Once Upon a Time... The Explorers
Ever since he started walking, man has been inventing new means of transport. Rafts, canoes and paddles have been with us since the dawn of humanity, and the sail since the Neolithic age. Is it not more pleasant to drift on water, carried by currents, rather than to trod along tiring and often dangerous foot-paths ?
400 b.c. - Greece lives in the shadow of the mighty Persian empire. It is in the small kingdom of Macedonia that Alexander grows up. Son of the king, he is taught the art of war and commandment at an early age. He also learns from the philosopher Aristotle the precepts of wisdom, although his teacher endlessly warns him against his fiery nature.
The discovery of America is usually associated to one date and one name: 1492 and Christopher Columbus. This ignores the fact that 500 years before the Spanish navigators touched land with their caravels, a handful of hardy Scandinavian sailors crossed the same ocean in their streamlined knorrs.
Was Genghis Khan really a barbarian risen out of the Asian steppe to bring terror and death onto Christendom, the direct successor of Attila the "wrath of God"? Europe certainly lived in holy fear of the mongol horsemen, for these nomads were the antithesis and the enemies of the "civilized" farming societies that populated the fertile plains of the West at that time.
1325 - Ibn Battuta, a young Maroccan, leaves his home town Tanger to go, as all good Muslim should, on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Little does he know that he is embarking on an extraordinary odyssey, perhaps the greatest journey of all times.
At the end of the 13th century, the Venitian traveller Marco Polo was amazed to see, in China, huge 5-masted junks with sails of red silk and crews of 300 men. But these vessels that so impressed him were merely the forerunners of what was to become, in less than two centuries, the most astonishing of fleets ever to sail the seas.
le Gros, le Teigneux
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