15th and 16th Centuries

Christopher Columbus investigated the spherical earth theory in the 15th century but with little accuracy. He believed the earth was much smaller than it actually is.   Like the Chinese, he did manage to harness prevailing winds such as ‘trade winds’ and ‘easterlies’. These winds allowed easier access to certain parts on the globe and generally blow in a single direction over specific points on the planet. Along with celestial navigation Columbus produced four successful voyages across the Atlantic. Although he was not the first to reach the Americas, his discovery of them brought awareness of their existence to the Europeans, thereby initiating their colonisation.

The 15th and 16th centuries saw an explosion of sea exploration in an attempt to discover and colonise new lands. These lands of rich spices and other sought-after exotic treasures had high trade potential. The race was therefore on to stake a claim on these untapped resources. Many of these expeditions were commissioned by rulers and other wealthy people to expand empires and make history.   One such expedition was led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Commissioned by the King of Spain, Magellan was the first to circumnavigate the Earth and the first European to enter the Pacific Ocean. The English admiral, Francis Drake, commissioned by Elizabeth I, was the second explorer to circumnavigate the Earth. Drake was also responsible for discovering the southern tip of South America.

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