Good morning, we are going to look at the story of Marco Polo over three episodes in the series Marco Polo: A Very Modern Journey. The run time for this documentary is 47:38 and is called Another World. This documentary has English subtitles.
Marco Polo journeyed the far reaches of the Mongol Empire. He started in 1271 and his journals reveal an exotic world of riches. How could he have done it? What did he learn about the east? How would his journey look today? Professor Quguang Zhao follows in Marco Polo’s footsteps. Follow the professor as he begins his journey from Venice to the East. What will the professor learn about Marco Polo?
Professor Zhao begins his journey in Venice where Marco Polo lived and set out on his journey east. He was not the first professor to find the explorer in Venice. Professor Zhao is the first to explore Marco Polo in Venice from China. He has studied Marco Polo all his life, even when it was forbidden. Now today, he wants to go face to face with a man who was dead for over 700 years.
Finding Marco Polo is not going to be simple. Professor Zhao meets up with another professor who is an expert in Marco Polo and a Chinese specialist. Marco was between seventeen and twenty years old when he made the journey to China. He was also the first to write about China. Professor Zhao then strolls the streets of Venice and contemplates who Marco Polo would be today. Would he be a student? A young man in Northern Italy? Who was the real Marco Polo?
Marco Polo was seventeen when he traveled. The Holy War in the Middle East was winding down and coming to a bloody conclusion. However, it was the Mongol Empire that was a threat. They had made their way to Moscow and Kyiv. In doing so, they were creating the greatest land empire the world had ever seen. Eventually, they made their way to the Gates of Vienna. However, the Muslim Army put a stop to the Mongol Expansion in Jerusalem. Marco was going to the Mongol Empire with his father and uncle. The Polos had traveled to the Mongol Empire before and were making a return trip to the court of Kublai Khan.
Marco sailed with his father and uncle east. They ended up in the Holy Land in the city of Acre. Acre was still holding on as a hub of the Venice trading empire. The Muslim armies were still looking to conquer the city. It was the last toehold on the Asian continent. Acre was an important place as it was the gateway between the Mediterranean and Asia. It was here they would meet the pope who gave them his blessing for the journey. Professor Zhao contemplates that Marco Polo was a teenage nobody who became somebody. He had connections between both the east and west.
Marco Polo was being drawn into a mission. The Pope and the Great Khan were sending messages to each other. They had a common enemy the Muslims. Pulling off this task would be a challenge. Would the Polos be able to take on the challenge? From Jerusalem, the Polos went north and traveled through Turkey. This was territory owned by the Mongols but it was not the most direct route to Kublai Kahn’s court. The Polos would witness the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols. The Mongols massacred the people in Baghdad. The rivers ran red with blood. The Polos continue to journey east, trying to avoid war where they could. However, Marco Polo writes that are robbers and bad characters on these roads.
Professor Zhao continues his search for Marco Polo. Why did he travel east? Was he a spy? Was he a merchant? Or was he a special envoy for the Pope? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more about the journey of Marco Polo.
I am not sure how much I liked the mixing of modern life and history in this documentary. I think it would have been a better episode if the Professor and the other historians focused strictly on history. This would be one episode to skip because of the mixing of modernity and history.
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