CAUSES OF THE AGE OF EXPLORATION
The Age of Exploration, or Age of Discovery, is one of the most important events in the history of the western world. It began in the early 15th century and continued until the end of the 17th century, and involved European explorers using their navigational skills to travel the world. In general, the Age of Exploration occurred for several different reasons, particularly in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France and England.
First, European countries were seeking new trade routes to distant trading partners in the Far East, including: China, India and Japan. European countries had traditionally traded with these countries through the Silk Road. The Silk Road was mostly over land and took merchants a great deal of time to ship goods. European countries were interested in speeding up trade by finding a quicker sea route.
A second reason for the beginning of the Age of Exploration was the rise of absolute monarchies in Europe. The powerful monarchs of Europe had centralized the authority and wealth of each country and used their vast wealth to fund the expeditions of many explorers. For example, Christopher Columbus was funded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.
Third, Europeans had made some dramatic improvements in their navigational skill and technology that allowed early explorers to travel further and more accurately at sea. For example, ship building had drastically improved in the years immediately before the Age of Exploration began. New ships, such as the carrack and the caravel, allowed explorers to hold more cargo and the venture further than ever before.
The final reason for why the Age of Exploration began is because Europeans of the time were interested in foreign cultures and goods. In general, the Renaissance in Europe caused an expansion of new ideas and new understandings of the world. Europeans were interested in learning about these new ideas and expanding on their worldviews.
The Age of Exploration is considered to have occurred mostly with four European nations, which included: Portugal, Spain, France and England. Each of these countries experienced the same forces that pushed them to explore the world, but they also shared one important characteristic. They were all countries that bordered on the Atlantic Ocean and had easy access to the sea with many sea ports and experienced sailors. This allowed these four nations to have the ability to begin exploring while other European nations did not.