11 Things You May Not Know About Marco Polo

11 Things You May Not Know About Marco Polo

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1. Marco Polo’s famous travelogue was penned in prison.

Marco Polo is remembered thanks to a colorful and popular narrative about his eastward voyage, known simply as “The Travels of Marco Polo.” Ironically, this record of Polo’s freewheeling years as an explorer was written while he languished behind bars. In 1298, three years after he returned from his journey, Polo was captured after leading a Venetian galley into battle against the rival Italian city-state of Genoa. While in prison he encountered Rustichello of Pisa, a fellow captive who was known as a talented writer of romances. Eager to document his years as a traveler, Polo dictated his life story to Rustichello, who acted as a kind of ghostwriter. By the time of their release in 1299, the two men had completed the book that would make Marco Polo a household name.

2. Marco Polo was not the first European to travel to Asia.

Marco Polo may be the most storied Far East traveler, but he certainly was not the first. The Franciscan monk Giovanni da Pian del Carpini reached China in the 1240s—over 20 years before Polo left Europe—and gained an audience with the Great Kahn of the Mongol empire. Other Catholic emissaries would later follow, including William of Rubruck, who traveled east in the 1250s on a quest to convert the Mongols to Christianity. These early missionaries were largely inspired by the myth of Prester John, a legendary king who was believed to rule over a Christian empire in the East. Polo would later mention the fictional monarch in his book, and even described him as having fought a great battle against the Mongol ruler Genghis Kahn.

3. Marco Polo barely knew his father and uncle when they began their expedition.

A few months before Marco Polo was born in 1254, his father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo left Italy on a trading excursion to Asia. The brothers returned to Venice in 1269, and it was only then that 15-year-old Marco finally met Niccolo, the father he never knew he had. Although he was essentially a stranger to the elder Polos, Marco joined them when they left on their more extensive second trip in 1271. While they originally planned only a brief stay in the Far East, the three men would eventually travel Asia together for more than 20 years.

4. Marco Polo spent much of his journey as an envoy for the Mongol ruler Kublai Kahn.

The Polos were merchants who dealt in rare items like silk, gems and spices, but their extensive travels were more than just a trading mission. Marco, Maffeo and Niccolo were also employed as emissaries for the Mongol emperor Kublai Kahn, whom the elder Polos had met and befriended on an earlier journey east. Young Marco would forge an especially strong bond with the Great Kahn, who later dispatched him to China and Southeast Asia as a tax collector and special messenger. Kublai Kahn’s trust and protection allowed the Polos to move freely within the borders of the Mongol Empire. Marco was even provided with a “paiza”—a gold tablet that authorized him to make use of a vast network of imperial horses and lodgings. Thanks to this official passport, the Polos traveled through Asia not merely as wandering merchants, but as honored guests of the Great Kahn himself.

5. Marco Polo mistook some of the animals he saw for mythical creatures.

After his return from Asia, Marco Polo thoroughly documented his encounters with unfamiliar animals such as elephants, monkeys and crocodiles. He described the latter, for instance, as giant, sharp-clawed “serpents” that could “swallow a man … at one time.” But the traveler often confused these strange faunae with creatures from myth and legend. One of the first Europeans to glimpse an Asian rhinoceros, Polo thought the horned beasts were unicorns.

6. Marco Polo was among the first Europeans to describe many of the advanced technologies found in China.

It is a common misconception that Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy—in truth, the dish had already existed in Europe for centuries—but there’s little doubt he made Westerners aware of many Chinese inventions. Among other things, Marco familiarized many of his readers with the concept of paper money, which only caught on in Europe in the years after his return. Polo also described coal—not widely used in Europe until the 18th century—and may even have introduced eyeglasses to the West. Meanwhile, he offered one of the historical record’s most detailed accounts of the Mongol post system, a complex network of checkpoints and couriers that allowed Kublai Kahn to administrate his vast empire.

7. The Polos barely made it out of Asia alive.

After enduring decades of travel and surviving several brushes with death, the Polos encountered their biggest hurdles when they tried to return to Italy. Worried that their departure would make him appear weak, the elderly Kublai Kahn initially refused to release his favorite envoys from service. The Polos were only allowed to leave the Great Kahn’s realm in 1292, when they agreed to escort a Mongol princess to Persia by sea. While they succeeded, the mission apparently proved to be the most perilous leg of the Polos’ journey. Marco later wrote that the members of his company were among the only survivors of a deadly sea voyage that claimed hundreds of lives.

8. The Polos lost much of their fortune while returning home.

Once they moved out of Mongol territory, Marco, Niccolo and Maffeo could no longer rely on Kublai Kahn’s protection. As the travelers passed through the kingdom of Trebizond, in modern-day Turkey, the local government robbed them of some 4,000 Byzantine gold coins. Despite this significant loss, the Polos retained enough of their cargo to arrive home in 1295 as wealthy men. According to one account, the Venetians concealed most of their gems by sewing the precious stones into the linings of their coats.

