Duringthe late medieval and early Renaissance Periods European countries began toestablish discovery, trade, and expansion. They aspired to develop trade withthe Far East.
European nations offered wool, gold, lead, and tin in exchangefor Persian rugs, Chinese Porcelain, glass, and exotic spices. The institutionof trade routes benefitted trading countries during the Commercial Revolution,an era when countries gained political domination and built empires. Like otherEuropean countries, Spain sought after riches.
Christopher Columbus, an Italianexplorer during the 1400s, promised the Spanish monarchy a more profitableroute to the Indies. Spain was threatened by the Portuguese monopoly onenslaved Africans and expansion in the Atlantic. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella then recognizedthe need for Columbus. In addition to riches, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabellasaw the opportunity to spread Christianity throughout the New World. Spaincould have sent a Spanish explorer to find trade routes, but they sent anItalian instead.
With the desire to gain profits and spread Christianity, theSpanish monarchy sent Columbus instead of a Spanish explorer because he was theonly explorer who presented a plan to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Spainwanted to profit from Columbus’s expeditions. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabellaknew that optimal trade routes would inducelucrative Asian markets. Despite the consequent religious distribution, theCrusades increased maritime trade between the Eastern and Western countries. Thedesire for these products created new markets for merchants as people during theCrusade experienced the quality of silk, the utility of porcelain, and the aromasof exotic spices. The Silk Road connected Europeans cities with Eastern cities.Merchants’ ships facilitated the trade. Transporting goods along the Silk Roadwas expensive and slow, however.
Taxes and heists increased the price oftrading along the Silk Road. Muslim middlemen collected taxes as the goodsmoved back and forth. There were incidents of looting caravans with treasures. Inaddition to seeking a water passage to the wealthy cities of the East, explorerswanted to discover a route to the exotic Spice Islands in modern-day Indonesia,whose location was kept secret by Muslim rulers. The lure of profit pushedexplorers to seek new trade routes to the Spice Islands and to eliminate Muslimmiddlemen. Upon learning from cutting-edge scholars that the world was roundand that they could reach the East by going westward, different European powersbegan to compile plans, funds, and ships in order to find a new route to Asia.Columbus’s hope was for a faster trip to the Indies, a goal that would increaseSpain’s profits.
Spainwas also motivated by the possibility of spreading Christianity throughout thenew world. The year 622 carried a new challenge to Christianity. A prophetnamed Muhammad claimed that he received a revelation that became a foundationof the Islamic Faith Near Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Quran, which contained the revelationsreceived by Muhammad, identified Jesus Christ as a prophet, not as. Islamspread throughout the Middle East and into Europe until 732. Later on, EuropeanChristians began the Crusades, a movement of violence with Muslims to secure ofHoly Lands—this region spanned from modern-day Turkey in the north along theMediterranean coast to the Sinai Peninsula—under Islamic control.
The Crusades began in response to Muslimcontrol in Europe. The city of Jerusalem is a holy site for Jews, Christians,and Muslims; the three religions lived there in harmony for centuries, based onevidence. However, in 1095, European Christians decided not only to reclaim theholy city from Muslim rulers but also to conquer the entire region.
TheCrusades provided the religious outlook for the Reconquista, which in turninspired Atlantic colonization. The Reconquista, or “reconquest,” refers to the800 years of violence and expulsion of Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula, anarea that consists of Spain and Portugal, after the failed Crusades. TheCrusades and the Reconquista cemented religious intolerance, and the Christianslooked to colonization as an opportunity to spread the Christian Faith.Particularly in the strongly Catholic nations of Spain and Portugal, religion droveKing Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to convert Native Americans and bringChristianity to new places. Spainneeded an explorer to carry out the tasks of gaining profit and spreadingChristianity.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella chose Columbus over Spanishexplorers because there was no competition. Unlike Columbus, Spanish explorersdid not propose an expedition. He was their only option.
Columbus was theironly opportunity to acquire new trade routes to the Indies. The monarchy had nochoice but to fund Columbus’s voyages because his promises would deliver KingFerdinand and Queen Isabella’s motivations: to obtain profit and disperseChristianity. KingFerdinand and Queen Isabella funded Columbus’s voyages because they wanted togain profit and spread Christianity. They supported Columbus instead of Spanishexplorers because the native explorers did not offer the monarchy anexpedition. Columbus was their only option.