Exploring the Americas Pages 25-56

A Changing world

New Ideas, New Nations

  • For centuries after the Roman Empire fell in a.d. 476, the people of Western Europe were cut off from the rest of the world.
  • Western Europe was made up of small kingdoms and city-states dominated by the Catholic Church.
  • Then, in the early a.d. 600s, a new religion, Islam, began to spread rapidly in the Middle East and Africa.
  • This rise of Islam would soon end Western Europe's isolation
Is·lam isˈläm,izˈläm/ noun the religion of the Muslims, a monotheistic faith regarded as revealed through Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah. the Muslim world. "the most enormous complex of fortifications in all Islam"
  • In 1095 the Europeans launched the first of nine expeditions, known as the Crusades
  • Their purpose was to take back control of Christian holy sites in the Middle East from the Muslims—followers of Islam
  • The Crusades also had an unplanned result. In the Middle East, Europeans met Arab merchants, who sold them spices, sugar, silk, and other goods from China and India
  • European interest in Asia grew
The first of the Crusades began in 1095, when armies of Christians from Western Europe responded to Pope Urban II's plea to go to war against Muslim forces in the Holy Land
  • That interest grew even more after Italian explorer Marco Polo returned from China
  • In the late 1200s, Polo wrote about Asia's people, great riches, and splendid cities in his book, Travels, which was widely read in Europe
  • Two hundred years later, his Travels would inspire another Italian explorer—Christopher Columbus
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveller and citizen of the Venice Republic whose travels are recorded in Livres des merveilles du monde, a book that described to Europeans the wealth and great size

The Growth of Trade

  • Merchants in Europe knew they could make a lot of money selling goods from Asia. Wealthy Europeans were eager to buy Asian spices, perfumes, silks, and precious stones.
  • Merchants first bought these goods from Arab traders in the Middle East. The merchants then sent the goods overland by caravan to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • From there, the goods traveled by ship to Italian ports in Venice, Genoa, and Pisa. These cities prospered as centers of the growing trade.
  • However, Arab traders charged high prices. This led Europeans to look for a route to the East that would not require them to buy from Arab merchants

The Growth of New Ideas

  • By the 1300s, several Italian city-states had become strong economic and cultural centers. Their influence spread across Europe
  • Newly powerful bankers and merchants in Pisa, Venice, and Genoa studied classical works—those of ancient Greece and Rome
  • Science was another area in which change occurred. Many scholars tested new and old theories of science. They performed experiments and evaluated the results.
  • The arts were also influenced by classical forms and new ideas. Authors wrote about the individual's place in the universe. Artists studied classical sculpture and architecture. They admired the harmony and balance in Greek art

The Renaissance

  • This period of intellectual and artistic creativity is known as the Renaissance (reh • nuh • SAHNTS). The word renaissance means "rebirth" in French
  • It refers to the rebirth of interest in classical Greek and Roman ideas. As the Renaissance spread across Europe over the next two centuries, it changed the way Europeans thought about themselves and the world
  • It also set the stage for an age of exploration and discovery
The Renaissance (UK /rᵻˈneɪsəns/, US /rɛnəˈsɑːns/) was a period in European history, from the 14th to the 17th century, regarded as the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and modern history.

The Rise of Powerful Nations

  • For centuries, Europe had been a patchwork of small states. By the 1400s, however, a new, larger type of state had developed in Western Europe
  • Strong monarchs rose to power in Spain, Portugal, England, and France. They began to establish national laws, courts, taxes, and armies to replace those of the local rulers
  • These ambitious monarchs sought ways to increase trade and make their countries even stronger and wealthier
  • As early as the mid-1400s, powerful countries such as Portugal and Spain began to search for sea routes to Asia
  • They, too, wanted to engage in foreign trade. This placed them in direct competition with the Italian port cities that had become so powerful a century earlier
  • As a result, a new era of exploration began

The effects of new technology

  • Advances in technology—the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes—helped to make European voyages of exploration possible
  • In the 1450s, the introduction of the printing press made it much easier to print books. More people had access to books and to new information
  • Many Europeans read Marco Polo's Travels when it appeared in printed form in 1477. This book gave people descriptions of faraway places, such as modern-day areas of Iraq, Siberia, Japan, India, Ethiopia, and Madagascar. Whether the descriptions were entirely accurate is open to debate.
  • However, Polo's Travels led European readers to realize that there were many spectacular sights beyond their immediate world.

