place of Marco Polo's birth are unknown, and current theories are mostly conjectural. One possible place of birth is Venice's former contrada of San Giovanni Crisostomo, which is sometimes presented by historians as the birthplace, and it is generally accepted that Marco Polo was born in the Venetian Republic with most biographers pointing towards Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 itself as Marco Polo's home town. Some biographers suggest that Polo was born in the town of Korčula
Korcula
Korčula is an island in the Adriatic Sea, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia. The island has an area of ; long and on average wide — and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 16,182 inhabitants make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk...

 (Curzola), on the island of Korčula in today's Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, however there is no proof to this claim. The most quoted specific date of Polo's birth is somewhere "around 1254".Many sources state this date; states, "born in or around 1254. (This date, like nearly all the others concerning major events in his life, is conjectural.)" His father Niccolò was a merchant who traded with the Middle East, becoming wealthy and achieving great prestige. Niccolò and his brother Maffeo set off on a trading voyage, before Marco was born. In 1260, Niccolò and Maffeo were residing in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 when they foresaw a political change; they liquidated their assets into jewels and moved away. According to The Travels of Marco Polo, they passed through much of Asia, and met with the Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

. Meanwhile, Marco Polo's mother died, and he was raised by an aunt and uncle. Polo was well educated, and learned merchant subjects including foreign currency, appraising, and the handling of cargo ships, although he learned little or no Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

.
In 1269, Niccolò and Maffeo returned to Venice, meeting Marco for the first time. In 1271, Marco Polo (at seventeen years of age), his father, and his uncle set off for Asia on the series of adventures that were later documented in Marco's book. They returned to Venice in 1295, 24 years later, with many riches and treasures. They had traveled almost 15000 miles (24,140.1 km).

Genoese captivity and later life



Upon the Polos' return to Italy, Venice was at war with Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

. Genoese admiral Lamba D'Oria
Lamba Doria
Lamba D'Oria was an Italian admiral of the Republic of Genoa.The brother of the capitano del popolo Oberto Doria, he was one of the best Genoese admirals, together with his descendant Andrea Doria...

 overwhelmed a Venetian fleet at the Battle of Curzola
Battle of Curzola
Battle of Curzola was the naval battle which was fought on September 9, 1298 between the fleets of Genoa and Venice; it was a disaster for Venice, a major setback among many battles fought in the 13th and 14th centuries between Pisa, Genoa and Venice in a long series of wars...

 near the island of Korčula, and Polo was taken prisoner. He spent several months of his imprisonment dictating a detailed account of his travels to a fellow inmate, Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa, also known as Rusticiano and Rustigielo , was an Italian romance writer best known for cowriting Marco Polo's autobiography while they were in prison together in Genoa. A native Pisan, he may have been captured by the Genoese at the Battle of Meloria in 1284, amid a conflict...

, who incorporated tales of his own as well as other collected anecdotes and current affairs from China. The book, soon spread throughout Europe in manuscript form, became known as The Travels of Marco Polo, and depicts the Polos' journeys throughout Asia, giving Europeans their first comprehensive look into the inner workings of the Far East, including China, India, and Japan.

While Polo's book describes paper money
Paper Money
Paper Money is the second album by the band Montrose. It was released in 1974 and was the band's last album to feature Sammy Hagar as lead vocalist.-History:...

 and the burning of coal, it fails to mention the Great Wall of China, chopsticks, and footbinding, making skeptics wonder if Marco Polo had really gone to China, or wrote his book based on hearsay. However, researchers note that the Great Wall familiar to us today is a Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 structure, post-dating Marco Polo's travels by more than two centuries. The Yuan
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 rulers whom Polo served, as well as the preceding Jin and Liao
Liao Dynasty
The Liao Dynasty , also known as the Khitan Empire was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper between 9071125...

