The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter I.

Of Cublay Kaan, the Great Kaan Now Reigning, and of His Great Puissance.

Now am I come to that part of our Book in which I shall tell you of the great and wonderful magnificence of the Great Kaan now reigning, by name CUBLAY KAAN; Kaan being a title which signifyeth “The Great Lord of Lords,” or Emperor. And of a surety he hath good right to such a title, for all men know for a certain truth that he is the most potent man, as regards forces and lands and treasure, that existeth in the world, or ever hath existed from the time of our First Father Adam until this day. All this I will make clear to you for truth, in this book of ours, so that every one shall be fain to acknowledge that he is the greatest Lord that is now in the world, or ever hath been. And now ye shall hear how and wherefore.1

NOTE 1. — According to Sanang Setzen, Chinghiz himself discerned young Kúblái’s superiority. On his deathbed he said: “The words of the lad Kúblái are well worth attention; see, all of you, that ye heed what he says! One day he will sit in my seat and bring you good fortune such as you have had in my day!” (p. 105).

The Persian history of Wassáf thus exalts Kúblái: “Although from the frontiers of this country (‘Irák) to the Centre of Empire, the Focus of the Universe, the genial abode of the ever-Fortunate Emperor and Just Kaan, is a whole year’s journey, yet the stories that have been spread abroad, even in these parts, of his glorious deeds, his institutes, his decisions, his justice, the largeness and acuteness of his intellect, his correctness of judgment, his great powers of administration, from the mouths of credible witnesses, of well-known merchants and eminent travellers, are so surpassing, that one beam of his glories, one fraction of his great qualities, suffices to eclipse all that history tells of the Caesars of Rome, of the Chosroes of Persia, of the Khagans of China, of the (Himyarite) Kails of Arabia, of the Tobbas of Yemen, and the Rajas of India, of the monarchs of the houses of Sassan and Búya, and of the Seljukian Sultans.” (Hammer’s Wassaf, orig. p. 37.)

Some remarks on Kúblái and his government by a Chinese author, in a more rational and discriminative tone, will be found below under ch. xxiii., note 2.

A curious Low–German MS. at Cologne, giving an account of the East, says of the “Keyser von Kathagien — syn recht Name is der groisse Hunt!” (Magnus Canis, the Big Bow-wow as it were. See Orient und Occident, vol. i. p. 640.)

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 16:24