In the Middle Ages, no European had traveled as far east as Marco Polo and brought back the news of an unfamiliar country, China.
Marco Polo's voyage has contributed to Western understanding of Asia, opened dialogue and trade with Asia, helping to enrich Venice and other Italian cities. Thanks to this, the Renaissance has grown.
Marco Polo was not the first European to reach Beijing but the first to describe every detail of the Yuan Khan's palaces, lifestyles and dynasties in Beijing, the first to talk about the regions. Java, Sumatra, Thailand and Burma. The wealth of China in the 14th century was a doubt and dream of Westerners, they asked how to reach that rich land, if not by road, by sea. Marco Polo has spent 24 years in a strange and mysterious world for Europeans, the same mystery as the planets for us today. Marco Polo's story about China is considered a kind of myth and for 200 years his book 'Descriptions of the World' has been the main source of information about an unknown unknown country of the East.
Marco Polo (1254 - 1324).
In the 13th century, Europe went through the Dark Ages and isolation, transitioning into a period of trade and war development with the Near East. As the population of Europe increased, cities began to expand, resulting in a need for goods. At that time, the aristocrats despised the business so a middle class of merchants appeared in several cities, large and small. In developing, densely populated locations, nowhere is this more suitable for commercial work than the Italian city of Venice. This is the ideal place, located on the Adriatic Sea and towards the East.
In 1254, Mr. Nicolo Polo and his younger brother Maffeo, two jewelry traders, made a long trip to the city of Constantinople, and also due to commercial work, these two people went quite far. to the east, as far as Bukhara, deep within the land at the time controlled by the Mongols. The Mongols had invaded the northern part of China, invaded Europe and created new territories controlled by the Khanates. In Russia, the Mongols were called Tartars.
The brothers were trapped in the Land of the Land for three years because of the battles around the region, because bandits threatened their way back. Finally, on a visit to the Han Khan court in China of a landlord, the two brothers Polo were invited to follow. This was an opportunity to leave Bukhara area safely, so the two merchants accepted the invitation to leave.
In 1265, after more than a year of hardships on the road, the brothers Nicolo and Maffeo reached Yen Kinh (modern-day Beijing) and were warmly welcomed by the Great Han Khan (Kublai Khan). Dai Han was the grandson of Genghis Khan, the emperor who founded the vast Mongol empire, stretching from northern Asia to the eastern parts of Europe.
Twenty years ago, some Europeans, merchants or monks, reached China and Mongolia, but Nicolo and Maffeo were the first Europeans to appear before the Han Dynasty. Two Venetian merchants arrived in Yen Kinh and were surprised by many new things.
The imperial capital has high walls surrounding it and the interior of the castle wall is divided into regions with a royal castle in the middle. The Polo brothers were also impressed by the hospitality of Dai Khan and the arrival of strangers, from an unknown country, that caused the Great Khan Khan Liet to pay attention. Dai Khan also wondered about Christianity, so when the Polo brothers left China, the king asked them to bring a letter to the Pope, requesting to send to the Mongolian court 100 scholars. Dai Han also sincerely invited the Polo brothers to return to China and granted them a permit with a gold carpentry, to ensure safety on the road.
In 1269, two Polo brothers arrived in Venice when they learned that Nicolo's wife had died after giving birth to a son named Marco Polo and he was raised by a family member. At this time, Marco Polo was a 15-year-old boy, agile, resourceful, often playing at the pier and acquainted with quite a lot of sailors.
Two years after his return, Nicolo again with his younger brother got off the train from Venice and, on this trip, took his son Marco. When he arrived in Jerusalem, the pope knew before he died while the cardinals had not elected a new pope. The Polo brothers decided to leave with two monks and some holy oil. The arduous journey had discouraged the two monks for fear of safety, pretending to be seriously ill and returning, while Venetian merchants continued on their way. Marco Polo now is a young man who loves nature, has a practical mind, knows about strange things, so kept a diary, recording what he saw and heard during the journey.
Leaving Jerusalem by boat, the two merchants went to the town of Acre and then the town of Ayas. At this place they landed, following the camel. When the two merchants had left Jerusalem, they learned that Theobald of Piacenza was elected Pope Gregori X. To avoid the place of fighting between the two Crusaders and the Muslim forces, they went north, heading to the Black Sea and then around east, near Mount Ararat, where many believe that Noah's big boat was pulled ashore. The caravan also traveled through the hills of southern Georgia in present-day Russia. These lands are familiar to Asian merchants but to Marco Polo, he is amazed at strange birds, salt rocks, rubies and oil wells. This oil is not used for eating, but is used by locals to treat skin diseases for humans and camels, and to light lamps at night.
