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How did the concept of 'mare clausum' influence exploration?

The concept of 'mare clausum' influenced exploration by encouraging nations to claim exclusive control over certain sea routes and territories.

The term 'mare clausum', Latin for 'closed sea', refers to the idea that a sea or ocean can be owned and controlled by a particular nation. This concept emerged during the Age of Exploration, a period from the early 15th century to the early 17th century when European ships travelled around the world to search for new trading routes and partners. The concept of 'mare clausum' was used to justify the claiming of new lands and the establishment of trade monopolies.

The influence of 'mare clausum' on exploration was significant. It led to the creation of exclusive economic zones, where a nation had special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources. This was particularly important during the Age of Exploration, as the discovery of new sea routes and territories often led to the discovery of valuable resources. The concept of 'mare clausum' allowed nations to claim these resources for themselves, often leading to conflicts with other nations.

For example, Portugal and Spain, two of the leading nations during the Age of Exploration, used the concept of 'mare clausum' to claim exclusive control over certain sea routes to the East and West Indies. This was formalised in the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, which divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between the two countries along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands. This treaty was based on the concept of 'mare clausum', as it gave Portugal and Spain exclusive rights to navigate and trade in the territories they had been assigned.

The concept of 'mare clausum' also influenced the way nations approached exploration. It encouraged them to seek out and claim new territories, often leading to the displacement of indigenous populations. It also led to the development of naval power, as nations needed strong navies to enforce their claims and protect their trade routes. This focus on naval power and the claiming of new territories had a profound impact on the course of history, shaping the world as we know it today.

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