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Kazakhstan doubled as the steppes of Mongolia , Malaysia was the base of operations as well as serving as a location, Hungary provided a setting for Renaissance Rome , and Slovakia provided some mountain settings for Season 2.
Stuntman Ju Kun was working on the show alongside fight choreographer Brett Chan, but went missing with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH during pre-production.
To prepare for her role as Chabi , Joan Chen read the book The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford , as she wanted her performance to reflect the culture of the time period.
Hachikian are composers of the original score. Much of the second season premiere is about getting reoriented in this world, establishing who these characters are and where they stand.
After flashing back to a young Kublai Khan taking lessons from his grandfather, we see Kublai at home in his role, attending to trade issues while also preparing for his son's wedding.
Jingim is set to marry the Blue Princess, the former love interest of Marco Polo, securing more heirs to the throne.
It isn't long before the day of celebrations are spoiled, though. Kublai's bastard child Byamba shows up with a message from Kaidu, Kublai's cousin.
Kaidu is still angry about not being handed the lead during the sack of Xiangyang, and he's prepared a form of retaliation.
He's going to challenge the Kublai's rule as Khan in an attempt to secure the position for himself.
Kublai does not accept such a ridiculous claim, but that's not the news Byamba brings back to Kaidu. There's a confrontation on the horizon this season, and it's taking place within filial boundaries.
Marco Polo and Mei Lin are traveling through the jungle with the boy emperor in their care. They're delivering the boy to Kublai, as Marco has been instructed, but their travel isn't so easy.
The boy's protector, who's known only as The Handmaiden, is still chasing after them, somehow able to keep up despite traveling on foot.
Meanwhile, Kaidu is doing everything he can to secure support for his claim to Kublai's throne. While on the one hand it's not a difficult sell because many believe Kublai stole the election long ago, there are also those who see going against Kublai as a dangerous act.
Back in the new capital of Cambulac , Kublai is taking advice from his wife. She says that he needs to accept the challenge to his throne because Kaidu is operating within the law and any other approach would suggest weakness or deceit.
Next, Marco and Mei Lin return with the boy emperor. The return sparks all kinds of intriguing relationships and power struggles.
There's Kublai asserting his power over Mei Lin, even as Marco asks for leniency. There's Marco being "introduced" to the Blue Princess by Jingim and the awkwardness that follows from them being former secret romantic partners.
There's also the issue of what to do with the boy emperor. While Jingim and Marco suggest letting the boy fade from the public's memory by stashing him in a safe place, Ahmad suggests killing him and parading his head through the streets to send a message.
This is the same man who's working with Mei Lin to overthrow Kublai, even telling her that she could see her daughter in exchange for bringing the boy emperor to the capital.
The Blue Princess has a miscarriage, but Jingim is forgiving and understanding. Kaidu has his meeting with Nayan, who's preaching Christianity to the Mongolian masses, but they can't come to an agreement for him to back Kaidu's claim to the throne.
Marco also tells Kublai of the many people in south China killing themselves, as they see the Mongolian presence not as liberation but as occupation.
As the boy emperor hangs from the capital, and the Handmaiden takes the sight in, Kublai awakes from another nightmare, his wife still lambasting him for his decision to kill a child.
Marco isn't too happy with him either, and with both in crisis, Kublai takes his Venetian friend on a hike in order to decide what to do about Kaidu's claim to the throne.
The Handmaiden confronts Mei Lin - they both agree they have a common enemy. Meanwhile, the mounting pressure on the Blue Princess to produce an heir before Kaidu's claim comes to pass leads the Empress to force a stable boy with similar features to Jingim to impregnate the Blue Princess while the Empress holds her down.
The Blue Princess tries to object that the resulting infant would not contain full royal blood to which the Empress responds, "actually, the baby will have no royal blood.
While this is happening, Jingim goes to Karakorum to help persuade people to side with his father. That means taking down a huge warrior in a wrestling match and earning some respect, though that doesn't stop Kaidu's two children from attacking them on their way home.
Furthermore, Kaidu makes a bold decision and insists that his daughter Khutulun, rather than his son, will be the next heir.
Nayan is in Northern Israel, along with Marco's father, to talk about Kublai. The discussion is rather simple.
The Pope sees Kublai's rule as a threat, in part because since he's accepting of so many religions. The Pope vows to confront his forces should they move West.
Nayan is less enthused about this idea, but when he proves his religious value to the Pope and the two agree to work together, he's swayed.
