Marco Polo

By: Evelyn White

What He Was Famous For

Marco Polo was famous for his travels through Asia. He was one of the first Europeans to travel into Mongolia and China. He became famous for his book that told the story of his travels along the Silk Road in China. He traveled on the Silk Road for 24 years!

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Marco was not the only explorer in his family. His father, Maffeo, and his uncle, also Maffio, were prosperous merchants in the East trade. The two merchants went to Asia in 1255, reached China in 1266, arriving at Khanbaliq (now Beijing). They returned from China as Kublai Khan's (the emporer of China) messengers with a letter for the Pope asking to be sent educated people to teach his empire to inform the Mongols about their way of life.

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There is a tradition that the Polo family that began on the island of Korcula in today's Croatia (then known as Curzola) in the Adraitic Sea. It is considered suspicious because there are some factual proof supporting these claims, and some evidence unhelpful to it, with no complete records that would help discover the truth. The city of Korcula still preserves an old house in which Marco said to have been made. Regardless, the Polo's gained fame in Venice and are historically recorded as Venetians.

The Second Voyage

Maffeo and Niccollo set out on a second journey, with the Pope's response to Kublai Khan in 1271. This time Niccolok took his son Marco. Soon afterwards, Marco became the Khan's emissary, meaning a person sent on a special mission. In Marco's 17 years of service to Khan, Marco became friends with the vast regions of China and with many acheivements of Chinese civiilization, lots of which were more advanced than similar contemporary European developments.

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On their return from China in 1295, the family settled in Venice where they became a sensation and attracted crowds of listeners, who had difficulties in believing their reports of distant China. Since they did not believe him, Marco Polo invited them all to dinner one night during which the Polos dressed in the simple clothes of a peasant in China. Shortly before the crowds ate, the Polos opened their pockets to reveal hundreds of rubies and jewels they had recieved in Asia. Though they were much impressed, the people of Venice still doubted the Polos.

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Marco's restless spirit drove him to take part in the naval battle of Curzola between Genoa and Venice in 1298. He was captured by and spent the few months of his imprisonment dictatating a detailed account of his travels in the then~unknown parts of the Far East. His book, 'll Milione' (the million) known in english as 'The Travels of Marco Polo' was written. The original is lost and we have several other versions and translations of it. The book became an instant success - quite an acheivement in a time when printing was not known in Europe.

What I found out

According to the websites that I used, Marco Polo did not discover anything. He was though famous for his travels and the book he wrote.