Age of Discovery

1400's A.D. - 1600's A.D.

A period in European history when there's lots of overseas exploration

Important Events:

Spice Trade & Sea Exploration

Key Players:

  • Asia/ India

  • Ottoman Turks

  • Spain

  • England

  • France

  • Portugal 

  • Italy

It's easy to think of the Age of Discovery and Spice Trade as a purely Western European narrative, but that's not the full story. The Ottoman Turk empire was the dominant empire of the Muslim world. They also had the upper hand against Western Europe in the Spice Trade because of their easy access to Asia/India.

Who were the Ottoman Turk's greatest competition in the Spice trade?

A. England

B. France  

C. Spain     

Key People: Explorers

Italian dude who couldn't convince Italy to pay for his Asia trade route exploration adventures, but convinced Spain to sponsor him to find a Western trade route to Asia and winds up in America  (which he thinks is Asia!).


1451 -1506 A.D.

Christopher Columbus

Another Italian dude sponsored by Spain. Vespucci was the first European to figure out that America wasn't actually Asia. He realized that Brazil was, in fact, not Asia and that the land he was exploring was actually a completely different continent. The Americas are named after him.


1454 -1512 A.D.

Amerigo Vespucci

Spanish conquistador and first known European to reach the mainland of present day United States. He's also the first governor of Puerto Rico...and he's the guy who named Florida.


1474 -1521 A.D.

Juan Ponce de Leon

Spanish conquistador and head of the first South American settlement. He's also the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean


1475 - 1519 A.D.

Vasco Nunez de Balboa

Portugese dude who was sponsored by Spain to find a Western trade route to the Spice Islands and ended up leading the first circumnavigation around the world. (He actually died before the trip was over, but his crew made it back to it counts.) He's considered the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean.


1480 -1521 A.D.

Ferdinand Magellan

Spanish conquistador who was obsessed with quick wealth and power. He's a pretty awful guy. He is responsible for the arrest that led to the death of Vasco de Balboa and the end of the Inca civilization in South America. 


1475 -1541 A.D.

Francisco Pizarro

French explorer sent by France to explore the New World.  He's the guy who named Canada and claimed it for France. He was the first European to find the St. Lawrence River.


1491 - 1557 A.D.

Jacques Cartier

British sea captain, privateer, and slave trader. He's the first European to circumnavigate the world and stay alive to see the whole thing.  Also, he's the guy who led the victorious attack against the seemingly invincible Spanish Armada (a.k.a. the Spanish Navy fleet). He basically ended Spanish dominance in the New World.


1540 - 1596 A.D.

Sir Francis Drake

British dude who attempted to establish the first permanent English settlement in the new world: the Roanoke Colony. He's the guy who wrote a book that made the treasure of El Dorado a legend. He's also the guy who introduced potatoes and tobacco to England.


1554 - 1618 A.D.

Sir Walter Raleigh

British sea captain who brought people over to found Jamestown settlement - the first successful permanent English settlement in the new world


1561 - 1617 A.D.

Christopher Newport


Connecting the Dots: The Tudor Period

The Age of Discovery and the Tudor Period happened at the same time.

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