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Marco Polo was born in Venice, Italy in 1254

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Marco Polo

  1. Background Information

    1. Marco Polo was born in Venice, Italy in 1254.

    2. He learned to read and write and had an education of many different skills:

      1. accounting

      2. foreign languages

      3. knowledge of the Christian Church

  1. The Polo Brothers

    1. Marco’s father, Niccolo and his uncle, Matteo were merchants who began their first journey east in 1260.

    2. They visited Constantinople and eventually made their way to the capital of Kublai Khan’s Mongol Empire, Kaifeng.

    3. In 1269, Kublai Khan sent the Polo brothers back to Europe with a request intended for the Pope

      1. Khan hoped that the Pope would send 100 missionaries back to China in hopes of converting certain parts of the country to Christianity.

    4. After arriving back in Venice, Niccolo discovered that his wife had died, leaving their 15 year old son, Marco in his care.

    5. In 1271, the two merchants, as well as Marco, began to travel eastward and in 1275 returned back to Kublai Khan

  1. Marco Serves in Khan’s Court

    1. Marco became a favorite of Khan’s and was appointed to high posts in his administration

    2. He served at the Khan’s court and was sent on a number of special missions in China, Burma, and India.

      1. Many places that Marco saw were not seen again by Europeans until the last century

    3. Marco worked for Kublai Khan for a total of seventeen years before returning to his homeland.

  1. Returning to Italy

    1. Upon his return to Italy in 1292, Marco Polo told of his findings.

    2. He brought back jade, porcelain, silk, ivory, and other riches of Asia.

    3. He also told about the Chinese use of coal, money, and compasses.

    4. Three years after returning to Venice, Marco joined the army to fight against the city-state of Genoa.

      1. He was captured in 1298 and spent two years in a Genoese prison

      2. In prison he met a man named Rustichello who was a writer of romances.

      3. Marco began to dictate the story of his travels to Rustichello. This story became known as The Travels of Marco Polo or The Description of the World

  2. The book- The Travels of Marco Polo

    1. The book became one of the most popular books in Europe. It was widely published, translated into many languages, and thousands of copies were printed.

    2. However, Marco’s book was received with astonishment and disbelief.

      1. Since his book exaggerates places and cultures, he became known as the “man of a million lies”

    3. When Marco Polo was near his death in 1324, a priest entered his room and asked him to admit his stories were false. Instead, Polo replied, “ I do not tell half of what I saw because no one would have believed me.”

  1. Marco Polo’s contributions

    1. Fiction or not, his Travels have captured readers throughout the centuries.

    2. Marco Polo made a huge impact on geographic exploration and was a major influence on Christopher Columbus.

    3. Polo’s descriptions of Asia made many Europeans curious and they began to demand goods from Asia, therefore, increasing trade between the two countries.

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