At beginning of Ming Dynasty, famous seven voyages of Zheng He to West (1405-1433) appeared in China, at same time, countries of Western Europe also began movement to open new sea routes (1415-1523). The two nautical sports emerged almost simultaneously, but results were quite different. China stopped when it lasted over 20 years, but West carried on. Many history buffs like to compare these two maritime movements between East and West, this article also attempts to make a comparative analysis in general.First, comparison of navigation goals
In ancient times, China had economic ties with countries of Indian Ocean, Wang Dayuan of Yuan dynasty had already reached East Africa. However, before Ming Dynasty, China never had a large-scale officially organized navigation campaign. Why did Chengzu hold this grand event during Yongle Ming period? There are three main folk theories: one is to find Jianwen Emperor, another is to unite Muslim countries to fight Timurid Empire, and third is to develop overseas trade. However, after careful analysis, only search for Emperor Jianwen makes sense, and rest are absurd. And finding Emperor Jianwen could only be a side goal.
Historians generally believe that purpose of Ming Chengzu's journey to West was mainly to increase country's prestige. During Ming Dynasty, instead of rapid development of overseas trade, a 200-year maritime ban was introduced. The emphasis on agriculture and suppression of trade became main economic policy of Ming Dynasty, which is also main reason why commercial tax revenue of Ming Dynasty was only one-sixth of that of Song Dynasty. This is because China is a traditional agricultural and civilized country with characteristics of self-sufficiency and self-defence. The emperor believed that vast lands and rich resources of China did not require foreign trade, but surrounding countries needed Chinese materials.
Because of relatively closed geographic space, Chinese rulers often think that China is a big country, while other countries are "limited by mountains and seas, locked in a corner." Therefore, we always think that we are a civilized country, and others are barbarians. Barbarians must pay tribute to China. The emperor of Ming Dynasty wanted to create a situation in which "all peoples will be judged." However, road to northwest of Ming dynasty was controlled by Mongol khanates, and it was no longer possible to pass along it, so it could only go to sea. During Zhu Yuanzhang period, pirates and Japanese pirates often met, so plan was not carried out. During Yongle period, Japan was also temporarily unified, Japanese pirates calmed down, and maritime traffic was established, which created conditions for great voyages. In 1405 he began to sail to west. According to relevant historical records, Zheng He's fleet mainly performed these activities in South China Sea and Indian Ocean: one was to visit countries along coast and canonize kings along coast; other was to pay tribute to Trade. The third is to collect overseas treasures to evaluate palace and nobility.
Kirin from East Africa
Portugal was first country in Europe to start sailing. The reasons for sailing are mainly political and economic. Political reasons are reason. Portugal is a Catholic country that for a long time fought against Islam, and after gaining national independence, Portugal became first nation-state in Western Europe. In 1415, Portugal crossed Strait of Gibraltar and captured Ceuta in North Africa. At this time, Portuguese prince learned that there were "green countries" in south of Sahara desert, and he could try to unite them to fight against Islamic country. It is a political factor, and political factor is accompanied by religious factor.
The second reason is economic reasons, and economic reasons are also motivational factors. At that time, trade between East and West was monopolized by Italy and Arabs, and prices of oriental spices and other goods doubled after their arrival in Europe. For commercially civilized European countries, whoever can control this commodity can also control financial resources. For Portuguese, only way to reach East is by sea. At that time, scope of world that Europeans understood did not go beyond Sahara Desert, but Europeans generally believed that Africa had an end (Western history notes that Phoenicians once sailed around Africa), and they could reach East until then until when they went around Africa.
With these two goals in mind, Portugal set off. In 1420, Portuguese discovered Madeira Islands, and then occupied Canary Islands, in 1427 they discovered Azores, and in 1434 Portuguese crossed end of Africa known to traditional Europeans - Boyar corner ... In these places, everything has become Portuguese strongholds without exceptions. In 1444, Portugal finally reached "green country" in Central Africa. During this process, ivory and gold from West Africa were constantly imported into Portuguese treasury, and Portuguese, having tasted sweets, were more interested in swimming.Second, comparison of navigation technology and scale
At that time, nautical sports of Portugal and Spain were supported by governments of two countries. The Ming Dynasty was a huge empire, while Portugal was just a small developing country. Therefore, in terms of scale of navigation, Portuguese fleet cannot compete with fleet of Ming dynasty. Each time Zheng He sailed to West, his ships were maintained by dozens, carrying over 20,000 people. Among them, largest ship was forty-four feet long and eighteen feet wide (an error of eight feet is suspected) and could accommodate thousands of people. It was largest ship in world at that time. Most of people in Navy are troops, officials and some foreign missions.
Zheng He's travels
In terms of navigation technology, Ming Dynasty used China's accumulated navigation and shipbuilding technology for thousands of years, so it was also best in world at first. Chinese ships are large and well built, and can handle rigors of "torrents reaching sky and huge mountain-like waves" in ocean. During journey, marine needle meridian was combined with cross-ocean and astrology. During day, he mainly relies on compass to determine direction, while at night he looks to astrology and a water compass to determine direction. It was also most advanced marine technology at time.
Portuguese sailing is made by hand. At that time, almost all ships in Europe could only sail in Mediterranean, and it was difficult to adjust to rough waters of Atlantic Ocean. To improve seafaring skills of Portuguese, Prince Henry founded Europe's first maritime academy at Sagres to develop maritime talent. Based on compass, they developed a more advanced astrolabe, transformed Arabian triangular sail to speed up navigation, established a travel library, collecting books and maps on world geography, including Marco Polo's Travel Notes; increased carrying capacity of ships and began to install guns on ships. In 1440, Portugal built ships capable of sailing in Atlantic Ocean. Since then, Portuguese navigation technologies have become world leaders.
