Who Was Marco Polo?

Most of us are familiar with the name “Marco Polo.” Either because you played the game in the pool when you were younger, or you watch the ridiculously awesome kid’s show called Team Marco Polo on YouTube. But do we know what he actually accomplished during his lifetime? Here’s a short summary of his journey’s throughout Asia, and why he became such a renowned traveler.

Early Life:
Marco Polo was born in Italy around 1254. He was born into a wealthy family, with both his uncle and father being jewelry merchants. Young Polo was left back home while his father and uncle left for Central Asia around 1260 to meet with Mongol Emperor, Kublai Khan.

Kublai Khan

When they arrived in China, they appeared to have established a good relationship with Khan. The emperor had requested that the Polo’s ask the Pope to send scholars to him in order to be taught about Christianity. So when they returned to Venice, they returned as Khan’s ambassadors.

A Long Journey Ahead
The brothers returned to Venice and stayed there for a couple years. When Polo was only 17, the brothers and Polo set off for Asia once again. They were also given two friars for the journey, however, they ended up abandoning the Polo’s early on. The Polo’s traveled through Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and plenty of deserts during their trek. They made stops around the middle east and traveled on the Silk Road to get to China. When they arrived, the Polo’s

Marco Polo

stayed in China for 17 years. The emperor favored Polo greatly, as was made obvious when he was given the responsibility to carry out diplomatic missions. This allowed Polo to see places such as India and Burma.

A mission to escort a Princess?
You got that right. Around 1292 the Polo family decided it was time to head home. According to Polo, Kublai didn’t want them to leave China, but he reluctantly granted them permission. On the way back to Venice they were also given a mission to escort a Mongol Princess to Persia, where she was to become a consort for the Persian Prince. The Polo’s dropped the princess off in Iran, went to Constantinople and then back home to Venice.

The Travels of Marco Polo

The Travels of Marco Polo

Feuds and Prison Cells.
Shortly after the Polo’s arrived back home, Polo got involved in a naval conflict between Venice and Genoa. Polo was captured by Genoese and was taken to prison. In prison he told stories of all his travels in Asia which caught the attention of writer Rustichello. The writer from Pisa decided to record all of Polo’s stories. This later turned into the book known as The Travels of Marco Polo. The book became one of the most popular In Medieval Europe.

Polo was released from Prison a year later and once again, returned to Venice. Polo married Donata Badoer and had three daughters. He died on 8 January 1324.