Factors that Encouraged Europeans’ to Pursue Voyages of Exploration


Picture taken from http://malct32.blogspot.com/2010/08/blog-post.html

There are many reasons why explores embarked on voyages of discovery. There was a whole world out there waiting for someone to set foot on it. There were spices, gold and riches that had been untouched. There was religion that needed to be spread and taught. Technology was booming. Advances in traveling by boat had increased. The Europeans pursed voyages of exploration to establish trade routes expand their religion of Christianity and for riches of gold, silver and precious stones metals. As the saying goes…”money makes the world go round.”

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.
Christopher Columbus

Countries where European explores were from

· Portugal
· Spain
· France
· England


Around 1300's advances in ship-building technology led to ships that were sea-worthy enough to travel safely in Ocean. Advances in navigation equipments helped also. More narrow ships, triangle sails, compass and astrolabes were invented. Maps were more accurate. Because of these advance, explores were much more driven to venture out into the unknown.

Claudius Ptolemy

He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet. He was able to map out the world. He devised and provided instructions on how to created maps of the whole world. He put everything into a grid; he had latitude measured from the equator. He was a key person back in his time, although he did not create the map. He bettered them through his own methods of measurement.

Trade Routes

Trading is when a person receives something in exchange for something else. Examples of trading would be trading a warm fuzzy fur, in exchange for a barrel of salt. In modern times, giving a friend a toy that you own and they like, in exchange for a toy they own and you like. Trading has been around as long as people. “As civilization developed, so did trade. In fact, historians say that trade is a big part of what made civilization possible. Trade increased wealth and brought isolated peoples into contact with each other, resulting in exchanges of knowledge.” (Burgess, 2002)

Vasco De Gama

Dagama.GIFVasco da Gama was sent on an expedition to find an open trading link between Portugal and India.
Above pictures from http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/page/d/dagama.shtml

“On May 21, 1498, da Gama and his ships anchored off the port of Calicut. The Indians were at first friendly, but the Zamorin of Calicut was unimpressed by the cheap trinkets the Portuguese hoped to exchange for the riches of the subcontinent.” (Reid, The Silk and Spice Routes. Exploration by sea, 1994) Never the less, Vasco da Gama was successful and set back to sea headed home to Portugal with a ship full of spices and precious stone. The most important aspect he victoriously returned home with was an eastern trade route.

Outreach and Spreading the Knowledge of Religion

Europeans had a belief in religion and Christianity. Yes, there were many factors that drove the Europeans to get out there and explore their world, and one of those reasons was because they felt they needed to reform and convert every individual they encountered into Christians. “The period between about 1500 and 1750 brought a dramatic change. During this time, Christianity became the first religion to spread around the world.” (European Missionaries and the Spread of Christianity 1500-1750, 2010) Explorers had direction and navigation, but they also believed in and relied on their faith to get them through their rough voyages. Due to their faith, they spread their religion and beliefs from New World to New World.

Gold, Silver and Precious Stones and Metals

In any Society, wealth and prestige are very important and aggressively sought after throughout an individual’s life. Wealth has and will continue to make people do mind-boggling actions. Throughout history and still around today, we have seen people murder, rape and humiliate others for their own personally gain in wealth. Money is a necessity and money makes the world go round. It always had, and it more than likely always will.

Silk and Spice Routes

The Silk and Spice routes were the two most well known trade routes in history. The name alone indicates wealth. “The Silk Route crossed Asia by land, its paths stretching over some 5,000 miles…Travelers then moved through the lands of Afghanistan and Iran and on to the Mediterranean Sea.” (Reid, The Silk and Spice Routes. Inventions and trade, 1994) From that point, the good were transported directly to Europe via ship.

