Marco Polo

Week #12 Essay, History


The Adventures of Marco Polo


Marco Polo was born in 1254, nobody really knows where he was born, but researchers guess that he was probably born in Venice, Italy. He lived with his aunt and uncle. His father was a trader and Marco had never met him. Everyone thought that his father was dead.

When Marco was almost fifteen, Niccilo (his father) and Maffeo (his other uncle), appeared at their doorstep and that was when Marco met his father for the first time. Niccilo and Maffeo told Marco about where they had been.

Niccilo and Maffeo traded with the city of Surai and due to a war, had to find another way back to Venice. They were captured and were imprisoned for 3 years. They were rescued by Kublai Khans soldiers and the soldiers asked them if they would like to visit China before they went home, because the Great Khan wanted to meet someone from Europe. Niccilo and Maffeo said that they would. They traveled to China and were welcomed by Kublai, the Great Khan himself. Kublai was intrigued with the Polo’s European and Christian ways. Kublai asked them to go back to Venice with a letter to the Pope asking for 100 Christian monks and a vial of holy oil from Jerusalem. Niccilo and Maffeo went back to Venice with the letter.

Marco joined his father and Maffeo in collecting the items that the Khan had asked for. The Polos took 2 years to collect everything they needed. After getting all of the items, they headed out in 1271 and traveled by land and sea. Marco kept a journal of everything he saw on the trip.

The Polos arrived in China 3½ years after leaving Venice. Kublai was overjoyed to see them. Marco was welcomed with just as much warmth as his uncle and father were. Kublai treated the Polos like they were royalty and they were given anything they wanted.

Marco wrote in his journal that the palace was the grandest thing he had ever seen. He described many unusual sights such as paper money. He described coal as, “stones that burn like logs.”

Kublai liked Marco so much that he appointed him to his Privy Council in 1277. Marco enjoyed China and spent many years there. The Polos stayed for a number of 17 years.

Marco had learned to speak 4 different languages. The Polos became very rich during their stay for their services to the Khan.

Niccilo, Maffeo and Marco became that they wouldn’t be able to take their riches home with them when they returned to Venice if another Khan came to power. They asked Kublai if they could leave China and at first Kublai flatly refused.

Kublai eventually let them leave but, they had to accompany a Mongol princess who was on her way to marry a Persian prince. The Polos left with 600 passengers and the princess.

They finally returned to Venice 2 years later and only 18 of the passengers survived. The Polos had been gone a total of 24 years. When they returned, they had trouble speaking Italian and nobody believed that they were the Polos. Shortly after their return, war broke out and Marco was the captain of a galley ship.

Marco was captured and imprisoned for 3 years. While in prison, he told his cell mates of his adventures. One of the prisoners recorded his adventures.

When peace ended the war, Marco had his travel book published. ‘The Travels Of Marco Polo’ became an instant bestseller. Many nicknamed his book “The Million Lies” because of the amazing adventures in it. Marco said that all of the stories were true and that he had many more.

Marco married and had 3 daughters and became a wealth merchant and financed many expeditions but he never again left Venice.

Marco fell ill in 1323 and died at home in 1324.


Marco Polo inspired many explorers, including Christopher Columbus. Christopher even had ‘The Travels Of Marco Polo’ aboard his ship when he set off to find England.

By Amelia Jacobson


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