• The first thing we need to do is look back through
history at some important events that would all go
together in creating the urge that many European
nations had for exploration.
• c. 200 B.C. – The Chinese begin to develop a series of trade routes
which connects the east to the west. For the first time luxury goods
(silk, tea, spices, pepper, etc) begin to find their way to the people
• 27 B.C. – Augustus comes to power in
Rome. His rise marks the beginning of the
• c. A.D. 33 – Jesus Christ is crucified.
His teachings and life soon become
the basis for the Christian religion.
After some trouble it will soon spread
throughout the Roman Empire.
• c. A.D. 475 – The last western
Roman emperor is overthrown.
This marks the fall of the Roman
Empire. It also begins a period
when those luxury goods coming
along the Silk Road become
harder to get.
• A.D. 610 – Islam is founded in Saudi
Arabia. It quickly spreads throughout the
Middle East and Northern Africa.
• A.D. 1096 – Pope Urban II calls
for the crusades to help the
Byzantine Empire against the
Islamic Seldjuk Turks and to free
the city of Jerusalem (an
important city in the Christian
faith). A crusade is a term often
used when referring to conflicts
• The crusades were largely
failures, but they did a lot to
reestablish European interest in
trade with the East. It would
now just have to go through
• In 1295, after traveling across Asia and
learning about China's culture, Marco Polo
returned to Italy and wrote a book about the
wonders of Asia. His book, Travels, inspired
Christopher Columbus and others to find a
route to the East.
• Italian merchants made money by
selling spices and luxuries (silks,
perfumes, and gems) from the
Orient to wealthy Europeans. The
merchants bought luxuries from
Arab traders in the Middle East
who sold goods from the Orient.
The goods arrived in Italian ports
by ship after being transported over
land to the Mediterranean Sea. The
Arab merchants sold the goods for
a very high price. However, as EastWest trade increased, Europeans
began to look for other routes to the
East that avoided the Arab traders.