The Spice Routes encompassed over 9,000 miles of water. The two most sought after spices, cloves and nutmeg grew on the Indonesian islands. “To reach Europe and the Mediterranean, the merchandise was carried up the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea and overland via cities such as Petra, Palmyra, and Alexandria.” (Reid, The Silk and Spice Routes. Inventions and trade, 1994)

Both trade routes included both land and sea travel. Explores traveled these dangerous routes frequently to collect luxurious items such as spices, silk, scented wood, rare animals, plants and ivory. These trade routes were also a valuable source of information and knowledge. It is no wonder why the Silk and Spice Route went down in history as the two greatest trade routes. Both routes are still used in present day.

Modern European explores had many essential factors driving them to set out on discovery explorations. Explores felt safer because of the advances in map making, the advances in boat design as well as compasses. Explores wanted to establish new trade routes, spread their religion and gain wealth, prestige and independence. Where would our nation be today if it weren’t for these great explores? History is what makes the present and the future.

For this purpose I determined to keep an account of the voyage, and to write down punctually every thing we performed or saw from day to day, as will hereafter appear.
Christopher Columbus


Picture taken from:

Works Cited

Burgess, J. (2002). World Trade. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers.

Christopher Columbus. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved March 7, 2011, from BrainyQuote.com Web site

European Missionaries and the Spread of Christianity 1500-1750. (2010). Retrieved March 4, 2011, from TCI: http://teachergenius.teachtci.com/european-missionaries-and-the-spread-of-christianity-1500-1750/

Reid, S. (1994). The Silk and Spice Routes. Exploration by sea. New York: New Discovery Books.

Reid, S. (1994). The Silk and Spice Routes. Inventions and trade. New York: New Discovery Books.

Astronomer. (2011, February 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:15, March 7, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Astronomer&oldid=415046385

Mathematician. (2011, February 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:18, March 7, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mathematician&oldid=415802950

Astrologer. (2011, February 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:19, March 7, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Astrologer&oldid=415887647

Geographer. (2011, February 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:20, March 7, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Geographer&oldid=414500392

Deborah Smith
HIST 103-W2
11 April 2011

Counter Argument

The fact that advances in technology was a major reason Europeans pursued exploration in the 1300’s can be arguable. There are facts which can challenge such a stance.

In fact, just because advances were made during those times, other reasons could actually dissuade the Europeans from explorations to new lands via ocean voyages.

While it is true, that there were some advances in ship building and navigational technology in the 1300’s, according to an article found on www.books.google.com/books, the European voyagers already had access to the compass from the Chinese. Yet, they still relied heavily on the stars to navigate their ships on the ocean waters. Sea travel remained very difficult and dangerous on cloudy nights when stars were not clearly visible to help guide their ships in a manner in which they were accustomed and more experienced.

Without a doubt, maps and charts were available, and very detailed at that. However, according to a segment in an article posted on http://www.library.thinkquest.org/, most of the detailed charts primarily showed the coastlines of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and not necessarily those of the New World which was unknown at that time. The Arabs were the people most noted for their formal map makings skills.

Additionally, and without question, the European voyagers that lived to tell their tales of exploration also warned others of bad weather, unexpected high seas, gale winds and hurricanes, as well as famine on their vessels, and how their crews suffered from scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C as noted on the website

Futhermore, the great period of piracy was going on during the 1300’s according to http://www.blurtit.com which was also a negative factor that could have discouraged the European ocean voyagers’ explorations due to fear for their lives.

In conclusion, the technology of the 1300’s may have actually played a small role in the factors that encouraged Europeans to pursue voyages of exploration. Quite possibly, it was nothing more than the sheer adventure of sailing the seas, and the excitement of traveling to a new land.

Works Cited
Online posting. www.books.google.com/books Retrieved. Web. 11 April 2011.
Online posting. http://www.library.thinkquest.org/ Retrieved. Web. 11 April 2011.
Online posting. http://www.library.thinkquest.org/ Retrieved. Web. 11 April 2011.
Online posting. Retrieved. Web. 11 April 2011.
Online posting. http://www.blurtit.com Retrieved. Web. 11 April 2011.