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Europeans Explore the
KEY IDEA Driven by the desire for
wealth and Christian converts,
Europeans began an age of
Europeans Begin to Explore
For many centuries, Europeans had been
largely, though not completely, isolated from
contact with people from other lands.
That changed in the 1400s. One reason for
this change was that Europeans hoped to
gain new sources of wealth.
The three primary motives for exploration:
God – Glory - Gold
Factors That Encourage
Exploration: God
Catholic Church was losing members to
the Protestant faith
New souls = new tax base for church
Catholic nations lead the way: Jesuits
from Spain and Portugal
Goal: create a Christian land across the
Factors That Encourage Exploration:
Chance to become wildly famous
Should an expedition get all the way to
Asia, all involved would be
Land, power, title all await any explorer
who brings glory to the sponsor
Factors That Encourage Exploration:
Great hordes of gold await in the new
Legends of King Solomon’s Mines and
the golden city of El Dorado are on the
front of every explorer’s mind
A caravel of treasure for the sponsor
means great wealth for you!
The Caravel
Advances in technology made these voyages
A new kind of ship, the caravel, was stronger built
than earlier ships. It had triangle-shaped sails that
allowed it to sail against the wind.
The Magnetic Compass
Ships could now
travel far out into
the ocean. The
compass allowed
sea captains to
better stay on
Portugal Leads the Way
The first nation to develop
and use these new
technologies was Portugal.
That nation’s Prince Henry
was deeply committed to the
idea of exploring beyond the
In 1419, he started a school
of navigation where sea
captains, mapmakers, and
navigators could meet, learn,
and exchange ideas.
Prince Henry the Navigator
The Portuguese Explore Africa
Over the next
few decades,
captains sailed
farther and
farther down
the west coast
of Africa.
Bartolomeu Dias
In 1488, Bartolomeu
Dias led the first
voyage to reach the
southern tip of Africa.
Dias’ motives were “to
serve God and his
majesty, to give light to
those who were in
darkness and grow rich
as all men desire to
Bartolomeu Dias
Vasco da Gama Finds a Route to Asia
Ten years later,
Vasco da
Gama led a
ship 27,000
miles around
Africa, to India,
and back. The
had found a
sea route to
Vasco da Gama
Christopher Columbus
The Spanish, meanwhile,
had plans of their own.
Italian sailor Christopher
Columbus convinced the
king Ferdinand and queen
Isabella that he could reach
Asia by sailing west.
In 1492, instead of landing
in Asia, Columbus touched
land in the islands of the
Americas, land unknown to
Christopher Columbus
Columbus’ Voyages Pave the Way
Explorer Pedro Cabral claims Brazil for
Vasco Nunez Balboa voyages to the Pacific
Ferdinand Magellan is the first to sail
around the globe (kind of)
Primary goal: build colonies!
Treaty of Tordesillas: The Line
of Demarcation
Spain and Portugal argued over which nation
had the rights to the land in the New World
In 1494, they signed the Treaty of Tordesillas.
It divided the world into two areas. Portugal
won the right to control the eastern parts and
Spain the western parts— including most of
the Americas.
Portugal’s Trading Empire
Portugal moved quickly to make the new
Indian Ocean route pay off.
In 1509, it defeated a Muslim fleet off the
coast of India and thus became the master of
Indian trade.
Soon, it captured cities in India and the Malay
peninsula. Portugal now had power over
islands that were so rich in desirable spices
that they were called the Spice Islands.
Spain Builds an American Empire
Cortez explores Mexico
and conquers the Aztec
Empire with his small
conquistador militia
Pizzaro explores Peru
and conquers the Inca
Disease and slavery
decimate the Native
populations of Central
and South America
Spain Expands Its Influence
The Spanish advance into
North America
Spanish missionaries
follow the soldiers and
establish Catholic
Missions. Governments
follow the encomienda
Native American peoples
resist Spanish colonization
in a variety of ways
European Nations Settle North
French colonize the St. lawrence and Mississippi
River valleys – begin the fur trade
English settle in at Jamestown
and seek religious freedom; 15 years
later, Pilgrims head to Plymouth
Dutch encourage a diverse
population in New Netherland
The Fight for North America
The English drive the Dutch from New
Netherland and rename the colony New
Seven Years’ War in Europe spills over into
conflicts between French and English
colonists in North America
English defeat the French and rule Eastern
North America
Native American Reaction
French and Dutch fur traders cooperate,
at least at first, with native American peoples
English colonization sparks conflict with
native Americans over land and religion
Metacom engages the English in King
Phillip’s War (epic fail)
Smallpox, measles, and influenza continue
to decimate the Native populations