9. Many of Maro Polo’s contemporaries dismissed his stories as lies—and some modern historians still do.

Marco Polo’s elaborate descriptions of the royal palace at Xanadu, the metropolis of Quinsai (modern-day Hangzhou) and the many wonders of the Orient were simply too much for some readers to believe. In fact, by the time he was an old man, Polo’s fellow Venetians had largely branded him as a teller of tall tales. Readers had some reason to be skeptical: Polo and his ghostwriter, Rustichello, were prone to exaggeration and flights of fancy. For instance, the famous traveler often fictitiously inserted himself into battle scenes and court intrigues. While most modern historians still believe the bulk of his book to be factual, others have dismissed it as an outright fabrication and claim that Polo never even made it to China. For his part, Marco never admitted to a single lie. Even on his deathbed he is said to have remarked, “I did not tell half of what I saw.”

10. Marco Polo’s route became largely impassable after his return to Venice.

Kublai Kahn died during the Polos’ return to Venice, sending the Mongol empire into decline and crushing any chance that Marco would ever return to the Far East. Tribal groups had soon reclaimed land along the once-prosperous trading route known as the Silk Road, effectively cutting off a vital artery connecting East and West. With the land route to China growing increasingly dangerous, few travelers dared set out on wide-ranging journeys for several years. In fact, Polo reportedly never left Venetian territory for the last two decades of his life.

11. Marco Polo was a major influence on other explorers, including Christopher Columbus.

Marco Polo never saw himself as an explorer—he preferred the term “wayfarer”—but his do-or-die approach to travel helped inspire a whole generation of globetrotting adventurers. Among his acolytes was Christopher Columbus, who carried a well-thumbed copy of the “The Travels of Marco Polo” on his voyages to the New World. Not realizing that the Mongol empire had already fallen by the time of his voyage, Columbus even planned to follow in Polo’s footsteps by making contact with Kublai Kahn’s successor.

The Crazy Real-Life Story Of Marco Polo

Why has the name Marco Polo stayed with us after so many centuries? Born into a wealthy Venetian mercantile family in the 13th century, his background was exclusive, perhaps, but not exactly unusual for the time. But to tell his tale, we have to talk about the travels of his relatives before him, as well as the fact that their own journey gave the young Marco Polo a trajectory that would shape the course of his life.

The circumstances into which the world-famous explorer and writer Marco Polo was born were suitably epic. His father, Niccolo, and uncle, Maffeo, were successful travelers and traders who had set off to Asia just after Polo's birth. After setting up a number of trading posts along the Silk Road, their travels brought them to the court of of Kublai Khan, the legendary fifth khagen of the Mongol Empire.

The Polo brothers were well-received at the court of Khan, sharing their knowledge of the Holy Roman Empire and of European Christianity. At the behest of Khan, the brothers were charged with returning to Italy, accompanied by a Mongol ambassador and a letter from Khan himself, to request from the pope 100 representatives to teach Christianity and Western customs in the Mongol Empire. It was this directive which would lead Marco Polo to the life we know him for today.

6 Major Accomplishments of Marco Polo

You can gauge the magnitude or impact of Marco Polo major accomplishments by the sheer fact that he was a man who inspired the likes of Christopher Columbus. Yet, there are historians who reasonably or unreasonably speculate that some parts of the book ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’ are fiction and not exactly a travelogue or an account of actual travels. Most critics point out to a glaring mistake or omission in the book that argues if Marco Polo ever traveled to China.

1. A Young Explorer

Born in Venice, Marco Polo grew up as a Roman Catholic and became an explorer while in his teens. His explorations were not primarily for trade or discovery but papal mandates. Son of an explorer, he did not meet his father till he was in his teens. The first time Marco Polo met his father Niccolo Polo was when he returned from a long expedition and he was already fifteen years old.

2. Trip to China

The fifteen and sixteenth centuries that we call today as the age of exploration were preceded by an age of widespread traveling across the mainland. Before the Europeans set sails, explorers in the thirteenth century would travel across Europe, to the east and many would travel down south to what is present day Middle East. Across vast deserts, steep mountains, icy and scorching weathers, explorers would end up in China or India and travel further eastward. Marco Polo was one of the first Europeans to travel across Asia, and eventually to China. He was on a papal mission and had to deliver some papers from the Vatican to Kublai Khan, the then Emperor of China.

