The New York Times bestselling author ofoffers another stunning reappraisal of history, presenting compelling new evidence that traces the roots of the European Renaissance to Chinese exploration in the fifteenth centuryThe 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 , 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 todayFlorence 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 , 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 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, andIn , 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,will change the way we see ourselves, our history, and our world


10 thoughts on “1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

  1. David R. David R. says:

    An absolute piece of nonsense Menzies, like Erich von Daniken Chariots of the Gods before him, is fixed on a theory of history and evaluates data only on the basis of whether they fit his theory It is amusing that some of the very things von Daniken insisted were gifts of extraterrestrials Menzies claim came from early 15th Century Chinese And like von Daniken with his aliens, Menzies doesn t think anyone but the Chinese came up with anything technological on their own This book consider An absolute piece of nonsense Menzies, like Erich von Daniken Chariots of the Gods before him, is fixed on a theory of history and evaluates data only on the basis of whether they fit his theory It is amusing that some of the very things von Daniken insisted were gifts of extraterrestrials Menzies claim came from early 15th Century Chinese And like von Daniken with his aliens, Menzies doesn t think anyone but the Chinese came up with anything technological on their own This book considers the highly questionable notion that a massive Chinese embassy fleet made its way somehow through the Red Sea Nile canal in Egypt, descended on Venice and other Italian cities, and made possible the Renaissance Well, maybe But Menzies makes so many basic errors that the entire corpus becomes questionable For example, he insists Columbus and other navigators already knew of the American continents in advance, ignoring Columbus own delusional after action reports He imagines that the Chinese taught the Europeans that the world was round, in spite of copious evidence that this was already well understood Menzies imagines that Europeans didn t know a fig about oceanic navigation, although there s considerable evidence to the contrary And so on The work is junk history, the argument is not plausible, and Menzies leaves us laughing from page to page His next book is already promised, claiming presumably that the Chinese Admiral Zheng He, after travelling the entire world, passes away and is buried near Asheville North Carolina Oh my


  2. Peter Peter says:

    The only thing worse than Gavin Menzies writing is his faulty logic and poor research 1434 is an example of what happens when someone starts with a fantastic conclusion, come up with a series of unproven events leading to that conclusion, and ignores any contradictory evidence Mr Menzie s argument goes as follows In 1434, a Chinese Fleet sailed to Italy and met with the pope No 15th century accounts exist in Italy or elsewhere in the Mediterranean of a large fleet of Chinese Junks being The only thing worse than Gavin Menzies writing is his faulty logic and poor research 1434 is an example of what happens when someone starts with a fantastic conclusion, come up with a series of unproven events leading to that conclusion, and ignores any contradictory evidence Mr Menzie s argument goes as follows In 1434, a Chinese Fleet sailed to Italy and met with the pope No 15th century accounts exist in Italy or elsewhere in the Mediterranean of a large fleet of Chinese Junks being sighted.This fleet reached the Mediterranean via a canal between the Red Sea and the Nile No such canal existed then.Chinese Eunuch Admiral Zheng He led the fleet to Italy By all reports, he had previously died in Calcutta.Books and charts left by the fleet inspired renaissance thinkers and explorers including Da Vinci, Columbus, Magellan, etc Menzies describes mountains of books and charts, none of which have been found in Italy Also, who in Renaissance Italy could read Mandarin Admiral Zheng He then traveled to America and died somewhere near Asheville, NC Yes, Menzies actually claims this but provides no evidence or an explanation how the Chinese got to North America and traveled 300 miles inland Admiral Zheng He did exist and made several voyages across the Indian Ocean but his fleet never made it farther than Africa His journeys importance do not need to be exaggerated Chinese culture also undoubtedly influenced Europe before 1434 Marco Polo s journeys occurred 150 years previously and overland trade between China and the Middle East exited centuries before then Menzies unsubstantiated book belongs on a shelf next to legends about Atlantis, Crystal Skulls, and pyramid building aliens and shouldn t be taken as historical fact.Forinformation, I suggest the below NatGeo article about Admiral Zheng He.http ngm.nationalgeographic.com ngm


  3. rob rob says:

    Promising subject matter undone by unreadable prose and inscrutable logical progression I can t explain the author s lengthy digressions into maritime minutiae while broadly glossing overfundamental questions raised by his thesis, other than by supposing he s a sailor first and author second.


