Marco Polo | Biography, Accomplishments, Facts

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Highlights of Marco Polo:

Occupation Explorer and Traveler
Born Venice, Italy in 1254
Died January 8, 1324 Venice, Italy
known for European traveler to China and the Far East

Biography of Marco Polo:

The merchant and explorer Marco Polo spent a large portion of his life exploring China and the Far East. For many years, his tales served as the foundation for what most of Europe knew about Ancient China. He existed between 1254 and 1324.

Where was he raised?

In 1254, Marco was born in Venice, Italy. In the prosperous commercial city of Venice, Marco’s father worked as a merchant.

China’s Silk Road

The term “Silk Road” was used to describe a network of commercial routes connecting important towns and trading hubs that stretched from Eastern Europe to Northern China. The reason it was known as the Silk Road was because China’s main export was silk.

The entire road wasn’t frequently traveled. Products would slowly travel from one end to the other while being traded multiple times between cities or smaller sections of the route.

The father and uncle of Marco Polo desired a change. They intended to journey all the way to China and return to Venice with the stuff. They believed that by doing this, they could become wealthy. They traveled for nine years before returning home.

He went to China for the first time when?

When Marco was just 17 years old, he first traveled to China. Along with his father and uncle, he made the trip. During their first visit to China, his father and uncle met the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan and promised him they would return. At the time, Kublai ruled all of China.

Where did he travel?

Marco Polo traveled to China in three years. He traveled through several big cities and saw many sights along the way, including the Gobi Desert, the Hindu Kush Mountains, Persia, and the holy city of Jerusalem. He experienced numerous travels and interacted with a wide range of people.

Living in China

Marco spent a significant amount of time in China where he picked up the language. He served Kublai Khan as a messenger and spy while traveling throughout China. He even traveled as far south as what is now Myanmar and Vietnam. He gained knowledge of other cultures, cuisines, places, and populations during these excursions. He visited several locations and witnessed many things that no European had ever experienced.

The splendor and opulence of the Chinese towns and the palace of Kublai Khan impressed Marco. He had never encountered anything like that in Europe. The vast, orderly, and clean Kinsay capital city was well-organized. He had never experienced wide roadways or significant civil engineering projects like the Grand Canal. The food, the people, and the animals, including orangutans and rhinos, were all novel and fascinating.

How are we aware of Marco Polo?

Marco made the decision to return to Venice with his father and uncle after twenty years of travel. In 1271, they fled and didn’t come back until 1295. A few years after arriving home, Venice and Genoa engaged in combat. Marco was taken into custody. Marco provided a writer named Rustichello with in-depth accounts of his travels while he was in custody, and Rustichello recorded all of them in a book titled The Travels of Marco Polo.

The Travels of Marco Polo quickly gained enormous popularity. It was read all over Europe and translated into other languages. Kublai Kahn’s overthrow allowed the Ming Dynasty to rule China. They had little knowledge of China and were quite leery of strangers. This increased interest in Marco’s book.

Interesting Facts about Marco Polo

Marco Polo’s Travels were also referred to as “The Million” or Il Milione.

The Polo family took a fleet of ships home, along with a princess who was headed to Iran to wed a prince. Of the 700 initial pilgrims, only 117 made it through the perilous trek. This includes the princess who arrived in Iran without incident.

Theoretically, Marco may have made up a lot of his adventures. Scholars have examined his facts, though, and they think many of them are probably accurate.

The merchant class was able to advance in Chinese society during the rule of the Mongols and Kublai Khan. Other dynasties looked down on merchants and viewed them as parasites on the economy.

To get to China, Marco had to cross the vast Gobi Desert. The desert had to be crossed in months and was rumored to be inhabited by ghosts.

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