sea voyage one

The Seven Voyages



peace prosperity flourish
excel scholar scientist
devise invent marvelous
around innovation adventure
final destroy burn/burnt
account (2) supremacy navy/naval
mighty armada discover
etch pillar province
giant log (2) gigantic
gift laden distant
tribute extract in return
fleet voyage treasure
vast power helm
warrior navigator admiral
port cover (3) famous
anchor follow (2) far/further/furthest
religion grow up change (2)
eunuch conquer capture
page (2) prince seize
throne confidant confident
embark massive appoint
beyond horizon order (2)
almost galleon comprise
long dragon include
wide mast caravel
crew enough tub
earth deck (2) beneath
stow impress cavalry
often astonish emperor
acquire amazing extravagant
giraffe unicorn persuade
court (2) part (2) excitement
fable peace associate
set forth prosperity ambitious
fulfill reach pilgrimage
vast outdo think/thought
claim cape (2) contemporary (2)
throne dismantle assume (2)
epic isolation superpower
sign wash up adventure





During a time of great prosperity and peace in the flourishing garden of Islam, when philosophers and scholars excelled all others in the quality of their writing, and scientists and inventors devised the most marvelous of innovations, adventurers and travelers would go where none of their kind had gone before.

Around the year 1529, Ming Emperor Xi Zou, burnt hundreds of log books, the final act of destroying China’s supremacy in naval power.

Lost for more than five hundred years, accounts of a mighty, Chinese armada were rediscovered in Fujian Province in the 1930s. Etched on a pillar, they told of gigantic ships, laden with gifts for distant kings, for whom the Ming Emperor exacted a tribute in return.

Between 1405 and 1433, the Treasure Fleets set out in seven voyages into the unknown.

At the helm of these vast armada was a two-meter tall warrior-navigator, the Muslim admiral of the fleet, Zheng He.

By the end of his final voyage, his fleet had covered over fifty-thousand kilometers, having anchored in the most famous ports of the time. From China to India, from the Arabian Sea to the east coast of Africa, Zheng He led his ships further than anyone before.

Following the religion of Islam, young Zheng grew up in Kunyang, part of the then Mongol Empire. But his boyhood life was about to change on his eleventh birthday.

In 1382, when imperial Ming armies conquered Kunyang, Zheng was captured and made a eunuch page of a prince, Zudi.

As fortune would have it, when Zudi seized the Chinese throne, Zheng He became his confidant.

First rebuilding the Great Wall, Zudi then embarked on a massive ship building program, and appointed Zheng He, Admiral of the Western Seas, ordering him to “go beyond the horizon.”

Comprising almost 28,000 men and over 300 ships, known as “swimming dragons”, Zheng He’s fleet included massive treasured galleons, which were technological marvels of their age.

Four hundred feet long, and a hundred sixty feet wide, with nine masts, they were almost five times the size of Portuguese caravel, which would sail into the Indian Ocean only fifty years later.

With a crew of one thousand men, the ships took enough food to last them years at sea, and included tubs of earth on deck, so that vegetables and fruit could be grown. Beneath were kept the treasures, with which to impress their hosts, while within water-tight holds, horses were stowed for the cavalry.

Zheng He often astonished his emperor, by returning with extravagant tributes which the most amazing was acquired on his fourth voyage in 1414. In the Kingdom of Bengal, Zheng persuade the ruler to part with an animal given to him by an African king.

To much excitement, when the giraffe arrived in the imperial court in Beijing, the emperor’s philosophers celebrated it as the fabled unicorn, an animal associated with an age of peace and prosperity.

Now a hero, Zheng He now set forth on his fourth and most ambitious voyage: to Arabia, where he fulfilled his personal pilgrimage to Mecca and finally reached Africa, stopping at Mogadishu, Mombasa and Zanzibar.

Thought to have traveled as far south as the Mozambique Channel, Zheng He vastly outdid his Western contemporaries in their own age of exploration.

Could he have even rounded the Cape of Good Hope and gone as far as America as some historians claim?

But after his death at sea on his seventh and final trip in 1433, a new emperor assumed the throne of the Ming Dynasty, and began to dismantle Zheng’s navy, with the effect that China went from being a superpower to isolation.

Yet, Zheng He’s epic voyage of adventure are remembered by porcelain shards which still wash up on the beaches of east Africa. And the etchings on the pillar left on a temple signed by the Admiral of the Western Seas.


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1. What happened between 1405 and 1433?

2. Where did the Treasure Fleet originate? Where did they sail to?

3. Zheng He came from a family of ship officers along the coast of China. Yes or no?

4. What numbers or measurements are mentioned in the video?

5. The purpose of the voyages was to conquer other lands. True or false?

6. Was the most memorable thing from abroad was gold treasure?

7. Did Zheng He definitely reach America?

8. The voyages continued indefinitely. Is this correct or wrong?
A. Why did the new emperor end the maritime expedition?

B. What might have happened if they had continued?

C. Would you like to sail on a ship?

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