Today I am going to tell you about a very famous man. Throughout out his life, he was an explorer, captain of a galley, prisoner, and a member of Kublai Khan’s privy council. A jack-of-all-trades if you ask me!
Marco was born in 1254ad, probably in Venice. His mother died when he was just a young boy, and his father was away, so some relatives raised him until he was 15 years old. He had still never met his father.
Niccolo was Marco’s father, and Mafeo was Niccolo’s brother. They were both merchants. One time, they were trading in the city of Surai and a war was going on. Due to the war, they had to take a detour from their normal path home. On this journey, Niccolo and Mafeo were captured and held prisoner for three years. They were eventually rescued, and by some of Kublai Khan’s men. The Khan was interested in European culture, so the soldiers brought Niccolo and Mafeo to Kublai Khan’s palace. At this time it was in Beijing.
They stayed in the Mongol territory for several years. The Khan asked them to go back to Europe, get some letters from the pope, 100 monks (so that they could teach him Catholicism), and some holy oil from Jerusalem to be anointed with. They went back to Venice, and Niccolo and his son Marco met for the first time. Marco was already fifteen. It took Niccolo, Mafeo, and Marco two whole years to gather up all the things that the Khan wanted. They all started out for the Khan’s palace in 1271 ad.
Marco kept a very detailed journal of what he saw. Niccolo, Marco, and Mafeo arrived at the palace of Kublai Khan’s splendid palace 3 1/2 years later. The Khan greeted them all very warmly, and treated them royally. Marco was now a man, and he did quite a bit of exploring in the Khan’s territory. Kublai liked Marco so much, that he appointed him to his Privy Council in 1277.
Niccolo, Mafeo, and Marco stayed in Mongol for 17 years, but then, they decided to go back home to Venice. They were afraid that another Khan would arise, and then force them to stay in Mongol. At first, Kublai didn’t want them to leave either, but he made a deal with the merchants. They would escort a mongol Princess to her wedding, where she was going to marry a Persian prince. After the wedding, they were free to return home. Which they did.
At first, people didn’t believe who they were, but when the merchants showed them the riches that were theirs, they eventually did believe. War broke out, and Marco became the captain of a galley ship. This career was very short, because he was promptly captured by the enemy, and imprisoned. He met a man in prison, and told him stories of his adventures. The man wrote them down and he and Marco published them once they were released. The book was very popular, but most folks didn’t believe that they were true stories. Marco Polo died in 1324.
Marco Polo is one of the most famous explorers of all time. His writings influenced Christopher Columbus and he then decided to go and try to find the “new world”.
Thanks for reading!