The period known as the Renaissance and individuals such as Marco Polo spurred on the desire for exploration but let’s not take them as the only reason. Throughout history there have been many leaders and countries who have been just plain GREEDY!
Europeans have been conquering lands towards the Middle East since the Romans reached Judea and they weren’t going to let the Arabs have all the spoils now were they? Absolutely Not!
Europeans based their voyages on what we call the 3 G’s: God, Gold & Glory
Here we will look at these 3 motivations for exploration
Europeans wanted to defeat and conquer the Muslim armies who controlled North Africa. During the Crusades, the Muslims took control of the Eastern Roman Empire based in Constantinople. It’s army marched west and even got as far as Spain. This was obviously a big problem for Christian Europe. Not only did Europeans want to defeat the Muslims in North Africa, explorers were often tasked with converting the people they met to Christianity. The explorers often took priests with them to convert the natives.
There was no doubt that the Italians and the Arabs were making a tonne of cash in this trade business! It was so profitable that governments and rulers in Europe paid huge money to set up navigation schools and develop their ships. Vast amounts of money were spent on voyages even before they began! However, the rulers took a chance that they would make their country very wealthy and famous in return. It was said that the Columbus trip returned 60 times what it cost!
Think about that for a moment…if it cost €1 million of today’s money to send the ships to the Americas and you got €60 million in return…you’d be a very happy camper!
You’d have more Gold than Lil’John has in his mouth!
It was also felt that building empires was a sustainable investment at the time and that they would bring power to the country. Remember, not many countries in Europe actually liked each other, many were at war with one another!
Keep in mind that Western Europe was still at the tail end of the Middle Ages and feudalism. Europe had been at war, off and on, for centuries. This, along with the Reconquista of Spain (reconquering of Spain) from the Moors (Muslim Army), had fostered a culture that glorified the military and its leaders. Men who won battles or performed other great deeds were often rewarded by titles of nobility, land, money, and laborers. Since there was little land to be had in Europe, the discovery of huge amounts of land in the New World became a big motivator for individuals to seek personal glory there.
So there you go, God, Gold and Glory were the real reasons behind why Exploration occurred! I can’t leave this blog without signing off with a Chappelle Show sketch and a Lil’ John YEEEEAAAAHHHHHH!
For more on the Explorations, keep it here!