Research. Educate. Explore.

Our mission is to make history come alive and become a positive force for change and good.  As “cancel culture” has taken hold in recent years, the importance and relevance of history is being challenged.  To us, history is an adventure and its study a source of inspiration, wisdom, and hope.

Building a global community of Academics, Researchers & Enthusiasts around the Great Ages of Exploration

The 1421 Research, Education and Exploration Foundation (“1421 Foundation”) is a USA based non-profit organization which acts as a thought leader, change agent, and catalyst for good.  Much of our work began two decades ago when our benefactor – Gavin Menzies – became a focal point for a new dialogue on the history of maritime exploration. The 1421 Foundation was founded by Ian Hudson, a London-based scholar and close associate of Gavin, together with Frank Lee and Peter Classen, The scope of our work has expanded well beyond its initial focus of expanding, testing, and debating the hypothesis put forward in Menzies’ book, 1421 – The Year China Discovered the World (2002) and his subsequent publications all related to the Great Ages of Exploration and Discovery.. 

The benefit of the 1421 Foundation to the world is that through developing and debating 1421, our community has become an expert in many different dialogues relevant to 2020.  We teach generations old and new that innovative perceptions about history, foreign policy, and cultural values can be presented in a constructive, respectful, and inclusive manner. Through the lesson of 1421, we know a layperson or hobbyist – someone who thinks or sees things with a different mindset than that of a more traditionally-trained academic – can have a platform for their research and discoveries. Through 1421, we hope that many will find the courage of the great explorers of the past; that individuals and forward-thinking organizations will see a clear path to challenging established doctrine and standing up to destructive populist opinion or outdated paradigms.  

The 1421 Foundation will bring together academics and researchers from all corners of the Earth, with the view to expanding the history of global exploration – through open, respectful collaboration. The traditionally-held Eurocentric view is that the “Voyages of Discovery” of daGama, Columbus and Magellan were the first of the great maritime expeditions. We believe these much-lauded journeys were standing on the shoulders of giants – maritime explorers, predominantly from Asia, who bravely led the way into our modern and connected world. 

Funds raised by The 1421 Foundation will enable the building of communities for research, for education and cultural transformation. Just as all great maritime explorers had to learn to engage with foreign cultures, so too is our aim to serve as a bridge between cultures, between differing perspectives and alternative interpretations.   we aim to  follow up new avenues of investigation, and disseminate new evidence to give future generations a true account of the history of world exploration.  

As well as pursuing further research, The 1421 Foundation will educate new generations of future world explorers.  The essence of The 1421 Foundation’s work is to foster a desire to explore the world, participate in exploration and discovery with others, and through respectful and inclusive collaboration make those discoveries that help all of us better understand and appreciate our shared global history and heritage.

The Team

President

Ian Hudson

Ian Hudson is a scholar and best-selling author who has focused on ancient sea-faring civilisations and global maritime exploration. He has worked with Gavin Menzies since 2002, on book projects as well as a ‘1421’ exhibition in Singapore, and a TV documentary series, before co-authoring Who Discovered America – The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas with Menzies in 2013.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, was an Associate Member of the China Maritime Centre at the Greenwich Maritime Institute, London, a “Next Generation Ambassador” for the Committee of 100 ( www.committee100.org ) and has lectured on his research at prestigious institutions in the UK such the University of Oxford, & the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, at Yunnan University, China, and at Duke University, USA.

Founding Director

Peter Classen

Peter Classen is a chief operating executive and chief strategist with an uncommon expertise in building new revenue streams, energizing teams and affecting positive growth. His 25-year career has seen him serving in both chief operating roles and chief advisory roles in private, public and non-profit settings. By leveraging the uncommon perspectives of both chief strategist and chief implementer, Peter has delivered “game-changing” results in areas of top-line revenue, revenue diversification, profitability, strategic direction, operating efficiency, and management capacity on more than two-dozen occasions. Peter’s core competencies are planning, organizing and leading the drive for growth. He is an expert in formulating strategies, developing innovative revenue streams, and heading breakout expansions, often in difficult settings where capital is constrained and uncertainty/inertia abound.

Outside of his private sector work as the head of an international management services firm, Mr. Classen commits time to a variety of non-profit efforts, especially where education features prominently. Most notably, from 2000 to 2005 he served on the Board of one of the UK’s largest private foundations.

