Zheng He | Biography, Facts, & Significance

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Highlights of Zheng He:

Occupation Explorer and Fleet Commander
Born 1371 in Yunnan Province, China
Died 1433
known for Treasure Ship voyages to India

Biography of Zheng He:

An outstanding Chinese explorer and navy commander was Zheng He (1371–1433). For the Chinese emperor’s benefit, he embarked on seven significant missions in an effort to expand Chinese trade.

Zheng He’s Early Years

Ma He was Zheng He’s given name at birth. In 1371, he was born in the Yunnan Province. Leaders of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty who were Muslims were his father and grandfather. But when the Ming Dynasty came to power, Chinese troops abducted Ma He and took him as a slave to Prince Zhu Di, one of the Emperor’s sons.

Ma He gave the prince good service, and he advanced in the ranks of the household staff. He quickly rose to become the prince’s trusted advisor. By changing his name to Zheng He, the prince recognized his merit and bestowed honor upon him. Later, the prince assumed the title of Yongle Emperor and ruled China.

Chief Envoy

The Yongle Emperor wished to display the splendor and might of the Chinese Empire to the rest of the world. Additionally, he desired to develop trade and contacts with other international peoples. He designated Zheng He as Chief Envoy and gave him the order to assemble a fleet and travel the globe.

Treasure Ship Fleet

Zheng He oversaw a sizable fleet of vessels. It is estimated that roughly 28,000 troops and more than 200 ships made up his first expedition. Large treasure ships were among the vessels, some of which were over 400 feet long and 170 feet broad. That exceeds the length of a football field! They had ships for carrying horses and men, ships for carrying wealth, and even specialized ships for carrying fresh water. The civilizations Zheng He visited were undoubtedly astounded by the Chinese Empire’s greatness and power when this fleet arrived.

The First Mission

Zheng His first journey took place between 1405 and 1407. He made the long journey to Calicut, India, stopping in numerous cities and ports along the way. In the countries they traveled, they conducted trade and established diplomatic ties. Additionally, they engaged in pirate warfare; they even managed to capture one well-known pirate commander and bring him back to China.

Another Six Missions

Zheng Over the course of his entire life, he would sail on more missions. He established economic ties with more than 25 nations while traveling to numerous remote locations, including all the way to the coast of Africa. He returned with a variety of unusual items, including camels and giraffes. He also invited diplomats from many nations to the Chinese Emperor’s court.

He supposedly passed away during the seventh and last treasure hunt.

Facts to Know About Zheng He

His name can also be translated as Cheng Ho. He’s frequently referred to as Cheng Ho. While working for the prince, he also went by the name San Bao, which translates to “Three Jewels.”

Zheng He traveled on vessels known as “junks”. Compared to the ships used by the Europeans in their voyages, they were far wider and larger.

Some of Zheng He’s ships are suspected of having rounded Africa at the Cape of Good Hope. They might have traveled to Australia as well.

He served three different emperors: the Yongle Emperor, the Hongxi Emperor, and the Xuande Emperor. His first six missions were completed under the Yongle Emperor.

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