In 1440, Zheng He's voyages to West stopped for 7 years, while shipping of Portugal was only gaining strength. In 1488, after four months of sailing, Dias discovered southernmost tip of Africa - Cape of Good Hope, which marked beginning of Portugal's journey to East. But soon Spain joined them. Columbus originally served Portugal, he believed in theory of earth's circle and believed that by sailing west, one could reach east. But it was more practical for Portuguese to go east, so Columbus was not taken seriously in Portugal. In 1492, Columbus was reused by Spain and began sailing west, shortly thereafter he discovered Americas and claimed to have opened road to India. Portugal also accelerated its pace. In 1497, after a year's voyage, da Gama arrived at Indian port of Calicut, and a new sea route was opened. In 1522 Magellan's fleet completed world's first circumnavigation.
If we compare Zheng He's travel routes with those of Spain and Portugal, we find that Ming Dynasty's navigation routes mostly followed coastline, while Spain and Portugal could cross Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. This is enough to prove that navigation technology of Ming Dynasty lagged behind that of Western countries. This is reflected not only in technology, but also in concept. Western countries believed that Earth was round before they sailed, and proved that Earth was round after swimming. In early 17th century, when Matteo Ricci traveled thousands of miles to China to promote theory of a round Earth, he really deed was ridiculed by academic bureaucrats of Ming Dynasty.Third, impact on world is different
Zheng He's travels to West at that time were mighty and mighty, and they were all majestic. However, it cannot be maintained for just over 20 years. What is reason? The main reason is that it costs a lot of money. First, Zheng He's voyages were, in fact, a kind of tribute trade, and "tributaries" along coast had to be given large-scale rewards, which placed a heavy financial burden on Ming dynasty; second, Zheng He's voyage did not bring domestic economic development Which resources, just imported overseas rare. On contrary, in order to support maritime traffic and large-scale construction of ships, large-scale construction and construction will increase burden on people, after voyage, large rewards should be given to officers and soldiers who accompanied ships to encourage them. Therefore, in 1433, Ming Xuanzong stopped sailing.
Many have said that while sailing hasn't had much of a positive impact on China's economy, it has broadened minds of Chinese and allowed them to better understand world. After Zheng He's travels to West, ship's crew wrote several geographical works, such as Zheng He's Nautical Charts, Yingya Shenglan, Western Fan Guozhi, and so on. However, these works were not distributed in China, and Chinese and academic bureaucrats were not interested in these works, and these books were shelved. According to Zhou Zi Lu of Special Domains, archive of Zheng He's travels to West, "Zheng He's Mission to West", was originally kept by Ministry of War, but was not found during Chenghua period. However, Ming officials' understanding of West was deteriorating at an alarming rate. During Jiajing period, Portuguese captured Malacca and monopolized trade in Indian Ocean, but Ming Dynasty did not know this. In second year of Wanli's reign (1574), Yang Cong abbreviated "Shuyu Zhouzhilu", which meant countries of Southeast Asia, but arrangement of countries recorded in book was full of errors.
The great seafaring of Ming Dynasty was like throwing a large stone into a calm lake. At that time, water splashed everywhere and weather was fierce, but ripples soon subsided, as if it had never happened. Western travelers are different: they establish trade bases where they arrive, monopolize trade, establish colonies, mine gold, and plunder resources. After all, Westerners have extended their sphere of influence to every corner of world. The discovery of new sea routes brought with it great geographical discoveries: America, North Pole, Australia, Antarctica were discovered one after another, and world was united into a single whole. Today America, Australia and other places have become habitats of Western civilization.
Great quantities of gold and silver flooded into Europe, sparking a price and trade revolution in Europe and hastening rise of capitalism. To meet needs of shipping and large-scale capital flows, joint-stock companies, modern banks and stock exchanges arose, and regime of capitalism was promoted in Europe in every possible way. At same time, colonial expansion provided rich funds, markets, and areas for production of raw materials for development of European capitalism, which led to extraordinary prosperity of European crafts, stimulated technological transformation, and provided necessary conditions for emergence of industrial revolution. . Therefore, possibility of Europe's entry into an industrial civilization is inseparable from opening of new sea routes.
It is very ironic that during late Ming Dynasty, Italian missionary Matteo Ricci came to China and drew a map of world to show whole world to Chinese. However, Matteo Ricci's propaganda was regarded as "heresy to confuse public", and he attacked and said: "Direct deception is something that you cannot see with your eyes, and that you cannot reach with your feet, but you can" Do not listen to this This is indeed so-called ghost painting of artist!" To adapt Chinese concept of "Kingdom of Heaven", Matteo Ricci transformed map and placed China at center of world. This map is "Kun Yu Wang Guo Quan Tu". It's ridiculous that many now consider this map to be work of Ming Dynasty and use it as proof that Ming Dynasty understood world.
Kun Yu Wang Guo Quan TuConclusion
China is a country with a traditional agricultural civilization, foreign trade is not needed for China. However, Western countries are maritime civilized countries and their economies depend on foreign trade. This has led to a huge difference in development model between East and West. Zheng He's travels were nothing more than a show of muscle for Chinese emperors, who hoped that other countries would pay tribute to them when they saw China's strength. For Westerners, New Sea Route movement is an adventure in struggle for a trade monopoly. As a result, muscles of Ming dynasty ceased to move, so did shipping, and West, taking possession of money brought by navigation, moved without hesitation to age of ocean.