European Exploration of America

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Explain the factors that led to European exploration in the 15th century.

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The factors that led to European exploration in the 15th century were multi-faceted. Initially, they were motivated by a desire to find faster and cheaper trade routes to Asia, where they could trade for spices. Spices were a lucrative commodity in Europe. For centuries, the spice trade was dominated by Muslim merchants who brought these spices to Europe through overland routes and charged a high premium for them. European merchants hoped that by establishing their own sea-routes, they could go directly to the source and gain better access to the spice trade. This was the primary motivation of Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus.

Another factor that aided European exploration during this period was improvements in sea-going technology. Better ship-building techniques and navigational advances, such as an improved compass and sextant, in combination with advances in cartography (map-making) meant that it became easier, faster, and relatively safer for European sailors to head out on...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 806 words.)

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