Jump to content

Chronology of European exploration of Asia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Fra Mauro map, completed around 1459, is a map of the then-known world. Following the standard practice at that time, south is at the top. The map was said by Giovanni Battista Ramusio to have been partially based on the one brought from Cathay by Marco Polo.

This is a chronology of the early European exploration of Asia.[1]

First wave of exploration (mainly by land)[edit]


Middle Ages[edit]

Trade routes in Eurasia and north Africa c. 870 CE

Second wave of exploration (by sea)[edit]

The ships which were used by Vasco da Gama on his first voyage. (Illustration from 1558).
The Cantino planisphere (or Cantino World Map) of 1502 is the earliest surviving map showing Portuguese Discoveries in the east and west.
Left panels 1-3
Right panels 4-6
Kunyu Wanguo Quantu, printed by Matteo Ricci, Zhong Wentao and Li Zhizao, upon request of Wanli Emperor in Beijing, 1602, the first world map in the Chinese language
  • 1582: The Italian Jesuit priest and missionary Matteo Ricci reaches the Portuguese settlement of Macau in Ming China and in 1601 becomes the first European to be invited into the Ming imperial palace of the Forbidden City in Beijing, at the behest of the Wanli Emperor who sought his services at court, particularly for his expertise in astronomy. In 1602 Ricci and his Chinese translator Li Zhizao would co-publish the first world map in Chinese, the Kunyu Wanguo Quantu which greatly expanded both Chinese and Japanese knowledge of global geography.
  • 1583–91: The Englishman Ralph Fitch becomes one of the earliest English explorers to visit Mesopotamia, India, and Southeast Asia (Burma, Lan Na, Malacca).
  • 1595: The Dutchman Jan Huyghen van Linschoten published his Reys-gheschrift vande navigatien der Portugaloysers in Orienten ("Travel Accounts of Portuguese Navigation in the Orient") which was translated into English and German in 1598. It gave access to secret Portuguese information, including the nautical maps which had been well guarded for over a century. The book thus broke the Portuguese monopoly on the sea trade with Asia.

Other noteworthy Europeans[edit]

Noteworthy others[edit]

The Tabula Rogeriana (1154), by Muhammad al-Idrisi

See also[edit]


  2. ^ Vera Lucia Bottrel Tostes, Bravos homens de outrora Archived 2007-01-07 at the Wayback Machine, Camoes - Revista de Latras e Culturas Lusofonas, no. 8, January - March 2000
  3. ^ Hannard (1991), page 7; Milton, Giles (1999). Nathaniel's Nutmeg. London: Sceptre. pp. 5 and 7. ISBN 978-0-340-69676-7.
  4. ^ Hannard (1991), page 7
  5. ^ Ricklefs, M. C. (1993). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1300, 2nd Edition. London: MacMillan. p. 25. ISBN 0-333-57689-6.