Marco Polo
 
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Marco Polo
Marco Polo - Explorer (c1254 - 1324)

Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer and trader who traveled from Venice to Asia, with his father and uncle, and spent 17 years in China. During this period he undertook many exploratory missions for Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China. His travels were recorded in the book ‘II Milione’ or ‘Travels of Marco Polo’.

This page details facts about Marco Polo's life and the events that shaped his history.

Marco Polo the Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !
Marco Polo Fact   1:Marco Polo was born in Venice, Italy in around 1254 to a merchant, Niccolo Polo, and his wife Nicole Anna Defuseh. Niccolo Polo and his brother Maffeo were away on a trading expedition when he was born.
Marco Polo Fact   2:They were trading in Constantinople when they decided to move on to Asia and China. During this expedition they traded with Berke Khan, one of the rulers of the Mongol Empire, before meeting Kublai Khan. They were still away when Marco Polo’s mother died, leaving Marco Polo to be raised by an aunt and uncle.
Marco Polo Fact   3:

In 1269 Marco Polo met his father and uncle for the first time when they returned from their travels. Kublai Khan had given them letters to pass on to the Pope in which he requested that scholars be sent to him. He also asked Niccolo and Maffeo to return with oil from the lamp which burned in Jerusalem in the Holy Sepulcher.

Marco Polo Fact   4:

In 1271 Marco Polo headed for Asia with his father and uncle. Pope Gregory X had given them the oil they requested and two friars, however the friars left them soon after the expedition set off for Hormuz, a port on the Persian Gulf.

Marco Polo Fact   5:When the Polos arrived at Hormuz, they decided that their plan to sail directly to China would have to be changed as the vessels there weren’t seaworthy. Marco Polo found himself travelling overland through Asia using much of the Silk Road (A network of ancient routes between China, India and the Mediterranean Sea, used for trade and cultural purposes).
 

Picture of Kublai Khan

 
Marco Polo Fact   6:Marco Polo travelled through many regions including Khorsan, Badakshan (Where they stayed a while to allow him to recover from illness), Pamir, Khotan and the Gobi Desert. In 1275 the Polos finally reached the summer palace of Kublai Khan in Shangdu, where they presented the oil from Jerusalem along with letters from the Pope.
Marco Polo Fact   7:The Polos remained in the service of Kublai Khan for the following 16 or 17 years. During this time, Marco Polo became favoured by Kublai Khan and was sent on many expeditions throughout the empire. Kublai Khan delighted in hearing about the places that he visited during these journeys.
Marco Polo Fact   8:It is believed that Marco Polo held some administrative posts during this period and according to his book ‘II Milione’, He may also have governed Yangzhou for three years or so.
Marco Polo Fact   9:Marco Polo documented that the Polos became keen to leave the Mongol Empire as Kublai Khan was getting old and they were worried about the events that might follow his death. Their opportunity to leave came when Kublai Khan was sending a Mongol Princess to Arghun Khan of Persia, who was his great nephew. The Polos offered to accompany the Princess and Kublai Khan reluctantly allowed them to go.
Marco Polo Fact 10:They sailed south, from the port of Zaitun, with a fleet of 14 ships and visited a few islands before arriving at Sumatra where they stayed for several months to evade monsoons. Marco Polo and the fleet resumed their journey stopping at Sri Lanka before sailing to Persia via the west coast of India. The fleet landed at Hormuz and headed to Khorsan.
Marco Polo Fact 11:On arrival at Khorsan they found that Arghun Khan had died, so the princess was handed over to his son Mahmud Ghazan. The Polos departed soon after and headed for Trebizond, now known as Trabzon in Turkey. From there they travelled to Constantinople and finally arrived back in Venice in 1295.
Marco Polo Fact 12:In 1298 Marco Polo took part in a sea battle between the Venetians and Genoese. The Genoese were victorious and took him prisoner. He was held for a year and it was during this time that he recounted the tales of his travels throughout Asia and China to a fellow prisoner, Rustichello. The compilation, known as ‘II Milione’, also became known as ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’. The contents of this book served as an inspiration to Christopher Columbus.

Picture of Christopher Columbus

 
Marco Polo Fact 13:In 1300 Marco Polo married Donata Badoer, a merchant’s daughter. The couple had three daughters, Bellela, Fantina and Moreta.
Marco Polo Fact 14:Marco Polo settled into a quiet life and died on 8th January 1324 at the age of 70. A Tarter slave, who may have travelled with him from Asia, was given his freedom under the terms of Marco Polo’s will.
Marco Polo the Explorer (c1254 - 1324) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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