1421: The Year China Discovered America

Tedminator

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[video=youtube_share;LBMXoPtPtTw]http://youtu.be/LBMXoPtPtTw[/video]

On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen sailed from its base in China. The ships, huge junks nearly five hundred feet long and built from the finest teak, were under the command of Emperor Zhu Di's loyal eunuch admirals. Their mission was "to proceed all the way to the end of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas" and unite the whole world in Confucian harmony. Their journey would last more than two years and circle the globe.

When they returned in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships, now considered frivolous, were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in China's long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan.
..snip..



Documentary above is based on this guy's book: Gavin Menzies - Wikipedia
Ive always been curious about this fleet. Did they actually circumnavigate the world as Gavin Menzies claims? I doubt it.
 
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Nov 2007
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Hooray, finally a topic about something that isn't tit for tat American politics!

Did a Chinese fleet sail to America in the early 15th century? No! Almost certainly not. Zheng He's fleets did sail far and wide - throughout South-East Asia, India, Arabia and Africa. We know this because there is actual evidence for it happening. These voyages are well documented in Chinese records, and there is even archaeological evidence of 15th century Chinese in East Africa. The supposed journey to America, however, is not mentioned in any contemporary source, nor did the Chinese leave any trace of their presence in the Americas.

As for St. Brendan, it's just an old myth. There is, once again, zero evidence of him having gone to America. It's just one more of the nationalist fantasies people have dreamt up to prove that their ancestors were in America first. An old story about someone sailing to unknown lands is not evidence of a medieval trip to America.
 
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Much as he did with Odysseus's wanderings in the Eastern Mediterranean, Severin too the landmarks from the St Brendan legend and applied these to modern day maps. With a replica leather boat he set course accompanied by a crew of similar madmen, and succeeded in making the journey.

The Brendan Voyage - Tim Severin - Google Books
The landmarks from the story? This can be nothing but picking and choosing islands in the North Atlantic at random and declaring them at random to be different things from the legend.

The earliest surviving versions of the Voyage of St. Brendan are from the 10th century - about four hundred years after it was supposed to have taken place. You can see one version of the tale here, in a 19th century translation. As far as I can see, they sailed for a while, then came to an island. Then they left the island, and later, after an unspecified time period, came to another one, with giant sheep. They then sailed for eight days more, and came to an island which sank into the ocean - only just allowing them to get away.

It should be clear without continuing that this is not a story from which once can plot maps. There are no detailed directions, and only vague descriptions of islands - most of which are obviously mythical. Even if there was some real voyage on which all this was based, the mythical tales told centuries later do not contain the information necesary to map the route.

As for his voyage, all that is proved is that sailing to the Americas in old boats is, in principle, possible. That's not evidence that anyone actually did it. Thor Heyerdahl demonstrated that it was, in principle, possible for ancient South Americans to sail to Polynesia, but genetic, linguistic and archaeological evidence suggests that, nevertheless, they didn't (though Polynesians may have gone the other way).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying the theoretical possibility that some medieval Irish monk could have sailed to America. I'm merely pointing out that we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that it actually happened. All we have is a story of someone sailing west and visiting fantastic islands, a story very similar to other Irish legends which feature very similar tales; as well as other myths from across Europe. The only reason people sieze on the story of Brendan's voyage is because Brendan was a real person, whereas the other ocean explorers are known only from the legends about their journey. That people told stories about a famous person hundreds of years later doing the same things as other mythical Irish heroes is evidence of nothing except the types of stories people liked to tell.
 
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Tedminator

Former Staff
Jun 2010
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South Florida
#8
Hooray, finally a topic about something that isn't tit for tat American politics!

Did a Chinese fleet sail to America in the early 15th century? No! Almost certainly not. Zheng He's fleets did sail far and wide - throughout South-East Asia, India, Arabia and Africa. We know this because there is actual evidence for it happening. These voyages are well documented in Chinese records, and there is even archaeological evidence of 15th century Chinese in East Africa. The supposed journey to America, however, is not mentioned in any contemporary source, nor did the Chinese leave any trace of their presence in the Americas.

As for St. Brendan, it's just an old myth. There is, once again, zero evidence of him having gone to America. It's just one more of the nationalist fantasies people have dreamt up to prove that their ancestors were in America first. An old story about someone sailing to unknown lands is not evidence of a medieval trip to America.
yeah without concrete evidence I'd have to say didnt happen for this particular fleet.

anyhoo kind of a moot point anyway because the asians already "discovered" the americas eons ago via the Bering Strait landbridge... which is why lots of native americans share DNA traits with pacific islanders & asians.
 
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Tedminator

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Jun 2010
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South Florida
#9
opps OP link broken. heres a repost..

[video=youtube;0kQP-lEH7D4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kQP-lEH7D4[/video]
 

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