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3.3: European Voyages of Exploration: Intro

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The European Voyages of Exploration: Introduction

Beginning in the early fifteenth century, European states began to embark on a series of global explorations that inaugurated a new chapter in world history. Known as the Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, this period spanned the fifteenth through the early seventeenth century, during which time European expansion to places such as the Americas, Africa, and the Far East flourished. This era is defined by figures such as Ferdinand Magellan, whose 1519–1522 expedition was the first to traverse the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and the first to circumnavigate the globe.

The European Age of Exploration developed alongside the Renaissance. Both periods in Western history acted as transitional moments between the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Competition between burgeoning European empires, such as Spain and England, fueled the evolution and advancement of overseas exploration. Motivated by religion, profit, and power, the size and influence of European empires during this period expanded greatly. The effects of exploration were not only felt abroad but also within the geographic confines of Europe itself. The economic, political, and cultural effects of Europe’s beginning stages of global exploration impacted the longterm development of both European society and the entire world.

Empire and Politics

During the eighth century, the Islamic conquest of North Africa, Spain, France, and parts of the Mediterranean, effectively impeded European travel to the Far East for subsequent centuries. This led many early explorers, such as Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus, to search for new trade routes to the East. Previous travel accounts from the early expeditions of figures such as Marco Polo (during the late thirteenth century) encouraged many Europeans to search for new territories and places that would lead to the East. Ocean voyages were extremely treacherous during the beginnings of European exploration. The navigation techniques were primitive, the maps were notoriously unreliable, and the weather was unpredictable. Additionally, explorers worried about running out of supplies, rebellion on the high seas, and hostile indigenous peoples.

The Spanish and Portuguese were some of the first European states to launch overseas voyages of exploration. There were several factors that led to the Iberian place in the forefront of global exploration. The first involved its strategic geographic location, which provided easy access to venturing south toward Africa or west toward the Americas. The other, arguably more important, factor for Spain and Portugal’s leading position in overseas exploration was these countries’ acquisition and application of ancient Arabic knowledge and expertise in math, astronomy, and geography.

The principal political actors throughout the Age of Exploration were Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, England, and France. Certain European states, primarily Portugal and The Netherlands, were primarily interested in building empires based on global trade and commerce. These states established worldwide trading posts and the necessary components for developing a successful economic infrastructure. Other European powers, Spain and England in particular, decided to conquer and colonize the new territories they discovered. This was particularly evident in North and South America, where these two powers built extensive political, religious, and social infrastructure.

Economic Factors

Before the fifteenth century, European states enjoyed a long history of trade with places in the Far East, such as India and China. This trade introduced luxury goods such as cotton, silk, and spices to the European economy. New technological advancements in maritime navigation and ship construction allowed Europeans to travel farther and explore parts of the globe that were previously unknown. This, in turn, provided Europeans with an opportunity to locate luxury goods, which were in high demand, thereby eliminating Europe’s dependency on Eastern trade. In many ways, the demand for goods such as sugar, cotton, and rum fueled the expansion of European empires and their eventual use of slave labor from Africa. Europe’s demand for luxury goods greatly influenced the course of the transatlantic slave trade.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries small groups financed by private businesses carried out the first phase of European exploration. Members of the noble or merchant class typically funded these early expeditions. Over time, as it became clear that global exploration was extremely profitable, European states took on a primary role. The next phase of exploration involved voyages taken in the name of a particular empire and monarch (e.g., France or Spain). The Iberian empires of Spain and Portugal were some of the earliest states to embark on new voyages of exploration. In addition to seeking luxury goods, the Spanish empire was driven by its quest for American silver.

Science and Culture

The period of European exploration introduced the people of Europe to the existence of new cultures worldwide. Before the fifteenth century, Europeans had minimal knowledge of the people and places beyond the boundaries of Europe, particularly Africa and Asia. Before the discovery of the Americas, Europeans did not even know of its existence. Europeans presumed that the world was much smaller than it was in actuality. This led early explorers such as Columbus and Magellan to believe that finding new routes to the Far East would be much easier than it turned out to be.

