Macau Periodical Index (澳門期刊論文索引)

Yu, Guo
On Toscanelli's letters and the mysterious 'Cathay Ambassador'
Journal Name
Pub. Info
Jun. 2011, 總第19/20期, 第1期, pp. 161-173
Abstract : This paper presents a revaluation of Toscanelli's letters to Christopher Columbus from two aspects: first on the long held assertion that they were significant sources of inspiration for the latter's decision to conduct a westward voyage to the Far East, and secondly on the hypothesis recently proposed by Gavin Menzies that a 'secret envoy" mentioned in the letters could have been an official from China who would bring profound impacts upon European history. By reviewing past research on this issue and examining the contents of these letters on the basis of historical context, this paper concludes that while the first assertion could be in exaggerated statement, the hypothesis put forward by Menzies is totally unsubstantiated. Paragraph Headings: 1. Introduction 2. The letters and their influences 2.1. The authenticity of the documents 2.2. Toscanelli's influence on Columbus 3. On the Mysterious 'Cathau Envoy' 3.1. The logic 3.2. The analyses 3.2.1. The wording On the usage of 'Zaiton' On the usage of 'Cathay' and 'Mangi' On the usage of 'Great Khan' 3.2.2. The descriptions and facts Was Zaiton still a port for conducting huge amount of spice trading in early Ming? Was China in early Ming exporting huge amount of silver and spices? Did the Ming Court employ scholars with knowledge of the natural sciences and military matters at that time? Was Cipangu rich in gold? 3.2.3. A possible answer 4. Conclusion