Timeline: Zheng He and the Treasure Fleet

Sampo Kong Temple in Indonesia is dedicated to Zheng He
The Sampo Kong Temple in Indonesia is dedicated to Admiral Zheng He of Ming China. Barry Kusuma via Getty Images

Zheng He is justly famous as the commander in chief of seven voyages of Ming China's treasure fleet, between 1405 and 1433. The great Muslim eunuch admiral spread word of China's wealth and power as far as Africa and brought countless emissaries and exotic goods back to China.

Timeline

June 11, 1360. Zhu Di born, fourth son of future Ming Dynasty founder.

Jan. 23, 1368. Ming Dynasty founded.

1371. Zheng He born to Hui Muslim family in Yunnan, under birth name of Ma He.

1380. Zhu Di made Prince of Yan, sent to Beijing.

1381. Ming forces conquer Yunnan, kill Ma He's father (who was still loyal to the Yuan Dynasty) and capture the boy.

1384. Ma He is castrated and sent to serve as a eunuch in the Prince of Yan's household.

June 30, 1398-July 13, 1402. Reign of the Jianwen Emperor.

August 1399. Prince of Yan rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor.

1399. Eunuch Ma He leads Prince of Yan's forces to victory at Zheng Dike, Beijing.

July 1402. Prince of Yan captures Nanjing; the Jianwen Emperor (probably) dies in palace fire.

July 17, 1402. The Prince of Yan, Zhu Di, becomes the Yongle Emperor.

1402-1405. Ma He serves as Director of Palace Servants, the highest eunuch post.

1403. Yongle Emperor orders construction of a huge fleet of treasure junks at Nanjing.

Feb. 11, 1404. Yongle Emperor awards Ma He the honorific name "Zheng He."

July 11, 1405-Oct. 2 1407. First voyage of the Treasure Fleet, led by Admiral Zheng He, to Calicut, India.

1407. Treasure Fleet defeats pirate Chen Zuyi at Straights of Malacca; Zheng He takes pirates to Nanjing for execution.

1407-1409. Second Voyage of Treasure Fleet, again to Calicut.

1409-1410. Yongle Emperor and Ming army battle the Mongols.

1409-July 6, 1411. Third Voyage of Treasure Fleet to Calicut.

Zheng He intervenes in a Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) succession dispute.

Dec. 18, 1412-August 12, 1415. Fourth Voyage of the Treasure Fleet to the Straits of Hormuz, on the Arabian Peninsula. Capture of the pretender Sekandar in Semudera (Sumatra) on return trip.

1413-1416. Yongle Emperor's second campaign against the Mongols.

May 16, 1417. Yongle Emperor enters the new capital city at Beijing, leaves Nanjing forever.

1417-August 8, 1419. Fifth Voyage of the Treasure Fleet, to Arabia and East Africa.

1421-Sept. 3, 1422. Sixth Voyage of the Treasure Fleet, to East Africa again.

1422-1424. Series of campaigns against the Mongols, led by the Yongle Emperor.

Aug. 12, 1424. Yongle Emperor suddenly dies of a possible stroke while fighting the Mongols.

Sept. 7, 1424. Zhu Gaozhi, the eldest son of the Yongle Emperor, becomes the Hongxi Emperor. Orders a stop to the Treasure Fleet voyages.

May 29, 1425. The Hongxi Emperor dies. His son Zhu Zhanji becomes the Xuande Emperor.

June 29, 1429. The Xuande Emperor orders Zheng He to take one more voyage.

1430-1433. Seventh and final Voyage of the Treasure Fleet travels to Arabia and East Africa.

1433, Exact date unknown. Zheng He dies and is buried at sea on the return leg of the seventh and  final voyage.

1433-1436. Zheng He's companions Ma Huan, Gong Zhen and Fei Xin publish accounts of their travels.