Gavin Menzies has written a book, 1434 The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet sailed to Italy and ignited by Renaissance (Harper Collins 2008) The premise of the book is that in 1434 the Chinese sailed to Europe bringing with them knowledge of navigation, astronomy, maps of the world and knowledge unknown to Europe.
The Chinese were master boat builders. In 1434 the fleet sailed from China to Cairo and Florence and then back across the world using devices they had invented for accurately measuring longitude and latitude. They brought with them to Europe volumes of books which contained encyclopedia’s of knowledge and information. They arrived in Tuscany in 1434 where they were received by Pope Eugenius IV in Florence and to whom they gave books, maps and information.
He provides evidence that most of information which is credited to Europeans actually was brought to Europe by the Chinese on this voyage. Their motive was to exhibit the overwhelming power of their ships, weapons and military in order that the nations of Europe would return tribute . The were motivated to share the knowledge they brought n the form of books and maps to facilitate the payments. He postulates that after this voyage China sometime later decided to cut herself off from the world and stopped exploration. China became a closed world instead of world travelers as they had been for many centuries. However, knowledge they shared was revolutionary to Europe and sparked the renaissance.
What is startling is the abundant evidence Menzies submits in support of the claim that China had already explored from the Arctic to the America’s and all over the world long before any Europeans including Columbus and Magellan. Both of these European explorers used maps the Chinese had brought with them and the Chinese method of navigation for their travels.
The inventions drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci appear not to have been conceived by Da Vinci at all, but rather were his improved drawings of what the Chinese books revealed. In fact the Chinese had already been using these for hundreds of years. They had determined that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around centuries before Europeans. Advancements in mathematics, military weapons and world maps were all of Chinese origin.
Europeans were later incorrectly given credit for most of these ideas the Chinese brought with them. Printing was not invented in Europe because the Chinese had already been printing for hundreds of years before traveling to Europe.
I was very impressed with all of the inventions such as pumps, printing devices, mathematical methods, knowledge of the stars and astronomy and accurate calendars that predicted moon and sun eclipses. The Chinese are seen as a very advanced civilization and one responsible for many things we were taught were incorrectly taught were European. This is a very challenging book and one that is not without detractors, however, I am convinced the author is correct. My admiration for the Chinese culture is much greater after reading this book.