Upon entering Iran, the Polo brothers stopped at Saba, where, according to the story, three Magi monks brought gifts, following the directions of the stars to visit the Child in Bethlehem. By this time, the merchant group had gone too far, came in strange and dangerous areas, traveling very slowly at a speed of 10 to 20 miles a day, through the cold valleys, hot deserts and gravel. , no longer see the green trees. Upon reaching the town of Kerman, the Polo brothers thought that by sea to China, they turned southward, heading for the port of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Along the way, they saw villages hidden behind high walls of earthen walls to prevent the kind of troops from plundering Karaunas. Suddenly, the sky darkened and in a sandstorm, the merchant team was attacked by the aforementioned soldiers. Marco Polo recounted that the Karaunas know how to use witchcraft to make the sky clear, making it difficult for people to see each other unless standing very close to each other. In this robbery battle, Father and Uncle Polo as well as Marco survived thanks to luck, some people along the way were arrested, many were killed. Finally, the caravan reached the port of Hormuz. At this place, when seeing the fragile seagoing boats, sewn by coconut rope, the traveling agents had to change their minds, returning to the town of Kerman, follow the Silk Road heading north and then going towards east, to the city of Balkh in the north-western part of Afghanistan.
Balkh 50 years ago was a city with magnificent castles built of white marble, the capital of Bactria and also in this place, Alexander the Great had married the princess of Persian king Davis. But at this moment, Marco Polo saw the city was burnt down, becoming a ground, devastated by the Mongol army of Genghis Khan. After leaving Balkh, the Polo family went towards Badakhshan, a province north of the Hindu Kush mountain range and also where there are many blue quarries, called 'lapis lazuli'. Marco Polo also noted that this place produces very precious rubies and this is also a place with a very good climate, soon to restore the patient's health. From Badakhshan, the caravan travels through the Pamir Plateau, an area where Marco Polo has seen many types of very long deer. Then the group climbed on a 12,000 foot plateau called the Roof of the World. Marco Polo noted in the book: 'no birds were found in the mountains' and 'fire no longer gives the same heat as the lower sides'.
From the high mountains, the caravans descended and descended into Xinjiang, an area with lush green oases and a river full of granite. Upon reaching the town of Lop, the caravan is about to cross the southern part of the Takla Makan Desert. According to Marco Polo's notes, 'those who prepared to cross the desert took a week to rest in this town to recover people and things, and then they took a month of food for the journey. When they leave this town, they go to the desert. The length of the desert is so great that it is said that it takes a year or more to go from one end to the other, and the shortest horizontal trajectory takes a month. ' Local people believe that the Takla Makan desert has all kinds of demons, calling his name, pretending to be a companion and bringing the pilgrims to death. So the Polo brothers had to be very careful before the hot sand desert, creating illusions. For weeks, they followed the southern part of the Gobi desert, reached the town of Kumul, and entered Mongolia. This is a part of the land like the Tat people live. Marco Polo saw the asbetos with his own eyes, saw the huge reclining Buddha image and recorded accurate remarks about the Mongols: 'The wealthy Tariffs dressed in silk and gold, made of animal skin and fur in luxurious styles. The Terrestrial people are very brave in battle, to the extreme. They can tolerate all kinds of deprivation and, when needed, can live for a month on the milk of the wild horse donkeys they hunt. The men of the land were trained to live on horseback for two days without going to the ground, sleeping on horseback when horses grazed. No human race on earth surpasses them in how to endure hardships and patience. If the situation calls for it, they can walk for 10 days without burning or eating meals. During this time, they lived on horse blood.
After leaving the city of Venice for 3 and a half years, the Polo brothers have crossed 8,000 miles of road, traversing lands that are difficult and dangerous to travel. The fact that the caravan arrived in Mongolia had been well informed to Dai Khan and the king had given him a welcome reception at a distance of 40 days, ordering each place to stop giving them maximum comfort.