Better Maps and Instruments

Navigators discovered something unusual in the 1100s. They found that when a small magnetic needle was suspended freely, it would always point north. They used this knowledge to create the first compasses.

Compasses work because Earth has a weak magnetic field. Lines of magnetism run from the South Pole to the North Pole. These lines cause compass needles to point north. Once that direction is known, it is easy to figure out the other directions.

A simple compass, such as a pocket compass, is a magnetic needle suspended on a pin. There is a round card beneath the needle that indicates the four major directions. Aligning the pin to the north/south direction shows which way the user is facing.

Navigators from any age, including modern times, recognize that the compass is a more reliable navigation tool than looking at the sun or at stars. For one thing, a compass can be used in any kind of weather.

Advances in technology have greatly improved compasses since the Age of Exploration. There are floating compasses, digital compasses, and many other types. There are even electronic compasses built into wristwatches.

  • Most early maps were not accurate. This was because they were drawn based on the points of view of traders and travelers.
  • Little by little, cartographers, or mapmakers, improved their accuracy. Using reports of explorers and information from Arab and Chinese scholars and astronomers, mapmakers made more accurate land and sea maps.
  • These maps showed the directions of ocean currents. They also showed lines of latitude, which measured the distance north and south of the Equator
  • People also improved instruments for navigating the seas. Sailors could find their latitude with an astrolabe (AS • truh • layb), which measured the positions of stars
  • In the 1200s, Europeans acquired the magnetic compass from China
  • The compass allowed sailors to accurately determine their direction

Better Ship Design

  • Advances in ship design allowed sailors to make long ocean voyages. The stern rudder and triangular sail enabled ships to sail into the wind.
  • The Portuguese three-masted caravel (KER • uh • vehl) became the most famous ship of the European age of exploration. Caravels could sail faster and carry more cargo and supplies than earlier ships.
  • These advances and competition for foreign trade led countries such as Portugal and Spain to search for sea routes to Asia. Portugal began its explorations along the west coast of Africa, an area Europeans had never visited before
car·a·vel ˈkerəvel/ noun historical a small, fast Spanish or Portuguese sailing ship of the 15th–17th centuries.

Kingdoms and empires in africa

The leading civilizations of this African rebirth were the Axum Empire, the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, the Ethiopian Empire, the Mossi Kingdoms and the Benin Empire

  • Between a.d. 400 and 1600, powerful kingdoms and city-states flourished in Africa south of the Sahara. Much of their power and wealth came from mining and trade.
  • Arab traders traveled Africa's east coast exchanging cotton, silk, and porcelain for African ivory and metals.
  • West Africans mined and traded gold, copper, and iron ore.
  • Trade with North Africa's Islamic societies brought wealth and Islamic customs to the West African kingdoms. The kingdoms also traded directly with Europe.
  • The Portuguese set up trading posts along Africa's western coast in the mid-1400s

Ghana - A Trading Empire

  • Between a.d. 400 and 1100, a vast trading empire known as Ghana emerged in West Africa. Ghana grew wealthy from the taxes it placed on trade
  • Caravans carrying gold, ivory, and enslaved people crossed the desert to North Africa and returned with salt, cloth, and brass. Such trading contacts led many West Africans to become Muslim
  • In 1076 North African people called Almoravids (al • muh • RAH • vihdz) attacked Ghana, disrupting the trade routes in the region. Soon new trade routes bypassed Ghana altogether
  • The drop in trade led to Ghana's decline, and new kingdoms emerged in the region
The Almoravids were a Berber imperial dynasty of Morocco, who formed an empire in the 11th century that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. Founded by Abdallah ibn Yasin, their capital was Marrakesh, a city they founded in 1062

Mali - Wealth and Power

  • Mali, one of the new kingdoms, grew very powerful. Mali developed trade routes across the desert to North Africa. By the late 1200s, Mali's territory was huge. One traveler reported that it took four months to cross it from north to south
  • In 1324 Mali's great king, Mansa Musa, a Muslim, traveled to the Muslim holy city of Makkah (Mecca) in what is now Saudi Arabia
  • He returned from this religious journey, or pilgrimage (PIHL • gruh • mihj), with an Arab architect. The architect built great mosques (MAHSKS), Muslim houses of worship, in Timbuktu, Mali's capital
  • Timbuktu became a center of Islamic art and learning

