The Travels of Marco Polo
Overview
Books of the Marvels of the World (French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

: Livres des merveilles du monde) or Description of the World (Divisament dou monde), also nicknamed Il Milione ("The Million") or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa, also known as Rusticiano and Rustigielo , was an Italian romance writer best known for cowriting Marco Polo's autobiography while they were in prison together in Genoa. A native Pisan, he may have been captured by the Genoese at the Battle of Meloria in 1284, amid a conflict...

 from stories told by Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

, describing the travels of the latter through Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, Persia, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 between 1271 and 1291.

It was a very famous and popular book, even in the 14th century.
Encyclopedia
Books of the Marvels of the World (French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

: Livres des merveilles du monde) or Description of the World (Divisament dou monde), also nicknamed Il Milione ("The Million") or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa, also known as Rusticiano and Rustigielo , was an Italian romance writer best known for cowriting Marco Polo's autobiography while they were in prison together in Genoa. A native Pisan, he may have been captured by the Genoese at the Battle of Meloria in 1284, amid a conflict...

 from stories told by Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

, describing the travels of the latter through Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, Persia, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 between 1271 and 1291.

It was a very famous and popular book, even in the 14th century. The text claims that Marco Polo became an important figure at the court of the Mongol leader Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

. However, modern scholars debate how much of the account is accurate and some have questioned whether or not Marco Polo ever actually traveled to the court or was just repeating stories that he had heard from other travellers. The book was written in Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 by Rustichello da Pisa, a romance
Romance (genre)
As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a knight errant portrayed as...

 author of the time, who was reportedly working from accounts which he had heard from Marco Polo when they were imprisoned in Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 having been captured while on a ship.
A 1937 book titled "The History of the United States", by Willam B Guitteau, offers the following claim, "Returning home at last, Marco Polo subsequently became a political prisoner in Genoa; and to while away the time wrote the story of his travels. This book was first printed in 1477; it was read critically by Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 and a copy with marginal notes by the great navigator may still be seen in the Columbian Library at Seville."

History

The title Il Milione comes from the Polo family's use of the name Emilione to distinguish themselves from the numerous other Venetian families bearing the name Polo.

Modern assessments of the text usually consider it to be the record of an observant rather than imaginative or analytical traveler. Polo emerges as being curious and tolerant, and devoted to Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 and the dynasty that he served for two decades. The book is Polo's account of his travels to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, which he calls Cathay
Cathay
Cathay is the Anglicized version of "Catai" and an alternative name for China in English. It originates from the word Khitan, the name of a nomadic people who founded the Liao Dynasty which ruled much of Northern China from 907 to 1125, and who had a state of their own centered around today's...

 (north China) and Manji (south China). The Polo party left Venice in 1271. They left China in late 1290 or early 1291 and were back in Venice in 1295. The tradition is that Polo dictated the book to a romance
Romance (genre)
As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a knight errant portrayed as...

 writer, Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa, also known as Rusticiano and Rustigielo , was an Italian romance writer best known for cowriting Marco Polo's autobiography while they were in prison together in Genoa. A native Pisan, he may have been captured by the Genoese at the Battle of Meloria in 1284, amid a conflict...

, while in prison in Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 between 1298–1299; Rustichello may have worked up his first Franco-Italian version from Marco's notes.

The book was then named Devisament dou monde and Livres des merveilles du monde in French, and De mirabilibus mundi in Latin.

Contents

The Travels is divided into four books. Book One describes the lands of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 that Marco encountered on his way to China. Book Two describes China and the court of Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

. Book Three describes some of the coastal regions of the East: Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, and the east coast of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. Finally, Book Four describes some of the recent wars among the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 and some of the regions of the far north, like Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

Portrayal of religion

The Christian audience of the text caused Marco Polo to appeal to Christians in his writing. Upon finding Christians on his travels he often places them in a positive light. An example of this is after Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 defeats a Christian rebel. Marco Polo makes a point of showing his consolation of the Christians among his own army saying "'If the cross of your god has not helped Nayan,' he said, ' it was for a very good reason. Because it is good, it ought not to lend its aid except in a good and righteous cause. Nayan was a traitor who broke faith with his liege. Hence the fate that has befallen him was a vindication of the right. And the cross of your god did well in not helping against the right."

Marco Polo, a Christian, is often considered to have been flawed by his contemporary bias against some of the religions he encounters along the way. Most notable of these is his depiction of Buddhism as "Idol-worship", partaking in both sexual indulgence and the taking of multiple wives. Often reported is a comment regarding a Muslim, which, by a simple read, is clearly not regarding his religion but rather than his personal behaviour. In Book II Polo wrote: "Among these [advisors] was a Saracen
Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

 called Ahmad, a man of great energy and ability, who surpassed all the rest in his authority and influence over the Great Khan... this Ahmedd used to bewitch the Emperor by his black arts to such purpose that he won a ready hearing and acceptance.", any cultural bias attributed to Polo, seems unjustified in the light of the person's notoriety. The named Ahmad was a multiple rapist and murderer who was regarded as evil-doer by a large number of the populace. Most scholars would not credit the revisionist suggestion that Polo's unfavorable description of this advisor, though superstitious, had anything to do with his religion, especially seeing as how he depicts other followers of Islam in a very positive light.

