The reasons behind the so-called European "Age of Exploration" included scouting for trade routes, investigating foreign lands and acquiring wealth. Many explorers were also looking for adventure, spurred on by tales of the earlier Viking expeditions to the New World.Know More
Three major developments in Europe made such exploration possible. The first was the Protestant Reformation, a religious movement characterized by direct, individual relationships with God. Coupled with other cultural developments, such as the Renaissance and its emphasis on self-determination, this laid a strong ideological foundation for exploratory expeditions abroad.
The second development was the consolidation of power within European countries, allowing funds that were previously spent on domestic power struggles to be spent on exploration instead. Columbus's sponsors, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, for example, had recently defeated the Moors.
The third development was technological; the inventions of the astrolabe and magnetic compass were invaluable for reliable navigation, and a new type of ship, the caravel, allowed for greater speeds and therefore shorter, more efficient voyages.
Like other explorers of the time, many of whom sought to find a shipping route to India, Christopher Columbus wanted to sail to the East via the West. When he reached the Bahamas, he imagined that Japan was close and, upon landing in Cuba, that he had reached China. The term "Indian" (as in, native of the Indian Ocean region) was applied to the people he encountered because of this error.Learn more about Exploration & Imperialism
The three main reasons for European exploration of the North American continent were finding an alternate passageway to China and the eastern trade markets, the exploitation of labor and resources in the new world and spreading European-style civilization. In addition to building colonial empires in North America, the European powers were able to use the wealth extracted from those colonies to finance building empires elsewhere. Europeans also obtained new foods from North America, such as tomatoes, beans, squash and corn.Full Answer >
Europeans searched for an all-water route to India and Asia because the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople, closing off the trade routes to the Far East. A route around Africa's Cape of Good Hope was discovered by Vasco da Gama in 1498.Full Answer >
Marco Polo is best known for his accomplishments as a world traveler and pioneer in expanding trade routes in Asia, including what is now called the Silk Road. Marco Polo was born in Europe in 1254 and traveled to China with his uncle and father, where he began traveling on expeditions commissioned by Khubilai Khan.Full Answer >
Marco Polo's motivation for exploration was primarily financial, since he belonged to a family of merchants. East Asia, particularly China, offered valuable goods to be sold and traded in Europe. His motivation to explore was also familial, as he left on his voyage with his father and uncle.Full Answer >