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"There is little doubt that our world is filled with wonder and curiosity."
―Marco Polo.[src]-[m]

Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) was a Venetian explorer and merchant and a member of the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins. He was well educated, learning merchant subjects including foreign currency, appraising, and the handling of cargo ships.

Marco served an important role in the Brotherhood as he ensured the recovery of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's codex from the Mongols. He also played a key role in the formation of the Auditore family, who would become the leading body of the Italian Assassins.


Early life[]

Marco was born in 1254 in Venice. His mother died only a few weeks after his birth, leaving him in the care of his aunt, Flora, and paternal grandfather, Andrea.[1] His father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo Polo, respectively, were merchants of the Silk Road and were often away on journeys to China throughout his childhood.

In 1269, the Polo brothers returned to Venice and Marco met his father for the first time. His father and uncle had fled from the Mongols' 1257 attack on the Levantine Assassins' home of Masyaf—where the Polos had stayed at invitation of the Assassin Mentor Altaïr—to Constantinople, where they hid five ancient keys he had given them before starting the long journey back home. The trio founded another Assassin Guild in Italy[2] and Marco himself was raised to become an Assassin.[3]

Retrieving the Codex[]

ACM Marco Polo 2

Marco, hardened by twenty years of travel throughout Asia.

In November 1271, Marco accompanied his father and uncle in another journey to China. They reached it in May 1275, and after meeting the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, Marco became a member of the Khan's court.[4] Marco served the Khan for 17 years, traveling around China and performing errands. However, he never forgot his Assassin roots, and when the time was right, he sneaked into the Khan's vault in Shangdu and retrieved Altaïr's lost codex that had been claimed as war prize,[5] taking it with him when he returned to Venice in 1295.[6]

In Venice, Marco became the patron of a fellow Assassin and his son, who would later take on the name Domenico Auditore. One afternoon in the summer of 1296, Marco called Domenico into his study, at which point Domenico's father revealed that he was an Assassin. Marco told Domenico that he would start his apprenticeship with Dante Alighieri and that he would carry Dante across the Mediterranean Sea to Spain; unbeknownst to Domenico at that point, this trip was primarily intended to bring the codex to safety deeper in Europe.[4]

Dictating his travels[]

In 1298, Marco was captured as a prisoner-of-war in Genoa after participating in the War of Curzola. While in prison, he fascinated his cellmate, the poet Rustichello da Pisa, with tales of his adventures. Although initially skeptical, Rustichello transcribed Marco's tales, and together, they co-authored The Travels of Marco Polo. Published around 1300, a year after Marco was released from prison,[7] the travelogue was met with equal amount praise and skepticism; the Florentine scribe Amelio Bonaguidi annotated the manuscript, calling out Marco for his outlandish lies.[1]

Later life[]

In 1321, Dante was murdered by the Templars,[4] the Assassins' archrivals who had in fact gone underground following their public "eradication" nearly 15 years earlier under the French King Philip IV.[8] When Domenico came to inform his father and Marco of Dante's death, he was rushed into the study and both of them informed Domenico of the Templars' existence. They told Domenico to quickly sail to Spain with the codex, and while ushering Domenico out the door, Marco gave Domenico a piece of paper with his own bank account number on it, telling him that he could draw on his credit at any bank in Italy.[4] In late 1323, Marco became ill. Marco died on 8 or 9 January 1324, killed by the Templars. After Marco's death, Domenico used Marco's funds to resettle in Florence, where his became a nobleman and took on the name "Auditore".[4]


Marco Polo's legacy greatly outlived that of his father and uncle thanks to the book he co-authored of his journey across Asia. Marco's tale was one of the very first glimpses the Western world had of Asian culture.[6][9]

Behind the scenes[]

In Watch Dogs, another Ubisoft game, Marco Polo and his Assassin affiliation are talked about during a phone conversation.[10]