Lesson 1: On the Road with Marco Polo: A Boy in 13th Century Venice
In the 13th century, a young Venetian named Marco Polo set out with his father and uncle on a great adventure. Following a series of trade routes, they traveled across the vast continent of Asia and became the first Europeans to visit the Chinese capital (modern Beijing). Marco so impressed the reigning emperor of China, Kublai Khan, that he was appointed to the imperial court. For the next 17 years, Marco was sent on missions to many parts of Kublai's sprawling empire. The Polos finally returned to Venice via the sea route. Marco later wrote a book about his experiences, which inspired new generations of explorers to travel to the exotic lands of the East.
What was Venice like in the 13th century?
What is significant about the location of Venice that it would make someone want to travel?
Examine topographic and political maps of 13th century Venice and the globe.
Analyze sources on 13th century trade routes and commerce to determine motives and outcomes of travel.
Evaluate the short and long-term impacts of trade in Venice on the region and points of contact.