1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance (P.S.)
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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 ideas, discoveries, and inventions, all of which form the basis of Western civilization today.
The New York Times bestselling author of 1421 combines a long-overdue historical reexamination with the excitement of an investigative adventure, bringing 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.
detailed descriptions of other military hardware in this remarkable book. The most formidable weapon described is a water-wheeled battleship dating from the Song dynasty (A.D. 960–1279). It details a twenty-two-wheeled ship commanded by rebels and an even bigger one owned by the government. “Against the paddle wheel fighting ship of Yang Yao, the government force used live bombs thrown from trebuchet catapults. For these they used pottery containers with very thin walls, within which were placed
Friars in the church of San Francesco Siena, depicting Chinese merchants with conical hats. Previously, oriental eyes had appeared in faces painted by Giotto and Duccio. As Leonardo Olschki wrote in “Asiatic Exoticism in Italian Art of the Early Renaissance,” “the impression has been given that Tuscany was almost a neighbouring country of the great Mongolian Empire and that Mandarins, Khans and Oriental dignitaries were almost as much at home in Florence and Siena as in Peking, Tabriz and
Master Paolo the Florentine [Toscanelli] and Battista Alberti say that by diligent observation they found 23 degrees 30 minutes, the figure I have decided to register in our table.10 What is so important to Toscanelli and Regiomontanus about the precise declination of the sun? When I first joined the Royal Navy in 1953, sailors trooped to the Far East by passenger liner rather than by aircraft. Each day at noon, the ship’s navigator, captain, and officer of the watch would march resplendent in
year—even tables to enable bell ringers to forecast times of sunset and hence announce vespers. The most astonishing discovery was Regiomontanus’s revolutionary idea (enlarging on Nicholas of Cusa’s) that the earth was not at the center of the universe, the sun was. And further, that the earth and planets circled the sun. This statement will perhaps create an uproar; so I present here my evidence. First of all, Regiomontanus knew that the planetary system that had been in use in Europe since
professor of history at the University of Chicago, presented in “The Derivation and First Draft of Copernicus’ Planetary Theory”19 In his tightly reasoned article, Professor Swerdlow starts with an interesting comment Copernicus made to the pope at the time he published his revolutionary work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestieum, in 1543. Copernicus told Pope Paul III of his great reluctance to publish this theory—that the earth was not the center of the cosmos but one celestial body among