What Was Marco Polo’s Motive for Exploration?

Marco Polo’s motivation for exploration was primarily financial, since he belonged to a family of merchants. East Asia, particularly China, offered valuable goods to be sold and traded in Europe. His motivation to explore was also familial, as he left on his voyage with his father and uncle.

Marco Polo was born in 1254 in Venice to a family of wealthy merchants. Although Marco Polo is remembered as one of the first Europeans to travel to China, his father and uncle actually both travelled there before him. Those relationships, in part, most likely sparked Marco Polo’s own desire to explore the Far East. Marco Polo was only 17 when he left on his famous voyage to China in 1271 to deliver a letter of reply from Pope Gregory X, as well as to deliver valuable gifts.

Marco Polo and his fellow explorers travelled on what today is known as “The Silk Road” and crossed the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Marco Polo spent 17 years in China before returning to Europe. Since one of the only historical pieces of evidence regarding his life and travels is his own writings, there is speculation that Marco Polo never actually made it to China.