OF THE AMERICAN CONTINENT BY MUSLIM SEAFARERS
This view was further ex-pounded by Cortesão in his
Historyof Portuguese Cartography
andhas caused widespread discussion.Menzies could well have known that,for example from Tony Campbell’s ar-ticle in the
History of Cartography
However, by further considera-tions and research Menzies came tothe conclusion that the Portuguesewere far from being in the position todiscover the Caribbean islands.
“They [the explorers] must havebeen skilled in astro-navigation andmust have found a method of deter-mining longitude to draw maps withnegligible longitude errors.”
“There was only one nationat that time with the material re-sources, the scientific knowledge, theships and the seafaring experience tomount such an epic voyage of discov-ery. That nation was China, but thethought of searching for incontest-able proof that a Chinese eet hadexplored the world long before theEuropeans filled me with dread.”
Sofar Menzies’ assumptions.In the course of some unac-counted further investigationsMenzies claims to have “discovered”that “…several Chinese fleets hadindeed made voyages of explorationin the early years of the fteenth cen-tury. The last and greatest of themall—four eets combining in onevast armada—set sail in early 1421.The last surviving ships returned toChina in the summer and autumn of 1423. There was no extant record of where they had voyaged in the inter-vening years, but the maps showedthat they had not merely rounded theCape of Good Hope and traversed the Atlantic to chart the islands I hadseen on the Pizzigano map of 1424,they had then gone on to explore Antarctica and the Arctic, North andSouth America, and had crossed thePacic to Australia. They had solvedthe problems of calculating latitudeand longitude and mapped the earthand the heavens with equal accu-racy.”
Passing over the questionwhether Menzies is justified in at-tributing these achievements to theChinese (more on this later) I wouldlike to explain that we are talk-ing about seven military missionsthat were dispatched by the ChineseEmperor Chéng Zĭ (title of reign: Yŏng Lè) in the rst quarter of thefifteenth century to the “western bar-barians” in order to establish or re-
Vol. II, Coimbra 1971, pp. 125–139. “Themore I study the subject, taking into consid-eration the various criticisms of my book of 1954, the more convinced I am that the Antillagroup of Islands in Zuane Pizzigano’s chart of 1424 represents for the rst time some unde-termined American land sighted during an un-known Portugese voyage to the western Atlan-tic” (p. 139).
Vol. I, 1987, pp. 371–458, esp. 410–411;Campbell’s contribution is entitled:
PortolanCharts from the Late Thirteenth Century to1500
The Year China Discovered TheWorld,
l.c. p. 31.
Ibid, p. 33.
Ibid, p. 34.
Ibid, pp. 36–37.