British Exploration And Discovery

1911 Words 8 Pages
The connection between the early expansion of the British Empire (1495-1783) and exploration and discovery is not always clear. This is because typically discovery and exploration is thought to be a Portuguese and Spanish affair and England had not been concerned with exploration and expansion outside of Europe, until they were kicked out of mainland Europe, which changed their priorities. In this essay, I aim to outline three ways exploration and discovery affected British expansion and how sometimes British expansion affected exploration and discovery. First, I will show how Spanish discoveries drove the English to expand their naval might far afield to raid Spanish shipping. Second, I will show how a desire to open up independent trade with …show more content…
Those nations that were struggling financially, such as England, saw an opportunity not only to hurt Spain, a long term rival, but also to obtain great wealth through raiding Spain’s poorly defended ships off the Spanish Coast, as well as in the Caribbean. Nicholas Canny mentions that a colony had been set up in Providence Island off the Central American coast to help in raids against the Spanish. John Appleby states that ‘The establishment of Roanoke during 1585 went ahead because of its perceived potential as a naval base for raids on Spanish shipping in the Caribbean.’ Outposts like these were among the first settlements that England established in the New World. Most of these settlements ultimately failed, however the English gained much needed knowledge and experience in colony building and navigation. The idea that creating a port settlement in the New World to facilitate the raiding of enemy shipping lanes is supported by Edmund Hickeringill, a priest and a soldier, (1631-1708) when he said about Spain that’ [Jamaica] lies within his Bowels, and in the heart of his Trade.’ These raids became essential to the English economy, especially as the Crown was close to bankruptcy during this time as there was increasing competition on the cloth market. Sir Francis Bacon, renowned privateer for the Crown, said ‘I know many means …show more content…
Raymond Beazley, explains that
‘the three voyages of Martin Frobisher in I 576-7-8 “for the search of the North- West Passage,” though they came far short of their ultimate object, resulted in a great extension of English and European knowledge along the coast of Labrador, Greenland, and the American side of the Arctic basin.’
The knowledge acquired as a result of these voyages assisted England’s explorers and merchants in the discovery of resources and peoples to trade with. During the reign of Elizabeth I, expeditions began with the aim of discovering a North-East Passage to China. While these voyages failed to reach China, they did land in Russia and secured favourable trade with the local powers. This helped England to fund expeditions south through Russia and on to Persia to secure access to the valuable trade route, the Silk Road. Felicity Stout suggests that through their attempted discoveries in northern Russia, English explorers came across a port near Archangelsk, in Russia, enabling their country acquire a monopoly on Russian goods and a new market for the goods England was filled with. The desire to open trade with China through a northern passage can be seen in this quote by Giovanni Ramusio, an Italian travel author

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