The Discovery of America Causes and consequences

Discovery of America

Name given by Europeans to the arrival of Columbus to the American continent in his search for a trade route to the East. In this article we are providing you the Causes and consequences of discovery of America.

The discovery of America was the name that the Europeans gave to the arrival of a European expedition under the command of Christopher Columbus for the first time to the American continent , on October 12, 1492 .

In the context of voyages of exploration of new shipping lanes , the arrival on a continent that was unknown to scholars of the time was the most important geographical discovery in history for Europe . Although the Vikings had reached the shores of North America around the year 1000, this advance did not prosper and by the time of Columbus, it had been forgotten.

Although since the beginning of the 15th century the kingdom of Portugal carried out Atlantic explorations, navigation was done following the coasts because the navigation conditions of the Atlantic Ocean were unknown and the technology (ships and navigation instruments) did not exist that would allow to initiate such an uncertain trip .

But before the closure of the trade routes with the East due to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the power of the Ottoman Turks  and thanks to new inventions, the Genoese navigator, Christopher Columbus, raised the possibility of reaching the East by sailing towards the West by the Atlantic Ocean and He presented this proposal to the kings Isabel de Castilla and Fernando de Aragón, the Catholic Monarchs .

Enhance your reading: Why did the British empire fall: colonies/political organization

In April 1492, the kings accepted this proposal and signed the Capitulations of Santa Fe . This document established that they would finance the exploration trip and that Columbus would receive the title of admiral, as well as that of viceroy and governor of the lands he found. He would also receive 10% of the wealth obtained.

Christopher Columbus began the expedition from the port of Palos on August 3, 1492 and arrived on October 12 of the same year on the island of Guanahaní, in the Antilles, which he called San Salvador.

Columbus believed he had reached Asia, for that reason he called the lands he found “Indies” and their inhabitants “Indians.”

Causes and consequences of the discovery of America


The main causes of the discovery of America were the following:

  • The development of humanistic thought , which stimulated curiosity about the world and prompted geographical explorations.
  • The improvement in navigation techniques , the drawing of new marine charts and more precise maps and the development of new navigation instruments .
  • The economic expansion started in Europe from the XV century. Increased demand for luxury goods (silk, spices, precious stones) from the Far East. Since the 11th century, this trade was carried out by land routes that were slow and unsafe. The fall of the Byzantine Empire further complicated these routes, as they passed through territory controlled by the Turks. The search for new trade routes favored exploration towards the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the Catholic Monarchs, on the one hand, strengthened their position in Europe, but, on the other, forced them to seek new economic resources to face the debts of the campaign against the Moors. In addition, the kingdom of Portugal, its rival, had already begun successful explorations on the African coast and was leading the way in the search for new routes to reestablish trade with the East.

Enhance your reading: Cubism movement overview with characteristics/artists


Some of the consequences of the discovery of America by the Europeans were the following:

  • The general knowledge of the Earth was modified since the existence of an unknown continent at the time was discovered. This also modified the knowledge about the dimensions of the planet.
  • They contacted various cultural systems (American and European) that were unknown until now.
  • Realizing that the lands that Columbus reached were an unknown continent, the Europeans began new voyages of exploration to find a passage that would allow them to cross the continent and continue towards Asia.
  • An intense rivalry began between the European countries , mainly between Castile and Portugal for the occupation of the discovered lands. The Treaty of Tordesillas was an attempt to resolve these conflicts in the beginning.
  • The conquest of America began . As the territory was explored, the peoples that inhabited it were conquered .

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Back to top button