Did you know the Chinese ruled the seas and spread the knowledge of navigation and ship building during the early years of the Ming Dynasty? Despite Asian technology and knowledge, it was the ambition of European sailors backed by the hope of merchants, princes, kings and missionaries that sparked globalization through trans-oceanic trade.
The age of global exploration was caused by increase in the European desire for trade wealth and knowledge during the Renaissance. Christopher Columbus was the first among many European navigators and explorers to set sail on the Atlantic winds and currents westward in hopes of reaching Asia by a new route. Within 10 years Europeans would be sailing around the world causing biological and cultural change. By 1607 Spain had created an overseas empire, the Renaissance years were ending and the first permanent English settlement in Virginia was begun along with competition for global profit from the Portuguese, French, and Dutch. During the Enlightenment time period new ideas would cross the Atlantic with European settlers and take root in the form of American Constitutional Government and Natural Rights philosophy by the second half of the 18th Century.
Christopher Columbus 1492 – King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain
My name is Christopher Columbus. I am a student of the currents and the winds seeking a new way westward to Asia for the King and Queen of Spain. I am trying to find precious metals and jewels. Rare spices of the Indies like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and any wildlife that will serve our purposes. We know that Asia holds many valuable and exotic things for trade.
Already my communication is being tested by the crew of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian men.
I started my journey from the great westward port of Lisbon.Portugal to explore new places and some new spices and herbs. I started this journey because the king and queen of Spain sponsored me to explore new places and also they give me money and supplies like ships.
The materials i need to start my voyage are maps and compass that help me to navigate the directions in ocean.
My voyage may take two hundred days. I am setting out southward in the great circular winds to the Canary Islands where Portugal has already set their trade in sugar and African laborers.
I need to take food that can stored long or may be dry food and i need some animals with me.
John Cabot 1497 – King Henry VII England
It’s my 45th day on my journey to Asia from England. The winds have been strong with a drift going against us. But, King Henry VII is counting.on us to claim land for England as we compete for land in the New World. My voyage may take 50 days more.
John Cabot decided to go to a place without any direction he left his land to know other places, in the time and the trip was faced in very strong winds in the oceans for this reason we are tardy a little in arriving. 45 days to go until John is glad because in the distance he could see that there was a place rocky where he could arrive. When Cabot went ashore, he reportedly seen signs of habitation but no people. He took possession of the land for King Henry, but hoisted both the English and Venetian flags in Canada.
“We have long known that Italy’s great merchant banks were key to the success of the ventures launched by Portugal and Spain. But it always seemed that the English ventures were an exception. Now it is clear that they too were part of network of Italian-financed expeditions to explore beyond the limits of the known world.” Dr. Evan Jones University of Bristol England
Vasco Da Gama 1498
Vasco Da Gama took around 2 years to get back to Lisbon Portugal after successfully sailing to India for the first time from the Atlantic. He was a student of the ways of the sea in Portugal but he was also exploring the unknown and must have become worried that he would drift off course or go in the wrong direction. It must have been a relief when he finally spotted the Cape of Good Hope sailing east from the Atlantic.
Day #2 Introduction
My name is Vasco Da Gama I was Born in circa 1460, I was the son of Estêvão Da Gama, but in 1492 King John II sent me to the port city of Setubal (south of Lisbon) and to the Algarve region to seize French ships in retaliation for French attacks on Portuguese shipping interests.
I know my Christian brothers are also competing for power but I believe Portugal represents the interests of the Pope and not the Kings of France or England. I am also planning to fight any Muslim who may interfere with our Christian mission to increase the wealth and trade of the Holy Catholic Church.
Day # 50
We have just departed the beautiful, rocky blue waters of our familiar and final supply port in the Canary Islands. We are hoping to catch the southward Canary current but some are fearing the West blowing trade winds will push us too far off African shores. We shall see. It will be hard to be at sea too long without supplies. The men will keep fishing as long as weather permits so that we have a supply of salted fish on stock.