 Empires controlled territories both north and south of the today's wall, and would have no reasons to maintain any fortifications that may have remained there from the earlier dynasties.
Other Europeans who traveled to Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

 during the Yuan Dynasty, such as Giovanni de' Marignolli
Giovanni de' Marignolli
Giovanni de' Marignolli , a notable traveller to the Far East in the fourteenth century , born probably before 1290, and sprung from a noble family in Florence....

 and Odoric of Pordenone
Odoric of Pordenone
Odoric of Pordenone was an Italian late-medieval traveler...

, said nothing about the wall either.

Polo was finally released from captivity in August 1299, and returned home to Venice, where his father and uncle had purchased a large house in the central quarter named contrada San Giovanni Crisostomo. The company continued its activities and Marco soon became a wealthy merchant. Polo financed other expeditions, but never left Venice again. In 1300, he married Donata Badoer, the daughter of Vitale Badoer, a merchant. They had three daughters, called Fantina, Bellela and Moreta.

Death



In 1323, Polo was confined to bed, due to illness. On January 8, 1324, despite physicians' efforts to treat him, Polo was on his deathbed. To write and certify the will, his family requested Giovanni Giustiniani, a priest of San Procolo. His wife, Donata, and his three daughters were appointed by him as co-executrices
Executor
An executor, in the broadest sense, is one who carries something out .-Overview:...

. The church was entitled by law to a portion of his estate; he approved of this and ordered that a further sum be paid to the convent of San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo, Venice
San Lorenzo is a church building in the sestiere of Castello of Venice, northern Italy.The church dates to the 9th century, and became attached to the neighboring Benedictine monastery. It was rebuilt in 1580-1616 to designs by Simone Sorela. The high altar was partly sculpted by Giovanni Maria da...

, the place where he wished to be buried. He also set free a "Tartar
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

 slave" who may have accompanied him from Asia.

He divided up the rest of his assets, including several properties, between individuals, religious institutions, and every guild and fraternity to which he belonged. He also wrote-off multiple debts including 300 lire that his sister-in-law owed him, and others for the convent of San Giovanni, San Paolo of the Order of Preachers, and a cleric named Friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

 Benvenuto. He ordered 220 soldi
Solidus (coin)
The solidus was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans, and a weight measure for gold more generally, corresponding to 4.5 grams.-Roman and Byzantine coinage:...

 be paid to Giovanni Giustiniani for his work as a notary and his prayers. The will, which was not signed by Polo, but was validated by then relevant "signum manus" rule, by which the testator only had to touch the document to make it abide to the rule of law, was dated January 9, 1324. Due to the Venetian law stating that the day ends at sunset, the exact date of Marco Polo's death cannot be determined, but it was between the sunsets of January 8 and 9, 1324.

Travels of Marco Polo




An authoritative version of Marco Polo's book does not exist, and the early manuscripts differ significantly. The published versions of his book either rely on single scripts, blend multiple versions together or add notes to clarify, for example in the English translation by Henry Yule
Henry Yule
Sir Henry Yule was a Scottish Orientalist.He was born at Inveresk, Scotland, near Edinburgh, the son of Major William Yule , translator of the Apothegms of Ali. Henry Yule was educated at Edinburgh, Addiscombe, and Chatham, and joined the Bengal Engineers in 1840...

. Another English translation by A.C. Moule and Paul Pelliot
Paul Pelliot
Paul Pelliot was a French sinologist and explorer of Central Asia. Initially intending to enter the foreign service, Pelliot took up the study of Chinese and became a pupil of Sylvain Lévi and Édouard Chavannes....

, published in 1938, is based on the Latin manuscript which was found in the library of the Cathedral of Toledo
Cathedral of Toledo
The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Toledo, Spain, seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Toledo....

 in 1932, and is 50% longer than other versions. Approximately 150 variants in various languages are known to exist, and without the availability of a printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 many errors were made during copying and translation, resulting in many discrepancies.
Polo related his memoirs to Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa, also known as Rusticiano and Rustigielo , was an Italian romance writer best known for cowriting Marco Polo's autobiography while they were in prison together in Genoa. A native Pisan, he may have been captured by the Genoese at the Battle of Meloria in 1284, amid a conflict...

 while both were prisoners of the Genova Republic. Rustichello wrote The Devisament du Monde in Langues d'Oil
Langues d'oïl
The langues d'oïl or langues d'oui , in English the Oïl or Oui languages, are a dialect continuum that includes standard French and its closest autochthonous relatives spoken today in the northern half of France, southern Belgium, and the Channel Islands...

