Question and Answers

What caused the author to write ‘1421 – The Year China Discovered The World’?

The author had spent years researching and writing his original book ‘1421’, based on the events taking place all over the world in this defining year. However, his discoveries about China came by accident. When completing ‘1421’ he came across the Zuane Pizzigano chart for the first time. The chart, drawn up by a Venetian cartographer in 1424, showed, to his disbelief, several of the Caribbean islands, as well as parts of the Florida coastline, some 70 years before Christopher Columbus arrived there.

Why has such an engrossing concept only come into the limelight so recently?

Despite the subject matter of the book appearing so innovative, there has been talk of pre-European world exploration for many years. It is only now however, that anyone has made an attempt to filter this wealth of information down into such a cogent and accessible package. The author has spent years travelling the world in search of evidence that had often been kept away from the general public. Therefore with the publication of this book, he has unearthed and made readily available a huge quantity of evidence that was previously confined to the dusty vaults and archives of the past.

Why was 1421 such an important year all over the world?

1421 was a decisive year in world history. In Europe, as the 100 years war raged on, King Henry V took the bold step of marrying the French heiress Catherine of Valois, in an attempt to reconcile the countries’ differences. Simultaneously, Venice, the oldest and most powerful naval power in Europe was in a state of disarray. The old Doge was ill, his powers waning, and his successor waiting in the wings, determined that Venice should abandon its maritime tradition and concentrate on becoming a land power. Egypt had been plunged into a state of civil war and social unrest – there were no fewer than five sultans in 1421 alone. The Islamic world was also disintegrating, what with the Portuguese invasion of the North African heartlands. In December 1421 the overland route to China and the Spice Islands – the great Silk Road running from China right across Central Asia to the Middle East – had been blocked when the Ottomans surrounded Byzantium. In that same climactic month, the Mamluk Sultan Barsbey seized power in Egypt and nationalised the spice route. The effect of the two events was to ruin the merchants who had controlled the spice trade, seal Egypt’s borders to international trade and sever the sea route through the Bosphorus to the western end of the Silk Road.

How has China reacted to the book?

The key speech made by the author to 36 different countries, with a population of some two billion people, via television at the Royal Geographical Society in March 2002, provoked a great deal of interest from all over the world. The main protagonist in our story, China, was obviously overwhelmed that their claim to have circumnavigated and charted the world before the Europeans, had been substantiated by a neutral participant. Despite many of the records of the voyages being destroyed at the hands of the mandarins in the sixteenth century, there still remain several Chinese accounts of their achievements, although sceptics have often doubted their veracity. China has already hosted several conferences on Zheng He Studies, which Gavin Menzies attended to give keynote speeches, and was honoured by being awarded a visiting Professorship at the University of Yunnan, to which he returns several times a year to lecture. Other projects include television documentaries, various museums, exhibitions and amusement parks, an epic movie and a historical replica of one of the huge treasure ships.

Why should we believe anything the book says?

In total, some 34 different lines of evidence have been found to support the theory that the Chinese circumnavigated and charted the globe, a century before the Europeans staked claim to having done so. The evidence is overwhelming, and encompasses both physical entities, (such as shipwrecks of Chinese junks in America, Australasia and Indonesia,) and examples such as the carved stones of Africa, the remains of Chinese peoples in South America, and artefacts scattered all over the world, inscribed with Chinese characters, in Chinese styles, and some successfully dated back to before the arrival of the Europeans. There also exists more circumstantial evidence such as the linguistic, ceremonial and spiritual similarities between the Chinese culture and those of other parts of the world in the fifteenth century. The linguistic similarities found between place names in Peru and Chile are heavily supportive of the notion that the Chinese exerted a huge influence there, in pre-Columbian times.

What is being done to further the research in the book?

There are several projects that are currently under way, the results of which will further support claims made in ‘1421: The Year China Discovered The World’. Archaeological teams all over the world are excavating sites believed to contain relics of Chinese shipwrecks. Furthermore, the projects launched for the television series will play a very significant role in unveiling the truth about the Chinese voyages of 1421 – ’23. Since the launch of the website, countless researchers have come forward offering invaluable help and assistance, for which we are most grateful.

Why did China fail to keep her grasp on the world after wielding such incredible power at the beginning of the fifteenth century?

The difficulty in writing the book was further increased by the fact that the majority of Chinese records, documents and maps recounting the dramatic events of the 1421 – 1423 voyages were deliberately destroyed or hidden by the officials of the Chinese court, following an abrupt change in the country’s foreign policy. The thunder and lightning storm that was to reduce the Emperor’s palaces to a heap of smouldering rubble, as well as killing off many of his loyal subjects, was seen as a very bad omen, and it was to cause an ever-descending spiral of misfortune. With the succession of Zhu Di’s son to the throne came the rejection of the outside world, with China turning in on herself. Anything commemorating previous expansionist policies was expunged from the record.

How can I find out more on the subject?

The book has been published in 24 languages, and has been the subject of 5 documentaries. For more information please visit the “Media” section of our website.
To read the evidence we have accumulated over the years please click here

I have just come across some information that I feel may be of relevance to the author. How and where should I partake this information?

We are most grateful for all input. Please direct your emails to Gavin and members of the 1421 team in London. They can be reached at

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