The Mali Empire, also historically referred to as the Manden Kurufaba, was an empire in West Africa from c. 1230 to c. 1600. The empire was founded by Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa

The Songhai Empire

  • In time, the Songhai (sawng • GEYE) people, who lived along the Niger River, overthrew Mali rule. They captured Timbuktu in 1468.
  • Askìya Muhammad, leader of the Songhai Empire, divided Songhai into provinces, each with its own officials. Everyone in the empire followed a legal system based on the teachings of Islam.
  • In the late 1500s, North Africa’s kingdom of Morocco defeated—and ended—the Songhai Empire

The Songhai Empire was a state that dominated the western Sahel in the 15th and 16th century. At its peak, it was one of the largest states in African history.

Songhai Empire
What did the Middle East and Africa have that Europeans wanted?
The African Kingdoms had salt, gold, and other metals to trade. Both Africa and the Middle East had easier access to Asian goods, such as silk and spices

Early Exploration

The Search for New Trade Routes

  • In 1492 Christopher Columbus led 90 sailors in three ships on a voyage into the unknown. As the voyage dragged on, the sailors grew angry. Columbus wrote: "I am told . . . that if I persist in going onward, the best course of action will be to throw me into the sea some night." Before that could happen, a lookout from the ship Pinta made the signal that he had spotted land. On October 12, 1492, Columbus left his ship, the Santa María, and went ashore.
These were the three ships that were used in Christopher Columbus's voyage. La Niña, la pinta y la Santa Maria
  • Columbus believed he had arrived in the Indies—islands located southeast of China. Actually, he had reached North America. How did Columbus get it so wrong? The maps that he and other European explorers used at the time did not include the Americas because no one in Europe knew they existed. All maps showed three continents—Europe, Asia, and Africa—merged into a huge landmass and bordered by oceans.
  • Some explorers thought that the Western (Atlantic) and Eastern (Pacific) Oceans ran together to form what they called the "Ocean Sea." No one realized the true size of the oceans or the existence of other continents.
  • Columbus was sailing on behalf of Spain, but Portugal was the first European power to explore the boundaries of the known world by sea. Unlike Spain, Portugal did not have a port on the Mediterranean Sea. This meant the Portuguese could not use the existing trade routes between Asia and Europe. Portugal's rulers wanted to find a new route to China and India.
  • The Portuguese also knew about the great riches in the West African kingdoms. These riches were carried by caravan across the desert to North Africa and then by ship across the Mediterranean. Portuguese traders needed a better route so that they, too, could get West African gold and other riches.

The Beginning of Portuguese Exploration

  • Portugal's Prince Henry laid the groundwork for the era of exploration. In about 1420, he set up a center for exploration at Sagres (SAW • grish), on the southwestern tip of Portugal, "where endeth land and where beginneth sea."
  • Known as Henry the Navigator, the prince never intended to become an explorer himself. Instead, he planned the voyages and then analyzed the reports that his crews brought home. At Sagres, Prince Henry set up a school of navigation.
Infante D. Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu, better known as Prince Henry the Navigator, was an important figure in 15th-century Portuguese politics and in the early days of the Portuguese Empire
  • There, astronomers, geographers, and mathematicians came to share their knowledge with Portuguese sailors, shipbuilders, and mapmakers. As each successful voyage brought back new information, Henry’s expert mapmakers updated the charts.
  • Portuguese ships sailed south along the coast of West Africa. As they went south, they traded for gold and ivory and set up trading posts in the region. Because of its abundance of gold, Africa's west coast came to be known as the "Gold Coast." In the mid-1400s, Portuguese traders began to buy enslaved Africans there as well.
Map of West Coast of Africa Countries
  • King John II of Portugal launched new efforts to create a Portuguese trading empire in Asia. All the Portuguese had to do was find a sea route around Africa. If they succeeded, they would be able to trade directly with India and China.
  • They could bypass the North African and Asian caravans and Mediterranean merchants. With that goal in mind, in the 1480s King John urged Portuguese sea captains to explore farther south along the African coast.

