How Did Marco Polo Impact The World?

By Antonia Čirjak on June 12 2020 in History

Marco Polo was an Italian explorer, merchant, and writer who traveled Asia in the 13th century.
Marco Polo was an Italian explorer, merchant, and writer who traveled Asia in the 13th century.
  • Marco Polo was not the first European that reached China, but he was the first one that chronicled his experience in great detail.
  • Polo was imprisoned during the Venetian-Genovese War and he told all of his stories to his cellmate.
  • Some of the things Polo brought back from his travels included porcelain, silk, paper, paper currency, jade, new spices, and ivory.

Marco Polo was an Italian explorer, merchant, and writer who traveled to Asia in the 13th century. He wrote about his travels extensively, and they are described in the book The Travels of Marco Polo. In this book, he introduced the European nations to the wonders and the workings of Asian culture.

He also described the size and strength of the Mongol Empire and China. It was the first time Europeans were able to get a glimpse into these countries. Marco Polo was not the first European that reached China. However, he was the first one that chronicled his experience in great detail. His books inspired many explorers to embark on their travels, including Christopher Columbus. The influence of Marco Polo extends to cartography as well.

The Travels Of Marco Polo

Marco Polo was born in Venice, and his exploration did not only bring the eastern culture to Europe, but he also introduced the countries in Asia to western culture. The latter was not as impactful as the former, but he still managed to introduce two wildly different cultures to each other. This all goes to show how big his impact on the world was. What seemed as a simple exploration trip opened up two large parts of the world to each other. His travels inspired many, and because of them, we learned more about the world than ever before.

ITALY - CIRCA 1996: A stamp printed in Italy shows Marco Polo's return from China, circa 1996
ITALY - CIRCA 1996: A stamp printed in Italy shows Marco Polo's return from China, circa 1996. Image credit: neftali / Shutterstock.com

Marco polo was inspired by his curiosity about the culture and ideas that were prevalent in the East. Also, the potential of trading with those countries was quite large, with many new resources existing in those parts. Europe could profit greatly by trading with these Asian countries. Polo’s passion was inspiring to many, and the fact that he returned with new knowledge was reason enough for other explorers to leap into the unknown.

The Discovery Of Paper Currency

Many Europeans did not believe his stories at the start. Polo was imprisoned during the Venetian-Genovese War, and he told all of his stories to his cellmate. The cellmate eventually compiled all of these stories in a single book called The Travels of Marco Polo. The influence of this book was huge, and it became the main source of inspiration for other explorers. The effect was not immediate, but people’s curiosity was piqued, and the curiosity began to spread and turned into a burning passion with time.

Before the travels of Marco Polo, people were certain that Europe is the most advanced nation in the world. However, once he brought back many things that Europeans never saw back with him from his travels, they were not so certain anymore. One of the things he brought back was a navigation device that would point you to the geographic directions. It was the first compass that the Europeans ever laid their eyes on. You can imagine how big the impact of this must have been back then.

Other things Polo brought back from his travels included porcelain, silk, paper, paper currency, jade, new spices, and ivory. Of course, that is not the entire list. Naturally, the paper currency might be the most important thing he brought back because the impact it had on the world was insanely huge. Paying for things with paper seemed ludicrous at the time, but once the system was understood, it spread everywhere.

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