The late middle ages spans roughly from 1300-1520. This is the time when Europeans began exploration of the world by sea. They were looking for trading partners, new trade routes and new goods. Some explorers were just learning the world and by so, the people of this time learned more about the geography of the world they lived in this essay we will examine what these people who lived in the late middle age found fascinating about travel and exploration.
Reasons for exploration
Most governments were interested in looking such gods as gold and silver and so they helped explorers to set out and search for these precious metals. Some explorers set out to find new routes for silk and spice trades. The Europeans intensively explored the world and established contacts with America, Africa and Asia.
Among the first middle age journeys during this age were done by the Portuguese. These voyages were conducted under Prince Henry and they were different from the previous voyages because they covered a much greater area sailing out of land. It is during this time in 1419 and 1427 that they discovered the Madeira and Azores islands respectively (Briney A. 2010).
Before the late middle ages, many people had travelled although not extensively mainly because they did not have the means nor the courage to travel far and wide. But by the late middle ages, they started to travel extensively often returning back with their mysteries, lies and legends. Like in late middle Ages, the Atlantic Ocean Islands took a particular fascination for the Mediterranean voyagers that locked them into their inland by the straits of Gibraltar. The ocean going vessels and the navigational aids thus helped to open the Atlantic to the voyagers increasing the number of real and imaginary voyages and the number of islands. Therefore the discovery of new islands really fascinated these explorers (Bowman J. and Isserman M. (2005).
During this age of discovery, there were famed voyages like that of Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama. When the sailors returned from faraway lands, they came had stories and tales to tell to the people back home. During Vasco Da Gama’s voyages, one member of the expedition described his encounter with seals as “as big bears that roared like lions and birds with no feathers on their wings that bray like asses.” In India during the exploration ages, there were plenty precious stones, spices and pearls that they were just there, could not be bought because they were plenty and could be easily collected freely. So when some explorers returned from India they reported that the king of Bijapur had his servants wear insteps of their shoes rubies and diamonds. They were also fascinated by the earrings the Indian women wore that one of the explorers said that they had ears that hang down half a palm through the weight of jewels that they wore (Bowman J. and Isserman M. 2005). The travelers always came up with stories on how they met with humans with either one eye or with tails, two heads or with no head at all. For Marco Polo, he described people with dog’s head, a mountain streaming with diamonds and a desert populated by ghouls. Legendary and mythical places were discovered and they were added to the maps (White P. 2009).
The explorers were also fascinated by the navigation facts; in 1419 the prince of Portugal Henry the navigator was thrilled when he founded the “first research institute” where sailors’ reports were collected and complied to form a resource center where the people who wanted to learn sailing could gather vital information before setting out. On a voyage of Africa in the 15th century, the Europeans saw bizarre things that they have never seen or heard of before. A hippopotamus was encountered by one voyager named as Cadamosto and he immediately named it a horse-fish. They also giant bats, unusual fish varieties and strange birds. The people in Africa were also interesting to interact with; hunting wild animals for meat or like elephants for ivory using poisoned arrows (Bowman J. and Isserman M. 2005). As they continued their expeditions, the Portuguese found new sources of gold in Africa and they called the place Gold Coast.
While the Portuguese were exploring the east, the Spaniards decided to explore the west. For Columbus, he set out in 1492 in the Atlantic Ocean hoping to find his way to Asia. Although he reached his destination, in America and not Asia although thinking that he was in Asia, he called the inhabitants the Indians. Later explorations brought the country new types of crops as the explorers were fascinated with the kind of agricultural products that they came with from the far lands. The new products that were acquired included: coffee, potatoes, corn and tobacco becoming the staple crops for Europeans (White P. 2009).
By the end of the middle ages, the Europeans had known their continent, the Mediterranean Sea and the black sea. New islands had been discovered as well as new and exciting animals, birds and even people had been met. They had also discovered some parts of East Africa, although they lacked accurate maps for distant places, they used available maps from Marco Polo’s travel to navigate Middle East and some parts of Asia.
With the Renaissance in Italy and development of the European countries, the middle ages came to a close by around 1500. The end of the late middle ages marked the start of the modern European history (Briney A. 2010).
Spanning from the 14th century to the mid 16th century, the late middle ages explorers and travelers had different fascinations as told and then later written down. Although not all the stories are true as some were just imaginary. They discovered new lands, new animals were discovered like the “horse-fish”, and different species of bats and birds were also discovered. They encountered different kind of people and how they used to live differently from them. The explorers were also overwhelmed by the amount of medals they found like gold and silver that they named one place Gold Coast. The Late Middle Ages era ended around the start of the 16th century when Europeans made advancements that helped to easily travel around the world.