Changes in Europe
Emerging from the Dark Ages
The Crusades
Began as early as 1095 with the 1st Crusades to Jerusalem
Tried to regain the holy sites for the Catholic Church
Put Europe in contact with Arab merchants & goods from the
Far East
Marco Polo (1271-1288)
Traveled 17,000 miles to China
1296 Wrote Travels to
tell Europeans about what he saw
Why did Europeans begin exploring?
1. Growth of Trade
European merchants could make greater profits selling eastern
Perfumes, spices, silks, gems, etc.
Arab merchants charged huge fees to ship goods through them
Needed their own route to Asia
2. Growth of Ideas
1300 – In Italy and eventually all Europe an interest in classical
society emerged (Greek/Roman works/ideas)
Began to use science and reason to explain things instead of
Art became more realistic, writing about man/universe
3. The Renaissance (Rebirth)
A period of artistic and intellectual creativity
Encouraged new ideas, and set new goals across Europe
Who Explored and why?
Prior to this time power was divided among several small lords
across Europe
Europe was now divided into a handful of large nation-states
Spain, Portugal, France, and England
Strong monarchs - national laws, courts, taxes and armies
These ambitious leaders wanted to make their countries
the strongest and wealthiest
How did Technology affect exploration?
Technology is the use of scientific knowledge for practical
1. Printing Press (1450s)–more access to knowledge awaken
the imagination
2. Map Improvements – more accurate accounts, added ocean
currents, latitude lines
3. Navigation – astrolabe (measured star positions), magnetic
compass (direction)
4. Ships – stern rudder & triangular sail (sail into wind)
caravel (Portuguese) – this three-masted ship was faster and
larger, able to float in shallow waters
African Kingdoms
Had always been a center of trade along the Mediterranean Sea
Expanded to south of the Sahara along the West Coast of Africa
Portuguese used Africa because Spain wouldn’t allow access
to the Mediterranean Sea
Traded with the nations like the Ghana, Mali and Songhai
in W. Africa
Traded for gold, salt and slaves
Great leaders like Mansa Musa
turned cities like Timbuktu into
Islamic centers of art and learning
Portuguese traders
Enjoyed the access to W. African gold but wanted a route to Asia
Prince Henry “the Navigator” set up a center for exploration
Hired the best astronomers, geographers &
mathematicians to help them find a route to Asia around
Made it as far west as the Canary and Azores islands
King John II encouraged exploration down Gold Coast of Africa
Bartholomeu Dias – 1488 – made it
to Cape of Good Hope
Vasco da Gama – 1497/8 – made
it around Africa to India
Christopher Columbus
Born in Italy became an explorer for the Portuguese
Traveled from the Gold Coast to the Arctic Circle
Heard stories of Vikings traveling west and reaching land
Thought he could reach Asia by sailing west instead of
around Africa
The Portuguese weren’t interest so he went to Spain
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were jealous of
Portugal and agreed to sponsor Columbus’s
Christopher Columbus
His Voyages
Aug. 3, 1492 – Columbus left Palos, Spain with 3 ships
Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria
He altered the ships log to keep the crew from turning back
October 12, 1492 – reached San Salvador (thought it was the
East Indies
March 1493 returned to Spain
He was given the title: Admiral of the Ocean Sea
Made 3 more trips and claimed Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica,
Central and South America for Spain
Treaty of Tordesillas
The rivalry between Spain and Portugal only grew after
Columbus’ discoveries
1493 – Pope Alexander VI est. the Line of Demarcation
1. Gave Spain control
of all land west of
the line
2. Gave Portugal all
land east of the line
Spain gained control
of most of N. and
S. America
Portugal claimed Brazil
for themselves
The Columbian Exchange
The exchange of plants, animals, and
diseases that changed both American
and European society
Changes in diet:
Changes from disease: Europe – smallpox, influenza, measles
Caused the American pop. in Hispaniola to drop from 3 mil.
