paper on ming voyages - Alecia Waite What factors...

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Alecia Waite What factors contributed to the fall of the Ming Voyages? Seafaring in China is said to have started during the Han dynasty in the first century AD, when sailors used the newly invented compass, a south-pointing needle first invented for divination, to sail to India. 1 The most lavish and impressive seafaring journeys that the Chinese have made throughout their history, however, are without doubt those of Zheng He. While much of history taught in the United States focuses on Europe, Zheng He’s expeditions are a glimpse into China’s grandeur at the time. One recurrent theme throughout Chinese history is a uniquely Chinese sense of Xenophobia. Throughout their long history, Chinese seem to have seen themselves as the fountain of culture and civilization. The Ming Voyages in some ways seem to be a departure from this viewpoint, which makes them unique and interesting. Because of the spectacular technological developments and superior Chinese naval power that they espoused, even more puzzling is why they ended. This essay will seek to (1) introduce the voyages, (2) explain the two primary reasons behind the decline of the voyages, which can be seen through the political atmosphere at the time, and (3) explain five secondary reasons which could have possibly contributed to this decline. Zheng He was a Chinese Admiral who led seven expeditions to distant lands for the Yongle Emporer during the Ming Dynasty. His expeditions are said to have reached at least 35 countries, including India and East Africa, and encouraged the immigration that would help the Chinese to colonize Southeast Asia. 2 His ships were lavish and his journeys long. For example, on Zheng He’s first voyage, his fleet of three hundred and 1 http://planet.time.net.my/CentralMarket/melaka101/chengho.htm 2 Encarta encyclopedia 1
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seventeen ships included at least thirty “treasure ships” over four hundred feet long and one hundred and sixty feet wide. 3 Zheng He’s parents were Muslim of Mongol-Arab descent. 4 Since his father and grandfather had made pilgrimages to Mecca, young Ma Sanpao (Zheng’s original name) was probably intrigued by tales of distant lands. 5 At the age of 11, Ma Sanpao’s village was invaded by the Ming Chinese. He was castrated and sent into the army. He would become one of the soldiers working directly under Chu-Ti, the Yen prince. Zheng helped Chu-ti to seize the Ming throne from his nephew and become Emporer Yongle, and in return, Chu-ti named Ma Grand Imperial Eunuch, and changed his name to Zheng He. 6 The Yongle emperor also sent Zheng out on a series of journeys, of whose purpose included finding his enemy the Emporer Jianwen, who had supposedly died in a fire during the coup that had overthrown him. 7
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paper on ming voyages - Alecia Waite What factors...

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