Hien V. Ho
THE TRAVELS OF MARCO POLO, THE WARS AGAINST THE MONGOLS, VIETNAM IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY AND THE ART OF TATOOS.
         Marco Polo (1254-1324), the famous Venetian adventurer, started to travel to the East in1271, went through Asia via Mongolia and came back to Europe via Sumatra after spending 17 years in the service of Kublai Khan (1215-1294) . In Vietnamese Kublai Khan is known as Hốt Tất Liệt (Kubilay Khan in French). He was the founder of the Mongol dynasty in China (Dai Nguyen). His grandfather Genghis Khan is known in Vietnamese as Thành Cát Tư Hản.

Marco Polo (Wikipedia)

A page from a manuscript of Il Milione (Wikipedia)
         Marco Polo's book Description of the World (Il Milione in Italian or also translated as The Travels of Marco Polo) told of his adventures to the East. At the time of Marco Polo's departure from Europe in 1271, Vietnam was under the reign of King Trần Thánh Tông (1256-1278). Most of what constitutes modern central Vietnam belonged then to the Kingdom of Champa under King Indravarman. Champa's capital Indrapura would be ransacked by the Vietnamese in the 15th century and Champa annexed to Vietnam.


The Polo brothers returning to Kublai Khan with present from Pope Gregory X (Wikipedia)
         That same year of 1271, Kublai Khan conquered China from the Sung dynasty, and sent emissaries to request the Vietnamese King to go to China to attend the Chinese imperial court as a sign of submission. Trần Thánh Tông declined the invitation under the pretext of poor health.

        Please read the rest of the story in REMEMBERING SAIGON.
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