top of page

Content Overview

Unit 4: c. 1450-1750


Causes of Exploration

List of Causes of Exploration

Maritime Tech

New maritime technologies (compass, astrolabe, etc.) gave explorers more confidence in venturing into the open sea

Environmental Knowledge

Explorers acquired more accurate maps & also learned about the ocean's wind patterns → Used the wind to move faster

State Sponsorship

European states sponsored the journeys of explorers by providing ships & crew


Europeans sought to spread Christianity throughout the world → Explored more places to spread Christianity there


Europeans believed in mercantilism, the idea that there is a fixed amount of wealth in the world (measured in gold) → Europeans wanted more gold


European states wanted more glory, which they get by conquering more land


Europeans wanted to trade directly with Asia (without Ottoman intermediaries)

Events of Exploration

Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)

Created a vertical line in the Atlantic Ocean: Allowed Portugal to have all lands east & Spain to have all lands west of the line. This is why Spain controlled most of the Americas, while Portugal had many Afro-Eurasian ports

Portuguese Explorers

Bartholomew Dias

Rounded Cape of Good Hope (South Africa)


Vasco da Gama

Went to India via Cape of Good Hope


Pedro Alvares Cabral

Went to Brazil & claimed it for Portugal


Spanish Explorers

Christopher Columbus

Sailed Westward, landed in Americas


Ferdinand Magellan

Circumnavigated the world; Claimed Philippines for Spain


English Explorers

John Cabot

Discovered Newfoundland: 1st English discovery


French Explorers

Jacques Cartier

Discovered Quebec for France


Dutch Explorers

Henry Hudson

Claimed New Amsterdam (today's NY) for the Dutch 


bottom of page