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The Travels of Marco Polo and Gheraert Leeu

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Chapter Summary

In 1956 a letter was brought to light in the Spanish State archives in Simancas that had been addressed in the winter of 1497/1498 to the 'Almirante Mayor'; at that time, this great admiral could be no other than Christopher Columbus. What interests us is its opening paragraph, in which John Day informs the admiral that he is sending him a book of the Travels of Marco Polo, in response to his request. The book is the only Latin version of Marco Polo's travels printed before 1497. It was published in 1483/1484 in Gouda, Holland, by the printer Gheraert Leeu. Marco Polo travelled in the final quarter of the thirteenth century. The tradition of his story spans seven centuries and is transmitted in many languages, in manuscript and later in print. Gheraert Leeu's career as printer started in 1477 in the town of Gouda in western Holland.

Keywords: Christopher Columbus; Gheraert Leeu; Gouda; Holland; Marco Polo



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