3. 24 Years in China

Marco Polo was a teenager when he accompanied his father to China. He went to Kublai Khan’s court where he made such an impression that the emperor asked him to work on courtly affairs. Kublai Khan appointed Polo to several posts across the Chinese kingdom. He was the representative of the emperor at one point in time, became an ambassador, later a governor of a province. Polo had ruled at least one city and has been among the high ranking officials across cities and in several provinces. During his stay in China, he explored the country, learned the Chinese way of life and spent a good twenty four years before returning.

4. The Travels of Marco Polo

Marco Polo decided to return after the death of Kublai Khan. Within a year of the emperor’s death, Polo bagged his possessions which amounted to substantial wealth comprising of precious metals, jewels and commodities. He returned to Venice, richer and having explored the East. But he did not become famous just then. It was not until the publication of The Travels of Marco Polo that he gained the popularity he still enjoys today. The book was an account of his experiences of having traveled from Rome to China, his travels along the route which is still referred today as the Silk Road and his encounters with the emperor. The book details Polo’s life over the twenty years and offered insights that Europeans were not aware of. When Polo was imprisoned during the Battle of Curzola, he talked about his life and travels with his fellow inmate Rustichello de Pisa, who later wrote and published the book.

5. A Rich and Inspiring Legacy

Marco Polo became a wealthy merchant, had a fruitful life and had an immediate impact on his society. However, in sheer terms of accomplishments that changed the world he did not achieve much. That happened through the book. Over the years, Marco Polo would inspire explorers all across Europe and beyond. He would inspire Christopher Columbus and many others to set sails so they could find India, China and other new lands. Today, Marco Polo is not only revered by explorers and Europeans but he is also hailed in parts of China and wherever some Chinese influence exists in pop culture, history and cuisine.

6. Criticism of ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’

In the thirteenth century, there weren’t as many accounts as today so there weren’t any contrasting, conflicting or contrarian arguments to put forth. No one could dispute the book written and published by Rustichello de Pisa and essentially since Marco Polo approved it. However, some people cite the missing reference to the Great Wall of China which was already built when Polo would have been there, there are no references to chopsticks even when Polo apparently talks about the strange life that the Chinese lead and there aren’t any Chinese characters other than the account of his interactions with Kublai Khan. It is absolutely possible that Pisa did not have impeccable recollection and he did not know the significance of references like the Great Wall of China then so he could have missed out while writing. The criticism can be deemed conjecture but there can be arguments either way.

Someone knows something about this Marco Polo app that we don’t

There’s a whisper in the venture community we’re hearing that is growing increasingly louder, and it’s about this video walkie-talkie app called Marco Polo.

Investors are suddenly very interested in this app that — so we hear — might be growing in popularity among the youths. We’ve seen this story play out before, most recently with musical.ly. The app was also around for a while, and then out of nowhere exploded. That led to the company raising something around $100 million from firms like GGV and Greylock at a $500 million valuation.

Here’s the thing — it looks like the app’s been around for more than a year, and was largely off the grid for its lifetime. Then, boop:

And on Android, it’s even more crazy:

There may be some growth hacking gymnastics going on here, as one Reddit user pointed out that the app sent a bunch of text messages to all of their contacts. It also looks like there are some complaints on Twitter. And there are negative reviews in the App Store referring to spamming contacts (see below). But either way, Silicon Valley is buzzing about it.

As far as we can tell, Marco Polo seems to have a certain Snapchat vibe to it that’s somehow crossed with Tapstack (though on the App Store page, it says messages do not disappear). Users tap on a friend’s face to start a video conversation. That’s then sent over to the other friend, who can respond right away or open it at their leisure. And then people keep sending things back and forth, and so on, and so forth. And, naturally, there are filters.

And when we say this is off the grid, we really mean it. A cursory Google search reveals almost no coverage of this app (minus a mention in a CNET list of hot apps and a couple of vlogs on YouTube). There really isn’t anything that can easily be found throughout the app’s lifetime. And yet, this app has a 4.5-star rating on the App Store with almost 10,000 reviews and has constantly received updates. On Android, it also has a 4.5-star rating, but with more than 50,000 reviews.

The app appears to be the flagship from a company called Joya Communications, which looks like it was founded in 2012. It looks like Joya raised $5 million last year from Battery Ventures and Altos Ventures.

You can start asking around in the investor community and, at SOME point, this app is going to come up in the conversation. It might be something along the lines of “oh yeah, I hear they’re doing well” or “where did this thing come from.” The reality is, we’re not quite sure either, but it’s here and it seems on the rise.

But also, throughout talking to people about this app, we heard another tidbit: early Uber investor and Benchmark partner Bill Gurley put money into it. So, clearly, there must be some potential or business model at play that could be big that we’re not seeing. (Of course, it’s possible that something changed and no deal was done from when we heard about it. Gurley has not yet responded to a request for comment, nor has Joya Communications through a request via their website.)