Bartolomeu Dias

  • In 1487 Bartolomeu Dias set out from Lisbon with two small caravels and a supply ship. King John had sent Dias to explore the southernmost part of Africa. From there, Dias was to sail northeast into the Indian Ocean. This expedition included some of Portugal's best pilots.
Bartolomeu Dias, a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, reaching the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic, the first European known to have done so.
  • They sailed for days, staying close to the coast of Africa. After passing the mouth of the Orange River in South Africa, the expedition met with a fierce storm that carried it southward, off course, and out of sight of land.
  • When the winds finally died down, Dias steered east and then north until he found land again. Excitedly, Dias realized that he had already sailed past the southernmost part of Africa. On the way, he had passed a landform called a cape, a piece of land that juts into the water.
  • Dias set a course back to Portugal. On the return journey, after passing that piece of land again, he wrote that he had been around the "Cape of Storms." King John renamed it the "Cape of Good Hope." The king hoped that the passage around Africa might provide a new route to India.

Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira, was a Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach India by sea.
  • After rounding the cape on November 22, da Gama was on Africa's eastern coast. He made many stops, including one at Mombasa (mahm • BAH • suh), part of present-day Kenya. There, he met a pilot from India who guided him the rest of the way. Da Gama reached the port of Calicut, in India, in May 1498. Portugal's long-held dream of a sea route to Asia was now reality.
In order to reach Asia, ships from Europe had to sail south, all the way around Africa, and then north again to Asia

Portugal's Trading Empire

  • Events moved quickly. Within six months of da Gama's return to Portugal, 13 ships set sail out of Lisbon and headed for India. The ships were commanded by a nobleman, Pedro Álvares Cabral (PEH • droo AWL • vuh ruhsh kuh • BRAWL).
  • Cabral planned to follow da Gama's westward-thensouthward course. Instead, he went so far west that he reached Brazil. Cabral claimed Brazil for his king and sent one of the ships back to Portugal with the good news that Portugal now had a foothold in the Americas.
  • Cabral then continued to India and returned with spices, porcelain, and other valuable cargo. Other Portuguese fleets soon made the journey to India, where Portugal set up permanent forts.
  • Portuguese fleets began to make yearly voyages to India. Their cargoes made the Portuguese capital of Lisbon the marketplace of Europe.

Columbus Crosses the Atlantic

  • Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, Christopher Columbus became a sailor for Portugal. He traveled as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as Africa's Gold Coast. To reach Asia, Christopher Columbus had a different route in mind than the one used by his Portuguese comrades. He planned to sail west.
Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer. A citizen of the Republic of Genoa, under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean
  • In the 1400s, most educated people believed the world was round. People were less certain about the Earth's size. Columbus was among those who based their estimates on the works of Ptolemy (TAHL • uh • mee), an ancient Greek astronomer.
  • Columbus believed Asia was about 2,760 miles (4,441 km) from Portugal—a voyage of about two months by ship. However, Ptolemy had underestimated Earth's size and, by using Ptolemy's estimate, Columbus did, too.

Vikings in North America

  • Several centuries before the voyages of da Gama, Cabral, and Columbus, northern Europeans had sailed to North America. Known as Vikings, or Norsemen, their ships sailed from presentday Scandinavia to Iceland and Greenland in the 800s and 900s, and established settlements there for a brief period of time.
  • According to Norse sagas, or traditional stories, a Viking sailor named Leif Eriksson explored lands west of Greenland in about the year 1000. The sagas refer to this land as "Vinland." Ruins from around that period exist in northeastern Canada, which could support the sagas. The Vikings' voyages were not wellknown throughout Europe, however. Other Europeans did not "discover" the Americas until Columbus made his historic voyage.

