Thursday, March 1, 2012

So, why Europe suddenly took to sea in the late 15th Century?

After remaining in slumber for thousands of years, Europe suddenly woke up in late 15th century to explore the world.  Christopher Columbus set sail towards West in the hope of finding a route to Asia in 1492.  Vasco Da Gama went around Cape of Good Hope (Africa) to reach India in 1498.  Within few centuries, most of the world was discovered, including a major land portion Americas (28% of world’s land mass) hitherto unknown to the civilized world.  Magellan’s expedition circumnavigated the world in 1522.  Captain Cook discovered most of Pacific including Australia in 1770.

Prior to these explorations, Atlantic sea was unknown and unchartered (except some voyages taken up by Vikings in distant past).  The sea was feared and nobody dared to venture.  It was believed that many monsters reigned in these deep waters.  Also, there was need for taking up such a venture.

Europe was heavily dependent on spices from India and East Indies, for preserving their meat and for bettering its taste.  The route for spices was by land through Constantinople.  In 1453, Ottomans conquered Constantinople, disturbing the trade routes.  This and few other events caused Europeans to venture out and seek sea routes to India.    Thus the taste for spices might have triggered the discovery of Americas and colonization of India.

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