He washes away his sins and prepares for battle. Meanwhile, the hunt is on for Jingim and Ahmad. Kaidu is pissed at his son because of his actions, which have brought Kublai to his doorstep.
Together they all go out to search for the Khan's missing sons. Along the way, Kaidu and Kublai connect with memories of their childhood but also remain divided on the prospects of the Mongol empire.
Things get particularly heated when the insults start flying and Kaidu pulls his sword on Kublai. Ultimately, nothing comes of the moment, as Jingim and Ahmad are found, but certainly the challenge to the throne will not go so smoothly.
The other dangling plot thread is that of the Blue Princess and her potential pregnancy. Here she finds out that the stable boy who impregnated her has been killed, and when she goes to see the body for herself, she stumbles upon his wife and spends the day with her and her baby.
It almost seems as if she'll abandon her position, especially if Jingim isn't found. Five rebels execute five different attacks and kill Mongolians, as Ahmad informs the Khan.
Kublai states that while he'll still travel to Xanadu to challenge Kaidu, he gives Ahmad control of his forces to strike back. Meanwhile, Khutulun makes it clear to Kaidu that she's not happy about being the heir because it would mean sacrificing her own goals.
Byamba, who she's now separated from, is demoted to foot soldier by Ahmad, who's still working on his own plans to dethrone Kublai. Ahmad gains even more control when a guard tells him about the Empress leading a stableboy into Princess Kokachin's chambers.
That whole situation is about to get even more complicated because the real Princess Kokachin shows up, apparently not dead like we all believed, and wants her life back.
At the same time, Marco continues to grow suspicious of Ahmad, especially as he decides to send nearly 60, troops to battle the uprising and only 7, with Kublai to Xanadu.
He was once simply a tax collector for the Khan, wanting to travel and learn about the people in Kublai's empire.
Before long, though, he becomes jaded; he ends up killing a prostitute he slept with when she hums the same song his mother did when he was a child.
This signals his turn as he returns to Kublai and takes a position as his finance minister and begins to take control of his future.
First, as the episode opens, we see Kaidu and his mother secretly finding their way to Cambulac. They arrive in the middle of the night shrouded in hoods.
The purpose of their meeting in the capital is to discuss the overthrow of the Khan with Ahmad. The Khan's Vice Regent has made it clear that he wants Kublai gone, and he sees Kaidu as his own tool.
In addition to Kaidu, he invites Nayan for the meeting, securing both of their opposition to Kublai. The offer of Mei Lin's daughter to the sinful Nayan helps to sway him.
Meanwhile, Kublai is in Xanadu petitioning for votes and arguing for his vision of empirical expansion, complete with fireworks, to the people there.
There are harbingers of death all around, though. Horses that were gifted to Kublai are attacked, found with their eyes carved out. Marco and Jingim believe it's the work of Kaidu, but Kublai doesn't seem worried.
Eventually, after a night of passion with an exotic dancer who's traveled the world, the Blue Princess visits Marco and the mystery of the horses is solved.
Under pressure from her pregnancy and guilt over her child and the dead stableboy, the impostor Blue Princess suffers a nervous breakdown; the real Blue Princess that had been demanding her life back was nothing more than her hallucination and it was the impostor Kokochin that had been gouging out the eyes of the Khan's horses.
Marco points out to her the blood all over her hands. We see that Hundred Eyes and the Handmaiden, who he refers to as Lotus, were once friends and lovers.
When the Mongolians attacked them, Hundred Eyes thought he saw Lotus die at the hands of an archer. That bit of backstory makes their reunion here that much sweeter, and their separation at the end of the episode all the more heartbreaking.
The second attack is undertaken by Khutulun and Orus on the order of Kaidu. He's conducting murderous raids under the banner of Kublai, having his children and warriors wear masks to conceal their identities.
Essentially he's framing Kublai in the hopes of drumming up support for his ascension to the throne. Meanwhile, the Blue Princess is truly losing it, and her visions threaten to reveal the true nature of the baby.
Jingim is upset by his wife's condition. However, after Kublai finds out about Kaidu's attacks under his own banner, Jingim is ordered to ride East to engage in their own attacks.
That's all part of Ahmad's grand scheme, though: send Jingim east to die while Nayan and Kaidu amass troops in the west.
There's a twist that Ahmad doesn't expect, though: Mei Lin turns on him after he fails to deliver on his promise for her to see her daughter.
That sends her to Marco, who gives her time with her daughter, and in return she tells him everything.
Marco goes to the Khan and asks for his permission to head west even though he can't reveal why. He's asking for trust, and Kublai gives it.
