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Comparison Essay

1105 words - 5 pages

Prince Henry of Portugal, more commonly known as Henry the Navigator, and Zheng He, a successful Chinese admiral, were both extremely accomplished men throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. During this era, many accomplished explorers ventured out into the ocean and discovered new lands, two of the most important men being Henry the Navigator and Zheng He. Although both men came from different backgrounds, their contrasting societies and structures affected the way in which they regarded economic and political expansion and also their contact with other cultures. Societies like the Chinese and Portuguese had many cultural differences such as their different religions. The Chinese practiced neo-Confucianism whereas the Portuguese were Christians which was one of the many purposes of their exploration, to spread Christianity. There were also many cultural similarities between the two societies such as their long lasting histories and their explorer’s curiosity to seek out to new lands, which resulted the two societies in having different views on economic and political expansion and contact with other cultures. Both Confucian and Christian ideologies favored those who worked over the wealthy. Thus, to a larger extent, the structures and values of a society have an extensive impact on the way people view economic and political expansion and contact with other cultures.

Due to their contrasting but also similar views of economic expansion, the Portuguese and the Chinese had different structures and values of their societies. Both societies were very involved in trading and exploration, however they had different reasons for exploration. The Portuguese and Prince Henry wanted to reach Asian lands by sailing down the coast of Africa, rounding around it then sailing across the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese wanted to seek out new lands, establish new trade routes, and also to find resources. Another reason the Portuguese started their expeditions was because they were eager to spread Christianity and seek out new lands. Although the Portuguese had valid reasons to start their economic expansion, the Chinese also had specific reasons for their economic expansion. The Chinese wanted to convince other societies that China had indeed regained power. They also wanted to reinstitute tribute for those you didn’t give it. Both societies were both economically prosperous and both found the idea of economic domination conventional. In addition, farming was considered more virtuous than business in both Portugal and China. Although there were many similarities between the Portuguese and the Chinese, there were also numerous differences. When looking at Portugal’s economic structure, Portuguese traders and captains established comercial ties with Ming China. However when looking at China’s economic structure, it’s clear that the Chinese were a very economically prosperous society. The Chinese government received money from taxes on land and not from traders and...

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