  4. Aaron Aaron says:

    I picked this up as a bargain bin find, and I still got ripped off There SEEMS to be enough evidence although, I am leary of saying the evidence he gathers is all that great to suggest Chinese contact with Europe for many centuries however, the author s specific story of a fleet that provided all of the fuel for the blossoming of the Renaissance seems far fetched The evidence is not examined at great lengths, and a lot of his research depends on the British Library System the author does I picked this up as a bargain bin find, and I still got ripped off There SEEMS to be enough evidence although, I am leary of saying the evidence he gathers is all that great to suggest Chinese contact with Europe for many centuries however, the author s specific story of a fleet that provided all of the fuel for the blossoming of the Renaissance seems far fetched The evidence is not examined at great lengths, and a lot of his research depends on the British Library System the author does not examine Chinese sources except through third hand accounts that come in through his website This is another problem the author will state how he has found such and such evidence, but then he will tell the reader to refer to his website in order to view it In most history books that I ve read, I m giving all the research up front to determine whether or not I believe the hypothesis I don t think forums and discussion boards provide a sufficient source for academic research just yet.Other problems with the book include frequent unnecessary digressions 3 orchapters on nagivation by the stars which all lead to the conclusion that a Chinese fleet must have navigated this way, passed it on to Europeans, who in turn must have found America this way , frequent references to his own travels with his wife to see museums or libraries where his evidence has just been lying about to be discovered, a too casual tone, and frequent disbelief that no one else has ever made such a momentous discovery.I struggled through this book, and I would not recommend it to anyone


