Marco Polo


Marco Polo was an Italian merchant and explorer who spent many years at the court of Kublai Khan in China alongside his father and uncle. There he served as ambassador and governor of the city of Yangzhou. He is a well-known explorer, and his travels opened the Eastern world to many in Europe.

When Marco was born, his father and uncle were away doing business with Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who had requested that they bring him the sacred oil of Jerusalem. They arrived to meet Polo when he was fifteen years old, and two years later he accompanied the brothers on their return trip to China, armed with the oil and letters from the papacy. The events that occurred over the next twenty-four years are a combination of fact and fiction, but the three men were greatly welcomed by Mongol Emperor and valued for their knowledge of western ways and trade routes.

During their long stay in the east, Polo served in several high-level government positions, and when his family returned to Italy in 1295, they were loaded down with gold and jewels. Unfortunately, however, they had arrived in the midst of an Italian war with Genoa, and Polo was taken prisoner. For four years he remained locked away, relating stories of his life in China to his cellmate, who compiled them and other accounts into The Travels of Marco Polo. After Polo was released, he went to live in a large estate with his father and uncle. He became a wealthy businessman, and in the next year he married the daughter of a fellow merchant, Vitale Badoer. Polo lived the rest of his life in Venice with his wife and three daughters. In 1323, Polo was confined to bed due to an illness, and he passed away in January of the next year. His explorations influenced many other adventurers, among them Christopher Columbus.

Key events during the life of Marco Polo:

Born, probably in the Venetian Rebublican
Met his father and uncle for the first time
Set out for Asia with his father and uncle, brought Khan the sacred oil from Jerusalem
Returned from China with an abundance of wealth, taken prisoner during war with Genoa
Was released from prison and went to live with his father and uncle
Married Donata Badoer
Died due to a year-long illness

Book Links
Travels and Adventures of Marco Polo  by  George Towle

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Early Intercourse with China  in  The Story of China  by  R. Van Bergen
The Prince of Travelers  in  Old Time Tales  by  Lawton B. Evans
Marco Polo  in  Famous Men of the Middle Ages  by  John H. Haaren
Palace of Kublai Khan  in  Historical Tales: Japanese and Chinese  by  Charles Morris
Vespucci's Favorite Authors  in  Amerigo Vespucci  by  Frederick A. Ober
Story of Marco Polo  in  The Discovery of New Worlds  by  M. B. Synge
Marco Polo  in  A Book of Discovery  by  M. B. Synge
Marco Polo Visits the Great Khan of China  in  European Hero Stories  by  Eva March Tappan

Image Links

Marco Polo Leading the Venetians at Curzola
 in Greatest Nations - Germany

Marco Polo
 in Amerigo Vespucci

Marco Polo
 in Builders of Our Country: Book I

The Return of the Polo Family to Venice
 in Builders of Our Country: Book I

Marco Polo Dictating an Account of His Voyages
 in Builders of Our Country: Book I

How the brothers Polo set out from Constantinople with their nephew Marco for China
 in A Book of Discovery

Polo lands at Ormuz
 in A Book of Discovery

The Polos leaving Venice for their travels to the far east.
 in A Book of Discovery

Marco Polo's Return
 in European Hero Stories

Marco studying the charts
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Return of the wanderers
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Marco shooting in the Asiatic hills.
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Reception of the Polos by Kublai Khan
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Lion hunting in Cathay
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Marco Polo in Africa
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Polos Embarking for Home
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Marco Polo in Battle
 in The Adventures of Marco Polo

Short Biography
Kublai Khan Great Khan of the Mogul empire in China. Grandson of Genghis Khan. Marco Polo lived at his court.
Dante Alighieri Poet who wrote his masterpiece The Inferno in Italian. It became universally known.