Here is the chapter 18 of Gavin Menzies' book, 1421 (ISBN 978-0-06-054094-4), reproduced with his authorization. Gavin Menzies' text is reproduced as it is in the book, we've not added any link to other references. Those are available from other places in this site. Most of the charts mentionned in this chapter can be found under the History section, in the left pane.

Chapter 18 - On the shoulders of giants

By 1460, the year Henry the Navigator died, Puerto Rico was well known and Portuguese exploration of the three groups of islands in the Atlantic - the Azores, the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands - was complete. The islands were stocked with animals and became bases for explorers making their way between North and South America and Africa. By a fortunate coincidence, all lay in the track of the circulatory wind systems; the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands on the way out to the Americas and the Azores on the way back. Gradually, Europeans reached the lands the Chinese admirals had discovered.
In parallel with his systematic and continual improvements to ocean navigation, Henry the Navigator had relentlessly pushed his captains further across the seas. By the time Portuguese ships set sail for the Cape of Good Hope, the measurement of latitude in the northern hemisphere was as accurate as the Chinese calculations had been years earlier.
Bartolomeu Dias (c. 1450-1500) led the way. In 1482, he was captain of one of the ships exploring the Gold Coast of Africa past the "bulge", and in 1487 he was appointed to the command of a small squadron of three ships that was to attempt to round the southern tip of Africa. Neither Dias nor his masters knew how far south the Cape really stretched - the charting of West Africa by the Chinese fleet had been carried out before they had mastered the calculation of latitude in the southern hemisphere - but he had no doubts that it could be rounded. Dom Pedro's map of 1428 had showed the Cape's triangular shape, and before Dias set sail the Portuguese king gave his emissary, Pêro da Covilha, a map of the world (Carta de Marear) showing that the Cape should be rounded to reach India. When Dias duly reached the Cape, he
came in sight of the Great and Famous Cape, concealed for so many centuries, which when it was seen made known not only itself but also another new world of countries. Bartolomeu Dias, and those of his company, because of the perils and storms they had endured in doubling it, called it the Stormy Cape, but on their return to the Kingdom, the King Dom João gave it another illustrious name, calling it the Cape of Good Hope [my italics].
Dias followed by Vasco da Gama (c. 1469-1525) who was ordered to continue round the Cape to India and the source of spice. Da Gama was provided with charts showing the Cape, and precise declination tables:
Tables showing the declination of the sun were provided by the Astronomer Royal, Abraham Zacuto Ben Samuel. These ... had been translated from Hebrew into Latin the previous year and printed at Leira under the title Almanach Perpetuum Celestium Motuum Cujus Radix Est 1473. Other books, maps and charts were supplied ... amongst these documents almost certainly ... [were] the log and charts of Dias.
After rounding the Cape, da Gama proceeded up the east coast of Africa, finding the famous ports of Sofala, Kilwa, Zanzibar, Mombasa and Malindi, developed by the Chinese and Indian fleets over the centuries when the Indian Ocean trade was by far the most busy and lucrative in the world. By the late 1400s the Chinese had closed their trading routes with the outside world; nontheless, the Portuguese explorers found evidence of the earlier Chinese visits in the mass of blue and white porcelain decorating many houses the lenght of Africa. When da Gama returned from his second voyage, he knew the way to Malacca and the Spice Islands in the East. The world's spice trade was now within Portugal's grasp. Anyone who opposed them was mown down with grapeshot. In effect, da Gama stole the trade the Indians and Chinese had spent centuries developing. Skilful though he was, like Dias before him, da Gama discovered nothing new.
In parallel with da Gama's pursuit of the spice trade in the East, King João of Portugal had sent Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467-1520) to South America, to the lands shown on the 1428 World Map. In 1500, King João's successor, Manuel I, ordered Cabral to take possession of the western part of the Indies. Like Dias and da Gama, Cabral used the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands as his bases before making landfall on the South American coast. At the time, a cluster of explorers reached South America within a year of one another: Vespucci, Pinzón and De Lepe in 1499, and Mendoza the next year. The first three made landfall on the Amazon delta, then sailed north-westwards.
This north-east coast of Brazil, discovered by the Chinese treasure fleet of Zhou Man and Hong Bao, had appeared on many maps drawn before any of those European explorers set sail. Andrea Bianco's map of 1448 referred to Ixola Otinticha Xe Longa a Ponente 1500 mia - "a genuine island is 1,500 miles west of here [West Africa]" - and Master João de Barros, on the 1500 expedition to the Brazilian coast, confirmed that the land had appeared on earlier maps: "The lands might the King see represented on the Mappa Mundi which Pêro da Bisagudo had."
