137 votes
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Why did Native Americans die from European diseases while Europeans didn't catch serious diseases from the New World?

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 ...
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131 votes
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Why did Columbus cross the mid-Atlantic instead of exploring from Greenland?

There's a lot in the question that seems to be assuming modern knowledge that Columbus most likely did not possess. There is no good evidence the Iberian maritime community in the late 15th century ...
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  • 110k
49 votes
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Why could Phoenicians sail past Cape Bojador but later Europeans could not until 1434?

Everyone could sail past Cape Bojador. The actual problem is getting back home. Whether Hanno really went as much south as maximalist interpretations allege is really irrelevant to some extent, as the ...
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  • 77.2k
46 votes

Why did Native Americans die from European diseases while Europeans didn't catch serious diseases from the New World?

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 ...
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40 votes
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Why did the Royal Society in 1771 believe that a continent further south than Australia should exist?

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 ...
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  • 76.4k
32 votes
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How did Vasco da Gama know about the Southern Cross?

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. ...
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  • 6,976
28 votes

When the Portuguese began the exploration of the West African Coast, did they believe the Indian Ocean was an enclosed sea?

What a wonderful question! Dom Henrique is one of the chief characters of this story, and that means we need to explore him more than the general Portuguese knowledge. These explorations as a whole ...
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27 votes

Why didn't the Moroccans try to explore and conquer the New World?

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 ...
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  • 31k
22 votes

Did anyone in Europe predict the existence of the Americas?

Europeans, perhaps not, someone in the old world, yes. Al-Biruni (973–1050) lived in Khwarezm (modern Uzbekistan). Among other works in mathematics, astronomy, physics, mineralogy, history and ...
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  • 968
22 votes

Why did Columbus cross the mid-Atlantic instead of exploring from Greenland?

Let's suppose that Columbus knew about Greenland. European colonies in Greenland were abandoned by that time. Therefore sailing there was actually useless, because it would be impossible to get ...
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  • 4,815
22 votes

Why didn't the Moroccans try to explore and conquer the New World?

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/...
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21 votes
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How significant was the Fall of Constantinople as an event leading to the Age of Exploration?

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 ...
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20 votes
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Why was the spice trade so profitable in the 15th century?

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?...
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17 votes

Why could Phoenicians sail past Cape Bojador but later Europeans could not until 1434?

Cape Bojador remained quite dangerous well into modern times: This is also believed to be the site where Captain James Riley and the crew of the U.S. brig Commerce, sailing at the time from Gibraltar ...
16 votes
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Did any Moors accompany Hernando de Soto in his exploration of Mississippi?

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 ...
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16 votes
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Why did the Portuguese permit an Italian commercial agent to accompany Vasco da Gama on the 4th Portuguese India Armada?

This expedition was financed by the Affaitadi family (they were bankers), of which Matteo de Bergamo was a clerk. It is natural that the investors would ask the da Gama brothers to take one of their ...
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15 votes

How did the ruling class in the Muslim world react to the discovery and colonization of the Americas?

During the time period from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until its dissolution in 1918, the Ottoman Empire was pre-occupied with the Balkans, Middle East, and North-East Africa. During the ...
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13 votes
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Was there a Japanese Exchange, à la Columbian Exchange?

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 ...
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13 votes
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Around the time of Columbus, were there other failed attempts?

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'...
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12 votes

Why did Native Americans die from European diseases while Europeans didn't catch serious diseases from the New World?

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 ...
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  • 37.3k
12 votes

When was the first confirmed circumnavigation of Africa?

The Egyptian/Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa you refer to is recorded by Herodotus: For Libya shows clearly that it is encompassed by sea, save only where it borders on Asia; and this was ...
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  • 3,672
12 votes
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Which 'evidence' is there for a claim that 'Chinese discovered America in 636'?

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 ...
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  • 96.2k
11 votes

What was the value of the spice trade during the age of exploration?

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 ...
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  • 17.5k
11 votes

How significant was the Fall of Constantinople as an event leading to the Age of Exploration?

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 ...
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  • 37.3k
11 votes

What did other European powers say when Portugal and Spain signed the Treaty of Tordesillas?

The reactions to the Treaty by the other powers were far from swift. On one hand, communication was slow and untrustworthy, on the other hand the New World was much smaller (as mentioned in another ...
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11 votes

When did James Cook's wife learn about his death?

According to Captain Cook: The Life, Death and Legacy of History's Greatest Explorer, by Vanessa Collingridge - ON 11 JANUARY 1780, an announcement appeared in the London Gazette: Captain Clerke of ...
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  • 18.1k
10 votes

Did Portuguese fisherman visit New England prior to 1492?

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 ...
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  • 17.9k
10 votes

Why did Native Americans die from European diseases while Europeans didn't catch serious diseases from the New World?

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 ...
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  • 329
10 votes
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A world in the moon?

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 ...
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