  5. Alger Alger says:

    Insane and ridiculous I picked this up hoping for either an entertaining alt history, or failing that, an eccentric read on Chinese history and technology Instead what you get is akin to being locked in a room for 18 hours with a monomaniac with Attention Deficit Disorder popping speed and rummaging through a pile of newspaper clippings he has collected for several decades that proves, PROVES , his argument that the moon landings were faked to cover up the CIA assassination of Pocahontas beca Insane and ridiculous I picked this up hoping for either an entertaining alt history, or failing that, an eccentric read on Chinese history and technology Instead what you get is akin to being locked in a room for 18 hours with a monomaniac with Attention Deficit Disorder popping speed and rummaging through a pile of newspaper clippings he has collected for several decades that proves, PROVES , his argument that the moon landings were faked to cover up the CIA assassination of Pocahontas because she knew too much about the secret base inside the hollow earth.This book hardly even qualifies as fiction It is almost entirely composed of a string of barely related historical impossibilities interrupted with personal anecdotes Apparently, the thesis of this book is that the Renaissance began in Italy around 1450 because the Chinese arrived with revolutionary knowledge, but you can t get that from reading the book The evidence presented is convoluted misrepresentations of the state of Chinese technology and its suspect similarity to later European uses, the citations are unverifiable or demonstrably false, and in general the only proof is Because I Said So.Take for example the evidence for this magnificent fleet of one thousand junks There is none No concrete record exists anywhere of this vast and unprecedented fleet anywhere along its path How remarkable would this fleet have been Consider that the current US Navy consists of about 450 active vessels The entire proof Menzies offers that this enormous fleet existed is that junks are seaworthy and a photograph of a statue of a Chinese gentleman we are assured is admiral Zheng He Put those two together and you get 1000 junks sailing for Italy, pay no attention to the complete lack of documentation from the highly structured Chinese bureaucracy that invented paper and records keeping Similarly, the proof that Zheng He arrived in Italy is that there was a Renaissance that started in Italy How does one get a vast armada of junks to Venice Easy, sail them through the Arabic canal connecting the Red Sea to the Nile Menzies knows that there was such a thing because he saw a green pencil line once sipping scotch and looking out a Cairo hotel window To be fair, there once was an Arabic canal near where Menzies claims it was, and it did connect the Nile to the Red Sea But that canal was poorly dug, never maintained, and disappeared under sand dunes about two hundred years before Zheng He sailed from China And now for proof that you should never sail with Gavin Menzies on his yacht Even if the Romans were still in charge, and maintaining the canal in its best state, the depth of that canal was less than 2.5 meters The draft of an ocean going junk is close to that unladed A ship loaded with trade goods and supplies and crew and had been sailing continuously for a couple of years would draw considerably deeper I expect that had Menzies recognized any of this as an obstacle he would have had the crew out of the ships and digging their way to Cairo This would be an excellent answer too, because that would explain how the Magnificent Fleet managed to sail to Rome up the Tiber and to Florence up the Arno The crew had considerable practice digging canals in Egypt after all Of course the fact that neither the Tiber nor the Arno are currently navigable can be explained by the Chinese putting it all back to how it was when they arrived as they left this would be small potatoes when compared with the other impossibilities proposed in this book This addition might actually lend some weight to Menzies account of how the Europeans were inspired by the Chinese visit to dig their own canals soon after, but only in places where it was possible and they wanted them to stay.Menzies also provides us with a hilarious portrait of a common Chinese sailor on a make and mend day doing some self improvement by reading an encyclopedia I cannot overstate the importance of these encyclopedias to the opening chapters of 1434 If anyone were to take Menzies seriously they would believe that Zheng He and his thousand junks set off loaded to the decks with encyclopedias that they both read for their own edification as well as using them as a trade good Happy Bedouin and Indian peasant rejoice, for the Chinese encyclopedia fleet has docked and her army of salesmen are taking orders every family should have a good set of encyclopedias for their children s education Can t read Chinese No problem Can t read at all No problem Easy installments will give you time to pay off your purchase and to learn to appreciate the beauty of Chinese calligraphy.Other choke points include what I assume to be repetitions of evidence presented in 1421 The Year China Discovered America, and mainly revolve around the state of geographic knowledge in the 15th century Menzies is entirely confident that the Chinese knew the contours of every continent by 1434, despite never even suggesting that there were any further voyages of discovery following Zheng He s entirely undocumented 1421 global circumnavigation As the result of that single circumnavigation the Chinese not only knew the shapes of all the continents, but they also knew what they were named by the Spanish a century later For a sample of how this works one first has to buy the ancient myth that Europeans before Columbus believed the world was flat Then one has to believe that only some lucky few navigators had access to the secret Chinese maps revealing the entire globe, and even having that proof, never presented it to their doubting sponsors as evidence that their schemes were possible Then one has to overlook that the only maps reproduced in the book are all, without exception, maps drawn in the 16th century or later As an example of how this slight of hand works, here is how Menzies discusses the map painted on the wall of the Doge s Palace in Venice The original was published his mistake, it is a painted map in 1428 and clearly shows the coastline of California and Mexico with a degree of detail not previously known to Europeans until the 1530s and includes mentions of several high profile Venician traders as sources including the Polos See Proof of Chinese geographic influence, right there.A few problems though This is the map Menzies is talking about And this is what he claims is the source of all that detail on the Pacific Coast See the relationship view spoiler It that they are both UPSIDEDOWN hide spoiler Then we read this section about the Doge s world map This map was probably completed before 1428but destroyed by fire in 1486.According to Lorenzetti, the map was repainted by Ramusio in 1540 after the fire.Then before you can absorb that the author has just admitted that the map he is claiming represents the state of geographic knowledge in the 1420 s was painted in the 1540 s, we are quickly distracted with a discussion of two other maps made in the early 15th century not reproduced in the book that he claims show Chinese colonies on Vancouver Island and accurate representations of the Bering Strait before Bering or Vancouver One of these map makers, a Giovanni Forlani, never existed and appears to be a mash up of Paoli Forlani and Giovanni Orlandi two Venician cartographers who both livedthan a century after the period Menzies is apparently describing , and a reference to a certain Zatta who by the index is one Antonio Zatta, an 18th century cartographer I won t even try to unpack Menzies entire ignorance of genetic science Neither will I comment on the gross ethnic stereotypes indulged in within these covers I will also pass over his bizarre and unworkable system of defining longitude that uses ditches and water and shadows and astonishingly accurate star charts that somehow everyone forgot about after this voyage Suffice to say, These are also problems I will say, however, that should you be able to swallow the book up to the closing chapters you are in for a real cometic treat, a lie so big view spoiler a comet impact noticed only by the Australian Aborigines that created a gigantic cyclonic storm and a tsunami 220 meters high that carried a junk bound for New Zealand all the way to Oregon, where it broke up, leaving a debris trail for miles but was still intact enough to be recognized as a ship using a magnetic resonator through 130 feet of sand hide spoiler that you just get the feeling that Menzies is winking at the gullible idiots who buy his fables.Now I could admire a book of well presented and entertaining lies, plausible lies, or even a confused chronology What I can t bear is that this book is a continuous messy narration of an impossible event which is approximately 40% assurances that this has to be what actually happened because I say so , and another 20% efforts to steer you to his webpage where all the real evidence is posted There is never even a moment where the whirlwind of invented evidence and efforts to boost page views stops long enough to even consider the far simpler possibility that information and inventions can travel in one person s head, and do not require a fleet of a thousand unnoticed sand sailing ships packed with their hyper literate crews, their hookers, and their encyclopedias to arrive in Europe Neither is there an attempt to explain why these freely distributed revolutionary encyclopedias don t exist in material form or record in any European archive from that period Believe me, there is no reason to waste your time on this unreadable and entirely illogical book


