The Age of Exploration

Time Period: 1400-1600


The age of exploration was a time of movement throughout the world. Motives included gold, god, and glory (the three G's). Major countries involved in this time of exploration were Spain, France, Netherlcompass.pngands, England. During this time there were technological innovations throughout the world that made it possible for countries to expand. These innovations include gun powder (invented by the Chinese), Sailing compass (adopted from the Chinese), boats, and the technology to create maps. This time was a period of heavy Catholicism across the globe.

Spain (Conquistadores)

The start of Spanish Exploration took place when the monarchy funded Columbus' journey to find Asia. Asia was never found, however, because Columbus landed in the Bahamas and ended his trip.

Major Spanish explorers include:

Christopher Columbus: Italian born but explored on behalf of Spain (1942)
Ponce de Lion: Claimed Florida for Spain (1513)
Francisco Pizzaro: Incas in Peru (1536
Hernando Cortez: Conquered Aztecs in Mexico (1522)
Coronado: Explored Southwest America (1540-42)
Vasco Nunez De Balboa: REached the pacific ocean

Spanish technological innovations included the first recorded circumnavigation of the globe, created by Ferdinand Magellan (1519-1522).

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The treaty of Tordesillas was a commitment between Spain and Portugal. The Papal line of Demarcation which divides the New World was created. East of the line was Portuguese and west of it was Spanish. The Spanish Armada was a fleet assembled by King Philip II of Spain to invade England in 1588. The fleet defeated, by skill, of British military leaders and by sea assault. This defeat helped bring about the decline of the Spanish empire.



The age of exploration first began in 1524 when they funded Giovanni de Verrazana. He was Italian born, but navigated on behalf of the French. Major French Explorers included:

Jaques Cartier: Explored the St. Lawrence River (1534-1542)
Verrazano: Explored the New York Harbor
Samuel De Champlain: Established the first permanent French settlement in Quebec and established a fur trade with the regional Native American tribes (1608)
Fathers Marquette and Joliet: Explored upper Mississippi River (1673)
Robert de La Salle: Explored Louisiana (1682)

[Out of all European powers, France had the best relationships with Native Americans]



The motive for the Dutch to explore was to find the Northwest Passage. Major explorers included:

Henry Hudson: Sailed up the Hudson River (1609)
- His findings were turned into New Amsterdam, which is now known as New York

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The Dutch West India Company was the joint-stock company that ran the colonies in Fort Orange and in New Amsterdam. It carried on a profitable fur trade with the Native American Iroquois. The patron system was instituted in which large estates were given to wealthy men who transported at least fifty families to New Netherlands to tend the land.



Motivation for the English was to keep up with the competing world expansionists. Cabot explored the coast of Newfoundland in 1947 on behalf of England. Major explorers included:

Cabot: Explored Newfoundland (1947)
Sir Francis Drake: First Englishman to circumnavigate the globe (1577-1580)
Sir Walter Raleigh: Close the Roanoke Island for the site for the first English settlement-Roanoke failed)
John Smith: Founder and leader of Jamestown (1607)
Bradford: leader of Plymouth Colony (1620)
Lord Baltimore: Founder of Maryland (1635)