Profound misconceptions about geography and the cultures of local populations would change very slowly throughout the early centuries of European exploration. By the sixteenth century, European maps started to expand their depictions and representations to include new geographic discoveries. However, due to the intense political rivalries during the period, European states guarded their geographic knowledge and findings from one another.

With the growth of the printing press during the sixteenth century, accounts of overseas travels, such as those of Marco Polo in the late thirteenth century, spread to a wider audience of European readers than had previously been possible. The Age of Exploration also coincided with the development of Humanism and a growing intellectual curiosity about the natural world. The collection and study of exotic materials such as plants and animals led to a new age of scientific exploration and inquiry. These initial surveys and analyses influenced future revolutionary developments in numerous fields of science and natural history in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Religious Factors

One of the tenets of Catholicism decreed that Christianity ought to be the universal religion and faith among all mankind. The Crusades in the centuries preceding the Age of Exploration exposed Europeans to new places, people, and goods. It also reflected the zealous nature of medieval Christianity and foreshadowed the fervent missionary work that would form a major part of all early global expeditions. The pope played an important and validating role in these voyages by sanctioning and encouraging worldwide exploration. This often included the approbation of enslaving Africans and indigenous peoples. Missionaries were frequently a part of the early expeditions of Spain with the aim of bringing Christianity to the native inhabitants. Europeans typically viewed indigenous populations as barbaric heathens who could only become civilized through the adoption of Christianity.

  • The age of European exploration and discovery represented a new period of global interaction and interconnectivity. As a result of technological advancements, Europeans were able to forge into new and previously undiscovered territories. They understood this to be a “New World.”
  • European exploration was driven by multiple factors, including economic, political, and religious incentives. The growing desire to fulfill European demand for luxury goods, and the desire to unearth precious materials such as gold and silver, acted as a particularly crucial motivation.
  • The period of European global exploration sparked the beginning phases of European empire and colonialism, which would continue to develop and intensify over the course of the next several centuries.
  • As European exploration evolved and flourished, it saw the increasing oppression of native populations and the enslavement of Africans. During this period, Europeans increasingly dealt in African slaves and started the transatlantic slave trade.
  • European Voyages of Exploration: Introduction. Authored by : The Saylor Foundation. Located at : https://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/HIST201-3.1.1-EuropeanExplorationIntro-FINAL1.pdf . License : CC BY: Attribution

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Big History Project

Course: big history project   >   unit 8.

  • ACTIVITY: World Travelers
  • WATCH: Why Early Globalization Matters
  • READ: China — The First Great Divergence
  • READ: An Age of Adventure
  • ACTIVITY: An Age of Adventure
  • READ: Ibn Battuta
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READ: Zheng He

  • ACTIVITY: Explorers Mini Project
  • WATCH: Brain Boost - H2
  • READ: The Lion of the Sea — Ahmad Ibn Mājid
  • READ: Gallery — Ships
  • Quiz: Exploration & Interconnection

Chinese Admiral in the Indian Ocean

The seven voyages, inscribing his adventures.

[We have] traversed over a hundred thousand li of vast ocean [and have] beheld great ocean waves, rising as high as the sky and swelling and swelling endlessly. Whether in dense fog and drizzling rain or in wind-driven waves rising like mountains, no matter what the sudden changes in sea conditions, we spread our cloudlike sails aloft and sailed by the stars day and night. [Had we] not trusted her [Heavenly Princess’s] divine merit, how could we have done this in peace and safety? When we met danger, once we invoked the divine name, her answer to our prayer was like an echo; suddenly there was a divine lamp which illuminated the masts and sails, and once this miraculous light appeared, then apprehension turned to calm. The personnel of the fleet were then at rest, and all trusted they had nothing to fear. This is the general outline of the goddess’s merit... When we arrived at the foreign countries, barbarian kings who resisted transformation and were not respectful we captured alive, and bandit soldiers who looted and plundered recklessly we exterminated. Because of this the sea routes became pure and peaceful and the foreign peoples could rely upon them and pursue their occupations in safety. All of this was due to the aid of the goddess.
If men serve their prince with utmost loyalty, there is nothing they cannot do, and if they worship the gods with utmost sincerity there is no prayer that will not be answered... We, [Zheng] He and the rest, have been favored with a gracious commission from our Sacred Prince to convey to the distant barbarians the favor [earned by their] respectfulness and good faith. While in command of the personnel of the fleet, and [responsible for the great] amount of money and valuables [our] one concern while facing the violence of the winds and the dangers of the nights was that we would not succeed. Would we then have served the nation with utmost loyalty and worshipped the divine intelligence with utmost sincerity? None of us could doubt that this was the source of aid and safety for the fleet in its comings and goings. Therefore we have made manifest the virtue of the goddess with this inscription on stone, which records the years and months of our going to and returning from the foreign [countries] so that they may be remembered forever.