to 500
Spanish Exploration Beyond the Americas
Vasco Nunez de Balboa – 1513
Explored across Central America and
claimed the Pacific Ocean for Spain
Spain still wanted a sea route to Asia
Ferdinand Magellan – 1519
He found a passage around South America in 1520
(Straits of Magellan)
He thought his crew would reach Asia in a few
weeks based upon calculations of the size of the
Four months later they reached the Philippines
where he was killed
Only 18 crew members made it to Spain
1st to circumnavigate the globe
Spanish Empire in the Americas
Spanish conquistadors received grants from Spain for 1/5 of all
treasures found
Spain in South and Central America
Had better weapons and war tactics
Took advantage of the Native American Empires cruelty
Brought diseases that killed off the native population
Cortes (1519-1521)
Landed in Mexico and learned of the
Formed alliances with their neighbors
Captured and killed Montezuma and
destroyed Tenochtitlan
Pizarro (1530-1532)
Sailed for Peru to find the wealthy
Incan Empire
Captured and eventually killed their
Controlled the Incan Empire by 1535
Spain in North America
Came looking for gold and silver like they found in the South
PonceDe Leon – explored Florida, found Fountain of Youth
Cabeza de Vaca & others searched for Cibola (7 Cities of
Gold) – they didn’t exist
Hernando de Soto searched southeast – found Miss. River
De Coronado & Onate explored the southwest
“ . . . After nine days' march I reached some plains, so vast that I did not find
their limit anywhere that I went, although I traveled over them for more than
300 leagues. And I found such a quantity of cows in these, of the kind that I
wrote Your Majesty about, which they have in this country, that it is impossible
to number them, for while I was journeying through these plains, until I
returned to where I first found them, there was not a day that I lost sight of
them. And after seventeen days' march I came to a settlement of Indians who
are called Querechos, who travel around with these cows, who do not plant,
and who eat the raw flesh and drink the blood of the cows they kill, and they
tan the skins of the cows, with which all the people of this country dress
themselves here. . . .”
“. . . [The province of Quivira] is the best I have ever seen for producing all the
products of Spain. . . the land itself being very fat and black and being very
well watered by the rivulets and springs and rivers, . . . I have treated the
natives of this province, and all the others whom I found wherever I went, as
well as was possible, agreeably to what Your Majesty had commanded, . . .
[T]here is not any gold nor any other metal in all that country, and the other
things of which they had told me are nothing but little villages, . . .”
–Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, Letter to Charles I of Spain
Spanish society in America
Spain controlled their colonies through the viceroy (governor)
Had 3 types of settlements
Pueblos – towns, trade centers
Missions – religious communities for conversion
Presidios – forts, protected missions and pueblos
Had a detailed social class structure
Peninsulares – born in Spain, control land & govt.
Creoles – born in America to Spanish parents
Mestizos – mix of Spanish and American parents
Native Americans – lived in poverty
Africans – brought as slaves
Spanish society in America (continued)
Economic effect on Native people
Encomienda – taxation of natives – forced many into slavery
Bartolome de las Casas – Spanish priest
Wrote Spain and demanded change
1542 made illegal to enslave natives
Spain had no way to enforce the law
Plantation system – farming crops for cash not use
Sugar and Tobacco were the exported crops
Switched from native to African slaves after 1542
caused fewer problems and worked better in
Other Reasons for Exploration in North America
1. Protestant Reformation
The religious and historical movement when people began to
break with the Catholic church in Europe
Began in Germany (Luther), spread to France (Calvin)
and England (Henry VIII)
These rivalries between religions carried into America
Spanish and French – Catholics
Dutch and English – Protestants
2. Mercantilism
The power of a nation is based upon its wealth
Spain was becoming more powerful because of the gold
& silver from America
Colonies in America were great resources and also great
Other Reasons for Exploration in North America (continued)
3. Northwest Passage
A water route through the Americas to Asia
Mostly French & English explorers
Cabot (Eng.) – claimed present day Newfoundland
Da Verrazano (fr.) – eastern coast looking for a route
Cartier (Fr.) – explored St. Lawrence River & Montreal
Hudson (Dutch) – explored Hudson River & Hudson
4. Traders
French had many conflicts at home and didn’t build colonies
Instead concentrated on the fishing & fur resources
De Champlain – set up a trading post in Quebec
Trade spread throughout Canada & down the
Mississippi River Valley
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