It seems "la cosa nostra", mamma mia...

Está a aquecer a polémica mundial em torno do livro de Gavin Menzies intitulado 1421 The year the CHinese discovered the World

As any academic trained researcher I (MCH) dislike popular historians like Gavin Mezies or Gunnar Thompson and their 1421 team; see their Hoywood-style sites http://www.1421.tv/ and http://www.marcopolovoyages.com/ . Yet, popular historians can single out exceptions and deconstruct conventional wisdom. They do not revolutionize knowledge. They just shake fragile groundings.
I think the issue in Menzies' book "1421 The year China discovered the world", is not a confrontation between fifteenth-century China's vs. sixteenth-century Portugal's discovery of the world. There was a painful process of discoveries, made up of sucesses and failures, by people from almost every Mediterranean and North European country sailing into the Atlanic. (See Samuel Elliot Morisson, The discovery of America)
The French historian Pierre Chaunu spoke abundantly about the Chinese coming to South America. And so on...
Now Menzies and Co say the Chinese went all around the world. Even Europe. They are not dealing with dimes...those "history dealers" If you see their sites, they even boast that the Chinese introduced perspective drawing and printing moving blocks in 1430 Holland. They make crazy assertions as if they were selling a product, a sort of historical elixir.
That is not history. Period. The discoveries were never a straightforward "project", like the one atributed to Prince Henry the Navigator by the romantic Englishman Henry Major. Recently, 2001, Peter Russell long-awaited biography of Prince Henry of Portugal denounced this in English Language ( The Portuguese historian who performed the same deconstruction is Duarte Leite, 1925)
The scientific issue here is that generality does no good in Human Sciences. Menzies is a conman because he insists he has an alternative vision; He could be a good fellow if he was wise enough to recognize he came out with some good footnotes to the history of discoveries.

To prove my point I introduce a quotation of Gunnar Thompson. See how he flatters the Portuguese way in order to promote his crazy anti-Columbus and pro-chinese "discovery of America". Marco Polo, Cristoforo Colon and Amerigo Vespucci. It seems "la cosa nostra" mamma mia...


When Columbus reached Cuba in 1492, he actually believed that he had arrived in Asia. Why not? After all, he had found land precisely where it was indicated on his Portuguese maps. His enthusiasm for achieving the impossible—finding a western shortcut to the Orient—so impressed the Majesties of Spain that they promptly applied to Pope Alexander VI for a monopoly to preserve this “priceless” avenue of commerce.
Secretly, King John II of Portuguese was overjoyed. Thanks to the efforts of English Franciscans and the pioneering expeditions of Prince Henry, his explorers had already charted New World coastlines from Labrador to Brazil. Alone among European sovereigns, he already knew that the coast of Asia was several thousand miles beyond the shores of the new western continent.
As the misguided pageant of New World discovery continued to unfold, Portuguese rivals squandered their maritime resources in a futile effort to find an ephemeral passageway through the western mainland. First the Spaniards, then the English and the French chased after non-existent “straits” to the Pacific Ocean . Meanwhile, Portuguese mariners continued on their merry way sailing unhindered around the Cape of South Africa — the only practical route to the Spice Islands.
A reassessment of historical documents reveals the success of a grand Portuguese scheme to mislead commercial rivals. Loyal agents prepared a banquet of deception that included fake maps, secret expeditions, and well-groomed turncoats who led competing nations down the wrong pathways to glory.

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