120

Europeans were introduced to at least one important disease from the Americas (syphilis), but far more Old World pathogens were introduced to the Americas than vice versa. There are several reasons for this imbalance. European agriculturalists lived in closer proximity to disease vectors than did most Native Americans. A number of important diseases started ...


58

In fact during the Age of Discovery, Africa had been the principle objective. It really begins with Prince Henry the Navigator, a son of the King of Portugal who had an intense fascination with Africa. In particular he was taken with the legend of Prester John, said to be a descendant of one of the Three Magi who presided over a magical land with marvels ...


47

Columbus was not, in fact, the first to cross the Atlantic. There were Norse communities living in Greenland from the 10th Century. They even had some temporary settlements in North America proper. However, the Norse weren't as good at eking out a living in the North Atlantic as the Inuit, and (after 500 years) eventually got wiped out by some combination of ...


40

Several good answers have already been suggested, but there are a few very important points that are worth mentioning: Native Americans were badly unprepared for the emergence of epidemic disease among their populations, both genetically and culturally. According to this article from 2002, there was a major genetic component to it: far less immune system ...


39

The claim was made by Alexander Dalrymple in his book An Account of the Discoveries Made in The South Pacifick Ocean, Previous to 1764 (An ebook version is available from Google Books). Dalrymple's belief was based primarily on his translations of Spanish documents captured in the Philippines in 1762, in particular, those describing Luis Vaez de Torres' ...


30

In 1460, at the time of the death of Prince Henry, the Navigator, the Portuguese had mapped the western coast of Africa down to the 8 N parallel. The Southern Cross is well seen at this latitude. Really, all stars can be seen between the tropics, and the Northern Tropic was reached even earlier. In 1471, they crossed the Equator and began to be guided by ...


28

I believe I found the answer in Wikipedia's article on the Marinid dynasty; quite simply the dynasty was in decline from the 13th century; in the 15th century (OP's reference period), the decline was complicated by a financial crisis. In the 15th century Morocco was hit by a financial crisis, after which the state had to stop financing the different ...


24

We can be fairly certain that humans did not live on Antarctica, the continent, before the 20th century. Since about 15 Ma, the continent has been mostly covered with ice. Ref: Trewby, Mary, ed. Antarctica: An Encyclopedia from Abbott Ice Shelf to Zooplankton. Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55297-590-8. Intermittent warm periods allowed Nothofagus shrubs to ...


22

Sure, it's possible. Many things are possible. Likely, however, is another question. The link you posted describes a vague story of sailing west into the Atlantic, finding an island, trading with the locals, and returning home. Could the island be in the New World? It could, but it could just as easily be one of the islands in the Atlantic. For me to ...


21

Citing Ezad Azraai Jamsari / Mohamad Zulfazdlee Abul Hassan Ashari, The Marinid Naval Force According to Historical Perspective (Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 5 No. 29 | Doi:10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n29p26), emphasis mine: ...after the death of Sultan Abu ‘Inan Faris in the year 759/1358, the Marinid naval force was unable to defeat the ...


15

I understand that there are four surviving accounts of de Soto's expedition. Three of those accounts were written by survivors: Rodrigo Rangel or Ranjel, who was de Soto’s personal secretary; Luys Hernández de Biedma, the Spanish King’s representative; and an individual known as the “Gentleman from Elvas”, who is believed to be a Portuguese mercenary ...


14

For reference, here is the official classification from Wikipedia of the conditions necessary for a "pleasant" Antarctic day: Condition 3 Windspeed below 48 knots (55 miles per hour) Visibility greater than 1/4 of a mile (402 meters) Wind chill above −75 °F (−60 °C) Description: Pleasant conditions; all outside travel is permitted. Condition 3 ...


14

Malaria I'd actually leave it at that, if the posting software let me. But to elaborate, Europeans actually did actively try to colonize Africa continuously during the Age of Discovery. The problem was that Malaria killed them off quicker than more could be sent. The only place it really worked was in South Africa, which was too temparate for Malaria to ...


