Economic Causes of Geographical Discoveries

Economic Causes of Geographical Discoveries:

A constant increase in the economic needs of the Europeans and the expansion of business accounted for the geographical discoveries. After the fall of the Roman Empire (476), the Arabian traders neglected the European trade centres. The demand for valuable things and articles of luxury increased because of the invasion of barbaric tribes. In the middle ages, the Italian traders again entered into a contract with the Arabians to meet their increasing demand for luxurious and valuable things. After the end of the crusades, the Muslims (the Turks) turned their attention to the expansion of the Islamic Empire. Consequently, the trade between West Asia and Europe closed gradually. The Arabian traders were involved in the war; therefore, they could not supply goods to Italian traders. When the Osman Turks took possession of Constantinople, it became difficult for the Europeans to deal with the East. The Turks maintained control over the trade routes which ran between Croatia and Syria. They levied such exorbitant taxes that carrying goods through them caused a heavy loss. In this way, the eastern goods sold in Europe became very costly and rarely available. After the Turkish conquest, people felt a need to discover new routes for Asia via Europe. It is noteworthy that the growth of new cities in Europe created enormous demand for spices, silk, gems, medicines, and perfumes. The incomparable taste of spices aroused demand for them. But the Turks controlled the Eastern land routes and Italy established its supremacy over the Mediterranean Sea which was the only other route left for commerce. Therefore, the countries of West Europe, especially Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, France, and England were very eager to discover such new routes that might be most convenient for the procurement of all essential things without depending on Italian and Arabian traders.

The other reason is that rulers of newly formed nation-states of West Europe were in great need of wealth to meet the requirements of military operations and national projects. The lure of wealth inspired the Europeans to augment their geographical knowledge. The only alternative left was to discover new routes that led to Eastern countries and strike a bargain with them.

Thus the prime cause of these explorations was the promotion of business and earning profit from it. For example, Vasco Da Gama observed during his first journey that the price of black pepper in Venice was twenty-six times higher than it was in Calicut. Hence in the hope of a good profit, the governments and businessmen made arrangements for great voyages.

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