1421 : The Year China Discovered the World
On 8 February 1421 the largest fleet the world had ever seen sailed from its base in China. The ships, 500 foot long junks made from the finest teak and mahogany, were led by 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 over two years and circle the entire globe.When they returned Zhu Di had fallen from power and China was beginning its long, self-imposed isolation from the world it had so recently embraced. The great ships rotted at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. They has also discovered Antarctica, reached Australia three hundred and fifty years before Cook and solved the problem of longitude three hundred years before the Europeans.Gavin Menzies has spent fifteen years tracing the astonishing voyages of the Chinese fleet. Now, in a fascinating historical detective story, he shares the remarkable account of his discoveries and the incontrovertible evidence to support them, bringing together a compelling narrative, ancient maps, precise navigational knowledge, astronomy and the surviving accounts by Chinese explorers and the later European navigators. It brings to light the artefacts and inscribed standing stones left behind by the emperor's fleet,the evidence of sunken junks along its route and the ornate votive offerings left by the Chinese sailors wherever they landed, in thanks to Shao Lin, Goddess of the sea.1421 is the story of a remarkable journey of discovery that rewrites our understanding of history. Our knowledge of world exploration as it has been commonly accepted for centuries must now be revised. 1421:The Year China Discovered the World is destined to become a classic work of historical detection. First published 2002.
Born in 1937, Gavin Menzies lived in China for two years before the Second World War. He joined the Royal Navy in 1953 and served in submarines from 1959 to 1970. As a junior officer he sailed the world in the wake of Columbus, Dias, Cabral and Vasco da Gama. When in command of HMS Rorqual (1968-1970), he sailed the routes pioneered by Magellan and Captain Cook. Since leaving the Royal Navy, he has returned to China and the Far East many times, and in the course of researching 1421 he has visited 120 countries, over 900 museums and libraries and every major sea port of the late Middle Ages. And he is continuing to investigate China's remarkable circumnavigation of the globe in the 15th century. Gavin Menzies is married with two daughters and lives in North London.