The Legacy of Zheng He’s Adventures

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Great Answer

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History Essays

Europe and the age of exploration.

Helmet

Salvator Mundi

Albrecht Dürer

The Celestial Map- Northern Hemisphere

The Celestial Map- Northern Hemisphere

Astronomical table clock

Astronomical table clock

Astronomicum Caesareum

Astronomicum Caesareum

Michael Ostendorfer

Mirror clock

Mirror clock

Movement attributed to Master CR

Jerkin

Portable diptych sundial

Hans Tröschel the Elder

Celestial globe with clockwork

Celestial globe with clockwork

Gerhard Emmoser

The Celestial Globe-Southern Hemisphere

The Celestial Globe-Southern Hemisphere

James Voorhies Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 2002

Artistic Encounters between Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas The great period of discovery from the latter half of the fifteenth through the sixteenth century is generally referred to as the Age of Exploration. It is exemplified by the Genoese navigator, Christopher Columbus (1451–1506), who undertook a voyage to the New World under the auspices of the Spanish monarchs, Isabella I of Castile (r. 1474–1504) and Ferdinand II of Aragon (r. 1479–1516). The Museum’s jerkin ( 26.196 ) and helmet ( 32.132 ) beautifully represent the type of clothing worn by the people of Spain during this period. The age is also recognized for the first English voyage around the world by Sir Francis Drake (ca. 1540–1596), who claimed the San Francisco Bay for Queen Elizabeth ; Vasco da Gama’s (ca. 1460–1524) voyage to India , making the Portuguese the first Europeans to sail to that country and leading to the exploration of the west coast of Africa; Bartolomeu Dias’ (ca. 1450–1500) discovery of the Cape of Good Hope; and Ferdinand Magellan’s (1480–1521) determined voyage to find a route through the Americas to the east, which ultimately led to discovery of the passage known today as the Strait of Magellan.

To learn more about the impact on the arts of contact between Europeans, Africans, and Indians, see  The Portuguese in Africa, 1415–1600 ,  Afro-Portuguese Ivories , African Christianity in Kongo , African Christianity in Ethiopia ,  The Art of the Mughals before 1600 , and the Visual Culture of the Atlantic World .

Scientific Advancements and the Arts in Europe In addition to the discovery and colonization of far off lands, these years were filled with major advances in cartography and navigational instruments, as well as in the study of anatomy and optics. The visual arts responded to scientific and technological developments with new ideas about the representation of man and his place in the world. For example, the formulation of the laws governing linear perspective by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) in the early fifteenth century, along with theories about idealized proportions of the human form, influenced artists such as Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519). Masters of illusionistic technique, Leonardo and Dürer created powerfully realistic images of corporeal forms by delicately rendering tendons, skin tissues, muscles, and bones, all of which demonstrate expertly refined anatomical understanding. Dürer’s unfinished Salvator Mundi ( 32.100.64 ), begun about 1505, provides a unique opportunity to see the artist’s underdrawing and, in the beautifully rendered sphere of the earth in Christ’s left hand, metaphorically suggests the connection of sacred art and the realms of science and geography.

Although the Museum does not have objects from this period specifically made for navigational purposes, its collection of superb instruments and clocks reflects the advancements in technology and interest in astronomy of the time, for instance Petrus Apianus’ Astronomicum Caesareum ( 25.17 ). This extraordinary Renaissance book contains equatoria supplied with paper volvelles, or rotating dials, that can be used for calculating positions of the planets on any given date as seen from a given terrestrial location. The celestial globe with clockwork ( 17.190.636 ) is another magnificent example of an aid for predicting astronomical events, in this case the location of stars as seen from a given place on earth at a given time and date. The globe also illustrates the sun’s apparent movement through the constellations of the zodiac.

