Marco Polo, who was born in
1254, explored the world on a grand scale and documented his experiences;
he also advised an emperor.
It is certain that the Polo – Depolo family originated in the town of Korčula.
Marco Polo is the author of the
which continues to provide interesting facts about China and other Asian countries.
When Marco Polo was 17 years
old, he travelled from Venice to China with his father Nicola and
his uncle Mateo.
The journey lasted for more than three years and from 1275 to 1291, he worked in the court of Kublai Khan as advisor to the Mongolian emperor.
One of the biggest naval battles in the Middle Ages
took place in vicinity of Korčula, just in front of the promontory Ražnjić
at the nowadays Lumbarda.
While the Venetian had their biggest fleet ever sent to sea comprising 96 galleys and three big ships the Genoese fleet consisted of only 85 galleys.
The only previous Venetian fleet of the same magnitude was the one equipped for Saint League at the battle of Lepanto in 1571.
The battle began on Sunday 7th of September early in the morning and lasted until late in the afternoon. The day was coming to an end, when the sixteen Genoese galleys, which had lagged behind at Otranto, appeared from the direction of Mljet. They engaged themselves in the battle readily attacking the tiresome Venetian flank. Maybe that was not only the luck of war but the skillfulness of the Genoese, who used tactical flanking reserves in other battles as well, producing them in battle only at the last moment.
Doria´s victory was great: all Venetian vessels were captured or destroyed, including Admiral Dandolo´s big ship. The Venetian losses were scarcely to be belived:18 sunk galleys, 66 captured galleys, which Lamba burned on the korčula beaches because he could not tow them as far as Genoa; 7.000 soldiers, sailors and rowers killed, and 7.400 captured.
The entire galley of the Polos was destroyed – a big ship with a total of 120 oars. Marko Polo himself was imprisoned and his heroism was described in these words: ˝He was captured because he threw himself and his galley to the front of the battle and because he was fighting for his country with great courage and then injured, in chains, he was taken off to Genoa.
˝ Lamba Doria celebrated his victory in the town of korčula for four days, and then sailed towards Genoa where he received magnificent welcome. The victorious fleet sailed into the Genoese port on October 16. Genoa was to remember him as the great victor.
Marko Polo found himself in prison in Genoa, together with thousands of his comrades. In his uncomfortable prison cell, he started to dictate his memoirs of the magnificent travels to China, to Rustichello the writer from Pisa of romantic tales. If the battle in vicinity of Korčula had not taken place, the stormy and exciting biography of Marko Polo might never have been written. The masterpiece of adventurous and travel literature left unknown!