Marco Polo Facts

Marco Polo Facts
Marco Polo was an Italian (Venetian) merchant, explorer and writer born in Venice in 1254. He was born into a wealthy jewel merchant family - Niccolo Polo (his father) and his mother Nicole Anna Defuseh who died when Marco was very young. In 1266 Marco's father and uncle Maffeo left for China to start a trading business, leaving Marco behind. Marco first ventured to China when he was 17 traveling with his father and uncle. The trip took four years. He stayed for 17 years working as an aide and advisor to Kublai Khan and traveling through Asia writing about what he saw. Marco returned to Venice and a few years later he was arrested when Venice went to war with Genoa. It was during his jail time that the book The Travels of Marco Polo were written.
Interesting Marco Polo Facts:
Kublai Khan was the grandson of Genghis Khan, a great conqueror. Kublai Khan was the Mongol leader (when Niccolo and Marco's uncle made their first trip to China) and had asked Marco's father and uncle to petition the Pope to send 100 priests to Beijing.
The Pope denied the request but Niccolo and his Marco's uncle took Marco back to China with them on their return trip.
To reach China, Marco, his father and his uncle had to travel through Armenia, Persia, Afghanistan, the Pamir Mountains, and then the Gobi Desert.
Kublai Khan made Niccolo and Maffeo part of his court and liked Marco so much that he eventually made him governor of a Chinese city, a tax inspector and gave him a seat on his Privy Council.
Kublai Khan's summer palace was called Xanadu. Marco Polo called Xanadu ‘the greatest palace that ever was.'
While in China, Marco, Niccolo and Maffeo gained many riches of gold and jewels.
When they decided to return to Venice after 17 years Kublai Khan was not happy. He didn't stop them from leaving but asked them to escort a princess to Persia, where she was to marry a Persian Prince.
600 members of the crew died on the way to Persia. Only 18 people arrived in Persia alive. The prince had died before they arrived and the Polos had to stay in Persia until a suitable husband for the princess was found.
A few years after returning to Venice, the city went to war against Genoa and Marco became the commander of a ship.
Marco's ship was captured and he was arrested.
While in prison he dictated his stories of adventures to a writer named Rustichello. The original books were in French.
Marco's book was very successful but some people did not believe his stories and called his book The Million Lies.
Marco eventually started a business, got married and three daughters.
Historians have been able to verify that much of what was written in Marco Polo's book as being true, although there are those that believe he made it all up.
It is believed that Christopher Columbus took a copy of Marco Polo's book with him on his voyage in 1492.
Marco Polo died in 1324.

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