, a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

 and western merchants in the orient. The idea probably was to create a handbook for merchants
Pratica della mercatura
The Florentine merchant Francesco Balducci Pegolotti compiled his Libro di divisamenti di paesi e di misuri di mercatanzie e daltre cose bisognevoli di sapere a mercatanti between 1335 and 1343, probably within the period 1339 to 1340...

, essentially a text on weights, measures and distances.

Narrative



The book starts with a preface about his father and uncle traveling to Bolghar
Bolghar
Bolghar was intermittently capital of Volga Bulgaria from the 8th to the 15th centuries, along with Bilyar and Nur-Suvar. It was situated on the bank of the Volga River, about 30 km downstream from its confluence with the Kama River and some 130 km from modern Kazan...

 where Prince Berke Khan
Berke
Berke Khan was the ruler of the Golden Horde who effectively consolidated the power of the Blue Horde and White Hordes from 1257 to 1266. He succeeded his brother Batu Khan of the Blue Horde and was responsible for the first official establishment of Islam in a khanate of the Mongol Empire...

 lived. A year later, they went to Ukek
Ukek
Ukek was a medieval city in the Golden Horde, the territory of the Mongol khanate. It was sited on the Volga River in the Uvekovka River's estuary. In the beginning of 14th century, it was a major trade and political center of the Golden Horde. Ukek coined its own money. In 1395 Timur's troops...

 and continued to Bukhara
Bukhara
Bukhara , from the Soghdian βuxārak , is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan. The nation's fifth-largest city, it has a population of 263,400 . The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time...

. There, an envoy from Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 invited them to meet Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, who had never met Europeans. In 1266, they reached the seat of the Kublai Khan at Dadu
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

, present day Beijing, China. Khan received the brothers with hospitality and asked them many questions regarding the European legal and political system. He also inquired about the Pope and Church in Rome. After the brothers answered the questions he tasked them with delivering a letter to the Pope, requesting 100 Christians acquainted with the Seven Arts
Liberal arts
The term liberal arts refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy...

 (grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy). Kublai Khan requested that an envoy bring him back oil of the lamp in Jerusalem
Chrism
Chrism , also called "Myrrh" , Holy anointing oil, or "Consecrated Oil", is a consecrated oil used in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Rite Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, in the Assyrian Church of the East, and in Old-Catholic churches, as well as Anglican churches in the administration...

. The long sede vacante
Sede vacante
Sede vacante is an expression, used in the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, that refers to the vacancy of the episcopal see of a particular church...

between the death of Pope Clement IV
Pope Clement IV
Pope Clement IV , born Gui Faucoi called in later life le Gros , was elected Pope February 5, 1265, in a conclave held at Perugia that took four months, while cardinals argued over whether to call in Charles of Anjou, the youngest brother of Louis IX of France...

 in 1268 and the election of his successor delayed the Polos in fulfilling Khan's request. They followed the suggestion of Theobald Visconti, then papal legate for the realm of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, and returned to Venice in 1269 or 1270 to await the nomination of the new Pope, which allowed Marco to see his father for the first time, at the age of fifteen or sixteen.

In 1271, Niccolò, Maffeo and Marco Polo embarked on their voyage to fulfill Khan's request. They sailed to Acre
Acre, Israel
Acre , is a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country....

, and then rode on camels to the Persian port of Hormuz
Hormozgan Province
Hormozgan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the south of the country, facing Oman. Its area is , and its provincial capital is Bandar Abbas...

