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Age of exploration


Why did Europeans take to the Ocean Sea?
Four basic motives:

1. Willingness to learn and understand other cultures
2. Desire to spread Christianity
3. Desire to find new trade routes
4. Advances in knowledge and technology

Advances in knowledge and technology:

1400s - translation of Guide to Geography written by Ptolemy.

By the 1500s globes showed Earth as a sphere.
Gerardus Mercator created maps using improved lines of longitude and latitude.

•Ship design

Caravels with shallow bottoms and triangular sails.

•Navigational tools



- Prince Henry the Navigator
- Vasco de Gama
- Bartholomeu Dias

Bartholomeu Dias passed the Cape of Storms,
later renamed Cape of Good Hope.

Vasco de Gama rounded Africa’s southern tip and then sailed up the east coast of India.

Portugal’s explorers changed Europeans’ understanding of the world in several ways:
•They explored the coasts of Africa and brought back gold and slaves.
•They also found a sea route to India. From India, explorers brought back spices like cinnamon and pepper and goods such as porcelain, incense, jewels, and silk.
•During the 1500s, Portugal also began to establish colonies in Brazil. The Portuguese forced the native people to give up their religion and convert to Christianity and work on sugar plantations.


•Spanish rode the second wave of expansion and exploration.
•Spain founded its empire on conquest and colonization, and not trade.
Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain

- Cristopher Columbus
- Ferdinand Magellan

Cristhopher Columbus

Columbus’ voyages
•First voyage
Columbus set sail on August 3, 1492 with three ships, Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria and 104 men. On October 12, 1492 he sighted land in area of the present-day Bahamas. He believed it was an Asian island and named it San Salvador.

•Second voyage
Columbus set sail west again on September 23, 1493 with 17 ships and 1200 men. On November 3, the crew members sighted land and found three more islands, Dominica, Guadeloupe and Jamaica, and Columbus thought were islands near Japan.

•Third voyage
Columbus’s third voyage began on May 30, 1498 and took a more southern route than the previous two. Still looking for China, he found Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Margarita, on July 31.

•Fourth voyage
Columbus' final voyage began on May 9, 1502. He arrived in Hispaniola. In January 1503, he reached Panama.

Magellan circumnavigation

After months of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, the fleet anchored at what is today Rio de Janeiro on December 13, 1519.
From there, they moved down the coast of South America looking for a way into the Pacific. In November 1520, Magellan’ ships exited the Strait of All Saints and sailed into the Pacific Ocean.
Continuing west, Magellan visited the Philippines.
In April 1521, Magellan was killed.

Sebastian Elcano had the leadership of the expedition. In 1522 his ship with 18 surviving crew members returned to Spain.

Early Spanish exploration changed Europeans’ view of the world:
• the voyages of Columbus revealed the existence of the Americas.

• Magellan’s expedition opened up a westward route to the Indies. It showed that it was possible to sail completely around the world. And it proved that Columbus had indeed found a “New World”.

After Columbus’s voyages, Spain was eager to claim lands in the New World. To explore and conquer “New Spain,” the Spanish turned to adventurers called conquistadores. In 1519, Hernando Cortés (1485-1547) set out to conquer the Aztec civilization of Mexico.

•The explorations and conquests of the conquistadores transformed Spain.

•Besides gold and silver, ships brought corn and potatoes from the New World to Spain.

•Conquistadores also introduced Europeans to new luxury items, such as chocolate and tobacco.

•The Spanish introduced new animals to the Americas, such as horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs.

•But they also introduced new diseases.

England, France and Netherlands expeditions to North America
- Giovanni Caboto
- Giovanni da Verrazano
- Henry Hudson

•Unlike the conquistadors in the south, northern explorers did not find gold and other treasure. As a result, there was less interest at first in starting colonies.

• Canada’s shores offered rich resources of cod and other fish. Within a few years of Cabot’s trip, fishing boats regularly visited the region.

• Europeans were also interested in trading with Native Americans for otter skins, whale oil, and beaver and fox furs.

• By the 1600s, Europeans had set up a number of trading posts in North America.
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