Day 138 So many long days on the Atlantic Ocean since I first left the Canary Islands have gone by without much hope that we are on the right course. I just came in contact with eastern flowing winds, I am finally hopeful that my journey is turning in the right direction finally. Slowly but steadily the waves have been kind to our ships, we have yet to reach a bad storm. I miss my wife and children but we all know the profit is worth the heartbreak. The days are getting longer I truly cannot wait for this to be over, every day is the same blue water and clear sky some might call it paradise as I too would have 138 days ago. Still on this day as I began to give up the winds brought along hope..
Day # 379
After finally making around the southern cape, we have been navigating non stopping until now that we are facing a terrible storm.
The wind is forcing us to get close to the land we already lost 3 of our best people and we are going to stop close to the coast. When we got close to the coast we saw some structures like houses and people that we never saw before they did not act hostile so we went down of our boats to try to communicate with them after trading with them we keep sailing to finish our journey on the way we keep losing more people It was not an easy task. Many of the sailors died from scurvy and more died facing monsoon weather.
Day 478 We reached the eastern lands, the smell of fresh spices fills the air, this is it the hard work and lonely times have all paid off. We shall not celebrate until we reach home to keep the bad luck away, but I am delighted with this small victory. The seas have built be I am no longer amateurish, I now have a justification on my purpose. I see beautiful artifacts sold along the streets and in buildings, the people here are wonderful full of life, full of faith. It’s great to be on land and have grass and sand under my feet, instead of hardwood day in and day out. I am eager to return to my love, family, and home
Day 730 > Home, finally I feel a change in the air, for the past few weeks I have been being pulled with the winds toward what I know is home. I now see a pattern in the waves I haven’t seen in so long but I never forgot. I’ve been waiting for this moment, my victory. The respect I shall receive once they see the spices and artifacts I have brought back. Joy will fill the air, surely everyone missed me they all have been waiting my return. I’ve been on these seas so long I fancy the smell of fresh, salt free air. I’ve grown fond of the waves and rocking boat, it’s comforting. I love the sound of fish jumping up out of the water and splashing back down, I’ve made a game trying to count how many I spot in one day. This trip has changed me, I have had time and nothing but time to think and reflect on myself. I feel I am a better man, I no longer am lonely on these waves, I am simply content with the man I am. The closer I get to the shore the more I see has changed its a sad realization when all you want is the old days but as I said before I am content.
The Journey has ended!
We have sailed more than 24,000 miles! But, only 54 of the original 170 members of the fleet survived the end. We have returned to Portugal with our ships overflowing with abundant spices, gems and even exotic slaves of the Indies and Eastern shores of Muslim Africa.
Ferdinand Magellan 1519-1522- He circumnavigated the globe but he must have had knowledge of the wind and water patterns in each hemisphere.
Sir Francis Drake 1577-1580
I travel around the world and I am the best of the best. My knowledge of currents and winds exceeds what Magellan and the Spanish have accomplished. I am taking advantage of his course but finding a faster way to ride the southward Canary current across the west blowing trade winds. But alas I do not know it all…the currents have risen up in opposite direction against my bow lines. I’m still not sure how the currents work. Today marks a turning point where one of my commanders John Wynter turned back in the face of this relentless northern current and disagreement over the best route. It is a very strong opposing current that tells me we are getting close to the southern end of land. I know there must be a land protected passage to the west.
We’ve kept close enough to the coast to kill the shore birds to feed people on my ship. Im staying by shore side so i don’t get lost or run into another strong current. The passage to the west is my hope.
DAY#240, we are close to westward leading straits. The mountains are rocky. Wind currents direction is towards east. We are trying to keep our ship close to the shores without the dangers of going around. We are using astrolabe to keep aware of latitude. We are also using compass to find the best directions so we can move according to the ocean and winds current. We are below to the equator. We are moving towards South. It’s probably going to be cold there.