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What was the purpose of Christopher Columbus' first voyage?

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prettypinkgal | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:05 AM via web

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What was the purpose of Christopher Columbus' first voyage?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:18 AM (Answer #1)

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The purpose of Christopher Columbus’s first voyage was to find a shorter route to Asia.  Of course, Columbus failed in this attempt.  Instead of finding Asia, he found the “New World.”

During Columbus’s time, trade between Europe and Asia was extremely lucrative.  This was largely because Asia had spices.  Spices were very important in Europe at the time.  They were used for flavoring food, but also for preserving it at a time when there was no real way to refrigerate food.  The spices that Europeans wanted so badly could only be found in Asia.  Therefore whoever controlled trade with Asia could make tremendous amounts of money.

Trade with Asia was dominated by the Muslims and the Italians.  This was because most trade in spices was overland from East Asia to the Middle East and from there to Italy.  Portugal had also started to become a player because Portuguese navigators had found the way around Africa to Asia.  Spain was not yet a player in the trade.  Columbus’s idea, therefore, sounded good to the rulers of Spain.  They financed his expedition in hopes of getting a foothold in the spice trade.

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