Bisagudo was the nickname given to the famous explorer Pero da Cunha who had been sent with a Portuguese map of the world to colonize what is now Ghana in Africa. De Barros said the only real difference between Cabral's expedition saw in 1500 and appeared on Bisagudo's earlier "Mappa Mundi" was that he, de Barros, could now certify that Brazil was inhabited. Christopher Columbus also confirmed that Brazil was known to the Portuguese before any of their expedition set sail for South America. He noted in his diaries that he wished to proceed further south of Trinidad "to see what was the meaning of King John of Portugal who said there was terra firma to the south".
So, Andrea Bianco, Columbus and de Barros all state that a map of Brazil existed before the first European expedition sailed in 1500. The only possible sources of information on that map, the 1428 World Map, were the cartographers with the Chinese fleets of 1421-3. The port of San Luis is instantly recognizable on the Piri Reis map (derived from the 1428 map) and the latitudes of the Orinoco and Amazon deltas are precisely correct. In addition, there is no shortage of other, permanent traces of the Chinese visit to South America: Asiatic chickens were found in the Orinoco delta by the first European explorers, and Venezuela Indians and other native peoples have blood groups that are otherwise unique to south-west China.
With the Cape of Good Hope rounded and South America discovered, the exploration of the rest of the world quickly followed. Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) was orphaned when he was ten years old and became a page at the Portuguese court, where he was trained to navigation. He went to East Africa in 1505, and for the next seven years saw service in the Indian Ocean. He took part in the expedition to establish a Portuguese colony in India, and in 1511 he played a significant part in the conquest of Zheng He's former forward base, Malacca. He returned home in 1521 and sailed with the Portuguese expedition to Morocco, where he was severely wounded. After a disagreement with his commander, he left the army without permission. As a result he was disgraced and was refused a pension.
In disgust, he moved to Spain and in 1518 was appointed captain general of a fleet to explore a westward route to the Spice Islands, across the Pacific. He sailed from the Guadalquivir estuary the next year with five ships and 241 men. Magellan knew of the strait that bears his name before he set sail, for it was shown on a map in the King of Portugal's treasury that Magellan inspected and took with him. On reaching the Spice Islands, Magellan showed the chart to the local king. It depicted a way through the Strait of Magellan and across the Pacific; "From Cape Frio until the Islands of the Maluccas throughout this navigation there are no land laid donw in the maps they [Magellan's expedition] carry with them."
Magellan never claimed to be the first man to have circumnavigated the world; nevertheless, his was still an amazing feat. He was in a tiny ship, a toy compared to the Chinese leviathans, and, unlike the Chinese, the Portuguese had very little experience of long transoceanic voyages and were unaware that certain foods could prevent scurvy. Magellan, Dias, da Gama and Cabral were very skilful navigators and seamen, they were also brave and resolute men with awesome qualities of leadership, but not one of them actually discovered "new lands". All their "discoveries" had been made nearly a century earlier by the Chinese.
Nor did Christopher Columbus "discover" Americas. Far from setting sail full of fear that his fleet might fall off the edge of the world, he knew where he was going, as can be seen in the excerpts from hi logs when he was still in mid-Atlantic:
Wednesday September 19th [1492]
The Admiral did not wish to be delayed by beating to the windward in order to make sure whether there was land in that direction, but he was certain that to the north and to the south there were some islands, as truth there were ... [he said]" and there is time enough, for, God willing, on the return voyage, all will be seen". These are his words.

Wednesday October 24th
[describing how to reach Antilia] I should steer west-south-west to go there ... and in the spheres which I have seen and in the drawings of mappae mundi it is in this region.

Wednesday November 14th
And he says that he believes that these islands are those without number which in the mappae mundi are placed at the end of the east.
It is clear from these three entries that Columbus had seen spheres and mappae mundi showing islands in the Atlantic, and that these lay, in Columbus's opinion, to the north and south of his position on 19 September 1492. Puerto Rico (Antilia) appears on the 1424 Pizzigano chart, the coast of New England on the Cantino, Brazil on Andrea Bianco's map of 1489 - all drawn before Columbus reached them.
