Cody Gundick History Oct 8, 2012 History Essay For most of the last several thousand years, it would have seemed far likelier that Chinese or Indians, not Europeans, would dominate the world by the year 2000, and that America and Australia would be settled by Chinese rather than by the inhabitants of a backward island called Britain. (The Prequel, Kristof p552) The voyages by the Chinese fleet were very different but had some similarities to the voyages of the Liberians. The Portuguese and Spaniards had different goals, because of their heritage, in the voyages.
Depending on what Spanish voyage it was the captain of the voyages were different but sometimes similar in some ways. The Chinese were far more advanced in technology that the Spaniards or the Portuguese were. Westerners often attribute their economic advantage today to the intelligence, democratic habits, or hard word of their forebears, but a more important reason may well have been the folly of fifteenth-century Chinese rulers. (The Prequel, Kristof p. 553) Zheng He was a muslin from a rebel family and had seized by the Chinese army when he was a boy.
The turning point in the 1400s was when Admiral Zheng He sailed from China to concur the world on several voyages. One captain similar to Zheng He was Vasco da Gama. In 1497 the Portuguese seaman led a fleet of for ships around the southern tip of Africa into the Indian Ocean. He kind of copied off of Bartolomeu Dias but Vasco da Gama didn’t return back to Portugal. Both of those men worked for their king while Zheng He did it all for himself. Not to be selfish, he didn’t keep all the knowledge he got for himself he just went on the expeditions and didn’t have to take orders from anyone.
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Vasco da Gama was trying to give riches to his king but he failed when none of his worthless gifts were successful. However, his voyages were all about trade routs. They were looking for another way to get to Europe instead of taking the treacherous way across the land. ZHeng He was not interested in trade routs nor with Europe at all. Another captain that has to take orders from a king is Christopher Columbus. He was an Italian sailor from Genoa. He tried to sail west to Asia but as many people know today that is impossible.
Columbus reached the Caribbean islands thinking he was by China and Japan. Zheng He would probably laugh in Columbus’s face if Christopher came up to Zheng and asked him to fund his voyages. First Columbus named the islands after his king and queen then he wandered around looking for big cities. He was greatly interested in the people and wanted to learn their speech and ways. Zheng He would have showed up to the island, took one leader and some interesting items back home and try to learn about it from there.
If Columbus had as much power, money, and technology as Zheng He there voyages wouldn’t have been much different. The goals of the Spaniards were far different from those of Zheng He. As I said before Zheng He was not concerned in spreading his religions, customs, or technologies. He just wanted to learn about the world in his own way. Yes he had a lot of soldiers but he didn’t capture and concur land with them. He just plundered the lands for knowledge and items. A far different captain from Zheng He was Hernan Cortes.
Cortes, of minor noble descent, at the age of nineteen sailed to the Indies, where he established a big estate on the island of Hipiola. When he heard stories of Montezuma’s gold he was determined to take it from him. (The Conquest of New Spain, Bernal Diaz p598) Unlike Columbus and Zheng He, Cortes geared up for war. He brought 500 soldiers, eleven ships, 16 horses, and several pieces of artillery. (The Conquest of New Spain, Bernal Diaz p598) Cortes still had to follow the rules of his leader but he later disobeyed him and became a wanted man back as his country.
Cortes was not interested in trade or economic issues to better his home country. He was determined to have everything for him self and to try spread Christianity to please the king. That also comes with trying to in slave all of the Indians. That he did after he used his brilliant strategy to kill Montezuma and take over the city. The only thing that Zheng He did badly for himself was when he wanted to get items that he had nothing to give in return beside Peaceful power projection. It was that Zheng He promised to ally with the people that gave him what he wanted.
The Spaniards did terrible things to the Indians. The took infants from their mothers breast, snatching hem by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, Boil there you offspring of the devil. (The Devastation of the Indies, Bartolome De Las Casas p615) If Zheng He had that kind of attitude of capture and concur he could have easily done it. But thank god he didn’t.
Zheng He, in my opinion, could do anything he wanted. China was the worlds powerhouse and I wish Zheng He went to the Indians before the Spaniards to give them Peaceful Power Projection because he could have allied with them and gave them protection from the evil blood thirsty Spaniards. Even though he was behind in time China was far more advanced than any other country. In Zheng He’s time, China and India together accounted for more than half of the world’s gross national produce. (The Prequel, Kristof p553) As they have for most of history.
In 1820 China accounted for 29% of the global economy and India another 16%, according to the calculations of Angus Maddison, a leading British economic historian. Zheng He’s fleet was far bigger than any Spanish or Portugal fleet. Not until World War I did the west mount anything comparable to his fleet. His ships were filled with 28,000 sailors on 300 ships, (The Prequel, Kristof p552) and all he was concerned about was learning. Zheng He could have easily continued around the Cape of Good Hope and established direct trade with Europe.
But as they saw it Europe was a backward region and China had little interest in it. (The Prequel, Kristof p554) Because China was not driven by conquest or imperialistic domination I would have much rather be a soldier on his ship than any other ship sponsored by a king and queen. To conclude, the Spanish were concerned about spreading Christianity, Portugal wanted trade, that’s probably why they had one of the greatest ports, and China, well just the emperor wanted to learn about the world around him. Too bad that was not continued after his death.
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