Retiring Zheng He grants 1 Envoy. In Gathering Storm, retiring Zheng He instead grants a free Trader unit and increases Trade Route capacity by 1, and foreign Trade Routes to this city grant +2 Gold to both cities.
The greatest seafarer in 4000 years of Chinese civilization was born c. 1371 AD and raised in the mountainous heart of Asia, hundreds of miles from the nearest port. Moreover, Zheng He wasn’t Chinese, but the son of a minor, Muslim official – the boy’s birth name was Ma Sanbao – in the Mongol province of Yunnan taken captive by an invading Ming army in 1382. Ritually castrated, he was trained as an imperial eunuch and assigned to the court of Zhu Di, the bellicose prince of Yan.
By 1390, the renamed Zheng had distinguished himself as a junior officer, skilled at both war and diplomacy, for the prince. The young eunuch became a trusted advisor to Zhu Di and in 1400 when the prince revolted, Zheng served him brilliantly. Defeating the Jianwen emperor in 1402, the prince of Yan established the Yongle line of the Ming dynasty. Seeking to spread Chinese influence, jumpstart the economy, and distract the restless nobles, the new emperor selected Zheng He to outfit and lead a series of missions to the “Western Oceans.”
Zheng set sail on his first voyage of exploration in 1405, in command of 62 ships; his fleet sailed south, visiting Champa, Siam, Malacca, Java and then west across the Indian Ocean to Calicut and Ceylon. Three more voyages followed in rapid succession, as his ships reached the Arabian coast and sailed down the African. A fifth voyage brought back envoys to the Ming court from 30 kingdoms, and a sixth voyage in 1421 returned them home. Zheng He’s final voyage departed in the winter of 1431, again sailing along Southeast Asia, to the coast of India, into the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, along the coast of Africa. But on the return Zheng He died in Calicut in the spring of 1433.