08 Zheng He
Zheng He (1371-1433), or Cheng Ho, was a Chinese navigator during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. Born Ma He, he came from an Arabian family that had come to China. When the Ming Dynasty conquered Zheng He's province, he was taken to the palace and became a court eunuch. HE gained a government position by helping Zhu Yuanzhang defeat the Yuan Dynasty. After the Ming Dynasty was given the throne, Zheng He was given command of the Chinese Navy. In 1402, Emperor Cheng Zu dispatched Zheng He to lead a large fleet to the Western Sea (Southeast Asia). From 1405 to 1433, Zheng He led his fleet of fifty to sixty ship and his crew of 27,000 people to explore the west in 7 different expeditions. In these trips, Zheng He made his way to India, the Middle East, and even Africa, and wherever he went, the sheer size of his ships and his fleet amazed the cultures he passed. During these trips, Zheng He found materials, fuels, and exotic animals to bring back to China. Zheng He accomplished much on the voyages he led, including giving China contact with western cultures, supplying China with many luxuries, and leading one of China's largest and greatest sea expeditions ever.