Exploration: New Lands, New Worlds (Discovering the Earth)

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Prior to the fifteenth century Spain and Portugal largely relied on a ship known as the galley. Although galleys were fast and manoeuvrable, they were designed for use in the confined waters of the Mediterranean, and were unstable and inefficient in the open ocean. To cope with oceanic voyages, European sailors adapted a ship known as the cog , largely used in the Baltic and North Sea , which they improved by adding sail designs used in the Islamic world. These new ships, known as caravels , had deep keels, which gave them stability, combined with lateen sails , which allowed them to best exploit oceanic winds.

The astrolabe was a new navigational instrument in Europe that borrowed from the Islamic world, which used it in deserts.

Using coordinates via the sky, one rotation of the astrolabe's plate, called a tympan , represented the passage of one day, allowing sailors to approximate the time, direction in which they were sailing, and the number of days passed. The astrolabe was replaced by the sextant as the chief navigational instrument in the 18th century.

The sextant measured celestial objects in relation to the horizon, as opposed to measuring them in relation to the instrument. As a result, explorers were now able to sight the sun at noon and determine their latitude, which made this instrument more accurate than the astrolabe. In , the Portuguese established a claim to some cities Ceuta, Tangiers on what is today the Kingdom of Morocco , and in they began the systematic exploration of the west African coast. In August , Christopher Columbus , whose nationality is still today subject to much debate, set sail on behalf of Ferdinand and Isabella whose marriage had united their crowns forming what is still today the Kingdom of Spain, and on October 12 of that same year, he eventually reached the Bahamas thinking it was the East Indies.

National Geographic - America Before Columbus

In his mind he had reached the eastern end of the rich lands of India and China described in the thirteenth century by the Venetian explorer Marco Polo. As a result, a race for more land, especially in the so-called "East Indies" arose. In , a papal decree granted all land south of the Canary Islands to Portugal, however, and the areas explored by Columbus were thus Portuguese territories.

In , the Spanish-descendant Pope Alexander VI , declared that all lands west of the longitude of the Cape Verde Islands should belong to Spain while new lands discovered east of that line would belong to Portugal.

What Was The Age Of Exploration Or The Age Of Discovery?

These events led to increasing tension between the two powers given the fact that the king of Portugal saw the role of Pope Alexander VI Borgia as biased towards Spain. His role in the matter is still today a matter of strong controversy between European historians of that period. The resolution to this occurred in at the Treaty of Tordesillas , creating, after long and tense diplomatic negotiations between the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, a dividing line leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. Portugal received the west African Coast and the Indian Ocean route to India, as well as part of the Pacific Ocean waterways, while Spain gained the Western Atlantic Ocean and the lands further to the west.

King John II of Portugal, however, seems to have had prior knowledge of the location of that Brazilian territory, for in the difficult negotiations of the Treaty of Tordesillas he managed, in a move still open for debate amongst historians of the period today, to push the dividing line further to the west, making it possible to celebrate the official discovery of Brazil and the reclaiming of the land only in , already under the auspices of the treaty.

Prince Henry "the Navigator" financially supported various voyages. He created a school for the advancement of navigation, laying the groundwork for Portugal to become a leader in the Age of Exploration. Bartolomeu Dias , the first European to sail around the Cape of Good Hope , also found that India was reachable by sailing around the coast of the continent.

As a result, trade with Asia and India was made considerably easier because travellers would no longer have to travel through the Middle East. Thus, there was a rise in Atlantic trading countries and a decline in Middle East and Mediterranean countries. Vasco da Gama was the first to successfully sail directly from Europe to India in This was an important step for Europe because it created a sea route from Europe that would allow trade with the Far East instead of using the Silk Road Caravan route.

He first landed in modern-day Bahia. Magellan was a Portuguese explorer sailing in a Spanish expedition, and was the first person to sail the Pacific Ocean and around South America. He attempted to circumnavigate the globe but died in the Philippines, although his crew successfully completed the voyage. One of his ships led by Juan Sebastian Elcano, who took over after Magellan died, made all the way around the globe!

Francis Xavier was a Spanish missionary, born in the castle of Xavier, a village near the city of Pamplona, from where he has his name. He was a member of the nobility and during his student years in Paris he became friends with Ignacio de Loiola with whom he would found the Jesuit Order He travelled extensively around Africa, India, the South Pacific, and even Japan and China. Pizarro was a Spanish explorer who militarily fought and conquered the Incan people and culture, claiming most of South America for Spain.

He gained immense gold and riches for Spain from the defeat of the Incan empire. Columbus , an explorer thought to be of Genoa Italy , who after many unsuccessful attempts at finding patronship, explored the possibility of a western passage to the East Indies for the Spanish crown. Due to miscalculations on the circumference of the world Columbus did not account for the possibility of another series of continents between Europe and Asia, Columbus discovered the Caribbean in He introduced Spanish trade with the Americas which allowed for an exchange of cultures, diseases and trade goods, known as The Grand Exchange , whose consequences, good and bad, are still being experienced today.

Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who served the King of Spain, and was the first person to sail the Pacific Ocean and around South America. He attempted to be the first to circumnavigate the globe but was killed in the Philippines. His crew managed to successfully complete the voyage under the leadership of the Spanish Juan Sebastian del Cano.

The sea route east by south to Cathay

His parents had died when he was ten years old and he was sent to Lisbon in Portugal when he was twelve. He was the first to see the Pacific Ocean from America, and he settled much of the island of Hispaniola. Through decisive use of superior weapons and native assistance, also the help of European disease which had already wrecked native populations, successfully conquered the Aztecs capturing Montezuma II , the current emperor, the city of Tenochtitlan and looting large amounts of Aztec gold.


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Las Casas was a Spanish priest who advocated civil rights for Native Americans and strongly protested the way they were enslaved and badly treated. He had served as the Governor of Puerto Rico when he started his own expedition in , discovering Florida on March 27 of the same year and reaching its eastern coast on April 2. He called the land Florida Spanish for flowery , either because of the vegetation he saw there, or it was Easter Spanish: Pascua Florida that time.

De Leon then organized subsequent voyages to Florida; the last one occurring in when he died. Though he is most remembered for helping command the English fleet against the Spanish Armada , he also spent many years in the Caribbean and successfully circumnavigated the world between LaSalle was born in Rouen, France.

Old and new worlds collide

He originally studied to be a Jesuit, but left the school to find adventure. He sailed to a French colony in Canada and became a fur trader. Indians told him of two great rivers the Mississippi and Ohio. He made several explorations of them. He died when his men revelled in about Marquette was born in Laon, France, in the summer of He joined the Jesuits at age seventeen. The Jesuits told him to go be a missionary in Quebec.

He founded missions all over the place. He explored many rivers. He died, age Jolliet was born in a settlement near Quebec City. He was going to be a Jesuit priest, but abandoned these plans. He explored many rivers with Marquette. His place and date of death is unknown. Jacques Cartier was an explorer who claimed Canada for France. He was born in Saint Malo, France in He made three important voyages. He died in Saint Malo, in , aged Samuel de Champlain was the "Father of New France". Founded Quebec City and today Lake Champlain is named in his honor.

On June 5, Barentsz left the island of Texel aboard the small ship Mercury, as part of a group of three ships sent out in separate directions to try and enter the Kara Sea, with the hopes of finding the Northeast passage above Siberia. Later in the journey, Barentsz reached the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, and followed it northward before being forced to turn back in the face of large icebergs.

Although they did not reach their ultimate goal, the trip was considered a success. In the 12th century, Muhammad al-Idrisi, an Arab geographer, created a world map for the King of Sicily.

Al-Idrisi collected information from Norman explorers and Islamic merchants, creating the most complex and thorough world map of its time. However, little was known about the southern reaches of the African continent, so it was excluded. This map, the Tabula Rogeriana, provided inspiration to a number of curious explorers. From the late 13th to early 15th century the Middle Ages , some explorers traveled by land from to Eurasia and beyond, using pre-existing trade routes from Eurasia to the Middle East to China.

The Vikings Discover the New World

These trips were carried out by Italian traders, Christian missionaries, and Russian royalty. When the Yongle Emperor of China died, however, the new Emperor advocated isolationism and abolished international exploration and trade.


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Several books were published about travel accounts, feeding the greater of the world and its undiscovered places. The Portuguese are often credited with making the first discoveries of the Age of Exploration. These exploration parties traveled down the west coast of Africa and eventually to the Cape of Good Hope and into the Indian Ocean by A decade later, Vasco de Gama discovered the way around the Cape of Good Hope and to India, which established the first sea route between Portugal and India.

Portuguese exploration continued to Japan in and to Brazil in Late in the 15th century, Spain became involved in sea exploration as well in order to overcome the monopoly that Portugal held over the west African trade route. His exploration crew first landed in the already inhabited Canary Islands before proceeding to the Bahamas.

He erroneously believed that he had landed in the West Indies. Doubts began to raise that this new Atlantic path was actually leading to Asia. Explorers began to learn significantly more about these new lands and by , the Pacific Ocean was reached by crossing the Isthmus of Panama.

Discovering that the Pacific Ocean is located on the other side of the New World led to a renewed desire to explore. Between and , Spanish crews sailed the west coast of South America, while the Portuguese were exploring off the coast of Southeast Asia. This exploration resulted in the first circumnavigation of the world in Magellan took off from Seville with a fleet of 5 ships, sailing south toward South America and navigating around the southern tip known as Tierra del Fuego.

European History/Exploration and Discovery - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

The crew continued across the Pacific Ocean, landed in the Spice Islands in , and returned to Spain in September of Exploration increasingly left the water and entered the land, resulting in invasions and colonizations throughout the Americas. Northern European countries and Russia became involved in world exploration in the latter part of the 16th century further exploring North America, Siberia, New Zealand, and Australia.

The Age of Exploration has had perhaps one of the greatest impacts on global relations of any other historic period or event. Because of this widespread discovery and exploration movement, New World and Old World products were exchanged. This brought horses, cows, and sheep from Europe to the New World and tobacco, cotton, potatoes, and corn to the Old World.

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