Columbus read Marco Polo

Above: Columbus’ copy, with Columbus’ notes, of Marco Polo’s Travels.
Literature mapped the world in the sailor’s mind and provided him with beliefs (sometimes incorrect ones!) as to where he was. 

Columbus played into the plans for world domination by promising Ferdinand and Isabella to sail west to China where, according to Marco Polo (who wrote 200 years earlier), the Great Khan was waiting to receive Christian missionaries. In fact, the Khans had lost China in 1368, but because European contact with China had been lost there had been no update to Marco Polo’s book.

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