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Sunday, 3 August 2014





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Explorers opened up a new world

The exploration of the New World effected a massive wave of prosperity to Europe which kept on drawing gold, tin, silver, iron one and other valuable material from the countries of the unknown. As an inevitable offshoot, Europe acquired a greater wealth and power. On the other hand, the conventional trade cities such as Constantinople, Alexandria, Florence, Pisa, Genova and Venica were replaced by new trade centres such as Lisbon, London, Savle and Antvers.

In an era where the greatest scientific knowledge claimed that the earth was flat, the great explorers expanded our knowledge of other lands. During 1000 BC, the Greek and Phoenician traders knowingly or unknowingly explored vast stretches of the Mediterranean Sea while the Chinese made voyages to South-East Asia for trade.

Ferdinand Magellan

Here, the Polynesian exploration of the Pacific ocean is not an exception. North African explorer Ibn Batuta wrote vivid descriptions of Africa, India, China and Sri Lanka during his adventurous voyages during 14 century. Ibn Batuta, in his boundless enthusiasm to explore, travelled more than 120,000 kilometres in his life - further perhaps than Marco Polo who cruised the high seas at about the same time.


With the surrender of Constantinople to Turkey Ottoman expire in 1453, European countries encountered a great obstruction in transporting goods and articles from the new lands through the sea. As the prices of such articles were immensely higher, the Europeans set about uncovering new sea routes to the East, specially to India to establish new trade centres.

Meanwhile, Christopher Columbus, with the royal patronage of Ferdinand and Issabella of Spain, set sail on a voyage to discover the new world towards the west of Europe through the Atlantic ocean. On this historic voyage Columbus 'discovered' the islands of Cuba and Haiti and landed on the coast of Bahama which he imagined to be India.

On subsequent voyages he 'discovered' the Caribbean islands and the American continent which too he conceived to be India. Yet the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespushi concluded that it was a different region and not India after further explorations. A German geographer included the new continent in the world map and named it America, after Amerigo Vespushi.

During the latter half of the sixteenth century English navigators such as Drake, Ralley and Gilbert explorer several regions of North America and established new trade centres in an area from St Laurence to Florida.

The French too were enthusiastic in exploring North America and Jacques Cartier discovered the river of St. Laurence in 1535. Lassalet and Joilett traversed through North America till they came to the Mississippi river.

With the discovery of Quebec by French navigator Champlaign, the French captured the area from St. Laurence river to Mississippi entuary.

Apart from that, navigators from Spain and Portugal captured some regions of the new continent and established settlement. This process of naval exploration of new lands brought to Europe a variety of goods and articles which the Europeans had been totally ignorant of before. Cocoa, Potatoes, tobacco, sugar cane, whale fat, tea, coffee, porcelain, gold, silver and other valuable material were shipped in enormous quantities to Europe. And - this made Europe immensely wealthy.


These marine explorations sometimes gave birth to serious antipathy between nations and countries. English and Spain were in fierce competition and hostility on account of discovery of new lands. At the climax of this hostility England vanquished Spain's naval force when Spain threatened to invade England by using her naval force.

In the wake of the discoveries of new continents, great battles ensued among the English, Spanish, Dutch, French and the Portuguese. However, with the new trend, the Europeans exploited their wealth and power to exert their influence to other countries. This trend was well supported by rulers such as Navigator Henry who offered full patronage for explorers and even established a special research centre for navigational operations. Astronauts, navigators and geographers who were supported by Navigator Henry contributed much to the success of navigation teams who later discovered Madeira islands.

These explorers brought gold and slaves from Sudan and Senegal and this paved way for a broader Portuguese empire in the century to come. Lafor Gonzalvez's crossing of the equator and the discovery of Cape of Good Hope by Bertholamuse Dies were the landmark achievements in exploration.

The arrival of Vasco da Gama to the Calicat harbour of India through the Cape of Good Hope was a remarkable victory in the history of navigational explorations.

Ferdinand Magellan who joined Vasco da Gama in navigation strongly believed that the earth was a globe. Fired with the passion to navigate round the world, Magellan obtained five ships and 267 sailors from king Charles I and set sail from Spain in 1519. He managed to arrive in Pacific ocean and the islands of Phillippines.

Unfortunately Magellan's sailors died of illnesses on the voyage and Magellan was killed in a conflict with the native inhabitants of Phillippines.

Ferdinando Cortez of Spain who too was a master navigator invaded Mexico and became the governor there.

In 1553, Spanish navigator Francisco Pizzaro captured the power of the country Peru after defeating the tribal community Incas. However, the Spanish succeeded in establishing colonies and expand their empire in the new world that the Europeans discovered.

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