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Europe's oceanic expansion

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Why did Europe initiate successful oceanic expansion? Discuss its basic motives, and objectives as well as technological and social factors making it possible.

Feb 17th, 2015

Europe's great period of exploration of the oceans began as far back as the early 1400s.  It is often said that the adventurers that took to the open seas were in search of God, Glory, and Gold.  With new inventions and technology, the emboldened explorers risked their lives to pursue fame and fortune.

Some of the most famous explorers highlighted in European history books include Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan.  Both men convinced benefactors of their era to financially back their missions.  Columbus was supported by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1492.  In October of the same year, Columbus landed on Watling’s Island in the Bahamas believing he had discovered a western route to India and China.

Magellan was a Portuguese sea captain that was commissioned by King Charles I of Spain.  He was provided five ships that left for the Spice Islands in the early part of 1519.  Only one ship completed the voyage in September of 1522.  Unfortunately, Ferdinand Magellan did not survive the journey.  He was killed by natives in April of 1521 on the island of Matane.

Common technology used by many of the successful European explorers included the navigator’s compass for identifying direction, and the sextant used to determine latitude and longitude.  These tools helped explorers to sail across vast oceans with nothing but water insight for days on end.

Often accompanying these adventures were men of faith that wished to spread their religion to other foreign parts of the world.  This famous painting exemplifies this social desire. Notice the crosses and the Christian priest depicted in this painting.

Columbus and Magellan brought great recognition and resources to the Kings and country of Spain.  They were able to provide future trade routes for the merchants and majesties to find new valuables as a means of increased wealth for their home countries in Europe.  These men inspired many others to follow their oceanic paths to God, Glory, and Gold.


Feb 18th, 2015

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