History of World Civilization Before 1500
Jason St. Pierre
December 08, 2012
Exploration: Cause and Effect
The age of exploration was the time period that would change the world and be the catalyst for globalization and modernization. Both Christopher Columbus and Zheng He were young men who were ambitious to fulfill the needs and desires of their respected countries; In the case of Columbus, any country that would fund his mission. According to the readings, Columbus was denied by France and Portugal before Spain finally agreed to fund him. Zheng He on the other hand, was ordered by his Emperor. There is the first difference in reasons: Zheng He was doing something for China that would have been done anyways, but if Columbus himself did not pursue the voyage then history probably would have turned out quite different.
The Chinese Emperor ordered “…to ascend more than one hundred large ships to go and confer presents on them in order to make manifest the transforming power of the imperial virtue and to treat distant people with kindness.” (Zheng He) Although it was not religion, that “transforming power of the imperial virtue”, aka conversion to the Chinese way of life, was definitely part of the motivation. This is interesting because Zheng He was a Muslim but religious conversion did not seem to be a motivating factor. Treating people with kindness was probably a means of gaining their respect and to show the natives that their way of life was the right one. Considering the Silk Road was being controlled by the Ottoman’s, stabilizing other trade routes in the Indian Ocean could have been a reason. Zheng He “captured alive those of the native kings who were not respectful and exterminated those barbarian robbers who were engaged in piracy.” (Zheng He) Stabilizing these trade routes was supposed to get the natives to trust in the Chinese and in their authority. The Chinese were already the largest, wealthiest, most powerful nation in the...
Cited: Filesi, Teobaldo. Trans. David Morison. “Zheng He’s Inscription.” China and Africa in the
Middle Ages. London: Frank Cass, 1972 57-61
Columbus, Christopher. “Concerning the Islands Recently Discovered in the Indian Sea.” The
Columbus Letter of 1493:A Facsimile of the Copy in the William L. Clements Library with a new Translation into English by Frank E. Robbins. Ann Arbor: The Clements Library Associates. 1952
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