. They wanted to sail to China, but the ships there were not seaworthy, so they continued overland until reaching Khan's summer palace in Shangdu
Xanadu
-Description of Xanadu by Toghon Temur :The lament of Toghon Temur Khan , concerning the loss of Daidu and Heibun Shanduu in 1368, is recorded in many Mongolian historical chronicles...

, near present-day Zhangjiakou
Zhangjiakou
Zhangjiakou, also known also by several other names, is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Hebei province of North China, adjacent to Beijing to the southeast. Its administrative area has a population of 4.35 million, and covers...

. Three and one-half years after leaving Venice, when Marco was about 21 years old, Khan welcomed the Polos into his palace. The exact date of their arrival is unknown, but scholars estimate it to be between 1271 and 1275.Drogön Chögyal Phagpa
Drogön Chögyal Phagpa
Zhogön Qögyä Pagba, Zhogoin Qoigyai Phagspa or Drogön Chögyal Phagpa , born Lochö Gyäcän or Lochoi Gyaicain , was the fifth leader of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. He became the first vice-king of Tibet and played an important political role...

, a Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

an monk and confidant of Kublai Khan, mentions in his diaries that in 1271 a foreign friend of Kublai Khan visits — quite possibly one of the elder Polos or even Marco Polo himself, although, no name was given. If this is not the case, a more likely date for their arrival is 1275 (or 1274, according to the research of Japanese scholar Matsuo Otagi).
On reaching the Yuan court, the Polos presented the sacred oil from Jerusalem and the papal letters to their patron.

Marco knew four languages, and the family had accumulated a great deal of knowledge and experience that was useful to Khan. It is possible that he became a government official; he wrote about many imperial visits to China's southern and eastern provinces, the far south and Burma.

Kublai Khan declined the Polos' requests to leave China. They became worried about returning home safely, believing that if Khan died, his enemies might turn against them because of their close involvement with the ruler. In 1292, Khan's great-nephew, then ruler of Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, sent representatives to China in search of a potential wife, and they asked the Polos to accompany them, so they were permitted to return to Persia with the wedding party – which left that same year from Zaitun
Quanzhou
Quanzhou is a prefecture-level city in Fujian province, People's Republic of China. It borders all other prefecture-level cities in Fujian but two and faces the Taiwan Strait...

 in southern China on a fleet of 14 junks
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

. The party sailed to the port of Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, travelled north to Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, sailed west to the Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

 port of Jaffna
Jaffna Kingdom
The Jaffna kingdom , also known as Kingdom of Aryacakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula after the invasion of Magha, who is said to have been from Kalinga, in India...

 under Savakanmaindan
Savakanmaindan
Savakanmaindan was a monarch of the kingdoms of Tambralinga and Jaffna. He was the son of the Savakan king Chandrabhanu of Tambralinga who usurped the Tamil throne in 1255...

 and to Pandyan
Pandyan Kingdom
The Pandyan dynasty was an ancient Tamil dynasty. The Pandyas were one of the four Tamil dynasties , which ruled South India until the 15th century CE. They initially ruled their country Pandya Nadu from Korkai, a seaport on the Southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, and in later times moved...

 of Tamilakkam. Describing the Pandyan kingdom under Lord Emperor Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan I as the richest empire in existence, Polo arrived during the reign of Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I, son of Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan I and one of five brother kings on the continent. Eventually Polo crossed the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

 to Hormuz
Ormus
The Kingdom of Ormus was a 10th to 17th century kingdom located within the Persian Gulf and extending as far as the Strait of Hormuz...

. The two-years voyage was a perilous one – of the six hundred people (not including the crew) in the convoy only eighteen had survived (including all three Polos). The Polos left the wedding party after reaching Hormuz and travelled overland to the port of Trebizond on the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, the present day Trabzon
Trabzon
Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Iran in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast...

.

Further exploration





Other lesser-known European explorers had already travelled to China, such as Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, or John of Plano Carpini or John of Pian de Carpine or Joannes de Plano was one of the first Europeans to enter the court of the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. He is the author of the earliest important Western account of northern and central Asia, Rus, and other...

