European Exploration of America

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What were the 3 main reasons European explorers had to make ocean voyages in the late 1400s and early 1500s?

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Another factor we need to take into consideration is a growing thirst for knowledge. The Renaissance in Europe had led to the enormous expansion of learning in a variety of areas. The spirit of Renaissance humanism was infused with an intellectual curiosity that led to a much greater degree of engagement with the wider world. Just as the Renaissance had opened up new vistas of knowledge, so too did it open up large, hitherto unexplored parts of the world to scientific investigation. All of a sudden, the world became a much bigger place and the opportunities to chart, measure, and ultimately comprehend it, seemed endless.

We also shouldn't under-emphasize the role that a lust for glory and prestige played in the great Age of Exploration. Each nation saw the conquest of new worlds as greatly redounding to their benefit, allowing them to claim victory over their sworn enemies and rivals. Opportunities for territorial expansion were somewhat limited in Europe and would in any case lead to potentially long and bloody conflicts. Despite the enormous economic costs involved in exploration, the political risks were much less significant. Whichever country achieved success in their colonial ventures would enjoy considerable leverage in the fraught, competitive world of European power politics.

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One reason for exploring was to find an alternative trade route to Asia.  Europeans frequently traded with merchants from China and other Asian countries, but travel to that region with difficult and time-consuming.  Some of the routes were also "controlled by other countries that blocked direct trade between European and Asian nations."  Christopher Columbus was one of the explorers whose goal it was to find a sea route to Asia.

Another reason for exploring and making the voyage across the ocean was to conquer and claim land.  Once European rulers knew that there was a vast amount of land that was somewhat uninhabited and unclaimed by other nations, they sought to claim it for their own.  Cortés and de Soto were two famous Spanish conquistadors who claimed land for their country.  One reason that they claimed the land was to gain riches from it.

A third reason for exploration was to spread the message of Christianity.  Some explorers believed that their journeys were the will of God.  They believed it to be their duty to convert the native people to Christianity.

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