Return Home and the 'Travels of Marco Polo'

In 1292, Kublai Khan agreed to let Marco Polo, his father and uncle return home, after they convoyed a Mongolian princess Kokachin to marry a Persian king. In 1295, they finally reached Venice by sea via the Black Sea and Constantinople. The information about China and some Asian states they brought back, aroused great interest among the Venetians. In 1298 AD, Marco Polo joined in the war between Venice and Genoa. Unfortunately he was captured and put into a Genoese prison, where he met a writer, Rustichello da Pisa. The writer recorded the story of his travels, well-known as The Travels of Marco Polo. The book has detailed descriptions of the wealth of China, a Japan filled with gold, and the exotic custom of Central Asia, West Asia and Southeast Asia soon made it a bestseller.

Afterwards, the book became very popular in Europe and paved the way for the arrivals of countless westerners in the following centuries.

On the Other Hand.

Unfortunately, however, the rest is not history but pure bunkum. For one thing, the story includes Marco Polo naming this new dish after the enterprising sailor, whose name was Spaghetti. Given that “spaghetti” is a variant of the Italian for “thin string,” this derivation is highly unlikely.

There is another excellent reason why the story, attractive though it may be, should not be given much credence. This is that pasta was being eaten in Italy long before Marco Polo turned up with his traveller’s tales. There is a record dating from 1154 to the effect that pasta was being made at that date in Sicily. It is also known that soldiers in the 13th century carried pasta as part of their food rations. If Marco Polo did, by some happy coincidence, happen to bring some noodles back with him from China to Italy, they had nothing to do with introducing something new in the food line, because pasta was on the menu in Italy long before he started off on his journey in 1271.

Whether the author of the Macaroni Journal article was being serious in his claim or not is a debatable point, but the fact remains that it acquired a patina of reliability about it. After all, if the National Pasta Association did not know where their product originated, who did? It seemed to be the sort of story that could easily be true and so, as it spread beyond the limited confines of the pasta trade into the outside world, it was taken by many people to be absolutely true.

Here's how to use Marco Polo, the video messaging app that could replace Snapchat one day

Marco Polo bills itself as the "video walkie talkie," a video chat app that lets you send quick messages back and forth with your friends.

Much like Snapchat, Marco Polo traffics in messages that are only a few seconds long. Unlike Snapchat, however, the app saves your videos so you can have a running conversation with your friend or a group of friends.

Marco Polo was created by a company called Joya Communications, which says on its website that its mission is " to help people feel close no matter the distance, enabling people to remain connected in convenient and meaningful ways."

The app has been around for more than a year, but is starting to catch on: It's No. 3 on the App Store's top free apps chart right now. The app has a 4.5 rating on the Google Play Store (out of 5) and more than 133,000 reviews, and a 4.5 out of 5 on the App Store.

And a quick Twitter search pulls up hundreds of tweets about the app. Some users complain about Marco Polo spamming their contacts — the app does ask to access your contacts during the set up, but it apparently has texted some users contacts in the past — but most tweets look a lot like this one:

Most users also mention using the app to communicate with their families — which means Marco Polo isn't just for teens.

Who Are All These Characters on Netflix's 'Marco Polo'? (Photos)

The ensemble cast of the Netflix series "Marco Polo" isn't quite as expansive as that of "Game of Thrones," but it's still got a pretty significant group to contend with heading into Season 2 on July 1. If you need some help remembering who everybody is, this guide should come in handy. Some spoilers for Season 1 will be involved here.

Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong)
At the top of the Mongolian Empire, which at the time of his rule was and still is the largest Empire, in terms of size, in history. Kublai rules from China, where the series takes place, and has just completed the conquest of the city of Xiangyang and shattered the Chinese Song Dynasty.

Marco Polo (Lorenzo Richelmy)
Yes, he's that Marco Polo. Often referred to by the locals as "the Latin." Was sold to Kublai Khan by his father Niccolo so they could keep trading in China. Functions as a smart outsider character who thinks of stuff others do not because he's not used to how they do things.

Kaidu (Rick Yune)
Kublai's cousin. In the Season 1 finale, Kaidu was sent away by Kublai after demanding to lead the assault on Xiangyang. Kaidu left -- and took his men with him. Kaidu will challenge Kublai's authority in season 2

Prince Jingim (Remy Hii)
Kublai's son, raised in the Chinese tradition -- and so he's looked down upon by other Mongol leaders. Hopes to change that in season 2.

Hundred Eyes (Tom Wu)
The mysterious blind martial artist who taught Marco how to fight.

Empress Chabi (Joan Chen)
Wife of Kublai, and as the title suggests one of the most powerful people in the Mongol Empire -- when she chooses to flex her muscle, anyway.

