Other important voyages of exploration during this era included Ferdinand Magellan's attempted circumnavigation of the globe, the search for a trade route to Asia through the Northwest Passage , and Captain James Cook's voyages that allowed him to map various areas and travel as far as Alaska. The Age of Exploration ended in the early 17th century after technological advancements and increased knowledge of the world allowed Europeans to travel easily across the globe by sea.
The creation of permanent settlements and colonies created a network of communication and trade, therefore ending the need to search for new routes. It is important to note that exploration did not cease entirely at this time. Eastern Australia was not officially claimed for Britain by Capt. James Cook until , while much of the Arctic and Antarctic were not explored until the 19th century.
Much of Africa also was unexplored by Westerners until the early 20th centuries. The Age of Exploration had a significant impact on geography. By traveling to different regions around the globe, explorers were able to learn more about areas such as Africa and the Americas and bring that knowledge back to Europe. Methods of navigation and mapping improved as a result of the travels of people such as Prince Henry the Navigator. Prior to his expeditions, navigators had used traditional portolan charts, which were based on coastlines and ports of call, keeping sailors close to shore.
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The Spanish and Portuguese explorers who journeyed into the unknown created the world's first nautical maps, delineating not just the geography of the lands they found but also the seaward routes and ocean currents that led them there. As technology advanced and known territory expanded, maps and mapmaking became more and more sophisticated. These explorations also introduced a whole new world of flora and fauna to Europeans.
Corn, now a staple of much of the world's diet, was unknown to Westerners until the time of the Spanish conquest, as were sweet potatoes and peanuts. Likewise, Europeans had never seen turkeys, llamas, or squirrels before setting foot in the Americas. The Age of Exploration served as a stepping stone for geographic knowledge. It allowed more people to see and study various areas around the world, which increased geographic study, giving us the basis for much of the knowledge we have today.
The effects of colonization still persist as well, with many of the world's former colonies still considered the "developing" world and the colonizers the First World countries, holding a majority of the world's wealth and receiving a majority of its annual income. Share Flipboard Email. Table of Contents Expand. The Birth of the Age of Exploration. The Discovery of the New World. Opening the Americas. The End of the Era.
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Contributions to Science. Long-Term Impact. Updated January 24, Impact of the Age of Exploration Explorers learned more about areas such as Africa and the Americas and brought that knowledge back to Europe. Massive wealth accrued to European colonizers due to trade in goods, spices, and precious metals.
Twice before, in and , Columbus had presented the project to king John II of Portugal, who rejected it. Columbus first sailed to the Canary Islands, where he restocked for what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean, crossing a section of the Atlantic that became known as the Sargasso Sea. Columbus left 39 men behind and founded the settlement of La Navidad in what is present-day Haiti.
Following the first American voyage, Columbus made three more. Their transfer to Spain resulted in the death and disease of hundreds of the captives. The object of the third voyage was to verify the existence of a continent that King John II of Portugal claimed was located to the southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. In , Columbus left port with a fleet of six ships. He explored the Gulf of Paria, which separates Trinidad from mainland Venezuela, and then the mainland of South America.
Columbus described these new lands as belonging to a previously unknown new continent, but he pictured them hanging from China. Finally, the fourth voyage, nominally in search of a westward passage to the Indian Ocean, left Spain in After his ships sustained serious damage in a storm off the coast of Cuba, Columbus and his men remained stranded on Jamaica for a year. Help finally arrived and Columbus and his men arrived in Castile in November An agreement was reached in with the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the world between the two powers.
In the treaty, the Portuguese received everything outside Europe east of a line that ran leagues west of the Cape Verde islands already Portuguese , and the islands reached by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage claimed for Spain—Cuba, and Hispaniola. The Spanish Castile received everything west of this line, territory that was still almost completely unknown, and proved to be mostly the western part of the Americas, plus the Pacific Ocean islands.
After Columbus, the Spanish colonization of the Americas was led by a series of soldier-explorers, called conquistadors.
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The Spanish forces, in addition to significant armament and equestrian advantages, exploited the rivalries between competing indigenous peoples, tribes, and nations, some of which were willing to form alliances with the Spanish in order to defeat their more powerful enemies, such as the Aztecs or Incas—a tactic that would be extensively used by later European colonial powers.