They spend the entirety of "Whitehorse" hiding in the woods, Marco questioning his father about where they will attack the Khan, and his father returning fire by essentially calling him a traitor to his Christian people.
For a while it looks like Marco has no choice but to kill his father, but a last-minute attack leaves the elder Polo's fate hanging in the balance. As for Mei Lin, she's escaped her entrapment with Ahmad, daughter in tow, and when Mongols attack her on the road, Lotus comes to her aid.
That forces Mei Lin to accept that the Mongols will keep coming after her and her daughter until she ends this feud, so she leaves her daughter in the care of Lotus, the same woman who couldn't protect the boy emperor.
Borrowing an unconventional battle tactic from his grandfather Genghis, the Khan lights all of his white horses on fire and sends them charging through the enemy camp.
This ingnites their black powder, which rips through the stronghold. After some hesitance, Kaidu relents. During the melee, Byamba and Marco fight side by side.
Hundred Eyes encounters a knight in chain mail, whom he dispatches with a well-placed jab to the neck. Khutulun and Orus face Jingim but she leaves to save Byamba from a rebel.
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Originals Original Artwork for Sale. They returned to Venice in , after 24 years, with many riches and treasures.
Marco Polo returned to Venice in with his fortune converted into gemstones. At this time, Venice was at war with the Republic of Genoa.
He was probably caught by Genoans in a skirmish in , off the Anatolian coast between Adana and the Gulf of Alexandretta  and not during the battle of Curzola September , off the Dalmatian coast,  a claim which is due to a later tradition 16th century recorded by Giovanni Battista Ramusio.
He spent several months of his imprisonment dictating a detailed account of his travels to a fellow inmate, Rustichello da Pisa ,  who incorporated tales of his own as well as other collected anecdotes and current affairs from China.
It depicts the Polos' journeys throughout Asia, giving Europeans their first comprehensive look into the inner workings of the Far East , including China, India, and Japan.
Polo was finally released from captivity in August ,  and returned home to Venice, where his father and uncle in the meantime had purchased a large palazzo in the zone named contrada San Giovanni Crisostomo Corte del Milion.
Marco and his uncle Maffeo financed other expeditions, but likely never left Venetian provinces, nor returned to the Silk Road and Asia.
Pietro d'Abano philosopher, doctor and astrologer based in Padua , reports having spoken with Marco Polo about what he had observed in the vault of the sky during his travels.
Marco told him that during his return trip to the South China Sea , he had spotted what he describes in a drawing as a star "shaped like a sack" in Latin : ut sacco with a big tail magna habens caudam , most likely a comet.
Astronomers agree that there were no comets sighted in Europe at the end of , but there are records about a comet sighted in China and Indonesia in Marco Polo gave Pietro other astronomical observations he made in the Southern Hemisphere , and also a description of the Sumatran rhinoceros , which are collected in the Conciliator.
In he is mentioned in a Venetian document among local sea captains regarding the payment of taxes. In , Polo was confined to bed, due to illness.
His wife, Donata, and his three daughters were appointed by him as co-executrices. He divided up the rest of his assets, including several properties, among individuals, religious institutions, and every guild and fraternity to which he belonged.
The will was not signed by Polo, but was validated by the then-relevant " signum manus " rule, by which the testator only had to touch the document to make it legally valid.
An authoritative version of Marco Polo's book does not and cannot exist, for the early manuscripts differ significantly, and the reconstruction of the original text is a matter of textual criticism.
A total of about copies in various languages are known to exist. Before the availability of printing press , errors were frequently made during copying and translating, so there are many differences between the various copies.
Polo related his memoirs orally to Rustichello da Pisa while both were prisoners of the Genova Republic. Rustichello wrote Devisement du Monde in Franco-Venetian.
The oldest surviving manuscript is in Old French heavily flavoured with Italian;  According to the Italian scholar Luigi Foscolo Benedetto, this "F" text is the basic original text, which he corrected by comparing it with the somewhat more detailed Italian of Giovanni Battista Ramusio, together with a Latin manuscript in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
Other early important sources are R Ramusio's Italian translation first printed in , and Z a fifteenth-century Latin manuscript kept at Toledo, Spain.
One of the early manuscripts Iter Marci Pauli Veneti was a translation into Latin made by the Dominican brother Francesco Pipino in , just a few years after Marco's return to Venice.
Since Latin was then the most widespread and authoritative language of culture, it is suggested that Rustichello's text was translated into Latin for a precise will of the Dominican Order , and this helped to promote the book on a European scale.