In the summer of 1275, the caravans entered the Mongol citadel, Shanghai (Shangtu), where there were huge summer marble castles, situated on 16 square miles of land, with springs. and many deer and other animals that Han Khan had hunted with hawks or hawks. At this time, the Mongol Empire was the largest area ever, stretching from the Chinese coast in the east to Hungary in the west. Mr. Polo and Mr. Marco were led to a great hall inlaid with gold. In the middle of the palace and seated on the throne was DaÏi Hân Kublai, dressed in gold silk embroidery, at the age of 60, an imposing figure, of medium height but muscular, with rosy cheeks and 'double'. beautiful black eyes'. After kneeling, Mr. Nicolo presented Mr. Marco as 'the servant of the king and also my son' when he answered that he was very pleased to welcome him, and then the king ordered the banquet to be organized.
Shanghai is Dai Han's summer retreat, located 200 miles north and not far from the Great Wall. By the end of August, the king moved back to Yen Kinh (modern-day Beijing), a place with more dazzling palaces. Marco Polo gradually became one of the courtiers of the Mongolian king, so this young Venetian youth had many opportunities to observe and record the lifestyle of the court. Although Han Khan Kublai was originally Mongolian, he accepted many civilized lifestyles of the Han people. The king had 4 queens with thousands of servants. During the court meetings, one of the queens also took an honorary seat, on par with the king. Dai Han also has hundreds of frequency bands and every two years, from 30 to 40 young girls are carefully selected to enter the palace according to the standards of beauty and other characteristics such as when sleeping without snoring loudly, the body is not secreted. give off an unpleasant smell. The parents of these tribes were usually proud when their daughters were recruited into the palace and after a few years of living in the harem, the concubines were married to the royal officials. Dai Han is a benevolent man who often orders grain and livestock to the land affected by natural disasters and drought.
Dai Khan also had a team of astrologers, rather than sorcerers and Marco Polo described them as rude, dirty, often boastful to control the rain and wind and have mysterious abilities. . Around Dai Khan, there were Mongolian martial generals, some Chinese scholars and the king also used some foreigners to rule the country. The Mongol Empire at this time was very large, consisting of 34 provinces ruled by 12 princes and responsible to the Han Khan. Despite being a vast land, the Mongols have organized an effective information network with a distance of 25 miles with a communication station, strong horses and informants ready to carry the letters and orders of Dai Khan arrived in remote places in a record time. Marco Polo recounted that an information horse cavalry could pass 250 miles in a day so that in the summer, the fruit picked in the morning in Yen Kinh, was brought to Shanghai the following afternoon, on a The journey normally takes 10 days to travel. Marco Polo also describes paper money, an acceptable currency everywhere in the Mongolian empire, so that merchants and travelers did not have difficulty carrying money away. The Chinese used the bark of the mulberry tree, smashed it into a pulp-like cotton, and made a black paper on which the king's seal was red. Counterfeiting of silver is punished by the death penalty.
During his few years at the court of the Great Khan Khan, Marco Polo observed and learned many customs and practices of Asians, and spoke at least four local languages of the Mongolian empire. , greatly impressed him for his intelligence and asked the young man to carry out missions in southern China, in the lands of Bengal and Burma. Because Dai Khan liked to hear about the unknowns, Marco Polo recorded many details of the lands he had traveled. During the 17 years of service for Dai Khan, Marco Polo set foot from northern Mongolia to the south as Yunnan, from the east coast provinces to Tibet to the west and was also appointed. in Hangzhou (Hangchow). Marco Polo described the city as Venice of Italy, built on rivers with a circumference of about 100 miles. This place has two thousand bridges spanning the river and the city's major road with a width of 40 feet horizontally. On this main avenue, there are 10 shopping malls with shops selling food, wine, spices, and jewelry such as pearls. Every week, people here meet 2 or 3-period markets and Marco Polo describes the prosperity of life in Hangzhou. The market has all kinds of products, from animals such as deer, peacocks, hemorrhoids, to cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, leaves and fruits, and there is no shortage of food in any season. While Father Nicolo and Uncle Maffeo were busy trading jewelry, Marco Polo went on business trips to various localities, knowing the country of China better than most Mongols and Han Chinese. The far away business trip is not safe because along the road there are often thieves, beasts, rapids . Caravans often camp at night, light fire to ward off beasts. Marco Polo had the opportunity to visit Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet, a special place to spend money with salt. There are salt springs and people boil salt in hot pans. When boiling for an hour, the salt is condensed into a cake weighing about 3 grams, the bottom is flat, the upper surface is curled on it with the king's seal, to become a currency circulating among the people.