Mei Lin (Olivia Cheng)
Former consort to the Song Emperor, Mei Lin was sent -- by her brother, who took charge of the Song after the Emperor died -- to infiltrate the Mongols as a concubine to Kublai Khan in order to spy on them. Having outlived her brother, Mei is now apparently allied with Ahmad, Kublai's financial advisor, who plans to betray the Khan -- but really she's a wild card. Oh, and she can more than hold her own in a fight against the men.

Ahmad (Mahesh Jadu)
As mentioned in the previous slide, Ahamad is Kublai's financial advisor, who plans to betray the Khan and rule the Empire -- and already has plans in motion to make it happen.

Kokachin (Zhu Zhu)
The Blue Princess is the last of her people, who were conquered by the Mongols. She's the on-again-off-again love interest of Marco Polo -- currently off, as she's set to marry Prince Jingim in season 2. She's also not really a princess. The Blue Princess committed suicide when her city was sacked, and this woman is actually a slave girl posing as Kokachin.

Khutulun (Claudia Kim)
Kaidu's daughter, and a warrior badass. Betrothed to Byamba.

Byamba (Uli Latukefu)
Bastard son of Kublai Khan, and a great fighter. Friends with Marco, lover to Khutulun.

Niccolo Polo (Pierfrancesco Favino)
Marco's jerk father.

Lotus (Michelle Yeoh)
Yeoh is playing a major new character who has some kind of history with Hundred Eyes.

Nayan (Ron Yuan)

One of Kublai's relatives, but also a Christian. Torn between two worlds, his loyalty to his people will be tested.

Jia Sidao (Chin Han)
He's dead now, thanks to Hundred Eyes, so his face probably doesn't matter. But he's worth remembering as he was the de facto head of the Song Empire, and the main antagonist of the series, for most of season 1.

Season 2 arrives more than 18 months after the first — here’s a refresher on who the major players are

The ensemble cast of the Netflix series "Marco Polo" isn't quite as expansive as that of "Game of Thrones," but it's still got a pretty significant group to contend with heading into Season 2 on July 1. If you need some help remembering who everybody is, this guide should come in handy. Some spoilers for Season 1 will be involved here.


The source of the title Il Milione is debated. One view is it comes from the Polo family's use of the name Emilione to distinguish themselves from the numerous other Venetian families bearing the name Polo. [12] A more common view is that the name refers to medieval reception of the travelog, namely that it was full of "a million" lies. [13]

Modern assessments of the text usually consider it to be the record of an observant rather than imaginative or analytical traveller. Marco Polo emerges as being curious and tolerant, and devoted to Kublai Khan and the dynasty that he served for two decades. The book is Polo's account of his travels to China, which he calls Cathay (north China) and Manji (south China). The Polo party left Venice in 1271. The journey took 3 years after which they arrived in Cathay as it was then called and met the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan. They left China in late 1290 or early 1291 [14] and were back in Venice in 1295. The tradition is that Polo dictated the book to a romance writer, Rustichello da Pisa, while in prison in Genoa between 1298–1299. Rustichello may have worked up his first Franco-Italian version from Marco's notes. The book was then named Devisement du Monde and Livres des Merveilles du Monde in French, and De Mirabilibus Mundi in Latin. [15]

Role of Rustichello Edit

The British scholar Ronald Latham has pointed out that The Book of Marvels was in fact a collaboration written in 1298–1299 between Polo and a professional writer of romances, Rustichello of Pisa. [16] It is believed that Polo related his memoirs orally to Rustichello da Pisa while both were prisoners of the Genova Republic. Rustichello wrote Devisement du Monde in Franco-Venetian language. [17]

Latham also argued that Rustichello may have glamorised Polo's accounts, and added fantastic and romantic elements that made the book a bestseller. [16] The Italian scholar Luigi Foscolo Benedetto had previously demonstrated that the book was written in the same "leisurely, conversational style" that characterised Rustichello's other works, and that some passages in the book were taken verbatim or with minimal modifications from other writings by Rustichello. For example, the opening introduction in The Book of Marvels to "emperors and kings, dukes and marquises" was lifted straight out of an Arthurian romance Rustichello had written several years earlier, and the account of the second meeting between Polo and Kublai Khan at the latter's court is almost the same as that of the arrival of Tristan at the court of King Arthur at Camelot in that same book. [18] Latham believed that many elements of the book, such as legends of the Middle East and mentions of exotic marvels, may have been the work of Rustichello who was giving what medieval European readers expected to find in a travel book. [19]

