Marco Polo was a merchant, explorer, and writer. He was born around the year 1254 and died on January 8, 1324 in Venice.
Twenty four years of his life was spent in Cathay, which is now China, and traveling to and from there. Marco Polo was born into a wealthy family of Venetian merchants during a time when Venice was leading the world in foreign commerce. His father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo had already traveled to China by the time Marco was six years old, where they were very well-received by Kublai Khan.
Khan sent them to Rome in 1269 with a message for the pope. He wanted the pope to send 100 European priests to share knowledge with him. The pope did not do this, but the Polo brothers returned to China in 1271 taking Marco with them.
They remained in China for 17 years before returning to Italy, setting up trade agreements. Marco kept detailed accounts of everything he saw while he traveled as a special aide to Khan.
The Polos returned to Rome in 1292 and by 1298 Marco was serving in the war with Genoa. He was captured and imprisoned during which time he wrote his famous book The Travels of Marco Polo.