1421: The Year China Discovered America

1421: The Year China Discovered America

Gavin Menzies

Language: English

Pages: 672

ISBN: 0061564893

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to "proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas." When the fleet returned home in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.
















and when they took note of the height it reached against the trees allowing a metre and a half for the tail, they estimated it stood nearly nine metres in height. The men were to windward of the animal and were able to watch it feeding for some time before it spotted them. They watched it pull down a heavy branch with comparative ease, turn it over and tilt it up to reach the leaves it wanted.’10 The animal described corresponds in size, posture and eating habits with the mylodons the Chinese

possibility is very small indeed. No fishing boat would carry such a valuable statue – it would be worth a lifetime’s wages to the crew; it is far more likely that it belonged to a wealthy Chinese captain or admiral from a great ship. By far the most plausible explanation is that Zhou Man’s fleet used Darwin as its base and created a shrine in which the figure was placed in thanks for having survived a long voyage. I am strongly inclined to believe that the Venetian Niccolò da Conti was telling

stern post of a vessel. This must have drifted across the ocean from some civilized country. Perhaps, it is a part of the wreck of the Santa María. Now all stand aghast at the sight of a pile of human bones – probably the remains of many an unnatural repast.13 Iron is not found on the Caribbean islands, nor indeed in Central America. The islanders used hollowed-out tree trunks for their boats, and they did not build them with stern posts, a sophisticated design. Stern posts had been in use in

the Cape Cod peninsula, making sure first of all to consult the accounts of the first Europeans to reach this part of the coast. The renowned Venetian explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano (c. 1480–c. 1527) arrived there in 1524, twenty-two years after the Cantino was produced. Francis I of France had retained him to explore the North American coast with the aim of finding a seaway to the Pacific and the Spice Islands – ‘the happy shores of Cathay’.1 Verrazzano’s voyage was carried out at the same

circumnavigated Greenland on a quest to reach the North Pole. To justify that belief, I had to answer the question of whether Greenland really could have been circumnavigated. It is completely impossible today, even in a nuclear-powered icebreaker, for the seas surrounding the far north are frozen solid all year round. However, there is direct evidence that conditions in the early fifteenth century were markedly different from those ruling today. Contemporary accounts of the wedding of Sigrid

Download sample