Before the Age of Exploration

Topics: Atlantic Ocean, Africa, Portugal Pages: 3 (1007 words) Published: November 8, 2010
Before the age of exploration, the Europeans did not know what lay beyond Cape Non (Cape Chaunar) on the African coast, and whether it was possible to return once it was crossed. Hence, the overland Silk Road and the Spice Trade Routes are the extensive interconnected network of trade routes to the world. However, the economically important Silk Road and Spice Trade Routes were blocked by the Ottoman Empire by 1453 with the fall of the Byzantine Empire, spurring exploration motivated initially by the finding of a sea route around Africa and triggering the Age of Discovery. Portugal

Portugal is the pioneer to start sailing and mapping the new world. In 1415, Ceuta was occupied by the Portuguese aiming to control navigation of the African coast. Young prince Henry the Navigator was there and became aware of profit possibilities in the Trans-Saharan trade routes. For centuries slave and gold trade routes linking West Africa with the Mediterranean passed over the Western Sahara Desert, controlled by hostile Muslim states of North Africa. Henry wished to know how far Muslim territories in Africa extended, hoping to bypass it and trade directly with West Africa by sea. Henry the Navigator allied with Prestor John of Christian Kingdom and to probe whether it was possible to reach the Indies by sea, the source of the lucrative spice trade. He invested in sponsoring voyages down the coast of Mauritania, gathering a group of merchants, ship owners and stakeholders interested in new sea lanes. Atlantic Ocean

After Henry’s navigation successfully reached the difficult Cape Bojador that in 1434, a major advance was the introduction of the caravel in the mid-15th century, a small ship able to sail windward more than any other in Europe at the time. Evolved from fishing ships designs, they were the first that could leave the coastal cabotage navigation and sail safely on the open Atlantic. For celestial navigation Portuguese used ephemeris, which have experienced a remarkable...
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