History of Portugal (1415–1542)

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During the history of Portugal between 1415 and 1542, Portugal discovered an eastern route to India that rounded the Cape of Good Hope, discovered Brazil, established trading routes throughout most of southern Asia, colonized selected areas of Africa, and sent the first direct European maritime trade and diplomatic missions to China and Japan.


Reasons for exploration

Portugal's long shoreline, with its many harbours and rivers flowing westward to the Atlantic ocean was the ideal environment to raise generations of adventurous seamen. As a seafaring people in the south-westernmost region of Europe, the Portuguese became natural leaders of exploration during the Middle Ages. Faced with the options of either accessing other European markets by sea (by exploiting its seafaring prowess) or by land (and facing the task of crossing Castile and Aragon territory) it is not surprising that goods were sent via the sea to England, Flanders, Italy and the Hanseatic league towns.

Having fought to achieve and to retain independence, the nation's leadership had also a desire for fresh conquests. Added to this was a long struggle to expel the Moors that was religiously sanctioned and influenced by foreign crusaders with a desire for martial fame. Making war on Islam seemed to the Portuguese both their natural destiny and their duty as Christians.

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