During desire for these products created new

the late medieval and early Renaissance Periods European countries began to
establish discovery, trade, and expansion. They aspired to develop trade with
the Far East. European nations offered wool, gold, lead, and tin in exchange
for Persian rugs, Chinese Porcelain, glass, and exotic spices. The institution
of trade routes benefitted trading countries during the Commercial Revolution,
an era when countries gained political domination and built empires. Like other
European countries, Spain sought after riches. Christopher Columbus, an Italian
explorer during the 1400s, promised Spain a more profitable route to the Indies.

Spain was threatened by the Portuguese monopoly on
enslaved Africans and expansion in the Atlantic.

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Ferdinand and Queen Isabella then recognized the need for Columbus. In addition
to riches, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella saw the opportunity to spread Christianity
throughout the New World. Spain could have sent a Spanish explorer to find
trade routes, but they sent an Italian instead. With the desire to gain profits
and spread Christianity, the Spanish monarchy sent Columbus instead of a Spanish
explorer because he was the only explorer who presented a plan to King Ferdinand
and Queen Isabella.

wanted to profit from Columbus’s expeditions. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

knew that optimal trade routes would induce
lucrative Asian markets. Despite the consequent religious polarization, the
Crusades dramatically increased maritime trade between the East and West. As
Crusaders experienced the feel of silk, the taste of spices, and the utility of
porcelain, desire for these products created new markets for merchants. Merchants’
ships brought Europeans valuable goods, traveling between the port cities of
western Europe and the East from the 10th century on along routes collectively
labeled the Silk Road. However, transporting goods along the Silk Road was
costly, slow, and unprofitable. Muslim middlemen collected taxes as the goods
changed hands. Robbers waited to ambush treasure-laden caravans. As well as
seeking a water passage to the wealthy cities of the East, sailors wanted to
find a route to the exotic and wealthy Spice Islands in modern-day Indonesia,
whose location was kept secret by Muslim rulers. The lure of profit pushed
explorers to seek new trade routes to the Spice Islands and to eliminate Muslim
middlemen. Upon learning from cutting-edge scholars that the world was round
and that they could reach the East by going westward, different European powers
began to compile plans, funds, and ships in order to find a new route to Asia. Columbus’s
hope was for a faster trip to the Indies, a goal that would increase Spain’s

was also motivated by the possibility of spreading Christianity throughout the
new world. The year 622 brought a new challenge to Christianity. Near Mecca,
Saudi Arabia, a prophet named Muhammad claimed he received a revelation that
became a cornerstone of the Islamic faith. The Koran, which contained the revelations
received by Muhammad, identified Jesus Christ not as God but as a prophet.

Islam spread throughout the Middle East and into Europe until 732. Soon
thereafter, European Christians began the Crusades, a campaign of violence
against Muslims to dominate the Holy Lands—an area that extended from
modern-day Turkey in the north along the Mediterranean coast to the Sinai
Peninsula—under Islamic control, partially in response to sustained Muslim
control in Europe. The city of Jerusalem is a holy site for Jews, Christians,
and Muslims; evidence exists that the three religions lived there in harmony
for centuries. But in 1095, European Christians decided not only to reclaim the
holy city from Muslim rulers but also to conquer the entire surrounding area. The
Crusades provided the religious ideology for the Reconquista, which in turn
inspired Atlantic colonization. The Reconquista, or reconquest, refers to the
800 years of violence and expulsion of Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula after
the failed Crusades. The Crusades and the Reconquista cemented religious
intolerance, and the Christians looked to colonization partly as a means of
continuing religious conquests. Particularly in the strongly Catholic nations
of Spain and Portugal, religious zeal motivated King Ferdinand and Queen
Isabella to convert Native Americans and sanctify Christian global dominance.         

needed an explorer. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella chose Columbus over
Spanish explorers because there was no competition. He was their only choice. Unlike
Columbus, Spanish explorers did not propose an expedition. Columbus was their only
opportunity to acquire new trade routes to the Indies. The monarchy had no choice
but to fund Columbus’s voyages because his promises would deliver King Ferdinand
and Queen Isabella’s motivations: to gain profit and spread Christianity.

Ferdinand and Queen Isabella funded Columbus’s voyages because they wanted to
gain profit and spread Christianity. They supported Columbus instead of Spanish
explorers did not offer the monarchy an expedition. Columbus was their only