Polo, Marco

 Born  1253   Born At  
 Died  1324   Buried At  
Marco was supposed to have published a book called 'A Description of the World', telling the stories of his travels overland from Italy to China and by boat along the coast of South-East Asia and India. Marco was born in Venice, at the time one of the most powerful states in Italy. Merchants would travel to the Black Sea where they would exchange jewels, silver and gold for precious goods. Buying silks from China and spices like pepper and ginger. Carpets were also bought from Persia. These were sold back in Venice for a large profit. Marco's father Nicolo and his uncle Matteo were traders and were away when Marco was born. They travelled to China and spent time at the Court of the Great Khan. Marco was fifteen years old when they returned. They told him of the things they had seen and when they left again in 1271, Marco went with them. They left in the summer of 1271 and headed straight to Acre on the Mediterranean coast. While in China, Nicolo and Matteo had met the Great Khan, Kubilai. Impressed by the two men, Kubilai wanted to know more about Christianity and asked Nicolo to go to the Pope to ask for 100 Christian Priests and oil from the Holy Sepulchre. Since the death of Pope Clement IV in 1269 there was no Pope, so it was hoped that the Papal Legate at Acre, called Tedaldo would agree. He only agreed to the oil. The Polos started on their journey, but only got to Ayas, 300 kms north of Acre when Tedaldo was elected Pope and sent word that if they returned, he would send two priests with them. The priests joined the Polos but soon turned back at news of fighting between the Christians and the Saracens ahead. The Polos continued north, passing Mount Ararat, the legendary resting place of Noah's Ark. Continuing on to the foothills of Kurdistan, winter drew in and they waited for spring. In the spring they travelled on to northern Persia passing through Tabriz. Turning south, they headed for the port of Hormus, planning to take a ship to China. Heading across barren plains of Persia they were attacked by bandits and luckily escaped with their lives. Once in Hormus, they discovered that the quality of boat building was not up to their standards and worried about their own safety, decided to travel overland. Travelling almost a month north-east, they reached the plain of the Dry Tree, a famous landmark. Here they turned east and travelled through the north-east of Afghanistan. By the winter of 1272 they had reached Badakshan and stayed they when Marco became ill. In the spring of 1273, Marco was well again to continue. Finally, the Polos reached the city of Kanchow on the border with China. Messengers were sent to the Great Khan to tell of their arrival, and an escort was sent to take them safely to the Great Khan's court. Marco became very useful to Kubilai and travelled as an emissary, gaining information that other emissaries could not. He became a mixture of spy and diplomat and was sent to Ceylon and India. In 1292, the Khan or Persia, Arghun, asked that he could marry a Mongol princess, Princess Kokachin. The Persians envoy, frightened by news of war on their proposed path back home, were told by the Polos of the safer journey by sea. This was fortunate, as the Polos were looking for a good reason to leave Kubilai's court as he was becoming old and rival barons were becoming jealous of the Polo's influence and power and could easily murder Marco. The Persians agreed to the sea trip and asked the Polos to guide them. The journey was not so safe, and several ships were lost to pirates. Once in Hormus, they found that Arghum had died and Princess Kokachin decided to marry his nephew Ghazan. The Polos travelled north to Trebizond on the Black Sea but were captured and had to pay a large ransom to be freed. Back in Venice, they found that Venice was at war with Genoa and Marco was made the commander of a war galley. At the battle of Curzola, Marco was captured and imprisoned. It was here that he met a writer, Rustichello of Pisa who after hearing Marco's stories, convinces him to write an account of the travels. In 1298, when Marco was released, the book was finished.


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1245   Carpini, the Christian envoy, travels to the Mongol Empire
 Carpini, a Christian envoy travelled to the seat of the Mongol Emperor at Karakoram and another, Roubrouck followed in 1253.[1] 
1271   18yrsMarco Polo leaves Venice at the age of eighteen
 Marco Polo left Venice on a trading adventure with his father Nicolo and uncle Matteo. Not seeing Venice again for 23 years. [1] 

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