Z & C C/C Chart

Bishesh Manandhar and Ameya Telang 2nd Period - Dutton

Explorer: Zheng He

Motivation / Goal(s)

One of Zheng He’s primary goals was to promote trade and collect tribute from lesser powers across the western seas. Zheng he went on seven expeditions between 1405 and 1433 in which he explored the coast of Southeast Asia and and India, and the entrances to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. He even visited Africa, and collected a tribute of new, unfamiliar animals which he brought back to China to put in captivity. Another goal of the voyages was to show the power and prestige of China. This was usually represented in Zheng He’s ships, enormous vessels that carried an ample amount of men and also provided a vast area for storage of goods and animals. The expeditions he went on were organized in a large scale, empowered by the most advanced navy and ships in the 15th century, which added to the goal of displaying their power. The ships that Zheng He used dwarfed those of Christopher Columbus six-fold.


Achievements

Zheng He made significant navigational accomplishments before European explorers such as Vasco de Gama and Ferdinand Magellan. Zheng He rounded the Cape of Good Hope 67 years prior to Vasco de Gama. Along with that, he circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. In terms of religious accomplishments, Zheng He himself was a Muslim, and he helped to establish Islamic communities in Java, the Philippines, and alongside the Malay Peninsula. Through his expeditions, Zheng He sent a message throughout the rest of the world: China was a political and economic superpower. One personal religious accomplishment was that he even journeyed to Mecca to complete his Hajj. Zheng He was also the best known of the Yongle emperor’s diplomatic agents. Although some historians see no achievement in the naval expeditions other than flattering the emperor’s vanity, these missions did have the effect of extending China’s political sway over maritime Asia for half a century.

Legacy

When returning from a journey from Calicut in 1433, Zheng He died of disease. Due to this, his crew was forced to throw his body overboard in case the disease spread among the crew members. After Zheng He’s death, the Chinese governing body started to adopt Confucian ideals, which did not support such expeditions. As a result many of Zheng He’s accomplishments were overlooked or forgotten throughout the years. His legacy in Southeast Asia, however is quite different. Numerous masjids in the region are named after him to commemorate his contributions. Islam spread in Southeast Asia through many forms, including trade, travelling preachers, and immigration. Admiral Zheng He was also a major part of its spread in that region. Today, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world, and much of that could be attributed to the activities of Zheng He in the region.

Explorer: Christopher Columbus

Motivation / Goal(s)

A motive that Christopher Columbus had when he went on his exploration was the main principles of “God, Gold, and Glory.” Columbus wanted to obtain wealth from exploring. He was happy to take the governorship of places that he discovered and he used that power in order to enrich himself. Columbus also wanted glory from his exploration. Specifically, he wanted to be proven correct about his geographical ideas. Columbus was sure that Asia was not really that far from Europe. Many other people believed that Asia was a long way away (going west from Europe), but Columbus believed the world was much smaller. He wanted to sail west and prove that he was correct. Another motive that Columbus had while on his exploration was that he wanted find quicker trade routes. He wanted to find the Northwest Passage, which they believed was a direct and efficient route to the Orient. The Orient was the home of spices, silks, and wealth. During his time, silks and spices from India/Asia traveled over land or by a long water route that traveled around the tip of Africa. Columbus believed that instead of sailing east as other sailors had done that he could sail west and find a shorter water route to Asia. Columbus also had the goal of laying claim to new land for Spain and spreading Christianity. All of these goals had influenced Columbus exploration in 1492.

Achievements

Christopher Columbus is credited with being the first European to discover parts of the Americas such as the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Central America, and the northern part of South America. His expedition opened up the Americas to European colonization. Columbus also discovered a trade route across the Atlantic that would lead to future trade between Europe and the Americas. Columbus also initiated the Columbian exchange, which was a trade off in items such as the potato, sugarcane, rice, chicken, and diseases, which came from Europe, and beans, avocados, and corn, which came from the Americas. Columbus also docked at San Salvador, which he named centuries ago. He also introduced tobacco, which he found Native Americans smoking in Cuba.

Legacy

Columbus' legacy is a mixed one. He has been credited for opening up the Americas to European colonization as well as blamed for the destruction of the native peoples of the islands he explored. On the one hand, he failed to find that what he set out for - a new route to Asia and the riches it promised. However, in what is known as the Columbian Exchange, his expeditions set in motion the widespread transfer of people, plants, animals, diseases, and cultures that greatly affected nearly every society on the planet. Though he did not really “discover” the New World because millions of people had already lived there, his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of trans-Atlantic conquest and colonization. Today, Columbus has a mixed legacy—he is remembered as a daring and path-breaking explorer who transformed the New World, yet his actions also unleashed changes that would eventually devastate the native populations he and his fellow explorers encountered.