Emperor of the Seas

It has been relegated to a mere footnote in naval history - a strange realization given the massive size and scope of the events. Beginning in the year 1405 AD and spanning 28 years, the government of China's Ming Dynasty (under the aegis of Emperor Yongle) sought to dramatically heighten the country's presence as a global power and impress neighboring nations by sending forth seven expeditions led by naval explorer Zheng He, and an armada comprised of 300 ships and an estimated 28,000 crewmen. Together, the outfit traveled to such exotic locales as Africa, Southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf, issuing Chinese goods and receiving indigenous treasures in kind. This documentary marks one of the very first to relay this strange and beguiling historical chronicle.

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