, but Polo's book meant that their journey was the first to be widely known. Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 was inspired enough by Polo's description of the Far East to visit those lands for himself; a copy of the book was among his belongings, with handwritten annotations. Bento de Góis, inspired by Polo's writings of a Christian kingdom in the east, travelled 4000 miles (6,437.4 km) in three years across Central Asia. He never found the kingdom, but ended his travels at the Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

 in 1605, proving that Cathay was what Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

 (1552–1610) called "China".

Commemoration


The Marco Polo sheep
Marco Polo sheep
The Marco Polo sheep is a subspecies of argali sheep, named after Marco Polo. Their habitat is the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Marco Polo sheep are distinguishable mostly by their large size and spiraling horns. Their conservation status is "near threatened" and efforts have been made to...

, a subspecies of Ovis aries
Domestic sheep
Sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries...

, is named after the explorer, who described it during his crossing of Pamir
Pamir Mountains
The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction or knot of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains and since Victorian times they have been known as the "Roof of the World" a probable...

 (ancient Mount Imeon
Mount Imeon
Mount Imeon is an ancient name for the Central Asian complex of mountain ranges comprising the present Hindu Kush, Pamir and Tian Shan, extending from the Zagros Mountains in the southwest to the Altay Mountains in the northeast, and linked to the Kunlun, Karakoram and Himalayas to the southeast...

) in 1271. states, "Then there are sheep here as big as asses; and their tails are so large and fat, that one tail shall weigh some 30 lb. They are fine fat beasts, and afford capital mutton." In 1851, a three-masted Clipper
Clipper
A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the 19th century that had three or more masts and a square rig. They were generally narrow for their length, could carry limited bulk freight, small by later 19th century standards, and had a large total sail area...

 built in Saint John, New Brunswick also took his name; the Marco Polo
Marco Polo (ship)
Marco Polo was a 3-masted wooden clipper ship, launched in 1851 at Saint John, New Brunswick. It was named after Venetian explorer Marco Polo.-Construction and design:She measured 184 feet in length, with a beam of 36 feet, and draught of 29 feet...

 was the first ship to sail around the world in under six months. The airport in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 is named Venice Marco Polo Airport, and the frequent flyer program of Hong Kong flag carrier
Flag carrier
A flag carrier is a transportation company, such as an airline or shipping company, that, being locally registered in a given country, enjoys preferential rights or privileges, accorded by the government, for international operations. It may be a state-run, state-owned or private but...

 Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, with its head office and main hub located at Hong Kong International Airport, although the airline's registered office is on the 33rd floor of One Pacific Place...

 is known as the "Marco Polo Club". The travels of Marco Polo are fictionalised in Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne
Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne
Donn Byrne was an Irish novelist. He was born in New York City where his Irish parents were on a business trip at the time, and soon after returned with them to Ireland...

's Messer Marco Polo and Gary Jennings
Gary Jennings
Gary Jennings was an American author who wrote children's and adult novels. In 1980, after the successful novel Aztec, he specialized in writing adult historical fiction novels.-Biography:...

' 1984 novel The Journeyer
The Journeyer
The Journeyer is a historical novel about Marco Polo, written by Gary Jennings and first published in 1984.-Plot introduction:Marco is the only heir to the wealthy Polo family of Venice. Unsupervised, he freely roams the streets and canals of the city getting in trouble...

. Polo also appears as the pivotal character in Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy , the Cosmicomics collection of short stories , and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler .Lionised in Britain and the United States,...

's novel Invisible Cities
Invisible Cities
Invisible Cities is a novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino. It was published in Italy in 1972 by Giulio Einaudi Editore.-Description:The book explores imagination and the imaginable through the descriptions of cities by an explorer, Marco Polo...

