Atlantic Maritime Exploration
Assess the factors which stimulated Atlantic Maritime exploration in 15th century During the period of time 1400-1499 great gains were made by the Europeans in their quest for knowledge of the world they lived in. In this time period the Europeans circus-navigated Africa, located the territories of the West Indies and basically redrew the map Of the world. All these things had one thing in common; they were the result of extensive Atlantic maritime exploration.The reasons that European engaged in such aggressive exploration in 1 5th century can be attributed to several factors. These factors can be grouped into three major headings, technological and navigational advances, economic motives and religious cause. This essay will look at exactly how these factors stimulated Atlantic maritime exploration by focusing on the two most important Dates 1 5th century exploration; 1420 and 1492.
1420 marked the beginning of Prince Henry the navigator’s promotion of exploration around the coast of West Africa.Similarly 1 492 was the year in which Columbus set out westward. Both these days marked a shift n the focus of European exploration. This essay will seek to explain what the factors were motivated these two events. One of the principle reasons that the Europeans began looking at Atlantic exploration was the fact that they had finally amassed the tech analogical and navigational know-how to make the long voyages necessary for Atlantic exploration.The finally had the technology to overcome the many barriers to exploration such as the effect wind and currents had upon navigation as suggested by Thornton, “for the winds and currents created barriers to traffic for thousands of years. ” .
These barriers prevented maritime exploration until as Davidson states “Until theses the seaboard nations of Europe possessed no ships that were good enough for long range discovery…. Through the Arabs and Asian peoples, inventions of this kind became known to the Europeans of the Mediterranean.Now moving into the age of science, Europeans borrowed the new methods of sailing and navigating improved upon them, and began building long range ships of their own. ” This meant that obtaining the compass and advanced ship righting techniques from the Muslim traders enabled the Europeans to even think about engaging in airtime activities away from coastal waters as they allowed them to overcome the many navigational barriers that were present in Atlantic navigation.
A major stimulant for maritime exploration was the economic motives of the Europeans.Prior to 1415 the only way Europeans could obtain the spices, silks and gold from Asia was through the Italians who received them from Moslem merchants. This trade made the nations involved incredible rich as goods concerned were crucial aspect of life in Europe. Spices were valuable because of the flavor they gave to meat. In an age where refrigeration was unheard of having spices such as clove, peppers and cinnamon was often the difference between a meal of rotten meat and palatable dish. Gold was valuable because it was the major monetary currency of the day. A person’s wealth was measured by the amount of gold they possessed.
Due to the great value of these two commodities it is no surprise that the major economic stimulant for Atlantic maritime exploration was the search for an alternate route to the spices, textiles, and gold found in Africa and Asia. This was such an important factor because as these precious commodities ere not found in Europe itself they had to be obtained through Italian merchants who traded with Moslem traders for them. The fact that the goods had to go through So many middle men caused the prices Of the goods to be so high that it cost the other European merchants much to purchase them from the Italian merchant.This caused the amount of profits these merchants could make from the resale of these goods to be diminished. The main reason that the good were so expensive was the fact that because the goods had to be taken over land through out many Moslem kingdoms they were taxed in each kingdom. Thus each time a new tax was applied to the goods the Moslem merchants raised the price at which they would sell the goods at to recoup their expenses. Therefore as the Italian merchants had to cover their expenses that raised the prices of the goods also.
This fact proved economically unacceptable to the other European merchants.The high cost of purchasing these goods made European merchants willing to fund exploration to find an alternate route to the goods of India. The merchants believed that by finding the alternate route they could remove the middle men from the process of obtaining the goods and also as the route loud not have to go through any other kingdom the goods would not be subjected to the taxation with increased the price it cost to obtain the goods. Therefore by obtaining the goods at a cheaper price the merchant realized they would gain vastly increased profits.Similarly it was not only merchants that saw the importance of finding and controlling a shorter route to the riches of Africa and India. Nations also saw the great benefits controlling such routes would bring to them. This was the principle reason that nations such as Portugal and Spain pursued maritime exploration.
