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Exploration and Discovery

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 1 year, 4 months ago


 To the Ends of the Earth: The Age of European Exploration and Discovery [1400-1600]

 Overseas exploration emerges as a powerful factor in European culture as the world’s regions,

peoples, and economies became increasingly interconnected.




The Age of Exploration(Causes)


"Barbarians at the Gate"  The Roman empire reached its zenith under Trajan, encompassing nearly 2 million square miles and containing some 60 million people.  In 476 C.E. Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the west, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. The order that the Roman Empire had brought to western Europe for 1000 years was no more. The fall of the Roman Empire led to a fragmented continent. Review historical context of the Fall of Rome





Crusades (1095 to 1295) "A successful failure"

11th and 12th century Holy Wars that opened Europe up to the possibility of organized state sponsored exploration and expedition AND the tremendous possibilities of the Middle East and the Orient through trade and cultural exchange (arts, ideas, and technology) .






1271 Marco Polo penetrated China (after three year journey), but needed $$$ to protect caravans. Marco Polo stays 17 years in China and returns with some great stories, goods (spices, dyes, rugs, and silks) and of course the Black Death. (Interactive map of Marco Polo's Trip)


In 1453 Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks who gained control of the commercial route to the east. Beginning of Ottoman Empire.




Role of Geography (Location, Location, Location)


Western European states lacked a geographic proximity to China. This combined with the high cost of transportation of goods through trade monopolies led by the Italian city-states (location, location, location)


As a result Western Europe begins looking for alternative routes



Coastal exploration vs. open sea exploration


#1 Shipbuilding and sailing advances rapidly after the 9th century   (Arab astrolabe);  Sextent Technology


#2 Vikings and ship hull construction (over lapping planks allowed ships to survive overseas).


#3 larger ship designs with stern rudders for better control.


#4 accurate maps and inquisitive impulse of the Italian renaissance.



 The growth of Nation-States increases the taxable base necessary to fund and protect large voyages of exploration.


Ambitious European monarchs support voyages and patriotic citizens supported the efforts of Empire Building.






Review  historical context of the Protestant Reformation


Fierce and bloody competition for power and territory between Catholic and Protestant nations reinforced national concerns.


England competes for land with Spain,  not merely for economic and political reasons, but also for religious reasons.




 Native of Genoa who represented the new age explorer - resilient, courageous, and confident



Quotable Columbus 


“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  


“Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions, these can be changed as your priorities change, new one added, and others dropped.”  




King of Portugal refused to fund voyages, Columbus eventually secures funding from Spanish Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella in April of 1492.




Current Events - Mars Curiosity



On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina



Motivation borne of desperation wanted to take Christianity to heathen lands. Three vessels (Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria) maintains discipline and encourages hope 10 weeks October 12, 1492He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the 10th century.




Columbus Landed HERE










Columbus reports on his first voyage, 1493


I have determined to write you this letter to inform you of everything that has been done and discovered in this voyage of mine.


On the thirty-third day after leaving Cadiz I came into the Indian Sea, where I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people. I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance. The island called Juana, as well as the others in its neighborhood, is exceedingly fertile. It has numerous harbors on all sides, very safe and wide, above comparison with any I have ever seen. Through it flow many very broad and health-giving rivers; and there are in it numerous very lofty mountains. All these island are very beautiful, and of quite different shapes; easy to be traversed, and full of the greatest variety of trees reaching to the stars. . . .


In the island, which I have said before was called Hispana, there are very lofty and beautiful mountains, great farms, groves and fields, most fertile both for cultivation and for pasturage, and well adapted for constructing buildings. The convenience of the harbors in this island, and the excellence of the rivers, in volume and salubrity, surpass human belief, unless on should see them. In it the trees, pasture-lands and fruits different much from those of Juana. Besides, this Hispana abounds in various kinds of species, gold and metals. 



The inhabitants . . . are all, as I said before, unprovided with any sort of iron, and they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror. . . . But when they see that they are safe, and all fear is banished, they are very guileless and honest, and very liberal of all they have. No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses; on the contrary they themselves invite us to ask for it. They manifest the greatest affection towards all of us, exchanging valuable things for trifles, content with the very least thing or nothing at all. . . . I gave them many beautiful and pleasing things, which I had brought with me, for no return whatever, in order to win their affection, and that they might become Christians and inclined to love our King and Queen and Princes and all the people of Spain; and that they might be eager to search for and gather and give to us what they abound in and we greatly need.


The Blood Moon.jpg


How the moon saved Christopher Columbus in 1504

If you happen to see the moon turn red during tonight's lunar eclipse – the longest of this century –
spare a thought for Christopher Columbus. In 1504, this very astronomical event saved his life.







 The Consequences of 1492






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