What Were Marco Polo’s Goals?

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Marco Polo’s goal in traveling to China was to help his father and uncle fulfill the task that Kublai Khan gave them of bringing back some Christian priests and holy oil. His goal in writing about his travels was to educate contemporary Europeans about China and other lands of the East.

Niccolo Polo, Marco’s father, and Maffeo Polo, his uncle, left Venice when Marco was a baby, leaving him to be raised by relatives. They journeyed East to China, where Kublai Khan instructed them to deliver a letter to the Pope requesting some oil from the Holy Sepulcher and 100 priests to teach the Chinese people about western customs and Christianity. When they returned to Venice, Marco was about 15-years old, and they allowed him to accompany them on their return journey. They were only partially successful in fulfilling this goal. They were given two priests instead of 100, and the priests turned back due to fear before they reached China. The Polos did, however, obtain oil from Jerusalem, which they carried back with them.

Marco’s second goal, writing about the lands of the East, was more successful. After a journey of 23 years, he returned to Venice. While in a prison in Genoa, he met a writer named Rustichello da Pisa, who helped him compile an account of his adventures. This book, “The Description of the World,” also known as “The Travels of Marco Polo,” influenced many other explorers and adventurers. For instance, Christopher Columbus always carried a copy of Marco Polo’s book on his journeys of exploration.