The Spanish conquest was also facilitated by the spread of diseases e. Of equal importance was the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. It was the first step in a long campaign that took decades of fighting, but ended in Spanish victory in and colonization of the region as the Viceroyalty of Peru. The conquest of the Inca Empire led to spin-off campaigns into present-day Chile and Colombia, as well as expeditions towards the Amazon Basin.
The sea route east by south to Cathay
The Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan died while in the Philippines commanding a Castilian expedition in , which was the first to circumnavigate the globe. Therefore, Spain sought to enforce their rights in the Moluccan islands, which led a conflict with the Portuguese, but the issue was resolved with the Treaty of Zaragoza From there, the goods were transshipped across Mexico to the Spanish treasure fleets, for shipment to Spain. The Spanish trading post of Manila was established to facilitate this trade in Throughout the 17th century, the British established numerous successful American colonies and dominated the Atlantic slave trade, which eventually led to creating the most powerful European empire.
The foundations of the British Empire were laid when England and Scotland were separate kingdoms. Spain put limited efforts into exploring the northern part of the Americas, as its resources were concentrated in Central and South America where more wealth had been found. Cabot sailed in , five years after Europeans reached America, and although he successfully made landfall on the coast of Newfoundland mistakenly believing, like Christopher Columbus, that he had reached Asia , there was no attempt to found a colony.
Cabot led another voyage to the Americas the following year, but nothing was heard of his ships again. No further attempts to establish English colonies in the Americas were made until well into the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, during the last decades of the 16th century. In the meantime, the Protestant Reformation had turned England and Catholic Spain into implacable enemies.
In , the English Crown encouraged the privateers John Hawkins and Francis Drake to engage in slave-raiding attacks against Spanish and Portuguese ships off the coast of West Africa, with the aim of breaking into the Atlantic trade system. With his incursion into the Pacific, he inaugurated an era of privateering and piracy in the western coast of the Americas—an area that had previously been free of piracy.
In , Elizabeth I granted a patent to Humphrey Gilbert for discovery and overseas exploration. That year, Gilbert sailed for the West Indies with the intention of engaging in piracy and establishing a colony in North America, but the expedition was aborted before it had crossed the Atlantic.
In , he embarked on a second attempt, on this occasion to the island of Newfoundland whose harbor he formally claimed for England, although no settlers were left behind. Gilbert did not survive the return journey to England, and was succeeded by his half-brother, Walter Raleigh, who was granted his own patent by Elizabeth in Later that year, Raleigh founded the colony of Roanoke on the coast of present-day North Carolina, but lack of supplies caused the colony to fail.
The colonies soon adopted the system of sugar plantations, successfully used by the Portuguese in Brazil, which depended on slave labor, and—at first—Dutch ships, to sell the slaves and buy the sugar.
To ensure that the increasingly healthy profits of this trade remained in English hands, Parliament decreed in the Navigation Acts that only English ships would be able to ply their trade in English colonies. In , England annexed the island of Jamaica from the Spanish, and in succeeded in colonizing the Bahamas. African slaves working in 17th-century Virginia tobacco cultivation , by an unknown artist, Until the abolition of the slave trade in , Britain was responsible for the transportation of 3. The introduction of the Navigation Acts led to war with the Dutch Republic.
In the early stages of this First Anglo-Dutch War , the superiority of the large, heavily armed English ships was offset by superior Dutch tactical organization. English tactical improvements resulted in a series of crushing victories in , bringing peace on favorable terms. This was the first war fought largely, on the English side, by purpose-built, state-owned warships. In , Plymouth was founded as a haven for puritan religious separatists, later known as the Pilgrims. The Province of Carolina was founded in In , the colony of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn.
The American colonies were less financially successful than those of the Caribbean, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger numbers of English emigrants who preferred their temperate climates. From the outset, slavery was the basis of the British Empire in the West Indies. For the slave traders, the trade was extremely profitable, and became a major economic mainstay. Map of the British colonies in North America, to Although Britain was relatively late in its efforts to explore and colonize the New World, lagging behind Spain and Portugal, it eventually gained significant territories in North America and the Caribbean.
