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Chapter 6
The Age of Exploration
Section 1: Exploration and Expansion
• Reasons for Exploration
– Marco Polo wrote about his expeditions to China in his book The
Travels. This story of the exotic East fascinated individuals who
wanted to explore and experience it for themselves.
– Merchants wanted to expand trade, especially
for the spices of the East.
– Individuals wanted to convert the natives
to Christianity.
Portuguese Trading Empire
• Portugal took the lead in exploration.
– Explored the coast of Africa and found gold – southern coast of West
Africa is known as the Gold Coast
– Vasco da Gama rounded the tip of Africa, known as the Cape of Good
Hope, and cut across the Indian Ocean to the coast of India.
– Launched expeditions to China and the Spice Islands and took control
of the spice trade.
Voyages to the Americas
Christopher Columbus believed that he could reach Asia by sailing west instead of
east around Africa.
– In 1492, he reached the Americas, where he explored the coastline of Cuba
– In 4 trips, he reached all the major islands of the Caribbean and parts of
Central America
• He called it the Indies
John Cabot explored the New England coastline of the Americas for England
Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian, wrote about the new lands he saw. Later called
America after him.
The conquistadors of Spain took control of the Americas shortly after landing
– In 3 years, Hernan Cortes overthrew the Aztec Empire in Central America.
– Francisco Pizarro took control of the Incan Empire in Peru.
– Within 30 years, Spain controlled the western part of Latin America (Mexico,
Central, and South America)
Spanish forced the Native Americans to work on sugar plantations and in gold and
silver mines.
Forced labor, starvation, and disease killed millions of Native Americans
– Smallpox, measles, and typhus were diseases they did not have a natural
Line of Demarcation
• Portugal & Spain both begin to lay claim to newly discovered lands
• The Pope helped the nations to reach a compromise
• Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)
– Created an imaginary line from North to South along line of
– Unclaimed territory East of line went to Portugal
– Unclaimed territory West of line went to Spain
– This gave Portugal control of route around Africa & Spain almost
all of the Americas.
Impact of Trade
• Columbian Exchange – exchange of goods between the Old and New
• Dutch formed the East and West India Companies (East Co. in India and
West Co. in America)
• Colonies and trading posts established in the Americas
– They were important sources of raw materials and markets for
finished goods
**end of notes**
Triangular-shaped sails
More manuverable
Had weapons
Larger cargo holds
Sat deeper in water
Section 2: Africa in an Age of Transition
• Slavery changed dramatically with
the discovery of the Americas in
the 1490s and the planting of
• Labor was needed on the large
plantations established in the
• First ship of slaves arrived in
– Triangular Trade
– 10 million slaves in 300 years
Effects of Slave Trade
• Prior to the slave trade, African slaves were usually prisoners of war or
individuals that owed a debt. When Europeans began demanding more
slaves, some African tribes attacked other tribes/villages to capture slaves
to sell.
– While it was a source of income for some tribes, it led to the
depopulation of some areas and deprived many communities of their
youngest and strongest men and women.
• Europeans introduced new foods to the African tribes such as sweet
potatoes, corn, and peanuts.
• Missionaries were established in Africa to spread Christianity.
Section 3: Southeast Asia in the Era of the
Spice Trade
• In 1511, the Portuguese Moluccas, known as the Spice
• However, they would soon lose control to the English and
Dutch, who were better financed.
• The Dutch would eventually drive the English out
• The mainland states were able to resist b/c they had strong
monarchies that resisted foreign intrusion.
• Islam and Christianity would spread throughout the nonmainland states and the Philippines.