Marco and the Polos 3: Marco and the Great, Great Khan

In the Marco Polo text, Kublai Khan is seen carried about, on hunts and at war, by up to 4 elephants.

Marco Polo was a tremendous admirer of Kublai Khan and of his Genghisid legacy more generally. This episode, we explore that admiration, the character of Kublai, and the anecdote of the treacherous minister. You'll hear about the khan at his summer palace of Shangdu, the rebellion of Nayan (with the support of Kaidu), the role of Liu Bingzhong, and the story of Ahmed. I also posted a written addition to this episode here


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  • The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian, translated by William Marsden, edited by Thomas Wright. George Bell & Sons, 1907.

  • Larner, John. Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World. Yale University Press, 1999.

  • Man, John. Marco Polo: The Journey that Changed the World. HarperCollins, 2009.

  • Olschki, Leonardo. Marco Polo's Asia. University of California Press, 1960.

  • Rossabi, Morris. Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times. University of California Press, 1988.