MarcoPolo - Marco Polo Joshua Williams 20 April 2011 Marco...

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Marco Polo Joshua Williams 20 April 2011
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Marco Polo was born in Venice, Italy to a wealthy family of aristocrats in 1254 – the same time Italy was entering the late Middle Ages. His interest in exploring Asia came from a trip to the Mongol Empire with his father and uncle. Marco Polo’s father, Niccoló Polo, and uncle, Maffeo Polo, were Venetian businessmen. In 1254, they embarked on a trip to the Mongol Empire to establish trade posts in the Far East. They got even more than they expected when they were able to establish good relationships with the Mongol Ambassador and actually meet the emperor of the Mongols, Kublai Khan. They made such a good impression on the emperor that Khan decided to make them his personal ambassadors to the western world. They made a pact with Khan to bring back 100 wise men, oil from the Holy sepulcher, and whatever else he requested in exchange for insurance of a safe trip back home to Venice. When they got back to Italy in 1271, Niccoló and Maffeo met Niccoló’s son, Marco, for the first time. It was then that they decided to take Marco with them on their trip back to Kublai Khan to fulfill their end of the bargain. Marco Polo’s first voyage to the Far East was exciting from the very beginning. Although they were able to get the oil from the holy sepulcher like they promised, they found getting the 100 wise men to be a more difficult task to accomplish -- Marco Polo, his father, and his uncle were all held up in Italy due to the fact that there was a civil war going on along the Silk Road. This delay proved to be a good thing because by the time they were able to leave, a new pope (Pope Gregory III), who was a good friend to Niccoló, was elected, and although they were still unable to get the 100 wise men, the new pope gave them a notarized letter to explain their situation to Kublai Khan.
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During his first trip, Marco Polo experienced different cultures, religions, and landscapes. He questioned the Buddhist faith in Khotan, hunted using falcons with the natives in Persia, and learned about the value of salt when he entered Talcan. His journey was not always great however. When he landed in Badakushan, Marco Polo fell ill. Some people believe it was syphilis while others blamed emotional problems. Whatever the case, his sickness caused him to stay there for a year. After a long and hard journey, Polo, his father, and his uncle finally reached the palace of Kublai Khan – the place that inspired Marco Polo to travel continuously back to Asia. Europeans viewed Kublai Khan as a barbarian and a demon. Polo, however, considered Kublai Khan to be one of the greatest leaders of all time. He got to know Khan on a personal level, and saw that he had many different sides. He saw the part of him that was a strong, powerful, and ruthless conqueror. He also got to experience Khan’s kindness and generosity as he watched him feed the poor and shelter the homeless without expecting anything in return. As he spent more and more time with Khan, they
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