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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

From unpromising starting points in Atlantic-side Europe, during a period of plague and cold, in a region that was poor and, by comparison with civilizations of maritime Asia, technically backward, explorers worked out the wind-systems of the world, and opened routes of commerce, conquest, colonization, contagion, and cultural and ecological exchange between formerly sundered regions and continents. This chapter narrates their achievements and approaches the problems of how and why Europeans’ breakthrough to much of the rest of the world happened when it did. The emphasis is on explorers’ mental as well as material equipment, and on the environmental constraints and challenges that shaped their efforts.

Keywords: Exploration, navigation, routes, winds, currents, exchange

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