. The 1982 television miniseries, Marco Polo, directed by Giuliano Montaldo
Giuliano Montaldo
Giuliano Montaldo is an Italian film director.While he was still a young student, Montaldo was recruited by the director Carlo Lizzani for the role of leading actor in the film Achtung! Banditi!...

 and depicting Polo's travels, won two Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

s and was nominated for six more. Marco Polo also appears as a Great Explorer in the 2008 strategy video game Civilization Revolution
Civilization Revolution
Civilization Revolution is a 2008 iteration of Civilization developed by Firaxis with Sid Meier as designer for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and iOS. A Wii version was originally expected but was put on indefinite hold...

.

Cartography


Marco Polo's travels may have had some influence on the development of European cartography, ultimately leading to the European voyages of exploration
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

 a century later. The 1453 Fra Mauro map
Fra Mauro map
The Fra Mauro map, "considered the greatest memorial of medieval cartography" according to Roberto Almagià, is a map made around 1450 by the Venetian monk Fra Mauro...

 was said by Giovanni Battista Ramusio
Giovanni Battista Ramusio
Giovanni Battista Ramusio was an Italian geographer and travel writer.Born in Treviso, Italy, Ramusio was the son of Paolo Ramusio, a magistrate in the city-state of Venice...

 to have been partially based on the one brought from Cathay
Cathay
Cathay is the Anglicized version of "Catai" and an alternative name for China in English. It originates from the word Khitan, the name of a nomadic people who founded the Liao Dynasty which ruled much of Northern China from 907 to 1125, and who had a state of their own centered around today's...

 by Marco Polo:

See also


  • Chronology of European exploration of Asia
    Chronology of European exploration of Asia
    This article attempts to list every significant event in the history of the European exploration of Asia. It proposes a chronological inventory of these events including every people involved and the places they helped to demystify ....

  • Silk Road
    Silk Road
    The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

    , which Marco Polo traveled.
  • 1284 Yuan expedition to Sri Lanka
    1284 Yuan expedition to Sri Lanka
    The Mongol Yuan Empire dispatched an expedition in 1284 to Sri Lanka. Kublai Khan ordered the voyage with the objective of seizing the tooth of Buddha, one of the most holy relics of Buddhism. Aboard this voyage was an official representative of Kublai, Marco Polo.In 1293, another fleet of the...

  • Did Marco Polo go to China?
    Did Marco Polo go to China?
    Did Marco Polo go to China?, ISBN 978-0813389998, is a 1995 history book by Frances Wood, arguing that Venetian explorer Marco Polo never visited China as told, but travelled no further than Persia, basing his description of China on accounts from Persian travellers.-Further reading:* * *...


Further reading

(Original from the University of Wisconsin – Madison)
  • The Travels of Marco Polo
    The Travels of Marco Polo
    Books of the Marvels of the World or Description of the World , also nicknamed Il Milione or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing the...

    – Volume 1 and Volume 2, written by Marco Polo and Rustichello of Pisa, were published by Project Gutenberg (Young Adult novel)

Television

  • In the Footsteps of Marco Polo is a 2009 PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

     documentary about two friends (Denis Belliveau and Francis O’Donnell), who conceived of the ultimate road trip to retrace Marco Polo's journey from Venice to China via land and sea.
  • A 1982 miniseries featured Ken Marshall and Ruocheng Ying.
  • The 2007 television miniseries, Marco Polo, starring Brian Dennehy
    Brian Dennehy
    Brian Mannion Dennehy is an American actor of film, stage and screen.-Early years:Dennehy was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Hannah and Edward Dennehy, who was a wire service editor for the Associated Press; he has two brothers, Michael and Edward. Dennehy is of Irish ancestry and was...

     as Kublai Khan, and Ian Somerhalder
    Ian Somerhalder
    Ian Joseph Somerhalder is an American model, actor and producer, best known for playing Boone Carlyle in the TV drama Lost and Damon Salvatore in the TV drama The Vampire Diaries.-Early life:...

     as Marco, portrays Marco Polo being left alone in China while his uncle and father return to Venice, to be reunited with him many years later.


External links