HIST 131-007
Dr. Adeyinka Banwo
Factors to Discovery the New World and Columbian Exchange
At the end of the 15th century, it was nearly impossible to reach Asia from Europe by land because of the conflicts of Roman Empire and Mongol Empire about the Mediterranean route control. The cost of Asian goods, such as silk, drugs, perfume, and spices, were overpriced, and European consumers tired of the increasing prices and demanded faster, less expensive routes to Asia. To have another way to Asia, Portuguese explorers took to the sea way that they sailed south along the West African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope. However, Christopher Columbus though if they sailed west across the Atlantic, the distance was shorter than the one around the mass African continent. And Spain’s Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand wanted to spread Christianity throughout the world and wanted to have fame and fortune by agreeing to help him.
Columbus wanted to find a new route to the Far East, to India, China, Japan and the Spice Islands beside the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope. In his era, people knew that the world was round, so Columbus too. It could reach the East and the rich Spice Islands by sailing west just as easily as by sailing east. If this way could be found, people would have more choices to go to the East and would avoid all difficulties of the exist routes. Moreover, if Columbus could reach these lands, he would be able to bring back rich cargoes of silks and spices and would have fame and fortune. His contract with the Spanish rulers promised that he could keep 10 percent of whatever riches he found, along with a noble title and the governorship of any lands he should encounter.
In the 15th century, Spain was a new country, and had newly been admitted into the family of Europe. They had not even joined to any great extent in the commerce of Europe. For of all the countries of Western Europe, they were in the least advantageous position for trade. At that time, all trades was with the East through the Mediterranean route. With ports near the center of this route with good water-ways and roads behind them, Genoa and Venice grew into wealthy and powerful merchant republics. While Spain was at the west end of the route, with water-ways short and of little use commercially, shared little in its commerce. To avoid the influence of the Mediterranean route and expand Christianity to the world, Spain needed to find another route to the East, and Christopher Columbus was their solution to find their chance.
Christopher Columbus wasn’t the first person who discovered the Americas, the New World, but he was the first person who connected and created an exchange bridge between the Old World and the New World. The two worlds transferred their culture and biological organisms and became a homogeneous world.
Plants was one of the important factor to involved in the Columbian Exchange changed both the economy and the culture of the New and Old Worlds. There was an abundance of new plants discovered in the Americas (including beans, squash, chili peppers, sunflowers, chenopods, peanuts, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, manioc, avocado, pineapple, and cacao), but the two most important were the potato and maize. In addition to discovering New World plants, many plants were brought from the Old World to become hugely successful in the Americas. Among these plant, the most prevalent was sugarcane.
The difference between the animals on the two worlds was huge. The natives only had a few animal servants. They had the dog, two kinds of South American Camels, the guinea pig, and several kinds of fowls. Before the Columbian Exchange, the natives had no beast of burden and did their hard labor entirely on their own. On Columbus’s second voyage in 1493, he brought horses, dogs, pigs, cattle, chickens, sheep, and goats. When he brought the new animals across the ocean, it introduced a whole new transportation, a new labor form, and a new food source. Also, there was an exchange from the New World to the Old World. Columbus brought back turkeys, llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs to Europe. These animals did not have as much of an impact on the Old World as the