Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer and merchant who traveled extensively in Asia and recorded his experiences in a book. He was brought to China as a teenager by his father and uncle in 1269, and he was pressed into service in the court of Kublai Khan. He returned 24 years later and was imprisoned in Genoa, where he dictated his adventures to a cellmate.Know More
At the time of his journey, most Europeans had very little idea of what Central and East Asia were like, which is one reason his tale proved so popular. Collected as "Book of the Marvels of the World" and later as "The Travels of Marco Polo," the story captivated Europe during the age of exploration. Christopher Columbus kept a copy of the book during his journeys and made notes in the margins, comparing his experiences to those in the text.
It is unknown how much of Marco Polo's account of his journey is truthful, and how much was made up or exaggerated in the telling. The book contains descriptions of people and events that were certainly fabricated, such as races of humans with long tails and cannibalistic tendencies. He also neglects to mention important facets of Chinese culture such as the Great Wall and chopsticks, leading some scholars to suggest that he may not have traveled to China at all.Learn more about Exploration & Imperialism
No one sponsored Marco Polo's travels in Asia. He traveled with his uncle, Maffeo, and his father, Niccolo, to learn how to become a merchant.Full Answer >
Marco Polo's motivation for exploration was primarily financial, since he belonged to a family of merchants. East Asia, particularly China, offered valuable goods to be sold and traded in Europe. His motivation to explore was also familial, as he left on his voyage with his father and uncle.Full Answer >
The Italian explorer Marco Polo was responsible for introducing Europeans to many new discoveries, including some that were far from accurate; when Marco Polo saw a rhinoceros during his travels in Asia, he claimed to have seen a unicorn. Because Marco Polo was not used to seeing some of the non-mythical animals that are native to Asia, he confused what he saw, which included animals such as crocodiles and large snakes, for mythical creatures. Photographic technology had not yet been developed at the time of Marco Polo's 13th-century travels, and the explorer's personal accounts were converted into drawings.Full Answer >
Marco Polo and his family returned to Venice from China with an abundance of gold and precious gems. However, they also lost a good portion of it when the government of Turkey took some 4,000 Byzantium gold coins from them.Full Answer >