132

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 ...


129

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 had any knowledge of Greenland. The European settlement there did not exist by the time the printing press was invented, so any knowledge of it (unlike Portugal's ...


55

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 ...


44

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 ...


41

As fate would have it, the first known globe of the Earth was created in 1492, the same year as Columbus' voyage. As such, it is also the only known globe to depict the area between Western Europe and East Asia prior to the discovery of the New World. None of the earlier flat maps I could find made any kind of legitimate effort at depicting this area. The ...


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' ...


31

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 ...


27

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 were a manifestation of the soul of this great man who was well beyond his contemporaries in what he wanted and expected from his sailors. I'm basing this answer ...


26

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 ...


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

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 geography, he calculated the circumference of Earth with a precision higher than his predecessors, and made some precise maps of known lands. In his work Codex ...


22

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 supplies (except for fresh water) or guides there. It was just an empty island. He thought that east Asia was closer, so the estimated distance between Asia and ...


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 ...


17

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 ...


16

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 ...


15

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 height of the Age of Exploration, the Ottoman Empire was very successfully expanding into the Balkans, besieging Vienna in 1529 under Suleiman the Magnificent and ...


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

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 ...


13

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 - ...


13

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 ...


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 ...


12

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 ...


11

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 ...


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 ...


11

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 proved first (as far as we know) by Necos king of Egypt. He, when he had made an end of digging the canal which leads from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf, sent ...


11

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 His Majesty’s Sloop Resolution, in a letter to Mr Stephens, dated 8th of June 1779, in the Harbour of St Peter and St Paul, Kampschatka, which was received ...


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 ...


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