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What drove Europeans to explore in the 15th century?

Europeans were driven to explore in the 15th century primarily by economic, religious, and technological motivations.

The 15th century marked the beginning of the Age of Exploration, a period characterised by extensive overseas exploration by Europeans. This was primarily driven by three key factors: economic motivations, religious fervour, and advancements in technology.

Economically, Europe was emerging from the Middle Ages and entering the Renaissance, a period of renewed interest in learning and the arts, but also of economic expansion. The demand for goods such as spices, silk, and precious metals was high, but these were often difficult and expensive to obtain due to the control of trade routes by the Ottoman Empire. European nations, particularly Portugal and Spain, sought to bypass these routes by finding a direct sea route to Asia. This would not only allow them to obtain these goods more easily and cheaply, but also increase their wealth and power relative to other European nations.

Religion also played a significant role in driving European exploration. The 15th century was a time of intense religious conflict, particularly between Christianity and Islam. Many Europeans saw exploration as a means of spreading Christianity to new lands, and potentially finding allies in their struggle against the Ottomans. This was particularly the case for Spain, which had only recently completed the Reconquista, the reconquest of Spain from the Moors.

Finally, technological advancements made such exploration possible. The development of the caravel, a fast and manoeuvrable ship, along with improvements in navigation and map-making, allowed Europeans to venture further into the unknown. The invention of the printing press also played a role, as it allowed for the widespread dissemination of knowledge and information about new discoveries.

In conclusion, the drive for exploration in the 15th century was a complex interplay of economic, religious, and technological factors. The desire for wealth and power, the zeal to spread Christianity, and the ability to navigate and survive in unknown territories all contributed to this period of intense exploration.

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