Stellar Legacies - Age of Discovery

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The so-called Age of Exploration was a period from the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century, during which European ships were traveled around the world to search for new trading routes and partners to feed burgeoning capitalism in Europe. In the process, Europeans encountered peoples and mapped lands previously unknown to them. The Age of Exploration was rooted in new technologies and ideas growing out of the Renaissance, these included advances in cartography, navigation, and shipbuilding.

The most important development was the invention of first the Carrack and then caravel in Iberia. These that were a combination of traditional European and Arab designs were the first ships that could leave the relatively passive Mediterranean and sail safely on the open Atlantic. The Santa Maria at anchor by Andries van Eertvelt, painted c. The first great wave of expeditions was launched by Portugal under Prince Henry the Navigator.

Sailing out into the open Atlantic the Madeira Islands were discovered in and in the Azores were discovered and both became Portuguese colonies. For centuries the only trade routes linking West Africa with the Mediterranean world were over the Sahara Desert. These routes were controlled by the Muslim states of North Africa, long rivals to Portugal.

Star cluster study questions stellar evolution - skyatnightmagazine

It was the Portuguese hope that the Islamic nations could be bypassed by trading directly with West Africa by sea. It was also hoped that south of the Sahara the states would be Christian and potential allies against the Muslims in the Maghreb. The Portuguese navigators made slow but steady progress, each year managing to push a few miles further south and in the obstacle of Cape Bojador was overcome.

Within two decades the barrier of the Sahara had been overcome and trade in gold and slaves began in with what is today Senegal. Progress continued as trading forts were built at Elmina and Sao Tome and Principe became the first sugar producing colony. The crucial breakthrough was in when Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope and proved that access to the Indian Ocean was possible.

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In Vasco da Gama made good on this promise by reaching India. Portugal's larger rival Spain had been somewhat slower that their smaller neighbour to begin exploring the Atlantic, and it was not until late in the fifteenth century that Castilian sailors began to compete with their Iberian neighbours. The first contest was for control of the Canary Islands, which Castille won.

It was not until the union of Aragon and Castille and the completion of the reconquista that the large nation became fully committed to looking for new trade routes and colonies overseas.

Young star discovery challenges our understanding of stellar evolution

In the joint rulers of the nation decided to fund Christopher Columbus' expedition that they hoped would bypass Portugal's lock on Africa and the Indian Ocean reaching Asia by travelling west to reach the east. The issue of defining areas of influence became critical. It resolved by Papal intervention in when the Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world between the two powers. The Portuguese "received" everything outside of Europe east of a line that ran leagues west of the Cape Verde islands; this gave them control over Africa, Asia and western South America Brazil.

The Spanish received everything west of this line, territory that was still almost completely unknown.


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