(1254 - 1324)
In his late teens in 1271, Marco Polo joined his father and uncle on their return trip to the court of Kublai Khan, bringing with them letters from Pope Gregory X and oil from the Holy Sepulchre lamp in Jerusalem. The overland journey took four years. Polo remained in China for another seventeen, serving the khan in various bureaucratic capacities. Soon after returning to Venice in 1295, he was captured by Genoese forces and imprisoned back in Genoa, where he met a writer from Pisa who subsequently helped him set down the story of his travels.