As Europeans moved beyond exploration and colonization in North and South America, they brought changes to almost every aspect of the land and its inhabitants, from the military to trade and hunting. The era of exploration began in the 15th century and continued until the 16th century. It was a time when European countries began exploring the world of sea travel. The expedition was expensive and dangerous, and many ships did not return. But the main reasons Europeans wanted to explore were mostly money, goods, and land. The era of research ended in the early 17th century, and the development of technology and the expansion of knowledge about the world allowed Europeans to travel freely around the world. The creation of permanent settlements and colonies created a network of communication and capture, eliminating the need to find new ones. Hence, if the Age of Exploration did not take place, the world would be an entirely different place today.
First, traders exchanged their discoveries textiles, weapons, and metal goods for gold and other precious metals. De Cuneo states, “And they told us that, positively, in that place of Cibao there really was gold in large quantities; and they presented our captains with a certain amount of gold which included 3 big pieces, viz. One worth 9 castellanos, another of 15 castellanos and the last of 12, which included a piece of rock” (58-56). De Cuneo explains that gold was a very demanded metal, and the land of Cibao contained a lot of this material. Since gold was a direct synonym to money, merchants specifically focused their attention on it, in order to continue the trade with the East. Gold was exploited by explorers so that they would be rich and have as
much money as possible for themselves to buy land and other things. This search for wealth led to the rise of Europe’s economy. In fact, it can be considered that gold was the beginning of the cycle of all exchanges because, with it, people could buy anything they needed. Europeans explored the Coast of Africa and began settling colonies giving them more natural resources and wealth.
Furthermore, a lot of indigenous people died and were killed by Europeans due to exposure to disease, overwork, and massive massacres. Pringle writes, “In April 1520, Spanish forces landed in what is now Veracruz, Mexico, unwittingly bringing along an African slave infected with smallpox. Two months later, Spanish troops entered the capital of the Aztec Empire, and by mid-October, the virus was sweeping through the city killing nearly half of the population”. Earlier explanations for the decline in the number of American Aborigines include the stories of European immigrants about the brutal practice of the Spanish conquistadors, recorded by the Spaniards themselves. Indeed, for a disease such as smallpox, two infected people and a short period of time are enough to cause its ruthless spread and death of millions of victims. More importantly, the smallpox virus spreads more easily in densely populated countries, making the spread only worse. Many Incas died of smallpox, but most of the Spaniards survived because they genetically could outlive the virus, while Incas were not owners those genetics. 95% or 20 million of indigenous population in the Americas died of infectious disease (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 2019). After the epidemics had already killed massive numbers of natives, many newer European immigrants assumed that there had always been relatively few indigenous peoples (Pringle, 2019)
People would not be able to enjoy all the discoveries of this world if The Age of Exploration did not happen. It is obvious that it has its own good and bad sides. People have learned to negotiate with each other, achieve their goals, learn something completely new and share their discoveries with each other in order to pass on their knowledge to their ancestors in the future. But unfortunately no matter how good the pluses of this piece of history would seem, there are also bad sides. Many people suffered because of incapacitation on more powerful sides, families lost their native because of illnesses, and the rest were unjustly killed or worked hard. In conclusion, each moment of history has its own light and dark sides, and no matter how cynical it sounds, in most cases, people should enjoy the good results of this story.