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Marco Polo
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    (September 15, 1254-January 7, 1324)
    One of the first Westerners to write about his travel to China
    Lived in China for 17 years with his family
    Was an envoy between the Pope and Kublai Kahn, the ruler of China
    Settled in Venice to tell his tales of the far east before large European audiences
    Wrote about his travels in his book Il Milione
    There is an incredible amount of myth involved in his life and some speculate if he ever even made it to China.
    In his book, he never mentioned anything about fundamental Chinese life like the Great Wall of China, foot-binding or Chinese writing.
    His claim of being an envoy for Kublai Kahn was most likely fabricated, as Chinese records do not mention him at all at a time when China kept thorough records.
    He may have just retold information he had heard from others.
    He is often credited for bringing pasta to Italy from China, although there is evidence of pastas existence in Italian history well before he was even born.
    Many incorrectly believe he was the first European to take an overland route to China.
    He is the namesake of Marco Polo International Airport in Venice, Italy.
    His written work Il Milione was extremely popular and widely translated in Europe.
    He more than likely reached China in his lifetime.
    He does mention important things like paper money, the Grand Canal, the structure of the Mongol army, tigers and the Imperial postal system.
    He was one of the first European writers to mention Japan, referring to it by its Chinese name 'Zipang.'
    He wrote a lot about the natural wonders and scenery of China and genuinely loved nature.
    He was considered a liar by his contemporaries mostly because he correctly told them of how much more advanced China was than the Christian world.
    On his deathbed, a priest entered his room and asked him if he wanted to admit his stories were false and he replied, 'I did not tell half of what I saw because no one would have believed me.'

Credit: Captain Howdy

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