Role of the Dominican Order Edit

Apparently, from the very beginning Marco's story aroused contrasting reactions, as it was received by some with a certain disbelief. The Dominican father Francesco Pipino was the author of a translation into Latin, Iter Marci Pauli Veneti in 1302, just a few years after Marco's return to Venice. Francesco Pipino solemnly affirmed the truthfulness of the book and defined Marco as a "prudent, honoured and faithful man". [20] In his writings, the Dominican brother Jacopo d'Acqui explains why his contemporaries were skeptical about the content of the book. He also relates that before dying, Marco Polo insisted that "he had told only a half of the things he had seen". [20]

According to some recent research of the Italian scholar Antonio Montefusco, the very close relationship that Marco Polo cultivated with members of the Dominican Order in Venice suggests that local fathers collaborated with him for a Latin version of the book, which means that Rustichello's text was translated into Latin for a precise will of the Order. [21]

Since Dominican fathers had among their missions that of evangelizing foreign peoples (cf. the role of Dominican missionaries in China [22] and in the Indies [23] ), it is reasonable to think that they considered Marco's book as a trustworthy piece of information for missions in the East. The diplomatic communications between Pope Innocent IV and Pope Gregory X with the Mongols [24] were probably another reason for this endorsement. At the time, there was open discussion of a possible Christian-Mongul alliance with an anti-Islamic function. [25] In fact, a mongol delegate was solemnly baptised at the Second Council of Lyon. At the Council, Pope Gregory X promulgated a new Crusade to start in 1278 in liaison with the Mongols. [26]

The Travels is divided into four books. Book One describes the lands of the Middle East and Central Asia that Marco encountered on his way to China. Book Two describes China and the court of Kublai Khan. Book Three describes some of the coastal regions of the East: Japan, India, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia, and the east coast of Africa. Book Four describes some of the then-recent wars among the Mongols and some of the regions of the far north, like Russia. Polo's writings included descriptions of cannibals and spice-growers.

The Travels was a rare popular success in an era before printing.

The impact of Polo's book on cartography was delayed: the first map in which some names mentioned by Polo appear was in the Catalan Atlas of Charles V (1375), which included thirty names in China and a number of other Asian toponyms. [27] In the mid-fifteenth century the cartographer of Murano, Fra Mauro, meticulously included all of Polo's toponyms in his 1450 map of the world.

A heavily annotated copy of Polo's book was among the belongings of Columbus. [28]

Marco Polo was accompanied on his trips by his father and uncle (both of whom had been to China previously), though neither of them published any known works about their journeys. The book was translated into many European languages in Marco Polo's own lifetime, but the original manuscripts are now lost. A total of about 150 copies in various languages are known to exist. During copying and translating many errors were made, so there are many differences between the various copies. [30]

According to the French philologist Philippe Ménard, [31] there are six main versions of the book: the version closest to the original, in Franco-Venetian a version in Old French a version in Tuscan two versions in Venetian two different versions in Latin.

Version in Franco-Venetian Edit

The oldest surviving Polo manuscript is in Franco-Venetian, which was a variety of Old French heavily flavoured with Venetian dialect, spread in Northern Italy in the 13th century [6] [7] [32] for Luigi Foscolo Benedetto, this "F" text is the basic original text, which he corrected by comparing it with the somewhat more detailed Italian of Ramusio, together with a Latin manuscript in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

Version in Old French Edit

A version written in Old French, titled "Le Livre des merveilles" (The Book of Marvels).

This version counts 18 manuscripts, whose most famous is the Code Fr. 2810. [33] Famous for its miniatures, the Code 2810 is in the French National Library. Another Old French Polo manuscript, dating to around 1350, is held by the National Library of Sweden. [34] A critical edition of this version was edited in the 2000s by Philippe Ménard. [31]

Version in Tuscan Edit

A version in Tuscan (Italian language) titled "Navigazione di messer Marco Polo" was written in Florence by Michele Ormanni. It is found in the Italian National Library in Florence. Other early important sources are the manuscript "R" (Ramusio's Italian translation first printed in 1559).

Version in Venetian Edit

The version in Venetian dialect is full of mistakes and is not considered trusthworthy. [31]

Versions in Latin Edit

  • One of the early manuscripts Iter Marci Pauli Veneti was a translation into Latin made by the Dominican brotherFrancesco Pipino in 1302, [35] which means only three years after Marco's return to Venice. This testifies the deep interest the Dominican Order towards the book. According to some recent research of the Italian scholar Antonio Montefusco, the very close relationship Marco Polo cultivated with members of the Dominican Order in Venice suggests that Rustichello's text was translated into Latin for a precise will of the Order, [21] which had among its missions that of evangelizing foreign peoples (cf. the role of Dominican missionaries in China [22] and in the Indies [36] ). This Latin version is conserved by 70 manuscripts. [31]
  • Another Latin version called "Z" is conserved only by one manuscript, which is to be found in Toledo, Spain. This version contains about 300 small curious additional informations about religion and ethnography in the Far East. Experts wondered whether these additions were due to Marco Polo himself. [31]

