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

by Gavin Menzies
3.3 24

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

The New York Times bestselling author of 1421 offers another stunning reappraisal of history, presenting compelling new evidence that traces the roots of the European Renaissance to Chinese exploration in the fifteenth century

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061983245
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 408,131
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Gavin Menzies is the bestselling author of 1421: The Year China Discovered America; 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance; and The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History's Greatest Mystery Revealed. He served in the Royal Navy between 1953 and 1970. His knowledge of seafaring and navigation sparked his interest in the epic voyages of Chinese admiral Zheng He. Menzies lives in London.

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1434 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Tom_Ucity More than 1 year ago
Not only was this a very difficult book to plow through; in the end there was only speculation, nothing factual. It reminded me of the unscientific and fact free speculation of "Chariots of the Gods" where conclusions depended on so many assumptions that there was no fact, only imagination. This might have made a good basis for an alternative history novel, but was actually a waste of time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
1434 is the contentious sequel to retired submarine commander Gavin Menzie's first book, 1421. In his maiden effort, he proposed that the Chinese discovered America. Here, he says they sparked the Renaissance. Menzies - not a trained historian - says it all began when a large Chinese fleet arrived in Italy in 1434 via Egypt. They brought a treasure trove of knowledge - calendars, maps, encyclopedias and technical drawings - and unlocked the spirit of inquiry. Even the great Italian painter and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci benefited from the Chinese, the author claims. Menzie's writing style is engaging and peppered with stories of his travels. In one instance, he and his wife Marcella go to the French town of Saint Die to find out more about German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller, who drew a globular world map in 1507 showing South America and the Pacific. Menzies points out that Waldseemuller could not have known of those regions before Ferdinand Magellan 'the first European to cross the Pacific' set sail and traces the depictions of the Americas to a globe that the Chinese gave the pope in 1434. While this is an interesting read, the jury is still out on whether Menzies is to be believed. Historians agree that Chinese ideas did make their way to Europe but point out there is no written record of Chinese junks arriving in Italy. Menzies' evidence comes from among other things, a translation of a letter written by Italian mathematician Toscanelli, who claimed to have spoken to a Chinese ambassador who visited Pope Eugenius in 1434. This is just one of Menzies theories that academics have cited as 'far fetched'. But to the casual reader of history, 1434 is an exciting way of revisiting history. It is worth a read, if only to see if you can be convinced.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is not an amazingly new theory, he is just the first modern author to write about it. The problem i have is that it is such a dry read. With such amazingly controvetsial information the reader expects this information to be spun into an epic tale. It isn't. I have had more fun reading outdated text books. So frustrated by this purchase.
jhmJM More than 1 year ago
Be advised that the author is not a trained historian, and his methods and conclusions are highly questionable and not taken seriously by the academic community. I find his writing style dense and difficult to follow and have decided that I won't be wasting anymore time on him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting continuation of 1421. A little long in the tooth in some of the explinations. It relys too much on references to the web site for explanations and illustrations. You need to read it with a computer in front of you to get all the detail. COuld have been simplified as to examples and more of the illustrations and explanations ilncluded. An interesting read.
GiggleMonster More than 1 year ago
I had read 1421 and had enjoyed it and was looking forward to reading this book. While the subject was well researched I found several things that frustrated me about the book. First, the author would talk about a subject and then say for more details to go to his website instead of having an appendix at the end of the book. I had the trade paperback and in the text he kept refering to maps that I could not find in the book. The last thing is that it did not read as well as his first book. It seemed more like a travelogue than a research book. The subject is very throught provoking in that he questions the Eurocentric view of history. He has done a lot of research to back up his thesis and his explination of events seems very logical.
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markusmaximus More than 1 year ago
A very well written piece of history. Mr Menzies has spent countless hours researching and traveling the globe to put this together. Very stimulating if you love history. A must read.
loraxFL More than 1 year ago
Author backs up his theory by pulling together facts from maps and historical evidence of a super-sized fleet of monster Chinese junks travelling the globe spreading knowledge of navigation, gunpowder, movable type, distant lands, and the most accurate maps of the world. Christopher Columbus used Chinese maps to "discover" America and Magellan used Chinese maps to circumnavigate the world. The Europeans were gifted knowledge that spurred the era of exploration and the Renaissance. Big claims with which historians disagree but this former Navy navigator pieces together enough evidence to call into question the entire Europe-centric myth of the Renaissance. Even if you are not convinced, the author provides interesting tidbits of little known history, links together well-know facts in different ways. Explains the mongol DNA in widespread places. Explains how the Chinese solved the longitude problem using star charts developed over centuries of observation whereas Europeans didn't have accurate longitude location until they had accurate timepieces on ships. Beyond here dragons be!
s70fan More than 1 year ago
You know Menzies just makes this stuff up right?