China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
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14-07-2017, 07:41 PM
China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
Greetings,

Recently I came across this article from The Independent, about the Chinese naval fleet in the 14th century. It's fascinating thinking of how China could have ruled the seas long before Europe did. Imagine if China had discovered the America's first, or Australia. Would they have been better to the indigenous populations than Europeans? I doubt it. But this is still a fun little thought experiment and would make for a fascinating alternate history novel.

Here's the article in question:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/...12276.html
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14-07-2017, 08:04 PM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
I read or heard (maybe on Dan Carlin's podcast) that Chinese historians that came later believed that the tales of those huge Chinese ships were just folklore and mythology.

So (and I don't remember the dates for sure) Chinese historians in the 1700's and 1800's discovered primary sources describing their ancestors' ships but they took it for fiction! They laughed at people who insisted it was true.

Predictions are tough, especially when they're about the past.
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14-07-2017, 08:20 PM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
Quote:Would they have been better to the indigenous populations than Europeans?

I think yes. Even though there's no shortage in history of Asians mistreating each other the commonality of their appearance would have made them harder to see as "other". And I also think the cultures would have more easily assimilated and blended. In part, again because of racial closeness but also the religions brought from China wouldn't have been as aggressive and unbending as Christianity.
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14-07-2017, 08:25 PM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
Chinese seafarers?

In the main ... junk.

Girl_nails

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17-07-2017, 11:40 PM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
I think it was here where someone raised a good point that those ships of the time period were not designed to travel across an open ocean like the Pacific or Atlantic.
The Vikings did it because they went via Norway - Iceland - Greenland - Newfoundland. And I'm not sure how well the Chinese could have cross the Bering Sea, it's pretty fucking cold up there. Also besides, you gotta take into account that when Columbia "discovered" the Americas, Europe was in a position where they were able to capitalize (well... 100 years or so later) on the discovery. I'm not sure the Chinese would have been so inclined to start up colonization like the Europeans were. China is/was mostly made up of peasants. It's had a long history of infighting, changing Dynasties (IIRC it changed from the Yuan to the Ming around the 1300-1400's?), fighting other Asian nations etc...
Europe was probably more reliant on trade goods which fueled expansionist ideas.

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18-07-2017, 01:09 AM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
If you were dependent on wind for propulsion and you didn't know the patterns of the trade winds, crossing the ocean was very likely a one way endeavor.
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18-07-2017, 04:26 AM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
(18-07-2017 01:09 AM)ImFred Wrote:  If you were dependent on wind for propulsion and you didn't know the patterns of the trade winds, crossing the ocean was very likely a one way endeavor.

I'd think most Asian ships of the time period used rowing power as well as wind power. Certainly in China rivers were very important militarily and you need oar power to navigate them reliably. Also most naval battles I think would have been fought very near land, like in bays or whatever. It's not like 1600-1800's Europe where you had Ship of the Line's line up and blow each other into submission.

I don't know much about Chinese navy history but they probably went from having pretty Asian medieval style ships straight to having a modern-ish navy some time in the 1800-early-1900's and skipped the whole ship of the line phase of naval progression. ???? maybe.

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18-07-2017, 04:42 AM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
(17-07-2017 11:40 PM)earmuffs Wrote:  I think it was here where someone raised a good point that those ships of the time period were not designed to travel across an open ocean like the Pacific or Atlantic.
The Vikings did it because they went via Norway - Iceland - Greenland - Newfoundland. And I'm not sure how well the Chinese could have cross the Bering Sea, it's pretty fucking cold up there. Also besides, you gotta take into account that when Columbia "discovered" the Americas, Europe was in a position where they were able to capitalize (well... 100 years or so later) on the discovery. I'm not sure the Chinese would have been so inclined to start up colonization like the Europeans were. China is/was mostly made up of peasants. It's had a long history of infighting, changing Dynasties (IIRC it changed from the Yuan to the Ming around the 1300-1400's?), fighting other Asian nations etc...
Europe was probably more reliant on trade goods which fueled expansionist ideas.
The chines of that time werent great colonizers expansionists (most of their time they spent in isolation), but they were big on trading, and discovering foreign parts of the world would have opened big opportunities for future trade.

Yes, Yuan (mongolian dynasty founded by Kublai Khan) changed to Ming during that timeframe), but afaik the way the chines empire portrayed itself and its relations to the rest of the world didnt change.

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18-07-2017, 05:14 AM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
I heard about this in Uni. The claim was they used an Arab as navigator, which makes some sense as they have to use "celestial navigation" to find Mecca's direction.
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18-07-2017, 04:17 PM
RE: China once had a naval fleet 3500 strong
(17-07-2017 11:40 PM)earmuffs Wrote:  I think it was here where someone raised a good point that those ships of the time period were not designed to travel across an open ocean like the Pacific or Atlantic.
The Vikings did it because they went via Norway - Iceland - Greenland - Newfoundland. And I'm not sure how well the Chinese could have cross the Bering Sea, it's pretty fucking cold up there. Also besides, you gotta take into account that when Columbia "discovered" the Americas, Europe was in a position where they were able to capitalize (well... 100 years or so later) on the discovery. I'm not sure the Chinese would have been so inclined to start up colonization like the Europeans were. China is/was mostly made up of peasants. It's had a long history of infighting, changing Dynasties (IIRC it changed from the Yuan to the Ming around the 1300-1400's?), fighting other Asian nations etc...
Europe was probably more reliant on trade goods which fueled expansionist ideas.
Hell, the Polynesians explored and settled islands spread out over 300,000 km of ocean in canoes, beginning at least 2000 years ago.

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