131 votes
Accepted

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 ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
50 votes
Accepted

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 ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.9k
40 votes
Accepted

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 ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.6k
28 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 ...
MCW's user avatar
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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 ...
gktscrk's user avatar
  • 10.8k
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 ...
Kostya_I's user avatar
  • 978
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 ...
Santiago's user avatar
  • 4,901
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/...
DevSolar's user avatar
  • 13.9k
18 votes

What is the first recorded contact with Taiwan by Europeans?

From [1] These rutters ... allude to Formosa, sometimes under the sobriquet of Lequeo Pequeno (Little Luchu), since the distinction between the Ryukyu Islands and Formosa was not always clear to the ...
Luiz's user avatar
  • 4,433
17 votes
Accepted

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 ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.6k
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
Accepted

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 ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

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 ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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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 ...
Spencer's user avatar
  • 5,325
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 ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.4k
11 votes

What is the first recorded contact with Taiwan by Europeans?

A book chapter by Rui Manuel Loureiro, in the book Taiwan - A Bridge between the East and South China Seas, Angela Schottenhammer (ed.), 2011, addresses these questions in detail. It's difficult to ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 19.6k
10 votes

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

From the 15th to 20th centuries, the Moroccans had a love-hate relationship (but mostly the former) with the Ottoman Empire. For most of that period, they could get trade goods from India and the rest ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k
10 votes

Did any Moors accompany Hernando de Soto in his exploration of Mississippi?

The entire image in question can be seen here. Under the image is a numbered scene describing the images individuals. The person in question is listed as Moorish Servant. A little more research into ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 39.1k
10 votes
Accepted

How old is Philippe Buache's map of New Discoveries?

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 ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
9 votes

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

Spices were what we would nowadays call mass luxuries. These are luxury goods that the masses can afford in small quantities. They are desired because they are out of the ordinary, and offer a "change ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k
9 votes

Are there any histories of indigenous Americans who were taken to Europe?

A good place to start is the Oxford Bibliographies article Native Americans in Europe. This briefly reviews a number of books which have at least some of what you are looking for, and which will help ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
9 votes

Which 'evidence' is there for a claim that 'Chinese discovered America in 636'?

There are two potential points of evidence that I am aware of. 1) A Mr. Moriarity and Mr. Pearson first published a paper detailing the findings of circular stone anchors similar to a type of anchor ...
Dan Anderson's user avatar
9 votes

Why did the English name of "Pacific Ocean" stick if it has been known by many cultures since ancient times?

This reminds me a bit of the old internet hacker/cracker argument. Originally "hacking" was a word for any generalized kind of computer tinkering, and had largely positive connotations. However, mass ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
8 votes

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

gktscrk answers the question directly but, although it is true that there were legends and fears, and simple minded sailors, it is absolutely false that the elite did not expect to find anything ...
Luiz's user avatar
  • 4,433
7 votes
Accepted

Where did Vasco Núñez de Balboa first see the South Ocean?

The place is not known with certainty, but some googling revealed two possible candidates: One of them is Pechito Parado, a mountain near a very small village named Quebrada Eusebio. This place was ...
JMVanPelt's user avatar
  • 2,266
7 votes

What were the names of Amerigo Vespucci's ships?

We don't know Very little is known about Vespucci's deeds in the continent that was going to be named after him. The only sources of information we have is a series of letters, some of them highly ...
Rekesoft's user avatar
  • 577
7 votes
Accepted

Did 15th century Europeans not know about south-east Asia?

Europeans knew about China, India, and South-East Asia. In fact, at the time, the Indies referred collectively both to what we would call the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia. As can be seen in ...
serencog's user avatar
  • 194
6 votes

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

I think previous answers miss the most important reason why spices were such a valuable good, and so expensive in Europe (or China, btw). The main point is that spices were mostly consumed not for ...
Evargalo's user avatar
  • 5,875

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