Portugal had to engage in this activity due to the fact that they did not have the natural resources in Portugal to engage in empire building. Prince Henry “the Navigator’ realized this and promoted the circus navigation of Africa in order to find a route to India in 1420 onwards.Likewise when Columbus set sail in 1492 to find his westward route to India he did this to secure a faster route to the riches of Asia for the benefit of Spain. The control of this route would mean that Spain would gain the vast riches associated with the route. This competition reinforces the idea that Isolable suggest, “The merchants also felt that if a nation state discovered a shorter more economical route to the east, they would reap the benefits long enjoyed by the Italian cities. They would supply all neighboring lands with oriental wares.Foreigners would thus pay every year a huge sum of profits to the fortunate possessor of the better route and the wealth that had made the Italian cities rich would consequently fertilize their own state.
” Religion was a major stimulant in European Atlantic exploration. The major religious motive for exploration was the spread of Christianity. Europeans believed hat if Christianity was spread then Salami’s power would be reduced and they could eventually crush this ‘pagan’ religion. Exploration came into Christianizes plan in the way that Christians wanted to find new places were they could spread their religion.As Wood states “it was not the quest for a labor pool that first stimulated this exploration. Rather Doom Henries hoped to spread the Christian gospel and to defeat the Muslim strongholds in North Africa. He also hoped eventually to make contact with the fabled Presser John as a prelude to a joint military expedition against Islam and to Sirius Islam trade.
” When Prince Henry the Navigator’ set out in 1420 to find Presser John in 141 5 his major motivation was the realization that in order for Christianity to prevail in crushing the Moslem states he would need the aid of a powerful ally.Thus the idea of a powerful Christian leader amidst the Moslem infidels was such a powerful attraction to a European like Prince Henry that he was willing to fund exploration to find such an ally. Europeans were not only afraid of the ideological conflict that Islam brought against Christianity. They were also concerned with the fact that due to the mount of wealth the control of the Indian and African over-land trade routs brought to Moslem states these Moslem states were becoming strong empires. The Europeans were afraid of such strong empires right at their door steps.The presence of these nations sparked a fear of a renovation of the Iberian Peninsula by moors. Europeans believed that if they could remove the revenue that made these nations powerful, the over-land trade routes it would lead to the decline of these nations ensuring the sovereignty of the Iberian states.
So when Prince Henry stressed the establishment of economic read routes on the West coast of Africa during the maritime expeditions he funded, he did it in an attempt to shift the trade away from these Moslem states and into a coastal trade with the Portuguese.Another factor that stimulated European maritime exploration was the adventurous nature of the sailors and other maritime personnel of the 1 5th century. This adventurism can be attributed to two major factors, firstly the premise of free thinking promoted by the renaissance age caused persons to actually begin to think contradicting of certain established principles and levels. Two ways in which free thinking played a part in stimulating exploration are Gill Manes voyage beyond Cape Picador in 1434 and Christopher Columbus’ voyage west in 1492.Manes broke the popular superstition that sailing beyond Cape Picador would lead you to a sea of darkness impossible to escape from. This act was the spark the lead to the circus navigation of Africa. Similarly when Columbus set sail in 1492 the basis of his navigational strategy conflicted with current day fundamental knowledge.
In 1492 the world was believed to be flat, thus traveling in one erection for too long would result in falling off of the world.Columbus’ theory of sailing west to get east because the world was round was regarded as ludicrous but it resulted in Columbus locating the territories of the West Indies. The second factor that led to adventurism was the writing of other explorer kindled the imagination of 15th century explorers. These earlier writings also provided a template from which 1 SST century explorers based their own expeditions on. The most influential of these writing is Marco Polo’s “The Book Seer Marco Polo concerning the Kingdom and Marvels of the East” .This as the first book to openly reveal the wealth available in china. The impact this book had upon 15th century explorers can best be seen in the life of Christopher Columbus who used this book as the inspiration for his maritime expeditions.
It can be seen from the information stated above that the several factors were responsible for the amount of maritime exploration done by European nations in the 15th century. What is clearly seen is that no one was more important than another; instead it can be said they were all responsible equally for this exploration.The example that though European merchants always wanted to find an alternate route to the India so as to obtain spices however it was not until they could create ships capable of traversing the Atlantic could this want be fulfilled shows how these factors worked together to create the perfect atmosphere for exploration to take place. Sailors had the technological ability, monetary funding and the religious support necessary to make them feel compelled to sail the high seas.