The Sea Routes Of Asia Essay

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In 1497 Portuguese mariner Vasco Da Gama set sail to find a sea route to Asia. He went slowly down the West African coast, around the tip of South Africa, and up the East African coast and landed in Calicut, South India. They found an ancient and rich network of commerce that stretched from East Africa to China. Asia offered many tropical spices that were desired in Europe, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, and pepper. These spices were used mostly as condiments and preservatives. Other products offered by the East were , silk, cotton, rhubarb, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. The Portuguese soon discovered that European goods were crude and unattractive in Asian markets and they would be unable to compete effectively. Then the Portuguese discovered that the Indian Ocean trade ships were not heavily armed and could easily be defeated by the Portuguese ships. This advantage allowed the Portuguese to quickly establish fortified bases at several key locations. With these the Portuguese created a “trading post empire”. Wanting to monopolize the the spice trade, the Portuguese king titled himself the “Lord of Conquest, Navigation, and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and India.” THen the Portuguese tried to require all merchant vessels to purchase a pass, and to pay duties of 6 to 10 percent on their cargos. They partially blocked the traditional Red Sea route to the mediterranean and for a century or so monopolized the highly profitable route around Africa to…

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