The age of exploration By Alexis Pett

The Atlantic Slave Trade

The Atlantic Slave Trade was a brutal effort to bring slaves to the Americas. They were forcibly taken from their homes in Africa to work for the Spanish in the West Indies in their silver mines and sugar plantations so that the Spanish could make profit. They were packed tightly into ships, exposed to disease and brutality, and discriminated against.


Silver mines and sugar plantations were abundant in the West Indies. There was lots of money out there to be made, but no wealthy Spanish man wanted to get his hands dirty and work for himself. It was miserable, hard labor, and there were plenty of natives lying around who could do that dirty work for them. They didn't have strong weapons and couldn't fight back. Therefore, it was a simple and easy process for them to force those natives to work.

When the Spanish first started to colonize and work their plantations in the West Indies, there were plenty of Natives who they would force to work. However, the Spanish could spread foreign disease to the Natives like wildfire. It killed many of them off quickly. Also, Their violent behaviors killed off many more. Some islands didn't even have a single native who was left to work.

The Spanish were desperate for money. They would not stop just because the natives were sick and dying and in some places they were almost removed from existence entirely. They wanted success for themselves and nothing would stop them. The persecution continued and the natives continued to suffer under the Spaniard's harsh rule.

Finally, Bartolome de las Casas, who was a Spanish priest, sent letters back to the government. These letters were a complaint and a warning. He told of the numbers of natives that were still alive on the West Indies and they were few. He also complained about the harsh rule of the Spaniards and claimed it as being a social injustice and as discrimination to all.

All these reasons led to the Atlantic Slave Trade. The Spanish were desperate for people to work, and the Africans were an easy to target to force into labor.


Slavery continued into North America, even after the United States gained their independence. The southern states continuously forced labor on their plantations, and the slave ships didn't stop coming. Slavery in America did not end with the Spaniard's silver mines and sugar plantations.

The slavery continued until the Civil War in the 1800s, which was over 300 years after the Atlantic Slave Trade began. The Union consisted of the North States and they fought for slavery to end. The Confederacy fought for the opposite and consisted of the southern states. The southern states wanted slavery to continue for their plantations to prosper and for once again, more money to be gained.

Abraham Lincoln, the US president at the time, released the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. This declared slavery illegal United States once and for all. However, after the civil war had ended, Abraham Lincoln was assasinated by John Wilkes Booth for playing such a huge part in ending the centuries long tradition of slavery in the United States.

Fast forward a hundred years, the nation was in the midst of the civil rights movement, which was a fight for rights for African Americans. Segregation still took place as an echo of slavery. It was an echo of greed that dated all the way back for four hundred years from some Spaniards who just wanted some silver. The echoes of racism are still being heard in our society today. It's been a long and painful battle for the Americas to overcome some Spaniards desperate for money.

Exploring the World For Spice

The spices were introduced to the Europeans during the Crusades. Prior to this there were no such spices that the Europeans had access to due to their location. The Europeans became obsessed with them, as they made their poor food much richer and better tasting. In that day and age it was wrong to waste food, so they would eat it no matter how awful or rotten it was. With spices, even rotting food could taste slightly better.


This all began with the Crusades. They were a series of holy wars fought to defend the Christian People or property. They were mostly fought in Jerusalem, as this is the Holy Land for Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The Pope at the time would offer indulgences to those who fought in the war. Indulgences offered salvation in the next life. The Crusades were fought in the Middle East, where spices were abundant and the Christian Knights became obsessed with their flavor, and a flood of spices came in through the silk road for the European People.

The Silk Road was the best way for the Europeans to get their hands on the spices, even after the Crusades were all over. They could be traded from the East and the West got to enjoy them. However, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 BC. Byzantine kept hold of Constantinople, but now it was held by the Turks. Constantinople was one of the major points of the silk road, and the Ottoman Turks cut it off.

At this point, the Europeans had no spices, and they were thirsty for them. They had no contact with the East. The East had all the spices that the West wanted, but no way for them to contact one another and this limited other aspects of trade as well. The World was split apart, with no contact.


Europeans became anxious to get their hands back on spices. They were desperate for a water route to the Spice Islands in the East, so the Age of Exploration began. Hundreds of voyagers set out for even just a small amount of spice because it would be worth a fortune. There were heavy risks in these voyages, but even the small amount that the voyagers could go home with would make all the risks worth it.

Christopher Columbus also set off in search of the best water route to get to the Spice Islands. He went a different way than the other voyagers, and went through the Pacific Ocean. However, he never reached the Spice Islands. He reached he West Indies, as he named them. He was convinced these were the Spice Islands, but they were not.

Because of Christopher Columbus, more deep research was done into the Americas, and eventually it would be colonized and become its own individual countries. This changed the world with the new discoveries that were made there.

Portugal Leading the Age of Exploration

Portugal for a long time lead the Age of Exploration. They discovered more land, and Vasco de Gama was also Portuguese and was the first European to reach the Indian Ocean through an all water route. They also mapped and planned out voyages along the African Coastlines. They were successful and this was with good reason.

Portugal was a small country, they seemed insignificant to others and as if they were not able to do as much as they did. However, their location set them apart from all other European countries. Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula, and the only country that is next to Portugal is Spain. Portugal also had no outlets to the Mediterranean, which may have seemed like a disadvantage, but it meant they were used to traveling on the Atlantic Ocean and were already comfortable with its waters and currents.

Prince Henry the Navigator also was Portuguese. He founded the Institute of Sagres. It is there that they put primary focus on preparing sailors to brave the ocean to find the all water route to Asia. Suddenly, they had a place where sailors could be sponsored in their voyages and they could put out more experienced sailors than other countries could.

It was through the Institute of Sagres that the caravel was invented. The caravel was much quicker than previous ships. The caravel not only used wind, but the shifting masts of the ship could harvest the wind for its abilities. This is why it was so much more quick and efficient than other ships at the time. This set the Portuguese ahead by speed and by efficiency. This way they could send out more voyages and they could explore quicker.

Ferninand Magellan is credited as the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, although he didn't complete his journey. Magellan was also Portuguese. This was a major success for the Portuguese, and his crew returned with a load of spices that made their fortune and the Portuguese became much richer as they had a monopoly on spices.


The rest of Europe was driven to be successful. After Spain regained control of their country, they sent Christopher Columbus out in hopes to be as successful as them. This lead to the discovery of America and enabled even further discoveries to be made.

The Portuguese would also play a huge roll in the first maps of the world. They had discovered so much land and enabled so much more of the world to be charted. They had played a role in discover of the New World as well, as after Columbus had discovered it, it was a rush to it. It is also part of why Brazil speaks Portuguese today.

If it wasn't for the Portuguese, our society would be much less technologically advanced. The invention of the caravel lead to the Age of Exploration speeding up much faster than it would have been otherwise. Otherwise, this period could have been twice as long, and the Renaissance would have been delayed as it would have been stuck behind the Age of Exploration. The entire history of the world would have been delayed if it weren't for the Portuguese and their innovations to make exploration more simple.

Works Cited


Created with images by srqpix - "spice_1" • Daria-Yakovleva - "spices cinnamon sticks odor" • Hans - "spices spice mix colorful" • Mariamichelle - "ship boat lake garda" • DeltaWorks - "sunset japan sky" • Hans - "sail ship sailing vessel"

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