17 years of living in China, a long time, has made these merchants homesick, looking forward to returning to the beloved city of Venice. Marco Polo has recorded that increasingly, the Polo family is determined to return because the older Han Khan, if he died unexpectedly, it is difficult to ask for the grace to return to the country. Then one fine day, Marco Polo waited for the happy Han Khan, collapsed at his feet to ask for himself and his family permission to leave. At this time, Dai Khan was discontented. The king had absolute authority, the rejection often occurred and the three Italians would become life-long prisoners in China, and Europe would not have the chance to hear about a rich, brilliant country. most in that era.
Around 1286, a relative of Han Khan, Arghyn Khan, who now ruled Persia, sent a messenger to China to ask him to choose a new wife. A 17-year-old girl, full of talent, was selected and the delegation set out for Persia by road. But after a year, the caravan had to return to Yen Kinh because of the war between the local tribes. It was at this time that Marco Polo just returned from a long business trip and was asked by the Mongolian delegation in Persia to instruct them by sea. The program of the return to Europe was submitted to Dai Khan and the king reluctantly accepted his offer, consenting to leave Marco Polo with his father and uncle and at the same time Dai Khan also sent a few letters to the kings. of Europe.
In 1292, a fleet of 14 ships with hundreds of escorts, including the Mongolian envoy from Persia with the new bride, the Polo family, set sail from Hangzhou, down south, across the shore. Vietnam Sea, to Singapore, Sumatra, to call India and Sri Lanka and then along the southern tip of the Indian continent and to the port of Hormuz. The journey lasted for two years and on the way, Marco Polo recorded the things seen, heard about the land, people, creatures . that Europeans have never known. Marco Polo described the rhino as a one-horned animal, telling stories about pirates . The dangers on the way back have claimed many lives. Eventually, the delegation arrived in Persia and the bride was handed to the local Mongol court, but Khan Khan Tiet Dai Dai died and the bride was married to Kha Khan's son. The road from Persia to the city of Venice is quite far. Marco Polo followed the road, crossing Persia, to the city of Trebizond on the Black Sea coast and taking a boat, through Constantinople. During the journey, Marco Polo heard the news that Dai Han had passed away in 1294.
Finally in 1295, Nicolo and Maffeo and Marco Polo arrived at Venice harbor, after 24 years of absence and 15,000 miles or 24,000 miles to and from the country. The locals and their relatives did not recognize and remember these three travelers because they were absent too long, their voices mixed with Mongolian pronunciation. Mr. Nicolo held a feast for his family and close friends, and after the meal, three Polo merchants used a knife to cut the shirts they wore on their way back from China, pouring them over. Which table is gold, silver, pearls, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. At this time, Marco Polo is in his 40s and is no longer thinking about going away.
For a long time, Genoa and Venice were two hostile cities. In 1296, Genoa troops invaded Venice and Marco Polo was captured. No historian has ever informed of the reasons for this imprisonment. While in prison, Marco Polo recounted his travels and among the inmates listening, there was a professional writer from the Pisa region, called Rustichello. Intrigued by the journey, Rustichello asked Marco Polo to lend his notebook. From the retelling stories and diaries, Rustichello used his civilized writing, describing the voyage of Marco Polo and the story being completed a year before Marco Polo was released from prison in 1299. .
The book called 'Description of the World' was written in ancient French by Rustichello, the literary language of Italy at that time. The book tells the first news about China, at that time known as 'Cathay' and Marco Polo, telling about the wealth of the Khan Khan Kublai, how to mine and use coal, a which Europeans don't know about. Marco Polo also described how paper money was imprinted on it by the king, the customs of China, the magnificent castles, and many things that Europeans at that time did not believe, in part because Marco Polo is telling the truth.
At the beginning of the 14th century printing press was not invented in Europe. Marco Polo's book 'Description of the World' has been handwritten and popularized by some scholars, provoking curiosity, affecting adventurers. After Genoa and Venice restored peace in 1299, Marco Polo was released from prison. He married and had three daughters but was not rich at the time of his death in 1324 although the gold came from China. Marco Polo became famous locally for his intriguing, unbelievable stories, and when a lot of friends asked the explorer if he wanted to cut down on telling the truth, he answered, 'I just told you. half of what you see '.
Marco Polo's observations and reports have been influential for centuries, to scholars, geographers, cartographers and explorers. One of the mistakes of Marco Polo was that Japan was placed between China and Europe. The wealth of Asia has attracted explorers like Christopher Columbus. They believe that if people do not use land, they can use sea to reach China.
In the Middle Ages in Europe, no adventurer went as far east as Marco Polo, a character who spoke of other cultures, unfamiliar with the insights of his contemporaries, who contributed. on opening up east-west contacts about trade and knowledge.