Age of Exploration

By Shannon, Christopher, and Richmond

Turning Points in History - Age of Exploration

What is the age of exploration?

The age of exploration was prompted by scientific curiosity, the Renaissance, and the the thought of spreading Christianity among others. It began in the 15th century and lasted until the 17th century.The biggest reason for exploring was for the spice and silk trade.

The first country to send explorers was Portugal. They were looking for a sea route to Asia. These voyages began by traveling west.

Challenges Explorers Faced

Before being able to embark on voyages that would change everything that was known about the world, there were many challenges explorers, even the most famous amongst them, had to overcome. That included many things like funding, the voyage, time, survival, and much more. Funding was the first problem explorers would have encountered. Before embarking, typically they would have to find someone to fund their trip. Often they would ask their government. At the time, this was a King or Queen. Interest in exploring was common and mutual between the citizens and the government, so sometimes the government would agree to the expensive cost in turn for promises of gold, riches, new land, and unknown mystery which could result in the better of the nation. Another challenge was recruiting and the voyage. The voyage was long, arduous, and many were not able to overcome it. From finding those brave enough to brave the rough, expansive ocean to sea sickness and scurvy, the voyage was one of the biggest challenges that any explorer of the new world had to overcome. Also, survival in the new land would become a challenge. Explorers would have dangerous encounters with the new land, whether it be just travelling too far with not enough supplies or encountering natives, which could result in various consequences.

Reasons for Exploration

Exploration was a common curiosity between both the population and the citizens of Europe when it occurred. Reasons included promises of gold, riches, and new land to conquer, rule, and use for the greater extension of the population. One of the biggest reasons, however, was to find a new route for trade between Europe and other continents without having to cross the Sahara Desert or having to cross through the Ottoman Empire, which firmly blocked the path, thus severely limiting trade. In addition, it also blocked access to North Africa and the Red Sea, which were two crucial trade routes to Europe. Spices were crucial for trading because at the time, refrigeration did not exist, and spicing/salting meat was the only known way to preserve it. Between gold, larger empires, easier trade routes for spices, and spreading Christianity, the promises of exploration were impossible to ignore.

Agricultural Exchange

During exploration, many new forms of agriculture were found that would soon become a part of European culture. from cotton to tobacco leaves, Agriculture found in the Americas were something that Europe never had expected to find. These things later became a huge part of the world’s culture, and exist everywhere as part of any country’s culture and society. Europe also brought agriculture to America. Wheat, barley, sugar cane are some examples of plants that Europe brought to America that became part of America’s future forever.

Exchange of Traditions

From the beginning of exploration to the Americas and thereafter, cultures between either side of the world became intertwined, and are still like so to this day. Cultures diffused, and became a part of Europe, and vice versa to America. For instance, the most common religion in Europe, Catholicism was passed from Europe to America, whether it be by choice or by force. Being one of the many reasons for Exploration, the spreading of religion between the two continents was crucial to the future society and culture of both. The Americans would show the Europeans how they lived and how they used different things, and the Europeans would show the Americans how they lived. The constant cultural exchange changed both cultures.

Exchange of Items and Diseases

Many different diseases and items were exchanged between Europe and America during the Age of Exploration. For instance, many new animals were brought to America. Cows, horses, and pigs were just some of the examples. Many diseases were passed between the two societies. Europeans brought animals to America that contained diseases, that, once the animals were domesticated, evolved to affect humans. Some of these diseases included riderpest, tuberculosis, cowpox, influenza (flu), pertussis, and malaria. There were not as many diseases passed from the Americas to Europe, however Europeans lived closer together, therefore the passing of diseases was much quicker and effective in the european society.

Trading Between Europe and Americas

Riches, gold, and other assorted things were traded between the two societies. Animals, spices, riches, gold, even non-tangible things like religion and survival tactics in each other’s land were traded. Become a periodic traditional economy, Europeans and Americans happily helped each other. Many times, the survival of the Europeans was based solely off the generous help of the Native Americans. Agriculture, language, ideas, and common items were traded and still are traded to this day, affecting both cultures and societies greatly.
Portuguese Exploration

Famous European Explorers

Some Major Exploreres are:
- Christopher Columbus
- Ferdinand Magellan
- Vasco de Gama
- Sir Francis Drake
- Sir Walter Raleigh
- Hernando Cortes
- John Cabot
- Samuel de Champlain

In 1492, Christopher Columbus, one of the first explorers of the New World, set sail from Spain. He planned to prove that you could travel West to get to India faster. He thought he had landed in India, while he had actually landed in America, and gave the name “Indians” to the Native Americans. Columbus had found the New World and didn’t realize it. He came back to Europe and spread to the rest of the world about his findings, and thereafter began the bulk of exploration and colonization in the New World.

How did the age of exploration impact Europe's society and culture?