The Age of Exploration Essay for Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chapter 1, Section 13


Beginning in the 1500's, and lasting until the 1800's, the Age of exploration was the age when Europeans began to expand into the rest of the world

Beginning Leaders of the Age: Portugal and Spain Other Participants: Dutch Republic, England, and France

As a result, countries rose to new economic heights through their worldwide trading activity.

Reasons for Exploration

-Europeans wanted a shorter route to Asia After Marco Polo traveled with his father and uncle to the Chinese court of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan ,and wrote of his experiences in the book The Travels, people became interested in the exotic East. (Many read The Travels) Because the Ottoman Turks had control over Asia Minor, Egypt, The Holy Land, southern Hungry, Greece and northeast Africa, westerners travel by land to the East decreased.

-Economic motives Merchants, adventures, and state officials wanted to expand trade, especially spice and metal trade, with the East. Spices from the East including cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric added flavor and perserved food. Spices were expensive after being shipped to Europe by Arab middlemen.

-Religious Zeal Wanted to convert natives to Christianity. Cortes, a spanish explorer who landed at Veracruz (on the Gulf of Mexico) stronly believed that the new found civilizations should be introduced to the Catholic Faith.

The Portuguesse

-Portugal was the lead in early exploration -In 1420, Prince Henry the Navigator sent Portuguese fleets that sailed along the western coast of Africa were they discovered a new source of gold. (Gold Coast) -In 1488, Bartholomeu Dias went to the Cape of Good Hope -Vasco Da Gama went around the cape and travelled to Califcut on the coast of India where he took spieces -The new discovery and hopes to make profits like Gama had made resulted in the Portuguese returning to hte Indian Ocean where they tried to gain control of spice trade by destroying the Muslim fleets. In 1509, Portuguese fleets defeated both Turkish and Indian ships off the coast of India. -Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque set up a port at Goa, on the west coast of India. He moved west in seacch for the source of the spice trade. In his quest, he sailed to Melaka, on the Malay Peninsula. The control of Melaka would help destroy Arab control of the spice trade and provide the Portuguese with a way station on the route to the Spice Islands. Poruguese launched expeditions to China and the Spice Islands. They signed signed a treaty with a local ruler for the purchase of cloves. This treaty established Portuguese control of the spice trade. -The lost to power because they didnt have the power, the people nor the desire to colonise the Asian regions.

The Americas

-Spanish sought a route by sailing westward -Christopher Columbus- Italian, Columbus persuaded Queen Isabella of Spain to finance an exploratory exedition to find Asia in the East . In 1492 he reached the Americas where he explored the coastline of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola. He vlieved he reached Asia, and with three more voages, sought to find a route through the outer islands to the Asian mainland. He had reached the "Indies" or the major islands of the Caribbean and Honduras in Central America.

-The Portuguese and Spainish feared that others might claim some of the newly discovered territories. They agreed on a line of demarcation, and imaginary line that divided their spheres of influence. According to the Treaty of Tordesillas, signed in 1494 stating : Portugal controlled the land west of the line (down the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern most tip of South America) Spain controlled the land east of the line (ALL OF THE AMERICAS!!!)

John Cabot- New England coastline explorer from England Pedro Cabral landed in South America, Portuguese sea captain, 1500 Amerigo Vespucci- A florentine, went on voyages and wrote letters describing the land, created the name America after Amerigo

The Spanish

Conquistadors- indiviuals with guns and determination that brought them incredible success. -Hernan Cortes took only three years to overthrow the Aztec Empire in central Mexico. -Spainish controlled parts of Mexico, Central and South America -Francisco Pizarro, in South America, took control of the Incan Empire high in the Peruvian Andes -Portuguesse had Brazil as it was over the line -The Spanish created a system of colonial administration in the Americas, Queen Isabellacalled Indians to be her subjects. She granted encomienda, or the right to use native Americans as laborers. The settlers ignored the lawys protecting Native Americans, as they were far away from the control. They were put on sugar plantations and in gold and silver mines. Forced labor, starvation, and especially disease took a toll on the Americans. Europeans were naturally resistant to European disease, but the natives were ravaged by smallpox, measles, and typhus The population at Hispaniola decreased from 250000 to 500 after the arrival. Mexico's population decreased from 25 million to 1 million in about 110 years. Catholic missionaries converted and babtized hundreds of thousands of natives. With missionaries came parishes, schools and hospitals. Native American social and political systems were destroyed and replaced with European religion, language, culture and government.

Econmic Impact

-Spainish conquests in the Americas affected not only the conquered by made the conquerors greedy. Wherever they went, they wanted gold and silver. -Colonists established plantations and ranches to raise the introduced sugar, cotton, vanilla, livestock, and other products which would be exported to Europe. Native potatoes, cocoa, corn and tobacco also were shipped. The exchanged of plants and animals between the old and new worlds was known as the Columbian Exchange. -The Portuguesse in the East challenged Italian states as the chief entry point of the eastern trade in spices, jewels, silk and perfumes


-By the end of the 16th century, many new European rivals enterned the scene for the eastern trade. The Spainish established themselves in the Philippine Islands, where Ferdinand Magellan had landed earlier. They turned this land into a major base for trade across the pacific. -England landed on the coast of India and established trade with them and southern Asia -The Dutch went to India and formed the EAst India Company, causing competition. They also created the West India Company to compete with the Spainish and Portuguesse in the Americas.They initially settlyed in the Hudson River Valley. But French and English seized the Dutch colonies. French colonized in now Canada and Louisiana. The English established a colonial empire along the eastern seaboard of North America, and set up sugar plantations on various islands in the Caribbean Sea.


Colony- Is a settlement of people in a new territory linked with a parent country by trade and direct government control. Mercantilism- A set of principles that dominated econmic thought, the prosperity of a nation depends on a large supply of bullion, or gold and silver. Balance of Trade- the difference in value between what a nation imports and what it exports over tune. When the balance is favorable, the goods exported are of greater value than those imported. Exports were encouraged as they granted subsidies, or payments to new industries and improved transportation systems by building roads bridges and canals. By placing high tariffs, or taxes, on foreign goods, they tried to keep these goods out of their own countires. Colonies were considered important both as sources of raw materials and markets for finished goods.

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