Portable devices were also made for determining the time in a specific latitude. During the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the combination of compass and sundial became an aid for travelers. The ivory diptych sundial was a specialty of manufacturers in Nuremberg. The Museum’s example ( 03.21.38 ) features a multiplicity of functions that include giving the time in several systems of counting daylight hours, converting hours read by moonlight into sundial hours, predicting the nights that would be illuminated by the moon, and determining the dates of the movable feasts. It also has a small opening for inserting a weather vane in order to determine the direction of the wind, a feature useful for navigators. However, its primary use would have been meteorological.

Voorhies, James. “Europe and the Age of Exploration.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History . New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/expl/hd_expl.htm (October 2002)

Further Reading

Levenson, Jay A., ed. Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration . Exhibition catalogue. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1991.

Vezzosi, Alessandro. Leonardo da Vinci: The Mind of the Renaissance . New York: Abrams, 1997.

Additional Essays by James Voorhies

  • Voorhies, James. “ Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) .” (October 2004)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) and the Spanish Enlightenment .” (October 2003)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) .” (October 2004)
  • Voorhies, James. “ School of Paris .” (October 2004)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Art of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Naples .” (October 2003)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Elizabethan England .” (October 2002)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) and His Circle .” (October 2004)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Fontainebleau .” (October 2002)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Post-Impressionism .” (October 2004)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Domestic Art in Renaissance Italy .” (October 2002)
  • Voorhies, James. “ Surrealism .” (October 2004)

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5 European Voyages of Exploration: Intro

The european voyages of exploration: introduction.

Beginning in the early fifteenth century, European states began to embark on a series of global explorations that inaugurated a new chapter in world history. Known as the Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, this period spanned the fifteenth through the early seventeenth century, during which time European expansion to places such as the Americas, Africa, and the Far East flourished. This era is defined by figures such as Ferdinand Magellan, whose 1519–1522 expedition was the first to traverse the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and the first to circumnavigate the globe.

The European Age of Exploration developed alongside the Renaissance. Both periods in Western history acted as transitional moments between the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Competition between burgeoning European empires, such as Spain and England, fueled the evolution and advancement of overseas exploration. Motivated by religion, profit, and power, the size and influence of European empires during this period expanded greatly. The effects of exploration were not only felt abroad but also within the geographic confines of Europe itself. The economic, political, and cultural effects of Europe’s beginning stages of global exploration impacted the longterm development of both European society and the entire world.

Empire and Politics

During the eighth century, the Islamic conquest of North Africa, Spain, France, and parts of the Mediterranean, effectively impeded European travel to the Far East for subsequent centuries. This led many early explorers, such as Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus, to search for new trade routes to the East. Previous travel accounts from the early expeditions of figures such as Marco Polo (during the late thirteenth century) encouraged many Europeans to search for new territories and places that would lead to the East. Ocean voyages were extremely treacherous during the beginnings of European exploration. The navigation techniques were primitive, the maps were notoriously unreliable, and the weather was unpredictable. Additionally, explorers worried about running out of supplies, rebellion on the high seas, and hostile indigenous peoples.

The Spanish and Portuguese were some of the first European states to launch overseas voyages of exploration. There were several factors that led to the Iberian place in the forefront of global exploration. The first involved its strategic geographic location, which provided easy access to venturing south toward Africa or west toward the Americas. The other, arguably more important, factor for Spain and Portugal’s leading position in overseas exploration was these countries’ acquisition and application of ancient Arabic knowledge and expertise in math, astronomy, and geography.

The principal political actors throughout the Age of Exploration were Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, England, and France. Certain European states, primarily Portugal and The Netherlands, were primarily interested in building empires based on global trade and commerce. These states established worldwide trading posts and the necessary components for developing a successful economic infrastructure. Other European powers, Spain and England in particular, decided to conquer and colonize the new territories they discovered. This was particularly evident in North and South America, where these two powers built extensive political, religious, and social infrastructure.

