On July 6, 1411, Chinese explorer Zheng He returned from his third treasure voyage. Treasure voyages were expeditions sponsored by the imperial government to expand Chinese influence to both foreign lands and trading networks. Zheng He was the project’s most successful leader, rising to the rank of admiral and commanding an entire fleet of ships.

Zheng He’s third treasure voyage took him to what is today central Vietnam, the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, Sri Lanka, southern and western India, and Thailand. Conflict between Chinese and Sri Lankan (then called Ceylon) forces resulted in the capture of the Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) king. Although later freed, Zheng He presented the king to the Chinese emperor, along with other spoils from the treasure voyage, on July 6.

capture
Verb

to take or control.

emperor
Noun

ruler of an empire.

expedition
Noun

journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

explorer
Noun

person who studies unknown areas.

fleet
Noun

group of ships, usually organized for military purposes.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

imperial
Adjective

having to do with an empire.

influence
Verb

to encourage or persuade a person or organization to act a certain way.

network
Noun

series of links along which movement or communication can take place.

sponsor
Verb

to support and finance.