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Marco Polo's Journey to China - Essay Example

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Marco Polo's Journey to China

They were accompanied not only by one hundred wise men but by two Dominican friars, and the two good friars turned back at the first sign of adversity, another local war in the Levant. Aside from the pope’s messages, the only spiritual gift Europe was able to furnish the great Kublai Khan was oil from the lamp burning at Jesus Christ’s supposed tomb in Jerusalem. Yet, in a sense, young Marco, the only new person in the Polos’ party, was himself a fitting representative of the spirit of European civilization on the eve of the Renaissance, and the lack of one hundred learned Europeans guaranteed that he would catch the eye of the Cowan, who was curious about Latins. On the way to the Khan’s court, Marco had the opportunity to complete his education. The journey took three and a half years by horseback through some of the world’s most rugged terrain, including snowy mountain ranges, such as the Pamirs, and parching deserts, such as the Gobi. Marco and his party encountered such hazards as wild beasts and brigands; they also met with beautiful women, in whom young Marco took a special interest. The group traveled numerous countries and cultures, noting food, dress, and religion unique to each. In particular, under the khans’s protection the Polos were able to observe a large portion of the Islamic world at close range, as few if any European Christians had. By the time they reached the khan’s court in Khanbalik, Marco had become a hardened traveler. He had also received a unique education and had been initiated into manhood. ...Show more

Summary

Marco Polo was born in c.1254 in Venice. He was a Venetian explorer and merchant whose account of his travels in Asia was the primary source for the European image of the Far East until the late 19th century. Marco's father, Niccolò, and his uncle Maffeo had traveled to China (1260-69) as merchants. …
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