Critical editions Edit

The first attempt to collate manuscripts and provide a critical edition was in a volume of collected travel narratives printed at Venice in 1559. [37]

The editor, Giovan Battista Ramusio, collated manuscripts from the first part of the fourteenth century, [38] which he considered to be "perfettamente corretto" ("perfectly correct"). The edition of Benedetto, Marco Polo, Il Milione, under the patronage of the Comitato Geografico Nazionale Italiano (Florence: Olschki, 1928), collated sixty additional manuscript sources, in addition to some eighty that had been collected by Henry Yule, for his 1871 edition. It was Benedetto who identified Rustichello da Pisa, [39] as the original compiler or amanuensis, and his established text has provided the basis for many modern translations: his own in Italian (1932), and Aldo Ricci's The Travels of Marco Polo (London, 1931).

The first English translation is the Elizabethan version by John Frampton published in 1579, The most noble and famous travels of Marco Polo, based on Santaella's Castilian translation of 1503 (the first version in that language). [40]

A. C. Moule and Paul Pelliot published a translation under the title Description of the World that uses manuscript F as its base and attempts to combine the several versions of the text into one continuous narrative while at the same time indicating the source for each section (London, 1938). ISBN 4871873080

An introduction to Marco Polo is Leonard Olschki, Marco Polo's Asia: An Introduction to His "Description of the World" Called "Il Milione", translated by John A. Scott (Berkeley: University of California) 1960 it had its origins in the celebrations of the seven hundredth anniversary of Marco Polo's birth.

Since its publication, many have viewed the book with skepticism. Some in the Middle Ages viewed the book simply as a romance or fable, largely because of the sharp difference of its descriptions of a sophisticated civilisation in China to other early accounts by Giovanni da Pian del Carpine and William of Rubruck who portrayed the Mongols as "barbarians" who appeared to belong to "some other world". [42] Doubts have also been raised in later centuries about Marco Polo's narrative of his travels in China, for example for his failure to mention a number of things and practices commonly associated with China, such as the Chinese characters, tea, chopsticks, and footbinding. [43] In particular, his failure to mention the Great Wall of China had been noted as early as the middle of the seventeenth century. [44] In addition, the difficulties in identifying many of the place names he used also raised suspicion about Polo's accounts. [44] Many have questioned whether or not he had visited the places he mentioned in his itinerary, or he had appropriated the accounts of his father and uncle or other travelers, or doubted that he even reached China and that, if he did, perhaps never went beyond Khanbaliq (Beijing). [44] [45]

Historian Stephen G. Haw however argued that many of the "omissions" could be explained. For example, none of the other Western travelers to Yuan dynasty China at that time, such as Giovanni de' Marignolli and Odoric of Pordenone, mentioned the Great Wall, and that while remnants of the Wall would have existed at that time, it would not have been significant or noteworthy as it had not been maintained for a long time. The Great Walls were built to keep out northern invaders, whereas the ruling dynasty during Marco Polo's visit were those very northern invaders. The Mongol rulers whom Polo served also controlled territories both north and south of today's wall, and would have no reasons to maintain any fortifications that may have remained there from the earlier dynasties. He noted the Great Wall familiar to us today is a Ming structure built some two centuries after Marco Polo's travels. [46] The Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta did mention the Great Wall, but when he asked about the wall while in China during the Yuan dynasty, he could find no one who had either seen it or knew of anyone who had seen it. [46] Haw also argued that practices such as footbinding were not common even among Chinese during Polo's time and almost unknown among the Mongols. While the Italian missionary Odoric of Pordenone who visited Yuan China mentioned footbinding (it is however unclear whether he was only relaying something he heard as his description is inaccurate), [47] no other foreign visitors to Yuan China mentioned the practice, perhaps an indication that the footbinding was not widespread or was not practiced in an extreme form at that time. [48] Marco Polo himself noted (in the Toledo manuscript) the dainty walk of Chinese women who took very short steps. [46]

It has also been pointed out that Polo's accounts are more accurate and detailed than other accounts of the periods. Polo had at times denied the "marvelous" fables and legends given in other European accounts, and also omitted descriptions of strange races of people then believed to inhabit eastern Asia and given in such accounts. For example, Odoric of Pordenone said that the Yangtze river flows through the land of pygmies only three spans high and gave other fanciful tales, while Giovanni da Pian del Carpine spoke of "wild men, who do not speak at all and have no joints in their legs", monsters who looked like women but whose menfolk were dogs, and other equally fantastic accounts. Despite a few exaggerations and errors, Polo's accounts are relatively free of the descriptions of irrational marvels, and in many cases where present (mostly given in the first part before he reached China), he made a clear distinction that they are what he had heard rather than what he had seen. It is also largely free of the gross errors in other accounts such as those given by the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta who had confused the Yellow River with the Grand Canal and other waterways, and believed that porcelain was made from coal. [49]

