What was the cause of the early European voyages of exploration?

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Most of the earliest European voyages of exploration were carried out by the Portuguese. One of the key people behind this movement was Prince Henry, "the Navigator." Beginning around the year 1418, Henry began funding expeditions south along the western coast of Africa. Part of the motivation of Henry and others like him was to learn more about the Muslims who lived in the region. As the Crusades in the Holy Land increasingly became failures for the Christians, there were many in Europe who hoped to conquer Islam in West Africa and spread their religion to that area. Many missionaries sailed alongside other European explorers with the hope of bringing their faith to new lands.

Perhaps the primary motivation for early European exploration was to further trade. The ancient Silk Road across Asia was becoming increasingly expensive and unpredictable to use. Spices, silks, and other luxury goods from the Far East could bring great wealth to the Europeans who could secure them. Many...

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