The Age of Exploration was an important event witnessed in the West. This Age began in the 15th century and lasted up to the 17th century, during which the explorers used compasses to navigate around the world. Conversely, there are many reasons why the Europeans participated in exploration journeys all over the world (Polasky 2016). The European groups involved in the Exploration Age included Portugal, Spain, France, and England. This paper will analyze the reasons that led to exploration adventures, their effects, and their impact on the Americas (New World) and Africa.
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Causes of Exploration
There are several reasons which pushed the Europeans to explore the world. The explorers had been sent to search for new routes where they could conduct trade (Polasky 2016). They were also looking for trade partners from the Asian and African continents and even the Americas. Previously, countries were trading using road networks, and it took a lot of time to ship goods from one location to another. Thus, the explorers were seeking shorter trade routes as the former ones were becoming too costly due to taxation that was rampant in the long trade routes.
Furthermore, the kings had amassed a lot of wealth, which was used to fund the exploration trips. For instance, Christopher Columbus was an explorer funded by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand from Spain (Polasky 2016). The kings were willing to fully support the explorers as long as they sent back what they found to their countries. The Europeans also wanted to explore new lands to understand more about other people’s cultures and receive new products and goods produced in those lands. The explorers were curious people who were interested in visiting new places and discovering what lay outside their nations or kingdoms.
Moreover, the invention of new technology was a key factor in making the explorers desire to begin their expeditions. European explorers wanted to utilize the newly acquired navigational tools, such as the compass, which had been helpful in navigating the sea (Polasky 2016). Thus, it made it easier to accurately know where the explorers were and where they were going. These new tools made the explorers want to travel further away and discover new worlds. The ships were also better as the ship-making skills had already advanced in Europe (Polasky 2016). The ship makers used carrack and caravel ships, making it easier for explorers to carry more weight. This allowed the explorers to travel longer voyages and have more supplies.
In addition, the explorers wanted to spread their culture, religion, and language. The Europeans considered themselves superior to other races (Polasky 2016). They wanted to convert the natives to Christianity as they thought their religion was more important. The European explorers forced the colonialists to be converted or risk being killed; an example of it is the Indian tribes that were massacred in the Trail of Tears. Therefore, it was also the desire to spread Christianity that made the Europeans want to explore the New World and other continents.
Moreover, the European explorers sought to compete for new markets to trade their products. They also wanted to discover new places and change their perspectives about life. The Europeans colonized the New World to benefit their countries as they came to mine the minerals that were in the new lands; they took gold and oil as well (Polasky 2016).
Effects of Exploration on the New World and Africa
Nonetheless, when the Europeans reached the New World and intermingled with the natives, they brought about different effects, both positive and negative. The European explorers colonized the new lands, after which they took slaves back with them to their motherlands to work in plantations in the Americas. Many natives who rebelled were killed by ruthless and cruel explorers. Moreover, the explorers took the fertile lands and left the Africans to live in the infertile ones (Polasky 2016). In the Americas, the Europeans massacred many natives and took their lands. They forced them to convert to Christianity and chased them from their ancestral lands.
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Furthermore, the missionaries managed to spread Christianity as they converted many natives to Christians. They spread the English language and also their culture to the inhabitants of the New World and Africa. The explorers were also responsible for spreading many diseases to the inhabitants of the lands they conquered (Polasky 2016). These diseases wiped out many natives as they did not have any medicine to treat them. Nevertheless, one of the positive impacts is that the New World and Africa received new commodities such as grains and farming tools, which changed the farming practices.
There were also a lot of environmental changes that were associated with the exploration expeditions of the Europeans. For instance, the extinction of beavers resulted from the exploration due to the high number of weapons available and the high demand for beaver hats (Polasky 2016). The issue of private ownership of lands made natives clash with the Europeans. The latter set up fences and even paid the police to protect the lands from the natives. New plants were introduced after the exploration, for instance, tobacco, sugar, herbs, flowers, and seeds.
There were many forces behind the Exploration Age, which made explorers travel the world. They include the new navigation tools, the new style of building ships, and the wealthy monarchies who were willing to sponsor the explorers’ expeditions. The need to find new routes to trade was also a significant factor. Many impacts were associated with this exploration expedition, including the new diseases spreading, Christianity becoming prominent, the slavery of natives, and the new plants. Thus, the Exploration Age impacted the New World and Africa both positively and negatively.
Polasky, Janet. 2016. “Review of Revolutions without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World, PolaskyJanet.” Journal of the Early Republic 36 (3): 561–564.