The Age of Exploration

Written and Edited By: Candace Myers

How it all started....

This is how the Exploration Age started. It started with one explorer named Christopher Columbus. Before we go any farther we have to go back to another part of the Asia. The Arabs had already took over the Silk Road which traders would use as a route for trade. It now would cost you more money to pay people to deliver your items to the countries you were trading with. Christopher Columbus decided to find a sea route to India to cut out the "middle man". He would embark on his journey by going west. After three months at sea his crew saw land. They landed on what is now one of the islands in the Caribbean. This was the start of the Exploration Age.

Map of the World Before Discovering the New World

John Cabot

John Cabot was born in 1450 and he died in 1499. Like many other explorers he wanted to find a sea route instead of using the Silk Road. He was sponsored by King Henry VII. He was the first person since the Vikings to explore the mainland of North America. He wanted to find the Northwest Passage. On his first voyage he traveled on his ship Matthew. He is thought to have landed on Maine or Newfoundland,Canada. When he looked for the Northwest Passage he only found ice-crushed waters. He then embarked on another voyage to North America. It is said that he might have gotten to America on this journey, but it's never been proved. On his second voyage he was asked to find Japan and he brought five ships with him. Even though he never found any spices, he found dark forests and terrible rivers.

Bartolomeu Dias

Bartolomeu Dias was a Portuguese explorer who was born around 1451 and he died on May 29, 1500. Like John Cabot, he wanted to find a sea route to India. He was sponsored by King John II. He left Portugal and he sailed along the coast of western Africa and around the tip of Africa in 1487. He also wanted to find Prester John who was a mythical Christian priest and ruler. When the Europeans found out that you could trade directly with Asia instead of paying expensive middle men in the Middle East, they were amazed. After that expedition he helped build Sao Gabriel and its sister ship Sao Raefael, which would be Vasco de Gama's ships that he would use to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope and go onto the sea route to India.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh was born in 1562 and he died on October 29, 1618. He is most famous for failing to start a colony in what is now known as North Carolina and Virgina. On his first expedition he explored Roanoke in 1585 but it failed because the colonists had conflict with the natives there and they fled. He then sent on another expedition back to Roanoke in 1587. The Governor John White shortly after arriving there, came back for more supplies in England,but he didn't come back for a year because Queen Elizabeth I wanted them to stay in the port because she was afraid that the Spanish Armada would attack them. After that, the fleet left England and went to Cuba. When Governor John White returned to Roanoke, all of the colonists were gone. This mystery is now known as the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Raleigh had a good relationship with Queen Elizabeth I but he married one of her ladies-in-waiting and he had a child with her. He then was sent to jail, but he was released. He got back in jail for possibly having a plot against King James. He was released but his men attacked the Spanish and he was executed.

Amerigo Vespucci

He was born on March 3, 1451 and he died on February 22, 1512. He is known for discovering Rio de Janeiro and Rio de Plata. Besides from being an explorer, he also was a financier, navigator and a cartographer. It is for certain that he went on two voyages but it is also believed that he went on to other expeditions. On his second voyage he found the mouth of the Amazon River, Guyana, Trinidad, the Orinoco River and Hispaniola. On his third voyage he landed on the coast of Brazil. He found Rio de Janeiro and Rio de Plata on this expedition. It is possible that he may have gone to Patagonia, but it is not known for sure. By half of the expedition he mapped the stars Alpha, Beta Centauri and the constellation Crux or also known as the Southern Cross. These stars had already been found by the Greeks, but they had been forgotten over time.

John Smith of Jamestown

John Smith was a English explorer, who is mostly known for exploring the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. He was born in 1450 and he died in 1631. He helped established the first permanent English colony in North America. He also was the first person to map out the Chesapeake Bay. He got to America in 1607. He almost was executed for mutiny, but England gave him orders to become one of the leaders of Jamestown. After they arrived in Jamestown in April 1607, by September, 60 people had died from swampy conditions and widespread disease. He once was captured and was taken to the chief of the Powhatans but he said that the chiefs daughter, Pocahontas, saved him from being executed. Some people are not sure that this actually happened and that it might have been a ritual to show his death and rebirth as a member of their tribe. By October 1608, the colony received 220 more settlers. He then tried to steal food from the natives but he was warned after that by Pocahontas that some of the settlers and the native Americans wanted to kill him. In 1609 he had an accidental gunpowder explosion in his canoe and he went back to England for treatment. He never got to return.

The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange was an exchange of animals, plants, religion, inventions and ideas brought on by the Exploration Age. The Columbian Exchange also brought diseases to the New World brought by explorers, like smallpox and the measles. But when the explorers came back to Europe they brought Syphilis, wich was a disease that came from the New World. Also during all this, the Europeans brought pigs, horses, cows and chickens to the New World. They also brought grapes and wheat. The explorers brought back to Europe tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes, turkeys, corn, blueberries, beans, curry, peanuts, sweet potatoes, etc. If the Columbian Exchange hadn't have happened, we would probably still be living in Europe, Africa or Asia. And without the Columbian Exchange we wouldn't have the plants, animals, religion, inventions and ideas that we have today.

Other Facts....

- Amerigo Vespucci worked for the Medici's.

- John Smith's adventures with Pocahontas were animated in the movie, Pocahontas.

- Raleigh, the capitol of North Carolina, was named after Sir Walter Raleigh.

- Bartolomeu Dias died because he got stuck in a storm at sea and his ship was wrecked and his crew lost at sea.

- John Cabot's father was a spice trader.

Pocahontas (Movie)