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Book cover of 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance (P.S. Series)

1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance (P.S. Series)

by Gavin Menzies

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 416
Paperback
ISBN: 9780061492181






Available to Buy

Overview of 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance (P.S. Series)

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.

Synopsis of 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance (P.S. Series)

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.

Publishers Weekly

In Menzies's 1421, the amateur historian advanced a highly controversial hypothesis, that the Chinese discovered America; in this follow-up, he credits the Renaissance not to classical Greek and Roman ideals (a "Eurocentric view of history") but again to the Chinese. His thesis in both works is based on the seven (historically undisputed) voyages undertaken by a large Chinese sailing fleet between 1405 and 1433; while it is known that they traveled as far as east Africa, Menzies believes that they landed in Italy and sent a delegation to the Council of Venice, held in Florence in 1439. There, they provided the knowledge and technique-introducing the painter Alberti, for instance, to the methods of perspective drawing-that sparked the Renaissance. Menzies sets the stage by recapitulating arguments from his first book, including the ingenious method for calculating longitude that Chinese navigators may have used. Though Menzies writes engagingly, his assumption that the Chinese fleet landed a delegation in Florence is highly speculative, and hardly substantiated by any facts (Alberti could just have easily learned perspective from classical sources; the Greeks knew about the relationship between perception of length and distance in the 1st Century BCE).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author, Gavin Menzies

The author of 1421: The Year China Discovered America, Gavin Menzies was born in England and lived in China for two years before the Second World War. He joined the Royal Navy in 1953 and served in submarines from 1959 to 1970. Since leaving the Royal Navy, he has returned to China and Asia many times, and in the course of his research, he has visited 120 countries, more than 900 museums and libraries, and every major seaport of the late Middle Ages. Menzies is married with two daughters and lives in North London.

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Editorials

Publishers Weekly

In Menzies's 1421, the amateur historian advanced a highly controversial hypothesis, that the Chinese discovered America; in this follow-up, he credits the Renaissance not to classical Greek and Roman ideals (a "Eurocentric view of history") but again to the Chinese. His thesis in both works is based on the seven (historically undisputed) voyages undertaken by a large Chinese sailing fleet between 1405 and 1433; while it is known that they traveled as far as east Africa, Menzies believes that they landed in Italy and sent a delegation to the Council of Venice, held in Florence in 1439. There, they provided the knowledge and technique-introducing the painter Alberti, for instance, to the methods of perspective drawing-that sparked the Renaissance. Menzies sets the stage by recapitulating arguments from his first book, including the ingenious method for calculating longitude that Chinese navigators may have used. Though Menzies writes engagingly, his assumption that the Chinese fleet landed a delegation in Florence is highly speculative, and hardly substantiated by any facts (Alberti could just have easily learned perspective from classical sources; the Greeks knew about the relationship between perception of length and distance in the 1st Century BCE).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal

Revisionist historian Menzies (1421: The Year China Discovered America) here argues that a Chinese fleet arrived in Tuscany in 1434, giving Italy the necessary tools for the Renaissance. These tools included maps of the entire world, astronomical calendars, Chinese texts (including Nung Shu), rice, printing and movable type, slaves, gunpowder, firearms, and much more. According to Menzies, the European Renaissance in fact invented nothing new: Leonardo da Vinci was just an illustrator (though still "superb") and Francesco di Giorgio a "wholesale plagiarizer" of Mariano di Jacopo. Menzies traces all such "new" works back to Chinese ideas and drawings published in the 1313 Nung Shu. Like his 1421, this book will be appreciated by general readers looking for a different, non-European history of the Renaissance. And like 1421, it will spark controversy; historians will surely debate Menzies's research and resources. Many will find his premise bogus, but his previous book proved popular. Public libraries should consider purchase, owing to possible demand, but sketchy sourcing makes this of questionable value to college libraries. (Index and photos not seen.)
—Margaret Atwater-Singer

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