Post-classical history

1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

The brilliance of the Renaissance laid the foundation of the modern world. Textbooks tell us that it came about as a result of a rediscovery of the ideas and ideals of classical Greece and Rome. But now bestselling historian Gavin Menzies makes the startling argument that in the year 1434, China—then the world's most technologically advanced civilization—provided the spark that set the European Renaissance ablaze. From that date onward, Europeans embraced Chinese intellectual ideas, discoveries, and inventions, all of which form the basis of western civilization today.

Florence and Venice of the early fifteenth century were hubs of world trade, attracting traders from across the globe. Based on years of research, this marvelous history argues that a Chinese fleet—official ambassadors of the emperor—arrived in Tuscany in 1434, where they were received by Pope Eugenius IV in Florence. The delegation presented the influential pope with a wealth of Chinese learning from a diverse range of fields: art, geography (including world maps that were passed on to Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan), astronomy, mathematics, printing, architecture, steel manufacturing, military weaponry, and more. This vast treasure trove of knowledge spread across Europe, igniting the legendary inventiveness of the Renaissance, including the work of such geniuses as da Vinci, Copernicus, Galileo, and more.

In 1434, Gavin Menzies combines this long-overdue historical reexamination with the excitement of an investigative adventure. He brings the reader aboard the remarkable Chinese fleet as it sails from China to Cairo and Florence, and then back across the world. Erudite and brilliantly reasoned, 1434 will change the way we see ourselves, our history, and our world.

Introduction

Part I - Setting the Scene

Chapter 1. A Last Voyage

Chapter 2. The Emperor’s Ambassador

Chapter 3. The Fleets are Prepared for the Voyage to the Barbarians

Chapter 4. Zheng He’s Navigators’ Calculation of Latitude and Longitude

Chapter 5. Voyage to the Red Sea

Chapter 6. Cairo and the Red Sea–nile Canal

Part II - China Ignites the Renaissance

Chapter 7. To the Venice of Niccolò Da Conti

Chapter 8. Paolo Toscanelli’s Florence

Chapter 9. Toscanelli Meets the Chinese Ambassador

Chapter 10. Columbus’s and Magellan’s World Maps

Chapter 11. The World Maps of Johannes Schöner, Martin Waldseemüller, and Admiral Zheng He

Chapter 12. Toscanelli’s New astronomy

Chapter 13. The Florentine Mathematicians: Toscanelli, Nicholas of Cusa, and Regiomontanus

Chapter 14. Leon Battista Alberti and Leonardo Da Vinci

Chapter 15. Leonardo Da Vinci and Chinese Inventions

Chapter 16. Leonardo, Di Giorgio, Taccola, and Alberti

Chapter 17. Silk and Rice

Chapter 18. Grand Canals: China and Lombardy

Chapter 19. Firearms and Steel

Chapter 20. Printing

Chapter 21. China’s Contribution to the Renaissance

Part III - China’s Legacy

Chapter 22. Tragedy on the High Seas: Zheng He’s Fleet Destroyed by a Tsunami

Chapter 23. The Conquistadores’ Inheritance: Our Lady of Victory

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography