emperor of the seas

This is the story of Zheng He, history's greatest forgotten explorer.

programme information


1 x 60'

Production Company

Bang Productions





Episode Information

Born in 1371, Zheng He was captured at the age of 10 by Chinese troops, and castrated. But in a remarkable change of fortune, he joined the household of Prince Zhu Di, son of the Emperor. The Prince was so impressed that when he ascended to the throne, he gave Zheng He command of the greatest armada the world has ever seen. Over thirty years, Zheng He led vast expeditions to India, the Middle East and Africa, covering 25,000 miles of ocean. But within years of his death, Chinese officials destroyed all records of the treasure ship voyages, and China turned its back on the world. Only now can the truth about Zheng He’s story be pieced together from the scraps of evidence that remain. Who was this extraordinary man who led an armada round the world eight decades before Columbus set sail for America? And what was the true purpose behind his voyages?

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