Marco Polo

The first stirring of what would become known as the China Trade began when Europe was still emerging from medievalism. Venetian traveller Marco Polo’s ‘Description of the World’ written in 1298 covered a surprisingly large part of it uniquely detailed from reputedly, first hand observation. From the Polar Sea to Java, from Zanzibar to Japan Marco Polo (1254-1324) described to western Christendom the trail he blazoned that had not been trodden for over 600 years. Polo owed his success to the rise of the Mongol Empire, a group of previously warring northern tribes living on the steppes of middle Asia. In 1206 they gathered at their holiest place in the plain of Karakorum and organized themselves into a confederacy of nomadic peoples, electing a supreme ruler or Khan Jenghiz, who within 12 years had conquered the northern region of ancient Cathay and set forth as Marco Polo puts it, ‘to conquer the whole world’.

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