Winds of Discovery
This map shows a map of the world as known to Europeans in 1502. Portuguese sailors had a good understanding of winds.
Why It Matters
- In the 15th century, the Portuguese and Spanish wanted easy routes to riches, spices and slaves.
- Early sailing ships did not stray far from land.
- To cross the oceans, ships had to use winds and currents.
- The European expansion could only proceed across oceans as mariners learned about the winds and currents.
With the links below, learn more about sailing ships. Then answer the following questions.
- All Histories, Turning Points in History – Age of Exploration (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3fYF6YvesA
- Humanities, Early Trade Routes and Sailing (webpage): http://www.humanities360.com/index.php/early-trade-routes-and-sailing-8484/
- Why was the discovery of wind patterns so important to the 15th century Portuguese?
- What partially fueled the new European economy in the 16th century?
- How were the Trade Winds used for exploration and trade in the Atlantic Ocean?
- How were the winds of the Indian Ocean used for trade with Asia?
- Ships today use currents to get a boost when sailing between points, but they no longer go far out of their way to catch a wind or current. How do ships travel the seas now?