European Expansion Overseas

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14 Dec 2010
Early Modern Europe Thurs Dec. 2nd
European Expansion Overseas
1) Maps & Worldview
"horizons of experience and expectations" ; can see how they looked at the world by
looking at their maps.
Hereford Mappamundi c.1285 map of the world, view of the world in the middle ages,
map with Jerusalem in the center of the world. A map that isn't just about plotting
geographical place, but to some extent a moral map.
T & O map a stripped version the above, meant to orient you spiritually and lead you
into heaven.
Portolan; sailors map, a highly defined coastal sea map, developed in the 13th & 14th
centuries. Focused on getting you to an actual physical location, vs. the above. Portolan
used by Christopher Columbus, the outline of the coast of west Africa, made of names.
Classical map; map done by Ptolemy, much more recognizable, shows latitude and
longitude. Misses a few things that were unknown at the time, north American
hemisphere, port of good hope (or cape of good hope?), as well as some disproportionate
sizes. Another classical geographer called Strabo, who comes to the notion you can get
around Africa, it does have a point in the south.
Travel literature also influences peoples ideas of the world; such as those by Marco
Polo or John Mandeville- describes the mythical kingdom of a Christian king called
Prester John, as well as various strange and exotic animals and peoples. (such as the
Blemmyae, people described as having no heads, and their face on their chests, two
headed baby, dog headed people, cyclops etc.)
People actually thought that Mandeville is a great traveler, and his book as incredibly
important in describing what the world is about - translated into numerous languages. It is
also probably a compilation by an unknown author. People do not catch on until about the
middle of the 16th century.
He also talks about a fountain of youth, that sends explorers out looking for it. When
some actual explorers come back they have to appear credible by saying they have seen
some of these things.
Thought world was round, but had no clue about how big it was, and how it was
configured. No one expected another hemisphere, the Americas. But do believe that
sailing west or south will lead them to China. China was an important goal due to it's
wealth, which typically came to Europe by land routes, meaning it would have to pass
through Persia. The increase in price due to this travel was extraordinary.
Ottoman turks in between, charging higher prices, Ming dynasty in 13th cent onward
less interested in trade.
Portuguese follow Strabo and sail south, Spanish follow Ptolemy and sail west.
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