A Brief History
On June 24,1398, the Hongwu Emperor of China died. Soon after this emperor’s death, one of his sons, Zhu Di (1360-1424), began an ultimately successful rebellion to seize the throne from the Hongwu Emperor’s teenage successor, a nephew of Zhu Di. By 1402, Zhu Di’s nephew was dead and Zhu Di, now known as the Yongle Emperor, began a reign that has gone down in history as one of the most famous and significant in all of Chinese history. During his reign of over twenty years, the Yongle Emperor’s famed eunuch admiral Zheng He (1371-1433) conducted naval expeditions that at least reached as far as Africa, although some scholars speculate the Chinese sailed their junks to the Americas! Throughout these exciting events from the late 1300s through the early 1400s, Chinese junks participated in some of the most dramatic naval battles and exploratory expeditions occurring anywhere in the world during that time period.