Historical Events of the Era of Great Discoveries

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Updated: Jun 29, 2022
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From the sixteenth to the eighteenth-century exploration became an important part of countries. They wanted to discover new lands and conquer them. Since people wanted to travel overseas they were going to need some kind of technology created to help map out where they had been or where they were going. This need for increased technology helped open people’s minds to using science and technology together to problem solve. Everything that people were learning and discovering during this time period was completely foreign to them.

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The fifteenth through the late-seventeenth century is known as the Age of Discovery due to the increased geographical exploration. People were now able to sketch an outline of the physical universe and make laws about how things interacted with one another in the physical universe. These laws they created are still excepted by man today. The intellectual temper of the sixteenth century was conservative and respectful of authority. Because of this people were hesitant to believe that there was unknown knowledge that ancient philosophy and teaching didn’t know about. People were more concerned with providing consistent explanations of why something happens instead of accepting that there could be multiple reasons for why something happens.

Since people were hesitant to believe in new discoveries scientist had to be worried about charges of heresy; which is an opinion that goes against the orthodox religious doctrine. But most were able to avoid charges by forming their hypothesis as conclusions which were typically viewed as a fact by others. Scientists hardly ever used science and technology together in fact the only time they were paired together was in the field of geographical exploration. The idea of technology being able to help in the task of problem solving or finding new problems to solve was foreign to people in this time period and therefore was hardly ever used. This time period is known by the author as the Age of Renaissance. He calls it this because of the development of hydrography and pilotage. The development of these two gave sailors the ability to map the sea and any new land forms they discovered while going overseas.

The discovery and recording of new land forms led to a time of new beginnings hence the name Age of Renaissance. Many explorers who went out in search of new lands often kept travel writings. Both Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville kept travel writings but what they had wrote about proved to be very different from each other. For example, Marco Polo’s travel writings were factual, accurate and were the most complete and informative. But Sir John Mandeville’s writings showed European geographical ignorance. Even though he lied in his writings his writings still managed to arouse interest in travel and discovery and helped popularize the idea of circumnavigation of the globe.

One thing that Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville had in common with their writings was that neither of them had any influence upon academic geographers and cosmographers of later middle ages. Another book that came out about geography was called the mappae-mundi, and its guiding principles were symmetry and orthodoxy instead of science. Having these principles made the book ultimately useless for practical purposes. Not everyone agreed with the ideas from this book.

For example, Roger Bacon’s ideas differed from this since he believed in literary evidence that Asia and Africa extended south across the Equator and he also believe that the torrid zone was habitable; which is the tropics around the earth’s equator. There was a leading geographical theorist of this time and his name was Pierre d’Ailly. He wrote a book called Imago Mundi which was a scriptural and Aristotelian erudition but hardly ever related to traveler’s experience with geography. It exaggerated the east-west extent of Asia and the proportion of land to sea on earth. Even with this the book was leading in sharing new and exciting series of classical recoveries and inspired new geographical works to people.

During this period of Reconnaissance educated men thought they were more civilized, and more sophisticated in behavior and expression than the ancients. This was partly true, the belief that they were more sophisticated than the ancients was true, but the ancients did have better knowledge when it came to geography and cosmography. There was a book that came out called Geography and was written by Claudius Ptolemy who was a Hellenized Egyptian that wrote about the middle of the second century AD. An important idea from his book Geography was his idea of using co-ordinates of latitude and longitude for defining the position of points on the earth’s surface.

So, you would be able to take the latitude and longitude of any point and be able to put it on a map and travel back to this exact same spot. His book also had a collection of maps that he made from the coordinates he had collected. The Reconnaissance period also lead to advances in science and technology since people were wanting to explore new lands that no one had ever seen before. This then led to new advances in the arts of navigation and cartography which was made possible with the combination of academic knowledge and nautical experience; this let explorers record the position of an unknown coast.

There were also new methods of design of ships which allowed sailors to make long voyages, discover new coasts and repeat their voyage to new places they had found. There also were new developments of gunnery and the making of guns which gave European explorers an advantage over countries they had sailed to. This helped them conquer new lands easily since no one at the lands they were traveling to had technology like this.

As the word started to spread that other countries were finding new land to conquer more and more Europeans wanted to do the same thing. There were multiple reasons why Europeans wanted to sail overseas and find new lands to conquer. But two “obvious, universal, and admitted” motives of European exploration are acquisitiveness and religious zeal. They wanted to collect as much money/wealth as they possibly could, and they also wanted to spread their religion onto new lands that they had discovered.

In order to go out and discover new lands, explorers needed money and Prince Henry of Portugal gave money to explorers to do exactly that. He would finance farmers or small owners of flocks and herds in order for them to occupy parts of the canaries. They would then make money farming and would send some of the money they made back to the prince. But to discover new lands there needed to be inspired Europeans who wanted to explore the world. The reason for them wanting to explore new lands was that they wanted to invest in trades and find commodities of high value and small bulk like gold, ivory, or pepper. Wanting to invest in trade would satisfy their motive of acquisitiveness. There were multiple forms of religious zeal that appealed to explorers and those who sent them out.

For example, they had the desire to convert by preaching, and reasoning. They would also use force to ensure the safety and independence of their religious community and have dominance over other religions. The crusading mentality and reconquest in Spain played a big role in their exploration. People in Spain were only partially satisfied with their victory of reconquest. These feelings later escalated when Columbus found islands that might be stepping stones to china. This made them want to conquer new provinces overseas. Another motivator for Spain wanting to explore was that they were now able to print mass amounts of sailing directions, navigation manuals, and other aids to educate sailors. Printing also enabled them to spread news of discoveries more quickly and allowed mass amounts of the public to read about it at once. All of this contributed to peoples interests in exploration and discovery.

Prince Henry of Portugal also had his own motives for wanting to explore. He wanted to find the countries where the gold that reached morocco came from and find desert routes in order to trade with them. But the desire that motivated him the most was his desire to fulfill his horoscope which said he had to “’engage in great and noble conquests, and above all… to attempt the discovery of things which were hidden from other men’” .Prince Henry ultimately wanted to find lands that no one had ever seen before.

The main objective of European exploration was the idea of acquiring a lot of wealth. They would concentrate their efforts on regions known to produce products of value and would focus on seaborne products rather than empire. In the later seventeenth century overseas exploration started to concentrate on commercial ends and became savagely competitive and exploration started to become independent from religious motives. Despite this the late seventeenth century was a period of religious conflict. This was different than the sixteenth century because they were more focused on making money with the new land they had discovered but in the sixteenth century people were more focused on spreading their religion with missionary work.

Exploration in the eighteenth century was more focused on wanting to chart the earth’s surface. Science played an important role during this time period. It improved the techniques of explorers and helped Europeans have increasing military and naval advantages over the rest of the world. The role of technology and science from the sixteenth to eighteenth-century started to become more and more important over time and educated men started to accept that science and technology can work hand in hand to solve problems.

The fifteenth to the eighteenth-century was a time of new beginnings. People were discovering new lands, new products to trade, and new advances in science and technology were being made. Because of increased exploration educated men started to become more accepting of science and technology. Pretty much all countries were motivated to explore overseas because of them wanting to spread their religion to new lands and gain wealth from new products they would find overseas. Countries exploring overseas to new lands was an exciting new thing, but it did come with consequences; explorers treated natives poorly and tried to force their religion on them. Despite the consequences that came with exploration it did enable people to find lands that they would have never even known existed if no one had explored.

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Historical Events of the Era of Great Discoveries. (2022, Jun 29). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/historical-events-of-the-era-of-great-discoveries/