Discovery Of The New World Essay, Research Paper
There were many political and technological changes that prompted the world explorations and discovery of the new world. The Portuguese were the main contributors to the technological changes that lead to the discovery of the new world. However, the change of the political structure of Spain ultimately lead to the discovery.
There were many technological changes that the Portuguese contributed. First of all they observed the way the Arab vessels were designed and then improved on them to make their own ships faster. They also created the caravel vessel by “increasing the ratio of beam (width at the broadest point of the hull) from 2:1 to 3:1, borrowed the lateen (triangular) sail from the Arabs, and combined it with square rigging in the right proportion to produce a superb oceangoing vessel. They also used a compass and astrolabe to accurately record maps and latitude. In addition, they were the first to mount cannons on their deck so that they could defeat any other ship in combat on the waters. Prior to this invention, vessels that were in war with each other needed to “pull alongside” the other vessel and board them to fight. With the cannons on deck, this was no longer necessary. The Portuguese could stay a safe distance away from the enemy vessel and shoot the cannons at them.
The political changes in Spain had the most dramatic effect on the discovery of the new world. It started when Princess Isabella of Castile wed Prince Ferdinand of Aragon. When they were wed, they formed the kingdom of Spain. Princess Isabella and Prince Ferdinand finished their expansion of Spain when the conquered Granada. After the conquest of Granada, Christopher pleaded his case to Queen Isabella. Christopher had asked several times before but was not given the money or ships because they were not available. Because of Granada, Isabella gave Columbus what he needed and he partook on his journey.
When Columbus discovered the “new world” he set up what is known as the Columbian Exchange. From the natives, Columbus brought back many things. Of them, the most important, were: the hot pepper, bell pepper, maize (corn), tobacco, and white potato. Some of the items brought from Europe to America were: apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, peaches, plums, olives, and sugarcane.
Even though, both countries profited form the exchange, there were some major consequences of it. The most drastic consequence was that the Europeans transmitted smallpox to the Indians. This lead to the death of about 80-90% of them. In addition, the Indians gave the Europeans syphilis. This lead to a loss of hair and in turn lead to Europeans wearing wigs.
The above are the political and technological changes that lead to the discovery of the new world. In addition, there are the consequences of the discovery and the Columbian Exchange.