The first English translation is the Elizabethan version by John Frampton published in , The most noble and famous travels of Marco Polo , based on Santaella's Castilian translation of the first version in that language.
The published editions of Polo's book rely on single manuscripts, blend multiple versions together, or add notes to clarify, for example in the English translation by Henry Yule.
The English translation by A. Latham works several texts together to make a readable whole. The book opens with a preface describing his father and uncle travelling to Bolghar where Prince Berke Khan lived.
A year later, they went to Ukek  and continued to Bukhara. There, an envoy from the Levant invited them to meet Kublai Khan , who had never met Europeans.
Kublai received the brothers with hospitality and asked them many questions regarding the European legal and political system. Kublai Khan requested also that an envoy bring him back oil of the lamp in Jerusalem.
They followed the suggestion of Theobald Visconti, then papal legate for the realm of Egypt , and returned to Venice in or to await the nomination of the new Pope, which allowed Marco to see his father for the first time, at the age of fifteen or sixteen.
They sailed to Acre , and then rode on camels to the Persian port of Hormuz. The Polos wanted to sail straight into China, but the ships there were not seaworthy, so they continued overland through the Silk Road , until reaching Kublai's summer palace in Shangdu , near present-day Zhangjiakou.
In one instance during their trip, the Polos joined a caravan of travelling merchants whom they crossed paths with.
Unfortunately, the party was soon attacked by bandits , who used the cover of a sandstorm to ambush them. The Polos managed to fight and escape through a nearby town, but many members of the caravan were killed or enslaved.
Marco knew four languages, and the family had accumulated a great deal of knowledge and experience that was useful to Kublai.
It is possible that he became a government official;  he wrote about many imperial visits to China's southern and eastern provinces, the far south and Burma.
They became worried about returning home safely, believing that if Kublai died, his enemies might turn against them because of their close involvement with the ruler.
In , Kublai's great-nephew, then ruler of Persia , sent representatives to China in search of a potential wife, and they asked the Polos to accompany them, so they were permitted to return to Persia with the wedding party—which left that same year from Zaitun in southern China on a fleet of 14 junks.
The party sailed to the port of Singapore ,  travelled north to Sumatra ,  and sailed west to the Point Pedro port of Jaffna under Savakanmaindan and to Pandyan of Tamilakkam.
The two-year voyage was a perilous one—of the six hundred people not including the crew in the convoy only eighteen had survived including all three Polos.
The British scholar Ronald Latham has pointed out that The Book of Marvels was, in fact, a collaboration written in — between Polo and a professional writer of romances, Rustichello of Pisa.
Rustichello wrote Devisement du Monde in Franco-Venetian language , which was the language of culture widespread in northern Italy between the subalpine belt and the lower Po between the 13th and 15th centuries.
Latham also argued that Rustichello may have glamorised Polo's accounts, and added fantastic and romantic elements that made the book a bestseller.
For example, the opening introduction in The Book of Marvels to "emperors and kings, dukes and marquises" was lifted straight out of an Arthurian romance Rustichello had written several years earlier, and the account of the second meeting between Polo and Kublai Khan at the latter's court is almost the same as that of the arrival of Tristan at the court of King Arthur at Camelot in that same book.
Apparently, from the very beginning, Marco's story aroused contrasting reactions, as it was received by some with a certain disbelief. Francesco Pipino solemnly affirmed the truthfulness of the book and defined Marco as a "prudent, honoured and faithful man".
He also relates that before dying, Marco Polo insisted that "he had told only a half of the things he had seen". According to some recent research of the Italian scholar Antonio Montefusco, the very close relationship that Marco Polo cultivated with members of the Dominican Order in Venice suggests that local fathers collaborated with him for a Latin version of the book, which means that Rustichello's text was translated into Latin for a precise will of the Order.
Since Dominican fathers had among their missions that of evangelizing foreign peoples cf. At the time, there was open discussion of a possible Christian-Mongul alliance with an anti-Islamic function.
At the council, Pope Gregory X promulgated a new Crusade to start in in liaison with the Mongols. Since its publication, some have viewed the book with skepticism.
It has however been pointed out that Polo's accounts of China are more accurate and detailed than other travellers' accounts of the periods.
Polo had at times refuted the 'marvellous' fables and legends given in other European accounts, and despite some exaggerations and errors, Polo's accounts have relatively few of the descriptions of irrational marvels.
In many cases where present mostly given in the first part before he reached China, such as mentions of Christian miracles , he made a clear distinction that they are what he had heard rather than what he had seen.
It is also largely free of the gross errors found in other accounts such as those given by the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta who had confused the Yellow River with the Grand Canal and other waterways, and believed that porcelain was made from coal.