Economic Factors

Before the fifteenth century, European states enjoyed a long history of trade with places in the Far East, such as India and China. This trade introduced luxury goods such as cotton, silk, and spices to the European economy. New technological advancements in maritime navigation and ship construction allowed Europeans to travel farther and explore parts of the globe that were previously unknown. This, in turn, provided Europeans with an opportunity to locate luxury goods, which were in high demand, thereby eliminating Europe’s dependency on Eastern trade. In many ways, the demand for goods such as sugar, cotton, and rum fueled the expansion of European empires and their eventual use of slave labor from Africa. Europe’s demand for luxury goods greatly influenced the course of the transatlantic slave trade.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries small groups financed by private businesses carried out the first phase of European exploration. Members of the noble or merchant class typically funded these early expeditions. Over time, as it became clear that global exploration was extremely profitable, European states took on a primary role. The next phase of exploration involved voyages taken in the name of a particular empire and monarch (e.g., France or Spain). The Iberian empires of Spain and Portugal were some of the earliest states to embark on new voyages of exploration. In addition to seeking luxury goods, the Spanish empire was driven by its quest for American silver.

Science and Culture

The period of European exploration introduced the people of Europe to the existence of new cultures worldwide. Before the fifteenth century, Europeans had minimal knowledge of the people and places beyond the boundaries of Europe, particularly Africa and Asia. Before the discovery of the Americas, Europeans did not even know of its existence. Europeans presumed that the world was much smaller than it was in actuality. This led early explorers such as Columbus and Magellan to believe that finding new routes to the Far East would be much easier than it turned out to be.

Profound misconceptions about geography and the cultures of local populations would change very slowly throughout the early centuries of European exploration. By the sixteenth century, European maps started to expand their depictions and representations to include new geographic discoveries. However, due to the intense political rivalries during the period, European states guarded their geographic knowledge and findings from one another.

With the growth of the printing press during the sixteenth century, accounts of overseas travels, such as those of Marco Polo in the late thirteenth century, spread to a wider audience of European readers than had previously been possible. The Age of Exploration also coincided with the development of Humanism and a growing intellectual curiosity about the natural world. The collection and study of exotic materials such as plants and animals led to a new age of scientific exploration and inquiry. These initial surveys and analyses influenced future revolutionary developments in numerous fields of science and natural history in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Religious Factors

One of the tenets of Catholicism decreed that Christianity ought to be the universal religion and faith among all mankind. The Crusades in the centuries preceding the Age of Exploration exposed Europeans to new places, people, and goods. It also reflected the zealous nature of medieval Christianity and foreshadowed the fervent missionary work that would form a major part of all early global expeditions. The pope played an important and validating role in these voyages by sanctioning and encouraging worldwide exploration. This often included the approbation of enslaving Africans and indigenous peoples. Missionaries were frequently a part of the early expeditions of Spain with the aim of bringing Christianity to the native inhabitants. Europeans typically viewed indigenous populations as barbaric heathens who could only become civilized through the adoption of Christianity.

  • The age of European exploration and discovery represented a new period of global interaction and interconnectivity. As a result of technological advancements, Europeans were able to forge into new and previously undiscovered territories. They understood this to be a “New World.”
  • European exploration was driven by multiple factors, including economic, political, and religious incentives. The growing desire to fulfill European demand for luxury goods, and the desire to unearth precious materials such as gold and silver, acted as a particularly crucial motivation.
  • The period of European global exploration sparked the beginning phases of European empire and colonialism, which would continue to develop and intensify over the course of the next several centuries.
  • As European exploration evolved and flourished, it saw the increasing oppression of native populations and the enslavement of Africans. During this period, Europeans increasingly dealt in African slaves and started the transatlantic slave trade.

History of World Civilization II Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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A Brief History of the Age of Exploration

The age of exploration brought about discoveries and advances

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  • Country Information
  • Urban Geography

The Birth of the Age of Exploration

The discovery of the new world, opening the americas, the end of the era, contributions to science, long-term impact.