In 1479, Columbus had married Doña Felipa Perestrello, the daughter of the governor of Porto Santo, the small island near Madeira settled by the Portuguese. His forthcoming marriage gave him sufficient confidence to correspond with the celebrated scientist Toscanelli, who replied at once: "I have received thy letters with the things that thou didst send me and with them I received a great favour. I notice thy splendid and lofty desire to sail to the regions of the east by those of the west [i.e. reach China by sailing westwards], as is shown by the chart which I send you." The "chart" that accompanied Toscanelli's letter to Columbus has been lost, but it can be reconstructed using another letter from Toscanelli to the King of Portugal, enclosing a chart of the Atlantic: "But from the Island of Antilia known to you to the far famed island of Cipangu there are ten spaces ... so there is not a great space to be traversed over unknown waters."
Antilia was indeed very well known to the Portuguese. They had settled there in 1431, and were still there when Columbus set sail in 1492, but his knowledge of the Americas went far further. By his own evidence he knew of the "Strait of Magellan" in the south and the coast of north-east Brazil. He had seen mappae mundi and spheres showing the Atlantic. He also knew well that China and the Spice Islands could be reached by sailing eastwards round the Cape of Good Hope, for Christopher and his brother Bartholomew were both present when Dias reported to the king that had rounded the Cape at that latitude. Columbus was hell bent on gaining fame and glory by sailing westwards for China and Spice Islands.
Columbus certainly saw the 1428 master chart of the world. This corroborated in a number of ways: in notes on the 1513 Piri Reis map which credit Columbus with knowing that there were only two hours of daylight in the far south; in Columbus's letter to the King of Portugal in which he writes about lands in South America, a letter written before the Portuguese explorers had set sail for that continent; and in his notes inscribed on the inside flap of his own copy of Marco Polo's book about his voyage from China to India by sea. In short, Columbus knew that China could be reached by sailing westbound (Toscanelli's letter) or by sailing eastbound. He must have known from the 1428 World Map that eastbound voyage was the shorter.
In these circumstances, it must have been horrifying for Columbus to realize that the Portuguese were well on their way to rounding the Cape of Good Hope and sailing into the Indian Ocean, whence they could sail with the monsoon winds to China. The Portuguese advances down the African coast must have been a matter of grave concern to him. By 1485, Dias had reached the African coast as far as 13°S. At that stage, not only did Columbus know of the route westwards, but he had sailed to Iceland (in 1477), which country he was told Chinese people had visited.
In 1485, Christopher Columbus left Portugal, where he had been on and off since his marriage. During that time he may well have sailed to Antilia on a secret voyage funded by the Pope, as Señor Ruggero Marino has stated. Marino bases his assumption largely on the inscription on the tomb of the Pope Innocent VIII, who died in July 1492, i.e. before Columbus set out on his first "voyage to the Bahamas". On the Pope's tomb were the words "novi orbis suo aevo inventi gloria" - "the glory of the new world having been found with his gold".
Bartholomew Columbus remained in Portugal as a member of team improving the Portuguese maps as when new evidence came in from the voyages of discovery. In 1487-8, Dias pushed on further down the African coast and reached what we call the Cape of Good Hope. In 1473, the Portuguese had discovered how to calculate latitude from the sun's declination, so Dias was able to put the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope at 34°22' South. Both Bartholomew and Christopher knew this correct latitude.
Columbus's plans for a voyage westwards were now in desperate trouble, for the Portuguese were on the verge of opening up the route to India round the Cape of Good Hope. Unless he acted quickly, his chances of glory were over. At this time, the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella had begun their assault on the last Moorish enclave in Spain, south of the Sierra Nevada mountains around Granada. Columbus had no chance of extracting funds from the Portuguese, who were concentrating on the easterly route to China, and knew that his only chance lay with the Catholic monarchs who did not have the 1428 chart and thus did not know that the shorter route lay eastbound. It was therefore in Columbus's interest to persuade Ferdinand and Isabella that the quickest route to China lay westwards. This, in my submission, is the motive for the forgery and theft Christopher and Bartolomew Columbus now perpetrated.
Their timing was extraordinarily fortunate, for in 1492 Granada had fallen and the Catholic monarchs wished to extend the pursuit of the Moors overseas. Columbus's plan to sail westabout for China would fall on receptive ears if he could persuade Ferdinand and Isabella that his plan was realistic and that it offered the chance of reaching the Spice Islands before the Portuguese.
