Marco Polo was born in 1254 in Venice, Italy. His dad, Niccolo, was gone for a large majority of his life because him and his brother (Maffeo) were merchants who traveled through most of Marco's childhood. While his dad and uncle were in China, the current ruler, Kublai Khan, was intersted with Europe and their religion. So he asked his dad and uncle to bring back 100 monks and a large amount of Holy Water, when they went on their next trip to China. After leaving China and returning to Italy, unable to get 100 monks to go with them, they brought Marco (17 at the time). This was the start of Marco's 24-Year journey.
The Journey to China
It took 4 years to reach China, and during those years, Marco saw many different things, such as the Gobi Desert, which most Europeans have never been to. During his journey across the Gobi Desert, he stated that crossing the narrowest point took a month to cross, and there was no food or water. After 4 long years of traveling, he finally reached China, where he met the Emperor, Kublai Khan in his summer palace "Xanadu" he said that he had seen nothing like it before. Today, there is nothing left but ruins of the palace.
Journey in China
During his time in China, Kublai Khan gave Maffeo and Niccolo important places in the court and Marco a job as a special envoy. As time passed, Marco was promoted and promoted until he was at one point a tax inspector and a governor of a Chinese city. His immersion in Chinese culture resulted in him mastering 4 languages, Mongolian, Persian, Arabic, and Turkish. He did not learn Chinese, because China was currently under Mongolian rule, so most people did not speak Chinese at the time. After 17 years in China, Marco, Niccolo and Maffeo decided it was time to go home, Kublai Khan was not happy about this, for he had became quite reliant of the 3 men. He let them leave, only if they brought a Mongol Princess with them, and they brought her to Persia, where she would marry a Persian prince. They agreed to do this, and their final mission and their trip back home began.
Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, and an Emperor of China
The Journey Back Home
They left China with a large caravan with several hundred people, but disease and storms struck, and by the time they got to Persia, there were only 18 people left, including the 3 explorers and the princess. It took 2 years to get back to Venice, where he struggeled to communicate with his family, because he did not remember much of his native language, and he looked much different after 24 years. Venice was at war with Genoa when Marco got back, and he commanded a ship against Genoa. It was not long before he was captured and put in prison, where he met the writer, Rustichello.
Marco Polo telling Rustichello about his journey
In prison, he met the writer, Rustichello. Marco told Rustichello about his journey and he wrote about them in his book The Discription of the World. Few people really belived his story and his book earned another title, Il Milione or "The Million Lies". Afterwards, he began to move on, he got married and raised 3 daughters. As he was old and dying, many fans of the book came to visit him and asked if the book was true, urging him to admit that it wasn't true, but when they asked he replied, "I have not told half of what I saw"
Impact on Explorers and the World
Marco brought back lots of new items to Europe, such as silk and new spices, but it is a common mistake to think that he brought back noodles, because noodles were already starting to get popular in Italy by the time he had left for China. He also greatly inspired other great explorers, such as Chirstopher Columbus, who even brought a copy of Marcos book with him on his journey. He also introduced the East to the Europeans, who knew nearly nothing about China and the places around it.