  • M.A., Geography, California State University - East Bay
  • B.A., English and Geography, California State University - Sacramento

The era known as the Age of Exploration, sometimes called the Age of Discovery, officially began in the early 15th century and lasted through the 17th century. The period is characterized as a time when Europeans began exploring the world by sea in search of new trading routes, wealth, and knowledge. The impact of the Age of Exploration would permanently alter the world and transform geography into the modern science it is today.

Impact of the Age of Exploration

  • Explorers learned more about areas such as Africa and the Americas and brought that knowledge back to Europe.
  • Massive wealth accrued to European colonizers due to trade in goods, spices, and precious metals.
  • Methods of navigation and mapping improved, switching from traditional portolan charts to the world's first nautical maps.
  • New food, plants, and animals were exchanged between the colonies and Europe.
  • Indigenous people were decimated by Europeans, from a combined impact of disease, overwork, and massacres.
  • The workforce needed to support the massive plantations in the New World, led to the trade of enslaved people , which lasted for 300 years and had an enormous impact on Africa.
  • The impact persists to this day , with many of the world's former colonies still considered the "developing" world, while colonizers are the First World countries, holding a majority of the world's wealth and annual income.

Many nations were looking for goods such as silver and gold, but one of the biggest reasons for exploration was the desire to find a new route for the spice and silk trades.

When the Ottoman Empire took control of Constantinople in 1453, it blocked European access to the area, severely limiting trade. In addition, it also blocked access to North Africa and the Red Sea, two very important trade routes to the Far East.

The first of the journeys associated with the Age of Discovery were conducted by the Portuguese. Although the Portuguese, Spanish, Italians, and others had been plying the Mediterranean for generations, most sailors kept well within sight of land or traveled known routes between ports.  Prince Henry the Navigator  changed that, encouraging explorers to sail beyond the mapped routes and discover new trade routes to West Africa.

Portuguese explorers discovered the Madeira Islands in 1419 and the Azores in 1427. Over the coming decades, they would push farther south along the African coast, reaching the coast of present-day Senegal by the 1440s and the Cape of Good Hope by 1490. Less than a decade later, in 1498, Vasco da Gama would follow this route all the way to India.

While the Portuguese were opening new sea routes along Africa, the Spanish also dreamed of finding new trade routes to the Far East. Christopher Columbus , an Italian working for the Spanish monarchy, made his first journey in 1492. Instead of reaching India, Columbus found the island of San Salvador in what is known today as the Bahamas. He also explored the island of Hispaniola, home of modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Columbus would lead three more voyages to the Caribbean, exploring parts of Cuba and the Central American coast. The Portuguese also reached the New World when explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral explored Brazil, setting off a conflict between Spain and Portugal over the newly claimed lands. As a result, the  Treaty of Tordesillas  officially divided the world in half in 1494.

Columbus' journeys opened the door for the Spanish conquest of the Americas. During the next century, men such as Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro would decimate the Aztecs of Mexico, the Incas of Peru, and other indigenous peoples of the Americas. By the end of the Age of Exploration, Spain would rule from the Southwestern United States to the southernmost reaches of Chile and Argentina.

Great Britain and France also began seeking new trade routes and lands across the ocean. In 1497, John Cabot, an Italian explorer working for the English, reached what is believed to be the coast of Newfoundland. A number of French and English explorers followed, including Giovanni da Verrazano, who discovered the entrance to the Hudson River in 1524, and Henry Hudson, who mapped the island of Manhattan first in 1609.

Over the next decades, the French, Dutch, and British would all vie for dominance. England established the first permanent colony in North America at Jamestown, Va., in 1607. Samuel du Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608, and Holland established a trading outpost in present-day New York City in 1624.

Other important voyages of exploration during this era included Ferdinand Magellan's attempted circumnavigation of the globe, the search for a trade route to Asia through the Northwest Passage , and Captain James Cook's voyages that allowed him to map various areas and travel as far as Alaska.

The Age of Exploration ended in the early 17th century after technological advancements and increased knowledge of the world allowed Europeans to travel easily across the globe by sea. The creation of permanent settlements and colonies created a network of communication and trade, therefore ending the need to search for new routes.