In 1963, Alexander O. Vietor, the map curator at Yale University, reported a gift by an anonymous donor "in the form of a magnificient painted world map signed by Henricus Martellus approximately six feet by four feet [180 x 120 cm]". Vietor went on:
It is painted in what seems to be tempera over the base of paper in sheets of different sizes, the whole backed up with a large framed canvas, much in the manner of a painting ... It has graduation of latitude and of longitude in the margins, the first instance of longitudes being shown on the map ... on this map Cipango is placed 90 degrees from Canaries.
Mr Vietor subsequently corresponded on the matter with Professor Arthur Davies, who at the time held the Reardon Smith Chair of Geography at the University of Exeter (1948-71). Vietor also provided Professor Davies with infrared photographs of the map for close study. This map, which I shall call the "Yale Martellus", is four times the size of another map Martellus published in 1489. The experts, principally Davies and Vietor, are unanimous that the Yale Martellus was the original and the 1489 Martellus a copy at one-quarter the scale. Ashleigh Skelton has also concluded that the Yale map was genuine, its author Martellus. My belief is that both maps, although genuine, contain forgeries, and the forger was Bartholomew Columbus.
The 1489 Martellus map extends from the Canaries to the east coats of China. Although no meridians or longitude scales are given, estimates based on the measurement of the map show that the distance from Lisbon to the east coast of China eastbound is not less than 230° and probably 240°. Westbound, the coast of China is shown approximately 130° west of Lisbon. This is a colossal exaggeration of the distance eastbound. The Catalan atlas of 1376 had the distance from Portugal to China eastbound at approximately 116°; the Genoese map of 1457 approximately 136°; and the Fra Mauro of 1459 about 120°. The true measurement is 141° from the Canaries to Shanghai, so the 1489 Martellus exaggerates the distance to China from Portugal eastbound by nearly 100°. The Columbus brothers of course knew the true distance eastwards from Lisbon to China because the Portuguese had the 1428 World Map.
The 1489 Martellus map could not have been completed before that year, for it featured complete details of the discoveries of Bartolomeu Dias's voyage of 1487 - when he doubled the Cape of Good Hope and reached the Indian Ocean. He returned to Portugal in December 1488. Within a year, then, full details of this trip, including Dias's rich nomenclature, had appeared on the map Martellus made in Italy, this despite strenuous efforts on the part of the King of Portugal to keep the map secret. The penalty for stealing maps was death. The Portuguese government's policy had been shattered in one fell swoop by someone in a unique position to know the details.
The second forgery, on both Martellus maps, is that a huge dogleg of fictitious land has been appended to the Malayan peninsula from the equator south to 29° South, thereafter being widened to reach China. So enormous and wide was this peninsula that it seemed to render impossible any voyage between China and India. In short, anyone who had got into the Indian Ocean could not continue to the east. To a third party, such as the Catholic monarchs, who did not have the 1428 map, it showed that the eastbound China could not be reached by rounding the Cape of Good Hope.
The third forgery is that Martellus's two maps extend southwards to the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope, which Dias had fixed at 34°22'South, to 45°South. That Bartholomew Columbus was responsible for this addition is beyond doubt, for it was made in his own hand. In the volume of Imago Mundi found among the possession of Christopher Columbus after his death are numerous notes written in the margins or below the printed matter. Number 23 has been identified by Professor Davies, who has spent a lifetime analysing the characteristics of the Columbus brothers' scripts, as being the handwriting of Bartholomew. It reads:
Note in the year '88 in the month of December arrived in Lisbon Bartholomew Diaz [sic], captain of three caravelles which the most serene king of Portugal had sent to try out the land in Guinea. He reported to the same most serene king that he had sailed beyond Yan 600 leagues, namely 450 to the south and 250 to the north, up a promontory which he calls Capa de Buon Esperanza [Cape of Good Hope] which we believe to be in Abyssinia. He says that in this place he found by the astrolabe that he was 45 degrees below the equator and that this place is 3,100 leagues distant from Lisbon. He has described this voyage and plotted it league by league on a marine chart in order to place it under the eyes of the most serene king himself. I was present in all of this.
Bartholomew Columbus's claim that Dias had put the Cape of Good Hope at 45°South was blatantly untrue. No-one in Lisbon at the time bar the Columbus brothers knew of this 45° assertion, for Bartholomew made it after he had left Portugal.
