The Age of Exploration was a time period from the 15th century to the 18th century in which Europeans embarked on extensive overseas expeditions. European nations, such as Portugal, Spain, England, and the Netherlands, participated heavily in global trade and set up many trade routes and colonies. Many people would say that the Europeans’ only reason for exploration was to spread Christianity, obtain gold, and gain glory through their conquests and acquisition of lands. Some people might also say that the Ottomans heavily influenced the Europeans to participate in this period of exploration.
Although the goals of “God, gold, and glory” are often associated with the Age of Exploration, the Ottoman Empire had a greater influence on the desire of European states to establish overseas empires and employ mercantilist economy philosophies. The Ottoman Empire had many political policies regarding trade with European nations that directly influenced the European’s desire to explore. In 1453, Ottoman forces conquered Constantinople from the Byzantine Empire and renamed it Istanbul. Shortly after gaining control of Istanbul, the Ottomans imposed strict trade policies with foreign nations.
The Ottoman Empire essentially took control of all trade routes leading to Asia from Europe, including the Silk Road, and cut the Europeans off from accessing these trade routes. The Europeans no longer were able to use any direct trade routes to Asian markets. Essentially, the flow of Asian luxury goods into Europe was halted as a result of the policies established by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, however, did allow the Europeans to obtain the highly sought after Asian luxury goods. They did so by forcing European merchants to pay unreasonably high prices and expensive taxes for the Asian goods.
The Ottoman Empire acted as the middleman for trade products entering Europe. The Asian goods would have to first travel through the Indian Ocean Basin trade routes, then to the Indians, then to the Arabs, and finally, to the Ottomans before they could arrive in Europe. European nations, such as Portugal, did not want to pay these exorbitantly high prices and decided to cut out the middleman, the Ottomans. They sent out navigators, such as Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, and Bartolomeu Dias, to look for direct trade routes to the Asian markets.
In the end, European nations established their own trade routes to Asia to avoid trading with the Ottomans. The Europeans’ desire to explore can also be seen as a result of their fear of the Ottoman Empire’s large army. The Europeans were greatly intimidated by the increasingly strong and powerful Ottoman army. As a result, they wanted to cut off trade with the Ottomans in order to prevent them from becoming too wealthy and powerful. Many of the European nations feared that the Ottomans would be powerful enough to conquer more European nations, similar to how they brought down the Byzantine Empire by conquering Constantinople.
The Europeans’ fears came from seeing the ease at which the Ottoman Empire was able to achieve military victories. They believed that the Ottoman armies would cause the political and social infrastructure of Europe to crumble along with Christendom. The Europeans’ concerns about the Ottoman Empire’s army can be seen in the document, “The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghislain de Busbeq. ” Ogier Ghislain de Busbeq traveled to Istanbul in 1555 as a diplomat of Hungary and Bohemia. In the document, he comments on the state, society, customs, and military forces of the Ottoman Empire.
He writes, “I tremble when I think of what the future must bring when I compare the Turkish system with our own. On their side are the resources of a mighty empire, strength unimpaired, experience and practice in fighting, a veterinary soldiery, habituation to victory, endurance of toil, unity, order, discipline, frugality, and watchfulness. ” The Ottoman Empire, undoubtedly, made many nations fear for their own safety. As a result, European nations began to go on trading expeditions and set up their own overseas empires in order to expand their growing empires in hopes of becoming as powerful as the largely increasing Ottoman Empire.
The goals of “God, gold, and glory” are an indirect result of the Ottomans’ actions and policies towards the Europeans. As European nations sent their navigators to look for direct trade routes to Asia, the goals of “God, gold, and glory” became prevalent. Portugal was one of the major players in the Age of Exploration. As of Exploration. As Portugal sent explorers into the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal established colonies along the West and East coasts of Africa, as well as in India. The Portuguese obtained gold from their colonies on the West coast of Africa, the “Gold Coast. The Portuguese also spread Christianity as they established colonies and conquered lands. For example, Portuguese fleets conquered Goa in 1510 as a result of them wanting to control Indian Ocean trade. The Portuguese successfully converted the people of Goa from Hinduism to Christianity and set up missionary activities to convert more people. Spain was also a major player in the Age of Exploration. The Spanish saw that the Portuguese were becoming wealthy and powerful after trying to find direct routes to Asian markets.
The Spanish wanted in on the wealth and power and sent Christopher Columbus to find an easier route to travel to India. He unexpectedly landed in the Americas and the Spanish later sent out explorers, such as Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro to establish colonies in the Americas and acquire valuable resources for Spain. The Spanish conquistadors converted the peoples of Mesoamerica to Christianity and also discovered silver as they established colonies. Additionally, although the Portuguese landed in the Americas after Spain did, they set up colonies in present-day Brazil.
Through the acquisition of these lands, both Spain and Portugal gained glory. Mercantilist philosophies were established by many European nations that participated in trade. They believed in increasing their own nation’s wealth through a favorable balance of trade and government regulation of commercial activities. All in all, European nations may not have established mercantilist philosophies and empires overseas had the Ottoman Empire not stopped the Europeans from accessing trade routes to Asian markets. Although the Europeans were driven by the philosophy of “God, gold, and glory,” this can be attributed to the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire “pushed” the Europeans to set out and discover new routes to the Asian markets. By doing so, the European nations were able to set up their own colonies throughout Africa, the Indian Ocean Basin, and in the Americas. Through the process of colonization, the Europeans were driven to acquire precious metals, such as gold, convert the indigenous peoples to Christianity, and acquire lands to become more powerful. Had the Ottomans never “pushed” the Europeans to explore in the Age of Exploration, the world may have been significantly different than it is today.