Age of Exploration
The definition of the verb "to explore" contains: To seek
for or after, to search through or into, or to penetrate
into or range over for purposes of geographical discovery.
(Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)
The explorers of the age of exploration met this
definition, they were the reason it was made. All explorers
sought to discover certain things, this was their motive.
One reason some explorers explored was to escape something
undesirable. Eric the red fled Norway with his family,
including Leif Ericsson, to escape punishments for
manslaughter. He wouldn't have left if he wouldn't be
punished. He chose to leave Norway and explore instead of
punishments for crime. Jaques Cartier faced something
undesirable as well. In France and most of Europe, a son
took the trade of his father. Carrier father was a weaver.
That was the job society offered for him. He decided to
explore and sail instead of weaving. I think neither choice
was desirable to him, but it was either one or the other.
Another motive was for wealth and power. This started
Spanish exploration. Cortex, Pizzaro, and Columbus sailed
to the west to find gold and spices, they wanted wealth for
themselves and Spain. Cortex set up the Spanish Empire in
Newfoundland. Pizzaro made a settlement in Peru. As it
still is today, the more land a country owns, the more
powerful it is. Other explorers were dying with curiosity.
They had many theories they wanted to prove. But most of
all they wanted fame, and a title. Samuel DeChamplain
believed there was a North West passage to China. He wound
up claiming land for France in Canada. He is a well known
explorer of the time. He had a lake named for him, Lake
Champlain. The most famous case of an explorer wanting a
title is Columbus. He demanded that he be called the
"admiral of the ocean sea". He was, and still is. Today
there are many places name for him, like Columbus Ohio.
All the explorers searched through their discoveries, they
don't just find land and leave. Leif Ericsson explored the
lands he found. Once he even found indian canoes. Henry
Hudson found real natives. He tried to make peace with them.
Some lands were indeed penetrated and ranged over for the
purpose of geographical discovery. When Cortex settled
Newfoundland, he destroyed the Indian's culture by trying
to convert them to christianity. Eventually the natives
died from disease brought by the Europeans. The Spanish did
this to attempt to make a good christian environment.
Leif Ericsson and his father wouldn't have found all these
different places if they didn't have their type of ships.
The technology in the ships is the bare minimum for that
distance of sailing. The boats were like half ovals that
swerve down in the middle. They received most of their
power from the wind caught in the one large sail in the
near center of the boat. If the winds were low, the Vikings
could paddle the boat with long oars at the sides. During
later years of exploration, around the 1500's, such devices
and tools as, the compass,the astrolabe, the caravels, and
the telescope were invented. They led to greater
When Eric the Red fled Norway, he had heard rumors of land
in the West. There was no point in going East. He could be
found. West seemed like the best choice. These factors led
to his discovery of Greenland.
There are some bad, and some good effects to exploration.
After Leif Ericsson settled Vinland, in fourteen years his
brother was killed. They were forced to leave. As I
mentioned before the tribe Cortex found died out. Champlain
got stuck in a huge indian war, Hudson was killed by his
crew, and Cabot disappeared on his second voyage. The good
effects were that we received a full world view, and have
been able to settle the Americas.
The explorers each found something valuable, yet got
something totally different than what they expected. Eric
The Red only wanted a place for refuge. He got that. He
probably feared Natives or fierce storms as well. Columbus
thought he had reached India by sailing West when he
reached America. Instead of India he found Native Americans
and unclaimed land. If he knew what he actually found he
would be shocked.
Even though some explorers failed, others succeeded. Every
discovery made then was a step toward today.