To date, no link has been shown between the Columbus brothers and Martellus; it could have been that Martellus was the forger. The link, however, can be deduced in two ways. The first is that Martellus's map contains information only the Portuguese knew (Martellus was Italian), moreover information guarded upon pain of death which had been acquired only months earlier. Someone with access to top-secret Portuguese maps must have provided the information to Martellus. That points the finger at Bartholomew Columbus, or others who were part of that trusted mapmaking circle, which includes Behain of Bohemia, for example.
The direct link between Bartholomew Columbus and the Martellus map, however, comes from the construction of the Yale Martellus. The sheets of paper on which the Yale map is drawn are of different sizes, which excludes the possibility that they were printed map sheets, for they would then have had to be the same size to fit within the map portfolio. In private letters between Alexander Vietor and Professor Davies, Vietor stated that an X-ray examination had revealed no evidence of printing on the paper sheets and that everything on the Yale map was hand-drawn, lettered and coloured. In short, it came from a tracing. The tracings have been identified by Professor Davies as being in the hand of Bartholomew Columbus. In making this devastating assertion, Professor Davies wrote:
When Columbus left Lisbon in 1485 for Spain, Bartholomew, with his highly trained skills as a cartographer in the Genoese style, stayed on in the map workshop of King John II. He was engaged in building up a large map of the world based on Donnus Nicolaus and on the Portuguese charts. It was, like all important maps at that time, drawn os sheets of parchment which could be joined together almost invisibly, and mounted on linen. This large map, 180cm by 120cm, formed a standard Portuguese world map, continually added to by new discoveries, including those of Cão and Dias. By the beginning of 1489, Columbus faced poverty and failure in Spain: his pension had been ended in 1488 and he no longer had free board and lodging from Medina Seli or the Marquess de Moya. Bartholomew prepared to join him in Spain and help his projects. They needed money, and in particular the vital and continuous support of the Bank of St George in Genoa. They got both. Money could be obtained from the sale of maps kept secret in Portugal. Before leaving Lisbon, Bartholomew copied maps of convenient size. The large standard world map he had to copy in some secrecy and, because of its size, he needed eleven sheets of paper, cheaper, thinner and quieter than parchment. These sheets of the Yale Martellus were tracings in the hand of Bartholomew. Early in 1489 he left Lisbon. He went first to Seville to help his brother and there altered the Yale map by substituting another sheet of paper which showed Africa to 45° South rather than its true latitude of 34°22'South. The Martellu map was rather like a picture with a picture frame. The frame ends at 41°S. To get the addition into the picture, it has to burst through the frame down to 45°S.
A second lead comes from a legend shown on the east coast of Africa which reads "Ultima navigatio Portuga A.D., 1489".On the face of it, seeing the Martellus map extending down to 45°S, this inscription would appear to assert that Dias had proceeded north along the east coast of South Africa to beyond Natal. This he did not do on that voyage. The legend is shown between 33° and 34°S, which exactly accords with where Dias got to - the Rio de Infante, the Great Fish River at 34°. It appears to be north of Natal because Africa is shown as extending to 45°S. When Bartholomew altered the prototype map to 45°S, he was unable to remove the legend.
The three forgeries combined appeared to all but rule out the possibility of reaching China eastbound from Portugal. The purpose of the Martellus maps clearly was not to influence the Portuguese, who knew the true situation for they had the 1428 World Map; it was to influence the Catholics sovereigns who were completely in the dark. At that time, one degree of latitude was thought to be fifty nautical miles (ninety kilometers), according to Toscanelli's letter. To reach India round Africa, according to the forged Martellus maps, would involve sailing from 39°N to 45°S, and then north to India, another 45° + 15° - all told, the voyage to India would be some fifteen thousand miles. Moreover, and perhaps this was the decisive factor, ships would have had to sail below 45° South in order to round Africa through seas Dias had already described as the roughest he had encountered anywhere in the world.
In several ways, the forged Martellus maps depicted a monumental eastward journey, whereas by sailing westwards for Antilia to China, Spanish ships could pass through the Strait of Magellan and beat the Portuguese to it. This is the reason, I submit, why the Portuguese concentrated on the eastern route to China and the Spanish tried to reach the same destination via South America. Bartholomew Columbus stole the intellectual property of the Portuguese government. He then forged a chart he and Christopher knew was bogus, and both of them used that chart to extract money and backing under false pretences from the Bank of Genoa and the Catholic monarchs of Spain. Columbus's true legacy to posterity is not the discovery of the Americas, but of the circulatory wind system of the Atlantic he so brilliantly analysed and exploited on his later voyages. Knowledge of these wind and current patterns proved invaluable in the preparation and execution of the voyages that led to the colonization of the Americas in the following centuries.