It is important to note that exploration did not cease entirely at this time. Eastern Australia was not officially claimed for Britain by Capt. James Cook until 1770, while much of the Arctic and Antarctic were not explored until the 20th century. Much of Africa also was unexplored by Westerners until the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The Age of Exploration had a significant impact on geography. By traveling to different regions around the globe, explorers were able to learn more about areas such as Africa and the Americas and bring that knowledge back to Europe.

Methods of navigation and mapping improved as a result of the travels of people such as Prince Henry the Navigator. Prior to his expeditions, navigators had used traditional portolan charts, which were based on coastlines and ports of call, keeping sailors close to shore.

The Spanish and Portuguese explorers who journeyed into the unknown created the world's first nautical maps, delineating not just the geography of the lands they found but also the seaward routes and ocean currents that led them there. As technology advanced and known territory expanded, maps and mapmaking became more and more sophisticated.

These explorations also introduced a whole new world of flora and fauna to Europeans. Corn, now a staple of much of the world's diet, was unknown to Westerners until the time of the Spanish conquest, as were sweet potatoes and peanuts. Likewise, Europeans had never seen turkeys, llamas, or squirrels before setting foot in the Americas.

The Age of Exploration served as a stepping stone for geographic knowledge. It allowed more people to see and study various areas around the world, which increased geographic study, giving us the basis for much of the knowledge we have today.

The effects of colonization still persist as well, with many of the world's former colonies still considered the "developing" world and the colonizers the First World countries, holding a majority of the world's wealth and receiving a majority of its annual income.

  • Profile of Prince Henry the Navigator
  • A Timeline of North American Exploration: 1492–1585
  • The History of Cartography
  • Biography of Ferdinand Magellan, Explorer Circumnavigated the Earth
  • The Portuguese Empire
  • Explorers and Discoverers
  • Biography and Legacy of Ferdinand Magellan
  • Biography of Christopher Columbus, Italian Explorer
  • Amerigo Vespucci, Explorer and Navigator
  • Biography of Juan Sebastián Elcano, Magellan's Replacement
  • Amerigo Vespucci, Italian Explorer and Cartographer
  • The Second Voyage of Christopher Columbus
  • American History Timeline 1601 - 1625
  • The Third Voyage of Christopher Columbus
  • Captain James Cook
  • Biography of Christopher Columbus

IMAGES

  1. Exploration Diagram

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  2. Age of Exploration Diagram

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  3. Age of Exploration Diagram

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  4. National Geographic World History Voyages of Exploration

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  5. Voyages of Exploration 1485-1600

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  6. World Map: Age of Exploration Diagram

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COMMENTS

  1. Voyage of Exploration Flashcards

    Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like Why did Europeans travel across the Mediterranean Sea to reach the Silk Road?, The Treaty of Tordesillas best facilitated exploration by, As navigation skills advanced, explorers reached the area now known as the Straits of Magellan. The Straits of Magellan are located and more.

  2. Voyages of Exploration Flashcards

    How was the Ming Dynasty significant? • Early 15th century: Chinese governments sent out huge fleets of ships to establish diplomatic relations with S.E. Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Middle East and East Africa. • 1405: Emperor Yongle launched seven expeditions. Ended in 1433. • Led by Muslim eunuch, Admiral Zheng He.

  3. World History || Age of Exploration Flashcards

    World History || Age of Exploration. 1400's and 1500's. Quizlet Plus for teachers. Quizlet, Inc. Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like Foundations of Exploration, Age of Exploration, Three Gs and more.

  4. READ: Origins of Oceanic Connections (article)

    In the fifteenth century, a number of Europeans set out on ocean voyages of exploration. It's important to note that these explorers did not "discover" the Americas or the Pacific Islands. Their voyages shocked the Afro-Eurasian world, but there were people living in these places for thousands of years.

  5. 3.3: European Voyages of Exploration: Intro

    The European Voyages of Exploration: Introduction. Beginning in the early fifteenth century, European states began to embark on a series of global explorations that inaugurated a new chapter in world history. Known as the Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, this period spanned the fifteenth through the early seventeenth century, during ...

  6. European exploration

    History of the European exploration of regions of Earth for scientific, commercial, religious, military, and other purposes, beginning about the 4th century BCE. The major phases of exploration were centered on the Mediterranean Sea, China, and the New World (the last being the so-called Age of Discovery).

