The Travels of Marco Polo/Preface/Chapter 14

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How Messer Nicolo and Messer Maffeo Polo and Marco Presented Themselves Before the Great Kaan[edit]

And what shall I tell you? when the Two Brothers and Mark had arrived at that great city, they went to the Imperial Palace, and there they found the Sovereign attended by a great company of Barons. So they bent the knee before him, and paid their respects to him, with all possible reverence [prostrating themselves on the ground]. Then the Lord bade them stand up, and treated them with great honour, showing great pleasure at their coming, and asked many questions as to their welfare, and how they had sped. They replied that they had in verity sped well, seeing that they found the Kaan well and safe. Then they presented the credentials and letters which they had received from the Pope, which pleased him right well; and after that they produced the Oil from the Sepulchre, and at that also he was very glad, for he set great store thereby. And next, spying Mark, who was then a young gallant,[1] he asked who was that in their company? "Sire," said his father, Messer Nicolo, "'tis my son and your liegeman."[2] "Welcome is he too," quoth the Emperor. And why should I make a long story? There was great rejoicing at the Court because of their arrival; and they met with attention and honour from everybody.

So there they abode at the Court with the other Barons.



  1. "Joenne Bacheler."
  2. Sire, il est mon filz et vostre homme." The last word in the sense which gives us the word homage. Thus in the miracle play of Theophilus (13th century), the Devil says to Theophilus:--

                                                        "Or joing
                   Tes mains, et si devien mes hom.
      Theoph. Vez ci que je vous faz hommage."

    So infra (Bk. I. ch. xlvii.) Aung Khan is made to say of Chinghiz: "Il est mon homes et mon serf." (See also Bk. II. ch. iv. note.) St. Lewis said of the peace he had made with Henry III.: "Il m'est mout grant honneur en la paix que je foiz au Roy d'Angleterre pour ce qu'il est mon home, ce que n'estoit pas devant." And Joinville says with regard to the king, "Je ne voz faire point de serement, car je n'estoie pas son home" (being a vassal of Champagne). A famous Saturday Reviewer quotes the term applied to a lady: "Eddeva puella homo Stigandi Archiepiscopi." (Theatre Francais au Moyen Age, p. 145; Joinville, pp. 21, 37; S. R., 6th September, 1873, p. 305.)