Marco Emilio Polo (1254-1324) born in island Korcula, Croatia and was the first European traveler who described his journeys in a book - most of the territory he traveled, particularly the Pamir and Gobi desert.
His father and uncle were merchants and business partners. Marco Polo went with his father and uncle on many business trips. One of the trips was to China. They arrived in China in 1275. The Polos were Marco Polo entered Kublai Khan's service, acting as his agent on missions to many parts of the Mongol Empire and was the governor of the Chinese city of Yangchow for three years. The Polos stayed in China until 1292, when they left the country as escorts for a Mongol princess traveling by sea to Persia.
In 1298 Marc Polo was captain of a Venetian gallery that participated in a battle between the fleets of Venice and Genoa, and was taken prisoner. During his imprisonment in Genoa, he dictated to a fellow prisoner the detailed accounts of his travels. He was released from prison in 1299 and returned to Venice.
Record of Polo 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.
Million comes from Polo
Marco Emilio Polo's fame today derives from a book about his travels, told to and written by a writer from Pisa named Rustichello. The book is not so much a diary of his travels as it is a book of observations about his journey, a gazetteer of all that he saw. In Marco's day, the book was translated and copied by hand into several languages. Christopher Columbus often consulted a copy during his own voyages. It has been published many times, in many countries, and under many names. It has been called The Book of Travels, The Travels of Marco Polo, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, A Description of the World, and even, Il Milione. This last was a nick-name given to Marco by critics of his million stories. The Million Lies and Marco Polo received the nickname.
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