Friday, 18 October 2013

The Age of Discovery and its Financiers

Starting in the XV century, the age of discovery was a period of extensive European exploration of the world that included Columbus' trip to America, the feats of Vasco da Gama, Cabral and many others, but someone had to pay for the whole thing, and – perhaps you guessed – there were Jewish financiers backing it all up.

No one else could have done that, being a fact that the economy of Christian countries at the time was in tatters, and almost none had neither the capital nr the knowledge required to pay for such enterprises.

There are many reasons that explain why Europe, after being numb during the middle ages, started exploring and expanding during the XV century. Some of those reasons have to do with the necessity of military and social expansion, while others are related to commerce and even cultural survival. 

Since Portugal had reconquered its territory by then, and Spain was about to achieve the same, those countries sought to expand their commercial horizons in order to finance themselves, but in order to achieve that, their strategists had to find ways to bypass Muslim-held territories in North Africa.

Then, in 1452 the city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks and so, most land-based commercial routes were suddenly and effectively closed.

It was time for a solution, and the Portuguese were ready to intervene. The, Spain did the same a little after.

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