Founding Director

Frank Lee

Frank Lee is chairman of DMZ Technology Limited, a technology consulting company which engages in development of new innovation and startups. He has invested in technology startups, social media ventures, venture funds and Intellectual Property.

Frank was born, raised and educated in Hong Kong, schooled in the Technical College, now called Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in Accounting and Business Administration.

Frank is based in Hong Kong and has been involved with all things ‘1421’ since 2003. He has stimulated the growth of the movement overseas, and is engaged in promoting the multi-media aspects of the 1421 Foundation, not least movies and music.

Honorary Chairman

Gavin Menzies

14th August 1937- 12th April 2020

Gavin Menzies joined the Royal Navy in 1953 and served in submarines from 1959 to 1970. As a junior officer he sailed the world in the wake of Columbus, Dias, Cabral and Vasco da Gama. When in command of H.M.S. Rorqual (1968 – 70), he sailed the routes pioneered by Magellan and Captain Cook. Since leaving the Royal Navy, he has returned to China and the Far East many times, and in the course of researching 1421 he has visited 120 countries, over 900 museums and libraries and every major seaport of the late Middle Ages.

Gavin’s work was the inspiration behind the creation of the 1421 Foundation and we look forward to building on the solid foundations of his pioneering endeavours in the future.

The Team

Ian Hudson

President

Ian Hudson is a scholar and best-selling author who has focused on ancient sea-faring civilisations and global maritime exploration. He has worked with Gavin Menzies since 2002, on book projects as well as a ‘1421’ exhibition in Singapore, and a TV documentary series, before co-authoring Who Discovered America – The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas with Menzies in 2013.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, was an Associate Member of the China Maritime Centre at the Greenwich Maritime Institute, London, a “Next Generation Ambassador” for the Committee of 100 ( www.committee100.org ) and has lectured on his research at prestigious institutions in the UK such the University of Oxford, & the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, at Yunnan University, China, and at Duke University, USA.

Peter Classen 

Founding Director

Peter Classen is a chief operating executive and chief strategist with an uncommon expertise in building new revenue streams, energizing teams and affecting positive growth. His 25-year career has seen him serving in both chief operating roles and chief advisory roles in private, public and non-profit settings. By leveraging the uncommon perspectives of both chief strategist and chief implementer, Peter has delivered “game-changing” results in areas of top-line revenue, revenue diversification, profitability, strategic direction, operating efficiency, and management capacity on more than two-dozen occasions. Peter’s core competencies are planning, organizing and leading the drive for growth. He is an expert in formulating strategies, developing innovative revenue streams, and heading breakout expansions, often in difficult settings where capital is constrained and uncertainty/inertia abound.

Outside of his private sector work as the head of an international management services firm, Mr. Classen commits time to a variety of non-profit efforts, especially where education features prominently. Most notably, from 2000 to 2005 he served on the Board of one of the UK’s largest private foundations.

Frank Lee

Founding Director

Frank Lee is chairman of DMZ Technology Limited, a technology consulting company which engages in development of new innovation and startups. He has invested in technology startups, social media ventures, venture funds and Intellectual Property.

Frank was born, raised and educated in Hong Kong, schooled in the Technical College, now called Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in Accounting and Business Administration.

Frank is based in Hong Kong and has been involved with all things ‘1421’ since 2003. He has stimulated the growth of the movement overseas, and is engaged in promoting the multi-media aspects of the 1421 Foundation, not least movies and music.

Gavin Menzies 

Honorary Chairman

14th August 1937- 12th April 2020

Gavin Menzies joined the Royal Navy in 1953 and served in submarines from 1959 to 1970. As a junior officer he sailed the world in the wake of Columbus, Dias, Cabral and Vasco da Gama. When in command of H.M.S. Rorqual (1968 – 70), he sailed the routes pioneered by Magellan and Captain Cook. Since leaving the Royal Navy, he has returned to China and the Far East many times, and in the course of researching 1421 he has visited 120 countries, over 900 museums and libraries and every major seaport of the late Middle Ages.

Gavin’s work was the inspiration behind the creation of the 1421 Foundation and we look forward to building on the solid foundations of his pioneering endeavours in the future.

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