Modern studies have further shown that details given in Marco Polo's book, such as the currencies used, salt productions and revenues, are accurate and unique.
Such detailed descriptions are not found in other non-Chinese sources, and their accuracy is supported by archaeological evidence as well as Chinese records compiled after Polo had left China.
His accounts are therefore unlikely to have been obtained second hand. His claim is confirmed by a Chinese text of the 14th century explaining how a Sogdian named Mar-Sargis from Samarkand founded six Nestorian Christian churches there in addition to one in Hangzhou during the second half of the 13th century.
According to some Croatian sources, the exact date and place of birth are "archivally" [ clarification needed ] unknown. Sceptics have long wondered if Marco Polo wrote his book based on hearsay, with some pointing to omissions about noteworthy practices and structures of China as well as the lack of details on some places in his book.
While Polo describes paper money and the burning of coal, he fails to mention the Great Wall of China , tea , Chinese characters , chopsticks , or footbinding.
Haeger argued that Marco Polo might not have visited Southern China due to the lack of details in his description of southern Chinese cities compared to northern ones, while Herbert Franke also raised the possibility that Marco Polo might not have been to China at all, and wondered if he might have based his accounts on Persian sources due to his use of Persian expressions.
Supporters of Polo's basic accuracy countered on the points raised by sceptics such as footbinding and the Great Wall of China.
Historian Stephen G. Haw argued that the Great Walls were built to keep out northern invaders, whereas the ruling dynasty during Marco Polo's visit were those very northern invaders.
They note that the Great Wall familiar to us today is a Ming structure built some two centuries after Marco Polo's travels; and that the Mongol rulers whom Polo served controlled territories both north and south of today's wall, and would have no reasons to maintain any fortifications that may have remained there from the earlier dynasties.
The Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta , who asked about the wall when he visited China during the Yuan dynasty, could find no one who had either seen it or knew of anyone who had seen it, suggesting that while ruins of the wall constructed in the earlier periods might have existed, they were not significant or noteworthy at that time.
Haw also argued that footbinding was not common even among Chinese during Polo's time and almost unknown among the Mongols.
While the Italian missionary Odoric of Pordenone who visited Yuan China mentioned footbinding it is however unclear whether he was merely relaying something he had heard as his description is inaccurate ,  no other foreign visitors to Yuan China mentioned the practice, perhaps an indication that the footbinding was not widespread or was not practised in an extreme form at that time.
In addition to Haw, a number of other scholars have argued in favour of the established view that Polo was in China in response to Wood's book.
During this meeting, Marco gave to Pietro details of the astronomical observations he had made on his journey.
Reviewing Haw's book, Peter Jackson author of The Mongols and the West has said that Haw "must surely now have settled the controversy surrounding the historicity of Polo's visit to China".
Her book can only be described as deceptive, both in relation to the author and to the public at large. Questions are posted that, in the majority of cases, have already been answered satisfactorily Her conclusion fails to consider all the evidence supporting Marco Polo's credibility.
Some scholars believe that Marco Polo exaggerated his importance in China. The British historian David Morgan thought that Polo had likely exaggerated and lied about his status in China,  while Ronald Latham believed that such exaggerations were embellishments by his ghostwriter Rustichello da Pisa.
And the same Marco Polo, of whom this book relates, ruled this city for three years. This sentence in The Book of Marvels was interpreted as Marco Polo was "the governor" of the city of "Yangiu" Yangzhou for three years, and later of Hangzhou.
This claim has raised some controversy. According to David Morgan no Chinese source mentions him as either a friend of the Emperor or as the governor of Yangzhou — indeed no Chinese source mentions Marco Polo at all.
However, in the s the Chinese scholar Peng Hai identified Marco Polo with a certain "Boluo", a courtier of the emperor, who is mentioned in the Yuanshi "History of Yuan" since he was arrested in by an imperial dignitary named Saman.
The accusation was that Boluo had walked on the same side of the road as a female courtesan, in contravention of the order for men and women to walk on opposite sides of the road inside the city.
The date could correspond to the first mission of which Marco Polo speaks. If this identification is correct, there is a record about Marco Polo in Chinese sources.
These conjectures seem to be supported by the fact that in addition to the imperial dignitary Saman the one who had arrested the official named "Boluo" , the documents mention his brother, Xiangwei.
According to sources, Saman died shortly after the incident, while Xiangwei was transferred to Yangzhou in — Marco Polo reports that he was moved to Hangzhou the following year, in