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Age of Exploration
Motives and Means
 Why would Europeans feel the need to explore?
Marco Polo and his book “The Travels” gave
excitement to many Europeans about Asia.
The Ottoman Turks conquered the land route to
China, making other ways to get there needed.
Merchants, adventurers, and officials wanted to
expand trade and get items (spices, silk) from the
Expanding of Religion
 Prince Henry the Navigator
Part of the royal family, the sponsor of many
 Began sailing to the coast of Africa around 1420 in
search of Gold.
 1488- Bartholomeu Dias rounds the tip of Africa
 1498- Vasco de Gama sails to India around Africa
and re-establishes trade with the far east.
 Most of the spice trade was controlled by the
 In 1509, a Portuguese fleet of warships defeated the
muslim and Indian fleets to take the port at Goa.
 Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque took control of
Melaka and took control of the spice trade in the
Christopher Columbus
 An Italian Sailor who was contracted by the Queen of
Spain to reach India by sailing west.
 October, 1492 Columbus reached land by traveling
west across the Atlantic. He believed that he had
found a westward route to Asia.
 Took 4 voyages overall and explored many islands of
the Caribbean as well as Honduras
 He died not knowing that he was the first European
to sail to a new continent.
Treaty of Tordesillas
 Spain and Portugal were at odds over the new
territory that they had been exploring
 In 1494, they signed this treaty setting up a line of
Demarcation giving Portugal control of everything to
the east, and Spain control of everything to the west
of this imaginary line running through the Atlantic.
 This gives Portugal control of the African coast and
Spain control of the undiscovered American
 John Cabot- an Italian who sailed for the English
and explored the coastline of what we know as New
 Pedro Cabral- Portuguese sea captain who landed in
South America in 1500.
 Amerigo Vespucci- An Italian who mapped the
coastline of the Americas.
 These men were key in figuring out that this was not
Asia, but instead was a “New World”, an
undiscovered continent.
The Spanish Empire
 Conquistadors- Spanish explorers/conquerors who
were able to take over much of the Americas
Hernan Cortes- Conquered the Aztecs in what is now Mexico
in just 3 years.
Francisco Pizarro- Took control of the Inca empire in South
America in 1550
Isabella, the queen of Spain gave these conquistadors and
other spanish settlers the right of encomienda, which means
that they were able to use the natives as laborers as long as
they protected them. However, they were used more as slave
Economic Impact
 Many explorers were in search of Gold and Silver,
especially the Spanish.
 English explorers set up plantations to grow sugar,
cotton, vanilla, and livestock to send back to Europe
 They also harvested crops like potatoes, cocoa, corn,
and Tobacco that were native to the americas to send
back to Europe
 Portuguese explorers set up trade networks in Asia
for spices, jewels, silk, and perfumes.
Worldwide exploration
 Many European countries got into the exploration
and colonization game for many reasons
Spanish colony in the Phillipines for trade
English colony in northwest India for trade
Dutch East India Company for Trade in Asia
Dutch West India Company for Trade in the Americas
French Colonies in what is now Canada and Louisiana
English Colonies in what is now the eastern coast of the United
States for various reasons.
 Set of principles that dominated economic thought
in the 1600’s; the prosperity of a nation would
depend on a large supply of gold and silver. To bring
in that gold and silver, nations would want a
favorable balance of trade, meaning they would want
to export more valuable goods than they import.
 Colonies were important because countries could get
some of the goods they would normally import to
help their balance of trade be favorable.