Many of the details in Polo's accounts have been verified. For example, when visiting Zhenjiang in Jiangsu, China, Marco Polo noted that a large number of Christian churches had been built there. His claim is confirmed by a Chinese text of the 14th century explaining how a Sogdian named Mar-Sargis from Samarkand founded six Nestorian Christian churches there in addition to one in Hangzhou during the second half of the 13th century. [50] Nestorian Christianity had existed in China since the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) when a Persian monk named Alopen came to the capital Chang'an in 653 to proselytize, as described in a dual Chinese and Syriac language inscription from Chang'an (modern Xi'an) dated to the year 781. [51]

In 2012, the University of Tübingen sinologist and historian Hans Ulrich Vogel released a detailed analysis of Polo's description of currencies, salt production and revenues, and argued that the evidence supports his presence in China because he included details which he could not have otherwise known. [52] [53] Vogel noted that no other Western, Arab, or Persian sources have given such accurate and unique details about the currencies of China, for example, the shape and size of the paper, the use of seals, the various denominations of paper money as well as variations in currency usage in different regions of China, such as the use of cowry shells in Yunnan, details supported by archaeological evidence and Chinese sources compiled long after Polo's had left China. [54] His accounts of salt production and revenues from the salt monopoly are also accurate, and accord with Chinese documents of the Yuan era. [55] Economic historian Mark Elvin, in his preface to Vogel's 2013 monograph, concludes that Vogel "demonstrates by specific example after specific example the ultimately overwhelming probability of the broad authenticity" of Polo's account. Many problems were caused by the oral transmission of the original text and the proliferation of significantly different hand-copied manuscripts. For instance, did Polo exert "political authority" (seignora) in Yangzhou or merely "sojourn" (sejourna) there? Elvin concludes that "those who doubted, although mistaken, were not always being casual or foolish", but "the case as a whole had now been closed": the book is, "in essence, authentic, and, when used with care, in broad terms to be trusted as a serious though obviously not always final, witness". [11]

Although Marco Polo was certainly the most famous, he was not the only nor the first European traveller to the Mongol Empire who subsequently wrote an account of his experiences. Earlier thirteenth-century European travellers who journeyed to the court of the Great Khan were André de Longjumeau, William of Rubruck and Giovanni da Pian del Carpine with Benedykt Polak. None of them however reached China itself. Later travelers such as Odoric of Pordenone and Giovanni de' Marignolli reached China during the Yuan dynasty and wrote accounts of their travels. [47] [46]

The Moroccan merchant Ibn Battuta travelled through the Golden Horde and China subsequently in the early-to-mid-14th century. The 14th-century author John Mandeville wrote an account of journeys in the East, but this was probably based on second-hand information and contains much apocryphal information.

2 The Guillotine

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin gets the credit for this invention, even though the well-known design was actually created by Dr. Antoine Louis and built by German harpsichord-maker Tobias Schmidt. However, there were several other decapitation machines before the guillotine, which actually served as the basis for it&mdashand they weren&rsquot French.

The idea of a frame where a blade can be lifted, suspended, and released in order to behead a person was developed several times throughout history. The earliest source we have is a woodcut from a book published in 1577. There is no context for it&mdashall we know is that it depicts the 1307 execution of an Irishman called Murcod Ballagh using a device very similar to the guillotine.

After this, we have the Halifax Gibbet. The Gibbet was almost identical to the guillotine, except that it didn&rsquot use an angled blade, meaning that decapitation was not as fast or painless. Although formal records of people being executed using this method started in 1541, it is likely that the device was used long before that, perhaps as early as 1280. The Halifax Gibbet served as direct inspiration for the guillotine, but also for another decapitation device called the Scottish Maiden. It was first used in 1564, with the main difference being that the Maiden used a bigger, heavier blade.

Record of his travels

While imprisoned in Genoa, Marco Polo related the story of his travels to a fellow prisoner named Rusticiano, a man from Pisa, Italy, who wrote in the romantic style of thirteenth-century literature. A combination of Marco Polo's gift of observation and the writing style of Rusticiano emerged in the final version of Marco Polo's travels. The book included Polo's personal remembrances as well as stories related to him by others.

In his book, which was translated into many languages, Polo left a wealth of information. The information contained in his maps has proved remarkably accurate when tested by modern methods. His observations about customs and local characteristics have also been proven true by research.

Watch the video: Турция Кемер Отель Марко Marco Polo 5


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