14

The question is a bit confusing. The way I read it, you're asking why something expensive has enough demand to sustain a profitable trade ("How did the high price of spices allow such high demand?"). The answer is that it wasn't that expensive. A pound of spices might cost several days' worth of wages for an average craftsman, but a pound of pepper is a lot ...


14

The Fall of Constantinople had a negligible effect on the launching of the Age of Discovery, school textbooks notwithstanding. It was well under way a generation earlier, due to the perfection of the caravel in Portugal under Prince Henry the Navigator and the explorations he launched down the coast of Africa. The Madeira Islands had been rediscovered in ...


13

England The city of Bristol was the hub of English expeditions into the Atlantic. Several voyages were launched from her harbours, the second largest in England, around the time of Columbus. Bristol's mariners were inspired by the legendary phantom island of Brasil, which is said to lie off the western coast of Ireland(1). There is some evidence[2] that at ...


13

Certainly some diseases are of New World origin. The Old World had more diseases and more deadly diseases simply because the population was much greater and in certain place more concentrated. It is likely that more New World natives were killed by disease than by violence. However, this is just as true in the Old World: many more have died of disease than ...


12

Christopher Columbus thought the world was spherical (like most educated people of his era) but he also thought the size of the Earth was small enough that a westward boat trip from Europe to Asia was achievable with existing ship building technology. In this regard he differed from the more accurate size estimates of scholars in Isabella and Ferdinand's ...


12

Japanese cuisine and culture are very much focused on rice - I don't think you can really call anything else a staple food. However, there are a number of foodstuff that had been introduced into Japan by Europeans, and achieved varying levels of popularity. For example, base foodstuffs that have became important include: Chili pepper, introduced in 1542 - ...


11

It had a significant effect. It was not just Constantinople itself that was important but several other strategic areas as well. Constantinople was a key trading center on both the northern and southern silk roads, so that when it fell in 1453 trade was greatly disrupted and goods from the east became much more expensive. The southern silk road route, which ...


10

Here is my main source for the following answers. EDIT 6/4/2015: I have expanded this answer to elaborate on a number of things. How much, in today terms, were they worth? Around the year 1500, a quintal of pepper in Lisbon was worth up to 38 ducats. A ducat was 3.5g of gold and a quintal was only 60 grams of pepper... So, pepper was worth a bit more ...


10

The original astronomic concepts were that planets, stars, and the sun were small, close light sources. Being in heaven, they were perfect (aside from the moon, which was smudged due to closeness to this imperfect sphere). They were embedded in clear solid domes at varying distances. But in general, the idea that the heavens were made for us on Earth to ...


10

While it would be hard to disprove an early Portuguese presence in New England, it seems unlikely. One could argue that 16th century fisherman don't often leave behind a wealth of evidence, but consider how much evidence survives linking the Portuguese to Newfoundland around the same time. According to Mark Kurlansky: A 1502 map identifies Newfoundland as ...


10

The date depends on whether one is referring to date of completion or date of printing. The map was completed by April 1750 but the 1st edition was not printed until June 1752. The earliest public presentation of the map would appear to be the 8th of April 1750 when it was presented to the Academie des Sciences in Paris. Arader Galleries says: BAUCHE, ...


10

Ironically enough, this is likely a case of Chinese whispers. There is a relatively established crackpot "theory" that the Chinese discovered America in the 5th century or so, and called the new land "Fusang." This claim has been around for a while, and also features in the Wikipedia article linked in the question: A group of Chinese Buddhist ...


9

Let me add one more reason: when the discovery age began, large parts of Africa was already "colonized" by the Muslims.


9

Question: Did Portuguese fisherman frequent New England prior to 1492? Short Answer: There is some evidence that first Basque, then Portuguese and finally English(Bristol) fishermen visited Newfoundland and/or Greenland before Columbus. As these fishermen were shut out of the lucrative Icelandic fisheries controlled by the Hanseatic League ( a merchant ...


9

I'd say the syphilis was was quite a deadly illness contacted from the Native Americans. They were immune to it (wonder if they still are…). Although it is not 100 % historically proved that the syphilis originated from the New World, it started spreading like crazy after its discovery.


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