Economic Influence of Marco Polo

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Introduction

Marco Polo was one of the travellers who made significant contributions to the success of Europe. Marco Polo grew up in a rich family, which engaged in trade and often travelled overseas to countries like China, where they carried their trading activities. This background prepared young Marco Polo from Venice, one of the most advances cities in medieval Europe and well-known for having powerful trading connections with merchants from different countries in Europe, for trading activity. After Marco Polo’s father and uncle came home from a successful business trip, he was taken for the next round of the business trip, where he was exposed to the new world, and he noted everything what he saw (Wood, 1996). After making the first trip to Asia with his father and uncle, Polo was able to learn new things about the Mongol Empire and their love for trade. In addition, he was able to observe how trade was done in Mongolia and the role of Kublai Khan, the Great Khan of Mongol Empire, in trade, which increased his interest to commerce. With many visits that followed the initial one, Marco Polo gave an account of the Mongol Empire, the Silk Road and other observations he made, which created a massive influence on the economic activities in Europe and Asia.

How Marco Polo Influenced Economy in Europe and Asia

In 1271, Marco Polo went to the Mongol Empire along with his father and uncle, who were skilled merchants. During this trip, Marco Polo was intrigued to see how the Mongol valued local trade and international trade, as well. Because the Mongol Empire had no right to trade on their own, they relied on travellers, whom the Mongols sometimes gave capital to buy goods in other regions and sell them in their empire. The experiences of Marco Polo with the Mongolian people opened up new ties and enabled other people to see a new trade opportunity in the Mongol Empire. Because of his interest in the international trade, Marco Polo managed to create a significant interest in the heart of other merchants who traveled east, and took advantage of the international trade routes that the Mongolian people had established. Due to his exploration of the international trade in Mongolia, Marco Polo motivated a new era of international traders who used the road that Mongol Empire established to increase international business ties between Europe and Asia.

Marco Polo’s influence on Venice

Marco Polo increased the economic ties of Venice and other regions in Asia because of his influence. At the time of Marco Polo’s birth, Venice was a city that was going through a significant period of economic expansion. This made Venice the hub of all economic activities in the whole Europe. Nonetheless, Venice did not engage in any international trade due to lack of business ties with regions with vibrant economies. With this gap, the people of Venice could not trade successfuly, but things changed when Marco Polo visited Asia. After his visits, overwhelming interest sparked in many merchants in Venice, which fuelled the growth of new business exploration. Because of his influence, Venice increased the number of business travels and voyages to countries like China and Japan, where business was the primary activity. The impact of increased ties not only benefited the merchants of Venice, but also opened to Europe many Asian countries for trade. This allowed merchants to sell goods and antiques between Venice and other cities in Europe. This influence made Venice one of the most successful commercial cities that had unique trading ties to many parts of Asia. Together with the lowering of economic barriers in various forms of trading, Marco Polo influenced the creation of strong economic ties between Europe and Asia.

Marco Polo’s Introduction of Eastern Goods and Culture

During the 14th century, there were limited goods in Europe, because it had no form of international trade. This meant that most of the goods were from Europe and that merchants had little knowledge about trade in Asia. However, the travel of Marco Polo had a positive impact on creating new demand for foreign goods. This is because his travels had exposed him to many new trade commodities, particularly when he visited Mongol Empire. Through his recounts of the special goods that merchants sold in Mongolia, Marco Polo stirred the interest of merchants in Venice, who saw an opportunity of increasing their profits (Bellonci, 1985). This process was successful, because Marco Polo brought horses and noodles across the Arabian Sea to Italy. These were some of the considerable achievements that sparked interest for new trade commodities, further making merchants travel from Europe to Far East. By introducing some of the main trading commodities, Marco Polo clearly illustrated that there were more business opportunities beyond the national boundaries that were present in Europe at that time.

Marco Polo’s Influence on the Banking System

Scholars credit Marco Polo for his tremendous efforts to improve the banking system in Venice, which influenced the money economy in other parts of Europe and Asia. During the Medieval Age, banking was not common in Europe, because many people were not conversant with how to deal with money. Therefore, many parts of Europe still relied on exchanging goods as a form of payment. However, the travels of Marco Polo to Mongolia allowed him to learn new ways that merchants could use to offer payments. During his visit to Mongolia, Marco Polo had an opportunity to see for himself how the Mongolian money system worked. As written in his books, Marco Polo was surprised to see that the Mongolia used a unified currency that was acceptable as a form of payment in all parts of the country. Morover, many traders in Mongolia used paper money, which was a rare thing in the whole Europe and some parts of Asia. Marco Polo gave an account on the Mongolian paper money system, the technology Mongols learnt from the Chinese people (Jackson, 1998). The Chinese themselves had mastered the art of printing, and making money through this process was an easy task. Because of the description that Marco Polo provided, an elaborate money system was established in Europe and Venice and  became one of the best banking systems of 14th and 15 century.

