The Age of Exploration

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The desire to explore the unknown has been a driving force in human history since the dawn of time. From the earliest documented accounts, ancient civilizations have explored the world around them. Early adventures were motivated by religious beliefs, a desire for conquest, the need for trade, and an unsatisfying hunger for gold. The great Age of Exploration, beginning in the late 1400s, was an important era in the discovery and development of lands yet unknown to the Europeans. During this period, Europe sought new sea routes to Asia in pursuit of economic gain, increased glory, and opportunities to spread Christianity. Although these were motivations for explorers, the impact from the discoveries resulted in significant changes and achievements that created possibilities and opened a window to a new world for all of Europe. If were not for the superpowers of Spain, Portugal, England, France, and the Netherlands, the world as we know it would not exist.
Leading the way in the exploration of the world was the nation of Spain with a man named Christopher Columbus. Originally intending to find an eastwardly trade route to Asia, Columbus accidently discovered the Americas instead. When word of this “New World” reached Europe, it virtually started race between the Nations there to claim there own piece of it. Spain continued their exploration there and rapidly claimed many resources and lands, but one thing was hindering them. The native Populations of the New World were getting in their way. They soon initiated a campaign of systematic anhilation of the Natives. Conquistadors soon flocked from Spain to rid the world of these savages. Soon, Hernan Cortez had conquered Mexico and the Aztecs, while Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru and the Incans. The Spanish armory was far greater then that of the Indians, but these explorers had another weapon far more superior. The weapon they had was known as disease, which included the Small Pox and measles. Their prize for accomplishing their goal was the vast wealth of the societies and the large quantities of gold and silver that their lands held. They also aquired slaves to work in the plantations and settlements they were starting. In the end, Spain had control over lands in Northern, Central, and Southern America, as well as the Philippines.
Parallel to Spain, ...

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...ged. The vague differences between the two were almost unnoticeable and were often overlooked. Their Caribbean strongholds did stay independent though, and the Dutch joined in the slave trade to promote the sugar cane trade.
The Age of Exploration was not only an era of exploration, but also an era of vast change. The fierce competition present at this time brought about a new form of economy called the Mercantile System. The Mercantile System was an economic system based on strict governmental regulations of a nation’s economy. The goals of such a system were to increase unity, power, wealth, and self-sufficiency through the accumulation of bullion, the favorable balance of trade, the establishment of trade monopolies, the development of agriculture and manufacturing methods, and finally, the colonizing of other lands. Making all of these accomplishments possible, though, was the advancement of technology, religious philosophy, and individuality do to the enlightenment in the 15th and 16th centuries. The possibilities were endless, and with these aspirations in mind, the nations of Europe set sail to conquer the world.
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