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How did the Renaissance contribute to the Age of Exploration?

The Renaissance contributed to the Age of Exploration by fostering a new curiosity and openness to the wider world.

The Renaissance, a period of cultural, artistic, political and economic rebirth following the Middle Ages, played a significant role in paving the way for the Age of Exploration. This era, spanning from the 14th to the 17th century, was characterised by a renewed interest in learning and the world at large, which directly influenced the exploratory spirit of the time.

One of the key contributions of the Renaissance to the Age of Exploration was the development of new technologies and navigational tools. The period saw significant advancements in cartography, the science of map-making. The creation of more accurate maps and sea charts, along with the invention of the compass and improvements in shipbuilding, made long-distance sea travel more feasible. This allowed explorers to venture further into unknown territories, leading to the discovery of new lands.

The Renaissance also fostered a spirit of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. The period was marked by a renewed interest in the classical knowledge of the Greeks and Romans, and a desire to expand this knowledge. This intellectual curiosity extended to the natural world, encouraging explorers to seek out new lands, peoples, and resources. The idea of exploration for the sake of discovery and knowledge was a significant shift from the primarily economic or religious motivations of earlier periods.

Furthermore, the Renaissance brought about changes in the political landscape that facilitated exploration. The rise of powerful nation-states with centralised governments provided the necessary resources and support for exploratory voyages. Monarchs like Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella, and Portugal's Henry the Navigator, were eager to expand their territories and influence, and thus sponsored many expeditions.

Lastly, the Renaissance's emphasis on humanism - the belief in the potential and worth of the individual - played a role in the Age of Exploration. This philosophy encouraged the pursuit of personal glory and fame, which motivated many explorers. The idea of the 'Renaissance Man', skilled in multiple fields and constantly seeking to expand his knowledge and experience, can be seen in figures like Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama, who were not just explorers, but also navigators, cartographers, and diplomats.

IB History Tutor Summary: The Renaissance, a time of cultural and technological rebirth, played a crucial role in leading to the Age of Exploration. It sparked curiosity and provided new navigational tools, making long-distance sea travel possible. The era's focus on learning, curiosity about the world, and support from emerging nation-states encouraged explorers to discover new lands, driven by personal ambition and the pursuit of knowledge.

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