In his writing, Marco Polo convinced people in Europe that paper money was a reliable form of payment. Marco Polo argued that paper money system was the best and yet efficient, because it did not weight a lot. These tales of Marco Polo sounded strange to the merchants in Europe, who had not traveled anywhere abroad (Wood, 1996). However, Polo was convinced that the adoption of paper money system would change the way how to purchase various goods and services across Europe. From a concept that people perceived as alien, Polo managed to champion for the introduction of a paper based money system that revolutionized economies of various European countries. This influence could not have been possible without Marco Polo visit to Mongolia, the first place where traders used paper money. Marco Polo’s account of the money system sparked innovation of paper money that increased the economic strength of Europe and Asia.

Marco Polo’s account of flourishing trade in the East

Marco Polo influenced trade in Europe by giving an account of how trade flourished in some Eastern countries he had visited. During his visit to the Mongol Empire, Marco Polo increased his understanding of Mongolian culture and government. In the process of learning all these things, Polo managed to secure the trust and admiration of Kublai Khan. This recognition was beneficial to Polo, whom Khan appointed as one of the commissioners in his vast government. This meant that Polo had the right to trade on behalf of the Mongolian people, who had little experience in international trade. It is during this time that Polo got acquainted with other new regions were trade was the primary activity and a source of livelihood for many people.

Notably, these new regions made Polo account his experience in his book, which fired the imagination of many Europeans (Bellonci, 1985). Polo's description of the affluent trade in Asia was enough to spark the interest of European explorers, who developed concern in finding new trading opportunities in Asia. This impact opened new economic ties between Europe and Asia. Because of Polo’s awareness of the economic success in Asia, his revelation of this success sparked an overwhelming interest that saw many explorers head to Asia in search of new economic ties. These spurred significant economic opportunities, allowing Europe and Asia establish lasting and fruitful business relation.

Marco Polo's Description of China as an Economic Engine

Marco Polo played crucial role in revealing to the westerners the affluent life in places like China. As a trusted commissioner in the government of Kublai Khan, Polo had resources and opportunities for him to see what the Mongol Empire had, as well as opportunity to visit other areas, such as southern and northern China. The description of new lands, particularly China, created a positive impact on the minds of the western people who became interested in the economy of eastern countries. For instance, Marco Polo described many provinces and large cities with many commercial activities. Such description created an awareness of the new business opportunities that thrived in new regions like China. In China, Marco Polo was particularly interested in the manufacturing firms, which many merchants lauded for having the best architecture and costumes. These are some of the reasons that made many merchants from Europe travel to Asia (Jackson, 1998). By establishing ties with the Chinese merchants, many European countries developed trade routes that allowed them to introduce silk and other commodities to Europe. In addition, European merchants also benefited from new products, such as silk, dyes and clothes, which fetched significant prices. Indeed, the flourishing business ties between Europe and Asia improved the economies of the two regions, all because of Polo’s visit during the 13th century.

Marco Polo's Description of Significant Regions around the Globe

During the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote a striking description of the countries he had seen during his voyage home. Marco Polo had stayed in Mongolia for a considerable length of time before heading back to Europe. As Polo wrote in his book, Kublai Khan was so fond of him that he would not allow him to come back home, but he reluctantly let him sail there. During this voyages, Marco Polo managed to see new lands, which caught his interest. In a voyage that took about three years, Marco Polo saw the Java islands, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar, and other exotic islands, and noted how magnificent they were. Due to this accounts, many European merchants and governments encouraged expeditions to these regions for trade purposes (Bellonci, 1985). This impact was certainly a catalyst that inspired many explorers, among them Sir Christopher Columbus, who went exploring new worlds and creating business ties that not only introduced new goods, but also enabled new insights on how merchants manufactured various products and commodities. This influence enabled the growth of interest in exploration that saw Europe taken a central spot in commission voyages. This made Europe and Asia strengthen their economic ties.

Marco Polo’s role in Creating Maps and Trade Routes

Marco Polo is responsible for giving a lot of information about the trade routes between Europe and Asia. Before the visits of Polo to Asia, there was no information about this region, where trade and commerce flourished. However, information about trading routes emerged after Polo wrote his book. For Europe to benefit and improve their business ties with Asia, merchants had to have crucial information about the routes to use when travelling to Asia, as well as the challenges they are likely to encounter on their way (Wood, 1996). This information was readily available when Marco Polo wrote his book, which gave a comprehensible description of the Silk Road among others. This information, among other descriptions, helped some Europeans to come up with a documented map that showed routes and roads that merchants could use to traverse Asia. This influence was critical in increasing popularity of the Silk Road during the 14th and 15th centuries; trade was common on this road. This influence created better trade conditions for Europe and Asia, as merchants sold and bought various goods.

Conclusion

Marco Polo is arguably one of the most significant travellers who influenced the economy of Europe and Asia by promoting trade. His accounts of commerce in Mongolia and China created an overwhelming interest in many European merchants. In addition, in his book, Polo motivated the creation of paper money, which revolutionized how people engaged in commerce in Europe and Asia. This was after Polo saw the efficiency of money made from bark that the Mongolians used. Polo’s description of the other parts of the world, such as the magnificent islands of Java, Sri Lanka and Zanzibar, inspired many explorers, like Christopher Columbus, and significantly improved the economy of Europe. Most important, Polo’s accounts helped create maps that improved trade routes between Asia and Europe.

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