|Birth: ||Sep. 15, 1254|
Città Metropolitana di Venezia
|Death: ||Jan. 8, 1324|
Città Metropolitana di Venezia
Marco Polo (c. 1254 – January 8, 1324) was a Venetian merchant whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading by his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, who previously travelled through Asia and apparently met Kublai Khan. In 1269, they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time. The three of them embarked on a journey to Asia, returning after 17 years to find Venice at war with Genoa; Marco was imprisoned, and dictated his stories to a cellmate. He was released in 1299 and died in 1324, buried in San Lorenzo.
His pioneering journey inspired Christopher Columbus and others.
The exact time and place of Marco Polo's birth are unknown, and current theories are mostly conjectural. One possible place of birth is Venice's former contrada of San Giovanni Crisostomo, which is sometimes presented by historians as the birthplace, and it is generally accepted that Marco Polo was born in the Venetian Republic with most biographers pointing towards Venice itself as Marco Polo's home town.Some biographers suggest that Polo was born in the town of Korčula (Curzola), on the island of Korčula in today's Croatia.The most quoted specific date of Polo's birth is somewhere "around 1254". His father Niccolò was a merchant who traded with the Middle East, becoming wealthy and achieving great prestige. Niccolò and his brother Maffeo set off on a trading voyage, before Marco was born.
In 1260, Niccolò and Maffeo were residing in Constantinople when they foresaw a political change; they liquidated their assets into jewels and moved away. According to The Travels of Marco Polo, they passed through much of Asia, and met with the Kublai Khan. Bukhara. There, an envoy from Levant invited them to meet Kublai Khan, who had never met Europeans. In 1266, they reached the seat of the Kublai Khan at Dadu, present day Beijing, China. Khan received the brothers with hospitality and asked them many questions regarding the European legal and political system. He also inquired about the Pope and Church in Rome. After the brothers answered the questions he tasked them with delivering a letter to the Pope, requesting 100 Christians acquainted with the Seven Arts (grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy). Kublai Khan requested that an envoy bring him back oil of the lamp in Jerusalem. The long sede vacante between the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268 and the election of his successor delayed the Polos in fulfilling Khan's request. They followed the suggestion of Theobald Visconti, then papal legate for the realm of Egypt, and returned to Venice in 1269 or 1270 to await the nomination of the new Pope, which allowed Marco to see his father for the first time, at the age of fifteen or sixteen.
Kublai Khan declined the Polos' requests to leave China. They became worried about returning home safely, believing that if Khan died, his enemies might turn against them because of their close involvement with the ruler. Meanwhile, Marco Polo's mother died, and he was raised by an aunt and uncle.
Marco Polo became a wealthy merchant and financed other expeditions but never left Venice again.
Other lesser-known European explorers had already travelled to China, such as Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, but Polo's book meant that their journey was the first to be widely known. Christopher Columbus was inspired enough by Polo's description of the Far East to visit those lands for himself; a copy of the book was among his belongings, with handwritten annotations. Bento de Góis, inspired by Polo's writings of a Christian kingdom in the east, travelled 4,000 miles (6,400 km) in three years across Central Asia. He never found the kingdom, but ended his travels at the Great Wall of China in 1605, proving that Cathay was what Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) called "China".
Due to the Venetian law stating that the day ends at sunset, the exact date of Marco Polo's death cannot be determined, but it was between the sunsets of January 8 and 9, 1324.
In 1851, a three-masted Clipper built in Saint John, New Brunswick also took his name; the Marco Polo was the first ship to sail around the world in under six months. The airport in Venice is named Venice Marco Polo Airport, Marco Polo also appears as a Great Explorer in the 2008 strategy video game Civilization Revolution.
Body lost or destroyed
Specifically: If Marco Polo was buried at San Lorenzo, his tomb was lost when the church was rebuilt. The church is not accessible and has not been for some time.
Created by: Lorenzo Brieba
Record added: Aug 29, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 75690003