Finally, to that brilliant seaman, Captain James Cook, "the ablest and most renowned navigator this or any country hath ever produced. He possessed all the qualities necessary for his profession and great undertaking." Cook made the first of his three great voyages in 1768, sailing to the Pacific to observe the transit of Venus. He then continued across the Pacific and "discovered" New Zealand, finding it a suitable country for settlement "should this be thought an object worthy of the attention of Englishmen". He explored Autralia's east coast, claimed the whole country in the name of the king, and sailed home via New Guinea and the Cape.
On his second voyage, in 1772, "to complete the discovery of the southern hemisphere", Cook put in at New Zealand and the landed animals and planted vegetables to provide food supplies for the future explorers and settlers. He then sailed south to the edge of the Antarctic continent. Cook's mission on his third voyage to the Pacific was to find a northern passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. He again visited New Zealand and Australia, then sailed for North America, exploring the coast from Oregon northwards. He entered the Bering Strait, could find no ice-free route through and began the journey home. He was killed in Hawaii on 14 February 1779 after a dispute with the natives.
Cook was a great man, and the greatest navigator of all time, but he discovered neither New Zealand nor Australia. More than two centuries before he embarked on his voyages, a cluster of maps from Dieppe School showed Australia with remarkable clarity. The Jean Rotz map was in possession of the British government when Cook set sail, and Joseph Banks, who sailed with Cook, had acquired another of the finest, the Harleian (Dauphin), showing Australia with the same precision as the Rotz map. The Desliens and Desceliers chart from the Dieppe School were also known to the Admiralty. The Endeavour Reef, on which Cook later aground, is clearly shown on those earlier maps, together with what later became known as Cooktown Harbour. When Cook had extricated himself from the reef, he sailed directly for Cooktown. "This large harbour will do excellently for our purposes, although it is not as large as I had been told."
When Cook returned, claiming to have discovered Australia, the head of the Map Department at the British Admiralty, Commander Dalrymple, wrote a furious protest. Captain James Cook had enormous courage, determination and integrity, but he had not discovered the continent. The Admiralty had maps showing Australia drawn 250 years earlier.
Brave and determined though they were, Columbus, Dias, da Gama, Magellan, Cook and the rest of the European explorers set sail with maps showing the way to their destinations. They owed everything to the first explorers, the Chinese on their epic voyage of 1421-3. How lucky Europe was, and how unfortunate China, that fire had ravaged the Forbidden City on 9 May 1421. Europeans had now rediscovered almost the entire world, known at first hand until then only by the Chinese and Niccolò da Conti. The charts, ships and systems of ocean navigation used by the great European explorers owed much to Henry the Navigator and his brother Dom Pedro, but more to the Chinese emperor Zhu Di, and his brave and skilful eunuch admirals, Zheng He, Zhou Man, Hong Bao, Zhou Wen and Yang Qing.
The revelation that Vasco da Gama was not the first to sail to India round the Cape of Good Hope, that Christopher Columbus did not discover America, that Magellan was not the first to circumnavigate the world, and that Australia was surveyed three centuries before Captain Cook and Antarctica four centuries before the first European attempt may come as a disappointment, even a shock, to the champions of those brave and skilful explorers, but the Kangnido, Pizzigano, Piri Reis, Jean Rotz, Cantino and Waldseemüller charts are indisputably genuine. They contain information that can only have come from cartographers aboard pioneering Chinese fleets. Niccolò da Conti was aboard the junks that reached Australia from India; Dom Pedro obtained this information from da Conti himself, and had it incorporated in the map that showed the whole world. Toscanelli persuaded Columbus that China could be reached by sailing west, and Magellan spoke no less than the truth when he told his near mutinous crew that he had seen the "Strait of Magellan" on a map in the Portuguese treasury before he set sail. Truth, after all, is stranger than fiction.
And what epitaph is there at Sagres to commemorate the lifetime of sacrifice and achievement of Prince Henry the Navigator, the man who began this wave of European exploration that was to conquer the world? Nothing but a rundown sundial where the weeds grow among stones. Zheng He's tomb on Bull's Head Hill in the west of Jiangsu province is also neglected and weed-chocked. These great men must have their reward in heaven.
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