One of the most famous travelogues in history: Marco Polo’s famous travels through Asia and to the court of Kublai Khan

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

  1. Marco Polo (1253–1324) lived in Asia from 1271–1295, even becoming a trusted friend and envoy of Kublai Khan (1215–94)

  2. His tale was supposedly recorded by Rustichello da Pisa while the two were prisoners of war in Genoa

  3. The travelogue of Marco Polo remained the most important source about China up to the 16th century

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

Marginal Notes

Although this is a fine example of early printing with clear letters and strict margins, the codex itself is not what makes it so fascinating, it is the notes in the margins. They come from the hand of Cristopher Columbus himself, one of the most famous and controversial figures in history, whose personal reflections on the text can be seen here. Codices that were once in the possession of famous historical figures offer rare and valuable insights, humanizing and personalizing history.

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The famous Book of the Wonders of the World by Marco Polo is one of the most famous travelogues in history. The description of his stay in central Asia in the years 1271–1295 was the definitive source of information about China, its geography, and its culture. This account also inspired many great explorers on their own travels into unknown regions of the world. The first Italian Marco Polo incunabulum, an early printed book originating before 1501, presents the fabulous travelogue in a wonderful mix of Gothic and Romanic script.

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

Marco Polo (1253–1324) is considered to be the most famous traveler of the Middle Ages up to this day. De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo (Book of the Marvels of the World) is the Italian title of the tale of his residency in central Asia from 1271–1295. The first Italian Marco Polo incunabulum, an early printed book originating before 1501, presents the fabulous travelogue in a wonderful mix of Gothic and Romanic script. It was published on June 13th, 1496 in the Venetian printing house of Giovanni Battista Sessa and the specimen at hand represents the only copy to be found in Spain. As such, it is jealously guarded in the Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid as a book gem of enormous worth.

A Venetian Merchant’s Son in China

As a 17-year-old, Marco Polo, the son of an important Venetian merchant, came to the court of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan (1215–94) in Peking along with his father and an uncle. Their path drove them from Palestine across Persia, Pakistan, and the Pamir Mountains to China. There the young Venetian abode as a high envoy and trusted friend of the Kahn’s and toured for years through modern China, Vietnam, and Myanmar. In 1292, Marco Polo took himself aboard ship across the Indian Ocean to Venice, where he remained and started a family. During the Venice’s war with Genoa, the adventurer was kept prisoner in a tower for three years together with a writer named Rustichello da Pisa, whom he entrusted with his experiences.

A True Story or the Work of a Swindler?

Rustichello da Pisa’s detailed account enjoyed great fame and wide dissemination, although little is known about him personally. Marco Polo’s story was not taken seriously by his contemporaries and was derided as a tall tale. To some contemporary people these probably seemed to be fantastical because of the unbelievable tales and descriptions of the strange and exotic world. One the other hand, Marco Polo – the author of the tale – did not spare any praise for himself regarding the content of the book, as the following first sentence of the account makes clear: “No man, be he heathen, Christian, or Saracen, has seen so many and such dangerous things since the creation of Adam as the alluded-to Marco Polo.”

A Groundbreaking Work of World History

The travelogue of Marco Polo is transmitted today in numerous handwritten and illuminated manuscripts and was also printed from 1477 onward. Additionally, the travelogue enjoyed translations into many languages, Italian among them, alternately under the title of Il Milione. Thus the travelogue of Marco Polo remained the most important source about China up to the 16th century. Appreciation of the work has also changed over time. Among others, Christopher Columbus used to the work for his voyages of exploration, and also Alexander von Humboldt paid the highest respect to Marco Polo for his travelogue!

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

Missing Initial Page

This edition of Marco Polo’s famous travelogue as recorded by Rustichello da Pisa is among the earliest Italian incunabula, early printed books from the late–15th and early 16th centuries that still often incorporated hand drawn décor. After purchasing it, the owner of the codex would have it personalized by an artist as though they had commissioned a manuscript.

Here we see a page of printed text that is appended by some handwriting as well as a conspicuous blank space where one would expect a decorative initial. Although the owner of this codex never had it embellished, the space would be sufficient for a historiated initial with a small miniature, presumably a depiction of Marco Polo on his travels in the exotic Orient.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo“

De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo – RB I-174 – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
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De le Meravegliose Cose del Mondo

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1995
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
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