Marco Polo

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Marco Polo was actually born into a family of travelers. He inherited the love for travel from his father (Niccilo Polo) and his uncle (Maffeo Polo).  He was probably born in Venice where he lived with his aunt and uncle. His mother had died and his father and uncle were believed to be dead as well.

His father and uncle were not dead. What had happened was when they were traveling they had been captured. They were saved by Kublai Khan’s army and convinced to return to China. They were treated very well and Kublai Khan was very interested in their lifestyle. He requested that they send a message to the Pope and ask for 100 monks and holy oils. He wanted the monks to teach his people. They agreed to do as he asked.

Marco was fifteen years old when he first met his father. Marco went on the journey back to China with his father and uncle to take the things the Khan had asked for. Marco was fascinated with China and he immediately began writing about it. They were all treated like royalty and given whatever they wanted. Marco was most surprised by the paper money and the coal. The money was surprising because they thought money should be gold or silver. The coal he was also fascinated by and he described it as “stones that burn like logs”.  The Khan quite liked Marco and asked him to be his Privy Council in the year 1277.

He spent 17 years in China and learned four languages. They all decided to return to Venice in fear of a new Khan. They asked Kublai Khan to leave and he refused but later allowed them to leave with a princess on her way to marry a Persian prince. They did not easily fit in when they got back and had a hard time speaking Italian. Marco became a galley ship captain during a war. He eventually married and had four daughters. He never returned to China but encouraged others to travel.

Marco’s book, Travels of Marco Polo was not really accepted as true. It even was given the nickname ” The Million Lies”. Marco said that it was all true and he had not even written half of what he saw. Marco fell ill in the year 1323 and died in 1324. His book influenced many travelers. Most notably his book was found in Christopher Columbus’ ship.

My Goal as a Violinist

9b70ccf5372895dbfdcd9cdedff29b32.jpgThis past December I gave myself the goal of playing my Violin in church services. I have always been nervous about playing in front of other people so this was pretty big. I was asked to play in two services. One on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas day. Obviously, I played only Christmas carols. This should make it easier but I actually prefer playing things people do not already know. Because they know the melody they will know when I make a mistake.

So, what steps did I take to make sure that my goal was completed successfully? Well, I practiced a lot. The week of the performances I probably practiced two hours total a day. This was especially difficult because lately when I play my violin so long I have terrible pain in my left arm. I still struggle with it but it seems that if I am relaxed and seated it doesn’t bother me. I was very glad to not have any pain during my performances.

Did this work well and lead to success? Yes, I think I did very well considering I have only been playing for about two and a half years. I played my music fairly in tune and when I did not I was drowned out by the piano and my teacher.

I would say that I did have some failure. During the carol Silent Night the lights where almost completely off. This resulted in me not being able to read my music well and some wrong notes were definitely played.

In my history course I have been learning about the crusaders. If I were to compare my goal, success, and failure, to theirs there is really nothing specific that is similar. But, when I think about it the determination to do better is where I can relate. The crusaders were very determined and it took eight crusades before it died down. Unlike the crusaders I do not want my determination to end but similar to them I had a goal and achieved it. I did have failure but like them I plan to press on and get better.

Knights and Chivalry

medieval-battleA knight has been known as a couple of different things. First a knight could be considered an honored person. And second the title could be his rank in society.

In a bit more detail a person could have been given the title of a knight (by a king or monarch) because they did something heroic. This is the common view of a knight and is correct .  This type of knight is the most popular and is often used in stories where a young brave man saves a princess from a beast and earns the title of knight. Sometimes even a man on horseback with armor was considered a knight.

Another way they could have gotten the title was when it was a title of their rank. A knight was part of the feudal system hierarchy. He was also required to serve in the king’s army. When they had time off they would enjoy hunts and tournaments.

Knights were very heroic people. They strove for chivalry which included faith, hope, charity, justice, strength, moderation, and loyalty. Chivalry was like the code knights were to keep. They vowed to be courteous to  women, be loyal to their king, serve God always, and defend the weak.

Knights were viewed and given their title in different ways but in all of these cases they were still brave men.