How did Europeans become interested in trade with Asia?  

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Prior to the 1400s, Constantinople was a major center for trading between European and Asian merchants.  When the Ottoman Turks took over Constantinople, trade was disrupted.  This led European traders to seek a new way to trade with the Asian countries.  Other routes, including those by water, were explored.  This...

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Prior to the 1400s, Constantinople was a major center for trading between European and Asian merchants.  When the Ottoman Turks took over Constantinople, trade was disrupted.  This led European traders to seek a new way to trade with the Asian countries.  Other routes, including those by water, were explored.  This desire for new trade routes led Christopher Columbus to seek a route to Asia across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492.

It was in 1498 that the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived in Asia.  This man's arrival can be described as the establishment of

"the first direct contact between western Europe and maritime Asia, ushering in a period of commercial, cultural and technological exchange."

This establishment of contact and trade routes changed the availability of goods available to Europeans.  Trade between the two continents became much more widespread.  Access to goods increased.  Foods and other goods were introduced to Europe in larger quantities and became part of their daily lives.  Tea and spices were introduced and became essential to European diets.  Fabrics such as silk and cotton also came from Asian traders.  The Portuguese found that there were already established trading networks in Asia when they arrived, which made trade easier.

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