The French first came to the New World as explorers, seeking a route to the Pacific Ocean and wealth. Lawrence River. A number of other failed attempts to establish French settlement in North America followed throughout the rest of the 16th century. It was the first province of New France. However, initial French attempts at settling the region met with failure. Although, through alliances with various Native American tribes, the French were able to exert a loose control over much of the North American continent, areas of French settlement were generally limited to the St.
Lawrence River Valley. Prior to the establishment of the Sovereign Council, the territories of New France were developed as mercantile colonies. It was only after that France gave its American colonies the proper means to develop population colonies comparable to that of the British. However, there was relatively little interest in colonialism in France, which concentrated on dominance within Europe, and for most of its history, New France was far behind the British North American colonies in both population and economic development.
Acadia itself was lost to the British in In , French territorial claims in North America expanded still further, with the foundation of Louisiana in the basin of the Mississippi River. The extensive trading network throughout the region connected to Canada through the Great Lakes, was maintained through a vast system of fortifications, many of them centered in the Illinois Country and in present-day Arkansas. As the French empire in North America grew, the French also began to build a smaller but more profitable empire in the West Indies.
Settlement along the South American coast in what is today French Guiana began in , and a colony was founded on Saint Kitts in Colonies in Guadeloupe and Martinique were founded in and on Saint Lucia in The food-producing plantations of these colonies were built and sustained through slavery, with the supply of slaves dependent on the African slave trade. Local resistance by the indigenous peoples resulted in the Carib Expulsion of In the 18th century, Saint-Domingue grew to be the richest sugar colony in the Caribbean.
In the middle of the 18th century, a series of colonial conflicts began between France and Britain, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of most of the first French colonial empire and the near complete expulsion of France from the Americas. In Senegal in West Africa, the French began to establish trading posts along the coast in In , the French East India Company was established to compete for trade in the east. While the French never rebuilt its American gains, their influence in Africa and Asia expanded significantly over the course of the 19th century.
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Search for:. Key Takeaways Key Points European medieval knowledge about Asia beyond the reach of Byzantine Empire was sourced in partial reports, often obscured by legends. It contains maps showing the Eurasian continent in its entirety, but only the northern part of the African continent. It remained the most accurate world map for the next three centuries. Between and , the Yongle Emperor of Ming China sponsored a series of long range tributary missions.
A series of European expeditions crossing Eurasia by land in the late Middle Ages marked a prelude to the Age of Discovery.
Christian embassies were sent as far as Karakorum during the Mongol invasions of Syria. Although he was not the first European to reach China, he was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experience. The book inspired Christopher Columbus and many other travelers in the following Age of Discovery. Key Terms Tabula Rogeriana : A book containing a description of the world and world map created by the Arab geographer, Muhammad al-Idrisi, in Written in Arabic, it is divided into seven climate zones and contains maps showing the Eurasian continent in its entirety, but only the northern part of the African continent.
The map is oriented with the North at the bottom. Maritime republics : City-states that flourished in Italy and across the Mediterranean. From the 10th to the 13th centuries, they built fleets of ships both for their own protection and to support extensive trade networks across the Mediterranean, giving them an essential role in the Crusades.
Portuguese Explorers During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese explorers were at the forefront of European overseas exploration, which led them to reach India, establish multiple trading posts in Asia and Africa, and settle what would become Brazil, creating one of the most powerful empires. Key Takeaways Key Points Portuguese sailors were at the vanguard of European overseas exploration, discovering and mapping the coasts of Africa, Asia, and Brazil. As early as , King Denis made an agreement with Genoese merchant sailor Manuel Pessanha, laying the basis for the Portuguese Navy and the establishment of a powerful Genoese merchant community in Portugal.
In , the city of Ceuta was occupied by the Portuguese in an effort to control navigation of the African coast. Henry the Navigator, aware of profit possibilities in the Saharan trade routes, invested in sponsoring voyages that, within two decades of exploration, allowed Portuguese ships to bypass the Sahara. The Portuguese goal of finding a sea route to Asia was finally achieved in a ground-breaking voyage commanded by Vasco da Gama, who reached Calicut in western India in , becoming the first European to reach India.
While following the same south-westerly route as Gama across the Atlantic Ocean, Cabral made landfall on the Brazilian coast— the territory that he recommended Portugal settle. Key Terms Vasco da Gama : A Portuguese explorer and one of the most famous and celebrated explorers from the Age of Discovery; the first European to reach India by sea.