One of the many instances in which Polo demonstrates his respect and admiration towards followers of other religions occurs in his description of the "Bramins", whom he claimed were "the best and most honourable merchants that can be found. No consideration whatever can induce them to speak an untruth, even though their lives should depend upon it. They have also an abhorrence of robbery or of purloining the goods of other persons. They are likewise remarkable for the virtue of continence..."

Legacy

The Travels was a rare popular success in an era before printing.

The impact of Polo's book on cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 was delayed: the first map in which some names mentioned by Polo appear was in the Catalan Atlas of Charles V (1375), which included thirty names in China and a number of other Asian toponyms. In the mid-fifteenth century the cartographer of Murano, Fra Mauro
Fra Mauro
Fra Mauro, O.S.B. Cam., was a 15th-century Camaldolese monk who lived in the Republic of Venice. He was a monk of the Monastery of St. Michael, located on the island of Murano in the Venetian Lagoon. It was there that he maintained a cartography workshop.In his youth, Mauro had traveled...

, meticulously included all of Polo's toponyms in his map of the world
Fra Mauro map
The Fra Mauro map, "considered the greatest memorial of medieval cartography" according to Roberto Almagià, is a map made around 1450 by the Venetian monk Fra Mauro...

. Marco Polo's description of the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

 and its riches inspired Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

's decision to try to reach Asia by sea, in a westward route. A heavily annotated copy of Polo's book was among the belongings of Columbus.
Polo's writings included descriptions of cannibals and spice growers.

Subsequent versions

Marco Polo was accompanied in his trips by his father and uncle (both of whom had been to China previously), though neither of them published any known works about their journeys. The book was translated into many European languages within Marco Polo's lifetime, but the original manuscripts are now lost. About 150 copies in various languages are known to exist. However during copying and translating many errors were made, so there are many differences between the various copies. The first English translation is the Elizabethan version by John Frampton, The most noble and famous travels of Marco Polo.

The first attempt to collate manuscripts and provide a critical edition was in a volume of collected travel narratives printed at Venice in 1559.

The editor, Giovan Battista Ramusio, collated manuscripts from the first part of the fourteenth century, which he considered to be "perfettamente corretto" ("perfectly correct"). He was of the opinion, not shared by modern scholars, that Marco had first written in Latin, quickly translated into Italian: he had apparently been able to use a Latin version "of marvelous antiquity" lent him by a friend in the Ghisi family of Venice.

The edition of Luigi Foscolo Benedetto, Marco Polo, Il Milione, under the patronage of the Comitato Geografico Nazionale Italiano (Florence: Olschki, 1928), collated sixty additional manuscript sources, in addition to some eighty that had been collected by Sir Henry Yule
Henry Yule
Sir Henry Yule was a Scottish Orientalist.He was born at Inveresk, Scotland, near Edinburgh, the son of Major William Yule , translator of the Apothegms of Ali. Henry Yule was educated at Edinburgh, Addiscombe, and Chatham, and joined the Bengal Engineers in 1840...

, for his 1871 edition. It was Benedetto who identified Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa
Rustichello da Pisa, also known as Rusticiano and Rustigielo , was an Italian romance writer best known for cowriting Marco Polo's autobiography while they were in prison together in Genoa. A native Pisan, he may have been captured by the Genoese at the Battle of Meloria in 1284, amid a conflict...

, as the original compiler or amanuensis
Amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

, and his established text has provided the basis for many modern translations: his own in Italian (1932), and Aldo Ricci's The Travels of Marco Polo (London, 1931).

The oldest surviving Polo manuscript is in Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 heavily flavoured with Italian; for Benedetto, this "F" text is the basic original text, which he corrected by comparing it with the somewhat more detailed Latin of Ramusio, together with a Latin manuscript in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana
Biblioteca Ambrosiana
The Biblioteca Ambrosiana is a historic library in Milan, Italy, also housing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Ambrosian art gallery. Named after Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, it was founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo , whose agents scoured Western Europe and even Greece and Syria for books...

.

An introduction to Marco Polo is Leonard Olschki, Marco Polo's Asia: An Introduction to His "Description of the World" Called 'Il Milione, translated by John A. Scott (Berkeley:University of California) 1960; it had its origins in the celebrations of the seven hundredth anniversary of Marco Polo's birth.

Other travelers

Other thirteenth-century European travelers who journeyed to the court of the Great Khan  were André de Longjumeau, William of Rubruck
William of Rubruck
William of Rubruck was a Flemish Franciscan missionary and explorer. His account is one of the masterpieces of medieval geographical literature comparable to that of Marco Polo....

 and Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, or John of Plano Carpini or John of Pian de Carpine or Joannes de Plano was one of the first Europeans to enter the court of the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. He is the author of the earliest important Western account of northern and central Asia, Rus, and other...

 with Benedykt Polak
Benedykt Polak
Benedict of Poland was a Polish Franciscan friar, traveler and explorer....

. None of them visited China. The Moroccan merchant Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

 travelled through the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

 and China subsequently in the early-to-mid-14th century. The 14th-century English author John de Mandeville wrote an account of journeys in the East, but this was probably based on second-hand information and contains much apocryphal information.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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