Section 4: Age of Exploration

Assigned Text Reading:

pg 100-108 Vasco de Gama, Portuguese trade, slave labor, gold/silver, Inquisition v Aztec, mestizos v tribal chief, tribal war v forced labor

pg 108-117 commercial revolution, price revolution, Fugger family, putting out system, usury, Poor Law 1601, Statue of Artificers 1563, mercantilism


1. Presentation on Explorer:

Students will create a power point presentation on the explorers given below. Each slide must contain the following information –

1. Map of the exploration/s for the explorer being talked about.

2. Importance of the explorer. What/why are they considered important or what sets them apart from their fellow explorers?

3. Flag of the country they sailed under for the exploration (Leif is the exception)

Explorers must be put in chronological order by their first exploration or the one they are most noted for.

Explorers: Robert de la Salle – Lief Erickson – Hernando Cortes – Bartholomew Dias – Vasco de Balboa – Vasco de Gama – Francisco Pizarro – Ponce de Leon – Christopher Columbus –  Amerigo Vespucci – Ferdinand Magellan – Henry Hudson – Francis Drake (13)


 Inner/Outer Circle:

This will be a combined Inner/Outer Circle with Section 5: Religious Wars. Both sections will have primary/secondary works with guiding questions on their related topics.

A. In the logbook of Columbus’s first voyage to the New World, what are the primary reasons he gives for wanting to sail to “the lands of India”? Do you think he was revealing the truth? What other motives might have influenced his decision to sail? Can you find evidence of them in this source? How did Columbus treat the inhabitants of the islands? Was Columbus a great explorer who reflected the adventurous spirit of the Renaissance, or an exploiter of peoples?

B. Analyze the sources in the section on the conquest of Mexico. What were Cortes motives in sailing to Mexico? Why did he decide to destroy the Aztecs after having been accepted as conqueror by Montezuma? Compare the two accounts of Cortes and Sahagun regarding the destruction of Tenochtilan by the Spanish. How do you explain Cortes’s statements that “there was not one man among us whose heart did not bleed at the sound” of the slaughter? Who bears the primary responsibility for the Aztecs destruction? Cotes? His Indian allies? or Montezuma himself? Is Cortes’s attitudetoward Amerindians consistent with that of Columbus? Were they explorers or exploiters


                  Primary Documents: Age of Exploration

The New World




Stench of Dead Bodies

Aztec Encounter

Destruction of Tenotichilan

Human Sacrifice