Why did the Europeans start exploring ???
Sub question A: What were the advantages of going exploring?
600 years ago people didn’t know much about the world, some people even thought they were the only on the world. But why did they start exploring? People thought there were three big areas: Europe Africa and Asia. There was also a very big peace of water what wasn’t explored yet. People said that there was island where very big monsters and other beasts lived.
People didn’t know much about keeping food fresh. Spices were very important to keep food fresh and to make food what was going bad more pleasant. Spices didn’t grow everywhere because not on all places it was warm enough to let spices grow. Spices could be found in e.g. in the East and especially on the Spice Islands (today we call them the Molluccas). So people wanted to sell spices and they start exploring to all the places where spices were. And some countries even start to conquer islands and other countries. Sub question B: How did they travelled these big distances?
The ships in the year 1400 were big and strong but it was difficult to sail in rough seas. Steering was not easy and went very slowly.
Prince Henry of Portugal wanted to build a ship that could sail around Africa. In Portugal sailors used small ships, the “Caravels”. It was a small ship with one or more triangular sails called lateens.
But later on they invented a bigger and stronger Caravel. It could
take more heavy cargo and could resist storms better.
How did they navigate to travel these big distances? Sailors usually sale next to land to know where they are sailing. But if they have to go from Europe to America they cannot sale next to land. When it was not possible to sale next to land they looked at the stars. As long as they were at the north of the equator they could see the “plough”. It pointed at a big and bright star witch always lay in the north: the Pole star. If they sailed to the south of the equator they used another set of stars called the “Southern Cross” and it always point at the south. Another way to navigate was the astrolabe. It was an instrument that measured how high the polar star was (started at the horizon). With this they could work out their position on a line running from north to south.
Sub question C Who was Christopher Columbus and what did he did?
Christopher Columbus lived 500 years ago and was an Italian Sailor. He wanted to reach the East starting in Spain sailing to the West trough the Atlantic Ocean. He thought it was possible because he believed that the world was round. Columbus was an experienced sailor. He sailed on Portuguese ships to Iceland and to West Africa. Most people believed the world was round, but no one knew how big the Ocean Sea was (now we call it the Atlantic Ocean). They thought it was very big because they didn’t know about America. It was very important to know how wide the Ocean Sea was. When it was too big they would run out of food and water. It took him eight years to get money for ships and sailors. The King and Queen of Spain finally gave him the money for his journey. When he had the money he had to search people to help him. He was helped by a man called: Martin Pinzon and his two brothers. They told sailors if they made it they would make big fortunes. Ninety sailors said ”yes” and went with him.
At a moment Martin Pinzon saw land and everyone was very happy, but it was a cloud at the horizon. The next night there was another person who saw land. They didn’t now it but they discovered America. From now on they new the world looked different and America lies between Europe and Asia.
Sub question D How civilised were the Aztecs?
The first Mexicans came from Asia about 4,000 years ago. They were called Maya’s. Just hundreds of years later the Aztecs came to live in Mexico
The Aztecs were a tribe near the Maya’s. Their capital city was Tenochtitlan. Every 80 days they send an offer to Tenochtitlan to get the gods into a good mood. The Aztecs used their picture writing to make offer sheets to show the things the people had to give the gods. The other Mexican people hated the Aztecs. They didn’t want to pay tribute and if you didn’t pay the Aztec warriors they came to punish you. Everybody was frightened of the Aztec warriors, but every Aztec wanted to be such a great Aztec warrior. Only the soldiers who were very brave and successful fighters could call themselves warriors. It was a way to become rich and famous. To become a warrior you had to capture a lot of prisoners in battle. The tribute from other people made the Aztecs very rich. They build big cities with their richness. In the centre of Tenochtitlan the emperor had his palace to watch over his country. The Aztecs build islands to grow all the food that the people needed in Tenochtitlan. People could own slaves e.g. if you was a prisoner of war. Every Aztec town had a market were people went to exchange goods. When the children were 16 they went to school to learn about the history of the Aztec people and how to worship the gods. Gods and Religious Life
The Aztecs worship many different gods. The Aztecs believed they had to keep their gods happy and strong by giving them the best possible food. In return the gods would protect them against evil. They thought human hearts were the best food, because that was the most valuable thing they had. The Aztecs held a big celebration for the gods every month.
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