by Felipe Fernández-Armesto and Benjamin Sacks

We often speak of America as “unknown,” except to its own inhabitants, in the Middle Ages. But so, in a sense, was Europe, which hardly figured on the maps and in the calculations of the immensely richer, more populous, and technologically more advanced civilizations of maritime Asia. Some Europeans tried to make their fortunes as peddlers along the teeming trade routes of the Indian Ocean, but, in general, Christendom could look to the Orient only in covetousness or despair. Increasingly, in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, some communities along Europe’s western edge—mainly in Portugal and Spain, but also, to a lesser extent, in France, England, the Netherlands, and Denmark, turned to exploration of the Atlantic in a search for resourcesMore »

Featured Primary Sources

Christopher Columbus’ letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, 1493. Gilder Lehrman Col

Columbus reports on his first voyage, 1493

Creator: Christopher Columbus Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
De Soto's Discovery of the Mississippi, 1858

De Soto’s discovery of the Mississippi, 1541

Creator: Johnson, Fry & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Art, Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Landing of Christopher Columbus, 1856

Landing of Columbus, 1492

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
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Teaching Resources

Letter from Christopher Columbus

Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Major European Explorers

Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages, Geography, World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

The Conquest of Mexico: Past and Present Views

Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
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Multimedia

A Voyage Long and Strange

Speaker(s): Tony Horwitz Duration: 1 hour 18 minutes 7 seconds
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