  7. READ: Zheng He (article)

    In the early 1400s, Zheng He led the largest ships in the world on seven voyages of exploration to the lands around the Indian Ocean, demonstrating Chinese excellence at shipbuilding and navigation. Background. Zheng He (pronounced jung ha) was born in 1371 in Yunnan, in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains, 6,000 feet (not quite 2,000 ...

  8. Europe and the Age of Exploration

    The age is also recognized for the first English voyage around the world by Sir Francis Drake (ca. 1540-1596), who claimed the San Francisco Bay for Queen Elizabeth; Vasco da Gama's (ca. 1460-1524) voyage to India, making the Portuguese the first Europeans to sail to that country and leading to the exploration of the west coast of Africa ...

  9. European Voyages of Exploration: Intro

    The Spanish and Portuguese were some of the first European states to launch overseas voyages of exploration. There were several factors that led to the Iberian place in the forefront of global exploration. The first involved its strategic geographic location, which provided easy access to venturing south toward Africa or west toward the Americas.

  10. PDF The European Voyages of Exploration: Introduction

    The European Voyages of Exploration: Introduction Beginning in the early fifteenth century, European states began to embark on a series of global explorations that inaugurated a new chapter in world history. Known as the Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, this period spanned the fifteenth

  11. A Brief History of the Age of Exploration

    The era known as the Age of Exploration, sometimes called the Age of Discovery, officially began in the early 15th century and lasted through the 17th century. The period is characterized as a time when Europeans began exploring the world by sea in search of new trading routes, wealth, and knowledge. The impact of the Age of Exploration would ...

  12. Portugal & the Age of Exploration

    The Age of Exploration led to a new, more violent and disruptive world where colonial powers carved up the globe as they jostled to extract precious resources from wherever they might be found and to enslave and transport millions of people for use as free labour. This Age of Empires, as we might call it, still has consequences today wherever ...

  13. The Spice Trade & the Age of Exploration

    One of the major motivating factors in the European Age of Exploration was the search for direct access to the highly lucrative Eastern spice trade. In the 15th century, spices came to Europe via the Middle East land and sea routes, and spices were in huge demand both for food dishes and for use in medicines. The problem was how to access this ...

  14. Arctic

    Arctic - Exploration, Ice, Shipping: The search for the Northwest Passage may be said to have begun with the European discovery of America, for the voyages of Jacques Cartier and his successors to the St. Lawrence and John Cabot and the brothers Gaspar and Miguel Corte-Real to Newfoundland and Labrador were all undertaken with the aim of finding the passage. The first such voyage to enter the ...

  15. Ferdinand Magellan

    Ferdinand Magellan, or Fernão de Magalhães (c. 1480-1521), was a Portuguese mariner whose expedition was the first to circumnavigate the globe in 1519-22 in the service of Spain.Magellan was killed on the voyage in what is today the Philippines, and only 22 of the original 270 crew members made it back to Europe.. Discovering what became known as the Straits of Magellan in southern Patagonia ...

  16. The Seven Voyages of Zheng He

    Voyages five, six, and seven (1417, 1421, and 1431 CE) reached even further afield, landing at Mogadishu, Malindi, and Mombassa, all on the coast of East Africa. Zheng He is the first attested Chinese to visit the Swahili coast. The ruler of Mogadishu was responsive and did send an embassy to Yongle, and even distant Zanzibar was reached by ...

  17. National Geographic World History Voyages of Exploration

    A digital first program on our new MindTap interactive platform, National Geographic World History, launches in 2020. This stunning voyage into the history of the world emphasizes cultural diversity, artifacts from around the world, rigorous yet accessibly content, special lessons and photography, and the travels and research of National ...

  18. National Geographic World History Voyages of Exploration ...

    New from National Geographic Learning, a high school world history book with real-world content authenticity, a celebration of diversity with empathy for all cultures and traditions. National Geographic Explorers highlight storytelling while students learning through inquiry. Highly-renowned author, Dr. Kenneth Curtis, leads students through voyages of exploration. World history becomes ...

  19. World History, HS, Unit 6

    World History, HS, Unit 6 - Cengage