the Age of Exploration
The age of exploration was filled with courageous voyagers
and conquistadores from all over Europe, much like today,
there was much competition for land rights. The main
disputes were between Spain and Portugal. And these are the
representatives from not only these two countries, but
surrounding ones as well.
Christopher Columbus was a sea captain from Genoa. He first
tried to convince Portugal, then Spain to sponsor a voyage
to Asia across the Atlantic. Columbus thought that the
voyage would take two months, others said four months, but
he left with enough food and supplies for only two months.
He landed in the West Indes (Bahamas, Haiti, Cuba) when the
two months of supplies ran out. Their voyage began on
August 3, 1492, from Palos, Spain and ended on October 12
when land was sighted at the Americas.
Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian that represented the Medici
Bank in Spain, chartered the coastline of Central America
and described this as the "Mundus Novus", meaning "New
World". In 1507, a German cartographer labeled the
continent America named after Amerigo Vespucci. He also
explored the coastline of Central America.
Juan Ponce de Le¢n set out to find the Fountain of Youth.
He never did find the fountain, but he discovered the land
that he named "Florida". Vasci de Balboa was the first to
push through the jungle of Central America, On the other
side he discovered a vast body of water that he named
"South Sea", because he thought that it was South of Asia.
This Ocean was named the "Pacific".
Magellan, of Portagual, founded the narrow straits at the
Southern tip of South America. It was later named the
"Strait of Magellan". He was later killed by Philippine
Natives and four of his ships were destroyed. Only one ship
made it back to Spain, making it the first voyage around
the World in 1522.
Eventually, Columbus claimed Cuba and Hispanola, which is
now more commonly known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The Spanish Government never harmed the natives. In fact,
they supported them on the newly claimed America lands for
labor purposes. Eventually, the natives were tied to the
land and lost freedom. They also had to pay taxes and were
required to devote labor.
Instead of financing expeditions dirrectly, Spanish rulers
granted conquistadores the right to establish outposts in
the Americas. In exchange, these conquerors gave the crown
1/5 of any treasure they discovered.
Eventually, there was strong competition between Spain and
Portugal for land and wealth in the Americas. The Pope
settled land disputes by declaring a "Line of Demarcation".
It said that everything on the coast of this line was
Portuguese and everything west was Spanish. The Portuguese
got cheated, because all they were able to claim was a
portion of present day Brazil. Spain claimed 95% of the
Technology aided European exploration, such as more precise
travel with the refinement of the compass and new sale
designs and development. The growth of a middle class
sparked curiosity about the World. Sources: World History:
Patterns of Civilization by Prentice Hall The Funk &
Wagnalls New Encyclopedia Prodigy Membership Services Inc.