So I was reading a book in class and I stumbled across this question but I can not figure it out.

marked as duplicate by congusbongus, Tom Au, Null, Mark C. Wallace, Steve Bird Sep 29 '17 at 9:05

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Once the muslims conquered Constantinople they controlled the trade with the Far East, in other words: the Silk Road. We're talking of course about very expensive luxury items that didn't weigh much: silk and spices, mainly. In the Dutch language the word 'peperduur' means 'as expensive as pepper'. Prices consequently went through the roof.

An alternative had to be found. The land route was closed. The only option was over sea. Either going 'left' (direction America) or 'down south' (along the coast of Africa, crossing the Indian ocean). With better ships it became economically feasible to find a different route. The first ships returning with a full cargo made their owners millionaires overnight.

Going north was also tried, but that was utterly impossible. Ice and sailing ships aren't a good combination.

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