Discoveries by explorers gave mapmakers new information to work with. By the end of the 15th century, the compass was much improved Finally, improved weapons gave Europeans huge advantage over the people they met in their explorations. Sailors could fire their cannons at targets near the shore without leaving their ships. Along with better ships, new navigational tools helped sailors to travel more safely on the open seas. Portugal’s explorers changed Europeans’ understanding of the world in several ways. They explored the coasts of Africa and brought back gold and slaves. They also found a sea route to India. From India, explorers brought back spices like cinnamon and pepper and goods such as porcelain, incense, jewels, and silk. The prices of Asian goods like spices and fabrics dropped, and more people in Europe could afford to buy them. Early Spanish exploration changed Europeans’ view of the world. The voyages of Columbus revealed the existence of the Americas. Magellan’s expedition opened up a westward route to the Indies. The explorations and conquests of the conquistadors transformed Spain. For a time, wealth from the Americas made Spain one of the world’s richest and most powerful countries. Besides gold and silver, ships brought corn and potatoes from the New World to Spain. These crops grew well in Europe. By increasing the food supply, they helped spur a population boom. Conquistadors also introduced Europeans to new luxury items, such as chocolate and tobacco. In the long run, gold and silver from the Americas hurt Spain’s economy.
Inflation, or an increase in the supply of money compared to goods, led to higher prices. The Spanish introduced new animals to the Americas, such as horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs. The voyages of explorers had a dramatic impact on European commerce and economies. As a result of exploration, more goods, raw materials, and precious metals entered Europe. Mapmakers carefully charted trade routes and the locations of...
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