Columbus and Queen Isabella

  • Columbus had a plan for reaching Asia, but he still needed money to finance his expedition. He visited European monarchs, looking for support. Finally, he found a sponsor in Spain.
Isabella I of Castile
  • For most of the 1400s, Spanish monarchs devoted, or committed, their energy to driving the Muslims out of Spain.
  • Muslims had invaded Spain in the 700s, but their power had been declining for centuries. The last Muslim kingdom in Spain fell in 1492. This freed Spain’s monarchs to focus on other goals. The Spanish observed the seafaring and trading successes of neighboring Portugal with envy. They, too, wanted the riches of Asian trade.
  • King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain agreed to support Columbus's expedition for two reasons. One reason was that Columbus promised to bring Christianity to any lands he found.
  • As a devout Catholic, this was important to Isabella. Another reason was that if he succeeded in finding a route to Asia, Spain would become wealthy from trade with that region. Queen Isabella promised Columbus a share of any riches gained from lands he discovered on his way to Asia.
King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella

Columbus's First Voyage

  • On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain. He had two small ships, the Niña and the Pinta, and a larger one, the Santa María. Columbus was captain of the Santa María, his lead ship, or flagship. The three ships carried about 90 sailors and a six-month supply of food and water.
Caravels ranged in length from 75 to 90 feet (23 to 27 m) and were suited for sailing along shallow coastlines
  • The small fleet stopped at the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa for repairs and supplies. Columbus then began the difficult voyage westward across unknown and mysterious stretches of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • After a few weeks at sea, the sailors grew nervous about the distance they had traveled. Columbus refused to alter his course
  • Instead, he encouraged the crew by describing the riches he believed they would find. He urged them on, saying that, "with the help of our Lord" they would arrive in the Indies.
  • On October 12, 1492, at two o'clock in the morning, a lookout shouted, "Tierra! Tierra!" "Land! Land!" He had spotted a small island in the chain now called the Bahamas. Columbus went ashore, claimed the island for Spain, and named it "San Salvador." Although he did not know it, Columbus had reached the Americas.
8.1.2 Compare and contrast reasons for British, French, Spanish and Dutch colonization in the New World.
  • Columbus believed he had arrived in the East Indies, the islands off the coast of Asia. This is why today we call the Caribbean Islands "the West Indies." It also explains why Columbus called the local people "Indians." He noted that the natives regarded the Europeans with wonder and often touched the crew members to find out "if they were flesh and bones like themselves."
  • When Columbus returned to Spain, Queen Isabella and the Spanish king, Ferdinand, received him with great honor. They made him Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and agreed to provide funds for his future voyages.

Columbus's Achievements

  • Columbus made three more voyages for Spain, in 1493, 1498, and 1502. He explored the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola (presentday Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Cuba, and Jamaica. He also sailed along the coasts of Central America and northern South America. He claimed these lands for Spain and started settlements. He also mapped the coastline of Central America.
  • Columbus had not reached Asia, but instead had found a part of the world that was unknown to Europeans, Asians, and Africans. In the years that followed, the Spanish went on to explore most of the Caribbean, and to establish the Spanish Empire in the Americas

Dividing The Americas

  • Both Spain and Portugal wanted to protect their claims in the Americas. They turned to Pope Alexander VI for help. In 1493 he ordered a line of demarcation, an imaginary line that reached from the North Pole to the South Pole, and cut through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Spain was to control all lands west of the line, and Portugal would control all lands east of the line.
  • Portugal objected, saying that the division gave more land to Spain. In 1494 the two countries signed an agreement called the Treaty of Tordesillas (tohr • day • SEE • yuhs), which moved the line farther west. The two countries had divided the entire unexplored world between themselves.

Further Explorations

  • After Columbus, other voyagers explored the Americas. In 1499 Italian Amerigo Vespucci (veh • SPOO • chee) led a voyage funded by Spain.
  • On this and a later journey for Portugal, he explored the coast of South America. Vespucci realized South America was a separate continent, and not part of Asia. European geographers began to call the continent "America" in his honor.
  • A Spaniard, Vasco Núñez de Balboa (bal • BOH • uh), heard stories of the "great waters" beyond the mountains of Panama, in Central America. He hiked through steamy rain forests to find them. At the coast in 1513, Balboa saw a vast body of water, which he claimed for Spain, along with the adjoining lands.
  • Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the Americas.

Sailing Around the World

  • In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer who was sailing for Spain, reached the southernmost tip of South America. He sailed through the stormy waters of a narrow sea passage, or strait. The strait led him into a calm ocean—the same one Balboa had seen. The waters were so peaceful—pacifico in Spanish—that Magellan named the ocean the Pacific Ocean.
  • Magellan died in the Philippine Islands, but his crew continued to sail westward, arriving back in Spain in 1522. Magellan’s crew were the first people known to circumnavigate, or sail around, the world.

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