  6. Hope Hope says:

    So there were some interesting bits I enjoyed the first few pages, the last chapter, and some bits in the middle about DaVinchi The rest was monotinous and slow and boring as all hell The author kept telling the reader to visit his website forinformation It readlike a series of articles that should be in a magazine rather than a book This tried to be many things, and got lost along the way Just not my style of history book.


  7. Andy Andy says:

    0 Zero stars What an awful book Terrible I finished this only because I started it but what a poor reason to do so The title of the book is misleading Very few pages, actually, no pages, are spent describing the interactions that supposedly occurred between the Italians and Chinese Rather, the author covers ground previously gone over in his other book, 1421 Ok, I get it, the Chinese, or so he claims, knewabout geography than Europeans did When Menzies does get around to possible 0 Zero stars What an awful book Terrible I finished this only because I started it but what a poor reason to do so The title of the book is misleading Very few pages, actually, no pages, are spent describing the interactions that supposedly occurred between the Italians and Chinese Rather, the author covers ground previously gone over in his other book, 1421 Ok, I get it, the Chinese, or so he claims, knewabout geography than Europeans did When Menzies does get around to possible knowledge transmitted from the Chinese to Europeans, he writes very little of actual interactions and, rather, speculates on how this or that person lifted ideas from the Chinese via encyclopedia type books some of the Chinese may have brought with them The writing is awful and delves too much into the authors research trips, vacation notes, and what he and Marcela, his wife, thought of this or that locale Just an awful book So disappointing


  8. Jason Pettus Jason Pettus says:

    Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted here illegally We Westerners are of course familiar with the historical period known as the Renaissance taking place between the 1300s and 1600s, it s the period when Europeans finally crawled out of their Dark Age hole, rediscovered such ancient Greek concepts as science and philosophy, and started doing such thi Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted here illegally We Westerners are of course familiar with the historical period known as the Renaissance taking place between the 1300s and 1600s, it s the period when Europeans finally crawled out of their Dark Age hole, rediscovered such ancient Greek concepts as science and philosophy, and started doing such things for the first time as sailing to the far corners of the planet But did you know that China as well went through its own brief Renaissance at the same time, actually sailing around the planet on a regular basis a full 50 years before the Europeans started doing so, and that it was the maps and tips these Chinese gave to the Europeans that allowed the great figures from the Age of Discovery to make their voyages in the first place Well, okay, so not everyone completely agrees with this theory but it s the surprisingly strong one being espoused in the books 1421 The Year China Discovered America and 1434 The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance, both of them by a retired British naval commander named Gavin Menzies, a hobbyist scholar who just happened to start stumbling acrossandevidence during his studies to support the theory mentioned above See, the whole thing is problematic, because the Chinese actually went through a major period of isolationism right after this brief period of world traveling, specifically as a overreaction to Ghengis Khan and his Mongol Hoard, which had actually held and ruled China all the way up to the beginning of the 1400s, or in other words the beginning of the Ming Dynasty in that country According to well known history, the Chinese were so set on turning inwards at this point, they actually destroyed most of their own records regarding their globetrotting sea voyages from this period, just so no one else would be tempted to make such trips again according to Menzies, he has slowly been putting the pieces back together through shreds of evidence in other countries, stone markers and rescued scrolls and the like, revealing that the Ming Dynasty s own period of global seafaring was actually much larger than any of us have ever realized, a systematic series of successes that would ve virtually guaranteed China s eventual world domination, if they had simply stuck with it instead of embarking on a four hundred year period of profound isolationism like they actually did It s certainly an intriguing theory, and Menzies does a pretty credible job backing it up these are giant thick books we re talking about over a thousand pages altogether , just chock full of evidence both direct and circumstantial Combine this, then, with Menzies tech savvy prose concerning the problems of map drawing and chart creating in that period, which is why certain documents from that period need to be widened or narrowed in Photoshop before they ll actually line up with real coastlines it s just one of the dozens of little issues and problems with all this old evidence, he argues, that prevented it from being all added together by anyone else before now See, one of the things Menzies did while in the navy was actually sail the ancient Chinese routes talked about in these books he therefore has an expert s understanding on what these routes must ve been like for the original Chinese sailors, and can thus explain the inconsistencies in the maps and charts they left behind These were great reads, books that really crank the gears of the mind into action why, just the descriptions of a glittering, wealthy Southeast Asia in the 1400s is worth the cover price alone I ll warn you, though, that these are denser books than the usual airport and beach reads, not exactly academic in complexity but definitely stories you need to pay careful attention to while reading That said, they both get a big recommendation from me, especially for the growing amount of people in the western half of the world who are becomingandcurious these days about the mysterious history of the eastern half.Out of 10 9.3


