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China, Europe, and the Age Exploration

What were the main reasons Europeans sought new trade routes to Asia, particularly to China and India?

The main reasons why Europeans sought new trade routes to Asia, particularly to China and India, were the products and goods that China and India produced. These countries were wealthy nations and were known as the wealthiest in the world. Many of their products were traded overland through trade routes known as the Silk Roads, bringing them fortune and wealth. Spices, silk, and porcelain were some of these valuable goods. These goods were wanted that explorers set out on voyages to find new alternatives to the land route across the Silk Road, such as an ocean route, to get these valuable goods. Chinese and Indian products like silk and spices were trendy in Europe during the fifteenth century. Europeans had to find a water route to China and India to obtain large quantities of these expensive goods cheaply. In 1492, Christopher Columbus hoped to open up trade between Europe, Asia, by finding an ocean path to the East by sailing west into the Atlantic Ocean. He also had a personal desire to become famous as an explorer and was grandly titled Admiral of the Ocean Sea (Hof 923).

What positive features did Marco Polo describe about Yuan (Mongol) China?

Marco Polo, a European merchant raveled to Yuan China during the thirteenth century, described the way Yuan China was peaceful and prosperous and was also technologically advanced compared to Europe. For example, Polo claimed that Chinese watermills were so constructed that a single one of them will serve to turn all the machinery required for the irrigation of a district of several square miles in extent (Mark 8).

Marco Polo also described the ruling of China under the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty by great emperor who presented himself as the only legitimate ruler in the universe. The Mongols also used their power to compass the happiness of their people through laws, fair taxation, and safe roads. The Mongols as well built a system of canals to facilitate commerce and communication by water over long distances. These practices made China a much more prosperous country than it had been before the Mongol conquest. Marco Polo praised the Grand Khan for creating an orderly pattern of life for his subjects at home and having more wealth than anyone else. He referred to Kublai Khan as the richest sovereign on earth. Marco Polo spoke of the benefits of orderly government in contrast to the trouble of hiring private armies, a prospect European rulers were often compelled to do. The ordered society included thriving cities, bustling bazaars, agile armies, and advanced engineering. In his travels from the Mediterranean to China, Marco Polo observed three widely used forms of written communication: Latin for Italy through Constantinople, Chinese for Asia, and Persian for the steppes between China and Europe.

While Europeans were interested in Yuan (Mongol) and Ming China, why, on the other hand, did China pull back from exploration under the Ming dynasty?

During the Yuan dynasty, the Mongols ruled China. However, after establishing their dynasty in 1368, the Ming ruled directly and restored Chinese culture, which meant that Ming-era emperors did not possess the same enthusiasm for foreign travel as the Mongol emperors. The Yuan emperors had helped Zheng He’s expeditions, but with no military success and a perception that these trips were costly, the new Ming emperors preferred to focus on their own country, making them to rebel against European exploration.

The Chinese said, “The sky is big, and the emperor is far away.” (Malfatto 28) This saying encapsulated the attitude of the Ming dynasty toward exploration. Except for trade missions by sea, China retreated from the extent of exploration it had reached under the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty. In part, this was because, in the fourteenth century, China had absorbed much of the Mongolian homeland into its empire. The Mongols were nomadic, and encouraged them to expand to acquire grazing land for their livestock herds and new land for themselves to cultivate and rule over. They also adopted much of Chinese culture and cosmology to justify their right to rule. With the peace that followed unification under the Ming, China came to consider its borders sufficiently secure and invest in improving existing technology and trade routes—such as the Grand Canal within its existing borders—a better investment than further exploring or expanding its borders through conquest.

The Chinese ruler, Hong Wu, who overthrew Mongol control of China in 1368, had little interest in extending the reach of Chinese power across the seas. Hong Wu had grown up as a peasant in constant warfare. He was less interested in developing commercial contacts abroad than creating a robust and independent state that could be decisively defended against foreign invaders. The construction of great walls along both northern and southern borders and the building of a powerful navy that patrolled Chinese waters helped defend against Mongol attacks coming from the north or by sea.

From his letter, where did Columbus believe that his voyage of exploration had arrived?

Christopher Columbus wrote this letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1493. In the letter, he describes his voyage of exploration across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a faster passage to Asia. He specifically reports landing in San Salvador, Cuba, and Hispaniola. Columbus thought he had arrived in Asia, but he made the first contact between the Old and New Worlds since the Vikings, who built settlements in Newfoundland in the eleventh century, did it.

In what ways did Marco Polo’s account of China appear to influence what Christopher Columbus expected to find during his voyage of exploration?

Marco Polo’s account of China in The Travels of Marco Polo describes that area as well-populated, urbanized, and wealthy. And this account influenced what Christopher Columbus expected to find during his voyage along the westward route to Asia, as he was searching for wealth in the form of gold and gems. Marco Polo’s account of China was comprehensive to reach Europe during the fourteenth century, and as such, it had a profound influence on what Columbus expected to find when he sailed west. For example, in his descriptions of China, Polo described it as a wealthy realm with a large population and substantial exports of paper, silk, porcelain, spices, and even coal. His account helped European elites such as Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal envision a trans-Atlantic route to Asia. Columbus sought to apply the knowledge from these early voyages to his plans for exploration.

How did Christopher Columbus describe the New World and the Native peoples he encountered?

According to Mofield and Tamra Christopher Columbus described the people he encountered in the New World using a specific type of language. According to Columbus, the indigenous people he met were gentle, incredibly naive, and without knowledge of evil, suspicion, t guards or weapons And this language is essential because it shows how Columbus thought about the people he met and that he did not think they had any power over him as an explorer (70).

How did Columbus’s description of the New World ultimately differ from Marco Polo’s description of China?

In reference to Scolieri, both Columbus and Polo sought to find new trade routes to Asia. Marco Polo focused on the cultural and social aspects of china, while Columbus focused more on the physical aspect of the land. Polo describes how China is a great civilization with many cultural and social norms to adhere to for the people to live at peace within. In contrast, Columbus focused on the new land he discovered and not much of its social norms (25).

Works Cited

Hof, Helena. “The Eurostars go global: Young Europeans’ migration to Asia for distinction and alternative life paths.” Mobilities 14.6 (2019): 923-939.

Malfatto, Irene. “Cosmography and Transatlantic Voyages.” Encyclopedia of the History of Science 3.2 (2020).

Mark, Joshua J., and Sebastiano del Piombo. “Christopher Columbus.” Pridobljeno s (2020).

Mofield, Emily, and Tamra Stambaugh. “Christopher Columbus’s Encounter.” In the Mind’s Eye. Routledge, 2021. 69-85.

Scolieri, Paul A. “1 On the Areíto. Discovering Dance in the New World.” Dancing the New World. University of Texas Press, 2021. 24-43.


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