May 1, 2012
Reading and Discussion Questions:
When China Ruled the Seas by Louise Levathes
1. Why are we reading this book in this class? 0 The reason that we are reading, “When China Ruled the Seas” by Louise Levathes is in order to help us create a better understanding of the Chinese rule and how they became such a great dynasty. It helps us to see how China rose to become a great maritime power and also how it its navy disintegrated. “When China Ruled the Seas” shows us why the Chinese emperors decided to destroy its navy. It helps us learn more about China’s voyages of exploration, including how long they lasted, the reason for them, how far they extended and the impact they had on China itself and …show more content…
4. Expand on the author’s assertion that “the later expeditions of the treasure fleet became a very personal expression of the ambition and megalomania of the third Ming emperor, and, as such, a unique expression in Chinese history.” (137) What, specifically, was so "unique" about the voyages?
According to Levathes, “the later expeditions of the treasure fleet became a very personal expression of the ambition and megalomania of the third Ming emperor, and, as such, a unique expression in Chinese history” (137). It is evident that Levathes is referencing Zheng He’s 'megalomaniac interest' in traveling into the Persian Gulf in hopes of attaining excessive wealth. On page 138, it describes, “After sitting on the dragon throne for twelve years, the emperor was approaching the peak of his power” (138) and decided to move the entire capitol from Nanjing to his old land of Beiping. Zhu Di viewed himself as in control of everything and wanted the capitol to be centralized around him. He was primarily focused on total domination. At this point he was solely focused on his own achievements and goals, while makin it seem like his goals were to improve the empire, or benefit others as well. “Zhu Di was doing more than simply honoring his old fief…building the new northern capitol seemed to have grown into an obsession. Like the voyages of the treasure fleet, it became inexorably bound up with how