  9. Christian Christian says:

    I m sorry I haven t logged in to GoodReads recently you see, I walked by my favorite book store the other day and saw that Gavin Menzies had a new book out So I overdrew my bank account, bought the book, and have had my nose in it ever since.1434 is the followup to his brilliant and astonishing previous book, 1421.In 1421 Mr Menzies puts across a compelling argument that an enormous Chinese fleet circumnavigated the globe in the year 1421, and made first contact with all the continents of I m sorry I haven t logged in to GoodReads recently you see, I walked by my favorite book store the other day and saw that Gavin Menzies had a new book out So I overdrew my bank account, bought the book, and have had my nose in it ever since.1434 is the followup to his brilliant and astonishing previous book, 1421.In 1421 Mr Menzies puts across a compelling argument that an enormous Chinese fleet circumnavigated the globe in the year 1421, and made first contact with all the continents of the Earth.He is a wonderful writer and puts together a giant mound of circumstantial evidence that all seems to support his thesis.1434 now comes along six years later, full of irrefutable evidence gathered over the intervening years.Yes, you read that right Positively EVERYTHING they taught you in History class in high school was demonstrably wrong, and was known to be wrong at the time they taught it to you Mr Menzies never quite hits his stride in 1434, though In 1421 his words and ideas flowed smoothly, his use of the language was exemplary, and his case was compelling.In the intervening years he has clearly taken a lot of abuse from scholarly circles for his first book, and the new book is almost academic it is so copiously footnoted and carefully reasoned.But stilted academic writing style aside, this is EXACTLY what you hoped for after reading 1421 A thoroughly researched, evidence heavy, independently corroborated support of his first book, with some incredible new discoveries to keep you off balance.I won t print any spoilers here, but his timeline of the Renaissance is so eye opening and the content is so utterly stunning that if it becomes general public knowledge we will see nothing less than a total re evaluation of the relationship between the Eastern cultures and Western culture.Do yourself a favor Read 1421 and 1434 The result will beimportant than the Space Race was to our parents generation I guarantee it


  10. Jeff Anderson Jeff Anderson says:

    Couldn t finish this book It was one continuous advertisement for the author s website and theories Interesting ideas were discussed, but I think this guy does not follow a scientific approach to research Instead he starts with the idea that every significant technological advance and geographical discovery was first accomplished by or only achieved because of the Chinese His book is a proof of that thesis, but I m not entirely convinced and got sick of being referred to his website which Couldn t finish this book It was one continuous advertisement for the author s website and theories Interesting ideas were discussed, but I think this guy does not follow a scientific approach to research Instead he starts with the idea that every significant technological advance and geographical discovery was first accomplished by or only achieved because of the Chinese His book is a proof of that thesis, but I m not entirely convinced and got sick of being referred to his website which is supposed to help me believe what the book couldn t convince me of