Prince Henry the Navigator and Zheng He

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Prince Henry and Zheng He Comparison
Throughout history, many people strived for glory by exploring new lands. They hoped to leave an impact while gaining money and success. Zheng He of China and Prince Henry of Portugal, both set out on maritime expeditions. Prince Henry is widely known and remembered while Zheng He is recognized for being a eunuch. Both used maritime travel to gain economic influence, power and success for their rulers, and to successfully gain economic dominance over the new, conquered lands. However, the two voyagers differed greatly in their reasons for exploration. Henry wanted to spread his religion and focused on gaining allies while Zheng He strived to gain knowledge, trade, and force people to acknowledge Chinese power. In addition, Zheng He actually led these voyages while Henry just funded them. Finally, Portugal largely supported Prince Henry’s expeditions while Zheng He was granted little to no support in China. The structures and values of Portugal and Spain differed greatly. This contributed to how each explorer is remembered. The Portuguese, relied heavily on foreign supplies. Portugal’s capitalist economy allowed many people to conduct and go on explorations. This made Henry’s voyages heavily supported and made expansion possible. Unlike Portugal, China did not have a high demand for foreign supplies. It was a largely self-reliant empire and many citizens believed it was higher than all others. Therefore they did not believe that exploration was necessary. In addition, Confucian scholars believed it was “demeaning” to rely on any other nations. Consequently, Zheng He’s voyages were barely supported, and he was considered to be a “servant” of the emperor with little to no independence. Moreover, China relied heavily on their land army while Portugal relied on their navy. Soon, China burnt Zheng He’s works and banned the creation of ships. Throughout Portugal, Prince Henry was highly renowned while in China Zheng He was...
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