AUTHOR: Russell Freeman
WHAT TERRITORY WAS EXPLORED AND WHEN? China and other parts of Asia from 1271 to 1295
WHO DID THE EXPLORING? An Italian merchant family, Marco Polo along with his father and uncle.
HOW WAS THE TRIP? Marco Polo’s father and uncle had been on a trading trip to Russia and met Kublai Khan while trying to steer clear of a war on their return to Italy. The Great Khan requested they return to him with 100 men learned in the Christian religion and some oil from the lamp that burned at the church of the Holy Sepulchre (the tomb of Jesus). They went back towards Italy, collected the oil, two friars and seventeen year old Marco and headed east again. After nearly twenty-four years of rugged traveling mixed with some luxurious living as envoys for Kublai Khan, they returned again to Italy. This time Venice was at war with Genoa and Marco Polo was captured in a sea battle and imprisoned for a year with, as luck would have it, a writer. Marco’s epic adventure became scribed over and over again. It was titled The Description of the World and it’s impact on the medieval mind was HUGE.
WHAT WAS GAINED? The Polo’s gained riches and they spread geographic and cultural knowledge. Prior to their travels, Europeans had never seen coal, or paper money or thought about religious freedom or considered taking a bath more than about once a year.
This is a beautiful book with many first person accounts from The Description of the World.
Activity: We like this game that follows Marco Polo's route as you answer questions about his travels.